So the relay was perfect! We had a beautiful day and we must have all felt good because we easily cruised to a 3:57 marathon! Not bad for 5 pregnant chicks! Mrp and I left the house at 6AM. I could not psychologically leave earlier. I just couldn't. We made it down to Akron just in time to park and see *VB* cruise by shortly after the start. Mrp and I then waited around and watched the USATF women's 8k championship start. That was cool. But they made me feel obese! Seriously, I am like 3 of one of those women right now! I walked with mrp back to the car to drop off our stuff and then I gave him a kiss and sent him on his way for his own 20 miler. I started to make my way to the shuttle to my relay checkpoint.
It was a little sketchy out there, it was still dusky out and there weren't very many people other than a few bums. There I was all alone, 7.5 months pregnant in my short little running skirt and pony tail and bag full of snacks to keep peanut satiated. It seemed to be many blocks before I finally found some race volunteers. I asked one where the shuttle was. He said it was about another 5 or 6 blocks down the street. And then he said, "but you can't walk that far. Let me get someone to get you a ride." I laughed and replied, "Um, I'm about to run 7.6 miles. I can handle it." And with that I broke down and jogged the few blocks to the shuttle and then I was on my way.
I made it to my checkpoint and looked for a comfy place to sit. I had at least an hour to wait. I felt so conspicuous. Weirdly conspicuous with my big belly in my racing clothes. I felt like some sort of novelty act. Although, I remembered how I injected myself into the scenario! Most people were afraid to comment, but I could tell they wanted to. A bunch of people recognized the Speed Bumps and were super cute and excited to see me. I heard others whisper to the person standing next to them about the story they read in the paper of saw on tv. After working my way through the crowd I spied an open curb which was perfect for sitting, so I plopped myself down and settled in. A few minutes later a lady came up to me and introduced herself as *KB*'s mom. *KB* is the Speed Bump who ran leg 4 and she would be handing off to me. *KB*'s mom hung out with me and chatted and cheered on runners with me the whole time I waited. It was fun! Finally it was getting to be about that time so I found the area where I needed to stand to take the hand off. About 10 minutes later, about a minute or 2 after I saw the 4 hour pace group go by, they called our number and I saw *KB* cruising my way. I was so happy to see her and share the moment. My heart was racing and I just felt a wave of excitement as I grabbed the bracelet and took off. Peanut must have thought I was a big cheesy dork!
I quickly found a rhythm and came upon a full marathoner who recognized me as a Speed Bump. We started chatting and he asked me what our goal was. I told him I just wanted to eek under 4 hours. He responded that due to the hills coming up that probably wasn't happening. I said, "For you? I think it's definitely within reach for me!" Of course, I could hear mrp in the back of my head scolding me for pushing myself and I reiterated my plan to myself that I would not push it just to make this goal if I didn't feel up to it, but heck if I did I was going to go for it! Unfortunately, the line for the restroom at the checkpoint was insane so I REALLY had to pee. I HAD to stop at the first porta-potty I saw. I ditched the dude and waited in line to pee. It didn't take too long--maybe a minute? Two at most. It was SO worth it. I have never ever had to stop to use a porta-potty mid-race, but when you have to go THAT bad, it's a good idea!
When I rejoined the race I found my rhythm again quickly and this time I was running next to a woman from Atlanta. She was hoping to break 4:00 or at least better her 4:05 pr. We ran together for about 2 miles and she was really seeming strong! Then we came to a pretty decent hill and I told her to go ahead and I'd meet her at the top. But then at the top she had stopped to take a gu at the water stop and I passed her and didn't see her again until the finish. She ended up running a 4:01:02 so she came close and got a nice pr. Congrats!!! After hill I was feeling really good. It felt like the rest of the race I just cruised along. Mrp didn't want me to wear a watch so I'd be less likely to focus on pace and more likely to focus on how I was feeling. This was smart. I think I would have been more likely to worry I was going too slow to break 4 hours at this point if I knew what my pace was, but without knowing I felt more confident and knew if I was patient and continued to feel good I totally could do it!
I made it to the point where I picked up my friend Evie last year to run with her for a couple of miles as she finished the full marathon (see the post from last year here: http://notpeppery.blogspot.com/2007/09/smiles.html). I was really looking forward to this section because it was familiar and to kind of try it out to see if maybe I'd like to do the full Akron marathon next year. I have to say it felt good and if I am able to run a full next year, this will be at the top of my list! Anyway, I made my way along and around the 24 mile marker a motorcycle with a camera guy pulled up next to me and chatted with me while they filmed me running. I was definitely enjoying the celebrity treatment! They rode along side me for about a mile and almost as soon as they left I spotted the 4:00 pacer directly ahead!
I didn't even have to push it, I just cruised right on by. It felt great! With about a mile to go mrp was waiting for me and he jogged along with me. He was proud of me for keeping it relaxed and taking it easy. That made me so happy! I was so worried about overdoing it in some way that it just meant a lot that I got mrp's stamp of approval! Finally with about a 1/2 mile to go I started to feel pretty tired, but it was awesome to say by to mrp as I ran down into the Minor League ballpark. I heard friends screaming my name as I ran towards the finish. I was so happy as the clock was ticking down the seconds past 3:58. I crossed the finish around 3:59:00 and was so immensely proud of my team! And there they were waiting for me at the finish! It was better than I ever could have imagined! Thanks *VB*, *MN*, *KP*, and *KB*!
I know you want pictures and as soon as I have them I'll post away! In the meantime, thanks for everyone's support and help finding and naming my relay team! I couldn't have done it without you! (I think this celebrity stuff is getting to my head. I am starting to sound like Miss America! I'll be back to my average everyday self soon. Promise!)