Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Akron Marathon

"That's the last hill. You're at the top. It's all downhill from here." I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard that, or something just like it, over the last 10 miles.

After missing a couple days of training due to NC24, I jumped back in last week to try to get right back to where I had been. I also decided, with only a few days to left, to go ahead and run Akron. I'd heard that it was *wonderful*, and I thought I'd find out for myself.

So I found myself lined up with a few thousand of my best friends on a nice and relatively cool Akron morning. After the gun, the hills didn't take very long to materialize. It was down for the first mile or two, then up, up, up for the next several. After a while, I found it impossible to keep up with my training partner Debbie Scheel, and instead ran and talked with friend Kevin. It was good to see so many friends before, during and after the race.

It got a bit easier as I hit the towpath just before half-way. The TP and Sand Run are very pretty areas, and they make this race memorable. Hey, woudn't it be great to have a race that's entirely on the TP? Oh, I forgot. There already is one.

I probably did pick it up a little for those 4+ miles. Then came Sand Run: several miles - almost all of it uphill. Tough for everyone, including me. Brad caught me for a while, but then I pulled away again. I eventually began to spot Debbie up ahead. When I caught her later on I tried to get her to go with me, but that didn't happen. I went on to pass Connie, who was just less than a week recovered from her 141 NC miles. Seems that's the only time I can beat her is right after a hundred or more miles. Of course I had yet another smart remark ready for her when I did: "You need to learn to run while drinking water," I said as she stopped at an aid station.

From about mile 15 to about 23, the trend of the race is up, up, up. Only the last two are back down a bit, but by then I was fairly shot. I came in at 3:23. I had only wanted to do a training run here, so the time, and the even splits, are fine with me. But I never thought it would be this hard. Not even with all the warnings I'd had from friends. It was really, really tough.

Would I do it again? The race organization was as wonderful as advertised. Very good attention to detail. And I may consider it as part of a relay. But run the entire bird again? One of the toughest I've ever done anywhere? What do you think?

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