Ok, so the course: it sucks. It starts in downtown Cleveland, which is ok. I mean, I guess it's cool to run through a city. But since the streets are so damaged from the winter, the surface is unpleasant. It continues away from downtown, across the Lorain St. Bridge, into Tremont. This is where the race starts to become residential. There are trees, so the streets are shaded (if necessary) and, supposedly, there are neighborhoods that come out to support the race. What a lie. There were a handful of houses and/or businesses that were really out. There was a church, Happy Dog, and a couple of houses who were out. There were several corners with a handful of people who were totally ignoring anyone that wasn't their friend. It was NOT a friendly or supportive marathon. (Of course, I can only compare it to Disney, which is probably the friendliest marathon.) Even the volunteers were mostly sitting on their chairs, faces glued to their phones. Then, the worst of it all is how they divided the finish line. The have all the races run on the Shoreway and exit into downtown, but they have them exit on opposite sides of the Shoreway. This meant that all the marathon spectators were on another side of the highway, ignoring the half marathoners. It made me feel like a total loser, honestly.
More on how the course sucks...ok, start in the city on really shitty roads. Cross the Lorain bridge, which is kind of cool and spacious. Head into residential streets which are shady and mostly fun to look at. It's pretty clear the division of poverty in Cleveland, even within the neighborhoods. But even poor folks were out on there porches (about one porch on every block had a spectator). Then it goes back out away from residential down a busy street with McDonalds and only one side of the street is closed and cars are backed up and looking real annoyed at the runners. Seriously, there are tons of other OPTIONS for the route for the race, I don't know why we ran on Lorain three times and Detroit once. Then it's back into residential, with shady streets, so that's nice. Then out on to Detroit, which I enjoy. Down W. 78th, and a little loop at the border of Cleveland and Lakewood, which was fine. All of this was mostly flat and varied in shade and interest. But the ending, it is the worst fucking ending ever. In fact, I'm gonna encourage you NOT to run the race ever because of the ending.
The last three miles on both the half marathon and full marathon (and I think the second half of the 10K) are on the Shoreway going from Lakewood into Downtown. Now, if you're familiar with Cleveland, this is kind of a cool choice. You're running back into the city, over the Cuyahoga River and the Flats, and the skyline is right in front of you being gorgeous. The problem is that this final three miles is entirely uphill. (Also, there are no photographers where the amazing view of the skyline is, which is a stupid call on their part.) So yes, pretty, but also, FUCKING THREE MILES UPHILL AT THE END OF A RACE. Absolutely stupid. I was so mad about it. It crushed my time. (I need to train more hills, I guess.) My main beef is how they like to advertise this as a flat and fast course. But there is nothing flat and fast about running uphill for three miles at the end of a race. I was coming in when some of the faster marathoners were, and they were dying. So it's not just my slow, undertrained ass that had a problem.
Plus, they could easily run the course the other way. Leave from downtown, over the Shoreway, DOWNHILL from the start, finish coming into town over the Lorain Bridge and through the theater district. You could finish in shade from the buildings instead of three miles of blazing hot sun. (Luckily, it rained and was cloudy as I finished, but it got hotter as time went on.) It's just a really dumb decision made by someone whom I have to assume has never run the race or any race. Fucking idiots.
As for the amenities on the course : plenty of water and Powerade. Not enough bathrooms at all. I used a McDonalds as there were lines at all the port-o-pots. I saw one first aid by accident, so they were not plentiful or obvious. It's a rough street course with lots of sun. Just meh. I don't like it. I'll probably never do it again.
As for how I did? Well, I was slow. I was undertrained, but actually making good time until the final hill. That crushed my time and really pissed me off. My feet got wet from a puddle early on and I had some really painful blisters. I took off my shoes in the final stretch to the finish line, so I could finish at a run. I was chafed all over from new clothing, and I just couldn't foresee that. Also, my phone died at mile 10, which really made me mad. There went all my music.
I was extremely anxious the entire time. The crowd was so unfriendly that I felt like I wanted to disappear for most of the race. I like to sing as I run, and I sang more than usual to boost my mood, but I was near tears several times. My heart was often racing disproportionate to the speed I was running. It was rough and I had to walk (and sing) a few times just to calm myself down. (LOTS of Mean Girl Stares while I sang and only a few supporters. Who the fuck Mean Girl Stares "No Diggity"? Assholes, that's who.)
I had some hip soreness at the end, and some soreness in the muscles of my right leg. I expected something because of under training, but I think the soreness came from running on the Shoreway. Since it's a highway meant for high speeds, the turns are banked. Not the easiest to run on. I had some chafing because of new clothes, and so I'm letting my skin heal this week. I had blisters where I usually get them and new ones. I have to figure that out, because they also caused me problems at the end of my full marathon.
I finished about 7 minutes slower than I would've liked. Not bad, really. And I finished. So that's good. I have plans for how to alter my training for the Akron Half Marathon in September. I might not hope for a better time, just not the same issues I had in this race. I'm confident in the shoes I own now, so I feel comfortable about that.
At the end of the day, I finished, and that's all that really mattered.