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Review: 2017 Akron Marathon

Originally shared over at BibRave.com, the following is my review of the 2017 Akron Marathon – with some slight alterations here and there. Enjoy!

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OVERALL: First and foremost, this race – nay, the entire Akron Marathon Race Series – is incredibly well organized. I can not express how amazing the organizers were at communicating information, updating their web presence, ensuring that the race series app was ready to go – the list goes on and on. It seemed like every little thing you could think of was thought of and planned for.

EXPO: The expo was a streamlined event for sure. Runners collected their bibs and “swag bag” in the first of two large convention halls, before moving on to take the obligatory photo with their bib & the race backdrop. After this, participants moved on to the vendor side of the expo. SO MANY VENDORS! Great showing from a TON of upcoming races, local universities, non-profit organizations, and so on. Near the end of the serpentine path that wound through the expo was where runners collected their official race gear, which included a 1/4 zip finisher pullover and lightweight running hat for the marathoners. Just being honest, I’ve worn my pullover every chance I had since race day!

BONUS: Three words: KARAFREAKIN‘ – GOUCHER. I had the opportunity to meet and chat with one of my favorite runners of all time. She’s incredibly humble and does so much for the sport. Hands down, one of the absolute highlights of the weekend!

RACE DAY: 
Parking – There’s a fair amount of parking, set up by which event you are running (full, half, or relay). My wife and I drove past the first marathon-specific garage (a block from my corral) and had no problem accessing the next one, only two blocks from the start line. Easy in, easy out.

Start Line Area – Unlike the two prior events in the race series, the Akron Marathon holds to a strict corral system. This ensures that runners start where their ability level dictates! Minus some minor bottlenecking getting INTO the corrals, moving around the start area was very easy. Lots of music and (thankfully) an abundance of porta-potties! Race started on time without incident and we headed out!

The Course – thriving with spectators at all points, offering boundless encouragement, cheers, smiles, and hi-fives! However, the course is also a challenging one, with varying elevation changes throughout – especially in the second half. There are definitely more significant hills on this course than what I am used to in the relative flatness that is the Columbus, OH metro area. This fact alone had me quite nervous about how this marathon was going to pan out! Thankfully, coming around a corner at just before mile 24, I realized that the 16-weeks of training had put me in unfamiliar territory – coming VERY close to cracking 4 hours. Ultimately, I finished in 4:06 – setting a nearly 40 minute PR. I think it’s safe to say I was ZIPPING (nod to the Univ. of Akron there) through Akron!

The Finish – First off, you finish the race on the home field of the Akron Rubber Ducks – a minor league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians – which is pretty darn awesome.

Canal Park in Akron, OH on race day

Echoing my previous statements about the crowd support – there is an AMAZING crowd to cheer you in at the end! Always makes for a great feeling. Navigate away from the finish line, snag up your medal, and head over to the post-race party – or Finisher’s Festival – which was AWESOME. Live music on stage, beer, pizza & other food all out on the outfield. Can’t ask for too much more than that. On your way OFF the field, you can snag your SERIES FINISHER medal (and medal hanger) if you’ve completed all three events (1-National Interstate 8k & 1 Mile, 2-Goodyear Half Marathon & 10K, 3-Akron Marathon, Half Marathon, & Team Relay).

Walking away from the finish with my wife, I was racking my brain to identify anything I could critique about this race – and I couldn’t! Almost two weeks removed from the race, I still can’t. If you’re looking for a well-organized, friendly, and challenging event – come check out the Akron Marathon. I truly believe that you will NOT be disappointed. Thank you, Akron Marathon, for a great event and an even better race series!

 

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90 Miles in 90 Days: Update 2

With my upcoming wedding to Tammi now only 33 days away and since I haven’t updated in a while, I figured it would be a good time to post an update on my personal challenge of running 90 miles in 90 days.

Since the last update, I was able to stay on pace fairly well. Every day or every other day, I’d get out there and run maybe 2 miles at minimum just to stay on pace. However, then I took a personal vacation across the country and while I fully intended to run during this time, I slacked. I dropped off pace and it’s been a gradual up-hill climb to cut down the, at one time, almost 10 miles that I was off pace.

So, here’s the update: I’m officially back on pace.

Tonight, I completed a two mile run that puts me at 57 miles over 57 days (or 63% complete). My average distance is hovering around 2.5 to 3 miles per run, with my average pace per is right around 9:45/mile. Running a little further per run as of late and just a hint faster on average. I’d say that’s progress, even if it’s slow going.

Keep in mind, I had said the following in my last update:

“…this goal could be completed by running one mile, every day, for 90 days. Personally, I would much rather get ahead and stay ahead.”

So yeah, I dropped off pace and fell behind, but I’m right back in it and set to get ahead again. Lesson here? Simple. Just because you fall behind, doesn’t mean your goal is out of reachit just means playing catch up will suck. And catching up DOES suck, but it’s not impossible.

Going for 90 miles in 90 days might not be the biggest goal in the world, but it’s MY goal. And with just over 30 days left to go, I can’t wait to crush it in the next few weeks.

Sidenote / reminder: if you need motivation to start running or to keep running, get on Twitter (or Instagram) and search #nikeplus and keep up with my journey to 90 by searching #90in90. 

COMMIT to Wellness

Let me be clear from the onset – never in my life have I ever been overly concerned with the idea of wellness. Sure, I’ve focused here and there on losing some weight, got back into running, and even ate a few carrots rather than a few cookies. However, I have never put a significant amount of effort into my own personal wellness. 

Now that I am in the field of student affairs (and have been for a few years), I find myself often wanting to make healthier choices when it comes to my personal well-being. I find myself encouraging students (and often other colleagues) to do the same. Ed Cabellon hit the nail on the head – asking how can we serve our students when we are not well? Truth is, we probably can, but not nearly to the capacity we could if were well…not even close.

So, as part of my #oneword2013 to commit this year, I am throwing down the gauntlet and making a solid commitment to my personal health. My two big focal points? Smarter food choices and giving myself the kick in the rear I’ve been needing to put the running shoes back on.

Nutrition

With the new year comes a new outlook toward my dietary habits, which – to be honest – have been kind of hit or miss as of late. However, I have noticed that I haven’t been eating out nearly as much over the last few months. It also helps to know that that I haven’t been going overboard with sweets and snacks. All that aside though, I still have some work to do when it comes to how/what I eat. So, a few bullets of my commitment to nutrition in 2013 look something like this:

  • Logging what I eat/drink using the Lose It! app

I began using Lose It! at some point in the early fall last year with not much success initially. However, I re-discovered it later and it proved to be pretty useful. It not only tracks meals and snacks throughout the day, but it lets you set a specific weight loss goal and track calorie intake/output so you can reach that goal. I will say that last year I did lose a good 10 lbs, which was tracked using this app. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure I gained it all back over the holidays…ugh.

  • Cook at Home / Pack my Lunch

Speaking of putting on pounds through food – I grew up as a child of the fast-food nation. And while that statement sounds like a great beginning to a novel, it still remains the truth. In the past, I would eat fast-food once or twice a day – almost every day like clockwork Just thinking about that makes me want to vomit. Now, I’ll swing by McD’s or Subway every now and again at work, but not nearly as often. With Tammi here now (and for the past 4 months) we cook much more often and even though there’s only two of us, we seem to cook for four. And yes – I do cook…just not as often as Tammi. Still though, we hardly ever have a shortage of leftovers, which means I rarely ever have to go “out” for lunch.

Running

Though it sounds cliche, 2013 is my year. I have spent far too long not running consistently like I used to. I’ve run more so far this month alone than I did in all of the last three months of last year combined – and for me, that’s saying something. But I’ve fallen back in love with the one sport that I’m relatively decent at and have begun to make a habit of it again. So, again, 2013 is my year for running and I plan to commit to it by:

  • Running at least 1000 miles before the end of the year
  • Entering and finishing no less than 12 5k races – preferably one per month
  • Participating in at least one Warrior Dash/Spartan Race event in 2013
  • Entering and finishing a half-marathon in the fall
  • Tracking my progress with RunKeeper and Nike+ apps

The first of those goals (1000 miles in 2013) is probably the one I am focusing on the most. In 2012, Tammi and I challenged each other to 366 miles in 366 days. Neither of us “won” because neither of us got close. I plan to not only smash through that mark this year, but blast past it completely and I’m already on my way. Tracking progress towards that goal has gotten much easier as well – utilizing the apps above and the various features within them.

Stay on Course…

Like all “good resolutions”, none of this means anything if it isn’t put into action. Being specific in my goals helps immensely, but I am also thankful to have the support of an amazing significant other, co-workers/friends, and an online student affairs wellness pledge group who have helped keep me accountable thus far. I’m already keeping track of my progress, running consistently, and already eating much better. I’m not planning to go overboard on the wellness idea, but it feels good to know that it is a significant item in my world now where it wasn’t so much in the past.

How are you planning to commit to your personal wellness this year? 

One Word Resolution 2012: PUSH

As 2012 gets off to a fairly quick start, I find myself lacking in the resolution department. This really isn’t a huge surprise, nor is it a huge departure from the norm, but I’ve actually taken notice this time around. I have a few goals I’d like to reach, and am still digging a little deeper on a few (see a future post regarding SMART goals…), but no huge resolution. Well, that was the case until I returned from my vacation and began hearing about co-workers and other professionals choosing One Word Resolutions for the coming year. The idea, if you are unfamiliar, is to select a single word that will essentially sum up how you want to act, do, live or what you want to achieve before the end of the calendar year. After a few conversations with co-workers, I’ve decided to join the One Word movement and my word for 2012 is PUSH.

Over the last 12+ months, I have found myself pushed and pulled in every direction possible – some good, some bad – and I’m not sure that fits with who I want to be or what I want to accomplish. I want to push myself towards legitimately  accomplishing my set goals, push myself by motivating others, and push myself to strive for those things that make me truly happy – professionally, personally, socially. Pushing myself also includes pushing past my known limits, but not pushing myself over the edge.

Push, to me, is a positive word for 2012 and I’m going to own it, have fun with it, and learn from it.

2010 and 2011 pushed and pulled me in many ways – 2012 is when I push back!