Saturday, May 20, 2017

Revco-Cleveland Marathon Race Report - May 14, 1978

Here we are at the start. That's me on the left in my best white cotton attire; Paul Coleman on the right. I can't remember the name of the guy in the middle.

Sorry if this race report seems a bit late. Since this year will see the fortieth running of the Cleveland Marathon, I thought it appropriate to take a look back at the first one.

I had trained hard the previous winter and spring. A lot of the daily running was done at General Electric's Nela Park campus where I worked. On weekends, I did my long runs in the Cleveland Metroparks, usually Bedford, North Chagrin and South Chagrin Reservations.

My training partner was Paul Coleman, with whom I worked at GE. That made things convenient; we could easily walk over to meet up for those weekday runs. We also ran many of our weekend long runs together, and we met at a couple previous races as well.

The thing is, there wasn't a lot of previous races. There weren't a lot of races, period. The only ones I had done leading up to this race were several months earlier: the Inaugural Johnnycake Jog 5-miler and the Cleveland Heart-a-Thon Half-Marathon.

Cleveland Heart-a-Thon- L to R: Ken Bubnik, Paul Coleman, Dan Horvath, Dave Murphy
There wasn't a whole lot of information out there in those days, either. We knew about running a lot; we knew about interval training and long runs. We even knew about carb-loading. But I didn't really know how I was going to pace myself, or what a marathon would even feel like. And as you can see from the photos, I had my very best white cotton t-shirt and shorts to wear. In fact, it's safe to say that I didn't know what the heck I was doing at all.

I did know that cool weather was best for racing. I had therefore lucked out on this day. It had drizzled overnight, but had mostly stopped. The temperature was around 55F. That's absolutely perfect for a first, or any marathon, but not so wonderful for Mother's Day, which it was. It also wasn't the best for spectators, which included Debbie.

Revco was the first official Cleveland Marathon. There had been some others in past years, but this is the one that stuck. In later years, Revco was bought out by CVS, and sponsorship changed over to them. Rite-Aid now sponsors the race. Not a year has gone by when it hasn't been sponsored by a drug store chain.

The race started and finished at my Alma mater from only a few years prior, Cleveland State University. The course took us west through downtown, over the Detroit-Superior Bridge, and over to the western suburbs mostly along Lake Erie, before returning back mostly the same way. Some people thought a flat, out and back course was boring; I loved it.

Gathering at the start of a race was a new experience. It was great to meet up with Paul and a few other friends. Paul had unfortunately sustained a recent injury, and would be running at a slower than usual pace. I would be running on my own.

And even though I didn't know much, I thought I might be able to run a fairly fast race. I went out at a sub-seven minute per mile pace, and held it steady. I don't believe I even went over seven minutes until about mile 18.

Ah, yes. Mile 18. That's where the wall decided to rise up to meet me. I had been thoroughly enjoying this race, and I was thrilled at how well I was doing. But now it started to hurt. Every muscle, joint, bone - everything hurt. I was surprised at how sudden it had occurred. In fact, I don't know that I've had a wall experience that sudden or intense since.

Now each step was painful, and I still had miles to go. The Detroit-Superior Bridge was at miles 24-25, and going up was a real struggle. I remember passing a wheelchair contestant, who was having a tougher time than I was. But as I was running down the other side, Whoosh! He glided past me like I was standing still.

I somehow made it to the finish line, and then directly into the medical tent, where I called for Debbie as they fed me ice chips. Debbie found me, and she was very worried. They were about to give me an IV, but I began to recover, and so they just stuck with the ice chips.

My time was 3:04.

It was a couple days later, back at the office when some co-worker asked Paul and I, "You guys ran a marathon? How did you train for it?" Running a marathon was pretty darn rare back then. Paul, who at the moment didn't want to go through the trouble to explain all the intricacies of our training regimen to a non-runner, shrugged and said, "We ran a lot."



I'm coming into the finish on Euclid Avenue. I don't look so good, because I just ran a marathon. I wound up in the medical tent after I crossed the finish line.


The 1978 Revco-Cleveland Tshirt is now part of one of my running tshirt quilts. It hangs on the wall of my office.

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