Tag Archives: rite aid cleveland marathon

2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Race Weekend Recap: Part 3

27 May

When I concluded Part 2, I had just finished ascending the infamous Columbus Road hill and was preparing to meander through Tremont.

Running through Tremont is always a tremendously meaningful and memorable experience. When Sheila and I moved to Tremont in September 2010, I was not in a good state of health at all. I had a terrible relationship with food and an extremely unhealthy approach to eating. Other health issues plagued me as well. Running or any other type of exercise was the last thing on my mind. We were not doing very well financially either.


On a trip to Niagara Falls in May 2011. Taking any sort of meaningful step towards healthy living was the last thing on my mind back then. I hope to do the Niagara Falls Marathon one of these days! 

During our time in Tremont, I began my healthy living journey in January 2012 and started running in June 2012. I lost over 40 pounds. I ran two half marathons and one full marathon. Both Sheila and I also made significant progress on our career paths. We also adopted Butters from the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter! Needless to say, running through this area brings back floods of very positive memories. The miles passed by relatively easily when I thought about how running 2 sides of a block used to be an extremely exhausting endeavor when I first laced up my running shoes in June 2012!


The Tremont Steeplechase was the first 5K in October 2012 in which I ran the entire distance!

After ascending another small incline on West 25th, we made our way into Ohio City and past St. Ignatius High School. Running past my alma mater brings back very positive memories of the extraordinary teachers that I had when I was there, but it also brings back memories of the fact that I used to dread gym class because I was completely awful at sports in high school. If you had told my 15 year old self that I would be running half marathons at a solid pace in 20 years, I’m not sure if I would have either started crying from laughing hysterically or started crying because I was always so frustrated with being so terrible at every sport that we played in gym class. In any case, I guess the moral of the story is that it’s never too late to find one’s “sport”! On a somewhat related note, I really enjoyed the solid turnout that the We Run This City folks had at this year’s race. I always make a point of telling the students and their teachers that this is one of the best things that is offered to students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and I hope that they continue to be well-represented far into the future.

Once we had snaked our way through Ohio City and headed into the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood, I begun to re-assess my race strategy a bit. By this point in the race, I was feeling relatively good, and I knew that I was well-hydrated. I was also encouraged by the fact that the projected heat and humidity were not as detrimental as I had anticipated. I decided to pick up the pace a bit as we ran down Franklin Avenue, ascertain how I felt when we ran down West 65th, and then push the pace as hard as I could during the final stretch down Detroit.

When we reached Detroit, I had a very good sense of how far we had left to go because I had run this part of the course while training for the 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. I also felt like I had a lot left in the tank. As we passed by the Cleveland Public Theater, I decided that it was time to start running hard. I yelled out, “I’m going in!” to no one in particular and really began to push it. The relatively straight shot down Detroit was fantastic for settling into a nice, solid pace, and I really hope that this part of the course remains in future races. After the race, I took a look at my watch’s pace graph, and I was very impressed with how I steadily picked up steam during the final stretch!

Cleveland’s majestic skyline grew larger and larger as we proceeded down Detroit. I’ve said this every year, but running hard towards downtown Cleveland makes feel like I am Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The scene in which Gandalf rides bravely and powerfully to Minas Tirith is so powerful!

As usual, a strong crowd was assembled by the finish line area, and I felt like a rock star as I heard the crowd cheering louder and louder as we approached the finish line. I had a hard time seeing exactly where the finish line was located, so I kept on pushing as hard as I could because I figured that I had the rest of the day to recover and because I wanted to finish strong. Before I knew it, I sighted the familiar inflatable arch of the finish line, and the cheering crowd inspired me to leave every last bit of energy that I had on the course as I sprinted to the finish. My official time came through on my phone as soon as I crossed the finish line, and I was glad to know that I finished well under two hours.


After collecting my medal, I made a beeline to the folks who were handing out bottles of water and consumed two of them as quickly as I could. One of the best things about this race is that the organizers are very responsive to feedback. In 2013, we only received one bottle of water at the finish line. I was a much heavier runner back then, and the day was somewhat warm. In the post-race survey, I mentioned that providing more water at the finish line would be a major improvement. Since then, the race organizers have arranged for abundant amounts of water at the finish line!

I made my way through the finish line area and collected the excellent array of goodies that were available for runners while consuming as many fluids as I could. The Quest Nutrition Beyond Cereal Bars were amazing! The waffle flavor tastes just like an actual waffle. I also grabbed a selfie for the blog.


After I left the finish line area, I headed over to The Corner Alley because Second Sole Lakewood was hosting a post-race after party for runners. Back in 2012, they were the store from which my stepmom purchased my first set of running shoes. The great folks at Second Sole observed that I had pronation issues and recommended a variety of shoes that would address this issue. I have been wearing different types of Mizuno Wave Inspires ever since. Aside from a minor case of plantar fasciitis that was caused by increasing my distance too rapidly in a very short period of time, I have not had any major running-related injuries, and I’m thankful that Second Sole helped get me started with properly fitting shoes. Needless to say, I am very grateful that they are part of Greater Cleveland’s running community! I enjoyed my one free Great Lakes in my free Second Sole pint glass before heading home, and I spent the rest of the day using it to rehydrate with Nuun.


Although I didn’t set the new half marathon PR that I had hoped to achieve during various parts of my training, I am very thankful that I was able to successfully complete my sixth half marathon. I am very grateful for all of the people who babysat Bear so that I could knock out my training runs. My mom’s willingness to watch him every Saturday morning so that I could have a solid block of time for my weekly long runs was an enormous blessing. I am consistently struggling with finding the right balance between taking the time that I need to maintain a good state of mental and physical health and making sure that I fulfill all of my parental responsibilities and bond with my son, and it was good to know that he would be in great hands.

I am also extremely thankful to God for helping me to keep moving forward with my running and my healthy living journey. Last fall, I found myself engaging in my old destructive habits from my obese days—eating without regard for my health, stress eating, etc—in the midst of dealing with the stress of a new job and a colicky baby. When I stepped onto the treadmill at Sheila’s parents’ house last December after several weeks away from running, I felt so defeated by the difficulty that I had running 3.25 miles. With God’s help, I have been able to reset my outlook and my approach to food and eating in 2017, and I also have been able to maintain a quasi-regular running regimen. I could never have done this on my own, and I’m thankful that God cares about my health and wellness even more than I do.

It’s hard to close the book on such an amazing weekend, but I suppose that I need to do so eventually. There are many more miles to conquer, races to run, PRs to chase, and memories to make. That said, I am already excited for the 2018 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, and I hope that you are too!


Disclaimer: I had the honor to be selected as an Official Ambassador for the 2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. In exchange for chronicling my training on social media, I received a free race entry for myself and a free race entry to give away to my social media followers. All opinions are my own.

2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Race Weekend Recap: Part 2

24 May

After I left the 2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon VIP Reception on Friday evening, I was extremely excited for race day! The fact that my calves had major residual soreness from my last training run was a bit concerning, but I felt them slowly getting better as a result of living in calf sleeves and using my massage stick. Going for a nice shakeout walk in the Rocky River Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks also helped. The wetlands look so beautiful in every season! I have amazing pictures of them draped in snow and ice that were taken during the early months of my training, and they look just as spectacular now that they are clothed in the splendor of spring.

Generally, I have tremendous difficulty getting a good night’s sleep before a big race when I’m shooting for a major PR or running a new distance for the first time. With the help of a sleep aid, though, I was actually able to get a decent night’s rest on Saturday night! I felt unusually well-rested on Sunday morning, and I thought that was a good omen for how the rest of the day would go.

Over the years, I have worked out a race day system that allows me to avoid the road closures and to park in Tower City. I headed down in plenty of time, but I made a wrong turn that literally took me down a dead end street. I thought that all of the road construction and development may have eliminated the bridge over the Cuyahoga River, but then I realized that I had simply lost the road. I could hear Yoda saying, “Lost the planet, Master Obi-Wan has” in my head as I frantically figured out what to do next!


I love The Phantom Menace even if nobody else does. (Image obtained from swnews.tumblr.com)

Fortunately, I was able to figure out what I did wrong and make it to Tower City. Last year, I parked far down the parking lot near the second entrance to the tunnel to Quicken Loans Arena, which helped me get to the starting line in plenty of time. Unfortunately, this door was locked this year. Darn! By this time, I could hear the announcer start to hype up the runners, and I realized that I was running late. Utilizing a run-walk mixture—which probably helped loosen up my legs more than I realized—I was able to get to Quicken Loans Arena and sneak in a final bathroom break before the race started. I couldn’t figure out how to get into Corral B, so I wound up starting off in Corral D.

When I first registered for the race, I was in the midst of emerging from the dark depths of a period of time in which I did not run at all because I was so overwhelmed with balancing my responsibilities as a new father and my responsibilities associated with my new job. At the time, the mere act of training for a half marathon and completing it seemed like enormous accomplishments. Once I got back into running again, I realized that my fitness level had not atrophied as much as I had feared, and I had vague thoughts of shooting for a new half marathon PR. Much of my training went well, and I was feeling very confident after knocking out 11 miles on vacation in West Palm Beach, Florida in March.

Unfortunately, I fell back into my old ways and allowed my end-of-the-semester responsibilities to completely overwhelm me during the last few weeks of training. I went for long periods without running at all, and the runs that I was able to do were far less than I needed to do. When I saw the projected heat and humidity, I decided that PRing would be extremely difficult (if not impossible) given my erratic training, and I decided to play it safe and simply focus on finishing.

Weaving my way through the pack slowed me down a bit at first, but I didn’t care too much because I was focused on finishing. During the first few miles, my plan to was to make sure that I maintained solid hydration levels. During the infamously hot and humid 2015 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, I started off extremely hydrated and only started drinking when I started to feel thirsty. I will be the first to tell you this was a colossal mistake! Although this year’s weather was not supposed to be as hot or humid, I decided that I wouldn’t leave anything to chance and that I would steadily take in fluids throughout the race. I decided to take in at least one cup of PowerAde and one cup of water at each water station.

The first few miles were significantly different from any other previous Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon course. In particular, I loved running by First Energy Stadium. I am a diehard Browns fan, and thinking about all of the great memories that I have accumulated over the years watching the team helped me feel really great.


If you’re a lifelong Clevelander who runs and Bernie Kosar’s determination and grit don’t inspire you to keep going when you’re exhausted, you’re doing it wrong!

The positive energy helped me get up the hill that we had to conquer as we left the stadium area and headed into The Flats! Running through The Flats was another very cool experience. I finally saw where Coastal Taco is located, and I am looking forward to enjoying some delicious tacos along the water at some point this summer.

Many runners were dreading the hill on Columbus Road, and I began to mentally steel myself for it as we approached it. Bad experiences with hills during training had made me concerned about how the rest of the race would go after I ran up the hill. I took it extremely slow and steady, and I was pleasantly surprised when I reached the top and was able to regain my normal pace relatively quickly. The fun and inspiring signs that the race organizers had posted along the side of the hill helped a lot!

Come back tomorrow for Part 3 of my 2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Race Weekend Recap!

Disclaimer: I had the honor to be selected as an Official Ambassador for the 2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. In exchange for chronicling my training on social media, I received a free race entry for myself and a free race entry to give away to my social media followers. All opinions are my own.

2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon Race Weekend Recap: Part 1

22 May

Another great Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon weekend is in the books!


The weekend started off with a great time at the 2017 Health and Fitness Expo. I had the day off on Friday, and this meant that I could meander through the Expo at a leisurely pace. Because I went to the Expo early in the day, I was able to score some of the vintage race shirts from last year’s race. I loved the fit of last year’s shirts, and a high-quality Brooks tech shirt for $5.00 is a bargain. I had a great time chatting with fellow Official Ambassadors Brian and Jill at their booth as well. (I urge you to read their books if you haven’t done so!)

In the evening, Sheila and I headed out to the VIP Reception at the Hyatt Regency Cleveland at The Arcade. I always love going to The Arcade because it is a prime example of how Cleveland so effectively re-purposes old, classic spaces for new uses. Growing up, my mom and I used to go to The Arcade for lunch and shopping after we would visit the main branch of the Cleveland Public Library. Over time, the space has been transformed into a magnificent hotel and event space that provides visitors and lifelong residents alike with a glimpse of the city’s storied history. The VIP Reception is always such a fun event, and I was definitely looking forward to the great camaraderie and delicious food that have always been the hallmarks of this yearly event.

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Group shot of the 2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Official Ambassadors!

I had a blast catching up with old friends and making new acquaintances. I even witnessed a marriage proposal!

Honestly, I was not looking forward to the race at all when I headed into race weekend. The end of the semester is a tremendously busy time for any educator, and I was exhausted by the time my professional responsibilities wrapped up on Thursday evening. The idea of running 13.1 miles in heat, heavy rain, and humidity—which is what the weather report was predicting at the time—seemed like an overwhelming endeavor. My training had been frustratingly uneven as well. All of these factors made me feel like Sunday morning would be a long, hard, and discouraging slog. As I drove to the Expo, I gave more than a passing thought to dialing down to the 10K so that I could get it over with more quickly. However, after visiting the Expo and enjoying the great fellowship at the VIP Reception, I started to feel the excitement about race weekend that I hadn’t felt in quite some time!

I’ll be back tomorrow with a full race recap!

Disclaimer: I had the honor to be selected as an Official Ambassador for the 2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. In exchange for chronicling my training on social media, I received a free race entry for myself and a free race entry to give away to my social media followers. All opinions are my own.

The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and I Over the Years

20 May

Race weekend is finally here! Now that the end of the semester is behind me, I’m glad that I have a few days to focus on the most fun weekend of the year in Cleveland.

Growing up, I had always known about the existence of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon–even dating back to when it was the Revco Cleveland Marathon–but I had never actually seen it take place.

That changed in May 2011, when I drove down to Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center to graduate from law school on the day of the 2011 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. The day was cold, rainy, and windy–in many respects, it was like the weather that we had for the 2016 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon–and I saw runners walking around covered in aluminum blankets after the race. I thought, “Running is such a dumb and pointless thing to do, and these people are completely stupid for running outside in this awful weather.” One would think that someone with a Juris Doctorate would have a bit more of an educated opinion than that!


As you can see in the picture above, I weighed considerably more than I do now. I may be smiling in the picture, but I was a very unhappy person at the time. My health was in shambles, and I had a very unhealthy relationship with food.

In 2012, I had begun my healthy living journey after years of encouragement and concern from many family members. One of my pastors encouraged me to try My Fitness Pal, which is a tool that he had recently used to lose a significant amount of weight. I had no real hope that it would actually work, but I decided to give it a good faith effort. After a few weeks of losing weight, I started to get some wind in my proverbial sails, and I kept on going with it in earnest. I lost a considerable amount of weight during the first half of the year, and I started to feel better about the direction in which my life was going. I still had negative thoughts about running, though, and I did my best to evade my stepmother’s requests that we do a 5K together as a family. However, when she ran the 2012 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, I did check her results through the website–we were out of town at the time–and I remember growing very concerned when I didn’t see a finishing time. As it turned out, her timing chip had some issues, but it was eventually resolved. I had timing issues in a subsequent race, and mine were resolved very quickly. The marathon folks are always so helpful!

By the time the 2013 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon rolled around, I had become a pretty regular runner. My stepmom’s idea to do a 5K (the 2012 Lakewood Summer Meltdown) together as a family turned out to be a life-changing event for me–literally and figuratively–because I wound up having an absolute blast during my training and during the race itself. I knew I was hooked when I almost collapsed after the race due to a mixture of exhaustion and excitement but found myself hobbling over to the info table to find another race to run. I saw that the marathon folks were looking for Official Bloggers, and after crowdsourcing the decision about whether to do the 10K or the half marathon led to an overwhelming response in favor of the half, I threw my hat in for an Official Blogger position in the half marathon. I was selected, and I wound up running my first half marathon at the 2013 Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon! My goal was simply to run the entire distance without stopping to walk, and I was successful! I ran it in 2:16:03.

2013 rite aid cleveland half marathon

Heading across the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge during the 2013 Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon!

In 2014, I ran the half marathon again with the goal of setting a new half marathon PR. I had run a sub-2 half marathon (1:59:10) at the 2013 Towpath Half Marathon in November 2013, and I was confident that a solid training cycle would help me set a new PR. Early in the race, I thought that goal was shot to smithereens when my watch and the mile marker didn’t sync up properly. I kept on going but had a horrible attitude. My spirits took a turn for the better when my brother hopped in around St. Ignatius High School (my alma mater!) to pace me. He got me through some of the toughest parts of the race, and when we said goodbye on the Shoreway, I felt like a million bucks. I had a ton of energy left over for one of my strongest-ever finishes that led to a shiny new PR of 1:52:52!

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My brother and I heading down the ramp towards the Shoreway at the 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon!

In 2015, I decided to make the jump to the full marathon. I had already done 2 full marathons, and I decided that now was the time to run the full marathon in Cleveland. After an extremely strong training cycle, I had high hopes of running a sub-4 marathon. Unfortunately, the extreme heat and humidity on race day had different ideas. I did wound up setting a solid new marathon PR with a time of 4:17:30, though…and I completed a full marathon! Considering that less than 1% of all Americans run a marathon in their lifetimes, I think that’s a big deal.

2015 rite aid cleveland marathon

At Mile 18 of the 2015 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!

In 2016, I decided to change things up a bit and do the 8K\Half Marathon Challenge. I have dreams of doing the Dopey Challenge someday, and I figured that this would be a good way to see how my body would handle a back-to-back racing endeavor. I had many other things going on in my life at this point, though, and training often took a back seat to preparing for our new arrival and to interviewing for my dream job. The 8K went decently enough. I used it as a shakeout run of sorts and knocked it out in 39:29. However, the Half Marathon was a different story. The cold and wind made things pretty rough for me, and I wound up having a much slower-than-usual time of 2:01:42.

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This picture doesn’t really reflect how bad the weather was–even by Cleveland standards–at the 2016 Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon!

What does 2017 have in store? Who knows! I have aspirations of a new half marathon PR, but the weather is not supposed to be great for racing on Sunday. That said, I am very grateful to be able to be out there at all. I am still trying to figure out how to balance my wonderful new job with my important responsibilities as a father to my amazing son while somehow trying to fit running into the mix, and I know this will continue to be a balancing act far into the future. The fact that I’m able to step up to the starting line of a half marathon is something that seemed like a pipe dream last fall, and I’m thankful that I was able to get in many training runs so that I can head into race day feeling cautiously optimistic! Let’s do this!

Disclaimer: I had the honor to be selected as an Official Ambassador for the 2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. In exchange for chronicling my training on social media, I received a free race entry for myself and a free race entry to give away to my social media followers. All opinions are my own.

Let’s Try This Again!

18 May

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Welcome to my new blog!

For those of you who have been following me for quite some time, you may know that I used to blog at thefrolickingfells.com for the past few years. When that blog was first established, Sheila and I had just gotten married, and the blog was initially intended to be a chronicle of our adventures and fun together as a married couple so that our friends. Over the years, Sheila and I would take turns writing about various topics, but the blog eventually fell by the wayside on life’s priority list. When I started my healthy living and running journeys in 2012, I wanted to have a platform on which to share about these topics, so I started blogging again without really thinking about whether I should start a separate running or healthy living blog. (Perhaps this was a reflection of some subconscious self-doubt that I had about whether I would stick with either endeavor for a long period of time?) When I first applied to be an Ambassador for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon in late 2012, I needed to put something down as my blog site, so I used thefrolickingfells.com, and it evolved into a full running\healthy living blog after I was selected to serve as an Ambassador for the 2013 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.

As time progressed, I decided that I wanted to make a switch to a domain name and title that related to the new direction that the blog had taken, but I was never really sure when the right time would be to do so. I also wanted to be able to make changes in the layout and format of the blog without needing to hassle my brother-in-law (who had originally created thefrolickingfells.com for us and who handled all of the technical elements of it) to do so. When thefrolickingfells.com domain name was to set to expire, I decided to make the change to clevelandjoe.com. Unfortunately, that domain name has had its 15 minutes of fame–and probably less than 15 total page views, because I never had time to post on it–and I’ve decided to transfer things to this site.

For those of you who are encountering me for the first time, allow myself to introduce…myself. (Although I am not especially old in the grand timeline of life’s continuum, I always feel my age when I use that line to introduce myself to my students and fewer and fewer students each year know the movie from which that quote originated!) My name is Joe. I’m a proud lifelong resident of Cleveland. I’m married to my beautiful bride Sheila, and we just welcomed our first child into the world on August 2, 2016 at 11:19PM. I knew that he was my son when he arrived on his due date but with minutes to spare! If anyone is intrepid enough to locate my old race recaps from the depths of the Internet, you’ll see that I rarely make it to the starting line of a race until the moment before it begins. I arrived at the starting line of my first marathon literally three minutes before it started, and I’m still grateful to the individuals who let me cut in line at the portapotty so that I would be able to start the biggest race of my life up to that point without wondering when I would be able to find a bathroom on the course.) In an abundance of caution that will probably prove to be classic first-time-parent-excess in the long run, I’m going to refer to him by his nickname of “Bear” rather than use his real name. I’ve been running since June 2012. During that time, I’ve run four full marathons, five half marathons, and countless other races of varying distances.

I’ve had the privilege to serve as an Ambassador for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon every year since 2013, and I’m proud to say that I will again be serving as an Ambassador for the 2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. I’ll be running the half marathon this year. For those of you who are wondering how my training went, please check out my Instagram page. I’ll be back with a race weekend recap soon!

Disclaimer: I had the honor to be selected as an Official Ambassador for the 2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. In exchange for chronicling my training on social media, I received a free race entry for myself and a free race entry to give away to my social media followers. All opinions are my own.