Our embedded Beacon Journal photographer Karen Schiely writes on her own 8k† experience and shares more pre- and post-race pictures.

"I laughed so hard when I saw the video of myself crossing the finish line. My legs were moving like the 51-year-old legs that they are but my arms were up and flailing like a 12-year-old when I crossed the finish line of the 8K. I was so excited I almost forgot to get my finisher medal from Anne Bitong. It was truly an awesome experience!

I also nearly forgot my hamstrings were hurting - until I walked up the stairs of the stadium for that refreshing free beer. I know I can do a better time because the only thing holding me back was the leg muscle pain. I'll remedy that through more strength training and more cycling.

I wanted to extend a big thank you to all of the volunteers and Akron Police Department officers for cheering us on. Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera with me during the run to photograph you, but you made the run a lot more fun.

A special thank you to the volunteer who had music blaring from her car on Spicer Street while she danced and cheered for us. It was as if she was passing on her fun energy. I wish there would have been more people doing that along the route, and I know there will be for the September race because Iíve photographed lots of roadside cheerleaders waving encouraging signs, blowing bubbles, spraying cooling water, or playing in bands.

Itís so amazing how thousands of people come together to make such an awesome day happen, and the 8K was just a taste of the all-around marathon experience. As a friend of mine told me, ďThe marathon is the happiest day in Akron." I can't wait!

- Karen