The Cleveland Marathon
Sunday, May 18, 2008
My first marathon was the 2008 Cleveland Marathon. This race was chosen so that my wife and I could also visit my two young grandchildren that live nearby, and help them run their first races ever, the day before. I have been running competitively since 1982, with PRs of 16:52 for 5K, 35:06 for 10K and 1:18:58 for 13.1 (all in 1984), but had never attempted the ultimate distance.
Despite what all the guide books say, I decided to try and qualify for Boston in my first marathon. At age 52, I needed a time of 3:35:59. I had run the Martian half marathon in 1:41:41 a few weeks earlier, so the pace projections said I could do it. My wife and I were following the Hal Higdon intermediate 1 program. My training had maxed out with two 20-mile training runs three and five weeks before tapering for the big event. I must admit that, despite having run a couple hundred road races over the previous 25 years, I was extremely nervous at the starting line.
We started in near-perfect conditions for most runners (48 degrees with a light drizzle), but I prefer it a bit warmer, so had to run with long sleeves, a hat, and gloves. I somehow maintained an even 8:15 pace for the first 10 miles, thanks to the clocks posted at each mile marker (I'd forgotten to wear my watch), passing the 1/2 marathon in 1:48:10 on my way to a 20-mile time of 2:45. All I had to do was run the last 10k in less than 51 minutes!
At this point the course runs west along Lake Erie, and a fairly strong headwind was blowing in to greet the tired runners. My next three splits were 9, 9:30, and 10. I had hit the wall. I had tired and slowed in races before, but never anything like this. Mile 24 featured a nice climb back up into downtown Cleveland, and I was tempted to walk up that hill, but I told myself "despite missing your goal, you are NOT going to walk." I recovered somewhat for the last two miles and finished the race in 3:44:24, which, I'm told, is not a bad debut marathon time for a man my age, but I was disappointed with it. Looking back, two marathons later, I'm happy with that time.
Thanks for reading, and happy marathoning,
South Lyon, MI
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