Cleveland Marathon Race Report by Matt Oravec

I am excited to post this race report because of who wrote it.  I 'met' Matt through Twitter or Blogging or Facebook or Carrier Pigeon, but either way I am thrilled to have met him.  He is such a positive influence to all those that he comes in touch with.  I read his tweets to others and they are chock full of great advice and is always there to provide a slap on the back as well. Matt is out there training for his first full Iron-distance race this year and it's been awesome to follow his journey and see how he takes to the training with his wife Heather.  Great people, doing great things. Thanks Matt for letting me post this. ===========================

Cleveland Marathon Race Report

Not sure where to start.  I have been a tease with every race report so here is the important stuff.  Distance: 26.2 miles (a lot more according to my Garmin). Time: 4:10:31 Place: no clue, they were idiots with their results. So, Friday... well Heather went out and got her run in, I was a crabby patty and came home and slept.  This taper really messed with me at the end of the week.  I was eating everything in site and was exhausted.  I think my body is used to this and knew what was to come haha. After I woke up, Heather had made one of our favorite salads with strawberries, almonds, chicken, spinach, romaine, and blue cheese with a raspberry vinigerette.  Put me back into a happy place.  We didn't pack anything we just relaxed and took it easy. Saturday: Well, I had other plans on my agenda but it was raining all morning.  I couldn't get my landscaping accounts done.  So I worked some more on our chicken coop, I am building a run for them outside of the coop so they can flap around and eat more bugs.  My wonderful wife (reluctantly) came outside to help me lay it out and get all the netting on the run.  It is almost done but we had to get inside and get our stuff together. Heather had pretty much everything ready for us by the time I put all my tools away and cleaned up.  So it was a quick shower and we were off to the expo. The expo was about 20 minutes away from the race... decent location but it was a torrential downpour and the parking lot was pretty much full. Got in and made our way through the expo and it was pretty good.  A lot of vendors.  I will throw a complaint out here (as you know I keep it real, don't piss me off haha).  Second Sole had a booth set up.  I wanted another pair of compression socks for my achilles and calves to keep them "warm" and happy (per my Dr.'s request).  So we went to their booth, they had the best selection and at $50/pair hey, that is like 20% off retail. So I go there and the dude looks at me and says you are a size M-IV (4 for the un Roman literate ;)  ).  I said, well I was sized by Fleet Feet and they have me at a M-III (3) and they fit me very well and are tight enough.  Well Deuschbag proceeds to go off on a tangent about how he knows what size I am and he will measure me and prove it blah blah blah. So I sit down and he measures me and he goes, you really should be in a M-IV but you are on the borderline. Blah blah blah. We went back and forth a bit and I told him I don't care what you say, I have an achilles issue and I want my "compression" socks to COMPRESS.  So as he was getting the stuff together for me I saw a bin of gummy bears.  Mind you this is a running expo, tons of free samples right?  Well I go and grab one and D-Bag grabs my arm and yells at me.  THOSE ARE NOT FOR THE SPECTATORS!  Honestly I thought he was going into a Roid-Rage right on the spot and I turned defensively ready to throw down on the spot... yes, over a flipping gummy bear. I proceeded to drop it back in "his" bin.  He proceeded to "explain" to me why those are his and not for spectators. ... Alright, I have gone to Second Sole for years through high school and college.  GREAT people.  Great store.  This D-Bag realllllllllllllly pissed me off.  Because of HIM, I don't care to shop at second sole again.  I am sorry, your employees are a direct representative of your company.  If you have a D-Bag employee, I assume you are a D-Bag company. Onward.  Heather claimed that I was in the wrong for just grabbing a gummy bear.  They were out in the open and the lid was not on his container... you be the judge haha! We went to the hotel after that and checked in. Relaxed for about an hour or so and then her Mom came up.  BDD had met H's mom at the Portage Lakes Triathlon last fall and we had an awesome time.  BDDwas a bit sad that she wasn't at the Glass City race this spirng to cheer us on... she is an AWESOME cheer leader :) We got her settled in the room and we headed on down to the inspiration dinner for Team in Training. This is our second event with Team in Training.  Nike Women's marathon was our first. We realllllllly enjoy the group of people we train with and the coaches are really cool and fun.  Last fall we trained every week with the Team.  This year, we went to 1 run with them.  We were both injured all year and since we were so late in the plan, I decided to follow our own plan that was more adapt to our lack of base mileage.  Luckily a lot of people we already knew were running the race too so we still knew a lot of the runners. At the inspiration dinner they told a story of a 23 yr old girl with ridiculously awesome credentials and graduating at the top of her class from Duke had passed away in February from Leukemia.  She was an alumni.  It was really sad to hear the story and that everyone knew her.  Her parents were at the dinner and it was honestly tear jerking.  It really solidified why we do this and that there is more to running and racing than JUST the medals (and free shirts). All in all we had 92 participants doing either the 26.2 or the 13.1 in our chapter.  Out of those participants we have raised over $118,000.00 for this event alone!  It was a great success. We chatted afterwards with some friends and we were up to our rooms for bed. Sunday: We were up at 4:30am.  About typical race day wakeup haha.  Actually both got a GREAT sleep.  I have had GI issues since Glass City (and during that race).  So I got desperate, I cut out all coffee and beer last week. I was 99% positive that the coffee was causing too much acid in my stomach which would get me sick. So I was hoping today would be problem free. Saturday before the expo, we stopped at Wendy's for some Bowl Movement gurantee... or some cheeseburgers haha. To my despair, it was not full proof.  No BM Saturday at all and none Sunday morning.  Alright, I was in panic mode haha. I had 1 pop tart for breakfast and started stretching and getting my gear together. My key trick was to take a hot shower and stretch in the shower.  The heat loosened up my achilles really nice and allowed me to get it loosened up perfectly. We got our gear on and headed down to the lobby for a team picture. Heather and I were getting a little panicked that they weren't heading down to the start line.  It was not raining but was a bit chilly, upper 50's so we headed down to the start line without the group. We went to Brown's stadium and found the bathrooms.  This was my last chance for a successful 2-day backed up download. Believe it or not, it was almost perfect.  Got up to the stall, got settled and had a major success. I thought about the whole pre-race deal.  All last year I had pre-race jitters and was so nervous.  This year, I don't care.  I don't get upset or nervous.  That nerve stuff would cause the downloads in the past... so I am kinda screwed now I think haha. Afterwards met up with H and her mom again and we headed to the start line.  Got settled in at the 3:45 pace group (give me time to explain this) and we waited for the start.  5 minutes later, anthem.  5 minutes later, start. So, why did we seed ourselves with the "faster pace group"?  Something I get pissed off about all the time that others do? Because that pace group was not even doing 10min miles for the first few miles.  Walkers were up there.  People were gasping for air up there (before mile 1).  I was furious.  We were dodging people left and right.  We had a plan to stick to and we had to execute. The race starts out going up a hill... I actually really enjoyed that haha. As we were going we heard someone yell out for us, it wasn't until after the race that I found out it was Rachael from MissFit_Island! There were too many people that I couldn't find her in the crowd (sorry ! ) Our Plan.  Run the first 3 miles then walk a minute.  This was to get through the crowd of people and hopefully have things thin out a bit.  This was more for our safety than anything because we did not want to start walking by the beginning and get run over or cause an accident.  After that it was run 1 mile, walk 1 minute.  SIMPLE plan. First few miles were great.  Felt awesome, I was pushing the pace a bit but at the start of every race its all adrenaline.  H called me out a few times though and I had to respect that this was her race more than anything so I would back it off. Mile 4 I had to pee, badly.  I hopped in line for the port a pots and as usual chose the wrong line.  Told H to stick to the plan and stay on the right, I would catch up.  Well after that pee stop, I proceeded to catch her with a 6:30 mile split... that might have cost me the race with my achilles.  NO SPEED WORK MATT! (idiot). I felt good though and had a few miles to get the legs warmed up, from then on it was SMART running. We stuck to the plan, the first half of the course was awesome.  If anything, I would definitely run the Cleveland HALF marathon again ANY DAY.  It was a very fast course, heck, H ran her 13.1 in 2hrs flat almost which was essentially what she ran at Glass City this spring! It was actually through really nice neighborhoods, along the shoreway of Lake Erie, and GREAT crowd support.  I was really impressed with this part of the race. Nothing really eventful except that a Team in Training coach was dressed up as a gorilla and I proceed to stop and dance to the music with him at mile 7.  They were playing the Tanto Jump On It song.  You bet your butt I was doing the ride the pony dance while running.  People were going nuts laughing their butts off hahaha.
That brings me to my next point.  Every 5 or 6 miles they had live music or a DJ.  It was honestly awesome!!! The first half had such energetic crowds and music it was seriously awesome.  Mile 12 had a live band of what looked like 8 year olds playing Guns and Roses Paradise city.  As we were running by they were doing the guitar solo part and it was REALLY good.  I was shocked these kids were that talented yet alone knew that song haha.
Well we told Heather's mom to meet us at mile 13 and then head back to the finish and wait for us haha.  She was having a BLAST! She had her cow bell ane we saw her about a quarter mile out and we started screaming.  She went nuts, I felt so bad for everyone around her ;)
I guess there were some guys that were really fit running without shirts and she was giving them cat calls haha. I am so glad that I fit in with her family ;)
Well at this point it had been misting lightly for the whole race.  The winds were really not horrible and for the most part we had a tail wind for the whole stretch from mile 5 - 16!
The back half... now there were virtually no crowds.  The back half was the road I drove every day to go to college for 5 straight years.  It was honestly weird running on the road that I had driven for years.  If anything it was nice and was essentially a gradual down hill the whole stretch to mile 18!!!
Now, here is where crap started going wrong.  Heather had a bad cramp at mile 12... she was able to fight it off and get control of it.  She got another one at around mile 14 or 15 or so.  She started drinking solely water at this point and no more Powerade or Infinit.  She was taking GUs anyways so she didn't need the additional nutrition.  Well as we were running down Chester Ave. they did not have cops at every intersection.  The East side is pretty much more or less approaching Cleveland's low income Ghetto.  My college was right at the border of the ghetto and we NEVER ran East.
Well these people could give two shits about the marathon.  They were speeding through the intersections with no guards and the people in front of us at one intersection had to stop and jump to the side to avoid getting clipped!  I screamed and cussed out the driver but obviously they didn't care.  This was one of my BIGGEST complaints on the course.  Honestly, I was pretty scared for the other runners.  If they hit me, I would have done more damage than a deer would to a car haha, so trust me, they would have missed us!
We kept up with our plan.  Mile 14 the achilles acted up.  Minor pain but it was there.  I have run on it with a lot more pain in training so I knew I was still alright.
Mile 20.  Well this was along the lake, dead fish skeletons and fish heads every where.  It was so pungent of stanky fish smell that we were trying to hold our breath haha.  This is also where I was starting to panic.  10k left and I couldn't get started after the minute walk breaks.  The achilles was seizing up on me big time and it took a minute of trying to run to loosen it up.  I told H it was time to change the plan... I said I need a 30 second walk from here on out because otherwords this thing might completely seize up on me.  Every mile from this point on was more intense pain.  I was hopping on my left foot at points to try and give my right foot a break.  Mile 25.  Rain started to pick up a bit.  I had a smile from ear to ear.  We were CRUSHING this race for H and we both looked at each other here and said we feel AMAZING! (aside from my flipping achilles).  I was kind of hobbling through the next mile (although you couldn't tell at mile 26 below).
Typical MattyO fashion. Pumping the crowd up.  The lady on the right LOVED
my energy and was going nuts as I was trying to pump the crowd up.  H is
right at my side... well, trying to avoid all the attention at least haha.
We had 0.2 miles left.  The pace just kept picking up and picking up!  I gave my typical yell at the crowd that was just STANDING THERE WITH THEIR THUMBS UP THEIR BUTTS!  "I DIDN'T RUN 26 MILES FOR SILENCE LET'S HEAR IT!!!!!"
I proceeded to go from side to side getting High 5's from the crowd and getting them pumped up too.
We finished at 4:10:31 and it was truly awesome.  H got to the TNT tent and started to shiver horribly (as she does after every marathon) so we got her warm clothes on and put some panchos on her to keep her body heat in.
Some of our friends, H with her popsicle, me with a plate
of food, 2 burgers, hot dog and mac and cheese :)
(Fatty Pig Fatty, hey, I just ran 26.2!)
So, Our Afterthoughts...
Now Heather and I talked a lot about this race afterwards.  This running plan was our plan for the Ironman race in September.  We wanted to try it out and see how our bodies accepted the walking and the starting and stopping.  Granted, the achilles was seizing up on me big time and I was actually really afraid of tearing it from the amount of pain I was in.  I am hoping that 2 weeks of recovery will allow this to be a thing of the past.
Minus the achilles issues, this plan is honestly gold.  We both felt 100% amazing.  Our quads were a little sore at the end but that was obviously, heck, do anything for 4 hrs straight you are gonna feel it.
H was the real gage for this plan though.  I typically run faster than her, so my fitness level was different than hers. And all in all we planned on doing the Ironman together as well.  So we needed something that worked for both of us.  Now, a lot of people thought we were nuts and asked, isn't it hard to start up after you walked? NO.  At San Francisco we had some issues starting up because we were dead, we did not practice a run walk and with this plan this time around we practiced the run/walk technique for any runs that were over 13.1 miles in distance.  Everything less than that we ran the whole length.  This was something we decided together and wanted to stick to.
In my own opinion, I do not think I will ever run a full marathon without walking again.  I used to hurt severely from marathons for like 3-4 days.  I am walking fine today, even the achilles backed off and aside from the enormous knot in my achilles (going to doc next week to get it worked out) my quads don't hurt, IT Bands don't hurt and everything feels AMAZING.
Am I on cloud 9 right now? YES, this is my 5th marathon.  I don't hurt at all.  We both felt really good for the rest of the day yesterday as well, albeit sore quads yesterday.
Did we stick to our plan?  100%.  We had to make a couple adjustments due to issues that came up.  We took an extra walk break for Heather's cramp and we shortened the walk breaks at the end due to my achilles.  Both of us could adapt to the changes, but we STUCK TO THE PLAN.  James, you would have been proud of me for finally getting over my Meat Headedness and listening to you for once ;)
Lessons Learned:
The way you train, should be the way you race.
Running races with friends/groups is awesome. Huge energy surges when you see them.
There is NOTHING WRONG with yelling at the crowd for not cheering.
Run/Walking (RULK) you can kick ass.  We passed people the WHOLE race.  How? I don't really know. The whole last 10k, we passed people LEFT AND RIGHT. That was a great feeling and another solid identifier that we trained properly and our plan was excellent.
Coffee causes GI issues in my stomach while running.
We raised over $560 over the minimum fund raising goal :)
Heather bought a SPI Belt at the expo and it worked EXCELLENT for her during the race.  It was slim and she didn't notice it while running.
Yet again, I was Heather's sherpa for this race... since we practiced that way, I guess it was only fitting LOL! I filled up my bottles with water so she always had water when there weren't water stops during our walk breaks.
When a race has 3-5 port a pots at every water station, I will have NO GI ISSUES at all.  When a race has ONE SET of port a pots halfway through, I will end up shitting in the woods and suffering a fate worse than death for miles.
I don't really care to ever run a stand alone marathon again.
Heather got a PR by over 27 minutes. TWENTY SEVEN folks.  That is huge.  How? By walking during her race.  Explain that to me hahaha!!!
To sum up the day. Excellent.  I love that I am able to experience these things with my wife at my side, she is my best friend and the best training partner I know of.  I wanted to thank all of my Twitter friends for really helping me by sending me positive vibes and being super supportive (even through all your TrashTalk LOL).  I also want to send a HUGE congrats to Beal.  He is the newest member of the 26.2 club.  It is a club that you can NEVER get kicked out of ;) Great job man, wish we were able to see you finish, but H was going into convulsions lol.
Picture Dump:
We woke up with this on our door. Total PMA all day. (Positive Mental Attitude)
At home recovering and icing achilles.
Of course the bling! The guitar spins in the middle of medal!!!
My Canada hat I got during the House of Payne 5k.
Two TNT 26.2 pins now!
Heather ready to go home after the race.


Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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