One of the best parts about the location for this race is that, hi, it's at the zoo. Which means you're running through all of the exhibits. So after the opening remarks we all lined up near Monkey Island for the start of the race.
Now. If you've never been to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo then you can't really appreciate how hilly it is. I know I keep repeating it, but seriously. You have to walk it to fully understand. I'm not talking like one big hill up and down. I'm talking rolling hills. Of various degrees and lengths. Hills that have to be run up and down twice to get the 3.1 miles. This course is a beast, people. No pun intended.
When I chose this location as the spot for my first race last year I didn't take those hills into account. I just thought it would be fun to run through the zoo. This time I knew enough to go in with a plan: walk up hill, run down hill and level road. Simple and to the point and a plan that I stuck to.
I think because I know I can run 3.1 miles I should run the whole distance every time. But it's one thing to run any distance on flat road and then to try and run that on a super hilly route. Walking not only gave my legs a chance to rest for a bit which in turn helped with endurance, but I knew I could power walk faster uphill than I could trying to run. Plus I also knew I'd easily be able to make up the time when I ran downhill.
The animals weren't yet out that early in the morning, but we were able to run through the zoo's Dinosaur Exhibit. Naturally I pretended I was in Jurassic Park.
|"Dinosaurs eat Man, Woman inherits the earth."|
A few weeks ago, NPR was interviewing someone from the zoo about the display and the person mentioned people wanting refunds because the dinosaurs weren't real.
Oh, Cleveland. This is why I love you.
Last year I finished in 47:40 which is an average pace of 15:23. This year, when I hit that first mile marker in about 13:30 I knew I had this one. Beating last year's time was my only concern. Without the heat and hills I could have possibly pulled out a sub-40 but anytime that was less than last year's was fine with me.
So when I turned that final corner and saw the clock ahead and knew I was going to finish in about 43 minutes (still waiting for official chip time) I picked up my pace and put my heart into that final stretch. Didn't matter that I was exhausted or drenched in sweat from the sun beating down on me. I went in wanting to rock this race and rock it I did, beating my time from last year by nearly five whole minutes. And that's with walking about 1/3 of the race because of the hills.
That would be Slider, the mascot for the Cleveland Indians. Don't ask.
The proceeds from this race went to benefit Laura's Home, a crisis center for women and children run by The City Mission. I've actually been in contact these past few weeks with their social media manager after telling them my story about coming in last place last year and will soon be writing a blog post for them about my experience and journey! I will of course let y'all know when it goes live.
In the meantime, check out this video that The City Mission posted about the race. Around 2:12 you might see a certain red head make a cameo appearance.
Sherwin-Williams, the paint company, sponsored this race and are a perfect example of why our local Cleveland companies are the bestest: First, the awards were made from paintbrushes. Way cooler than a medal. But more than that, this year's race shirts are a really nice shade of grey (and super comfortable) and at the awards ceremony they announced a new color called Laura's Home Grey that they made based on the color of the shirt. They took the shirt to get the exact color matched and it sounds like it's available in stores. C'mon, how cool is that?
Oh, Cleveland. This is why I love you.
The volunteers were from the Sherwin-Williams Women's Club which apparently does a lot of philanthropy work and I live right near their corporate home and run past it often and am always jealous of the tennis courts and walking/running track around the compound. I mean, I like my job and all but I'm wondering if Sherwin-Williams has need for librarians. Like, y'know, I could catalog paint swatches. Or something.
My next race is the Bay Days 5 Miler on the Fourth of July and about a week or so later I start training for my October half-marathon! Great balls of fire I can't believe it's almost here!
Anyone else race over the weekend? How did it go?
Love from the ashes,