My day began with my alarm going off at 3:00 AM – even for me that is early. I thought of my friends on the west coast who were probably just going to bed and here I am getting up to get ready for my race. I had a smoothie for breakfast along with my coffee – keeping full and fueling on foods that would agree with my stomach was my goal today. I met my trainer at 5:00 and we drove to Akron for the race. I must say, The Akron Marathon is the best organized running race I have participated in. From the little details to the big, they had it covered. While the start and finish were in the heart of downtown Akron, there were several parking garages open and FREE to park. The lines of port-o-potties were far longer than the lines of people waiting, briefly, to use them. The corals for starting times were very well organized and the start went off with fireworks and cheering crowds. This race was a combination of half marathon, full marathon, and relay marathon teams. In fact it boasts the largest number of relay teams for a marathon.
The day was perfect for running. The sun came up and out by 7:30, the race started at 7:00 so it was cool to watch the skies brighten, the temperature at the start was 45 degrees and probably around 55 by the finish. The course is challenging. The lead sponsor for the race is Time Warner and the race is called the Akron Road Runner Race – a play on the internet area of Time Warner and the Looney Tunes Road Runner. The entire route is marked with a bright blue line – as if the Road Runner himself sped along and left his mark. The first six miles are relatively flat, but from six through ten it gained quite a bit of elevation and of course there was a nice incline around mile twelve before the downhill finish. The second half of the marathon is even more challenging. Growing up in Akron, I am all too familiar with the terrain the runners were turning in to when the half marathon split from the full marathon just before mile 11. The finish area is in the Akron Aeros ballpark, a double A affiliate to the Cleveland Indians (with a much better winning record as well…). Again – an incredibly well organized area. Finishers did not have far to go to get their medals, finishers caps, and the warming mylar blankets before being ushered into the food tent and then to gear bag pick up.
My experience was equally pleasing. I did not eat any gels but rather ate a Honey Stinger Waffle right before the start and half of one at mile 9.5. I brought my running bottle and hand carry case filled with Accelerade – all things I have trained with. My stomach held up very well. My legs did too, but the course did present some challenges for me. In February I set a personal best in the half marathon with a 2:19:19 in Jacksonville, FL. The course was much flatter than today’s race. The total elevation gain in Florida totaled 466 feet, today it was 2,175. Today I finished in 2:25:59 (yeah! I wanted 2:25 or better, got it by a second). I was right on pace for my marathon goal time. I compared today’s race mile for mile with the race in February. Garmin Connect breaks down the details so well. The interesting thing is mile for mile the first six miles I ran the same pace give or take a few seconds. It was just past mile six that the pace comparison began to diverge, just when the elevation picked up today. Seeing the details was encouraging for me. It was a technical course and I am focusing on training for CIM – a flat to downhill course. I looked at my results of half marathons over the years. I have run 11 races since 1999 and this was my fourth fastest. In fact all four of the fastest I have run with in less than two years. To be faster in my mid 40’s than my early 30’s is such motivation to keep at it.
My trainer did very well – she place second woman overall in the half marathon. I was so happy for her, she is very humble of her success. When I saw her, the first thing she said was she saw me finish and I looked strong. I had to ask how she did! Several of my friends participated in the half and relay, the energy was in the air, they all did well. I even ran into a guy I haven’t seen since high school who had run the race. It was so good to catch up now that we are officially “grown ups”. All in all it was a great day. I napped in the sun in the afternoon before getting up and about among civilization. My legs feel sore from the run, a sign I gave all I had, but it is a good sore. So now I end the day feeling happy and content. A long, yet wonderful day.