Hall of Fame Marathon Race Recap

Three weeks to go. Three weeks until I head to Cleveland for 31.2 miles in two days. It’s a difficult thought to have after a very mediocre training cycle, but this weekend I may have gotten some answers on the shape I’m in.This was my favorite weekend of the year, where the City of Canton welcomes thousands of runners to our streets for the Hall of Fame Marathon. This has become a fun tradition for my family, and so much so that my brother and nephew came up from Columbus. It’s only a two hour drive, but it’s a great reason to get together and have some fun. This year was the best yet.
The race used to run right passed my house, but this year they moved it to downtown Canton, which meant we had to drive to a spot to cheer and spectate. We didn’t know exactly what to expect, but what made this a little more fun, the fact it gave me a chance to finally RUN in the race.
When the race ran past our house, we were around mile 20. We cut up fruit and handed out popsicles to everyone, and did the same this year. The beauty of it was, though, mile 22 was about a mile from the finish. I decided to head out and do the half, then walk to meet my family and have some fun.
It didn’t disappoint.
Before I go any further, I want to apologize to anyone who had issues on I-77 or parking. I know it isn’t my place to apologize on behalf of the race, but I can’t imagine how frustrating it must have been to be stuck for over an hour waiting for a shuttle. This is an issue that has been there in the past, and it certainly needs to be remedied in the coming years if this race is going to continue to grow. I do believe it will get immensely better when the construction on the Hall of Fame Village and Stadium are done, and the start doesn’t keep moving each year.
But now to the race itself. I woke up on race day, had a cup of coffee, ate a banana, and used MY OWN bathroom half a dozen times. Then my brother drove me down to the start to drop me off. I ran into some friends at the start and enjoyed some good conversation about running, the race, and life. We had an extra 15 minutes due to the parking fiasco, but the people at the start were more concerned with the weather. The weather was calling for 75 degrees by 10 AM, so we wanted every “cooler” mile we could get. I was thankful to only be running the half.
After a longer wait than we thought, we were off. This was one of the smoothest starts I’ve ever had in a race. And after the problems at Columbus last year, this was very refreshing. There wasn’t a huge bottleneck at the start, and crowd was relatively thin at the front. We took a turn just before the first mile marker, and we were running near the trails I run all the time. It was so cool to see crowds lining the streets and be running roads that I’ve been on so many times. This race did a great job highlighting our best parts of this city, and I couldn’t have been more impressed with the route.
By about mile four or five, we ran past the McKinley Monument. At this point I had been running with the 3:15 pace group (that’s my “goal” for Cleveland), but felt I had a little more. I saddled up next to a new running buddy Jim, “The Mayor” was his bib name, from North Canton. An older dude, in his 40s, we just ran and talked for the next few miles, and pushed the pace past that pace group a little bit. We hung together past Aultman Hospital into the surrounding neighborhoods, then he dropped back a little bit. That’s when I met Heath. I picked up Heath about mile seven, and he pushed me a little more. The sun really began to creep out from the clouds, and the rain from the early morning was definitely in the air. As we came up to mile nine, we hit the biggest hill and highest point on the race. This dude charges the hills, but I stuck with him. It wasn’t long before I lost our hip to hip, as we hit some shade. When we came out of the shade, the heat really got to me, and I backed off just a tad. Once again, thankful for only running the half. After a few more hills, it was a gradual decline back towards downtown, and I was able to catch a second wind. I never lost sight of Heath, he was never more than five or ten yards ahead of me, then I got back next to him right as we hit the split of the races.
I took the final turn, and despite the heat, was kind of bummed it was all over. I look so forward to this race, and this was an amazing experience to actually be on the course running for a little bit. I took it in as I came down the final stretch, saw my friend Melissa (fellow Cleveland Marathon Ambassador), and crossed the finish line in 1:35:38. It wasn’t anywhere near a PR, but that’s not what the goal was and the weather didn’t really permit it. The goal of this year is to get back to having fun, and I had an absolute blast this day. It was a tremendous experience, and I loved every second of being out there. Not to mention the medal is freaking awesome!
This, to me, answered some questions about what type of shape I am in. I am not where I was when I PR’d in 2015 at Columbus, but I am where I was that spring and summer. I would like to PR at Cleveland and keep moving forward to loftier goals, and this race in these conditions gave me the confidence that I can just that. Placing 5th in my AG and 45th overall in that heat, showed my time was indicitive of my performance. The beauty of it all is, I didn’t even care. I crossed with a finish, and enjoyed every step of the race. Hoping to keep it moving forward in Cleveland in a few weeks.
More to come on the amazing events of after the race, as this was only the beginning of the day. But I would certainly encourage anyone to come Run Canton with us one day. Jim and staff did a great job, apart from the parking, representing Canton and showing us off. The crowd was amazing, and I honestly thought it was going to be terrible. It wasn’t a great day for a PR, but it was a great day for running, and a great day for Canton.

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