Saturday, September 27, 2008
<- DrT around 11 am outside the Akron Stadium... tired but happy.
Well, the fun is over... This was my 6th marathon... my first Akron Marathon and second marathon this year. My target time was 3:30 but since I have already qualified for Boston, I had no pressure to meet this time.
The week before the marathon was strange. I was excited about re-starting my ebay auctions, and every night I was working late, going to bed between 1:30 and 3:33 am, waking up around 8 am. So I got very little sleep (5-6 hours average a night), but I did not feel tired and did not have any mid-day naps (as I normally do :))
Marathon day the weather looks good, cool (60F) but rather high humidity. I forgot my hat in the car! That’s OK, without sun or rain, I did not need it.
I started strong, following the 3:30 pacer (Lloyd), together with Jamie, for the first 3 miles and then moved a bit ahead. The first 11 miles on Akron streets were OK: 8:20 7:40 7:41 7:24 7:49 7:48 7:52 8:01 7:38 7:54 7:39. I have set my Garmin to show my average pace. It was stuck at 7:47 (I kept thinking Boing 747, doing OK).
The next 4 miles were on the Towpath. I started slowing down: 7:40 7:45 7:50 8:00. Aaron and Rose had joined us earlier and we were all running together. At the towpath exit I met my family, but did not stop, just waved "hi" at them. At this point I was already behind the group.
As some of you know, the fun really starts after mile 15 when we exit the towpath. A tough section with lots of uphills goes on for the next 4 miles. I start to slow down: 8:12 8:14 8:24 8:29, as expected, but what is not expected is that my legs are feeling tired.
We are back to Akron streets. The people support is great but my legs are killing me...I continue to slow down: 8:03 8:12 8:26. I start thinking of changing my goal to 3:35-3:40. At this point, I hear this soft voice behind me "you can do it George". It is Jen, whose time goal was 3:40. She is passing me! That was a bit of a shock for me. And, behind, her comes the 3:30 pace group.
I decide to stop the slow-down, and follow the pace group. I have to dig deep inside to find the strength to do that.. Lloyd (pace leader) is very nice with encouraging words for everyone around him, including the volunteers. The next two miles are back to target pace: 8:07 8:09. Lloyd says “don’t worry guys, we’ll make the lost time at the downhill coming up.”
Finally, we reach West Market Street, for the last 2.5 miles, mostly downhill. I am hurting, but I manage to run fast, and keep close to the pacer: 7:42 7:31. I see Jen ahead. We now turn on Main Street. I look at my watch: I CAN MAKE IT, but I have to hurry! Last 0.4 miles (my Garmin was running a bit slow) were at 7:06.
I enter the Stadium, sprinting for the finish line. I see that the official clock is past 3:30 but I know it took a while to cross the start line, so I know I am making it, but it is close!
Official Time: 3:29:44
Mission accomplished (barely :)) This is actually my 2nd fastest marathon. This year has been good to me so far.
My family is in the stadium, cheering me up. I grabbed as much free food as I could, plus the 3 beers (I had one right away!) I then went to the car, changed, and came back for some 3d pictures.
Despite the pain, it was a nice day. While the Cleveland Marathon felt very easy, this one was a struggle for me. I don’t think I would have made it, if Lloyd, Jen, and the 3:30 group had not showed up at the right time. Thank you guys! And congratulations to everyone who was out there running today!
Next: Towpath marathon in 2 weeks. But, first, our daughter has invited us to run a 5K in Toledo tomorrow. A 5K the day after a marathon? That’s what I said. But she wanted us to go and visit and run with her. I might have to walk this one. It will definitely be my slowest 5K ever (so far).