“Everything is unfolding as it should,” Chris told me as we turned toward downtown Cleveland with the Terminal Tower in view for the second time since the race start. The clouds merged and intertwined in a death grip like a kid holding mom’s hand during a scary movie, light rain continued to fall.
I wasn’t sure if I could keep up with Chris: her half marathon time is better than two hours (better than my time by a full seven minutes!), and she has the long easy stride of a seasoned cross-country runner. I keep a quick cadence with my short legs, making the best use of them, and kept up for awhile, passing tons of runners while chatting with her the whole time. I’m glad that we met for dinner the night before to discuss the race, but mostly we talked about our kids, college, traveling, and what we like to do in our free time. We haven’t seen each other since graduating from high school in 1994–we were in band, soccer, and swimming together as well as some classes.
I was never much of a runner, but that’s how we reconnected through Facebook after so many years. Both of us started running about five years ago as a way of getting back in shape and relieving stress. Chris has done three full marathons now (and counting), and I’ve done four. But this marathon was one of the toughest ones either of us has ever faced.
Cleveland weather is often as unpredictable as a stranger’s kindness in the midwestern city, and that’s just what happened: it was predictably unpredictable. The race began with wind and light rain, followed by thunder and lightening with downpours (is that the right word?) of hail. Lots of hail! Sheets of pea-sized hail with 20-30mph winds mixed with rain, sleet, and snow plagued the race through mile 20. I’m not kidding. There would be a small break in the clouds, and I would think, “Thank, God! Sun!” Nope. HAIL would come down hard. Chris ran ahead around mile 10 because she’s fast, and I kept my steady pace. My hands swelled to three times their normal size that I had to stop and get my gummies out to eat. I couldn’t feel my fingers, nor could I move them.
I saw my dad around mile 16 and again around mile 18; he took some pictures before retreating into his friend’s house. I’m glad I didn’t miss him with the crazy weather. My mom tried to see me, but missed me by maybe ten minutes; she had to go since Sophia’s toes went numb, and she couldn’t feel her hands. I don’t blame her, and I’m surprised she even attempted to see me race! Love, you mom! Only mom would take your kid on a weather day like that to see you run a marathon. Plus, she made homemade spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, which is perfect after a race.
The weather cleared up by mile 20 just in time for the long two mile uphill on the Shoreway and into downtown Cleveland. Sun streaked through the gray clouds and the wind blew off Lake Erie from the north, whipping my left leg into my right as I crossed the last bridge. Everything is unfolding as it should… This wasn’t just a marathon, it was the Cleveland Marathon, and you have to be Cleveland tough to run it. Chris and I are Cleveland tough. We’re also thinking of another marathon to run together… maybe Rock-n-Roll Philadelphia? New York?
Thanks for running with me, Chris! You are an awesome mother runner and friend!