I’m officially entering Taper Town, and I could not be more ecstatic. This past weekend was my last super long run before race day on October 22nd. I looped in my mileage with the Northern Ohio Half Marathon, which just so happens to be one of my favorite races. I’ve reviewed and recapped Northern Ohio twice before (read 2015 here and 2016 here). This year I’ll keep my review brief and get on to the good stuff — the race deets.
Northern Ohio Half Marathon Review
Parking at the Northern Ohio Half Marathon is very easy. It’s a large parking lot and volunteers direct you where to park. There’s no navigation of city streets, there’s no walking for miles to get from a parking lot to the starting line. It’s easy.
I wasn’t quite as impressed with the race shirt this year as I have been in the past, but the medal was pretty amazing. If you’re into your bling, the medal definitely makes up for the shirt.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again — if big crowds are your thing, this isn’t the race for you. It’s a smaller field (this year topped out around 1,200) and while there is some crowd support, it’s not like in the bigger races. If you like the small races where you can zone out and relax, you might really enjoy this race. I like turning up my tunes and doing my thing — small crowds work for me.
The course winds runners through residential and lakefront neighborhoods, along wooded paths in parks, and next to the shore of Lake Erie. It’s scenic and has something for everyone. If you’re not racing for a PR, be sure to stop for the gorgeous photo opp of the stairs leading to the lake located on the lakefront trail (it’s called Headlands Road on Google maps but it’s most definitely not a road).
The post-race party at Northern Ohio is always lots of fun. Grab your medal and a bottle of water, then head over to the food tents for some granola bars, pizza, candy corn, bananas, coffee, and hot chocolate!
If you’re in the greater Cleveland area in October, Northern Ohio Marathon, Half Marathon, and Relay is well worth your time. It’s a really great race!
Northern Ohio Half Marathon Race Recap
As I mentioned, I’m just now entering taper. I had to figure out how to squeeze in 18-23 miles this weekend. I went through several iterations and dozens of emails with my coach before finally settling on running a warm-up, the half at marathon race pace, and then a cool-down for a total of 18 miles. Luckily, my friends Julie and Sara also had to fit in a long run this weekend so it worked out really well.
Unfortunately Julie overslept so she didn’t make the warm-up miles, but Sara and I ran 2.7 warm-up miles. We kept the pace nice and easy.
My race portion felt really great. It was colder than I prefer but it definitely made for good running conditions. I wore throwaway arm sleeves for several miles before eventually ditching them.
The first few miles flew by. I ran with Sara and another woman I just met, Amy. She was very nice and it was great to have company for the first couple miles. I was right on pace.
Miles 5-8 were fantastic. Sara, Amy and I got separated so I turned on some tunes and went with it. I felt amazing and picked up the pace. My splits were about 30 seconds faster per mile in these miles.
Miles 9 -13.1
As we entered a park, I realized I needed to use the little girls room. I had a full bladder and frankly had to empty it. I ducked into the woods and as I popped out, who would be there but Amy! After a quick wave, I ran on. Unfortunately my belly would start talking to me a couple miles later.
I could feel my tummy cramping up starting around mile 5. It would come and go but ultimately got me in mile 11. I had to walk for a few minutes. There were no potties around as I was in a residential neighborhood. I didn’t want to be dubbed the Mad Pooper of Northern Ohio so I did what any runner would do and clenched until the cramping stopped. When the cramping subsided I was able to finish the race with no issues. I was a little worried about running too fast lest the cramping begin again so I held back for a mile. When I was on the homestretch I turned up the heat and ran hard. It felt really great.
I finished, said hello to some friends, saw Julie finish (this has never happened before because she’s so much faster than me!) and made a beeline for the restroom. Thank gawd there were flushing toilets! I felt much, much better.
Julie, Sara, and I ran our cool-down miles on the course going the opposite direction as the incoming runners. As much as I didn’t want to be running anymore, I was grateful we were on such a beautiful course by the lake. Since Julie missed the warm-up and still needed to log more miles, she continued on while Sara and I went back to the race finish.
Race day favorites…
My race day favorite was definitely meeting a couple of my blog readers! The first person I met was Debbie. She recognized me from a training group we’re both in on Facebook as well as my blog. We chit-chatted about the race and other nearby races. We’re hoping to get in a few training runs for the Cleveland half next year — should be fun! Hi, Debbie!
The next person I met was a guy named Tom. As I watched him walk over to me I tried so hard to place him. “Do I know him from a race?” “Do we follow each other on Instagram?” But I came up empty handed. He introduced himself and said he was planning on running a race last weekend that ended up being cancelled due to the extreme heat. When he decided to look for another marathon within driving distance, he did a Google search and came across my review of the 2016 Northern Ohio Half Marathon. He liked the review so much he and his wife, Jen, ventured up to Cleveland for the race! I asked them if it lived up to their expectations from my review and thankfully they said yes.
As we continued talking, the world continued to get smaller and smaller. Not only are they from a city in Maryland where I have family, they just so happen to live on the street where my aunt’s street dead-ends. AND, Tom will be running MCM and Jen will be pacing their niece. WHAT ARE THE ODDS?! We exchanged numbers and I’m hoping to see them again in a few weeks. Ah, the wonders of the internet…
Race day woes…
I ran sans water which was definitely a mistake. My hands were sausagy and swollen despite drinking at every aid station. I had a similar issue at the Rock Hall Half Marathon but this is the third year I’ve run Northern Ohio and I’ve never run with my own hydration so I didn’t foresee it being an issue. Lesson learned, though. Unless I’m racing for a PR, I’ll be running with my own hydration from here on out.
Oh, also — the belly cramps. Not awesome and definitely a race day woe.
All in all it was an amazing day. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, I logged my last super long run before Marine Corps Marathon, and I met a few new friends to boot! I’m looking forward to enjoying the heck out of my taper. The next two weeks will be a slightly lighter load but keeping the intensity. And then it’ll be time to travel to D.C.!
Official finish time: 2:09:04
Total mileage for the day: 18.28 miles
When racing, do you prefer to be too hot or too cold?
Do you run races with your own hydration?
Linking up with My No-Guilt Life, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and MCM Mama Runs for Tuesdays on the Run, and HoHo Runs and MissSippi Piddlin’ for the Weekly Wrap. Also linking up with Nicole, Annmarie, Jen, and Michelle for Wild Workout Wednesday, and myself, Susie, Debbie, and Lora Marie for the Running Coaches’ Corner linkup.
I received a complimentary entry to this race in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.