Akron is about an hour away from where my family lives so it was yet another super early race morning for me. I think I got up around 4AM that day (which is technically 1AM my time). Wasn't so bad since I had all that pre-race excitement going on.
Just like Roadbunner had said, this race is very well organized. The website was full of helpful info with directions and suggested parking garages. Even when you got off the highway, there were helpful signs pointing you in the right direction. I arrived around 5:45AM and had lots of time to kill before the 7AM start time.
Through the power of twitter, I was able to meet up with the super cute Kimi who was running the marathon as part of a 5 person relay team. I later figured out that the relay was a huge portion of this race. There were about 10,000 runners total and of that:
- ~1,500 ran the marathon
- ~3,500 ran the half marathon
- ~5,000 ran the relay (aka ~1,000 teams)
|We're pretty cheery for 6AM!|
In addition to the national anthem, they also had someone start off the race with a prayer. Is this common? I know I've done lots of races, but can't recall this happening before. Anyway, it's fine with me just thought it was curious.
Time to follow the blue line (marked through almost the entire course) - off we go! There was actually quite a large pack of us running with the 5 hour pace group and it was kind of fun. The two pace leaders ran on different sides of the pack and were shouting out really corny jokes to each other. They were the kind of lame jokes that my dad would tell me so I kind of appreciated it. Anything to keep us entertained for the long haul, right?
The one problem is that they were running rather slow. And I don't think it was because of any congestion at the start of the race or anything. To finish in 5 hours, you have to maintain an 11:27 pace and we were running way slower than that (which admittedly, is already pretty slow).
Now in my head, I had practically memorized the elevation chart. You know, the one I freaked out over in my previous post.
(Side note: Found this interesting quote in an article Naomi sent me about the NYC marathon.
"I have a little saying: Bank = Bonk. That is, if I try to "bank" time early in the race, I give it all (and more) back late in the race when I "bonk." Best to stick to your pace." - Jeff Dengate.Is this a bit of foreshadowing? Maybe. Maybe not.)
Mile 1 - 12:03
Mile 2 - 10:54
Mile 3 - 10:58
I had my phone send me (and my family) little tracking updates. I didn't look at these while I was running of course but added them here. Updates were tracked at all the relay exchanges.
|So far, so good.|
As for the course... well, I can't really remember much of it. This would be a good time for me to point out that Roadbunner's race report would be an excellent source of that information. I do remember that we started downtown and looped back again around mile 10.
Mile 4 - 10:48
Mile 5 - 11:03
Mile 6 - 10:33
Mile 7 - 10:46
Mile 8 - 11:35
Mile 9 - 10:57
It was nice to have some pockets of cheering stations here and there, especially as we ran through the University of Akron because I think I really needed it at that point.
Around mile 12, we hit the big drop that I had noted from the elevation chart. It wasn't as downhill as I had hoped, but it still helped.
At that point, we entered the Towpath Trail. I remembered Roadbunner discussing how much she liked it. I have to agree, it was a nice change of scenery. We also had lost the half marathoners at this point, so it definitely felt more quiet and peaceful. I ended up turning off my iPod during this part of the course because it was nice to just embrace nature and hear the birds chirping, yadda yadda yadda.
Mile 11 - 10:59
Mile 12 - 10:12
Mile 13 - 11:00
Mile 14 - 11:00
Mile 15 - 11:34
|Still hanging on.|
1) We hit the first of many hills that I knew would continue for most of the remainder of the race.
2) The sun was peeking out. (It is known energy drainer for me.)
3) I was starting to feel queasy.
The last part is something that has plagued me in several marathons. I think one issue is that I took Gatorade from the aid stations during the race. I never train with Gatorade - just water and Gu. Hello, rookie mistake! (I won't be doing that in NYC, trust me.) I'm OK with taking Gatorade during half marathons but I'm thinking it's because I'm not out there as long. Or I wonder if it's just the heat combined with the effort that messes me up. I didn't feel so queasy during CIM or Goofy, which were run in 30 degree freezing temps.
In any case, I was feeling pooped. I totally struggled with that hill and walked a lot of it. And once I break the seal on walking, I do a lot more of it.
Around mile 17, I hear a big group of runners approaching and I see that it's my 5 hour pace group led by Jim and Bob! I'm thinking, maybe it's a sign - they're here to pick you up. Just follow them and you'll be OK. So I tagged along with the back of pack and tried to follow them and not worry about anything else.
By this time, the group had thinned out by quite a bit and was mostly just dudes save for one girl in the back that I remembered seeing at the start. And guess what - Jim and Bob were still exchanging corny jokes back and forth. I missed one of them but I could tell by the way Bob groaned that maybe Jim's joke was not so PC. I definitely heard the next one and it basically went like this:
Jim: A guy comes home from work and sees his wife packing up her things. He asks what she's doing and she responds, "I'm leaving you! You're sick! You're a pedophile!" He responds, "Pedophile? That's an awfully big word for a thirteen year old!"*crickets*
So yeah, I was definitely NOT in the mood to listen to 9 more miles of that so I dropped off the pack and I was on my own again.
At this part of the Towpath Trail, there were a LOT of people walking around me - even the relay runners!!! (They were easily identifiable as they had pink bibs and also wore Relay bibs on their backs.) I mean, couldn't they have tried to motivate me at all??? (heehee) It's a lot more justifiable to walk at mile 17 when you see people who couldn't have been running more than 5 miles also walking. But that's probably just me.
Mile 16 - 13:01
Mile 17 - 12:26
Mile 18 - 13:08
But I can't. 'Cause I didn't.
It was kind of a Charlie Brown "wah wah wah" theme for the rest of the race. I went back to my old ways and walked each and every single hill. And there were a lot of them. If it was flat, I would trot along for a bit.
We hit a lot of neighborhoods and it was definitely nice to see them set up these really great cheering stations. It still felt like a death march to me though.
At the expo, I became aware that there is a hill called "Heart Rate Hill". Well I found it at mile 22. Mile 22!!! Again, wah....
But afterward, we hit the Stan Hywet Estate which was a really nice area. A gorgeous property with a big garden and mansion (somewhat like Filoli Gardens) and was all decorated for the fall. I remember thinking that I wished I was in a better mood to appreciate this. Haha.
|I jogged just for this photo.|
Mile 19 - 13:24
Mile 20 - 13:42
Mile 21 - 14:33
Mile 22 - 14:49
Not once did I feel you're in the final stretch, you're almost there! Mostly because there were just so many GD hills. I was so beat down at this point that I could only manage to run if there was a downhill and there were a couple toward the end. But it was totally frustrating that there were still uphill climbs, even in the last mile.
FINALLY - we started making our way back downtown to the finish. There were tons more spectators lined up toward the end and a lot of them were other runners (who had already finished) cheering us on.
OK, I know this sounds crazy but for some reason, I felt like these spectators really got what we had gone through - their cheers felt more supportive and encouraging and maybe even sympathetic? Or maybe I just appreciated them more because the finish line was literally in sight? Whatever it was, I got really emotional at this point and started tearing up and then uh oh, my breathing was getting messed up and I was almost hyperventilating (but not really).
You want to see this from another angle? Ok, here you go!
Mile 23 - 13:46
Mile 24 - 17:17
Mile 25 - 13:54
Mile 26 - 10:52 pace
|Yet, not a new PW! :)|
|Let me out!!! :P|
The rest of the pics are from my now retired iPhone 3G - sorry for the poor quality!
|Another view of the finish line|
It's not a big deal, but I think there should be a bigger difference between the medals - like different color straps and stuff so it's more obvious who did the full vs relay, etc. (Yes, I want my props! lol)
I can see why the relay is so popular though... you can get a pretty nice medal and a tech shirt just for running a few miles!
The one drawback to finishing inside a stadium is having to exit up the stairs on some beat down legs. Wasn't too bad though. Here's another view of the set up. They even had a band to entertain the spectators.
I rejoined my family and sat down to watch some of the other finishers. I'm glad that at least my mom and sis could sit comfortably while they waited for me.
By the way, I ran alongside this guy for a bit. Understandably, he got a lot more cheers than me.
I didn't realize this beforehand but this race has a 6 hour time limit and they definitely started shutting things down then. Glad I came in when I did!
I checked my super fancy schmancy race jacket so I was able to finally put it on after the race.
|Overall Place||1247 / 1389|
|Gender Place||411 / 488|
|Division Place||64 / 74|
This time, I really was back of the pack! It kind of goes with my theory that midwest runners as a whole are more hardcore than what you find here in Cali. I just don't think the weather there lends itself to "jolly joggers" (peeps like me, heehee). As a result, I always feel like it's a more competitive field in Ohio. Then again, a 6 hour time limit may have scared away runners more my pace. Feel free to discuss.
Oh, here are some extra pics. (Taken with my way more awesome iPhone 4S.)
|Close up of my medal, already added to the others|
|Some extra goodies. Not sure what I'll do with the bandana-tube thingy.|
This was definitely a nicely organized event and I absolutely love my race jacket but I would never run this course again. Just too many hills. I'm OK with how I did though since I clearly was not trained to handle this course.
And it's not that I hate hills. I've done Nike five times and that has tons of hills. But I like hills when you climb to the top, have a view of something really cool, and then immediately go downhill. Not climb a bit, suburb, climb a bit, suburb, climb a bit, suburb, and so on and so on until you end up where you started. Where was my cool view??? Where was my immediate downhill??? But I've always been a picky runner.
I'm glad I have this under my belt though. I hear the NYC Marathon has some hills so at least I know I'll be somewhat prepared for them :)