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Akron Marathon 2017

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.

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I literally felt like I was melting going up this hill.

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.

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Almost done with the race at this point and was all smiles to see my family!

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.

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Every year Ryan and I take a photo post Akron Marathon. Always in the same position and inside the stadium.
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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.

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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

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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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Akron Half Marathon Recap: How I captured a new PR

I have to confess, the only reason I signed up for the Akron half marathon this year was for this shirt.

New neon pink shirt!
New neon pink shirt!
Even Bodhi liked the shirt so much he tried to steal it. Good thing I'm so strong.
Even Bodhi liked the shirt so much he tried to steal it. Good thing I’m so strong.

I saw it months ago and had to have it. However, with asthma attacks all summer and a history of getting injured, I waited til the last-minute to register. The week of the race I started having issues with my right hamstring. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but thought maybe it was going to be IT band monster all over again. I took it easy and did a lot of icing the rest of the week. On Friday I was questioning if I should even run the race. Was it worth being re-injured?

At the same time I was really mad. I had worked so hard lately and had been really careful. I couldn’t see why I would be injured again. Ok, maybe I might have sort of skipped out on cross training the past couple months… Either way, the day before the race I was questionable on if I would even start. Like any normal runner, I googled the injury and decided to work on the trigger points in this video.

AND IT WORKED! I didn’t know it until after but I HAD A KNOT IN MY HAMMY! I felt a lot better after knowing what it was (it’s still there if anyone wants to come get it out).

Race morning we were up at 3:30am to get dressed, foam rolled, eat breakfast (or a few bites of a clif bar) and were headed out the door at 4:15am. We arrived at our usual parking spot, to find they now charge $5 for parking but it’s literally across from the stadium so we parked there anyways. Being there early gave us plenty of time to go to the bathroom, hang out in the car and warm up before the race.

About 6:30 we headed to the start line and it was very crowded. We made it to the corral (corral A) with plenty of time to spare. I decided to start with the 3:15 group (7:27 pace) and hang with them to ensure I didn’t go out too fast. Ideally, I wanted to run with a 3:20 group but there wasn’t one. I figured I would start with 3:15 and slide into slower pace later on, just as long as I stayed in front of the 3:25 group.

At the start of the Cleveland Marathon they always play Cleveland Rocks and it pumps me up. However, in Akron they do not play that song, they did play the start of the Lion King though. I don’t know why but that was the perfect song to hear race morning. After the anthem, they reminded us to “look to the right and catch the sunrise as you cross over the bridge” and before I knew it we were off. Like literally, my watch didn’t even have satellite  yet.

Mile 1: 7:15-I stayed with the 3:15 pace group, they were supposed to be at a 7:27 but we ran a 7:15. I stayed with them for a half mile longer but they were settled into a 7:15 pace still so I backed down. (I really hate when pace team don’t run even splits)

Mile 2: 7:29, Mile 3: 7:26-At this point I looked down and thought I was going to fast. I had pretty much just ran close to my recent 5K times.

Mile 4: 7:25 – The clock said 29:35, pretty close to or maybe broke my 4 mile PR (from at least 4 years ago). I felt good so I kept going.

Mile 5: 7:40-Definitely feeling those fast couple miles. I said to myself “Jess, you are an idiot and went out to fast. Now hang in there, zone out and just try and stick to a sub 8 pace. (Clock said 37:15, faster than my past 2, 5 milers)

Mile 6: 7:37-I think I started to get into a groove and thought “I got this!”

Mile 7: 7:50– Clock said 53 minutes. I love running 7 miles in under an hour. Not sure why but it’s always been my thing. However, I lost my groove, I was about to hit the wall and thought “I should have brought gu with me” No joke, 2 mins later, I see a sign for Gu! Straight ahead! Seriously a life saver.

Mile 8: 7:52– I told myself to relax and save my energy and that every mile after this had to be faster. (This was my slowest mile the entire race)

Mile 9: 7:40, Mile 10: 7:27-Almost ran a 10 mile PR…during a half marathon. The clock said 1:15:41, my 10 mile PR is a 1:15:21 (I think). At this point, I wanted to hold onto the pace and cruise in for the finish.

Mile 11: 7:35, Mile 12: 7:48– I could not stop smiling! I kept doing the math in my head (which is never a good thing) and I knew I was going to PR. At mile 12, my math was horrible and I thought I was going to run a 1:36! When I got to the official 1 mile to go mark, I realized I was not going to run a 1:36 but would be close to coming to my goal of going sub 1:40.

Mile 13: 7:39-Almost done and my legs were really feeling it. My right leg was threatening to cramp with every downhill I experienced. Just before going into the stadium, my calf was so close to cramping and I was so close to going sub 1:40. I had to make am important decision. Do I push hard and risk the cramp and possibly cramp up and lose minutes off my time (while lying on the ground in pain) or do I slow down and not cramp and only lose a couple secs.

I chose to lose a few seconds, even if it did cost me the sub 1:40. I finished with an official time of 1:40:04 a 7:36 pace! Only 4 seconds from going sub 1:40.

IMG_2634I finished the race so much faster than Ryan expected that he didn’t think I finished! He thought maybe my hammy got bad and I pulled out. He was quite surprised to see me and the smile on my face probably gave way to how happy I was with my time.

Finisher Towels??? Seriously? BEST. THING. EVER.
Finisher Towels??? Seriously? BEST. THING. EVER.

Akron, I’ll see you next year.

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Guest Post: The Quest for Sub 3 is Complete

Editor’s Note: Here is a little guest post from my favorite sub 3-hour marathoner! Also, my fiance, totally not biased or anything 😉

Two years ago, I ran my first marathon in hopes of qualifying for Boston. At that time, I had no thoughts of ever trying to run a sub-3-hour marathon. To me, that was sort of a “life running goal” that I would maybe try to accomplish after having more running experience. This past May, I tried to run a sub-3 in Cleveland. I was on pace for about 18 miles, but then faded quickly and finished in 3:04:41. At that point, I decided that I would work very hard this summer to try to run a sub-3 in the fall. There are a few flat marathons in the fall that are fairly close to home (Columbus and Presque Isle came to mind). On the other hand, I absolutely love the Akron Marathon; I cannot explain why this race is so dear to me, but it just is. Unfortunately, it is not flat at all; it is definitely not a PR course, let alone a course to try to run a sub-3. However, I could not resist the notion of running Akron again. So, I decided that I would run Akron this year in hopes of running a PR (sub 3:04:23) and then go for sub-3 at the Inland Trail Marathon in November (a pancake flat course on a bike trail).

As the summer started to wrap up, I ran a few races that started to make me believe more in myself. I ran a 5K PR and a half-marathon PR in August and early September, respectively. At that point, I started to feel differently about Akron. Could I run a sub-3 there? They had supposedly crafted a slightly flatter course (more on that later). I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, Akron was the race for sub-3.

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Before the race

Fast forward to race day. I am at the start line more excited than I’ve ever been for a race (I had been absolutely jacked all week). By the way, any race that begins with fireworks going off is awesome; well done, Akron. As I went through the early miles, I have to be honest in saying that I did not feel confident that today was going to be the day for sub-3. The first half of the course is faster than the second half, but unfortunately, you cannot run it aggressively. Otherwise, you will pay for it in nasty second half.

Around mile 6, I just started feeling like maybe sub-3 pace was going to be too much with rolling hills I had already ran through and a few big hills coming later on in the second half. However, I continued to press on; I decided that I absolutely had to go for it.  I was pumped to see my buddy Christian around mile 9; seeing your friends while racing is always so helpful.  The miles continued to tick by as we approached downtown, knowing that our ascent to the Towpath would soon be approaching. Around mile 10, I saw my buddy John Fay (yes, it is rare that we ever call him solely by his first name), which pumped me up a bit. I also knew that I would be seeing Jess soon, so that was an exciting thought. After passing by her and yelling a quick “Love you!”, I pressed on. Just before mile 12, we shot down a super steep downhill before our turn into the Towpath. Another runner and I said that we felt like we were looking down from the Magnum at Cedar Point (an exaggeration, of course). This would be ideal in a speed race, but it is not a welcome sight in a marathon. The downhills really trash your quads for the rest of the race, making the future hills potentially very painful.

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That’s me in the distance. Non matching clothing.

As we got down into the Towpath, I sort of just decided to zone out a bit. There is not a lot of crowd support down there, so personal reflection can be a key. At this point, I was well on pace for sub-3, but had the worst yet to come. The surface of the Towpath felt good on my body, and I was able to knock off some solid mile splits down there. Then came mile 18 and a turn up Sand Run Road for a nasty, nasty hill. I heard a few runners say afterward that they found this hill to be worse than Heartbreak Hill in Boston. All I will say is that it’s very close. This hill was a new addition to the course, and I had no idea what I was in for. Let me just say that it was an unwelcome addition and I contend that the new Akron Marathon course is every bit as challenging (if not more challenging) than the previous course. After getting to the top of this hill, I immediately started to doubt myself. My quads and hamstrings had taken a beating from rolling hills all morning, and this hill may have been the finishing blow. However, this mile split only ended up being about a 7:10, which was above what I had been running all day (as I had stayed between 6:40 and 6:50). Fortunately, this split really did not set me back much time-wise. That thought was a confidence builder…but could I hold on from there?

When I first started back on flat surface after the hill, my hamstrings felt very sore and I was unsure of what my next mile split would be. Somehow, I was able to pick up right where I left off prior to the Sand Run Road. My current mile pace went right back to about 6:50 and I was rolling again. At this point, I had some negative thoughts; I thought, if the rest of this course was flat, then I would definitely run a sub-3. Unfortunately, Heart Rate Hill around mile 21-22 was yet to come. I was afraid that this would perhaps seal my fate (can you tell I can be a bit of a pessimist?). When I got to mile 20, an official said that I was on pace for a 2:58 marathon. Now I knew that if I could hold on, the goal was within reach. While 2 minutes seems like a lot of room for error at that point, it is definitely not; if your legs are spent at mile 20, then you are done. Sometime between mile 20 and 21, I saw my Sunday morning running partner Brent and his kids. This was a huge boost. I hope they enjoyed the way that I stuffed my face with a peanut butter Gu in front of them (in preparation for Heart Rate Hill). I then saw a Twitter buddy, Susan, who reminded me that Jess was only about 5 miles away to greet me at the finish line. What an awesome thought!

Somewhere around mile 21

When I got to Heart Rate Hill, I remember thinking, “Wow, this isn’t nearly as bad as I remember”. I am very confident that I felt this way because I had already gone up the Sand Run Hill, which was much worse. After Heart Rate Hill, we went through Stan Hywet, which has many awesome sights and crowd support. I was finally becoming a believer; sub-3 was within my grasp.

The last few miles began to tick by. I saw another buddy, Matty O, around mile 24. He yelled at me like a drill sergeant (“Come on! Suck it up!), and I loved it. I remembered that mile 25 can be kind of fast, and next thing I knew, I ripped off a 6:29 mile there. It was at that point that the emotions started to become overwhelming. I knew that barring a catastrophe, sub-3 was seriously going to happen. As I began to approach Canal Park, I was in absolute disbelief. I was going to do it!!! I remember thinking, “How am I going to screw this up? Am I going to fall? Pass out?” Fortunately, none of that happened. As I entered into the stadium, a huge smile showed up on my face. I saw 2:57 and some change on the clock and knew that my dreams had come true. As I began to sprint out the last hundred meters I saw my friends Steve and Beth, both of whom knew that I was hoping to break the 3-hour mark. I crossed the finish line with an official time of 2:57:47. Not only did I run a sub-3 marathon, but I ran a 6-minute and 36-second PR.I was elated. An insane summer of battling heat through long runs and speed workouts had paid off. All the hard work, pain (sometimes), and sacrifices were absolutely worth it.

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Finish Line!!!!

After crossing the finish line, I got a little emotional and had to put my shirt up to my face. I then told myself to not be a pansy and I pressed on. It was then that I saw my running buddy Frank’s dad, who is always supporting Frank and I at races. He just looked at me, pointed, and said “Yes!!!”. I was so pumped up. Only one more thing was needed: I needed to see Jess and nothing was going to stop me. I grabbed my food, got a quick picture taken, and walked up from the field to the stands. There was Jess, teary-eyed and excited. It was one of those moments that I will never ever forget.

Garmin shot

So what’s next for me? I will do some speed races in October, November, and December. I do not plan to run the full marathon at Inland Trail anymore, but will likely run the half. I plan to do the Athens Marathon (Athens, Ohio that is!) in April and the Cleveland Marathon in May. I am hopeful to run sub-3 times at those races as well, but I will worry about that later. My main focus will be to get my lovely fiancée 100% healthy so that she can qualify for Boston again. I will use my 2:57:47 to register for the 2014 Boston Marathon, and I am confident that Jess will have a Boston Qualifying time of her own to register with. I have to say that I am very excited for us to run the Boston Marathon together as “The McCartney’s”

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I’m Racing Again

Or at least I hope I am!

A while back my buddy Beal asked if I would be interested in running on his Akron Marathon relay team since he had an open spot. Since I was finally coming back from my IT band injury, I jumped at the opportunity to get a taste of the running scene again.

I was lucky enough to get the first leg of the relay, which was only 3.9 miles long. This was be perfect because it would give me time to run my leg, get to mile 10 to see Ryan (who was running the full), and then to the finish line.

Team Beal aka Beal’s B*tches

The day before the relay, I broke all my pre-race rules. I ate sweet potato fries with Sriracha mayo and who knows what other junk food. On race morning, I had a bagel with cream cheese and apple juice. These are things I NEVER eat before a race; it was almost like I forgot how to prepare for a race.

Akron Marathon Starting Line

On race morning, I was unbelieveably calm. I was excited to race but had absolutely zero pre-race nerves. It was actually kind of nice. After running into several runners and saying my hellos, I lined up with my good friend Cheyrl to run the first mile or 2 of the race. My goal was 8 min miles. If you know me at all, you know how much I love running fast.

One of the coolest things ever started at the beginning of the race. FIREWORKS!!! Lots of them. This really pumped up the runners. I am hoping that  more races can do something like this.

My  goal of 8 min miles lasted about half a mile. It felt so good to run fast that I kept going faster. I kept hitting 7:30s and 7:15s pretty easily, but I slowed myself down so that I didn’t agitate my IT Band. I think I ended with a 7:51 pace for 3.9 miles.

The relay exchanges for this race are extremely well executed. The exchange zones didn’t interfere at all with the rest of the race. This is very impressive. At the end of my leg, I was happy to pass off the “baton” (slap bracelet) to Beal to start the second leg.

Not too shabby team.

Overall, I felt amazing racing again and enjoyed every minute of it. This was the first relay that I have ever done and I look forward to doing more.

Beal, Me and John “Gramps” #dirtyrunners

Huge shout out to those who ran the full. The full for this course is definitely a challenging one! My “cousin-in-law” MaryPat ran an awesome time and is heading to Columbus next month (or this month depending on when you read this). My amazing fiance ran SUB 3 HOURS! WOW, Talk about speedy. I told him now he needs to train me to do the same thing. I hope he know I am serious.

Ryan, Me and MaryPat

Anyone else run a part of the Akron Marathon? I’m always impressed with their races.

P.S. I have a special guest post tomorrow!