When I look down the road for our Blue Line Beginners, I see some big ol' question marks hanging in the sky. Let me bat some of those down.

1) The September Race: "Should I sign up now for the relay team?"

Just to review, the Akron Marathon Race Series has three racing events. The third is in September, when we will each choose between a relay team, the half marathon or the full marathon.

If you are doing the half marathon (or marathon, God bless you!) in September, OR if you are doing a relay team that you have already planned with family, friends or co-workers, feel free to sign up for that race anytime.

BUT if your goal is to be on a relay team of Blue Line Beginners, it's not yet time to sign up for September. We will wait until the Aug. 12 race is behind us then come up with a plan for BLB relay teams. We need to limit our relay teams to one walker on each team. Because the five members of a relay team have to cover the entire marathon course, we need to try and finish with an average pace of under 14 minutes a mile. That means if there is a 16-minute walker, we need a 12-minute runner to make up for the pace. (It's not quite that simple, but you get the idea.) Since we have no idea what our paces will be in August as we prepare for September, it doesn't make sense to try and plan that now.

2) The August Race: "I don't think I can go 6.2 miles."

For Aug. 12, most of us will be signing up for either the 10k (6.2 miles) or the half marathon. There is no other choice at the second event in the Akron Marathon Race Series. If you know which one you want to do, feel free to sign up anytime.

BUT I know we have some 1-mile walkers who may not be up for 6.2 miles under the August sun, and we are not leaving you behind. I am working on finding an alternative race for you to participate in. I think I've found the perfect one to host a BLB team, so stay tuned and I'll fill you in soon.

I know for me, it really helps me stay motivated to get out there 3-5 times a week if I have a goal on the horizon. So to our 1-mile walkers: Don't think you're done after June 24, because we are just getting started!

3) Staying involved as volunteers

A) There is a practice race for Akron Marathon full marathon runners in late August, and we've been asked if Blue Line Beginners would consider manning their water stations. It's a Saturday morning, so we would either volunteer to do that and then get a late start on our own group run/walk, or we could do it and just individually commit to getting our practices in on that Sunday. Frankly, it sounded like a great way to expand our involvement in the local running/walking community and to support those who are reaching the pinnacle of their sport. I'll send out a group message about this soon to get your feedback.

B) The September race is another great opportunity for some people to volunteer. If you can't be part of a relay team at that race because the distance or speed is too great, you could be part of a Blue Line Beginners volunteer force that day. The Akron Marathon uses 1,500 volunteers on race day so the need is pretty significant.. You might even have family members that would want to come help out. I'll brainstorm with the staff about what we might do (maybe a BLB water station, maybe giving out medals at the finish line, etc) and we'll come up with a plan. Again, stay tuned for details. Just know that we will continue to find ways to keep everyone involved!

4) Saturday meetups: Earlier start time?

This coming Saturday when we meet at Copley at 9 a.m., come prepared to vote on whether you'd like to move our group runs/walks to 8 a.m. after the June 24 race. The time change was suggested by some of our BLBers as a way to beat the heat.

BUT I know some of you live in Wayne, Medina, Stark and Portage counties and you're already committed to long morning drives to be with us. Whatever happens, keep this in mind: We are spending close to two hours on our outings now. So even if we end up starting at 8 a.m. and you come at 9 a.m., we'll be there, passing and high-fiving you on the course as you begin your workout. We could even coordinate so that those showing up at 9 a.m. could start their pre-workout warm ups together before they get started. Sixty minutes are not going to get in the way of us being together on this adventure!

- Paula