Saturday, November 17, 2012

Akron Half Marathon Race Report

I am pretty embarrassed by this race, but I am going to post this race report (although a few months late) anyway.  Sometimes, we have to be proud of our failures as much as our successes.
For the 3rd time, I opted to take advantage of the FirstEnergy discount and participated in the Akron marathon. Working in downtown Akron has a couple of advantages, and one of them is being able to walk to the race expo. I still don’t know that many people at the GO, but one of the few people I do know was also running the half, so we went over to the expo together. It was no WAC caravan of insanity, but it worked.
As we walked to the expo, we came across a man wearing an Obama mask. Some woman was talking to Fake-Obama and asked my friend if he would take a photo of her with Fake-Obama. He said sure, took the picture, then as we walked away, he started venting about how he couldn’t believe this woman would just give him her camera. He then said to me, “I swear, if you weren’t here, I would have totally taken off running with that woman’s camera. What is it about me that looks like I am a safe person just to give your camera?” I think I said something like, “Sure, okay. Too bad you are literally the nicest person I have ever met.”
We made our way through the expo with no real glitches. I ran into a few people at the expo, including cycling friend Pam. I have to say, Pam looks a ton different in a dress, kind of surprised I recognized her!

Race Morning:
Pre Race:
My mentor gave me a race strategy, which was basically run all out as long as possible, then just jog it in when I peter out. It sounded fine to me as I had pretty low expectations for the race.
For breakfast, I had a PB&J sandwich and some crackers. I had no problems getting to the race, I did get off the highway to take city streets, and I parked where I park every week day for work. I walked maybe a third of a mile to the starting line. I was a little upset with the location with the clothes’ drop, but I dropped my clothes off and hit the port-o-johns. I tried to find my friend Bill who told me he would be at the 3:40 pace group. I stood there looking and waiting, and no Bill.
I was starting to get cold so I went to the port-o-johns again. I was kind of grateful that there was so many as I was able to sit in there for a while and warm up.
Eventually, I made my way to the 4 hr pace group, kind of surprised I had not found Bill and not seeing anyone I knew, that never happens at Akron! As soon as I said that, I ran into a few people from my hometown (one of which is the guy whose heart stopped at mile 2 and is luckily okay).
I got to the 4 hour pace group, resigned not to see anyone, and looked to my right and saw fellow Cleveland Tri Club board member Marsita. We started the race together, but she looked much more prepared for the race, and I let her take off.
I have done the half twice before, and this year was the first year that I actually felt under-trained going into the half marathon. I did, however, actually taper for the race, and I was remarkably surprised by how good I felt running. The weather really was perfect, very similar to the conditions for my first marathon, and I just felt good.
I was wearing my garmin, but I honestly didn’t look at it once for the first half of the race, I was just enjoying running and being in good enough shape that I can run a half marathon when I am not sufficiently trained for it.

Mile 1: 9:35
I believe I ran into CTC-faithful Tiffany who was doing the full marathon. She looked great! She gave me some support, and I think I congratulated her on a great race at Rev3. I believe she went on to PR in the marathon, but don’t quote me on that one.
Mile 2: 9:24
While I wasn’t looking at my garmin, I was starting to gain a sense of my pace based on the clocks at the mile markers. It was clear that I was running a 9 something pace and felt pretty good about it.
Mile 3: 9:01
Now, my father has started volunteering at races in attempt to see his little girl out there racing. At Wisconsin, he volunteered in transition and never got to see me…he did get to see my bike as they took it back to its spot in transition, but no chance to give me a hug or a high five.  Last year at Akron, he volunteered for a water station…at mile 22 of the marathon course. Too bad I was running the half.  Then, at Cleveland, he did see me, although he missed his spot at the water station.  So, this year, his assignment was volunteering in the 1st exchange zone for the marathon relay. I figured that it wasn’t directly related to my race, but I should be able to see him, right? WRONG! This year, they opted to place the first exchange zone under a bridge so that the relay people would be out of the way of the marathon and half marathoners. Sorry dad, one of these races, we will figure this plan out!

I do have to admit that I really liked the decision to divert the relay people from the aid stations. It has always been a source of frustration that people running either the half or full distance would get cut off going to aid stations by people that felt they needed water after running a few hundred yards. (Sad, but true). I don’t mean to offend anyone who ran or has run the relay as there are some serious runners who choose to do the relay, but you also have people who I think run once a year and consequently don’t pay attention to the runners around them.

I also saw high school friend Justin aka a coverboy model wearing a Cleveland Browns getup. I was kind of surprised by how I recognized him despite wearing a helmet and dreads. Sometimes, my brain actually works.

Mile 4: 8:59

Yeah, looking at that split, it even surprises me, I ran a sub 9 minute mile in the middle of this race??? I was really going by feel and apparently, some rest enabled my legs to function.

Mile 5: 9:07
It was around this time that I saw friend and new teammate Zac by Goodyear/Firestone/Brown Street. He took a few photos, and then I assumed he was going to a cyclo-cross race.

Mile 6: 8:55

Seriously, 2 sub 9 minute miles in this race?

Here is when the race started to divert from the excellent race I was having, to what ended up being a bad bad race.

Mile 7: 9:10

It is at this point that I started looking for a port-o-john. I was hoping that I could make just one bathroom break then be done for the day. Hahaha, silly Marie!  Well, I waited a little too long and the line was pretty long, but I didn’t have much of a choice, well, I could have started asking random people if I could use their bathroom in their house, but that didn’t seem right.

Mile 8.3 (sorry, I hit the lap thing): 14:21

Ouch, that hurt, it was then that I noticed my pace went from about a 9:10 pace to a 9:30ish pace. Yeah, that stinks.
It was at this point, I started having flash backs to the marathon in 2010 where I spent WAY too much time in the port-o-johns. Instead of the stop in the port-o-john alleviating problems, it seemed to develop them even further.

Mile 9.3: 9:42

I believe it was about this point that I started dry-heaving. I have experienced stomach issues more times than I care to admit, but I have never dry-heaved in a race. Apparently, peanut butter is a big NEVER NEVER AGAIN pre-race food.

Mile 10.3: 10:49, yeap, I had to start walking around this point.  Damn you stomach!

Now, mile 10ish is where the course diverted from the old half course. Instead of heading down to the towpath from basically the University of Akron, the course went over the Y-bridge again and the half turned around like we did at mile 2 while the marathon and relay continued on Broadway to go down to the towpath on another, just as steep, hill.

Mile 11.3: 11:17

Starting to get discouraged…

Mile 12.3: 12:12

Beyond discouraged.

Finally .9 (my watch was long) 9:18

Total time: 2:12:23

Post Race:

I ended not finding anyone I knew after the race in the post-race crowd so after finding someone willing to take my beer tickets, I made the way back to my car. I have to say that it’s the first time I have ever run half where my legs didn’t hurt because my stomach really hampered my ability to run well enough to make them sore.

As I made my way to my car, I ran into cycling Pam once again and talked to her for quite a while. I was starting to get really cold so I finally made my way to my car to grab my sweats and change out of my running clothes.

I then made my way back to the finish line waiting for Bill…and waiting for Bill and waiting for Bill. He ended up missing his goal by about 10 minutes.  My favorite thing about this race (besides it being free) is listening to Bill talk about how he is never going to do this race again but then getting the eventual text that he can't pass up the big discount early bird registration.  Ha!  He has already signed up for 2013!

Not my worst half marathon, but nowhere near my best.  It happens.

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