Judging by the cramps in my legs, it was clear my decision to break away from the pace group was premature. The tag-team pacers overtook me on Main Street, with less than a mile until the finish line. My limp-shuffle was making it difficult to end on a strong note.
I pulled away from the five-hour pace group just before Highland Square. An acquaintance, who just got into running this year and who was running the final leg of the five-person relay, had just passed me. He was alternately running and walking, and I picked up the pace to say "hey" to him.
I had hoped I could hang with his pace until the finish, but after chatting a bit he easily pulled away. Knowing that the remainder of the race from the square was net downhill, I decided to just keep pushing and see how far under five hours I could finish.
The last big hill, just after the 25th mile marker, was my undoing. My left calf suddenly began to scream. I managed to reel it in to avoid stopping, but my compromised stride slowed me down considerably.
Shortly after making the turn onto Main Street, Pacer Jim and Pacer Paul caught me. They got ahead of me, but then Jim urged me to pick it up. My calf calmed down a bit to allow me to separate again. I heard Paul say I looked strong.
It was painful, but I continued pushing. The hurt would be over soon. Just before the 26th mile marker, I saw the Enthusiast and Martini on the sidelines. Then the Enthusiast's (nee, our) family. Their cheers carried me into Canal Park.
The clock read 5:05 when I crossed it, but having started near the back of the pack I knew I had a bunch of banked time. My chip time was 4:58, less than a hour slower than last year to set my married PR.
Oh, and I negative split the race.
With a combination of a big crowd ahead of me and two bathroom stops, my split at 13 miles was 2:35 clock time. To get in at 5:05, I had to run the second half at 2:30. The Akron Marathon does not record the split at the true halfway point.
I wish I could say my fastest miles were at the end, but those came while trying to catch up to the pace group after stopping twice to use the facilities.
I had a good time with the pacers. I joked around and chatted. I saw two barefoot runners. I tried to encourage anyone who looked like they were struggling. I slapped a couple high fives with kids. I didn't see any beer on the course to sample. The crowds were great as always.
The weather turned out to be perfect. It never rained, so my modified trash bag goes back into storage. My blister didn't bother me during the race, but I had a nice blood spot on my shoe afterward. I got wicked cramps after the race, but my cheapo diabetic compression socks solved that issue. Post-race beer was Dogfish Head Punkin.
|This year's medal and my bloody shoe |
on top of my unused trash bag.