Half Marathon Finisher.
When I began my training for the Akron Half Marathon, I wasn’t really sure that my name would be next to those words in less than seven months. After last week, it is.
About a week before race day I thought the run would be a great one. I came off my final 10-mile training run feeling good and running faster than I had been all summer. But then I started feeling pain in my right foot that wouldn’t go away.
Akron Marathon Race Director Brian Polen told me it was likely a result of tying my shoes too tight. I loosened my laces, but the pain persisted. I was able to get through my short training runs all week, though, so I figured that I could at least get through the 13.1 miles with some extra walking.
As it turned out, it wasn’t that big of an issue. It was smooth sailing as Brian, Akron Marathon Social Media Manager Lauren Toole, and I took off down High Street and over the Y Bridge into North Hill. It wasn’t until we were heading back toward Downtown on Gorge and Glenwood that I noticed that I had an issue. By the time we reached the halfway mark, it was bad enough that I needed to add more walking than I had hoped.
I can’t really explain what happened over the next few miles. As we made our way down Brown St. for miles 7 and 8 the pain went away and I was able to run faster. Miles 9 and 10 were some of the fastest we ran all day.
After mile 10, I was in uncharted territory. I had never run more than 10 miles in one workout. I’m used to my workouts going up in distance every week so I figured it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought it could be. But after 10 quick (for me) miles, I hit a wall. I knew I would be able to finish, but I also knew the final three miles would be ugly.
As we went through that last trip through Downtown Akron, I couldn’t help but think back.
To when I used to look skeptically upon runners.
To when I agreed to announce the Gay Games Marathon back in 2014, the first race I ever announced and the event that introduced me to the amazing people of the Akron Marathon.
To when I was asked to be the voice of the new Akron Marathon Race Series events in 2015.
To all those times when George McFly from 94.9 WQMX would needle me about how I should become a runner.
To last August, when I told Brian over beers that I would train for the race series.
To February, when I was winded after a 1 mile walk.
To all those mornings running around the neighborhood.
To all those Saturdays with the Blue Line Beginners.
We broke the tape (actually it was a roll of beer tickets) in 2:36:18, much faster than I expected. It was awesome to see my family there along with the Marathon staff and even some members of the Blue Line Beginners who stopped by. It wasn’t long after we left our post-race meal at Akron Family Restaurant that I started thinking about what race is next. And there will definitely be a next race!
I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to repay the people who helped me along this journey: The Akron Marathon staff for setting all of this up; Brian Polen, Lauren Toole, and George McFly for running races with me (and congrats to Lauren on running her first half marathon!); The Blue Line Beginners for keeping me going on those long Saturday runs; Vertical Runner of Wooster for making sure I had the right gear; the team at 1590 WAKR for letting me do this; the Lake County Captains for putting up with me when I couldn't do normal on-field host things; and each and every one of you who has offered a word of encouragement along the way.
If you ran the Blue Line, it was awesome seeing you at the finish line. If you didn’t, don’t think for one second you can’t. It takes hard work, dedication, and some free time, but you can absolutely be an Akron Marathon Race Series finisher. Who knows, it may just change your life. It certainly changed mine.