I am just the queen of recaps these days. But its been such a busy month, there are so many things to recount here!
This past Saturday was the 10 year anniversary of the Akron Marathon. And my 3rd year running an Akron race. I ran the half in 2010, the full in 2011, and the half again this year. It is probably my favorite race.
On Friday afternoon I met NEO Fit at Luigi’s in Akron for a pasta lunch before we all went to the Expo to pick up our packets. Akron always has a pretty good Expo. It was well organized and there were a lot of vendors. They set it up so you weave through following the blue line to resemble the line you follow on the course. I like that Akron has the blue line claim to fame. I think its neat.
I stopped at a couple tables to check out the merch and bought a t-shirt that just said “I’m a Runner” in a fun font. For 20 bucks, you can’t beat it. I mean, I am a runner after all. It was fitting. Usually I like to buy a peice of race merchandise for each one I run, but this year, I felt everything was really expensive. An Akron Marathon embroidered Brooks winter half zip was 90 freaking dollars. It was cute as hell, but I passed.
Then I stopped at the Pittsburgh marathon table and signed up for their full marathon in May 2013. I stood at this table for a long time debating it. I wasn’t sure if it was smart but the Pittsburgh locals at the table layed on the pressure. Then Coach Lori signed up so I took the plunge. It runs just 2 weeks before I run Cleveland’s full. I am an idiot. I’ll tell ya, I just can’t stop. Feel free to smack me when you see me.
Saturday morning I rolled out of my hotel room bed and got ready for the race. My mom and I stayed in Fairlawn to ease our drive time to Akron. Most roads close at 6:00am so we wanted to beat any headache. I was super tired when I got to the parking garage, but as soon as I stepped out of the car, the electricity got me. I love how Akron can bring that out of you, and why I keep coming back year after year.
I headed to the starting line area and met up with some of the running club. It was cold. Really cold actually. I didn’t over dress so I was perfect for when the race actually started, but standing there, I was really chilly. My feet and hands were the worst, they felt numb and stiff. But I was still excited. It’s Akron Marathon day!
I met up with my friend Kate who was running her first ever half marathon, and we merged into the start corrals and found our friend Ed. It’s always nice to have someone to start the race off with.
Being the 10 year anniversary, the corral starts were sent off with a firework display that was pretty cool. I thought you had to go to a Disney race and pay out the ass then stand around for 45 minutes to get a sweet firework show, but you don’t. You can save yourself 100 dollars and just run Akron! Its a better race anyhow. I was already feeling the buzz but the fireworks really sealed the deal. And then we were off.
I had promised myself that I was not going to “race” this race. I wanted to take it slow and casual since it was part of my final taper for Chicago on the 7th. But I kind of thought in the back of my mind, “If I am feeling good, maybe we will see what I can do.”
Miles 1 and 2 were pretty dense. The Akron Marathon has grown quite a bit over the years so the pack stayed thick for longer than I expected. We made our first pass over the Y bridge and got warmed up. I stayed with Kate who was pacing her first race very well. And she kept me calm and at a good pace too so I didn’t run out of gas. Just before mile 2 there was an ambulance helping a collapsed runner. Something must have happened if he was out at the first 2 miles. I never heard though, I hope hes ok.
It wasn’t until mile 3 or 4 that I started to warm up. My feet had been cold before the start so running on my numb feet felt hard and stiff. My finger tips tend to take a while to warm up too even when the rest of my body as finally found warmth. At mile 4.5 I ate some of my Honey Stingers to keep fueled. I’m not sure if I totally needed them yet, but I forgot my S-Caps so I wanted to make sure I was taking in something to balance my electrolytes. At mile 5 Kate seemed to be doing well so I told her I was gonna try and pick it up.
And did I. I said goodbye to Kate, wished her luck, and started to cruise. I noticed my pace had gone from somewhere in the 11’s to somewhere in the low 10’s. I willed myself to slow down at mile 6, but the next check of my watch, I was still plowing through the miles. I actually started to look forward to a hill just to humble my pace.
The spectator turnout at this race is always amazing. Local marching bands come out and play for runners, there was a reggae band jaming near mile 10 or so. And there are always good signs and posters. Best sign had a picture of Ryan Gosling on it. His abs are pure motivation. The sign I hate the most but see at every race, the “Worst Parade Ever” sign. I hate that one. I don’t get it, I don’t think its funny, and if you don’t like this “parade,” go into your house and watch some Maurey. But that’s just me.
Mile 8 or so goes through the campus of Akron University. I love how many students come out to watch and I even saw a funny sign that said, “Mare-a-Thong?” and had a picture of a horse winking in her thong. I wish I had taken a picture, but at this point, I was on a mission. There is a decline here that sets you up for the second trip over the Y bridge, and I used to to my advantage.
I was totally going to PR.
Miles 10 and 11 were almost a blur. I was running some of my fastest miles ever for the distance. The girl who runs 11:30’s and 12 minute miles on a slow day was running low 10 minute mile paces. I was smashing it and liking it.
Back into the city for the final mile has a couple of hills and I started to really labor as I looked at my watch. It has been my goal all year to hit 2:20:00. I had several failed attempts over the season to. I did bring my PR from a 2:27 to a 2:26, but that was it. No where near my 2:20 goal. But on this day, I realized I might just make it.
As I reeled in the final mile I saw my mom near the finish line. I swung right to give her a high five when a man on a bike barked at me to get out of the way. I jumped left as the lead male marathoner sped by. That guy was about to win the marathon in the same amount of time it takes me to run a PR half marathon.
That’s why running is awesome. People can do amazing things.
I came through the finish just a minute and 47 seconds shy of my 2:20 goal. It was a little bit of a bummer, but not to terrible because I still PR’d. And by 5 minutes too. That is nothing to scoff at.
The finish line is on the baseball field at canal park and is well run. There is always enough food and beer for each runner at the Akron Marathon which I love too. I got my medal and my hat and my chocolate milk. Then, for the first time in 3 years, I cashed in my 2 beers. I had never done that before. A beer before 10am and after a long run was just what I needed.
Just outside the field race organizers had parked a Kia that was decorated in Akron colors and logo. Any runner that pre-registered got their name on the car. I don’t know why it was relevant other than Kia must have been a big sponsor, but I still thought it was cool. I had to find my name.
Oh yeah. How cool am I?
I suppose I am beyond worry at this point, there is no turning back now. I am Chicago bound in just 2 days!
Struggle to not PR? Anyone else run a good race this weekend? Tell me about it!