Where I’ve been and Medina Half re-cap

1 06 2014

After my great run at the Cleveland Marathon’s 10K I had a rough few weeks. Training time was swallowed up by kid activities and home improvement tasks or appointments. There is just not enough time in the day. My allergies made my run last Sunday feel uphill, both ways. It left me feeling severely lacking in preparation for the half.

Expo day arrived and I hadn’t run since Sunday. While I worked during the day, my super awesome mom grocery shopped and prepped some food for us to all enjoy post race, picked up The Kid from his last day of school and wrangled The Small One. After work, the kids and I met an old friend, C, at the expo and decided to carb load together. We dropped The Kid off at an end of the school year sleepover, did dinner with lots of gab involved. My partner in crime, S, whom I had suckered into racing by promising an afternoon by the pool post race, decided to take me up on the offer to crash here since she lives 45 minutes away; we got back from dinner mere minutes before she arrived.  After returning home, I squeezed in a 20 minute easy paced run right at dusk that made me feel a bit more stretched and balanced. During that run I figured out how to have Siri read me texts, and let M know that she was on duty after the 2 hour mark to help me finish strong. All this after a more than full day’s work, I had a hard time settling my brain to sleep. Thank goodness for Calms Forte. That stuff is a life saver!

Race day I woke early and got ready,  finally deciding on my dark purple “13.1, it seemed like a good idea at the time” shirt. S had bought us matching ones in January and had decided to wear hers. After getting dressed there was a small hiccup in that The Kid needed to be picked up from the sleep over early, like now, 5:30am. Luckily I was ready, and used the 10 mins it took to get him to eat my banana in the car. I didn’t let it fluster me, and I dropped him back off in the care of The Man. S and I rode our bikes the two miles to the square to prevent parking chaos. That was a perfect way to stretch our legs just a bit, I am so glad we did that. The line for the port a potties was epic, but we made it to the start line as they began the national anthem. We tried to locate C who was planning a similar pace to hook them up with no success. I wished S the best of luck and gave her a hug as we started.

Due to our near miss arrival at the start line my Garmin was not ready to go as I crossed the start line. I was about 45 seconds off the clock time as I started, but the Garmin started a bit after that. It was going to be hard to know where I sat goal wise exactly, but at least it was something. It was quite crowded, but I weaved through people until I felt comfortable with the pace. This meant that I passed the 2:40 pacers before mile one. I was OK with that as I knew I would need a bit of a buffer later. My unicorns, rainbows and ponies goal (with the stars aligning perfectly) goal was 2:45. This was a quite ambitious goal based on a 3:06 finish at last year’s CLE, especially considering the hills involved in this course. My better goal was sub three and my good goal would be to finish without dying. I had set my mind to try to stay between the 2:40 pacers and the 2:50 pacers. And how awesome is it that there were pacers every 10 minutes? All the way down to 3:20. AMAZING!

My legs and lungs felt better than last week’s long run, which was quite a relief. We went past the small private lake that seems to be a requirement for all Medina races, and the crowd seemed to stabilize. Not much passing or being passed, just a nice steady, not-too-crowded group. I had Siri text M and The Man after I hit the mile three marker. We spent a hot second crossing and then running on the berm of one of the major roads here, Route 3. The police and volunteer support were quite noticeable here and quite appreciated. The bridge over the creek was lined with American flags courtesy of The Patriot Runners, one of the race beneficiaries, who were cheering and providing a water stop at the other end. The course turned in to the park and up to the trail that rounds the beautiful Lake Medina. The trail is gravel and a bit uneven the but view is well worth it.

Leaving the park we started the big climb up route 18, where the race was clearly affecting traffic. I noticed a lot of nurses in the traffic jam, likely on their way home from a night shift at the hospital. The 10K split seemed to come up fast after I turned into the neighborhood at the top of the hill. There was a great deal of crowd support in that area. The only downside was that due to the Memorial Day holiday, their trash pick up was that morning and it was a bit stinky. The Gu stop was right before the split but the flavors were not to my liking, but I am overly picky, especially when tired so I had planned for that. It did remind me to fuel up. I had eaten a few Honey Stinger fruit chews right before the hill, but now I used a peanut butter Gu. I added water to my tepid hand held water bottle as well, which helped quite a bit. I have found that I am a sipper–I don’t do well with water stops and the cups. I had Siri read my texts: one from The Man saying he was hurrying to get the crew to mile eight cheering spot, and two other friends with encouraging words. M included a few inside jokes and prompts to sing. She also called me Bad Ass.

Right after the 10K split the 2:40 pacers caught me. They were great. I chatted with them about my goals, and the fact that we were nearing my ‘hood and it was going to be hard to turn right and not left to go back home to bed. They joked about grabbing an arm each and the third one thought my run bun would be a nice way to yank me back on course. I stayed with them right until the eight mile cheering area. This is where my family, joined by S’s family, waited. The elementary school’s PTO had a DJ playing the Rocky theme. They all had great posters, my kiddos included. My kids were even dressed in acceptable outfits–score one for The Man. I collected high fives and hugs and set back on my way. The family would wait there for S and C, and then head to the square for the big finish. I was glad to see that The Kid had rallied so they could be out on the course–I wasn’t sure they would be there. After I left the hug stop, my hips really started to hurt, and my bra line chafing seemingly caught on fire. I finally stuffed my washcloth in there which helped, or at least stopped the burning.

Heritage's cheering section- I may be biased, but they deservedly won the cash prize for best cheering squad!

Heritage’s cheering section- I may be biased, but they deservedly won the cash prize for best cheering squad!

The next five miles are kind of a blur of sun and gradual incline. As I passed a kid with a garden hose, I spun around in front of him for a second. How refreshing! A few houses later, his friends had water guns and they helped as well. Tons of neighbors sat out at their driveway aprons with signs, chalk drawings and inspirational sayings, many quite funny (Don’t Poop! was my favorite), and high fives and words of encouragement. Somehow the water stops seemed to be further and further apart (they weren’t) and the temperature seemed to increase quickly (it did). A really well done sign from earlier reappeared at the second cheering area for the Up Side of Downs, the other charity the race was benefiting. It was bright neon, sort of old school comic book style, with a “TOUCH HERE FOR POWER” spot. I figured it couldn’t hurt, so I did.

Less than two miles to go and we passed a yard sale, complete with an eight seat dining set with all the chairs in a line. They were quite inviting, despite their less than stellar condition. I trudged on, and at this point, it truly was trudging. There was no shade, and the most excitement was a mama goose and her many goslings crossing the road. I knew once we turned again we would be nearly there. I had Siri check for new texts. M had sent nine, which made me laugh even before listening to them. They were filled with encouragement, making Siri swear and inside jokes that helped keep my mind off the fact my hips were attempting to lock up. She urged me to finish so she could go for her run as the Texas heat was rising quickly and she didn’t want to die of heat exhaustion. I did my best to oblige.

Siri did not describe the photo of the wet cat, by the way.

Siri did not describe the photo of the wet cat, by the way.

The final turn went over another major route in town. This time the drivers were not so patient. I chose to utilize the sidewalk. It was truly sad how impatient they were, not even following the police officers directing them. I find that the area is full of two types of drivers. The majority are over courteous, often not following the actual rules at a four way stop in order to be overly polite and letting bikes and people cross by waving them ahead. The others are in a hurry and don’t even stop at stop signs and will tailgate you and run you off the road if you are in their way. Sad to say that a few of the second type seemed to be out about 9:30 on Saturday this week.

As I made the final turn on to the brick road I saw S’s husband and her girls on their bikes and got a nice cheer from them. A bit up the road my crew was waiting to give me a final push up the hill. My hips ached and I could barely lift my feet from the ground. Later The Man said he was a bit worried as he could tell I was really struggling after I passed them. Once I hit the square, the road leveled off and I was able to give it a final push to finish under 2:50 clock time, ultimately finding that 2:48:43 was my actual time. Exactly where I wanted to be, between 2:40 and 2:50, but a bit behind the unicorns and ponies. The impressive medal made up for any hint of disappointment I felt. Talk about bling!!

That's a medal to buzz about!

That’s a medal to buzz about!

I grabbed a giant smiley face cookie and a water and headed for shade. I ran across the woman I had run with on the freezing cold training run and her husband and chatted with them. My family met up with me then and we headed to watch for S and C to come to the finish. I was so excited to see S running strong as she crossed her first half marathon finish line. C followed soon after. They had never crossed paths but became instant friends, as we were all half marathoners that day! We compared and admired our hard earned bling and sat in the grass and nearly collapsed. We kept talking about going to the farmers market, but it took a while to get the motivation to actually stand up again. The fresh squeezed lemonade for me, a mini fresh doughnut for S, and a catnip plant for C, made it worth it.

As we gathered the group to leave, the volunteers were tearing down and I noticed the race director Beth among them. We went over to thank her and let her know our vote for favorite cheering section and I gave her a hug. Her hard work had paid off–it was an awesome race. Traffic in Medina, particularly near the square, especially on a Saturday is quite the force to be reckoned with. I do my best to avoid it on foot or in a vehicle, but she had pulled it off. We all made it safely back to the finish line.

We headed back to the house for a well-deserved, relaxing afternoon by the pool. On our way out of the square, my sister-in-law passed in her car and waved. A few seconds later, we saw a family from my street who shouted congratulations when they noticed my medal. As we rode the trail towards home, I realized I finally felt at home, part of the community. After 10 months, Medina is finally home. Funny how running in a big circle around the city is what finally made me feel that way. I plan to BEE THERE next year as well. I know this race wasn’t my first, but it may be my most important.



One response

1 06 2014

Very well done blog! I really didn’t notice the bad motorists or the stank of exhaust on 18 from the back up. The night before additions of Green Day (your recommendation) into the playlist totally took me away from the pain. So very grateful for you and The Man’s encouragement and end goal spoils!!

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