Run to the Beach
Akron Travel Blog› entry 22 of 34 › view all entries
My alarm went off at 5 this morning although I had awakened briefly a half hour earlier. Grateful that I had packed my bag and laid out clothes the night before, I opted for the snooze function and allowed myself to roll out of bed slowly. Breakfast of toast with peanut butter and just a little bit of juice, a last minute check on my gear especially my camera and throw-away shirt, and I was pulling on my Asics. Out the door by 5:45, I enjoyed the drive over to the community center where Run Salem was meeting up.
Getting out of my vehicle, I met the wind and cold that I had tried to ignore even as my car’s thermometer showed temperatures below forty degrees. I wrapped a blanket around my legs as we waited for the group to all arrive.
The drive was an easy one, very little traffic on the hour long journey with Amy’s SUV in the lead. We passed the entrance to Portage Lakes and stopped at a McDonald’s to use the restroom and for a few of us to get drinks (smoothie for Lucy who would not be running, coffee for Carole, OJ for me).
We got a decent parking space once inside the park.
After a restroom break in very clean Port-a-Potties, we got a group photo and wished good luck to our relay runners.
Too soon it was race time and we were walking to the start line. Jackie was surprised that we were up in the front half but we were all together. Well, except for Steve since the relay team was looking to win this day. The gun fired and we were off!
JC and Janie separated from us fairly quickly. I settled in near Carole and two of her other friends that had come on their own. We chatted from mile one, past the 5K/Half Marathon split.
We ran together for a bit and then I saw JC coming so I paused to get his photo. I heard “Go, JC!” from behind me and turned to see Jodi and Caroline nearing me. This was their first half and they were rocking it! I ran with them all the way to the 8.5 mile marker where we saw our official times. We ran the little trail back to the main road and started working up the slight incline when I saw the next member of our group approach. I would spend the next half hour taking photos, jogging a short distance, and doubling back to encourage my Run Club family. The guy by the clock noticed my repeating and asked if I wanted my own picture taken.
Her battery was running low for her music so I started talking. I know I was random, but my words helped us pass the miles. A few times we paused for Rylee to roll her right ankle around, an issue that really messed with her last long run but she was determined not to walk, and with every step we got closer to her goal. There were times that I walked because that was faster than my run plus it stretched out my knees. We found ourselves needing to run in the shoulder during mile 11 since the roads were not blocked off, a little scary but we stayed safe (although another runner earlier in the race had required an ambulance from what we heard).
Karen and I broke through the trees onto the beach. I jogged ahead to get a few photos of her on this final stretch next to the lake. The sand wasn’t as bad as I had feared, fairly solid, not hard to run on. Karen was happy when I said we would definitely finish ahead of 2 hours and 50 minutes. We crossed the line to the cheers of our Run Family with Carol snapping photos. She made me go back for a re-shoot since I had been behind Karen and not visible in the photo.
I hugged Rylee and Amy, so proud of how all their hard work has paid off.
We got Subway sandwiches and cookies up in a tent on the hill. They were finishing handing out the awards and our crew did very well with several age group placers and a win by the relay (under an hour and a half). Although the race provided water, Jodi had brought chocolate milk for us and I got mine from the back of the van.
We had set out this morning to complete goals started weeks ago and to honor those hurt by the bombings in Boston. Now as we headed home, we had tired muscles, aches, and pains that weren’t there this morning, but we didn’t care. We had shown once again that we could overcome challenges. We had run hard and strong.