I finished my second half marathon this morning, you guys! And overall, it was a great run and I feel good about my result.

I’m at the mid-point of my full marathon training right now, and a half marathon just happened to coincide with my weekend long run of 13 miles. This was the Rock Hall Half Marathon in Cleveland presented by Second Sole and part of Greater Cleveland XC — in collaboration, obviously, with the Rock Hall.

Flat Mel!

Flat Mel!

Registration and Cost: I was one of the first 500 participants to sign up, so the discounted registration price was $55. Registration day-of-race (for comparison) was $95.

Expo and Packet Pick-up: No expo, but bib pick-up was INSIDE the Rock Hall, and you can’t get much cooler than that venue!

Bag Check: This race did NOT have a bag check, but I was staying at a nearby hotel and walked to the start line all geared up.

Weather: The morning temperatures were probably very similar to Pittsburgh’s Half — chilly but sunny. The temperatures quickly rose into the low 80s and I was glad for wearing my tank and shorts and not having to shed any layers (despite how chilly I was to start). No humidity at ALL though, and even a nice little wind. SO NICE.

Course: USATF certified course that started at the 9th Street Pier (aka: where the Rock Hall sits) and its ONLY hill is within the first 3/4 mile going up West 3rd. The course quickly diverted out of downtown down Lakeside, and up 18th Street to Carnegie, which took us all the way to MLK Boulevard — where the museums and beautiful Cultural Gardens are located. MLK dead ends, basically, into the lake, so we pulled a left to run along North Marginal, which takes you back to the Rock Hall for the finish. There is the tiniest little incline coming back into the last finish sprint, but coming from Pittsburgh, Cleveland “hills” are laughable.

rock hall course

There were many jokes made in my small group about the “perfect” place to have a heart attack, as we passed through Cleveland Clinic’s campus.

Fans and Experience: Minimal fan interaction along the course, save for the start and finish. My favorite fan was definitely the female cop on MLK who gave every runner a high five. Considering my being overwhelmed by the crowds at the Pittsburgh Half, the nearly-empty sidelines were welcomed.

I started off with the 2:40 pacer (who was ironically from Pittsburgh), and it was a really great group. I broke off with one of the older gentleman around five miles in. At the mid-point of the race, we attempted to catch the 2:15 pacers. Eventually, I needed a shortest-walking break to take in a bit more water (that I had mostly skipped) and eat a packet of sport beans, and my partner advanced ahead of me. It was nice to have someone to run and talk to for a lot of the race though! Plus, I didn’t put my earbuds in until about 8 miles in.

Random Bullshit: Uh, there was no cop or volunteer stopping traffic at the 18th and St. Clair intersection, which was a little scary. Thankfully, another runner grabbed a cop at the next intersection to get somebody there ASAP.

Finish Line: Short chute, with plenty of water close by at the end. Jimmy John’s was giving out sandwiches and I saw people walking around with plates of pizza and ice cream sandwiches (crazy jealous!). SO MANY vendor booths at the Pier. Well done.

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Medals and Swag: Both the half and 5K medals were awesome, and the awards were in the shape of a guitar pick (none of the latter for me lolz). In our swag bag was a ticket for free admission to the Rock Hall and probably one of my favorite free race t-shirts ever.

Bonus: Since I haven’t been able to curb my hunger during long runs, I packed a couple gluten-free lemon shortbread cookies from Pamela’s and THEY WERE PERFECT.

Double Bonus: One of the SCRR runners that met up for a pre-race picture saw me approaching the finishing climb of the race and ran with me almost to the end. That really made me feel good, and that kind of race day camaraderie is why I love this running community.

Pittsburghers  (and Steel City Road Runners) invade Cleveland!

Pittsburghers (and Steel City Road Runners) invade Cleveland!

Notable 30-somethings: High five to the 35-39 age group winner (ahem, my group) who finished in 1:23.42. Seriously.

After party: I found out from my sister that, randomly, my dad’s band was playing out at Legacy Village. We stopped out there for a couple hours to catch up with family, got more sunshine and lunch. And then it was back in the car to Pittsburgh.

OVERALL
The Great: Being able to run a race back in my hometown!
The Good: Weather was awesome, and I felt really, really good. Man, I haven’t had a good run in far too long.
The Bad: My boyfriend forgot to bring down my dang chocolate milk to the finish line!
The Ugly: Um… had some “digestive” issues prior to the race which made my already-nervous stomach more so. Thankfully, I had no problems on the course (but certainly did again afterward). Hashtag, runners problems.

My internal monologue was doing a little shit-talking after Mile 12, but MAN I felt so much better at this race overall than I did at Pittsburgh.

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RESULTS
Finished: 2:20:16 — 33 seconds faster than my half in May, so I have a new PR!
53rd in my age group (out of 82)

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