You know when you start stalking the weather before a big race and it changes a million times between when you first start checking and race day? Yeah, well, that didn’t really happen for this race. Every time I checked the weather I saw a low of 60 and a high in the mid 80s. To be honest, I really wasn’t that concerned. I kept telling myself that I am running in the morning so I will see more 60s than 80s and I’ve run in warm marathons before and did okay.
Race morning was actually around 58 degrees so I was a little chilly but not shivering and the humidity although high didn’t feel too bad. While that was some good news, I realized I left all my gels at home. All of them! I know they hand some out on the course but what if I wanted them at a specific time or a specific flavor. I got hooked on the Honey Stinger Acai Pomegranate gels and used them on my long runs so I planned on using them for the marathon too. Luckily, some friends came to the rescue and donated some gels to me before the race. But not before a roll a toilet paper fell on my head while I was in the porto-potty. Maybe I should have taken the gels and the toilet paper as a sign for how the day would go.
As I headed to corral A to line up, I couldn’t find the 3:45 pacer. I saw 3:40 and 3:50 so I placed myself between the two and hoped I could pace myself. Which never really goes well because I am the worst at pacing myself.
The first couple miles felt easy to me but every time I looked down I was going too fast. I even ran with the 3:40 pacer and they were running 8:12 per mile. My goal was in the 8:30s.
Mile 1 – 8:21, Mile 2 – 8:27, Mile 3 – 8:15, Mile 4 – 8:37, Mile 5 – 8:12.
I ran the half in Akron last year so I was mentally prepared for the hills and they didn’t feel too bad so far. The heat was creeping up but I was confident that I could beat it.
Mile 6 – 8:35, Mile 7 – 8:47, Mile 8 – 8:48, Mile 9 – 8:35, Mile 10 – 8:25.
I was starting to feel the heat around mile 7 so I tried to slow my pace a little bit. I was taking water at every station I passed so I could stay hydrated. However, I was slowly starting to get jealous of the half marathoners who were getting close to the finish for them.
Mile 11 – 8:50, Mile 12 – 8:56, Mile 13 – 8:58, Mile 14 – 9:34, Mile 15 – 9:48.
The half marathoners split off and I kept going on the marathon course. I decided to channel my jealousy to the relay runners who were still out there with me. However, they seemed to be feeling the heat more than I was and I saw a lot of them walking the course. Miles 13 and 14 were hella hilly! I felt like it was just a gradual uphill climb for both of those miles. The heat plus the hills and my times plummeted.
Mile 16 – 9:32, Mile 17 – 9:35, Mile 18 – 9:35, Mile 19 – 10:05, Mile 20 – 10:31.
I think around mile 15 the heat got to me and I thought “maybe they’ll cancel the race.” But I legit believed they might cancel the race because it was so hot. I day dreamed of the race getting canceled from mile 15-17. At mile 17 I saw Ryan! He looked awesome and I was like “hmm that can’t be right, it’s a million degrees right now.” But he was at mile 22 so maybe being closer to the finish was easier for him. I realized at this point that they were not going to cancel the race and I was going to have to keep running.
Mile 21 – 10:34, Mile 22 – 10:21, Mile 23 – 10:51, Mile 24 – 11:08, Mile 25 – 10:09, Mile 26 – 10:23.
I was really excited at mile 20 because I was under 3 hours. I don’t know why but little things like that excite me. Same with running 7 miles in under an hour, I always like those. The heat must have gotten to me because I thought I would finish in under 4 hours at this point.
I barely ate my gels during the race. It was so hot that I just wanted real food. Thankfully, Akron has awesome crowd support and they came out with hoses, extra water stops, watermelon, grapes and oranges. I hate to take food from strangers. More about germs than strangers but I needed every bit of the real food on the course. At one point, spectators were passing out full bottles of water and I carried that water from mile 20 something to mile 25.5. I don’t know what I would have done without that water bottle.
My goal for this race was to run 3:45, maybe a 3:50. I was way off and ended up running a 4:07:10. I know the hills and the heat played a factor in this but still hard to accept this time. I felt like I was in good shape and that the 3:45 would feel easy. Now I don’t know if I was in good shape or if it really was the heat.
What I do know is even with the heat, I had a blast on the course. I haven’t decided if I want to run the full again next year but it is a strong possibility.