My friend A LOVES the Akron Marathon. This was her third year participating in a relay of some sorts. Last year she was on the run for beer team carrying cardboards signs. This year it was Five Fast Freaks. With a name like that how can you go wrong?
Initially I was recruited to run 10.7 on a 2 man relay but had to back out because of my ITB. A insisted that I do the 5 man relay with her and T, oh and that I find two other fast people to join us. Hmmm. We have plenty of fast friends so i put a call out on the CTC forum and sent an email to my SERC peeps. B and Papa Louie replied and we registered the team.
I had not run all week since the 50k because of my cold. My nose was still running a lot and I was still hacking up a lung but I figured I couldn't let my team down, and it was only 5K!
We met at T's early in the morning and carpooled to the race. It was cold and drizzling. It stayed that way the whole day. But we were in good spirits as we dropped our 1st runner T off at the start and headed to our buses to get shipped to the relay points (after a quick pic).
Papa Louie and I said goodbye to B as we waited for our shuttle, in retrospect we probably could have watched the start. But we had fun chatting about Lou's upcoming marathon and predicting what time our relay partners would make it to each point. We both agreed that we would run about a 3:20, boy did we overestimate :)
Lou got dropped at my relay point with me so he could do my 5K leg as a warmup for his 12K. After hanging out in the rain for a little bit Lou headed off to avoid the traffic once the leaders came in. I waited until I thought I had a minimum of 10 minutes before A would arrive and gave up my bag and outer layers. I headed out for a warm up of my own.
I ran backwards through the course for 5 minutes, spotting some of my speedster friends along the way and cheering. Then I made a turn around at about mile 15 on the actual course to head back and wait for A, well remember that overestimating? A was right behind me, and she was flying! So I had to haul tail with her to the exchange. Not exactly the easy warm up with post stretch I was planning on.
I was stripping my third layer, taking off my hat, leaping over ropes so as not to hit the timing mats, and after that 3 minute tempo warm up I handed my hat to A and took the snap bracelet (Like the ones we all wore in the 90s, you know the neon ones?). It was pretty wild, they are calling our number in the relay zone and I am supposed to be waiting in my corral and here I come running with my partner on the course, but the hand off went fine, and I was super glad I had that third layer tied around my waist for after my leg.
The first half mile or so I wasn't really thinking about the course. I think there was a short downhill before the 3 mile incline began. I was just trying to focus on breathing, keeping my arms from swaying in front of my body, and trying to run like I was in a 5K race. Well I can honestly say I have never run a 5k race uphill before, and it is much different starting off on your own than in a pack.
I hammered up the hills as best as I could. I had screwed up my watch during the hectic warm up so I hit the split at marathon mile 16 to check my pace at 17. As I closed in on 17 the number 3 and 4 women marathoners inched by me and seemed to float away. Here I am busting my snotty arse up this long incline and I get passed by two women running the full marathon. Holy cow. My first mile split I got was 7:40ish, definitely not breaking any records. I hoped to hold onto that pace and trucked on up the hill.
I think it was somewhere between 17 and 18 that there was a slight decline before you ran over a little metal ramp to keep your feet from getting wet in the stream flowing over the road. I tried to focus on not slipping in front of the only spectator watching the bridge.
My next mile split was around 8, certainly not what I would normally hope for in a 5k, but at this point I was just suffering until I could finally hand off to Lou. My knee was bothering me and I was having trouble breathing so I just wanted to be done! They saved the steep incline for the last length before coming around a corner to the sound of spectators and the loud speaker calling out the relay exchange numbers. I hammered in until I found Lou waiting at our corral and handed off the snap bracelet. My total time was around 24 minutes. Just a wee bit faster than 8 minute miles. Lou took off and ended up passing and completely overtaking the team in first place for the mixed 5 man relay.
Our final time was 2:57 and some change. Not too shabby!
After my leg I wandered a bit. I couldn't find the buses after I got rid of my chip so I walked backwards through the course cheering on other marathoners and relayers. Eventually I found the bus and got on. As we were waiting for the bus to take us to the finish I noticed the race was getting more crowded and commented that this must be the 3:40 crowd because it always gets more crowded then, and sure enough I looked out and saw Lloyd round the corner holding his 3:40 pace sign. I leaped off the bus and started screaming for him. I saw him turn and make eye contact so I was hopeful that I helped a wee bit. After all they had been running in the cold and rain for much longer than 24 minutes!
The people on the bus informed me I had much too much energy for just having raced. I guess that's the difference between racing a marathon and a 5k for me, after a 5k I can still run and scream, after a marathon, I have to stay in one spot and scream.
We made our way back and I headed into the stadium hoping to catch Lou finishing. After waiting about 20 minutes and then starting to see people I had passed on the course I realized Lou must already be done. I wandered back to the bag pickup and found Lou looking for his warm clothes, which I had, poor guy he was shivering up a storm!
T went to check the results and found out we were in first. We tried to find someone to find out when the awards were and if we would get one. We were informed the awards were on the field at 12:30. We went and got our 3 free beers each and hung out until the awards. At 12:30 we headed down to the field only to find out the awards were really out on the street! Ooops. So we rushed out there to find some SERC friends who had placed in the two man mixed relay and the 5 man male relay. I looked behind us and there was Bill Rodgers! We went and chatted him up and got a picture. He was really nice and had a lot of good things to say about the Akron marathon and especially the relay.
We waited a bit longer for them to get the awards going, there wasn't much of a crowd as everyone was back at the stadium because there were still some marathoners coming in. We were all excited we got first and then they awarded us second, WTF? We were a little miffed but I was just happy we placed!
Afterwards we found out there was a glitch with the team that beat us. Their anchor leg was either Superman or a cheetah because he did the last 12k in about 7 minutes, now that's fast! So the race director corrected the error and we got our names in the Akron newspaper!
How cool is that?
The weather wasn't great and I felt and ran like shit, but it was a very fun race and I was super glad my team did so well. I will definitely consider doing it again next year, except next year I am taking the 2nd 10K leg because I heard that was flat and on Towpath! No more of this uphill for 5k!