Cleveland half-marathon weekend: Friday

The weekend really started before it was technically even the weekend. I was up by 3am and at the airport by 4:30. Yawn. But the good news is that a super-early flight out of Austin got me to Cleveland by noon.

$8 long-sleeved tech shirt!

$8 long-sleeved tech shirt!

K picked me up at the airport and we headed to the expo, which was practically next door. Got our shirts and bibs, then scoured the booths for cool stuff. They had a table of previous years’ tech shirts for $5, but considering I didn’t run the race in the past, I thought it would be disingenuous to buy one, even for $5. Then I found two that didn’t have the year. Score! So for $15 I got a short-sleeved and a long-sleeved tech shirt, plus a cotton tee for my kid.

After a quick lunch, we turned the GPS toward the house where I lived until I was almost four. We briefly looked like stalkers, taking pictures in front of the house, and when the guy with his dog in the neighboring front yard looked askance at us, we got back in the car.

Not a Google Street View picture!

Not a Google Street View picture!

From there, we decided to drive the race route. Of course, this is a double-edged sword. I’m completely unfamiliar with Cleveland, so it was nice to have an idea of what to expect during the race. But driving it took almost an hour, and it hammered home just how damn long a half-marathon really is.

The first mile is uphill, which kind of concerned me–if my hip flexor and funky calf were feeling good, a hill is not a problem. But that early on, they might not be loosened up yet and that could spell disaster. Fortunately the rest of the course seemed reasonably flat.

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Lake Erie and downtown Cleveland from Edgewater Park

The first four miles were so pretty, along Lake Erie and past Edgewater Park. It turned kind of sketchy around miles 7-8, and K suggested we try not to get kidnapped–it turns out, those girls who had recently been found had been snatched right around this area. Shudder.

The second half of the course went through a bunch of tree-lined neighborhoods, then over the Lorain-Carnegie bridge (yikes, a hill at mile 11) and back into downtown past the Indians’ and Cavaliers’ stadiums. Downhill past the Hard Rock Cafe, up and down again past the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, then straight to the finish line in front of Browns Stadium. Yay, a downhill finish!

After driving the course, we checked into the Renaissance and dropped off my stuff. We pleaded for late checkout, but the desk clerk said they were all booked up and the best they could do was give us an extra hour. Good thing we weren’t running the full marathon–there’s no way we’d make a noon checkout. I wonder why they chose to be one of the race hotels if they couldn’t accommodate post-race runners?

The view from our room

The view from our room

Somehow we’d scored a room on the super-secret 12th floor, which required card-key access. K’s husband said the Seattle Mariners were in town to play the Indians, and they were staying at the Renaissance too–perhaps even on this same floor. Sadly, I didn’t see anyone who looked like a baseball player, though. There was also an a capella singing convention going on, and every elevator ride included little old ladies from Pittsburgh and Indianapolis singing to each other. K called them the Sweet Adelines.

We picked up Mediterranean takeout for dinner. Our Third Musketeer would be arriving soon, and we were all meeting at K’s house for a while. J brought her six- and seven-year old boys, and after being in the car for six hours, they needed to run around a bit.

After dinner, we trekked back to the Renaissance. The parking situation sucked, but eventually we found a space. The Sweet Adelines had brought a LOT of cars.

I scored some free wifi with my husband’s Marriott Rewards number, but I was tired and crashed by about 10:00. Which is good, because we had a touristy day planned for Saturday.

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