Race Report: The Akron Marathon Relay

First and foremost, I would be remiss if I didn’t immediately thank Andrew and the whole Akron Marathon Team and Panera Bread.  Spoiler Alert:  It was a great event and I was so happy to be a part of it.

Let’s back up.

MB and I rushed out of town in the middle of the day on Friday.  It was a little bit of a nutroll as we had to coralle the dog and each other.  It’s really no small feat. We met Jan to do a Kanga hand off.

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i mean how cute is she?

After what seemed like billions of hours of driving we finally met our friends at Bricco in Akron.  We were just a few blocks from our hotel where I collected my packet from Sarah and Matthew and finally got to try on my Team Panera Singlet.  It looked great over my jammies

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stop judging me.

I had never run a relay before and because of Captain Chelsea, I didn’t really have to think too much about the race logistics.  Turns out when you run a relay, you get shuttled to your hand off point and wait.  Since I was leg 4 {which I could not for the life of me ever remember} I didn’t necessarily have to get up for the 6 AM meet up.  But uhh the whole point of this weekend was hanging out with my team as much as humanly possible.

MB’s consilation for getting up at 5:15 was that he got to rock my Team Panera VIP crednetials.  He’s big on the race VIP experience.

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As usual, I was the last to lobby.  But my tardiness did not stop us from a team photo.

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there we are team four pirincesses and a frog

You’ll notice princess Sarah there on the left.  Homegirl’s foot just couldn’t handle all her awesomeness so she was out of comission for the relay.  Don’t worry, that barely stopped Sarah from being the best teammate in the world and cheerleader extrodinairre.

Matthew and Nathan were prepped to run the half marathon so in the spirit of team we got ourselves up to the start line.

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Sarah and Matthew, ready for anything.

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come along, VIP MB

We said goodbye to Steff, who ran the first leg and Nathan and Matthew  and let ourselves into the VIP area which had the perfect place to view the start line.

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Then, we ran into Andrew, who coordianted our Team to particpate in Team Panera.  Andrew is patient, smart and really really really good at his job.  Akron Marathon — you’ve got a gem in Andrew!

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Andrew, you are adrobs!

We watched everyone cross the start line — from the elites to the 6 hour marathon pace group.  Akron apparently hostd the Ohio Centenial Bell which rang for the entire sitart of the race.  I probably won’t need to hear another bell toll for about 79 years.

Coach Jeff hugged us goodbye and headed for hand off from Steff who was running the first two legs {hers and Sarah’s}.  MB and I were supposed to be paying attention to Captian Chelsea and Sarah coordinating cheering zones, meet ups.  As you can tell — we weren’t doing a very good job.

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Sorry girls

Chels and I went back to the hotel to rest a bit while MB and Sarah stayed on the course to cheer Nathan, Matthew and Steff.  On our way back I spotted Kanga XL!  This dog looked like the big version of our Kanga.  MB saw him later in the day too — it was the first thing we talked about when I made it back to the finish line.

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Ok back to the race

After a little snooze, I headed to the shuttles around 8 AM.  The sun was up and the chill was starting to burn off.  I took the 25 minutes bus ride with my other leg four particiapnts into a pretty park.  We got dropped off a the exchange area.

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Sorry random people in this picture.

I had handed my heat sheet off to MB earlier so as I sat and waited for Coach Jeff I tried to balance conserving energy and keeping warm.  I arrived at the exchange around 8:40.  Right on time, at 9:20 coach Jefff came tearing into the real exchange yelling for me.  After a quick hug, I was on my way.

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My leg was 4.8 miles long.  I learned on Friday night that it was the toughest leg of the marathon.  Through the rolling hills of the park, up a pretty monster hill and then rolling through the affluent neighborhoods of Akron — this little stretch was not going to be an easy feat.  Armed with this knowledge, I had one goal.  See the park mascot, the Giant Leaf.

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Oh yes — his sign sure does say BeLeaf in Yourself.10333313_10203962460056267_4006018448534633082_o

This might have been the happiest moment of my marathoning career.

After meeting my goal about .2 miles in my leg, I decided to take it easy for the rest of the run.  I pulled out my phone to check my splits, because I was heating up quickly and shedding my arm warmers.  Oh great, I never turned my app on!  I kept trucking running by feel until I reached the big hill the team warned me about.

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I’ve run Big Sur and Pittsburgh — twice.  But these hills were way more challenging.  mostly because I haven’t been hill training, um at all.  And I also find that rolling hills are way way worse than big inclines.  This hill wasn’t actually even that long.  But the rollers before and after it were brutal.  I walked a lot but dug in near the end to follow the blue line, the tangents of the marathon, to Captain Chelsea, and our last leg.

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You’re supposed to find your teammate in the relay exchange based on your bib number.  I took a much louder approach.  I just yelled for Chelsea for about a quarter mile.

And finally DONE!  I handed off our team slap bracelet and then  got back on the bus to meet up with the rest of the team and our friends.  I did manage an average of 10:56 per mile which was my B goal after meeting the leaf.

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When I reached the stadium I was so happy to hear that both Matthew and Nathan had major PRs.  Steff and Coach Jeff had wonderful runs and MB and Sarah had some major bonding fun.  We sat on the infield waiting for Captain Chels to come down the blue line.  As we waited Sarah got in trouble for standing on her scooter to try to see Chels.

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ohhh busted.

Here she comes!

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Wait is that her… running….

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Backwards.  Yep.  Backwards.  10714011_10203962461656307_1440874713924613226_o 1669981_10203962461616306_8720629199538468827_o

Win.  All win.  I’ll let her tell you the story of why she was running backwards.  It was amazing.

Captain Chelsea collected our medals and handed them out to a very grateful, very happy Team Four Princesses and a Frog.

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The best part was giving Sarah, our most resilieant, persistent teammate her get well card and her medal.  We are so proud of everything she has accomplished and will accomplish when that boot is off and that scooter is history.

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love you.  mean it.

Before heading back to the hotel to shower and get lunch and then head to Pittsburgh for a continuation of race weekend awesome, we had to take a selfie and team pic.

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Matthew and I compared medals.

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And I profusely thanked my number one fella for again being so supportive and loving.

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Then, I tried to make us do a team cheer.

it went better in person

This was a truly amazing race experience.  The Akron Marathon is a beautiful course and the race is well run and wildly well organized.  We were able to stay just a few blocks from the start.  Everyone was super friendly in the Rubber City and the volunteer support was bar none.  I was really impressed with the race logistics especially for the realay.  I would highly recommend this event.

OH and the medal was so cute.

Special thank you to Panera Bread and the Akron Marathon for hosting as as part of their blogger team — we will definetly be back next year.

But first — we’ve gotta run the Great Race!

Have you ever done a team relay?

5 thoughts on “Race Report: The Akron Marathon Relay

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