Sunday, September 27, 2015

Race Recap: Akron Half Marathon

I was more horrified than excited about running the Akron Half Marathon this year.  On Expo day, the text messages and Facebook posts were flying around.  When Peeps asked me how I was feeling, this was my post:
Stuck at work, no cardio today, and I just realized I'm running 13.1 tomorrow!

 I didn't have time to linger at the Expo because I had my kids with me, and they were registered for the Fun Run, but I did get a burst of anticipation from being there:

This was my third time running the Akron Half Marathon.  It is part of the new Rubber City Series, and both the marathon and half marathon routes are completely different.

Holy Hills!

When I ran the Blue Line practice event, sponsored by Vertical Runner, I wasn't impressed with the half marathon route.  It seemed deserted and ugly.  I had written in my review post that I hoped Akron could fill up that route with some interesting bands because I didn't think the crowds would be there.  I was partially correct.

I still think the route was mostly boring and ugly.  Some people didn't like the hills, but I didn't mind them until I got to mile 10, and then I was toast.  More on that later.  There were some highlights to the half marathon part of the route:

Starting line before we lined up
The start to the race was awesome.  There was some really exciting music with an inspirational speech as we walked toward the line.  Normally I'm pretty cynical about that kind of stuff, but I got super-emotional as I listened to it.

Before the start, I met up with as many of my Peeps as I could find:
Some of my fellow Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors
The Ohio Runners Network

Jen and me.  No, we are not sideways.  You are imagining it.

How did I get assigned to Corral A?  What am I doing here???

I felt great during the first eight miles of the course.  That should have been a sign that things weren't going to go my way later, but honestly, when I checked my pace, I was usually between 8:49 and 9:01.  I did lose it a bit at miles 6 and 7, but I was never slower than 9:23 for those miles, and I regrouped for miles 8 and 9.  I didn't even stop for the Milkshake Mile or this guy:

Mile 3: The Beer Mile!

One of the many pluses of the race series is the volunteers.  They were enthusiastic and LOUD, which is what all runners need.  Thank you, all volunteers, for giving your time for us.  In many places of the course, the volunteers outnumbered and out-shouted the spectators, even in some residential areas.  God, I miss Firestone Park.

This next part is a little difficult to write:  

When I got to mile 10, I had had enough.  I couldn't take ONE. MORE. HILL. and I suspected/half-remembered that there were more to come.  I had done a good job of getting my act together in previous miles by counting my breaths (in, in, in, out, out) and chanting (relax-er, runner, easier, runner, I am strong, runner, I feel strong, runner), but I just couldn't seem to do it.  I started to call on my father for strength, and then I realized that my father isn't strong; he's dead.  I know that sounds weird, but remember that I have been avoiding dealing with this for exactly three months (on the day of the race).  I started to cry, and then I promised myself a good, long, cleansing cry as soon as I crossed the finish line IF I made my time goal.  I sucked it up and moved on, but the times got longer as more hills arrived, and I felt pain in my legs for the first time in months.  My worst mile was 12 with a 9:43; I looked at my watch and I lost hope.  I went back to 9:17 for mile 13, and I even did an 8:45 pace for the last .21 miles (even on the stupid blanket on the field), but I knew I didn't make it.

I didn't even make my time from last year.

I'm not gonna lie: I'm disappointed, but deep down I know that I didn't do the speedwork I should have done.  I had a lot to deal with this summer, and I let it interfere with my training.  I'm going to give myself a break and remind myself that the course was much more difficult than last year's course.  I did the best I could with what I had in me.

The after-party was fabulous.  My fellow CLEMarathon Ambassador Andrew and I stretched, ate some recovery food, and scarfed up non-drinkers' beer tickets while we waited for the rest of our friends to finish.  Did you know that four Michelob Ultras are only 384 calories?  At least Michelob Ultra has that going for it.  

How many beers in was this? I dunno.  Erin isn't counting either.

Shout outs go to fellow CLEMarathon Ambassador Jamie and TORN friend Shelby who both ran their first road marathons.  They both had strong finishes; I am proud and jealous.

All in all, the Rubber City Series is definitely worth running.  Just because I didn't like the course doesn't mean that there aren't others who do.  The race directors planned a quality experience for the runners from the expo to all the volunteers to the finish line party.  I plan to run the series next year, but I think the Universe has been telling me that I need to pursue a new goal: next year the marathon.  Gulp.

I'm looking forward to some easy, relaxed runs as soon as my leg stops cramping. Until then, run happy, Peeps!

Like what you read?  Follow me on Twitter @itibrout!Akron