Well, as you can see by the Akron Marathon "Taunt" Card, they sent me, I did spend a little less time with them this year.
I thought this was a very funny marketing ploy by the Akron Marathon-but I could see how it could really bother runners who didn't hit their target goal for the race.
I kept this on the bulletin board all year long, and about two months ago, decided to run Akron. Yes, the 50K was the weekend before, but please, I'm an ultra runner. I did take most of the week off and didn't run, my version of a taper.
Race morning was chilly. I was amazed at how much the little Akron Marathon has grown. I started the race with my friend and Umstead pacer, Steve, and his brother-in-law, Ken, who was running his first half-marathon (and finished too, in 2:41!! good job!!). As always, I keep to the far left on the Y-Bridge so I can bellow at all my fast friends who are already coming back: Tony, Frank, Dave, Kevin, Jim. Then we run a quick around the block to go back across the bridge. This is where I parted company with Ken and Steve who stopped for a port-a-potty break.
As I ran back through town (running too fast) I was amazed at BLOCKS of spectators. Usually there is one or two blocks or so. This was like a freaking parade route! Amazing!!
I was still running too fast, but was trying to slow down. I had looked at a marathon pace chart, and my goal was to run just under 11:00 minute miles. Every time I looked at Garmin, it seemed like it was around 10.30 ish. Sigh. I knew I would pay later for this. But hey, as I said to Cindy, Bob and Don post-race, I know nothing about pacing a marathon! I don't run them!
It was kind of an uneventful race through the first half. My left calf cramped up in the first two miles. I kept taking my S!Caps every hour, along with an amino cap from Hammer Nutrition. I did give in and took a few ibuprofens. The leg hurt, but the drugs kicked in eventually. I wasn't going to let the excuse of a "muscle cramp" be what defined my race.
I hammered the hill leading into the towpath-hey, let gravity help. Although I like the towpath section, since we're in nature, it really slows me down. I concentrated on the Garmin and tried to move away from the 4:45 pace leader. I'm sure he's a nice guy, and the chattering is helpful to keep the group on pace, but I just wasn't into the chatter. They did pull in front of me on the towpath.
The 13.1 banner is overhead, and then the lady giving you your predicted race finish time: "you're on track for a 4:56 finish" Yack! Egads! Great! That's a little too close for me!
But the 13.1 marker was also my release to put my headphones on and turn the music on. That was my carrot, what I was looking forward to for miles. And man, the music really picked up my pace!
We got off the towpath, and I kept a steady running pace through the traffic lights, and onto Sand Run Parkway. This is the notorious 3 mile uphill stretch. I put both earphones in and turned up the volume.
Where were all the marathoners? I swear, every person walking up the hill was a relay runner. Which is funny, because this is "ONLY" a 5K section for the relay, and they just started out. Whatever. I ran (not walked!!) the entire section. In fact, I ran this whole marathon, except for some walking to pick up water and to drink PowerAde at the water stops.
Frank Dwyer was running the relay, and we chatted for a bit after Sand Run, it was good to see him!
I got through the neighborhoods and then we hit Stan Hywet Hall. I wasn't sure how much farther I had to go but the sub 5 goal was looking pretty good...as long as I didn't blow up or cramp.
The turn onto West Market Street means it's about two miles to the finish---and a big long downhill. "Footloose" comes on the Zune. I got something like 40 minutes to go 2 miles, so I have a big old grin on my face as I RUN down the street. Best marathon feeling finish since the first one here at Akron in 2004!
I 'chick' about 4 guys and a few girls that seem to be far worse off than I am on the last leg. Really, I don't feel bad at all, just hungry and want something to eat!!
Run across the infield at Canal Park, finishing time of 4 hours 50 minutes!
So beat Goal C: improve on the Akron time of last year of 5:37: done
Goal B: Run a sub 5 hour marathon
Goal A: Would have been to PR the course and my marathon record of 4:37. You know, if I had trained to 'run' the Akron Marathon, and run a road race, and tapered, and not run a 50K the weekend before, I think that could have been doable. But I'm actually more proud of my 50K PR of the weekend before, and very pleased with my marathon finish.
I jogged/hiked 6.3 miles on trails this Sunday morning, to help the hamstrings become less stiff. I think after some stretching, I'll be good to go. Now to work on a somewhat tapering plan for the West Virginia Trilogy in 13 days!