Last year a bunch of us ran the Akron Marathon Relay and immediately decided to all go back this year. We brought in a few new people and then some people also signed up for different races from the pervious year. I decided to do the relay again since I had my goal race, Air Force Half Marathon, the weekend before and knew I didn’t want to do the half. I ended up having to recruit 3 new relay members and then asked Sarah to start us off for some redemption from last year. The final relay team, Four Princesses and a Frog was: Sarah, Lauren, me, Mel and Joe. This also ended up to be race #23 of the year in my quest for 30.
Lauren and I drove up after work on Friday night, so we were the last to arrive. Also there for the weekend was Nathan, Steff, Matthew, Jimmy, Jeff & Natalie. It was really quite the group!! We were all to do the pasta dinner together, but some got a little hungry earlier, so most everyone went to dinner early, so Lauren and I headed to the expo. We ended up meeting Jason at packet pick up and he stayed and hung out with us as we went around the expo.
The expo isn’t huge, but since I love a good expo, I wanted to make sure I checked it all out. Of course, I love snagging any free gear and race discounts that I can as well! Since everyone else was enjoying the pasta dinner, the 3 of us decided to go to the Mexican restaurant right by the expo. Nothing says race ready like some tacos and margaritas!
Since I was leg 2 and Lauren didn’t run until leg 4, we were in no rush to get up on race morning and enjoyed sleeping in until 7am. I only had about a 5 minute walk to my relay exchange and based on what Sarah was expecting to run, I got there around 7:50am. Well, Sarah ended up running with Jimmy, Jeff & Natalie (who is about 35 weeks pregnant!!!) and the pace ended up being a little slower than we thought. I just hung out at the exchange and cheered on the runners as they went by.
Having done 2 other marathon relays before, I know it can be a bit crazy at the exchange sites. With Sarah being a bit off pace, the area had cleared and I was easily able to see her come in! The announcers were also doing a great job letting us know the bib numbers coming in. Sarah was suppose to go on for the half, but she was being smart and listening to the pain in her foot and decided to bow out at the exchange. I know that is always hard, but I am glad she was being smart about it.
I took off and I had told the others that I was expecting and would be happy with a 10:30 pace. As soon as I got started I heard a familiar voice and there was Jeff! He ran with me for a bit and then backed down to be with Jimmy and Natalie. My leg was only 5.7 miles and started out running through the University of Akron. Otherwise for the most part it was in the city and had lots of crowd support along the course. For only being 5.7 miles I think I had 12-14 turns. Even with that many turns, I stayed on the blue line as best as I could stay on the tangents. That’s a lot of turns that I could have had extra distance to.
As I started on my 5.7 miles, I just went for it and let the legs do what they wanted. I noticed right away though that I was passing a lot of people and not getting passed at all. This was definitely a new feeling for me. I don’t think I looked at my watch but twice during the entire run and when I did I saw at one point 10:13 pace and another time I saw 9:55 pace. I even passed up the 5:10 pace group around mile 8 and then the 5:00 pace group around mile 10.5.
Since I had run the back half of the course in last year’s relay, I was excited to be more in the city. My part of the course had some gentle rollers and 3 decent hills. The first decent hill came around mile 6.5 on the back side of the university. The next climb came at mile 10.5 and I was shocked at how well I took that hill. It was a lot longer than the first one and I seemed to charge right up. The last hill was JUST before the exchange. Although I ran up it I could definitely feel the struggle starting to happen. If I had not seen Mel up at the top I wouldn’t have charged up as hard.
When I handed off the slap bracelet to Mel and looked at my watch, I was stunned to see the 9:52 average! STUNNED! I knew I was going fast, but did not think I was going 40 seconds faster per mile than I had expected. It felt great to pick up some time for the team as well.
Once I was done, I headed into the stadium and ended up running into Steff, Sarah and Nathan. Nathan was slotted to run the full, but he is also battling some foot issues and was smart to listen to his body and dropped down the half. I know it’s disappointing, but he’s smart for listening to the pain. Steff didn’t necessarily hit her time goal, but she did have a shiny new PR and on that course, that’s something to be said!
I ended up heading back to the hotel to clean up a bit since we were still waiting on several others to finish. Even though the hotel we stayed at was absolutely HORRIBLE, the location was super convenient to be able to go back and forth. Once I cleaned up a bit, I headed back to the stadium to meet up with everyone. Just as I had arrived, Jeff, Jimmy and Natalie came through the finish line! I was so proud of Natalie for finishing a half marathon at about 35 weeks pregnant. She is so bad ass!
All around the same time, Jason came across the finish line, Joe finished up our relay and Marine Doug finished his marathon as well. Jeff had gone back to bring Doug into the finish and he ended up finishing about 15 minutes better than another other marathon. As we were all hanging out, Lauren and I had extra beer tickets (thanks pregnant friend!) so we went back to grab more beer for the group (okay, mainly Jeff). The guys handed us about 11 beers for our 3 tickets and as we walked back to the group every person just stared and was hoping we were going to be their best friend.
The Akron Marathon weekend seems to have become a tradition for our local group. It’s a fabulous race and has a lot of support throughout the course. They did make some course changes this year and it seemed the group decided it was a tougher course. Even though there were some injuries and sickness happening, everyone seemed to have a pretty good time in the long run. I was also so proud of everyone on our relay team! I am not sure if I will do the relay next year as maybe bumping to the half might be in the plans.
Official Finish Time:
56:14, 9:52/mile – 5.7 mile
4:43:44, 10:50/mile – Full Relay
554/700, Overall Coed Team