The Cleveland Marathon 5K: Learning to run just for fun

Alicia and I before the race – we have our bib numbers and are ready to go!

Months ago I had a huge plan for this past weekend – I made a calendar and thought I had all the time in the world to train, train, train for the Cleveland Marathon’s 5K.

Then life got in the way.

While I was able to squeeze in a run on the treadmill most weeks and kept up with strength training, Jump Back Ball, weddings and the occasional muscle pull got in the way from really getting outside this Spring to run.

Because of this, I decided to approach the Cleveland Marathon’s 5K differently. Instead of completely giving up or pushing myself without proper training, I was just going to have fun.

The perfect accessory for any fun run, my Spongebob SquarePants toe socks

Doing something “just for fun” is a completely foreign concept to me, but I made a conscientious effort to put aside my competitive streak, not worry about my time and just go out there and enjoy the run.

Fortunately, the organizers behind the Cleveland Marathon made it easy to enjoy.  Their 5K course winds its way through downtown Cleveland – all the way from the Cleveland Browns stadium, up W. 6th, down Huron and Prospect, and even by my office on E. 9th.

While there are some inclines, it’s not too daunting (even for this newbie runner) and the last half of the course is primarily a fast, downhill dash.

The best part about the course, though, is the finish line – not just because it meant I was done running :) , but because you end the race by running onto the field in Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The 5K’s finish line on the Cleveland Browns field

Seriously, there’s nothing cooler than running through the players’ tunnel and feeling the turf beneath your feet as you run the last few yards across the finish line.

With this in mind, I snuck in a little bit of prep last week – getting in a yoga session at Nishkama in North Olmsted (where my yoga intention for the session was to enjoy Saturday’s 5K) and a practice run in my neighborhood (my first outdoor run since fall).  I was as ready as I was going to be.

Also in my favor this time around: I had a running buddy who was looking to enjoy the race. Because she’s been focused on her yoga teacher training, Alicia from Poise in Parma opted to join me in our game plan of doing a fun run together (you can read her recap here).

Scott doing his best impression of my coat closet (thanks for holding everything while I ran!)

With Hans DJing our run and Scott doing his best impression of my coat closet, Alicia and I laughed and sang our way through 3.26 miles, not really caring about our time (even when we got held up for 30 seconds at an intersection).

Not to say I didn’t work hard – the 80 degree heat was definitely a challenge. And although my legs held up, I got a huge side cramp about 3 minutes in.

Fortunately, Alicia was fantastic at pushing me when I thought I couldn’t run any further and kept track of our walk breaks. If her guidance during our run was any indication, she’s going to make an excellent yoga teacher.

Silly photo opp in front of my office building!

When I finally checked my chip time this week, I was happy to see I actually PRed (even if only by 8 seconds). However, I didn’t need to see my time to know I had met my goal for this year’s Cleveland Marathon 5K.

I knew it as soon as I crossed the finish line on Saturday morning (here’s the video from Brightroom):

I learned how to just run for fun.

Hans, Alicia and me after a well-run fun run

That’s my story from Marathon weekend and there are lots of other great ones out there (all from much, much better runners)!  If you’re interested in checking out other bloggers who ran the 5K, 10K, half or full, Alicia has a full rundown here.

However, I wanted to give a shoutout in particular to one of the 5K runners — Christian from Training 4 Autism – Cleveland Style.

The 2012 Cleveland Marathon 5K was presented by the Organization for Autism Research, whose Run for Autism events raise funds and awareness for autism research.  Through his work as the Cleveland chapter president of Train for Autism, Christian was a huge supporter of the races — running in the 5K and marathon and organizing one of Sunday’s water stations.

All of the runners at the 5K’s starting line – I’m much (much) farther back

He runs not just because he enjoys doing it (the guy’s clocked A LOT of races), but also as an amazing advocate and fundraiser for the cause.  Saturday was a special run because he ran it with his son Cal. It was great seeing them out there and you should check out his recap of the weekend to see how every mile was a memory.

I also recommend if you’re interested in getting involved to check out the Train 4 Autism Cleveland page for future events and showing your support for autism research by donating at The Heldawg’s T4A Fundraising site (his next big race is the Ragnar Relay in October, a 200 Mile team relay in the Appalachian mountains – yowza!).

There are no 200 mile relays anytime in my future, but I am thinking about moving up to the 10K at next year’s Cleveland Marathon (2013 registration is already open). Of course, that’s only after I get a few more 5Ks under my belt this summer.

Any suggestions for 5Ks this summer?

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4 Comments

  1. Awesome run!!! I am shooting for my first 5k this fall in Cuyahoga Falls. It goes right past my house (so I can wave at my cats). But, if you hear of any good ones over the summer, keep us posted. I wouldn’t mind getting one under my belt before fall!

    • That’s so exciting! The Cleveland Marathon 5K was my third 5K (my first one was last July’s Run for the Pierogies because the promise of pierogies would get me to do pretty much anything). However, I don’t get out there as much as I probably should.

      Hermes Road Racing has a great selection of races to choose from: http://www.hermescleveland.com/roadracing/ – some are marathons/10Ks, etc. but they also offer a lot of shorter runs and 5Ks.

      I hope this helps and if you want to try out the Run for the Pierogies on July 7, let me know and I’ll see you there!

  2. You are too too kind for those lovely words you shared here. I was so excited to run this race with you. I’ll never forget this 5K and am so happy to have this experience with you!

    Shall I see you back in Independence on August 4th for the 2nd year in a row? :)

    • Sadly no :( I’m going to be trying my hand at rafting in the Poconos that weekend (I forsee me going in the water A LOT). However, I do have the Run for the Pierogies on my schedule July 7 if anyone wants to join me.

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