My Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon experience for 2014, WOW Where to begin??? No seriously?!?! I have been wanting to put together this blog post for a few days now BUT needed to decide how to sum things up as THERE WAS SO MUCH AWESOMENESS!!!

So I guess I will go with a play by play on how the day progressed. FIRST my parents arrived from Wisconsin the Friday before. They were pretty pumped to watch my 2nd ever Half Marathon, and were ready to spend some fun time together. Saturday my family and I went to the expo center to get my Bib and race packet. There is just something about an expo, especially a RUNNING expo that I LOVE!! It’s always nice to see the latest and greatest in gear and accessories. The expo was filled with tons of great things, Rite Aid Cleveland…GREAT JOB HERE!

Saturday night involved the annual cupcake baking. Yep that’s right (it’s annual now as this was the 2nd year it was done). My husband promised me a pink funfetti cupcake at the end of the race. He knows how hard I have been training, and also that I SERIOUSLY LOVE cupcakes. He has made it a fun tradition to make pink cupcakes the night before and to have one waiting for me when I finish. This year he even got fancy, using my pink mixer and apron (what a great guy).

Dana baking away =)

Dana baking away =)

He even used my pink mixer!

Pink cupcake wrappers too =) !

He even used my pink mixer!!

He even used my pink mixer!!

THEY LOOKED SOOO GOOD =)

THEY LOOKED SOOO GOOD =)

Now to the big event…..RACE DAY! Well it was recommended that all runners be in their starting Corral by 6am, that’s seriously early BUT understandable with a 7am start time. So just because we like to be early, and also you never really know with construction and traffic (yes even this early) we woke up at 3:45am to get ready for the big day! My family and husband also didn’t seem to mind this, talk about great supporters!! That morning everyone gather their belongings in a tired haze, the adrenaline was building =)

I did my usual pre-race routine. Had all of my “stuff” for the day lined up and ready to go in our kitchen. I usually run with a locket that has my grandparent’s ashes, however my running pants didn’t have a pocket that I felt comfortable leaving it in. So I made sure to get some positive energy and say a little prayer with their locket the morning before we left. I ate a bit, my usual race day fuel….greek yogurt, a rice cake with some PB2.

With Grandma and Grandpa's locket.

With Grandma and Grandpa’s locket.

Saying a prayer with my Grandparents.

Saying a prayer with my Grandparents.

At around 4:45am we were all loaded in the vehicle and ready to go! We were quickly able to find our parking spot, and made the walk to the starting area. Once at the start the wait SEEMED forever. It was a bit chilly and my adrenaline was in overdrive, I seriously was SO DARN EXCITED.

Good morning Cleveland!

Good morning Cleveland!

BURRRRRR!

BURRRRRR!

Once in my corral things seemed to pick up a bit, more runners arrived adding to the excitement. I took this time to try and unwind my nerves.
My husband took a few funny photos of me…

My pre-race nervous face!

My pre-race nervous face!

Ready to ROCK this thing (pretty sure the girl behind me is terrified).

Ready to ROCK this thing (pretty sure the girl behind me is terrified).

I said a few prayers…

Asking the Lord for a great injury free race!

Asking the Lord for a great injury free race!

I even saw Johnny football…

Don't worry Jonny Football, I am just rocking out to some Katy Perry =)

Don’t worry Johnny Football, I am just rocking out to some Katy Perry =)

Before I knew it was go time!!!!

The first part of the race was awesome, loved all the crowd support. It’s hard to believe you are running with THOUSANDS of people. Everyone smiling for ear to ear and enjoying the run, makes me smile just thinking about it!!!

I loved every part of the race! This year there seemed to be a bit more crowd support, not sure if I was just more alert or of the new course provided us with a few more cheerleaders. Either way, I loved the folks of Cleveland lining the streets and yelling!! I always enjoy reading the creative signs and for some reason am always tempted by the group handing out beer, now I would never take it as it would probably kill my system BUT that little devil on my shoulder always says OHHHH come on.

Right around mile 7-8 I started to hit a darn WALL. Seriously, my legs felt like sandbags and my mind was telling me ughhhhhh can you really do this? I was trying to be positive, wondering if I should venture into my pocket and take my Gel I brought along. Also knowing this training period I didn’t really use many Gel’s so would it affect my stomach, it didn’t last year BUT you never know. My mind kept racing and my legs started to get heavier……….UGHHHH! Then out of the blue I see a fan on the sidelines that look familiar, my good friend KCEY!! Is that really her or am I delirious??? NOPE IT’S HER!!! Kcey jumps in and joins me!!! Giving me some encouragement, telling me that I look strong OMG this is awesome AND PERFECT TIMING! Kcey joins be for about ¾ of a mile, OH MY GOSH JUST WHAT I NEEDED!!!!!! Seriously can’t thank her enough!! We even managed to take a pic together (wow we are talented).

Kcey and I (THANK YOU KCEY)!!!

Kcey and I (THANK YOU KCEY)!!!

After Kcey left, I got teary and maybe okkk I did cry a bit…..what an amazing friend. I can’t thank her enough!!

The rest of the race went rather well, it wasn’t until the last 2 miles that I started to slow a bit but at this point I could see the city and knew the finish wasn’t too far away. I finished strong!!!! Also was able to make eye contact with my family, pointing at them as I crossed the finish line!!!

Finishing and pointing to my family =)

Finishing and pointing to my family =)


The thought of seeing their amazing faces really carried me through the last 2 miles.

At the finish I was greeted by more FRIENDS!! AMAZING!! I wasn’t sure how I looked but I managed a few pictures with them =)

Some amazing co-workers waiting for me at the finish.

Some amazing co-workers waiting for me at the finish.

My good friend Stephanie (she ran the 10K).

My good friend Stephanie (she ran the 10K).

After a few photos and a much deserved post-race banana, I found my family. It was at this point that I realized I CRUSHED my goal!! My family showed me the results on their phones, I had completed the race in 1:44 min….my goal was 1:45, an 8:00/mile average pace (holy cow!!!!!) !! I seriously couldn’t believe it!!

This was the best part of the race, hugging my husband and parents after the race! Everyone was so excited, these hugs were what I was looking forward to for 13.1 miles (well and the cupcake, but shhhh).

My husband took some great photos that I will cherish FOREVER! Just a girl that crushed 13.1 miles smiling HUGE with her SUPPORTERS =)

Smiling from ear to ear with Mom and Dad.

Smiling from ear to ear with Mom and Dad.

With my #1 Supporter, my husband Dana!

With my #1 Supporter, my husband Dana!

Kisses for my husband =)

Kisses for my husband =)

I ROCKED THIS!!!

I ROCKED THIS!!!

Traditional Rite Aid Cleveland post-race photo.

Traditional Rite Aid Cleveland post-race photo.

After some great photos we made our way back to the car for some water (had to get my NUUN) and CUPCAKES! OMGGGGG that cupcake was so darn good =)

OHHHH YEAAA cupcake time!!!!!

OHHHH YEAAA cupcake time!!!!!

Thanks Dana!!!

Thanks Dana!!!

Dad couldn't wait, he had to have a cupcake too ;)

Dad couldn’t wait, he had to have a cupcake too ;)

The morning concluded with a much needed shower and some serious brunch, ohhhhh YUM! Pretty sure I ate my weight in food =)

After bunch, I sat on the couch completely relaxed and enjoying life. I needed to post some pictures to Facebook OF COURSE (that makes it official right?). To my surprise I see my buddy Rylan has been following my race and posting some AWESOME PICTURES!!!! I teared up as I saw all these amazing photos and posts, what an amazing buddy!!! (I dedicate all my miles to Rylan through the IRUN FOR organization, I was paired with RY about 3 months ago AND IT HAS BEEN AMAZING).

Rylan, wishing me luck for the race!

Rylan, wishing me luck for the race!

RY must have known I would need a little push at mile 10!!!

RY must have known I would need a little push at mile 10!!!

I sent RY some cupcakes to decorate so he too could celebrate at the finish of the race =)

I sent RY some cupcakes to decorate so he too could celebrate at the finish of the race =)

I finished!!! CUPCAKE TIME, that's my BUDDY!!!!

I finished!!! CUPCAKE TIME, that’s my BUDDY!!!!

HECK YES I DID!! =)

HECK YES I DID!! =)

What an adorable sign, I am truly honored to run for you RY!

What an adorable sign, I am truly honored to run for you RY!

A video I took before the race for Rylan:

Also pretty sure I was dead tired come 7:30pm, my dad even managed to capture this in a picture =)

Just about to fall asleep after an amazing day.

Just about to fall asleep after an amazing day.

Thank you all for your encouragement. Thank you to the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon for this amazing opportunity, I loved blogging and interacting with the other bloggers during our training. Most of all thank you to my husband, my rock and foundation…..seriously don’t know how I could ever repay this man for everything he has done to keep me running strong, best SUPPORTER EVER. Also, thank you to my parents traveling over 10 hours just to wait 1 hour 44 min to watch me cross the finish line.

I am already excited about next year =) Going to have to rock this thing again!!!

XX,
Jamie

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