The Rock Hall Half Marathon is a wonderful course through the picturesque heart of Cleveland. Check out my 2018 Rock Hall Half Marathon Review and Recap and find out why YOU should run with me in 2019!
The fourth annual Rock Hall Half Marathon was on Sunday, August 19, 2018. This was my fourth year running this race and it’s been quite amazing to see it change and grow over the years. The first year only saw a few hundred runners. This year? A few thousand.
Today I’m recapping my experience at the Rock Hall half all the way from the expo to the finish line. I’m going to skip a few things like parking, the course, crowd support, etc., but you can read about those in my 2017 recap. Those things really didn’t change much this year. There were a few changes, though, so check it out — the 2018 Rock Hall Half Marathon Review and Recap!
2018 Rock Hall Half Marathon Review and Recap
New this year was an expo. The expo was held at the Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcade. It was pretty nice. There were deals on Brooks apparel, shoes, freebies from race sponsors, and of course, packet pickup. Packet pickup was easy like it always is with Greater Cleveland XC races. I should disclaim that I was a little disappointed I couldn’t pick up my packet at a local store, but after attending the expo I realized they are streamlining the packet pickup process like bigger races. I’m sure the expo will continue to grow as the race grows.
Here’s where the story truly begins. Pre-race day involved heading to the expo to pick up my bib as well as a day of back-to-school shopping and lunch. I ordered a corned beef sandwich and bowl of chicken soup. Later in the evening we were invited to our neighbors’ house for dinner. They served pulled pork, baked beans, coleslaw, and corn. I did my very best to eat small portions and make wise pre-race choices. Unfortunately the pork was much greasier than I’m used to so while I thought I was making smart choices, I clearly was not. I did steer clear of the corn and beans, however.
I didn’t sleep well at all the night before. Unlike the vast majority of runners, I ordinarily don’t have any issues with sleeping before a race. But between the corned beef and the pulled pork, my belly was super A N G R Y.
Race day finally arrived and I was relieved to wake up. I used the bathroom and while I felt better immediately, I instinctively knew this was not the end of it and I was in for several uncomfortable hours.
After I got dressed, I drank some coffee, grabbed a banana, and headed downtown. I arrived with plenty of time to park, find my friends, and get in line for the porta-potties.
We made our way into the starting group near the middle of the pack. My goal for Rock Hall was to maintain a 9:45-10 minute pace. I really didn’t want to go much faster, at least not for a prolonged period of time. The first few miles were right on target with a few a little faster than I would have preferred.
Around mile four, my friend and I made a brief potty stop for her. #thankyoutoomuchcoffee It was quick and we were soon on our way. Around mile 5 is when we decided to run with tunes and go our separate ways.
As I’ve mentioned in prior recaps (2015, 2016, 2017), miles 6 through 9 are my favorite part of the course. The scenery is very beautiful and it’s a very peaceful run. My only qualm with these miles are the lack of porta-potties. Luckily my tummy wasn’t bothering me but I did need to use the little girls room. I kept debating ducking into the trees but it just didn’t seem like a good idea at this point. So I sucked it up and kept running.
I finally came to a bank of porta-potties. I opened one with the green tab showing (meaning unlocked) and out came this horrendously loud scream. It scared the hell out of me!! This girl didn’t lock the door so of course I flung it open for everyone to see. Sorry, chica! I told her to lock her door and she promptly did. In her defense, she had to be a newer runner because who else would make that mistake of not locking the door to a porta-potty in the middle of a race?! Right??
Once she was out, I went in. And I must say it was the nastiest potty I’ve been in — maybe EVER. There was a poop on the seat, toilet paper all over the floor, pee on the part between the toilet and the urinal. Just super icky. I made sure I was in there for the least amount of time humanly possible. Once I got out I was paranoid I got someone else’s poop on my shorts. BLECH!!!!
After the crazy potty incident, I ran on.
2018 Rock Hall Half Marathon Review and Recap
Mile 12 was fairly brutal. I was mentally peaced out at this point. I couldn’t possibly fathom running a full marathon. I’m normally the one cheering on others who are walking at this point in the race. This time I was the one walking and needing the cheering.
Mile 13 was a little better because I knew I was finally in the homestretch. I caught up to my buddy, Rich, and we ran together for a few minutes. It was a much needed distraction and I was so thankful to see him.
As I neared the finish area, I heard and saw people cheering me on which gave me a huge boost. I felt a little bit of energy return to my legs and I sprinted it in to the finish. When I stopped I was officially toast. I found my friend, Candice, and we chatted with the race director, Geoff. Plus I got to see my wedding photographer, Tom! Remember the one whose name I heard being called at the Cleveland Marathon? Afterward, Candice and I headed over to check the race results. Mine? Right on target! 9:56 average pace.
Finish time: 2:09:55
We headed over to find some food and on the way ran into one of my former clients. We were catching up and then all of a sudden… I needed a bathroom… STAT. My uneasy bowels plus 13 miles of jostling finally caught up to me. I headed indoors to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and found a very lovely, flushing toilet. At first I felt bad using those bathrooms but when I realized there were others in there for the same reason I felt much less bad. PHEW!
Afterward, I was hoping for a slice of pizza and a cup of coffee, but they had run out! I couldn’t believe it. If my belly was a little more settled I would have waited around for the replenishment but I needed to go home.
By the time I arrived home, my bowels were wrecked. I spent the better part of the day either in the restroom or taking a nap. My lesson has been learned, though. I need to button up my eating habits and get my sh$t together. No more eating garbage and certainly not before a long run or race. I was fairly regimented with my nutrition last year and I need to get back on track. I never want to experience Sunday’s bowel issue again.
Overall, the 4th annual Rock Hall half marathon didn’t disappoint. To say my bowel issues interfered with my enjoyment of the race would be an understatement. I was constantly worrying about what was going to happen and I knew if I pushed the pace even slightly I would end up in a world of pain. Lesson learned.
I’ll definitely be back for year five and this time maybe I’ll even train for a PR attempt. The number of runners was strong this year. Having a little more crowd support on the course would be nice but Cleveland isn’t a huge city so it’s expected to be a little quieter.
And I’ll definitely eat better the day before the race…
Check out my race recaps from previous years!
If you haven’t been to Cleveland, add the Rock Hall Half Marathon to your list!
What’s one race you come back to time and again?