Akron Marathon 2014

Way way back in 2007 I decided to run the Cleveland Marathon. I trained hard (maybe a little too hard) and ended up injured. I rallied and ran the half at Cleveland that year but wasn’t ready to give up on the marathon so I signed up for Akron 2008.

In September of 2008 I ran the Akron Marathon, my first marathon and I was completely hooked. After spending years running other marathons, I finally made my way back to the Akron Marathon this year for my 12th marathon.

Vintage Moja

Vintage Moja

Training for Akron was kind of a spur of the moment thing. I had been wanting to run Akron again for a while but I was really dreading the hills that I remembered from my first Akron Marathon. When I decided to run, it was mostly because I was already signed up for the RNR New Orleans Marathon and Akron fit in time wise to run and still recover in time to train for New Orleans.

I thought my training went really well for Akron but I really had no idea since I had not ran a marathon in over a year! To get a gauge on pace, I put the 3 half marathons I had ran over the summer into the McMillan Calculator. With the marathon time the calculator gave me, I took the average which was around 3:37. Two of the halves were really hilly and one was fairly flat so I thought it might actually come out somewhat accurate. To be safe, I decided to run a 3:40 to give me a little cushion, to be able to run with a pace group and to give me some time on the hills.

The morning of the race, I got up early, packed up, left the house early and 10 minutes into the drive, the LOW TIRE pressure alert came on the car. It wasn’t a complete flat tire but being so close to home we decided to play it safe and go home to grab the other car. I then decided to drive to the race because I am a crazy driver who has a problem with speeding so I thought I might be able to make up for some lost time.

The problem would not be getting to the race on time but rather getting to the race before the streets were closed and parking lots were filled. When we arrived in downtown Akron, we were greeted with tons of traffic that was barely moving. Barely moving traffic and 2 runners who both needed to use the potty created quite a bit of stress before the race. After about 15 minutes, we finally moved over to another lane and said a little prayer as we turned right down a street and hoped a parking location would be near. We lucked out and got a parking space…on the 5th floor of an elevator-less garage (This would be interesting to get up the stairs post marathon).

With less than 30 minutes before the start, we rushed off  to the nearest bathrooms and Ryan attempted to calm me down. For someone who doesn’t stress out easily, I was majorly stressed out. The good thing was, I had 26.2 miles to pound out that stress. By the time I got into my corral, I had less than 15 minutes before the race but guess what?!?! The weather temps were really nice! Like 55 at the start? Maybe it was warmer, but I really don’t remember.

When the race started, I stuck with my plan to stick to the 3:40 pace group.  I tried to pretty much ignore my watch and just trusted my pacer. When we neared water stations, I sped up to be able to grab what I needed and then waited for my pace group to catch up. I did the same thing on hills because I struggle with hills and I like a minute to compose myself after going up the hills.

Mile 3.9 in 32:43 an 8:24 pace. Estimated finish 3:39:54

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Mile 8.7 in 1:10:50 an 8:09 pace. Estimated finish 3:33:26

As we looped through downtown a second time the  Pace Leader mentioned he purposely was banking time for the “Sand Run Hills” that would come later in the race. I’m not a fan of banking time but I put my trust in my pacer and hoped for the best. Around mile 11, I found myself struggling to keep up the pace and thought too myself “you didn’t train enough and aren’t ready for an 8:23 pace.” I looked down at my watch an noticed that we were not at an 8:23 pace but an 8 min flat pace.

Pacegroup

At that time I slowed myself down and figured I was done running with the pace group. I slowly drifted to the back of the pace group and then they started to get farther away from me. After a few minutes they seemed to realize the pace was too fast and before I knew it I was back with the pace group!

Just before we got to the towpath we hit a super steep downhill that I took very easy. Even going slow on the downhill, my IT bands were screaming! It was quite a long downhill too. Before I knew it, I was heading onto the towpath which is the one section that was fresh in my mind as I did 1 training run on it. It felt great on my legs and was really hard to hold back. Then suddenly I had the urge. The urge to go number 2…

Mile 13.1 in 1:47:48 an 8:14 pace. Estimated finish 3:35:36

I hoped that somehow I could will it away. However, number 2 was being extra persistent and I wasn’t sure how far I would make it. I started to speed up and get away from the pace group. I was hoping to get some space between so I could stop to use the bathroom and eventually catch back up to them. The pace leader mentioned that if you had to stop to use the bathroom, that it would take you 2 miles to catch back up to the group.

I had to skip the bathrooms at mile 13 because there was a line and didn’t get to use a bathroom until mile 15.3ish. I was maybe a minute ahead of the pace group but it took me about 3.5 minutes to use the restroom. As urgent as the number 2 was, it did not urgently leave my body.

When I exited the bathroom, I started running and felt very confident that I could catch the pace group. I slowly picked off runners and was passing a lot of people but could not even see the pace group. I picked probably one of the worst times to go to the bathroom as some of the gnarliest hills were approaching…also know as SAND RUN.

Akron2014

Mile 16.2 in 2:15:13 an 8:21 pace. Estimated finish 3:38:50

I’m not exactly sure where SAND RUN starts but I think I am accurate when I say there are A LOT of hills from mile 16-19. There is also “Heart Rate Hill” I don’t know which mile this was at either but let’s just say it lived up to it’s name.

No matter the hill, I powered through and kept pushing. I never let my pace drop below an 8:34. There may have been some praying, talking/singing to myself and convincing myself that every motivation sign was specifically dedicated to me but there was no giving up. I didn’t do a very good job at taking my gels but after mile 20 I was due for my 3rd gel and it just wasn’t going to happen. I eventually saw some Jolly Ranchers that were being handed out and decided those would be a great idea. Taking candy from strangers, smh.

Mile 20.7 in 2:53:46 an 8:24 pace. Estimated finish 3:40:05

photo 2

After mile 20 I just kept picking off the next mile and holding my pace. By mile 23, I was hoping that my watch was correct and I would come in at just under 3:40! However, the pace group was no where in sight! I told myself they just decided to go too fast and were going to finish well below that. I always think of my Mom at mile 23 because years ago as I was running the Cleveland Full Marathon, I saw her at mile 23. She was jumping up and down like a crazy person going “It’s just a 5K from here, just a 5K!” She didn’t even know at that time that I was about to qualify for Boston.

I found my pace picking up the last couple miles of the race and I was so excited to continue to pass runners. Usually I have hit the wall and am struggling the last couple miles. I have never felt so strong at the end of a marathon. At mile 24 my watch went off early and the same thing happened at mile 25. I held out hope that my watch was wrong and that I would some how run exactly 26.2 miles. Just before mile 26 I looked down and saw 26.2 but no finish line and 3:38!!! However, none of that mattered; my stupid GPS watch is always off. I crossed mile 26 and still had .2 to go.

Love the salty look from the girl next to me

Love the salty look from the girl next to me

I made the final left turn into the stadium and charged to the finish line with a smile on my face. I was so proud of myself. I crossed the finish line as the 44th overall female, 11th in my age group in 3:41:49 an 8:28 pace. Ridiculously close to my goal time and that INCLUDES A BATHROOM PITSTOP!

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Akron Finish Medal

Akron Finish Medal

I am already planning to run Akron again next year and have set the goal to place 18th female overall because Ryan was 18th overall male this year.

My favorite sub 3 marathoner!

My favorite sub 3 marathoner!

Oh and the completely awesome jacket you get for running the full marathon is ridiculously nice. I wore it for a week straight I loved it so much. I will definitely get a lot of use out of that.

AkronJackets

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Heroes Run 2014

The Heroes Run is one of those great local races that I look forward to every year. 2 years in a row I went and watched the race, last year I finally got the chance to run it for the first time and this year I ran it for a second time and can’t see any reason why I wouldn’t run it now.

Last year I ran Celebrate Westlake and sucked but then ran Heroes and did awesome! This year I again sucked at Celebrate Westlake so let’s see how I did at Heroes this year.

The race has a long straightaway to start so I easily held back knowing that after the straightaway is a down hill and then into my “home court” AKA the Metroparks. I felt really really good with a first mile in the 6:50s. My legs felt good after the first mile so I took off and just started to pick off runners. BOY RUNNERS! It was awesome.

photo 1(2)

Miles 2-3 have some rolling hills but I just ignored them and tackled them. As I was passing water stops the workers got really excited “ohh a girl! go girl!” which made me think “what place am I in?” I knew I wasn’t in the top 3 but I must have been close to have them get excited to see a girl.

Before I knew it I was closing in on HOGSBACK LANE. AKA HOGSBACK HILL. One of the meanest, toughest hills on the westside. Trust me you don’t mess with Hogsback, it will chew you up and spit you out. Unless your last name is Kieser and you can miraculously cruise up this hill, crushing your competition.

So Hogsback pretty much chewed me up and spit me out BUT I didn’t walk! I just kept moving and willing myself to the top. Once at the top my legs took a minute to get back together but then I took off again to pass more boys (one girl passed me on the hill). Through out the race I was thinking “I’m going to PR” or “I’m going to come close to PRing”. As I got closer to the finish I realized that I wasn’t going to PR.

I kept cruising and pushing to get to the finish line and ran a 37:38 a 7:32 pace. Apparently Hogsback really sucked up a lot of my time. Still a minute faster than the Celebrate Westlake race that was completely flat.

photo 2(2)

I ended up finishing 3rd in my age group but 7th overall female. I’ll see you next year Heroes Run!

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River Run Half Marathon 2014

It was no secret that all summer I was hoping that River Run would be the race I would go sub 1:40. It’s know for being a fairly flat race and net downhill. All I had to do was run smart. (not always easy)

Race morning Ryan and I made a last minute decision to drive to the race instead of taking the buses. The buses take too long to leave and get there so when you get to the start of the race, you have to get into a ridiculously long bathroom line or warm up for the race. Driving to the start allowed Ryan and I to go to the bathroom, warm up, go to the bathroom again and keep as many layers on as I wanted without having to throw away clothes.

At the start of the race, it was laughable how many people (and I admit they were women) were at the very front of the start line and you knew there was no way they were going to run a fast half marathon. I wish newer runners understood, how important it is to line up where you belong for races and not at the very front. End Rant.

Sexy Hermes people modeling the River Run shirt which I am a huge fan of. Womens cut shirts and pink ink!

Sexy Hermes people modeling the River Run shirt which I am a huge fan of. Womens cut shirts and pink ink!

I had looked up the pace I had planned on running and had planned to stick as close to that as I could. In the past I have admittedly gone out way too fast for the first 3 miles and then died out for the last 10.1. When the race started I immediately dialed into my pace and was happy that it felt easy. My next hope was that someone nearby would be close to my pace and I could run with them for the race.

The first 3-4 flew by at a 7:34 pace for those miles and was feeling good and taking running very seriously. My watch was clicking early though as if the mile markers were off. There were a couple roller hills I had forgot about as well as a lot of turns but I was confident I would crush my PR and run around 1:38 because I thought I could pick it up. Miles 5-7 I ran crazy random paces at 6:49, 7:10 and 6:57.

I believe this photo was around mile 6? Yes the guy behind me has on a sweet purple mesh top.

I believe this photo was around mile 6? Yes the guy behind me has on a sweet purple mesh top.

I took my gu around mile 7 or 8. I really don’t remember but I was definitely needing it. I was hungry and getting these weird chills. Probably needed food or sugar because I don’t like to eat much before hard races.

I looked down at my watch and I was going back and forth between a 7:30 and a 7:40 pace and I knew at mile 9 a large hill was coming up that kicks my guza. I was wrong because i think the hill was mile 9.5 or 10 but it was killer. I passed a couple people but when I got to the top and got to come back down, I couldn’t get my legs to get going fast again. I slipped to a 7:45 pace and told myself the last couple miles would fly by and at mile 11 I’ll pick it up and cruise to the finish. My watch was continuing to beep early and every mile marker I had off by about .2.

Unfortunately, the wheels came off and I just didn’t have anything left in the tank. My pace slipped to an 8 or 8:15 pace and I had nothing. I felt like I was pushing my legs to go faster but they didn’t listen.

Look at that serious face in both pictures.

Look at that serious face in both pictures.

I swear I love running and was having a good time, despite the look on my face. I just really wanted that PR! I got a little discourage at the end of the race where I saw on my watch 1:39:45 at mile 13.1 but the finish line was further down :(

I had the course measured at 13.34 but most of my friends had it around 13.17. I ended up coming in at a 1:41:39, a 7:46 pace. (faster than the 5 mile pace I ran the week before! That’s how bad that 5 miler went for me).

River Run Half Marathon Finishers medal

River Run Half Marathon Finishers medal

Overall I was very happy with my time and how well I ran. It wasn’t a PR but I feel like I ran as best as I could. I am now looking for an October or November half marathon so that I can get that half marathon PR!

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Bodhi’s Big Race

Once a year Bodhi gets his time to shine in the running world by racing in the Wiener Dog races at the Cleveland Oktoberfest!

Do we train him for this? No, he’s a dog and it’s not that serious. Just something fun and a good way to raise money for the Coast to Coast Dachshund rescue.

3 generations?

3 generations?

Last year when Bodhi raced, he was about 10-11 weeks old and more interested in smelling the ground than running. He also took a poop and a nap prior to the race last year and wanted to go back to bed and not run.

One tired teenie weenie. Bodhi 2013

One tired teenie weenie. Bodhi 2013

This year we had 1 goal for Bodhi and it was just for him to get to the other side.

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When the gate went up, Bodhi was once again interested in smelling the ground. Then he slowly started to run to the other side, he was slightly detoured by other dogs but he made it!

He placed 3rd in his heat and we couldn’t be more proud of our little guy.

He looks like he was a little proud himself

He looks like he was a little proud himself

Post race, Bodhi and I took epic naps together….you know, for recovery.

Ignore my fat legs, it was a gluttonous weekend

Ignore my fat legs, it was a gluttonous weekend

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Celebrate Westlake 5 Miler

For years I ran the Miles for Smiles 5K, when I moved to the westside, I went back and forth between running the Celebrate Westlake 5 miler and the Oktoberfest 5K. This year, like most, the 5 miler won my attention. I never race well at this race but it’s still a great race and great training.

Celebrate Westlake

This race falls on Labor Day weekend and is almost always very hot! (although the first year I did it, it was freezing cold and raining). The temps for the race were to start in the mid 70s and rise to 90 throughout the day so I was eager for the race to start before it got too hot.

I felt comfortable after a nice easy 1.5 mile warmup, however, as I walked to the start line I noticed that the temperature had already rose significantly.

The first mile is flat so my plan was to go out conservatively at a 7:20 pace. However, during the race I ended up going out at a 6:50 pace. Mix going out too fast with temperatures rising and my wheels just fall off. My 2nd mile was around a 7:50 but felt like I was pushing to a 10 minute pace. At mile 3 you run almost a mile on a flat trail. It messes with your time a little but not too bad.

After I finished the trail section, I think my legs finally recovered from going out too fast and started to get into their normal running routine. as I was suddenly below 7:30 paces. The last .5 of the race or so the 5K merges in but the road is huge and completely blocked off so there is plenty of room for everyone. However, it was nice to have more runners to pick off at the end of the race.

I finished as strong as I could for the race (and of course, almost puked). I ended up with a 38:41 a 7:44 pace. Which is pretty horrible for me. But you have to run some bad races to get some good races in!

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Heart & Soul Wooster Half Marathon

I am somewhat unfamiliar with the area of Wooster. As far as I know, I have been there once and it was to visit a local brewery, JAFB. Then when I saw the elevation for the race I must have read it as flat. However, when driving to the race on race day I said “good thing we don’t have to run any of these hills during the race”. Little did I know I was about to eat my words.

It was fairly cold on race morning. Cold enough that I was wishing for a throwaway top and gloves. Hard to believe that in August in Cleveland.

HeartnSoul Half startI shivered as I stood at the start line but reminded myself that I would warm up soon and the temps wouldn’t feel so bad. This race had pace groups which was awesome, so I lined up with the 1:40 finish time group. My plan was to stay on pace with them and if a PR was there that would be great if not then I would run that pace as long as I could.

The race started and the 1:40 pace group took off 7:15 pace (way faster than they should have been) so I stayed with them for the first mile. Which included a major hill that I didn’t expect. Then as we made our way out onto a main road, I realized that this was not going to be the flat race I had anticipated and I let the 1:40 group pull ahead and steadied into a 7:40 pace which was closer to a 1:40 finish time.

As I turned into a development I noticed signs for the higher miles and figured out that we must go through this area again later in the race. Which wasn’t going to be so great since there were some not so fun hills during this race. I slowly started to curse Chelsea for pointing out this race. One of the only things that kept me going was telling myself that it would be awesome training for the Akron Marathon.

My paces were all over, mostly because I felt like we were constantly going uphill and not getting a break. I couldn’t figure out what pace to run. Naturally, I forgot GU for this race so it was my saving grace when I saw they had it at one of the waterstops a couple miles before the turnaround. Which was where I saw the overall male runner who was crushing the course! The overall male winner ended up running a 1:08!!! The second place runner didn’t come in for a full 8 minutes!

As I looped a big grassy area, I started wondering where the 1:45 group was since they had not passed me yet and I was estimating my finish in the 1:50s. It wasn’t until mile 10 that the 1:45 group finally passed me and by then I was in the zone and just trying to pick off the miles, I was still assuming I would run a 1:50.

As I chipped away at the last couple miles, I had no idea how to run the course because I didn’t know how many hills were left. I also didn’t know what else my legs could take. At mile 12 I started to really pick up my pace and for the last mile I ran a 7:05 pace! The closer I got to the finish line I could see the clock and I checked my watch to make sure but HOLY CRAP! I was actually going to run a good time!

I quickly got over Chelsea not warning me about the hills as I crossed the finish line in 1:43:13 a 7:55 pace. 11 female overall and 5th in my age group. I’m not sure what the 1:45 pace group ran as they finished before me, as well as the 1:40 pace group which wasn’t even in sight.

Overall and yes, minus the hills, this was a great race and course. I would run it again depending on my training plan and because it was super cheap!

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