Also known as: that time I finished a sub-4 hour marathon.
Okay. Not really. (Obviously.)
But, I was part of a team that did finish the Akron Marathon Relay in under 4 hours! Specifically, the team made up of fellow CLE Marathon Ambassadors!
|Andrew, Me, Dan, Steph, Melissa|
The weekend started Friday night when I went to the John S. Knight Center to pick up my race packet and attend the expo, where I also picked up some new shoes. After, I headed to my parents’ house, where I was spending the night. I was super excited about my new shoes but knew it would be a bad, bad idea to wear them race day, but I did go for a short 1 mile run before dinner to try them out and to give my legs one final workout before the race. Then it was an early bed time as I had a 5 am wake-up call and was on the road to Akron by 5:45 am.
Earlier in the week I talked about how I was super nervous about this event but it turned out I had no reason to be. Part of it was the logistics of running the relay but this was an incredibly well-organized event. I had the 4th leg, which required being shuttled to the start of the leg, which was at Firestone High School. Andrew was running the first leg and the rest of our team stood on the sidelines to cheer on the full, half, and first leg relay runners at the start of the race.
|Photo courtesy of Melissa|
Melissa was Leg 2 and could walk to her leg, as could Stephanie at Leg 3. We all had a rough idea of what everyone should be running for their legs so Melissa quickly headed to figure out where she needed to be for her section. Dan and I walked Stephanie to Leg 3 before we found the shuttles and headed to our own legs.
I actually had two friends also running Leg 4 and so for the hour and a half or so I was waiting for Stephanie I was chatting with my college roommate Megan. This is the same Megan who was waiting for me at the finish line of my very first race (which was over three years ago!). We see each other at races every once in awhile, which is always fun. She’s also one of the people who inspired me to commit to running one race a month in 2015 and, of course, she asked what my October race is going to be.
We were asked to keep ourselves organized by bib number and as each Leg 3 person started coming up around the corner to the exchange zone they would call out the numbers. They started slow and sporadic but then were coming more and more frequently. When I heard our bib number I stepped out into the road and as soon as Stephanie and I made eye contact we both kind of did a little jump of excitement. She handed off the slap bracelet and I was off!
My team knew that I am a slow runner and I had told them that it would probably take me about an hour to do my 3.6 miles. I’d been experimenting with my intervals lately and been having a lot of success with 30:30 (seconds) run-walk-run intervals so that’s what I used. Right from the start I felt strong and knew I was going to rock this, so I just went in my zone and followed that famous Blue Line.
Around mile 18.5, out of the corner of my eye I saw a woman in pink wave at me as she passed and I quickly realized it was Jamie, also a CLE Marathon Ambassador. I knew Jamie had been working her ass for this race so her cheering me on while on the course just made my whole day and made me realize how grateful I am to be part of the Cleveland Marathon organization as an Ambassador. It really is an amazing group of people and I feel so fortunate to be a part of it.
After passing the 20 mile marker I knew I only had about 1/2 a mile left and just kept my pace and intervals. When Dan saw me coming up around the bend, he waved and I waved back. I then picked up my pace for the final .10 of a mile and handed him the bracelet. I then sent my team a quick text to let them know he was headed home and hopped on a shuttle to head back towards downtown Akron.
I finished my leg in 57 minutes and 36 seconds, which puts me under my hour goal! Based on chip time I had a 16 minute average which I am very happy with considering there were some small rolling hills which meant I had to walk a bit more than my intervals indicated. But I finished strong and am very happy with my time so that’s all that matters.
The Finisher’s Festival at Akron was amazing. Like, for real. The finish line came out right onto the field of Canal Park Stadium and the runners all got to hang out on the field while family and spectators were in the stands. I found my team on the field and was there in plenty of time to see Dan cross the finish line and finish for our team!
|Photo courtesy of Stephanie|
We had a final time of 3:57:59, which should tell you something about the speed of my team mates considering we pulled that off even with my 16 minute miles. Dan was the only one of us who got to officially cross the finish line into the stadium and not gonna lie, I’m totally tempted to run the Akron Half in 2016 just to experience it. (Plus the weather was far more agreeable than what we get in Cleveland in May.)
Several other CLE Ambassadors were running races at this event, which is really how this whole thing started: we saw it as an opportunity to have a kind of mini-reunion and so those of us not running either the half or full thought it would be fun to be on a relay team.
|It’s not all the ambassadors, but still felt like a family reunion!|
I had SO MUCH FUN being part of a relay team! It was the first time for most, maybe all, of us and I think we all had a blast. I’m someone who likes to run alone but being on a relay team meant I was still able to have that Me Time on the course but also benefit from the team mentality.
My cousin Michele was running the full so eventually I headed over to the spectators section and found some of my family and got to watch Michele get a PR on the marathon! She’s a total rock star and I’m so proud of her.
I feel like I’ve lost my running mojo as of late, partly because summer always slows me down and it can be discouraging for someone who is already pretty slow. But this race reminded me of how much fun running can be and that I am capable of so, so much if I just trust myself and my abilities. With three months left in the year, that means three more races and this upcoming week I start training for the Christmas Story 10K!
Love from the ashes,