Saturday, September 27, 2008

Akron Marathon in Review

We nearly got the "big red bow" race morning. Cloudy skies, temps in the upper 50s, but very humid. The sun never did come out and temps only rose into the mid 60s so all-in-all, a great day for a marathon. The morning started as my whole family hit the road at 5:45am for Akron. Once we finally got through the traffic and found a parking spot, we met up with other fellow VR runners for a photo op near the starting line. (a large video compilation has been posted at of VR-tech tee-wearin' runners throughout the race)

I gotta say, I felt really good. The recovery "experiment" from last Saturday's 50K worked and worked well. I had zero soreness and felt ready to go. My plan was to head out with the 3:40 pace group with Karen S. who I was pacing to qualify for Boston. I've never been a user of the pace groups at marathons but after leading the pace group at the Buckeye 1/2 Marathon, I found a lot of value in them. We hung with them for quite awhile. Karen was doing well and we were "all systems go!" Once we got to mile 10, we headed on down towards the Towpath and made our quiet trek towards the infamous 3 mile climb through Sand Run, starting around Mile 15. It was in this section where Karen began getting cramps in both her quads and calves...with even one cramp causing her toes to curl and cramp...kinda hard to run that way! Since my goal was to simply stay with Karen all day, no matter what, that's what I did. It was at this point we said our goodbyes to the floating 3:40 pace group stick in the air and focused simply on forward movement. After we climbed out of Sand Run and moved into Revere, it was clear that I, too, was very dehydrated as every dang hair on both arms and my legs were standing straight up. However, I could still maintain pace and keep it moving. As we moved towards Stan Hywet Hall, Karen really started to suffer and had a lot of pain. Here's where my post "Why Run?" revealed itself to me once again. I've been in her shoes....out of energy, hurting, and not wanting to take another step. (the Inaugural ING Georgia Marathon in 2006 comes to mind...the closest I ever came to quitting) No matter what, I decided that we were crossing that finish line together. We'd run the Blue Line...we knew the we just broke it up in segments and focused on hitting the major landmarks...HeartRate Hill, Stan Hywet, the turn onto Market, and the final turn at the Federal Building with less than a mile to go. No matter what your ability, how well you've trained, how perfect your training plan was followed, anything can happen over 26.2 miles. Remember Deena Kastor at the Beijing Olympic Marathon? The day of the marathon can deal you nearly anything. It's what you do with it when it gets dealt. Looking back, I am very thankful for the opportunity to run with Karen today and cross that line TOGETHER. We finished in 4:01:24...only 21 minutes shy of the goal but given the circumstances, it was still a great accomplishment. I am very proud of her and this is one of the marathons I won't soon forget. Thanks and congrats, Karen!

Afterwards, I met back up with Chris K. from Rhode Island who I met back in January while on active duty in the Navy at Newport Naval Station in Rhode Island. We ran together until Karen and I dropped back. Even though he's not local, he's a VR Mean Green Tech Tee wearin' runner up in RI! Congrats on a great 3:41:13 finish!
We packed up, I "showered" in the parking deck next to our car, and we headed up to get my free pair of Brooks for finishing the marathon. Box after box was stacked up ready for the swarm of finishers. Lunch at Longhorn and my favorite Grande White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino Light from Starbucks and home we went.

Congrats to all who ran today and a big hearty THANK YOU to the volunteers. Once again, without you, this would all be impossible.

The shoes on the right are my brand new pair of FREE Brooks....gotta love this sponsorship!

5 weeks to Mount Masochist 50 Miler down in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia! Time to get back to the trails...just in time for the fall season.

Happy Trails, everyone!


Kim said...

Hey, nice race report! And that was great you stayed with Karen and got through it!
I agree, perfect conditions except for the humidity. Take a few good rest days from all the pavement pounding.
And thanks again to your wife for the pic of me!

Sensationally Red said...

I saw your wife on the sidelines of the marathon but never saw you. You were so kind to stay with Karen the entire time. It's great pacing people to their goals. I'm not so nice--I got Bob to the 24 mile mark and then had to peel off, but he finished!

Nick Billock said...

I don't blame you for peeling off at 24...looks like you had your own business to deal with! Akron is definately one of those courses where finishing strong feels especially good due to those rolling hills on Market, then that sharp right turn at the federal building followed by a triumphant entrance into Canal Park. To know the end of this marathon can really provide a good mental boost when we really need it.

Karen said...

Yes folks, Nick is a saint! I told him to go ahead because its only torture to run at a slower pace and prolong the time on your feet, but Nick said he would stay with me. Very kind. I am glad its over, but it was so nice to have his support. (:

Nick Billock said...

Hey saint here! Just a runner! Nothing more!