Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I Finished a Marathon... Kind of !

After my half marathon a few weeks ago, I started thinking about doing another race soon to keep up my motivation. Soon after that, I got an offer to join a relay team for the Roadrunner Akron Marathon! It sounded like a great running opportunity since I would be able to participate in a marathon event without having to actually go the full 26.2, which I am nowhere near being able to do! I lucked out and was even able to do the finishing leg which was a very doable 12.2K (7.6 miles) and also gave me the opportunity to do the marathon Olympic style finish into Canal Park Stadium. How fun!

I wish I could say that I did some heavy duty training in between my half mary and my relay race yesterday, but I'd be lying. I did a few long runs of 8 and 9 miles on the weekends, but only did a few 3-4 mile runs during the week. I was hoping it would be enough to have a decent showing for the Akron relay.

I arrived near the race venue early Saturday morning. I parked across from the stadium and could see it all set up for the finish. It was pretty cool! I then found my way over to front of the stadium so that I could catch my shuttle to my relay point. People were already lined up along the road getting ready to cheer for all of the runners. There was a gigantic roadrunner (you know the character -- meep meep!) balloon and people were getting their pictures with it! I wasn't one of them though. In fact, no pics for me! I didn't have my camera with me. :-( Anyway, it was really exciting to see the race atmosphere already in swing.

I soon caught the shuttle to my destination and stood in the corrals waiting for my relay partner to show up. Since I was the last leg, I really had no idea how long it was take my other 4 teammates to run their legs, so I got there an hour early and just cheered for everyone until I heard my bib number called. Once they called my number, I jumped onto the course and started waving to my relay partner. As soon as he passed the relay bracelet to me, I said, "Great job!" and started off.

I really wasn't sure how I was going to feel. I hadn't warmed up since I was afraid to miss my bib number called if I wasn't right in the corral, so I had gone from literally standing around for an hour, to full out race pace. Also, my training in the weeks before weren't exactly stellar, so I figured that I'd just try to keep to a 9 minute pace as I had done in my half mary and cross my fingers.

It was really hard to pace myself since there was a mix of full marathon runners and relay runners. Obviously the relay runners bolted out, but I didn't know how wise it was to try to keep up with them. I used my Garmin to try to keep me on track. As much as I tried to keep a constant pace though, I was all over the place ranging from 7:30 m/m to 9:30 m/m! I think that was mainly due to the hills on this course. I rarely run hills anymore, so the hills on this course really took it out of me! I promised myself though that I wouldn't walk the hills though and would instead just run as slow as needed and try to make it up on the other side. Well luckily, despite the three sizable hills on the course, the last mile was all downhill and it was pretty steep too. I cruised down that hill as fast as my legs would carry me! There was a slight uphill right before the end but I knew the finish was in sight, so that made it easier. I was still dead tired though and my legs were so heavy that it was hard to turn them over. After making the final turn into Canal Park Stadium, I saw the finish timer and went into a full sprint. The stadium was packed and people were cheering! It was awesome! I pretended that they were all cheering for me! LOL! It was great fun!

Aside from the cool finish, one thing that I really enjoyed about this race was all the people I saw! First, there were tons of people cheering all over the place. There were bands, and cheerleaders, and people just sitting out on their front lawns cheering for all of the runners. There were people standing at the ends of their driveways handing out snacks like pretzels and drink. Everyone was so positive! I saw a lot of people dressed up too. I saw a group of relay runners all dressed up with batman masks and another group all wearing princess tiaras! I even saw one marathon runner juggling as he was running! WHOA! I also was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of people I know too. When I first arrived there, I ran into a girl that I work with. She and I chatted for a bit before I headed over to catch my shuttle. Once I got to my relay zone, I ran into the wife of one of my husband's former coworkers. She and I had fun chatting while waiting for our numbers to be called. Then, once I started running, I heard a familiar voice shouting from the crowd cheering people on. It was another coworker. I yelled to her and she starting cheering like crazy for me! How nice! Then, a mile or so later, I had to cross traffic. The traffic cop was telling a driver to wait for me. When I looked at the driver, I recognized him as another coworker! In fact, he would have been doing the race himself had he not pulled a hamstring last week. He gave me a big wave and a thumbs up. After I crossed the finish line, I started making my way through the shoot and found another coworker there. She had just completed the full marathon a few minutes ahead of me. Then, to top of my reunion type day, after chatting with my relay teammates for awhile, I started heading back to my car. As I was walking down the sidewalk, I looked to the person on my left and recognized her as the person who first hired me as a teacher! She was my supervisor for a few years and was always very supportive. It was nice seeing her again.

I really could not get over how many people I saw yesterday! I mean, some of those situations were just too coincidental! With the 10,000+ people just at the race alone, I don't think I could have planned to run into those people if I tried! Oh well, so glad I did!

So once I got home, I checked out my split time which for 7.6 miles was 1:07:06. I was wondering if that was on pace as to what I should have been able to do. I went onto the Running Times Calculator and entered in my half mary time from a few weeks ago and then entered in 7.6 miles and found that my projected time should have been 1:06:40. HA! I was less than 30 seconds off my target time and I didn't even know it! Considering that my half mary course was all downhill and my race yesterday certainly was NOT, it turns out that I did pretty well! In fact my average pace was 8:49 m/m -- not too shabby!

So overall, the relay race was pretty fun! I think I'd like to do it again. It has me looking forward to racing again soon too! :-)

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