Saturday I was one-fifths of something really saweeeeet. I partook in my first non-track & field relay. The Akron Marathon has a huge turn out each year of marathon relay teams, in addition to those brave souls tackling the 13.1 and 26.2 distances on their own. I joined forces with four awesome chicas with one very strong common thread – we all attended the most amazing Liberal Arts school tucked away in the hills of Southeast Ohio, Muskingum College.
I was excited, naturally, to be lacing up my shoes for a race. There was no doubt in my mind that I would enjoy this style of athletic event, but what I didn’t know is how MUCH fun it really would end up being.
Having been a multi-sport athlete my entire life, post-grad life threw me a curveball I was not too well prepared for – being without a team. However, the nice thing about running, it’s a lifetime sport, and with the running boom that has taken place over the last few years, there is rarely a weekend where a race of various distances isn’t offered. I love running alone, and I love competing on my own, but a small part of me does miss the comradery of a team.
The planning process for the race started a few months ago, and Kimi volunteered to be the team captain – which I was rather grateful for, I have been captain for many things in this life of mine and it was nice to not have to be the one in charge. All I had to do was register, purchase the items we chose for our team uniform and show up in Akron the day before the race.
We all met at the expo, grabbed our race packets, then went off to fuel up at Bravo. I started with a hearty bowl of gazpacho and my fair share of bread, and demolished my entire plate of spaghetti with marinara. I was definitely reprepsentin’ the Clean Plate Club all on my lonesome.
Then we rolled out to the hotel across the street and got in our Pj’s, organized our gear for the morning and had a team meeting to discuss logistics of hand-off zones, predicted finish times, and our 4:30 am wake-up call.
4:30am came rather early, but surprisingly I felt quite spritely as soon as the alarms rang. We got dressed, I slammed some Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Dreams and a banana and we loaded the hotel shuttle that took us to the start line.
One we arrived we found a nice are near the start and huddled together, chatted and waited, and before we knew it, it was time for Kimi to toe the line as the first leg of our relay. We watched the massive start and then booked it to exchange zone 2. It was really exciting to see the leaders in the relay and the overall marathon and half marathon zoom by us at warp speed. Before we knew it, it was time for Chelsea to jump into the road and accept the ‘baton’ aka a slap bracelet and start her leg.
I arrived at my spot a couple of hours before my predicted race started, so I just huddled up in my sweats and sat and waited. I’m not much of a person to socialize with random strangers, so I just sat there and texted my husband and mom a lot, and of course was kept up to date on what was going on in the race with Kimi. Around 9:00am I decided I should man up and take off my sweats and start a warm-up. I seriously can’t race anything less than a half marathon without a 3 mile warm-up. So that’s what I did. With a few port-a-pot stops, and squats in the woods thrown into the mix, as well as some stretching, seeing Justin fly by and eating Sand Run Hill for breakfast, and checking my gear bag to be taken back to the finish, I was able to get to the exchange zone with a few minutes to spare. I had gotten word that Jess had handed off the baton to Jen, so as long as our finish time predictions were holding true, I knew she would be there any minute.
As soon as Jen handed off to me, I shouted at her that she did awesome and then I took off. My race strategy was to try to pass as many people as possible and get our time across the finish line in under 4 hours. Within the first half mile I started to pace myself off a fellow relayer, every time I got up beside him he would speed up a little bit. I really think he didn’t want to get beaten by a girl. But he was a great rabbit for me and pushed me the entire race. Not gonna lie, I felt pretty swift, and the miles ticked by so quickly. I did feel like kind of a jerk though when I would pass the people running the full marathon on their lonesome, here I am running 7.9 miles and I didn’t have to tackle some of the monster hills earlier on in the race.
I did manage to see a familiar face in my race, I think it was around mile 25, Kali saw me and shouted out to me and it seriously scared the crap out of me! I was totally in the zone, I shouted to her that she was doing great and kept up my pace.
Before I knew it I was approaching mile 26 and my rabbit I was pacing with mustered out ‘Molly, you are kicking my ass right now!’ Hahahah, not gonna lie, I felt pretty studly.
Then right at the 26 mile mark I saw the other 4/5 of my team. I screamed at them and fist pumped and I think I said ‘Go Muskies!’ and then just tried the put in one last final kick through the downhill and into the stadium through the finish line.
Breakdown of my splits in the relay:
- 1st 0.7 mile: 4:16
- 1st full mile: 6:55
- 2nd full mile: 7:06
- 3rd full mile: 7:27
- 4th full mile: 6:56
- 5th full mile: 7:09
- 6th full mile: 6:40
- 7th full mile: 6:45
- Final 0.2 mile: 1:11
Final Muskies, Party of 5 team stats: 3:54:07
25th out of 164 in our relay division
314th out of 1109 total relay teams
I was so proud of everyone on my team, going out there and gettin’ it and accomplishing their goals. The course was not easy, and they all did fabulous. I was so honored to be able to anchor the relay for such an awesome group of ladies. I failed to mention, Kimi was the only on on the team who I really knew and had formed a solid friendship with prior to our weekend. But I am thrilled and beyond lucky to say that I definitely made three new friends that day. It is amazing what running can really do for your life if you let it. I have met some of the most amazing people in the universe through this beloved sport of mine. I have built stronger bonds with people while out there huffin’ and puffin’ and poundin’ the pavement. And this weekend I was able to expand upon a similarity we all had in being fellow Alums from one of the most magical places on Earth, thanks to the beauty of the run.
It was a great day to be a Muskie.