"Nope," I replied.
"Huh. Honest answer," she said.
I thought I was ready. I did the work. What I didn't do was anticipate 87 degrees during the last half of the marathon. I didn't anticipate getting an email from the race directors advising people like me (slow marathoner) to drop down to the half because of the heat and humidity. I appreciate the thought, but it messed me up.
After getting the email, I headed to the expo, my mind swirling around with "Should I drop down to the half?" The expo was great; I saw so many friends while talking to Kayla and Joan at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon booth. I of course took some hopeful pictures:
|This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm trying not to freak out.|
|I faked it a bit better here.|
After the expo, Andrew (@AndrewRunsalot) and I carb loaded with sandwiches and beer. I told him that I was considering dropping to the half, and as usual, Andrew basically told me to get my shit together and run the marathon.
|Beer + Tough Love|
The next morning I wasn't feeling too confident, which brings us back to the gear check. I couldn't find any of the people I had planned to take pictures with, and I was feeling agitated. In retrospect, my best races are when I start off feeling slightly agitated. I did find some great friends, and we chatted and took selfies:
|Jess (@tamburarunner) needed some gels, so I came to the rescue!|
|Heather and Laura are running buddies, and Fred and I graduated from high school together!|
|Debi is pretending she's happy that I'm following her.|
|Corral time. Shit is about to get real|
I always get emotional at the start of the race, but I was able to reel it in this time. I decided that I would do what I could, and if I had to walk the second half of the marathon, so be it.
With this new attitude, when Debi suggested we hit up the Swenson's milkshake mile, I was all for it. Blueberry milkshake shots---yum! Normally this isn't something that I would do, but I was already deciding that I had nothing to lose at this point.
I ran with the ladies for about eight miles, and then I decided to run a bit ahead because I'm pretty sure that I was annoying Debi, and eighteen more miles of me on a runner's high is a difficult thing to bear.
Things didn't start getting difficult until about mile fifteen. I noticed that I would try to calculate how many miles and how much time I had left, which was distressing rather than distracting, so I would make myself blank out and I would keep thinking, "Just get through this mile."
The city and local residents set up sprinklers to cool us off, and I ran through every sprinkler and walked every water stop. One cup went down my throat, and one cup went over my head. At mile eighteen I started wondering if The Kabyle Chef, Punkin, and Butterbean would show up at our designated meeting point, which was about a mile away from the house. When I arrived at mile 19. . . there they were! I burst into tears because I couldn't believe they were there. Five years of running, and this was the first time my family showed up on the course to see me. The Chef told me that Butterbean had gotten up super early to soak a towel in a cooler filled with ice water, and let me tell you, that towel was the best thing ever. I wiped my neck and face, squeezed some water over my head, high-fived my family and thanked them, and then took off before I could decide to just run home.
When I got to Merriman Rd., I heard police shouting, so I looked behind me where they were pointing, and there was a truck on the course trying to weave around runners! Luckily, rather than being someone who intended to harm us, it seemed to be an older person who was really unsure of himself. He was certainly wondering why there were so many half-naked runners around his truck and why the police officers were forcing him to the side of the road.
I powered through the miles to route 18, the homestretch. At one point I looked behind me, and I saw the 4:55 pacer. I yelled, "No WAY!!!! Tell me you are ahead of schedule!" Luckily, she was ahead by several minutes because everyone had dropped from her group and she just wanted to finish. She encouraged me by telling me that I was going to hit my time (something that I still didn't believe at that point).
I turned down Main Street for the ACTUAL homestretch. I was looking forward to a crowd of people from whom I could draw energy, and I found. . . crickets. Nobody. Now, I know I am a slow marathoner, but there were plenty of people behind me, and last year Main Street was packed when I came in around the same time. It must have been the heat, but boy, did I feel defeated.
When I reached Canal Stadium, I saw that the race directors had replaced the blanket they used to use to cover the turf with a runnable surface, and that gave me the energy to sprint (or something close to it). I wish I could have seen the jumbotron, because as I ran in, I heard the announcer say, "YES! This isn't her first rodeo!" I hope that was about me.
The finishers' party was pretty much deserted when I got in. Again, I blame the heat because last year it was packed at around the same time. The band was amazing, by the way. I got some food and beer and then I sat in the shade of the beer tent and stretched.
So, how did I do?
|This is EXACTLY how I look when I PR by about 90 seconds!|
The Akron Marathon is a great race. I enjoy the hills, and I love the fact that Firestone Park is back on the course. The crowd support is still better than in most races, although I think maybe the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon had the crowd beat this year, even in the rain.
I was glad to be a part of my hometown race, and I intend to run this baby again.
Ohio Weather, can you please make a note that I would prefer about thirty degrees cooler next year? Thanks.
Wherever you run this week, I hope you run happy, Peeps!
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