Akron Marathon 2011 – My first!

Well, “me and my kicks finally got to 26” on September 24, 2011! The official results are at the end of this entry. First, here is the story…oh, and yes, it is quite lengthy, but then again, so was/is the marathon!!!

I woke up and wondered if something was wrong because I was pretty relaxed. I think I was still in denial when we (Mike and Zach got up early and both planned to stay for the day) picked up Angie and headed into Akron. I had to blast some Lady Gaga to get my stoked and ready to roll. After a couple of songs I started getting excited, but still not really nervous like I was before the 1/2. I was just curious to see how this whole thing would play out. I DID feel like I was on the edge of glory, as the song says and I just was anxious to experience it. We met John Ropar, my colleague at JCU, at the church at around 6:15am. Okay, I have to add some background here about John. Not only is he a great person, but he is a wicked marathon runner. He has run 76 marathons so far. No that is not a typo…I mean seventy-six marathons!! Yeah, crazy right? But he is very cool and offered to pace me a couple of months ago when he found out I was running Akron. He ran Cleveland at just over 5 hours in May so he said he could get me there too. I few weeks ago John told me that he had been having some health issues lately and warned me that he might not be able to run the full, but he would just see what happened on the day of. I started getting mentally prepared to do it on my own if I needed to. Here is us ready to go.

Pretty soon we were off and enjoying the run. I told Angie to go on ahead as I knew her goal was going to be a bit faster than ours. Plus I told her I wanted her to beat my 1/2 time! John was great about pacing each mile and checking in with me to see how I was. I told him I wanted to be in the 10 – 11 minute range. He also was great about reminding me that it was okay to walk through the fuel stops. I did that early on and continued through the entire race and I think that really saved my legs!

Early on pretty much right after the start I ran into my friend Stephen who was running the half. That was a nice surprise! He ran with us for about the first 3 miles before he took off to meet his goal of just over 2 hours. Way to go, Stephen! Before I knew it we were at the 3 mile mark and I saw Mike and Zach! That was really fun to see them! Mike too some video footage and Zach grabbed this picture.

You can see John in the blue shirt and white hat…I’m right behind him. I was also really excited to see my friend, Lori on the sidelines who was cheering on her husband, Lou, who was running his first half. Lori is running her first half in a couple weeks!

We got into a groove then and John kept reassuring me that we were in good shape time wise as he kept updating me with our pace per mile. We kept right around 10:40 or 10:50 for a good bit of miles through 10. We saw Mike and Zach again at mile 10 where the next good spectator spot was. They grabbed these pics.

I at least got a smile out with a thumbs up!

I was smiling at the video camera while Zach was taking a picture of the back of me. My boys did a great job of tag teaming the media coverage.

I felt really good mentally and physically at this point. I was taking all the fuel breaks (and walking just like 10-15 seconds) and alternating between water and powerade. I hadn’t had any gummies yet, but was thinking that I might need some soon. Right about this time John had to make a decision about whether or not to do the half or continue on to do the full. At the 11 mile marker, the half route took a left and the full route turned right onto the tow path. John told me he was going to just do the half and I reassured him I’d be fine. He told me I was “locked in” on my pace and should be fine. He said the tow path was a pretty easy stretch, then some hills and after Stan Hywet I’m in the home stretch and it is all down hill from there. I thanked him and he went on his way as I headed to the tow path.

Now, I don’t like trails as I’ve said before, but I continued at a good pace for awhile. I opened up a pack of gummies and ate half just to get a little boost which helped. I made sure it was right before a water stop too. I was excited to see the half-way point AND that the clock said 2:19. I had beaten my time for the Cleveland half. Yahoo! I was on target! Right about the next thought I had was, “oh, shit…I’m only half-way?!!” The 4 miles on the towpath for the most part was really boring save for a couple water stops where there were spectators. Most of it was just woods with nothing going on. However, Time Warner had these signs all throughout the path with these inspirational quotes on them that were really helpful! At around mile 15 I got another surprise. I saw my friend Katherine, who is running her first 1/2 in Columbus in a few weeks, and she was cheering me on saying, “Go Lisa, you’re doing it!” That really helped motivate me because we were coming up on a pretty significant hill and because of her cheering I kept going without walking. It made so much of a difference having the support of the awesome crowd, especially seeing people I knew. There were tons of bands, and other music all along the way that were really motivational. The other thing that was cool was that people cheered you on with your name (on the bib). The saints of the day,however, were the volunteers working the fuel stops. Everyone was so nice and they worked so hard to make our experience better – and they cheered us on too, with our names!

Right after the 15 or 16 mile marker it got tougher. The first few hills were okay, but eventually I had to walk a bit for like 15-20 second stretches just to shake it off and then continue running again. I was totally okay with that because I had my eye on the prize. My body still felt fine. I ran into some nice people that encouraged me when they saw that I was a first-timer. They were walking here and there too and I asked them what their pace/goal was. The guy answered by saying, “same day finish!” I kept seeing them off and on for the rest of the race and they always greeted me so warmly.

I had a little bit of a challenge at around mile 18:44. Why do I know the exact place? Because my stupid iPod all of a sudden announced that my workout was completed and the music stopped. Ugh – no! I immediately tried to restart it where it was, but it had already reset. So I had no choice but start another workout sequence again in order to track the rest of the run and have music. I was really mad. This meant I would not have a complete workout to sync to my nikeplus thing! Then I had an epiphany, “Lisa, you are running a freaking marathon…they are already timing you with a really big clock so screw the iPod.” Yes, good, okay, so I got on board with listening to the same songs again. But hey, it made me feel like I just started at mile 1! Ha, ha!

Right after this iPod drama I decided to have the rest of my packet of gummies. I was starting to feel a little drained. I was coming up to mile 20 and that marked the furthest I had ever run and also was the “wall” as I had read. I actually started feeling tired at this point. My actual muscles in my quads and my hamstrings felt a little tight. I didn’t get any actual cramps, but it felt like I could. Right about this time at mile 21 I heard a familiar voice. My friend Stephen had finished his half and was coming the other direction looking for me! He asked me how I was doing and I said it was a little rough. I said, “Stephen, help me!” So, he ran with me…for like two miles (after he had already run his race!) along the sidewalk of the route. His encouragement and just mere presence was just what I needed to get through that really tough part. It was SO great and meant so much to me. What a great friend and my angel for that day!!

Pretty soon I made friends with Christy, another girl who was walking a bit. I found out she was nursing an IT band issue because she was doing another marathon in October (gulp). We said we would stay with each other and start running after the water break ahead. We got to mile 22 and ran past Stan Hywet (like right by the actual house) together. My “same day finish” friends were right behind us and warned us of the upcoming photo op so we made sure our bibs showed and that we were smiling! Hopefully those pics will be cool. Soon after Stan Hewitt we came to the infamous “heartrate hill”. It turns out that while the hill is extremely steep it really isn’t that long. But the problem is that it is on like mile 23! I took one look at it and said, “oh, hell no” and walked up that bad boy. Right at the top Christy had to walk again, but I continued on and wished her well. I was hoping that I could still make it under 5 hours and I knew I would be really close so I needed to keep going. With 4 miles left I remember thinking, this is fine, it is just a little more than a 5K. Cool. It was so tough, however. I wasn’t injured, thankfully, but I was just done. My legs were just really tight…I could feel my toes were hurting and I just wanted it to be over. I remember seeing the clock with about two miles left to go and I think I had about 22 minutes to get in under 5 hours. So I kept going. The last two miles were pretty awful because I kept having to walk a bit. At one point I determined I had had enough of this walking BS and said I would run the whole last mile and I did.

I ran into the stadium and heard people cheering. I heard my dad yelling loud and clear, “Way to go, Ramsey” and I heard Zachary too. Hearing my family, and seeing the finish line and clock made me get emotional. I started to lose it and right after I crossed the finish line, Zachary was next to me in his Run Mommy Run shirt telling me that I just ran a marathon. And as I hugged him and grabbed some water I was all of a sudden being pulled over to a Time Warner podium where a gentleman started interviewing me and Zach! He asked me how it felt as a first-timer and I told him it was emotional as I’m holding back tears. Then he asked Zach about his shirt and how he felt about his mom running a marathon. He said it was awesome. It was kinda cool! Then they took our picture together. I think the interview might be shown on the local cable channel, but we don’t get Time Warner. I’ll have to look it up. Anyway, as I made my way around the bases to get my water and food bag, they gave Zach all the stuff too! Well, except the medal!

As we caught up with Mike and my parents I had the start of some more tears. We talked a bit, got some pics and I took my shoes off…ahhh. I got my phone out, but it was dead. I guess it had just had enough after 5 hours of running. My folks were really proud, each giving me a hug (yuck – 5 hour sweaty girl!) and I was so glad they came! Pretty soon they took off and I just kept drinking my powerade and then my banana, while Mike and Zach grabbed some chik-fil-a sandwiches at the stadium. I kept trying to remember what Hal Higdon said about recovery and followed the instructions. I felt really good amazingly. I wasn’t collapsed or nauseous – just sore. The walk up the hill to the parking garage was brutal, however!!

As we drove home I kept trying to wrap my head around what had just happened. I couldn’t really do it right then, however. All I could feel was just gratefulness. Grateful and sore. And I just wanted to be in that spot for as long as I could – to drink in all that this moment meant to me. I couldn’t make any meaning out of it yet, nor did I want to. I just wanted to feel it. Meaning could come later. Yes, just breathe.

Here are the numbers:
Time: 5:01:16
Distance: 26.2 miles
Clock Time 5:03:30
Chip Time 5:01:16
Overall Place: 1146 / 1389 (there were 1389 finishers…not sure how many “starters there were”)
Gender Place 362 / 488 (of all the women finishers)
Division Place 63 / 83 (of all the women in my age group 40 – 44)

Here are my times at the splits that they tracked:
3.5 miles 00:35:44
9.25 miles 01:38:11
15.5 miles 02:47:19
18. 3 miles 03:22:08
Divtotal 83 (women in my age group finished)
Sextotal 488 (total women who finished)
Average Pace: 11:30

4 thoughts on “Akron Marathon 2011 – My first!

  1. What a run–and what an accomplishment!! Just so proud as I’m sure all the family is…..I know it’s too early now, but what is the next goal??? Congrats again!!

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