The husband and I arrived at my sister and brother-in-laws house over 7 hours after leaving Chicago. The drive should really take no more than 6 hours but a section of the Indiana toll road was closed for awhile. Parked on a tollway with no information for about an hour = no fun at all. We made it, unpacked the car and then my sister and I headed to the expo so I could make a quick pick-up. Only it wasn't so quick because we arrived when everyone else did! Right when the pasta party was starting and everyone was getting off of work/arriving in town. It was a bit crowded to say the least. After making our way through (and 1 super cute shirt purchase) we all were on our way for dinner with my dad and stepmom.
Race morning started early! I couldn't sleep of course and when the alarm went off at 5:40 am it felt much earlier because of the short 1 hour time change for me. My sister the rock star of the weekend woke up a bit later and drove me to the race start. She dropped me off as close as she could get and I walked in the darkness with all the other runners arriving to find the bag drop vans. It took me a bit because they only had 2 vans and the huge sign wasn't exactly by where the vans were parked. I did see they had a support tent for everyone to use that had water, powerade, and a place to stay warm. Very nice touch that not every race has.
The morning temps were in the upper 50's but I was totally comfortable standing at the start line in my tank top and shorts. About 20 minutes later we were off!
Mile 1 (9:37): Ended up being my slowest mile. I didn't want to take off like a bat outta hell like I normally do bobbing and weaving. I hung back with the 3:50 pacer, tried to calm my nerves and find my happy race pace. I knew I was slower than I wanted then there was a bottleneck going over a bridge that slowed me even more. I'm happy I didn't waste too much energy this first mile but wish it could have been slightly faster.
Miles 2-5 (8:51,8:42, 8:39, 8:37): Even with a couple significant uphills these miles flew by! Everything was feeling good and I was enjoying the morning.
Mile 6 - 7 (8:40, 8:59): I took my first GU chomps because I forgot earlier. When I runs sans waterbelt I sometimes get thrown off and forget about my fuel. Bad! They were all stuck together and a little stale. I was disappointed since I have never had this problem before so I threw most of the bag to the side. Mile 7 was the part of the course I started to recognize since I run part of it with my sister when I'm visiting. I only forgot about the steady incline from 7 - 7.5... oh mama I was happy when that ended. Just after 7.5 I came running up to this courtesy of my awesome sister...
The first sign is a classic :)
My favorite picture! Ready to high five Lindsey Loo!
Helping myself to the oranges and water. My sister had a baggie ready for me to go but forgot to hand off. It's all good and wasn't needed after all.
Mile 8 - 9 (8:52, 8:34): Still feeling really good! This is usually when I start to lose it mentally in a half but not this time. The weather was fantastic and my family gave me a huge boost. I was pushing myself but still had a lot left in the tank. I decided at mile 10 through the end I would start pushing it more even though I knew a huge hill was coming. I just didn't realize how bad it would be.
Mile 10 - 12(8:53, 8:26, 8:53): As soon as I tried to push at mile 10 my legs started to feel heavy as we wrapped through Akron University. The relay teams were fresh off an exchange and I felt surrounded by all the speedsters all of the sudden. Kind of deflating. As we turned down a huge hill I focused on form/leg turnover and I started to feel a bit better. Somehow, someway 10 ended up being my fastest mile of the entire race!
At 11.3 we split from the relay and marathoner runners and turned left to go up the biggest, longest (that's what she said) hill of my life. Seeing signs to caution people in regards to a steep 5% grade incline doesn't make a runner at mile 11 very happy. The freaking uphill lasted nearly 3/4 of the mile. I dropped some profanities.. loudly. On this hill I was reminded why I love runners. A girl younger than me all of the sudden stopped. It seemed she had given up on herself. An older male runner came up from behind taking the hill steady but strong and started motivating this girl to get going again. He basically told her to "come on" and "at least stay right in front of him" because "I am much older and you can't be having an old man pass you". Made me laugh and it got the girl up and running. She passed me and I didn't see her again. Guess it is exactly what she needed!
After the hill I was just done. I walked through the mile 12 water stop (I walk through all my water stops) and convinced myself to just finish. After making an internal deal to not look at the garmin I was off. Of course right after the stop there was yet another hill! I don't know how I didn't walk but I didn't! I stuck with it and kept it steady to the top. Once I reached the top I felt as if I was running in even slower motion but I kept moving.
Mile 13- 13.1 (8:53, 8:00) When I thought I had no more to give we turned down a short hill and into the Akron Aeros stadium. I saw how close the finish line was and I sprinted, passing a couple people. Felt so good! I shook the race directors hand (he shakes the hand of nearly every finisher!), passed by the stage where they were awarding the half marathon master division winners, grabbed a water and bag of food.
Finish time officially is 1:55:10! Not a PR but it is the fastest 1/2 I've done since entering my 30's! Considering my training wasn't exactly where I wanted it to be and I had minimal hill training I had a fantastic for me race. Also, for the first time ever no stomach issues! This time around I opted out of using my water belt of water and electrolyte drink and relyed on the course water only. I didn't drink any gatorade/powerade/nuun. Instead I took in oranges and chomps for my fuel. I think this is what made the difference for me Saturday as well.This was definitely one of the most challenging, hilly courses I've run. I typically stick to flat courses ;) The course was well supported and volunteers were great! For a relatively new marathon (this was its 8th year) the organization was awesome. Even better than some bigger, older races I've done. I loved all the personal touches; though I did feel like marathoners and relay runners are given a bit more priority and swag. My only complaint was gear check pick-up. It took nearly 40 minutes to get my bag and I was one of the first ones there... Not enough volunteers and definitely the least organized item of the entire race. Still not enough to change my opinion that this is one fantastic race!