2018 Akron Marathon.
Marathon number 6 is officially DONE!
I can easily say September 29th was one of my favorite days - EVER. Trust me, I know I use the word favorite frequently, but I mean it.
I arrived in Cleveland Friday afternoon and was able to quickly get hugs & good lucks from my three favorite little ones, then my mom & I headed to Akron. That evening was spent wandering around the expo with my dad, picking up our bib numbers, our marathon pullovers, our race day nutrition, saying hi to all of the Akron runners we ran into. Then we ended the evening with dinner with my mom & and early bedtime.
Following three Chicago Marathons in a row, it was beyond refreshing to arrive at the start line of a race and be able to stick around your people until you started running. The corrals are calm, you have room to breath and move, and you without a doubt will run into people you know the whole time you’re waiting.
I started with the 3:55:00 pace group to assure that I would start the marathon at a more consistent pace than I would do personally - I get real excited at the start of a marathon and tend to sometimes forget how long 26.2 miles truly is. AND I started with my dad by my side, which even a week before wasn’t confirmed. It’s safe to say, I was pumped and nervous and excited, all at the same time, while I was waiting to run across that start line.
I entered into 26.2 miles of running through the streets of Akron that I know well, ones that have many memories, ones in which I’ve done many training runs, and ones in which I admired marathoners for years before I became one myself. There truly was a smile on my face for a majority of the race, well, until about mile 23 - ha! I got to see my mom and Joe at mile 6.5, then my brother and sister-in-law and their three little ones joined them at mile 12.5. I saw a dear friend and his little one at mile 15, other friends throughout along the course, and many people of the Akron running community yelling out, “GO ED AND DEVIN!” So many people I didn’t even know, knew I was running because of my dad, so it made for a course in which I felt a whole lot of love from mile 1 to mile 26.2.
I felt strong and confident throughout the whole race, not because of the pace I was running but because of the way my body felt and the way my mind was thinking. I will say, the course was definitely the hilliest marathon course I’ve ever ran, and I had to FOCUS and push through to get to the top of each hill. By mile 23, my body was over the uphills, and by mile 24, it was aching on the downhills. Also, by this point I had ran a stronger pace than anticipated and I was on track to PR still at mile 23. I had, in no way, trained to PR. I took it easy on all of my runs this year and had many weeks where I only ran two or three times. There was a point during mile 24 that I thought to myself, you have two options right now - you can push it really hard and get an unexpected PR or you can back off and just get to the finish. I decided in that moment to let go of my pace, enjoy each step (while in pain - ha!) and get to that finish line. Let me tell you, that moment was a BIG DEAL. The fact that I happily, proudly, and with no self-judgement decided to stick to my original plan of just getting myself to the finish line of the Akron Marathon with a smile on my face, was a big moment for me. I am always my biggest critic, and I’ve never been great at accepting when I don’t reach a goal I believe is achievable. But this years goal was beyond a time on a clock, it was a goal of a change of mindset, a change of self talk, and the desire to remember what I love about a 26.2 mile race. And at mile 24 I knew I had achieved that.
I took the last big turn onto Main St. knowing that I had less than half a mile left, and with my dad by my side, as well as our friend Jill. They assured me in that moment that I was going to finish my 6th marathon, and I silently pushed myself down the street. The absolute best part of The Akron Marathon, is the finish line! You turn into our baseball stadium, and enter the field where the finish line is. The stretch leading up to it is filled with Marathoners, Half Marathoners, and Relay Runners cheering you along, with a camera putting you up on the big screens, and stands filled with spectators. As I turned into the field it was everything I ever dreamed of, I passed so many friends who had participated in the race that day, and turned to my left and saw my family and friends with signs yelling out my name. My dad grabbed my hand and we crossed the finish like hand in hand with our arms up and smiles on both of our faces.
I can easily say this marathon was one of the best yet. It was such a treat in every single way. Running a course I was familiar with, on streets I know well, with people lining the course that I loved dearly, was everything that I wanted. I can confidently say that I fell back in love with the marathon this year.