This past Saturday I ran the Akron Marathon. My Marathon #5. It was just a beautiful day. The only thing I would have wanted different was some clouds...but I'll take it. There is something so special about marathon morning. I love waking up and saying "I'm running a marathon today"....it's like "I'm getting married today"....or "I'm having a baby today" (that is yet to come).
So the night of the race I had sketchy sleep. My glutes were tight and were uncomfortable to lay on...plus once I woke up I had a hard time sleeping. I kept thinking of the race and my stupid hamstring. The last long run before my Taper I kind of had this pulling sensation in my lower hammy and calves around mile 18 (it was a 23 mile long run). From then on it was tight and sore, but manageable. The week before my race, I pulled something right under my glutes while running up onto a curb to avoid a car. It never really put me out of anything, but it was a MAJOR cause of stress before my marathon because I was worried it would bother me late in the race.
Anyway, on to race morning. I woke up around 4:45 and had a half of a banana and a couple bites of toast. I wanted to get more down...but that is really all I could handle at that time. Got dressed and was headed out the door. I really have to say my husband, JM, is so awesome. He is not a runner by any means, but is so supportive of what I do. He's not a morning person either which makes him even more of a trooper with how early these races are. Plus he has to listen to my pre race minute by minute schedule and commentary. I LOVE YOU JM!!!
Okay, fast forward to the start. Found the Invited Runners tent which was a nice little perk. Did some light jogging, used the Port O Potty and before I knew it there I was standing on the start with 10 seconds to the start. The race started and off everyone went.
The First Mile was comfortable but a little too fast. It was 6:43. I told myself to keep a 7:00 for the first half. I decided this because of the difficulty of the course....especially later in the race. I really wanted to have a consistent, strong race. My last marathon in Chicago was a very, very rough finish. I told myself not to worry about the Sub 3:00 hour marathon today. If it happened....great....if not, I would be happy with a strong finish and PR.
The Second Mile I slowed down a bit to make sure my pace was correct. My calves and shins were tight which was weird. I was hoping they would loosen up really quick. Oh, the second mile was really cool because we ran back over the other side of the bride we crossed on the first mile and the sun was rising while the moon was setting. The 2 mile time was almost 14:00 so I was on pace. Mile 3 was good because I got to see my family cheering for me. It was nice to see. Then we ventured out for a while. I got in a zone and kept on running around 7:00 pace and after about 4 miles it settled in and felt like a cake walk. "Stay Controlled" was my motto the whole way. 10K was around 43:00. I think I heard some of the girls I coach cheering.....cool. The next few miles were on cruise control and I noticed a woman in pink that looked familiar from the reception we had the night before. I kept my eye on her as a target. We were running on my old college stomping ground. Memories.... Made myself take a GU before mile 9...yuck. Before I knew it, we were running down the middle of the University and arriving to mile 10. I head my family cheering for me which was just great. It's nice to hear familiar voices. 10 mile was around 1:09:40. Mile 11 the good old hamstring got a twinge...o no!!! I caught the woman in pink just before the Towpath and another woman too. I got worried and took the big down hill into the valley slower.....which made me fall behind the 2 women. O well. Plenty of time in the race yet.
Got to the towpath. I knew it would be a nice and flat 4 miles. It was really beautiful. A little foggy and lush woods. I loved it. I kept my eye on the two women about 10-15 second ahead of me. About mile 12 I caught the woman in pink and she pulled over to the side and stopped briefly. Now I had a woman in purple to keep me rolling. Half marathon came quickly....1:31:17. So I figured....not bad....3:02-3:03 pace. Felt pretty awesome. I knew some hills were coming...big time hills. So the end of the Towpath quickly came and the hills started. Made myself take another GU at mile 16 or so since I knew my body would need it. My friend LG was there which I knew she would be for her relay. It was nice to have a cheering friend at that point. Kept consistent on the hills and caught a few people. I made sure the steeper parts were a little slower. I made that conscious effort. I was fearing the last 10K. 16-20 was a long incline pretty much but I felt just fine. I lost some time though but that was okay.
Mile 20....2:21. Did a reality check. On a scale of bad to terrible...how did I feel? I felt on the better side of bad...which is great at 20 miles into a marathon. I was pretty pumped. Kept around the 7:00 pace....even below for a few. I think I picked off a 6:49 on one mile. Heard some people cheering and even saw some people I knew. Someone told me I was in 6th place. About mile 21 I caught the woman in purple. Had glasses on my head in anticipation of the sun, but they were foggy, plus I got used to not having the glasses on this whole time so I kept them put on my head. This part on was quite sunny....but the temps were still nice. Mile 22 we were at Stan Hewitt Gardens. Around 2:35. I was thinking about 4 miles in 30 minutes would set me around 3:05...not bad. This came after a steep hill. Uhhh....this was hard. My calves were cramping...O NO!!! I got worried but shook it off and took another Half of a GU at 23. That is all I could handle. I felt like barfing. I started to get antsy about the finish.
Turned a corner and my friend LG was there!!! I was so happy to see someone I knew out there. Then....bless her little heart....she ran the rest of the way with me. She stayed on the side walk and kept me going. So awesome!! I needed it. Mile 23 was good....Mile 24 had a stupid hill that made my calves cramp up like crazy. I yelped pretty loud a couple times. It's a crazy feeling really. Okay, so I was really waiting for mile 25. It came (2:57 something)...and it came with one last hill going onto the main street. Ughhhh!!! I passed another woman and a few people even though I felt like I was running slower. I felt bad for a guy I saw on the side cramped up (only a half mile more!!!). I got up the last hill but my legs were just really pissed at this point. LG kept me going, but I had one speed for a while and it wasn't very quick. Where the HELL is the stadium was pretty much the only though at this point. Finally there is was...the heavens shone their light down...the stadium was there. LG stopped just before the entrance and I ran in and saw the finish. I saw 3:05 something and got my legs back under me and kicked it in. This is an awesome feeling. 3:06:17....new PR.....3rd place....I'll take it.
Overall, I was very pleased with this race and experience. I was so thrilled to have so much of my family & friends there with me. I ran smart, strong, felt good almost the whole way, came in 3rd (with a money prize...yippie!!!), and got a new PR. My muscles all behaved too. No, it wasn't the Sub 3:00 I REALLY want...but that will have to be done on another day. I changed my training so much and have learned a lot about what works for me. I'm so excited to take this into my next training phase.
So today, I'm super sore from the hills. It's funny to watch me walk I guess. Ha ha. But that is all okay. It's all worth it. It's these thing that make me really realize how good life is to me.
Now it's time for a little rest and relaxation....for a little while at least.