Cleveland half-marathon weekend: Saturday

Saturday morning began with a trip to the adjacent Tower City Center for coffee. Priorities, people. Tower City was originally built in the 1920s as a train terminal, and while it’s still used for that, these days it also houses a huge multi-story mall.

Tower Terminal

Tower Terminal

The interior, at least in places, resembles New York’s Grand Central Terminal, one of my favorite buildings.


Very grand interior

After acquiring a caffeinated beverage for me and muffins for the kids, we wandered around the square a bit. Fountains of water, a statue of Cleveland’s founder, an old church, and the statue to soldiers and sailors–which apparently appeared in The Avengers, along with several other downtown buildings.


I guess this is as good an excuse as any to watch The Avengers again.

K and her family arrived and the kids all hit the hotel pool. At this point, K realized she had forgotten her foam roller–a critical need for my hip flexor and calf problems. I started to worry a bit–these injuries could make or break my race. We could have gone to a sporting goods store–K’s husband works for one–but the parking situation was already dicey, and there was a home Indians game this morning so lots would fill up quickly. Instead, we went back to Tower City on the off-chance Foot Locker or Champs Sports would have one. When that failed (the guy in Foot Locker didn’t even know what it was) we improvised. At the toy store we found one of those huge water cannons–it was round and covered in the same foam material as the roller. The diameter was a bit small, but it would work. MacGyver win!

Water cannon, er foam roller

Water cannon, er foam roller

After lunch, we headed to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, one of my must-see places on this trip. It took a while to get there since construction had closed several walkways and race prep had closed others (the finish line runs right in front of the museum to the football stadium). At least we knew what to avoid in the morning, since the race starts on the other side of the stadium!

The museum is a giant pyramid, designed by I.M. Pei, that sits right at the edge of Lake Erie. There was some sort of youth music festival going on in the plaza in front of the museum–tents, drumlines, and perhaps unrelated, some bikers who looked like ZZ Top.

Apparently it's not usually this crowded out front.

Apparently it’s not usually this crowded out front.

We got some discount vouchers with our race registration–I used mine right from my phone–so we got our wristbands and headed to the first exhibit. The museum is organized weirdly–you start at the first floor, then go up to two and three. Because it’s a pyramid with an open atrium at the center, the upper floors are smaller and the exhibits sort of snake around the perimeter. And because of this music festival thing, which also had a stage inside the museum, lots of people milled around the main floor watching the performers. Also in this area were a couple of displays of famous guitars, plus Alex Van Halen’s drum set and the ZZ Top car from Eliminator.

The first floor exhibits covered the origins of rock and roll, Elvis, the Beatles, and The Rolling Stones to U2 and Michael Jackson. One of the kids was fascinated by Elvis so we watched the exhibit video on him for a while, then took pics in front of one of his sparkly jumpsuits.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

The Michael Jackson exhibit had the Billie Jean jacket, a white glove, and the Grammy he got for Thriller, among other things.



And there was a great exhibit of Robert Alford’s photography, a veritable who’s who of the 1980s. Another cool display touched on censorship throughout the rock and roll era, from protests over Elvis in the ’50s to Frank Zappa and Tipper Gore in the ’80s.

From there we went up to the third floor. We skipped most of the films here–footage of inductees’ performances–but I loved the wall of inductees’ signatures. They glow brightly on a black background, like they were written in silver ink pen and illuminated with a black light. I’m thinking not every artist signed it specifically at his or her induction, since I know some were inducted posthumously. But as far as I can tell, every artist is represented. I was oddly fascinated by Stevie Wonder’s signature.



And then there was Pink Floyd's The Wall.

And then there was Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

From there we went down to the second floor for the Video Killed the Radio Star exhibit, which was basically a trip through my teenage years via iconic MTV videos. You know, back when MTV played music. I felt like this era was a bit under-represented in the museum. Yeah, Madonna’s is one of the photos at the entrance, and I saw Springsteen, U2, and ZZ Top, but the big exhibits focused on early rock and roll. Maybe that’s how it should be, I don’t know, but as a teen from the ’80s, I was hoping for more stuff I could relate to. Overall though, I really enjoyed the museum.

However, spending the day before a race wandering like a tourist goes against pretty much all conventional wisdom, including the advice from my sports doctor. J has been having some Achilles issues and her foot was Not Happy by the end of the afternoon either.

We got back to the hotel and discovered a giant fan blowing on a section of carpet in our room–evidently there had been a water leak. Fun times. Working around that, we got ready for dinner. We walked to a place near the hotel–K’s friend works there, and they have a vegetarian/vegan menu for J. I had an amazing ravioli and vegetable dish. Mmmm, carbs! After dinner, J went to the bathroom and took forever, and then I realized that what she’d really done was pay the check before any of us could protest. I know she tends to do this and I was still slow to catch on. D’oh! I blame sleep deprivation. But I know her well enough that arguing does no good, and I appreciated the gesture, so I just plotted a way to get it next time. 😉

From there we went back to the hotel. An early morning awaited us–race organizers suggested 6am arrival. So we neurotically methodically laid out everything for the morning–clothes, shoes, gels, sunglasses, Chapstick, all that stuff–and charged phones and Garmins. I rolled my calf and hip with the water-cannon-turned-foam-roller and tried to calm my brain. I’d been able to live in The Land of Denial all day, but now I had to face the reality of the race.

I have this habit of waking up before my alarm when I have something important–flights, races, whatever. And so I knew even as I set my alarm for 5:30 that my eyes would pop open before that. Little did I know K and I would both be awake at 4:30.