Im starting to hate relay runners.
The story about the hills are true. Its a tough hilly marathon. But I suppose I could go into a few more details. I got up early so I could drive to Akron by 6 AM. I met up with Rick about 5 and off we went. Glad we did cause parking was rather confusing. We found a deck not too far from the finish and went there. I got ready and we made way to start. Well actually the bathrooms near the starting line. Time was getting close, we got in the corral looked for right area to line up. They had announcements and said they had 10,000 runners today. They had over 800 5 person relay runners so I guess its possible. It may of been biggest race I been to. I had debated about wearing my hat or not, I wanted it in case it rained like forecasted. By mile 3 I wish I had left it behind.
And off went. The first couple miles were very crowded. Actually most of race was crowded. Then I started making a classic mistake. We kind of decided to try to hit 4:15, a little aggressive but dont know if you dont try. I had run 4:37 in Cleveland in May. But even at that I was going too fast. Me and Rick were still running and hanging close to the 4:15 pace group. But if we were going to fast why was the pacer so close to us??
The miles started clicking away, great crowd support, and lots of runners make it seem to go faster. After a couple of relay exchanges I really started to hate the relay runners. Nothing like trying to hold an even pace then get passed by some fresh legged runners. The further into the race the worse it was.
At a water stop just past the 12 mile marker me and Rick got seperated. I ended up behind the 4:15 pace group for a while, Rick seemed to be picking up pace in front of them. I decided it wasnt worth the effort to catch him. I figured that was the last I would see him till the finish line. We had done alot of runs together and I wasnt surprised to see him pulling away. This section was on the Towpath trail, made of crushed limestone, was nice to get off ashphalt for a few miles.
I had gotten just ahead of the 4:15 pace group when we were going under the halfway mark sign. It really was a big banner. Problem is I think I psyched myself at this point. I realized I was 2 minutes ahead of a 4:15 pace. I started to panic that I was going get horrible cramps like I had in Cleveland. It can really played with my mind. I could hear the pacer behind me saying she was going for even effort, taking advantage of some downhills and the tough hills were coming up. Still I was kept thinking I had gone too fast anyways and should of saved energy for the hills. I had done lot more hill work for this then normal so I hoped it was enough. Not alot you can do about it now. Then about mile 17 near another one of those dam relay exchanges I saw Rick. He told me to keep going, he was hurting. Later found out that his calves cramped up so bad for a while he could barely walk. He even stopped at first aid station for a little bit.
After that I got a little bit better. Not much. I finally realized I had to just do whatever I could to get done. No point worrying about the time. Of course then I did something else I never do in training. There was a block party going on, some kid was there witha tray of tiny muffins. I took one and ate it. What the hell I never eat muffins on a run. Some days you just dont think. I kept doing my run/walk thing doing what I could. Tryed to mostly just run the up hills and water stops but that didnt exactly work out.
Last mile, finally. I started to talk to this guy at mile 25 marker and it seemed to help, distract from my legs not liking running at this point. Some how I managed to run the last 1.2 miles. Not fast but I ran it. I entered the Canal park, Akrons minor league baseball teams stadium, and was able to finish looking strong.
I finished in 4:30:02. I had hoped for better but considering it was 7 minutes faster then I ran in May in Cleveland I should be happy.
Many positives about this race:
Lots of water stops.
Just a couple negatives:
Real tough/hilly course.
parking was tough to find.
I really hate those relay runners.