Photos by OHventures
Follow the blue line!
That was the mantra of the day. Much like Dorothy's Yellow Brick Road in The Wizard of Oz, I had to follow the blue painted line that ran along the course of the Akron Marathon on the morning of Saturday, September 28, 2013. But unlike Dorothy, I had to RUN the whole way and do so alongside 1,977 marathon runners, 4,647 half marathon runners, and 1,256 5-person relay teams!
I had the honor of running the second leg for the cleverly titled relay team, "Running For Donuts." My spitfire of a friend Katie (of Stark County Brace Against Hunger 5K and Life Is Katetastic fame) conned me into joining her and 3 strangers (up until the race, that is) in doing the relay portion of the 11th Annual Akron Marathon, sponsored by Time Warner Cable.
For whatever reason unbeknownst to me, the team name "Running For Donuts" was conceived, even though I knew I wouldn't be eating donuts anytime soon (stupid diet). We all had to pick donut monikers, mine being Michael "Glazed" Evans. Others on the team were Bearclaw (Katie), Apple Fritter (Jason), Cream Puff (Jodi), and Vegan Sprinkle (Mandy). I'm still a bit perplexed by the vegan sprinkle choice myself, but that's neither here nor there!
As team members, we had some gross looking bright baby pink t-shirts with a funny cartoon of a stick figure chasing after a scared shitless anthropomorphic donut. While the color was pretty fug to me, it came in handy when trying to spot our teammates in the crowd, and made us pretty noticeable to onlookers who would periodically shout "GO DONUTS!" on the route.
I was actually a replacement team member, because someone else had to drop out because she was too preggo to run. So this was all very spontaneous and new to me. This was my very first relay race (other than middle school and high school track where I still hold a 1999 county record for the 4x400 meter relay, thank you very much!). Instead of passing a baton like in track, we had a slap bracelet that we wore, took off, then slapped on to the wrist of the next teammate. Clever girl!
Funniest part was, I had no idea what my teammates looked like who were running in leg 1 and leg 2, and therefore I didn't know who to look for! That's where the shirts (and Facebook) came in handy! Woo! Also, I did meet Jodi (leg 1) the night before at the expo, but still.
Spoiler Alert! We finished and got medals! And those are FAKE donuts!
Speaking of the expo, I managed to score a lot of random free stuff, stock up on Gu and Clif Bars, learn about a buttload of upcoming races, and buy me some new running shorts (emphasis on SHORT). Plus, 3/5ths of the Running For Donuts team scarfed down some spag at the Spaghetti Warehouse to do some carb loading. Apple Fritter and Vegan Sprinkle missed out on that one.
Anyhow. So, the race began at 7AM, but me being the 2nd leg of the relay meant that I had no flipping clue as to when I was starting. I wasn't sure how fast Cream Puff would be running, so I just had to guesstimate. The first leg was 3.9 miles, so I guessed she would come trucking in around 7:40. I think that was about accurate. All I know is that the second that slap bracelet was slapped on my wrist, I was booking it!
My leg was 4.8 miles, which was smack dab in the middle as far as length goes (meaning there were two legs of shorter distance and two legs of longer distance than my leg. Legs, legs, legs!). Thank God for that blue line because I don't know my way around Akron too well yet. I did look up the route for my leg and it started at the corner of Rosa Parks & High Streets, went South toward the Main Street ramp where it merged with the marathon and half marathon runners (AKA the real runners), continued on South Main Street, turned left onto East Firestone, left onto North Firestone, and left on Brown until I reached the exchange zone, where I would pass off the bracelet to the Apple Fritter dude.
The weather was PERRRRFFFEECT - completely blue skies and just the right temperature! The sun was rising as I ran, so it made it even more beautiful to see the morning skyline in the Rubber City. Even though I think some of the area of town I ran in was a bit sketch, it was still gorgeous. Akron really is a kickass city, and it doesn't get the credit it deserves. All the people cheering us on along the way - on each and every street corner - showed that the community is strong and vibrant! I am proud to be working here now, and kept soaking it in as I ran.
The euphoria must have helped, because I ran at a pretty darn good pace the entire way, if I do say so myself. My time was 0:39:40 for 4.8 miles, which is almost exactly an 8 minute mile. I was THRILLED with my performance. And, I was even more thrilled with my team's overall performance! After all of the donuts were done, and Katie - oops, I mean Bearclaw - crossed the finish line, we discovered we clocked in at 4:00:22! This placed us at 261st place out of 1,256 teams. Now THAT is pretty awesome.
Dudes wearing pink and drinkin Mich Ultra - not a good look.
While there were no donuts at the finish line, we all celebrated at Canal Park with free Michelob Light (times 4), munchies, and live music! I also got to see my friend Emily cross the finish line for the half marathon (her first ever) with some tears of pride streaming down her face! I know the feeling, and I am very proud of her. I also got to witness a very heartwarming and triumphant feat: one runner completed the entire full marathon all while pushing his disabled friend across the finish line in a wheelchair device! It was very inspiring and I got choked up watching it (Katie does a great write up about this on her blog).
Overall, I again am so thrilled that I got the chance to participate in the AkRUN Marathon (see what I did there?) and get to experience my new home city as a runner. Thanks, random girl, for getting pregnant so I could take your place in the relay ;-)!