As the end of September nears every year, the running community of Akron starts to scurry a little quicker, and look a little fitter. Anyone who runs, jogs, walks, or knows someone who does, feels the buzz of Christmas in September being just around the corner. The Akron Marathon is one of my favorite races every year. Our city lines up on a great course, with some of the finest spectators, while fantastic athletes take to the streets.
Going into this years race there were a lot of questions in my mind. In general I have a very realistic handle on my fitness. I know within a few seconds over many miles what I am capable of, and can even throw in some variables and appropriately adjust the outcome. I occasionally surprise myself, and occasionally miss the mark. But typically I am capable of a smidge more than my training has indicated. So I start with the A goal in mind and know I am physically ready to push for it. I remind myself of all the hard work I have done prior to racing and find comfort in knowing my preparations. This year was different. Very different. Going into this year I knew the following; I felt comfortable at 6:30 pace for a 4 mile tempo run. I had not run 13 miles since November of last year. My weekly milage over the past 6 weeks had been the only mileage I had put in for 10 months. This was not reassuring knowledge as it usually is. Because of this, I was nervous. I had absolutely no idea what my fitness level was. I began to hope for the 6:30-6:40 pace which I managed for one 4 mile tempo, to be manageable for the duration of the race, and started to wrap my mind around that as my A goal. As quickly as I would feel confident, I would start to think of my lack of training which lead to me wondering if I was making a huge mistake. I began to push the negative thoughts out of my head and refuse to entertain them. I just needed to get to the start line and get running!
|CED Gals before the start. Katie, Barb, Kelsi, Morgan, Marisa, Aubrey, me, Ellie.|
Race day finally came on Saturday the 27th, and we met my family in the parking deck like we always do, and walked to the elite staging area. As my teammates and I nervously chatted on our warm up I began to feel my competitive self FINALLY showing up. "I can and will do this. I know I am capable of more than I believe and I have to 'race up' today". Finally preps were done, and we were on the line ready to go! One last easy breath was taken and with my jittery finger on my watch the race began. I tried to keep things under control and let the first mile happen. It is a long 200 foot drop, so I didn't care about the time. 6:00.0 just what I had expected. I found myself running in 5th place with Marissa. We ran together until 2 miles and then I was on my own for quite awhile. The splits were clicking by 2-6:21, 3-6:14, 4-6:25, 5-6:23. Around 5 miles I began to wonder why I believed this was a good idea. I found myself thinking "Why didn't I run a relay leg?", "1/2 marathon? Why would you think you can do this?". But the miles kept passing 7-6:50 (the most uphill mile on the course, 8&9- 13:04, my stomach began to grumble and I pleaded for it to go away. I was nervous since I had not yet run this far with any sort of effort behind it, that my stomach would rebel and threaten to ruin even the best played cards I had. Shortly after 9 miles the race runs through campus and pops you back out downtown. I could hear my friends and family cheering and suddenly I felt great again. mile 10-6:14. As I began across the Y bridge for the final time I had to start working very hard to maintain 6:30-6:40 pace. My legs were shot. 11-6:36, 12-6:37. I fearfully pushed toward the finish line trying to will my dead legs to life. I came into the stadium and heard Dave Hunter announce my arrival in 4th place. 1:24:27 read on the clock when I finished. I was thrilled! 6:26 average for 13 miles was as good as today could have yielded! I quickly learned that Kelsi Nutter had won in a huge PR of 1:17:05, Ellie had a great debut for 2nd in 1:17:50, Katie Kay PR'ed in 1:21:53, Meredith would finish in 1:25:41 for her debut, and Ryan had met his "secret goal" of not getting beat by any women in 1:16:15. It was a great morning in Akron!
|Mile 10 |
(Photo courtesy of Mark Godale)
Almost 3 months after having Nolan and Corra I couldn't have imagined I would be back into 1:24 shape!
I will be racing again on October 26th at the Youngstown Peace Race, and I look forward to seeing where my fitness is on that day! Until then I will work on keeping the little ones growing and pounding away at the pavement!