Nothing like personal angst to fuel some good running, so I'm throwing myself into intense Road Runner training on the blue line. By battling that blasted blue line, I hope to release and conquer an army of personal demons I've had hidden away and finally run that blasted line smart and steady. I'm a Legacy Runner of the Akron Road Runner Marathon; I've run all but the inaugural race in 2003 because I was just learning to run--legacy status allows you to miss one, so I have to keep running it every year. Every year has been a different flavor, replete with different mistakes, different joys and different comrades ahead, behind and running along side me. I'm learning how to be alone, be happy in my own skin, so I'm likely to be running this one solo. Not to say I'm giving up on people, Lord no, I love people, but desperately need some Stuart Smalley self affirmation training. I've been taking notes for seven years and know every hilly nuance of that course, so while I'm tackling that hellish humidor called Sand Run Parkway, where runners become hunched over actors right out of Land of the Living Dead wearing running shorts, I'll take out a little mirror, look at my bobbing smiling face and say, "Red, because your good enough, smart enough, fast enough, and doggonit, you can break a 4:30 marathon!"
I think I have a good base to make it happen. So far, I've run the Flying Pig Marathon, the Mohican 50 mile, and the Buckeye 50K. True to form and completely loyal to my hatred of fast running I've avoided anything under a marathon, at most, volunteering at our club's shorter races, yet I've been a dedicated follower of the 6 mile midweek 5 a.m. Bob and Bill runs, which lately have been more like the Bob and various and assorted women runs. Bill is on sabbatical hopefully to return in near future. We keep a pretty good clip on those runs; I'd never run that fast if it was just myself. Usually when I'm along, they'll keep anything between a 9:15-9:30 pace...left to my own devices, I'd be lallygagging along at a 10:00 or slower. I went to the track, too, and choked down some 800's like medicine, but I'm leery of medicine, in general, and don't want to riling up lurking injury demons so close to the marathon.
Yesterday was our first official running of the blue line. Two groups convened in the dark parking lot across from Canal Park at 6 a.m. There was the speedy Vertical Runner group--we knew we wouldn't see them past the first turn--and then there was us, a good-looking bunch of mid-pack women (and Bob). We were going to run across the Y-bridge, cut off the south end of the course (Firestone Park and University), and dip down to the Towpath and complete the actual course. The Akron Road Runner organizers advertised that they'd be handing out GU and PowerAde to all training for the marathon. The run was not starting out good for me. For all intents and purposes this should be a real crappy run since I got little sleep and went to Nick B's wine and sushi party. It took a long time for my legs to warm up even though it was already 75 degrees and humid as a jungle.
At Mustill Store we convened for a photo opportunity--a group of fem fatales wearing mostly pink and their single stalwart male hostage. Through the Towpath section of the marathon we encountered a large group of what appeared to be a beginner runner/fitness group from the Mentor area. They were running an out and back 4 mile route, very animated and excited when they crossed the finish line set up at Memorial Parkway--many smiling faces, sweat and high fives. It was so cool. I've never seen so many runners. I believe the Akron Road Runner is changing Akron in so many ways, as an economic boost to our city and slimming its citizens in the process. What a cool thing.
I didn't feel conversational as I usually do and plugged in my Ipod. It was nice to know runners I care about were all around me, but I needed to be more isolated today. I know I'm a crazy runner, but you know you are a certified crazy runner when you can listen to the same song over and over for 19 miles. I played Darkness, Darkness, the old 60's rock tune by the Youngbloods I recently reacquainted with. It's one of those tunes I'll never get sick of, same as running. I stayed with my female pack of running compadres (and Bob) until Debi's house where she's so sweet and sets up a little green basket oasis of Powerade and G.U. After that, I was in a zone and slowly crept ahead of the bunch. I firmly assert that the running gods smile down rarely--this was one of them and I had to keep it going, cause I was sweating out personal demons and darn it, I'm going to break a 4:30 marathon in the process. Efficiency.