Of course, before the race, the weather in Cleveland was beautiful, some may say even a bit hot. Two days before the race, temperatures were in the mid-80s.... The weather gods, however, were playing a cruel trick on us. Before we could blink things changed around very quickly.....
|Course immediately before the race.|
Now, do not adjust your computer screen. Yes, that is SNOW. Now, snow by itself does not bother me. I actually like running in colder weather. The one potential drawback of the location of the North Coast race is that it is directly on Lake Erie.... and when there is bad weather it can be intensified by the Lake. And so it was on Saturday. The wind was downright wicked. It was blowing out of the Northwest so we ran clockwise. We got a HUGE tailwind running closest to the Lake and then got a HUGE headwind on the south side of the course. At times, I was literally stopped in my tracks, the wind being so fierce. And coming around to the lap counter by the beach, because of the wind direction, the path was covered in sand (although volunteers valiantly shoveled sand all day!) Every lap, my face was sandblasted, mouth full of grit and shoes full of sand.
|By the beach and running through sand.|
As I lapped around the course, I started thinking, hmmm, this is "only" a training run.... it shouldn't be so hard. I kept getting slower, the wind sucking all energy from me. I did have a chance to chat with a number of runners, like Beth McCurdy, Liz Bondar and eventual 24-hour female winner, Alene Nizky, which was fun and entertaining.
|Wind-blown but smiling....|
After six hours of these conditions though, I started thinking I wanted to cut my 12-hours short. I jogged up to Dr. Andy Lovy (US 24-Hour Team doctor, who was walking the race). "Hey Andy," I said, "I'm thinking about calling it a day at 40 miles." His response without missing a beat was "Good decision." I didn't wait around for him to change his mind.... I now just had a few more laps and I could stop.... I hooked up with Hung Ng, who was struggling at that point (he ended up 2nd place in the 24-hour) and we walked some and then ran some to get me to 40 miles. He continued on, claiming he was going to stop at 50 miles. As usually happens in 24-hour races, he got a second wind and stayed out the entire time, hitting 120 miles. Way to go!!
I, on the other hand, quickly packed up with my fantastic crew member, Courtney, and we headed to the nearest pub for some refreshments.
In spite of the miserable conditions, Race Director, Heidi Finniff, and all of the volunteers from the Cleveland West Road Runners were AMAZING. The new timer, Charles Elkins, also had a wonderful set-up and you always knew exactly what your miles were as well as the people in front of you. This race is truly first class and I definitely will be back, yes, rain or shine, snow or dry.... but keeping my fingers' crossed for no wind!
Special thanks to Charles Elkins, John Carroll and Pat Dooley for the photos.