Akron Marathon Relay experience…take two

I call this take two because I ran the Akron Marathon Relay several years ago. At the time I didn’t know anyone, I wasn’t a “real” runner (in my own mind) and I signed up with a random group. See, the Akron Marathon has this awesome system where if you’re interested in joining a team, they have an online message board system. You can search by gender, age, pace, if you want to train together or not. All types of variables. That year I ran with a family, and at the end of the race learned the woman I mostly communicated with all summer was a drug and alcohol counselor. (This is cool because it’s what I am now). She even graduated from the same program. Small world.

This year I responded to a tweet put out by a fellow blogger. I figured running with people my age and who also put it out there on the web every day would not only be motivational, but would help me meet more people. Turns out that wasn’t the case, but I still had a great time with my team.

Friday night I went to the EXPO. The first thing I did was breathe a sigh of relief when they let me pick up the whole team’s packets. The next thing I did was hit the fun and excitement. I know from attending the EXPO year after year this is a small set up and there really aren’t any interactive stations. My first station was SUMMA (local health and fitness place). The woman told me how she really likes Marathon Bars (referring to my jacket) so we talked about them for a moment. I then waited in line to have my nutrition assessment conducted and a modified gait analysis.

Nutrition-wise I am nowhere near getting enough carbs and protein, I should probably work on that. Also they told me calories to maintain…I’m trying to lose, so perhaps I’m not that bad off? Gait analysis? Well first, holy wow slow motion camera. I saw up close and personal why I need to wear a supportive bra. Ouch. Secondly, why is my ass the size of Texas and consistency of Jell-o? All jokes aside, I was complimented on the way I hold my arms and my foot strike. I land mid-foot and with my balance/weight directly below me. Score one for the minimal running/barefoot training. Next I was told I drop my hips too much and have a weak middle. I know about my troublesome core. She said those were really the main points and it’s better I know my pluses and minuses and to keep working on them.

The only other exciting part of the EXPO was getting a plate from NOVA NORDISK the diabetes company and major race sponsor. I’ve seen these plates before and am THRILLED to have my own! I wish I could find more I would do a giveaway in heartbeat, but only one per greedy customer. Ha.


The other booths were your typical running gear and foods mixed in with local companies. Nothing to write home about. The last stop was getting the shirts. This should be the highlight of the experience, right? Ugg. I picked them up and wanted to cry. They are so ugly. Plain grey, with white letting only of the event. No other colors, no pretty pictures. I won’t be wearing mine at all. The half runners were given a long sleeve shirt in a caution green. The marathon runners were given a jacket. Now don’t get me wrong, everyone else likes or loves the shirts, so it’s just me.

This is the back, design on the shoulder and shows the color
The front. Oddly it looks blue in this picture

Race morning I woke up a little after 5:00, slowly got ready and headed out the door. I knew I would have time to finish getting ready at the car since I was leg 3 of the relay. I gave everyone their stuff and a friend of theirs took a picture of us and threw it up on Twitter. For some reason I blinked when everyone else didn’t. Nice.

Me, Becca, Julie and Kali

No one seemed too social and this made me sad, but we were in a hurry to get ready. Runner one took his place and we all decided on paces. Turns out my greatest fear was true…I was by far the “slow runner”. Even the guy who was injured was planning to run a “slow” 9:00/mi. Ugg. So I told them the truth, I’m coming off oral surgery and was going to plan a 10:00/mi pace. They seemed OK with this, but insisted I would easily run the 6.3 in an hour (if slow). Right.

I sat in my car getting ready and realizing how hungry I was. Not eating all week sucks. Before I knew it an hour had passed and it was time to walk to my exchange point. Along the way I ran into a former classmate so we talked shop.

At the exchange point I waited not very long before hearing our team number. The guy missed me though, since I had changed out of my warm morning clothes, and I had trouble remembering a person I had only met an hour earlier in the dark. The snafu didn’t last long though and away I went with the slap bracelet and high hopes.

I planned to take the arm warmers down at mile 1. The more I ran though, the longer this first mile seemed. I was comfortable though, so no troubles, but it seemed long. Finally we passed a clock and a mile marker and I noticed it was higher than I anticipated. I looked down at my Garmin and noticed I was 1.7 miles into this thing. Nice. I never heard the “beep” but I cleared mile one of my leg in 9:08 I cleared mile two in 9:18. I was flying and feeling wonderful! Then I made it to a water stop and the cold water hurt SO MUCH on my extraction sites. I don’t know if the running made things swell or what, but it was unbelievable. I spit it out and decided this would be a dehydration type of run.

After the first 2-ish miles we hit the Towpath. Many people love running on it, it’s mostly crushed limestone, but I don’t. I feel like I can’t get traction and it’s boring. I need hills or pavement, thank you. Slowly I started to feel like my body wasn’t listening to me anymore. I’m sure being on a diet of mashed potatoes and Mac&Cheese all week + pain meds and antibiotics does wonders for the system. I finished mile 3 in 10:10, but knew something was wrong. Luckily I was half way into it now and on the home stretch. I started coughing and my lungs burned. They felt like I had inhaled some type of spice. Crap I didn’t use my inhaler.

The next mile I fought the blood taste in my mouth, the tired feeling, the burning in my lungs and neck cramps. I made it through in 11:30 followed by a similar mile in 11:22. I was so upset about my slow moving pace, I felt like my legs were shutting down on me and I couldn’t move no matter how hard I pushed myself. It was terrible. At one point my body hurt so bad, my neck pinched and I couldn’t move my head at all! I stopped to rub it out and some guy was like “C’Mon girl, you’re almost done, don’t quit now”. And I know he was trying to be helpful, but stop. I’m doing so much right now! I should be home eating soup, cracked on on pain meds, wrapped in a blanket. Why am I running? Why?

In the last section we hit road and a big hill. My teeth hurt like I couldn’t believe and I thought some pressure would feel good. When my braces hurt it helped. So I tried to bite down my rolled up arm warmers (pushed down around my wrists), but I forgot something. I forgot my arch wire is out and the braces/brackets are all exposed. They got stuck on the arm warmers! I finally yanked free, quite embarrassed. OY!

Up the hill a local girl cheered for me and later told me I looked so strong! The last mile I did just under a 12 min pace and I saw my exchange girl (Becca, from Peace, Love & Bagels) and was thrilled to hand over the bracelet. Final Garmin time read 1:05:xx, a pace of around 10:39 so I was shocked and pleased with just over an hour for just over a 10K. My time was MUCH better than I expected, but the pain was MUCH MUCH greater. It would have been even nicer to clear a 10:00/mi or better overall pace, but I thought I was looking at 11-12 min miles and walking sooooo let’s take what we get, because even with the pain I had fun. If that makes ANY sense.

After the run I hung out with the girls on the hill and cheered and talked. I saw Niall and Elizabeth, which was cool. Then I road a shuttle bus for 12,789 hours back to the finish. By luck I found a few members of the team and we met up with the final runner (Kali, from Finishing Firsts) to gather medals.

While taking this in the car, the ppl next to me were cracking up

Back home I slept for a few hours, then joined Mom with Emme to meet up with my sis in her neck of the woods. We hiked with the pups (3 different parks) for a total of just over 5 miles. Me and Emme crashed out back home where Mom and I rented Bridesmaids and made Strawberry Daiquiris. Fun fun fun Saturday!

4 thoughts on “Akron Marathon Relay experience…take two

  1. Nice job!!! I can't believe you did this right after your surgery. That's major props right there. And you're not slow, stop comparing yourself to other people! You're doing more than lots of people (me). I just sat on the sidelines and cheered the runners along after dropping out of the relay…

  2. Pingback: ROJ Running Recap of 2011ROJ Running

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