This past spring I participated in the Cleveland Marathon. It was a lifelong goal of mine; to run a marathon. Being the designer that I am I couldn’t help but notice the design on the give-away t-shirts (which were actually very nice synthetic-fiber jogging shirts.) In my opinion the design could use a little help. My first thought was: “Go Media can do better than that!” I also believe that you shouldn’t complain about something unless you’re also going to offer a solution.
The solution was obvious: Go Media needed to get involved with the Cleveland Marathon! We needed to do our best to improve the designs of their t-shirts. So, a few months ago we contacted Jack Staph, Executive Director of the Cleveland Marathon. Our goal was simple: use our design skills to help enhance the Cleveland Marathon race apparel (and marketing materials). Jack graciously put us into contact with Bob Zajac and Leigh Greenfelder of Highland PR; the company that handles all the marketing and design for the race. After a few short meetings Jack and Highland PR agreed to add Go Media Inc. to their team for the 2009 Race!
You might think we have all the time in the world to work on these designs since the race isn’t until spring 2009. But the fact was that the marketing materials and ads were already hitting the streets! Large events like this usually take an entire year to organize. Much like any other industry – what you experience in any given year was probably produced a year, two or even three years earlier. I’ve heard Apple has a FIVE YEAR lead time on their products!
The theme for the 2009 Cleveland Marathon is: “The Cleveland Experience.” As Cleveland is the rock ’n’ roll capital of the world – Highland PR and Jack thought they would play off of the “Jimi Hendrix Experience” for a psychedelic rock ’n’ roll design motif. This was an idea that had already been decided by the time Go Media got involved. We are hoping to make it a success and carry it through for the next couple of years.
(*this logo was not our design)
This project presented us with a number of challenges. First, we have some design restrictions placed upon us by the main sponsor: Rite Aid. We are obviously VERY grateful to Rite Aid for sponsoring this event, but they have already decided on a logo and we are required to use it. Also, since marketing materials are already in place – we need to work with as many of the current design elements as possible. Or, at least, we need to make sure our designs fit with the current look. Finally, race apparel needs to breath. A classic plastisol ink doesn’t breath. If we made a race shirt that had a full coverage of plastisol ink – the runners would quickly overheat. To combat this we have three possible solutions: 1. We could keep the designs light (lots of thin whispy lines), 2. We could use dye sublimated printing, or 3. We could use discharge inks. For these first couple of designs I think we were definitely leaning toward alternative inks.
Go Media’s Design
The first two designs we did for them were just like ad mats – just designs with no real use, just to get a sense of style. Here is what we did:
Following these designs here is our first round of t-shirt designs intended to be used as give-aways:
After some feedback (we needed to stick closer to their existing marketing materials) here are the latest designs:
I’m sure there is a third round and some sample printing yet to come. I will post another article when we’re done with this project so you can see how it turns out!
My original interest in working with the Cleveland Marathon stemmed from the fact that I am a regular runner and have participated in many Cleveland Marathons. This past spring (2008) was the very first time I ran the full marathon. In the past I would only run the 10K or half marathon.
It was exhilarating, it was pain, it was my marathon experience.
For those of you who would like to know how it FELT to run a marathon, here is my experience:
I had planned on training for two and a half months prior to the race. I did a little research and scheduled weekly incremental increases in my running distance. I was running 3-4 times a week. There were two short runs, one medium run and one long run each week. The first week of training looked something like this: Monday 1 mile, Wednesday 2 miles, Friday 1 mile, Sunday 4 Miles. Mid way through the training my week looked something like this: Monday 4 miles, Wednesday 6 miles, Friday 4 miles, Sunday 12 miles. The Sundays were supposed to keep increasing up to 20 miles. Unfortunately I suffered some injuries just as the distances were getting long. 6 weeks prior to the race I ran my furthest distance in training – 11 miles. The next time I ran I had some sharp pain in my Left knee and an aching pain in my right shin, I only ran 6 miles. After several more failed attempts to run I made the decision that I needed to let myself rest. I stopped running for two weeks. This was very bad because these were the MOST IMPORTANT weeks of training. The distances were finally getting long – and I basically skipped them. Three weeks prior to the race I was able to start training again – but I only had one week to really train, because you have to rest the last two weeks prior to the event. When I did go out and run during this week – I felt extremely tired. It was really hard to run. Those two weeks off had ruined my conditioning.
Needless to say, I was absolutely NOT prepared for this marathon. I actually felt LESS prepared than I was for last year’s half-marathon. My expectations were extremely low. My goal at this point was to simply complete the first half – then just see how I felt for the second half. I didn’t want to injure myself. I wasn’t sure how far I would be able to run. I decided that I would just start walking when I was in bad pain. I assumed that this would be most of the second half of the race.
Race day was cold, windy and rainy – which was PERFECT. I’m typically over-heating when I run, so this was fantastic for me. The race started at 7am. I had planned on running fairly slow early on – to mentally and physically keep myself strong for the later miles. Over the first 6.2 miles (10k) I averaged 9.5 minutes per mile with a time of 59:03. This is a little better than average for me. I normally run 10 minute miles. At the half-marathon mark (13.1 miles) my time was 2:06:52. So, I had averaged 9.61minutes per mile at the half way mark. I was very happy with this time. At last year’s half-marathon my time was 2:08:54, so I had shaved 2 minutes off my time. Also, this first half of the marathon felt MUCH easier than the half marathon felt last year. I really felt strong, pain free and was cruising really well at the half-way point.
When I hit about mile 12 the course splits. The half-marathoners go Left to the finish and the marathoners go Right. This was actually a very deflating moment. For one, I knew how much further I had to run – but more upsetting was the sudden thinning of the crowd. Three-quarters of the runners were only doing the half-marathon. So, one minute you’re surrounded by lots of people – the next, you’re alone. The added emotional lift of being surrounded by runners cannot be described. It helps a ton. Now my co-runners were gone. I had no emotional support. I was all alone.
Just then, the sun came out. This might seem like a good thing, but it wasn’t. I was running INTO the sun and the roads were wet and reflecting the light right into my eyes. Plus, as I mentioned before – my biggest problem is heat. The sun normally spells disaster. I over-heat, feel drained and lose the ability to run. BUT – I did keep running, at least most of the way through mile 18. The sun was only annoying, the air was plenty cold to keep me from over-heating. At the 30K mark (18.6 miles) my time was 3:09:05. At this point I was still averaging 10.16 minutes per mile – which is my average. But I was also getting really tired. Miles 16-20 I was starting to walk-jog. I would jog 5 minutes, walk 5 minutes, jog 5 minutes, on and off depending how I felt.
After mile 19 things started to go wrong – and fast. Tendons in the back of my Left knee started to hurt, my right shin started to ache and every muscle in my body below my waist started to cramp. It felt as though all my muscles were trying to contract at the same time. At about mile 19 we reached the lake Erie shoreline for the last stretch back into downtown. It was a beautiful view, but now the cold weather was too cold. The wind was whipping hard and cold off the lake. It was freezing me. My cramping muscles were now freezing cold and becoming non-responsive to my attempts to keep them moving. At this point I stopped running. Every time I tried to run a charlie-horses would cramp suddenly in my calves. I would stop to stretch regularly but it did little good. The lactic acid in my legs was burning with every step. I was frustrated to be walking, but at this point my body was not cooperating with me. I kept thinking about people who survive ship wrecks and have to tread water in the ocean for days. I don’t think I could do that – not if the water is cold. But fortunately I was on land. I could breath, and all I had to do was keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I got back into downtown at about mile 23. These last 3.2 miles were somewhat surreal. I was feeling very strange to say the least. I felt like I was on a vision quest. I wasn’t sure if I was feeling elated or about to drop dead. Getting off the lake helped me warm up and I was able to resume a little running. It was nothing dramatic. I could shuffle my feet trying to point my toes up so I didn’t cramp my calves. Also, there were official Cleveland Marathon camera men that I made sure I was running for. History is what we make it – right?
I made sure to run the final quarter mile. My finishing time for the full 26.2 miles was 5:03:11. Obviously, I lost a TON of time the final quarter of the marathon. My average for the entire race was 11 minutes, 34 seconds per mile. Still not too shabby – and overall, considering I cut my training short, I was absolutely surprised that I did so well the first 18 miles.
My dad and uncle were there to greet me at the finish. This really made me feel emotionally good. But I was feeling physically sick and freezing. To make things worse, our car was parked a mile away. So, I walked one more mile – in pain all the way. I then spent the rest of the day in my bed.
Despite the pain and suffering I plan on doing it again. I wonder what the experience would be if I had completed my training properly. That will be my goal for 2009.
But I’m alive and I have a nice shiny medal to prove that I’ve accomplished what less than one percent of the population ever do; I completed a marathon.