Posted By: Nadine MacLeod

After 10 years and 23 full marathons later, I finally earned my Boston qualifying time on the Akron course on 9/28/13.  Akron always proves to be a nice marathon for me, but in order to run smart I needed to start slow and steady to enable my body to run fast by the time I reaching mile 15; a point on the full marathon course where hills begin to build.  Race morning arrives, and my walk to the start area beings.  I greet the volunteers assembling the fluid/GU station around the 10 mile mark and drop off a pan of cookies I baked the day before.  (Thank you, volunteers!) I line up directly behind my qualifying time pace group and watch the 3:45 pack disappear into the runner filled streets following the sounding of the start bell.  I calmly set my own pace and struck up conversations with other runners as they approached.  The half marathon participants peel off, and I continue to hold my conservative pace though the Towpath section of the course and observe countless marathon relay runners zip past me.  Keep calm I tell myself, there are many miles left.  The Towpath section ends and the hill climb begins.  I pick up my pace.

While I consider hills a fun part of Akron, I remind myself of upcoming steep portion around miles 19 and 21.5.  I keep running and wonder if I can catch the pace group I let go back at the start.  Miles 16-21 come and go, no pace group is in sight.  ”Don’t panic,” I say, “the 3:45er’s didn’t get beamed up.  The 3:45 sign must be somewhere.”   Mile 21.5: ah, the delightful group I set out to catch is just ahead of me.  Catching, catching, CAUGHT!  One of the last hills presents itself, my body was about broken and the mind was bringing negative thoughts of giving up, leading to yet another no BQ day, but not on Akron 2013 day.

With the encouragement of a terrific pace runner, my body reaches the top of the hill.  I catch my breath and with just 4.5 miles to go, I continue to tell myself “keep it steady and don’t blow it.”  I push ahead but only by a few seconds, I need to know the 3:45 group is with me.  Mile 24, I use the downhill section to my advantage but keep in mind I need to crank out one final incline at mile 25.  Mile 25, ouch, but I did it.  I make the final street turn anxiously awaiting the mile 26 sign.  I see it and say “Go!”  I enter the stadium, the clock reads 3:43 something.  Finally, I say to myself, “you’ve got this!”  My chip time is 3:42.42; the first half run in 1:54.07 while the second half run in 1:48.34.

After crossing the finish line, I drop and am confronted by an incredible group of medical volunteers.  I assure the people I’m more than happy, I’m thrilled.  The Akron Marathon is always a happy time, and I look foward to many more happy runs.