This Saturday at 8 a.m., we will host our next guest speaker. Cortney Myer, a sports physical therapist and orthopedics and sports rehabilitation supervisor at Akron Children’s Hospital , will talk to us about nutrition and hydration as it specifically relates to folks who are training for footraces. Remember those questions you had about what to eat before a race? Pull those out and dust ’em off. We’ll have her start promptly at 8 so we can hit the Barberton Towpath Trail right after.

Speaking of Children’s Hospital, as the sponsor of the race series the hospital is featuring patients and their families at every race. One of the “ACHEROs” at InfoCision Stadium was the son of Meredith Davis, who joined the BLB during our Copley outings so she could get in shape for the 1 mile walk. I asked her to share a few words about her family’s special day.

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“The National Interstate 8k & 1 Mile held a special place in my heart. You see, my son Keegan Lind was the featured ACHERO for this event.

Keegan was admitted to Akron Children’s Hospital for two weeks when he was 10 years old. He was diagnosed with Stevens Johnson Syndrome, a rare, serious disorder that attacks the mucous membranes. Akron Children’s was amazing and we are very fortunate to have this facility in our backyard.

When I heard that Keegan would be an ACHERO I decided to join the Akron Marathon Race Series. If I were ever going to do this, now would be the time to do so. I walked in the 1 mile with family.  In the past, you would have had to be chasing me with a sharp object for me to run! My family, friends and I will also be running the relay in September as Team Big Red for Keegan.

I was actually surprised by the emotion I felt when I went to packet pickup the day before the race. The emotion came back as I read his story, watched him being interviewed, and then the excitement of watching him start the race with the air-horn.  As a parent, their age doesn’t matter. They will always be your baby. He will always be that little guy in the pictures from his time in the hospital.

I will run for my health and for the health and blessings on my (not so little anymore) son, Keegan. Keegan, you bring me so much joy every day and I am so blessed to have such an amazing son!

Love you – Mom”

You can read more about Keegan’s journey here: http://marathon.akronchildrens.org

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On Saturday, Marcia Linberger arrived at our group meetup limping from an injury sustained from last weekend’s race. She stayed long enough for a celebratory photo with her 8k medal and, I hope, absorbed some support from us before heading home to get off her painful knee.

Meanwhile, Carolyn Politano rejoined our weekend outing for the first time in several weeks. She was ready to get back to business and put behind her a knee injury that had kept her out of the 8k.

It seems injury and recovery go hand in hand when you push your body to get stronger and faster.  But how do you keep your spirits up when it’s your turn?

I flashed back to that night I woke up to a throbbing pain in my heel. With no one to consult or console me in those early morning hours, I was truly terrified that I had done something that would force me to stop training for awhile. It did not, but I can still remember how acute my fear was.

So I searched the Internet and came across the website of a woman named Caroline Jordan who had some very uplifting things to say to anyone who gets sidelined. I bookmarked her page in the unfortunate case I’ll need to remember her advice:  http://www.carolinejordanfitness.com/stay-positive-injury

“Injuries are part of being human and part of the experience of having a body. Sometimes you get sick, tired, hurt, or face physical challenges that are not in your control. It’s life and it happens,” she wrote. “…Wellness is so much more than physical. It’s mental, it’s spiritual, it’s taking care of yourself as a whole. Keeping your mind + spirit in good shape will help you recover from your injury and return to good health.”

I’ve abbreviated some of her tips for staying positive:

Acknowledge and accept the injury. It is not what you wanted. It is not what you asked for. It sucks but here it is and you must be the one to prioritize and deal with it. Resistance in the healing process is not good…But also recognize that there are many things you can control, like how you react to it, how consistent you are with your rehab and treatment, the energy of people you keep around you while you are healing, the alternative activities you do with your time while you are healing, and so on.

Affirm Your Body’s Ability to Recover and Empower Your Mind To Help you Heal. If you believe your body isn’t healing and talk about how you are not getting better, you are affirming the negative and NOT helping the recovery process. You must empower your mind to help heal your body. It’s kind of like preparing to run a race or deliver an important presentation at work. Close your eyes, visualize the outcome you want, and affirm to yourself that your body WILL heal and WILL recover back to full health. Empower your mind to think positively about recovery and help your body heal.

You are going to have good days and you are going to have bad days. And it’s important to know: thats OK. Throughout the recovery process you will have days where it’s easy to deal and manage healing. You may also have days where you feel frustrated, upset, impatient, angry, all sorts of emotions. It’s important to know that its totally normal to feel those feelings and to have positive strategies on hand for coping with them when they happen.

Cheer Yourself UP. Count your blessings instead of adding up your troubles. Choose to see the good in everything and make the best of the situation. Put on your favorite music. Sing out loud. Shake your booty. Watch funny movies. Surround yourself with friends. Plan your next vacation. …Your body will feel the positive energy and it will make you feel better.

Do what you CAN do. Don’t stew over what you can’t do. Do what you CAN do. If you have a hurt foot, work on your push-ups. If you hurt your wrist, practice your body weight squats. Work on the physical therapy exercises prescribed to you through your doctor. Do all your “homework” exercises and follow the doctors orders. Be the best patient there ever was, the kind doctors love to work with. You’ll heal faster and it will make you feel better to be proactive and positive about the recovery process.

Jordan has some fitness videos on youtube, routines she was doing while recovering from an injury that had her foot in a boot. While her particular routines might not be appropriate for your injury, it reminded me that there is a wealth of information on the Internet that could prove valuable. I’m sure you could find plenty of videos or fitness guides for ways to stay in shape while staying away from the part of your body that’s injured.

“Time to heal allows you to focus on yourself. Sometimes we think that because we train and workout we are paying attention to ourselves when really we may be distracting from life or other issues,” she wrote. “An injury allows you to learn more about you. It provides and opportunity to learn how to be more self compassionate. It also provides time to reflect on things that may need to change in your life. Healing through an injury allows you to make space in your life FOR YOU. Guess what, your life is not going anywhere and if you use this time to take care of yourself and heal correctly you’ll probably come back stronger, wiser, and better than before.”

So if you’re recovering from an injury now or in the future, look for reading material on the healing process that speaks to you intuitively. Others have been through it before and came out on the other side. We can learn from their experiences.

– Paula

Housekeeping: On Saturday, 10k/Relay Team runners and walkers will be doing 2 miles. The 10k/HalfMarathon runners and walkers will be doing 4 miles. Nobody will be doing 6 miles! I needed to clear that up because a reference I made to a 6-mile marker in a recent blog post had at least a couple of folks concerned. So sorry!

Yesterday I addressed the runners and walkers who are thinking about that half marathon in September. Those 13.1-mile hopefuls have to tuck in a little extra mileage every week to be ready for the fall.

But if you’re goal is to run, walk or run/walk the 10k in August and then do the team relay in September – where each leg is roughly 5 miles – your weekly routine is going to be very similar to what you’ve already been doing.

If you’ve done a couple of 2- or 3-mile runs or walks this week, you’re right on schedule. But you might be surprised to learn that your “long run” this Saturday and next Saturday will be just 2 miles! Yup, just as we did the taper leading up to the big race, there is a “recovery” period for a couple of weeks after the event.

Hey, I’m new at this or I would have told you earlier!

If you look down the calendar, you’ll see the mileage goes up and down a bit each week. Our Saturday mileage even jumps from 2 miles to 5 miles in back-to-back weeks! That’s not a mistake. We’ll be getting a guest blog from the Akron Marathon staff soon to explain why this roller coaster routine benefits our bodies.

Anyway, I will have copies of this 8k To 10k Training Plan at Saturday’s group outing, but it’s also posted below for those of you following at home.

FYI, I looked up the course closure info for the Goodyear 10k. The race starts at 6:30 a.m. and course support is withdrawn at 2 hours. That’s equivalent to a 19:10 per mile pace – a little more breathing room if you need it.

– Paula

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Way, way, way back in April I posted a few training plans for you to choose from. At that time, a handful of you already knew you wanted to train for the half marathon in September and have been following that plan all along. Keep it up!

But I suspect more of you are like me: We were solely focused on that 8k Training Plan with the expectation of moving on to the 10k and relay team races later this year. Our plan was less ambitious than the half marathon hopefuls because we never expected to cover more than 6.2 miles in any single race this year.

Then along came one of our guest speakers, Dawn Edminston, who inspired a lot of folks to reach for the stars. I’ve joined many others who are now dreaming of walking or walk/running that half marathon in September after all.

What we haven’t done yet – and what we need to do now – is switch training plans.

So today, I’m speaking specifically to those who did the 8k on June 24, plan to do the 10k on Aug. 12, and hope to do the half marathon on Sept. 23.

If you are still planning on the 10k in August and the relay team in September, come back tomorrow. The blog will be specifically for you!

It might seem we’re jumping ahead, talking about the fall race before we’ve finished the August 10k, but there is an extra run/walk day and overall more mileage for anyone who wants to be ready by September. So this is exactly the day we need to talk about it.

Now, I’m sure I could stroll 13.1 miles. I’d be sore but it’s not a ridiculous distance. But we won’t be strolling. The half marathon course in September is open for 3.5 hours. That’s equivalent to a 16:02 per mile pace. While even my slow pace beat that by a few seconds on the five-mile course, could I have kept up that pace for another 8.1 miles? No way.

Then I remember that half marathon is nearly 13 weeks away. By golly, we’re only halfway there. Look how far we’ve come the past 13 weeks! If you need to remember, go look at that journal you started in early April. You’re going to be amazed at yourself.

While it’s okay to look back for motivation, don’t obsess about what’s ahead. When I told Akron Marathon Operations Director Laura McElrath that 13.1 was a scary idea, she told me not to think about 13.1 Just focus on what needs to be done this week. So I took her advice.

On Monday I took my Half Marathon Training Plan and I folded it to hide everything below the week of 6/26.  This is what I see:

2 miles — rest — 3 miles — 2 miles — rest — 4 miles — cross train

Heck, I can do that. I’m going to knock out this week because next week doesn’t matter. And I can recycle that mantra every single Monday.

I’ll have copies of the Half Marathon Training Plan for you on Saturday. For those following along at home, or those who don’t want to wait to start squeezing in that extra run/walk day, it’s posted below.

And remember, you can always switch to a relay team if you decide later that this isn’t the distance for you. Following this plan for now will still get you to the 10k and beyond.

– Paula

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It’s really difficult for a reporter to walk away from an unanswered question. If there’s something I don’t understand, I can’t simply pretend I don’t need to know.

So on Sunday when we were emailed a link to a detailed breakdown of our race performance at the National Interstate 8k & 1 Mile, I just couldn’t let it go. What is “age grade?” Why were they compelled to tell me my time at 4.6 miles? Why is my overall placement different in the “finish” and “chip time” categories. How do I save the video of me crossing the finish line since I was so stinkin’ cute pumping those chubby legs?

I sent off an email to Mtec, the Minnesota company that does the timing and scoring system for the Akron Marathon, and a couple of hours later I heard from Soren Larson, who is charged with  handling such inquiries. Soren patiently guided me through the various boxes and columns of the performance analysis so that I could satisfy my curiousity and help you understand your results better.

Let’s take a look at the boxes on this part of the results page:

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If you ran or walked the 8k, the first odd thing you’ll see is that below your “TIME” is something called SPLITS at 4.6 miles. Why do we care about 4.6 miles when we covered a 4.97-mile course? The answer is, we don’t.  That split time was incidentally recorded because we happened to cross over the Starting Line timing mat on our way back to the stadium. The mat recorded our time at 4.6 miles because the mat was there and that’s what mats do. In the Goodyear and First Energy races later this year, there will be more timing mats through the course and split times will have actual meaning.

One-mile participants did not cross the Starting Line timing mat a second time and won’t see that extra “SPLITS” on their analysis.

Also near the top of the page you’ll see “Chip Time” and “Gun Time” and a toggle that invites you to “Choose Timing Method.” Since it took about 4 minutes to empty the corral, the gun time is irrelevant. Your chip time is the actual time of YOUR personal race, so ignore the other option.

In the next box we see “Average Pace.” That one’s easy – it’s your finishing time divided by 1 mile or 5 miles, depending on your distance.

I’ll come back in a moment to that “Age Graded %” score, but for now go to the next box, “Overall Place.” Your ranking here is not quite accurate. This box is telling you how many people crossed the Finish Line timing mat before you. But since it took about 4 minutes to empty the corral, there’s a good chance you came in behind a few people that were actually slower than you. To find how you compared to the entire field based on your speed, scroll down to “Detailed Results” and look for “Overall Place” in the “Chip Start” row. That’s your true standing in the competition.

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While you are down at the bottom of the page, you’ll see that little running figure that tells you how many people you passed, and how many people passed you. If you were in the 8k, this feature records the number of runners and walkers who traded places with you in the final stretch – after you stepped across the Starting Line timing mat for a second time on your way to the Finish Line. If you were a 1-miler, this number reflects passers and passees (is that a word?) during the whole mile course.

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Now, about that “Age Graded” score, which is rather interesting and may be a cool way to judge your progress over the diverse distances we’ll be racing this summer.

If you click on the question mark next to the percentage, you’ll find a vague explanation: “Age grading allows you to compare your performance to others, adjusted for differences in age and gender.” That didn’t mean anything to me, so I followed the link to a sample runner. But I was still left scratching my head as to what “37 percent” meant in my case.

So let me take a crack at this:

According to the system designed by the World Association of Veteran Athletes, someone with a 100 percent age grade next to their name is at or near a world record pace for their age and gender.

By comparison, my age grade for this race was 37 percent. That means the speed of my determined-but-aching feet was about 37 percent of that ideal female 56-year-old athlete capable of breaking world records.

Someone with an age grade of 90-99 percent is considered to be “world class” in their sport. Between 80-89 percent is national class, 70-79 percent is regional class and 60-69 percent is local class.

While the age grade is meant to be a fair way to compare you to the rest of the field, I find it a pretty depressing number until I look at it another way. I’m only competing against myself, so I’ll use it to compare my age-graded result from race to race and see if I improve. It doesn’t matter if those races are an 8k, 10k and half marathon, it will interpret my progress with the same formula.

Our results page came with a certificate that can be printed out and saved. I asked Soren if there was a way for a runner to also save a personal copy of their Finish Line video. The answer is no. The website does not offer that as an option, and I don’t know if there is a program or app that can get around that, short of holding a video camera up to the computer screen. But Mtec keeps those videos available online indefinitely, so five years from now when you’re running out of wall space for your race medals and closet space for your commemorative tech shirts, you can still log on and watch where it all started.

Have any other questions? Look for the box that has a “Results Question?” link.

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Click on that and fill out the form. Soren said he handles those personally and will be happy to answer any questions I may have missed!

– Paula

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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 I’ve photographed lots of roadside cheerleaders waving encouraging signs, blowing bubbles, spraying cooling water, or playing in bands.

It’s 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, “The marathon is the happiest day in Akron.” I can’t wait!

– Karen

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I don’t know about you, but I left everything I had on the course Saturday. As I neared the finish line, I kept thinking how glad I was that it was an 8k and not the 10k. I don’t know how I would have made it another 1.2 miles.

So that tells me I’ve got some work to do. The taper week was a nice break, but we’ve got 7 weeks to the August 12 Goodyear 10k. I don’t have a 10k Training Plan in hand yet – I’ll make sure we have that by our Saturday outing – so in the meantime if you’re an 8k runner or walker, go back to your pre-taper routine this week.

If you’re a 1-miler, keep up your routine as well. I noted on a previous blog that I have a 1 mile race in mind for you in August, but I’ve learned a second option might be available. It could be a couple of weeks until I’m sure, so stay tuned and no slacking!

This Saturday and for the next three weeks we’ll be moving to my hometown of Barberton, where we’ll catch the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. (Can you believe I live just one mile from where my great grandparents settled after immigrating in 1903?!)

The city has offered to let us park in the lot next to the Robinson Avenue bridge. It is catty-corner from the McDonald’s at 500 W Tuscarawas Ave., if you need a GPA address.  See the map here:

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After our pre-race stretch in the parking lot, we will walk/run over the Robinson Avenue bridge to the opposite side of the canal, which is where we catch the footbridge onto the trail. The bridge is a bit long and steep, so we will consider that part of our training!

Once on the trail we will head south. About a half mile from the footbridge, we come to Snyder Avenue (the Wolf Creek trailhead.) We’ll cross that and not be bothered by another road until the Vanderhoof trailhead, which is another 2.4 miles (which you will only reach if you intend to put in 6 total miles for the day.)

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Because this is a straight path and not a loop, it is up to us individually to decide when we’ve reached half of our training goal and turn around. If you have a phone app like MapMyRun or MapMyWalk, or if you use a Fitbit or something similar to keep track of your mileage, you’ll be all set. If you don’t have anything like that, I will be able to give you some landmarks to help you judge your distance.

At our last group outing, we voted overwhelmingly to move our run/walk to 8 a.m. so we could train in cooler temperatures. I also wanted to repeat something I said in another blog: I know some of you travel quite a distance to be with us. If 8 a.m. is too early for you, come on out at 9 a.m. We’ll still be on the trail and hopefully you’ll still benefit from the camraderie and support of passing your BLB teammates on their return. If you do intend to come at 9 a.m., write me at [email protected] and let me know and I’ll make sure you get all the information you need to get started when you arrive!

Finally, let’s get a group picture this Saturday. If you finished the 8k, bring your medal. If you finished the mile, wear your tech shirt. If you want to pin on your bib or hold it up, bring that too!

So in review:

*Group outing is Saturday, July 1 at the Robinson Avenue bridge in Barberton. We will return July 8 and July 15 as well.

* We have moved the time to 8 a.m.

* If you are starting late at 9 a.m., send me an email to [email protected] so I can get you more details.

* Bring your medal, and/or wear your tech shirt, and/or bring your bib for a group picture.

– Paula

UPDATE: With 180 names on my BLB spreadsheet, I was very worried I might miss someone who finished the race yesterday, and I did. Congratulations to Ann Oldaker, one of our 8k participants. WTG, Ann!

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Saturday was epic, from the electricity coursing through all of the runners in the corral at the starting line, to that feeling of breaking through the entrance of InfoCision Stadium and seeing Akron Marathon Director Anne Bitong beckoning us. I can’t imagine a more perfect day for 88 Blue Line Beginners whose 12 weeks of training culminated in a sweet – if sometimes brutal – journey to the finish line!

Read about our shared experience here: http://www.ohio.com/news/break-news/blue-line-beginners-celebrate-crossing-finish-line-at-akron-race-1.776571. Beacon photographer Phil Masturzo did a great job of capturing the moment.

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Then come back Tuesday for Karen’s Korner, including more photos by Beacon photographer Karen Schiely, who has been embedded with the group and had to put away her camera at the start of the race so she could run her own 8k!

Congrats to the following Blue Line Beginners who finished their first Akron Marathon Race Series event:

In the 1 Mile:

Lisa Balough, Jessica Broska, Ceil Cohen, Patricia Cormany, Meredith Davis, Mary Flohr, Paula Kmet, Steve Kmet, Mary Krein, Kim McMahan, Denise Monea, Sherry Morgan, Annie Nanez, Connie Pacanovsky, Carrie Webb, Linda Weyrick

In the 8k:

Deanna Albertson, Nancy Arvay, Georgena Austin, Debra Baglia, Amy Baird, Jeff Balough, Cortney Benjamin, Beth Bickett, Nina Biscan, Norma Boston, Joanne Branham, Carol Byers

Holly Carder, Nancy Coerver, Heidi Cohen, Sheila Dillick, Daniel Doty, Char Flohr, Diane Fuller, Abby Gentsch, Debbi Gertz, Robert E. Gill, Marla Goch, Joanne Grosko, Greg Gwinnup

Maureen Haas, Tracey Hlucky, Karen Jackson, MaryJo Jones, Kris Kienzl, Elizabeth Kinsella, Cathy Kirgesner, Darlene Kirland, Jennifer Kline, Lynn Kline, Denise Kraft, Gail Kuglar, Marcia Linberger

Cindi Martin, Marla McClintic, Collin McGrath, Leslie Meadows, Mike Meneer, Jim Merklin, Joe Merklin, Mary Jo Mihocka, Jim Mitchell, Ann Moorehart, Ann Oldaker, Sandy Perch, Anita Zona-Peters, Steve Postma

Antoinette Rege, Janet Rice, Monique Sanders, Darla Sanders, Karen Schiely, Loretta Schleis, Kathy Scott, Penny Spickard

Diane Teodecki, Jim Thomas, LeAnn Tipton, Cindy Turner, Kris Wagner, Jessica Walsh, Marcia Weidknecht, Ellen Weiss, Carolyn Wynn, Yu-Ling Yeh, Shelly Zackasee, Patti Zaubi.

(It was a challenge comparing my BLB roster with the results list so if I missed you, drop me a line at [email protected] and I’ll update this blog and our Ohio.com story.)

I know there were several BLBers who couldn’t run this race with us, but we are looking forward to you continuing your training and joining us for the August and September races.

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I also wanted to offer congratulations to the winners of the National Interstate 8k & 1 Mile, the athletes who have trained much of their lives to be at the top of their game.

The top 8k finisher, Bobby Moldovan of Twinsburg, completed the course in 24:57. Becki Spellman, 2016 National Interstate 8k champ from Hilliard, retained her title with a finishing time of 29:30. Both set new event records.

See those times? The 1 Mile course closed at 30 minutes. That means they ran 5 miles before the last 1-milers were expected to be off the course!

Meanwhile, the first runner across the finish line was Craig Nieset of Chardon with a time of 4:47 in the one mile event. Faye Hellman of Philadelpha, PA was the first woman to finish the one mile, in 5:38. It took over 4 minutes for the starting line corral to empty its nearly 2,000 runners. That means Nieset was seconds away from the finish line before the final racers had even started!

Other award winners included Damon Blackford, Akron, 30:38 (men’s masters 8k), Debbie Harding, Akron, 36:37 (women’s masters 8k), Matt Cochran, Tallmadge, 5:36 (men’s masters 1 mile), and Amanda Richardson, Copley, 7:35 (women’s masters 1 mile.) Summit County owned those 40-and-up divisions.

Anyway, enjoy the day off, then our 8kers should get in at least a couple of 3-mile runs and a couple of cross-training days this week before our next group outing on Saturday. There, we’ll be instructed on a new schedule for helping us ramp up to that Aug. 12 Goodyear 10k while keeping our 1-milers on track for other opportunities this summer.

Well done, BLB! Our story continues…

– Paula

We’re all at the National Interstate 8k & 1 Mile race today. Come back tomorrow!

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I hope the race day info on the blog this week has helped make you feel more confident about tomorrow’s race. There are just a few outstanding questions I wanted to answer.

How do I find myself on the Akron Marathon app?
Once you’ve downloaded the app and opened it, you’ll see “Live Tracking” on the home page. Click on that, then on “Find a participant” and type in a name. It will search by last names, first names, even partial names.

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You will see the bib number and the distance the participant is signed up for. If your loved ones get the app, they can track you. Their app will notify them when you begin and when you finish. Those are the only two tracking points this weekend. However in August and September, there will be midway tracking devices so they will also know when you reach certain points on the course.

Another BIB LOOKUP option: Click on this link: http://www.mtecresults.com/race/show/5210 . That link also offers gender, age and city.

You need to know your bib number so you know what line to be in to pick up your race packet today. If you don’t know it when you arrive at the stadium to pick up your packet, there will be a board listing all participants and bib numbers.

Akron Marathon staffer Carrie Washnock said she will also be at the “late registration” table if anyone wants a quick app tutorial today.

How many people are racing?

I don’t know the final registration figure, but the race accepts up to 300 for the 1 mile distance, and up to 2700 for the 8k. So there could be a total of 3,000 on the course.

So far I’ve counted 96 Blue Line Beginners registered for Saturday’s race.

How does the SAG wagon work?

The SAG wagon (SAG stands for “support and gear”) is a small bus or a van that brings up the rear of the race. It’s a resource for anyone who needs attention. For instance, if you roll your ankle and can’t continue, it will give you a lift.

This weekend, it will travel the 8k route at a pace of 18:06 min/mile. When it passes, that means the road behind it will be re-opened to traffic. If you are not keeping up with an 18:06/min mile, the wagon personnel will ask if you need assistance, but if you’re feeling fine, just wave them off and continue. You’ll need to move to the sidewalk because the road behind you will be opening, but you can still finish the race.

Technically, the race does not guarantee to remain open for those behind that pace, but in practice, the finish line staff has always waited for most latecomers, so keep pushing on!

I’ve looked at the forecast and still not sure what to wear.

Rule #1: Don’t wear anything you haven’t trained in. This is not the day you want to experiment with a new shirt, or new socks or new shoes. Stick with what you know and try the new stuff out later.

Anne Bitong also shared this helpful link: http://www.runnersworld.com/what-to-wear

And remember: “Cotton is rotten.” Stay away from the cotton tees.

Where are we meeting next Saturday for our group run?

We will be in Barberton, picking up the Towpath Trail and heading south. Details will be posted on the blog early next week!

If you have any other questions, there will be an information booth in InfoCision Stadium today for packet pickup and tomorrow before, during and after the race.

See you all soon!

– Paula

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I looked into my crystal ball and I saw what I’ll be doing Friday night.

I’ll crawl into bed before midnight – a couple of hours earlier than this night owl usually does – then wonder why I’m not sleepy. I’ll go over my racing strategy in my head, then change it two or three times. I’ll check the nightstand alarm clock to make sure it’s set correctly, then doublecheck the alarm I set on my cellphone.

Did I remember to charge my music player? I’ll use that as an excuse to get out of bed and tinker around the house. I’ll put on TV for an hour, then turn it off for fear that it’s keeping me awake. I’ll think back to that 4-mile non-stop run that felt so good. My run is going to be just like that! Then I’ll remember how I had to walk half of my 3-mile workout last week because the heat was killing me. My run is going to be just.. like… that.

Is there enough gas in the car to get me to the stadium? Did I lay out everything I need for the morning? What side dish should I make for my nephew’s graduation party? Does the litter box need cleaning? Why can’t there be world peace?

If you anticipate a similar Friday night as we count down the hours to our National Interstate 8k & 1 Mile race, then I’ve got some good news for you: It doesn’t matter.

Whether you shut your eyes for one hour or eight hours, it’s not the sleep you get on Friday night that counts. Saturday morning adrenaline is going to carry you through the race and you can sleep all Saturday afternoon if you like.

Studies say the most important night for sleep is two nights before a race. That’s tonight. So if I’m struggling at all, I may pop a couple Tylenol PM just to make sure I get eight hours. I bought some to help me cope with my plantar fasciitis when I had to give up ibuprofen after learning of its risk to runners. I took a couple pills one night and slept like a baby. As a matter of fact, I slept so well I know never to try that on the night before a race. I don’t want to feel too relaxed. Tonight, though? Perfect.

Anyway, I ran across many articles that agreed insomnia the night before a race is not only normal, it should have no effect on how well you do. Here are three of them:

http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/recovery/is-a-lack-of-sleep-before-a-race-really-a-bad-thing_83503

http://www.runnersworld.com/newswire/why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-about-bad-pre-race-sleep

https://www.verywell.com/what-if-i-cant-sleep-before-running-a-marathon-2911433

If you don’t want to read those now, save them for Friday night. You might need some reading material.

Then again, now that you don’t have to fear lack of sleep on Friday night, you’ll probably sleep just fine.

– Paula

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Are you bringing loved ones to cheer you on in Saturday’s race? Here’s a guide just for them!

Dear friends and family:

We would love for you to be a part of our adventure as we tackle the first race in our summer-long Akron Marathon Race Series. After all, many of us are trying to get in shape for you — so we can keep up with our grandkids, look good for our daughter’s upcoming wedding, take that Grand Canyon hiking trip with former classmates or beat our siblings at the annual family Thanksgiving flag football game!

From the starting line to the finish line, we’ve reserved a place for you right at our side at this weekend’s National Interstate 8k and 1 Mile Race.

PARKING: Use the same parking lots as the runners. That’s Lot 36 (South Campus Parking Deck), Lot 39 (Exchange Street Parking Deck), and Lot 1 (East Campus Parking Deck.) Find them on the map below.

PRE-RACE GATHERING: Come hang out with the Blue Line Beginners before the race. Starting at 7:45 a.m., we’ll be right outside the front of InfoCision Stadium in Parking Lot 9 (the parking lot that runs along East Exchange Street, across from Taco Bell.) We’ll be there stretching and getting rid of the pre-race jitters. You’ll also be in the perfect spot when the race begins.

STARTING LINE: We will be taking off near Gate 1 right at the intersection of Union, Brown and Exchange streets. The race starts at 8:30 a.m. but if you’re loved one is walking the race, they will more likely cross the starting line around 8:37 a.m. After they disappear down Brown Street, walk one block east to Spicer Street. The runners are going to make a big loop and come back to the stadium there to complete 1 mile. Now you’ve got a choice to make:

* 1 MILE: If you are cheering on someone in the 1 mile race and want to watch them cross the finish line, forget the Spicer Street stop and go into the stadium at Gate 1. Head down onto the field using stairs at section 120 or 121 so you’ll be in position to see your friend or family member cross the finish line. If you wait till your loved one reaches the intersection of Spicer and Exchange and then turn to the stadium, you’ll have a difficult time making it to the finish line in time to take photos.

* 8K: If you are cheering on someone in the 8k race, you have two options.
1) After watching them pass down Spicer Street, take yourself into the stadium to enjoy the music and concessions while you wait for your loved one to arrive. If they are running, it will take another 40 to 50 minutes for them to reach the finish line (9:30 a.m. or so.) If they are walking, they’ll be are more likely to be arriving closer to 10 a.m. or later.
2) Another option for the fit and feisty is to walk down Exchange Street toward downtown and find a spot near the bridge that crosses Wolf Ledges Parkway. It’s probably a quarter-mile walk. The racers will turn off Broadway, cross the bridge to your left, then run around the bend and under the bridge on the way back to the stadium. They’ve only got one mile to go at that point. If your loved one is a runner, you might not beat them back to the stadium, so take that into consideration. If they are walking, you’ve got about 20 minutes to get back in time to watch the big finish.

POST-RACE GATHERING: Come join us toward the north end of the east concourse after the race. (From the front of the stadium, that would be to the back and right.)

CONCESSIONS: There are a limited amount of beer and rootbeer tickets available for spectator purchase starting at 9 a.m. They are $10, cash only, for three tickets. Identification is required to purchase beer. Also concessions are open on the west side concourse from 7 to 11 a.m.

BLUE WRISTBANDS: If you spot anyone wearing a blue silicone wristband, be our honorary cheering section, too! I promise you, we will deeply appreciate the support.

– Paula

Parking permitted in red-colored lots:

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When the starting gun sounds Saturday, the Blue Line Beginners are going to be sprinkled throughout the various pace corrals, with some of us running at under 10-mile minutes, and some of us just hoping to finish the race before the “SAG wagon” drives by and asks if we need a lift.

But there’s no reason we can’t start and end the morning together.

After you’ve parked and walked to the stadium, come find us in Parking Lot 1. That’s the same lot where we parked for the trial run and the lot we are using for packet pickup day. That area is generally deserted and we’re just a short walk from the corrals. I plan on being there by 7:45 a.m.

There will be up to 3,000 people running or walking the course, so be sure to wear your blue wristbands and shout a word of encouragement at anyone you see wearing one!

I was hoping we could also gather at the finish line to cheer other BLBers as they arrive. There is an on-field viewing area reserved for racers, sandwiching the final few yards of the course. On a cooler day, it would be wonderful to watch for those wristbands and celebrate each of our teammates, so many of whom are completing their first race ever.

BUT I’ve been warned that the rubber surface of the stadium and the lack of any shade makes it a brutally hot place to be standing for any significant amount of time, especially for anyone that just ran 5 miles under the sun.

So let’s not extend the suffering. Cross the finish line, collect your medal if you finished the 8k, retrieve your gear bag if you checked one in, and get your food and beverage. Food is distributed at the back of the stadium on both sides. There are beer stands at all four corners of the stadium, depending on which beer you want. The rootbeer stand is on the southern concourse – closest to Exchange Street and by the scoreboard.

When you’ve gotten all that out of the way, come find us on the east concourse (the Spicer Street side) so we can toast our achievement and share our stories. Exit the field at the back and to the right. There is food and beer at this corner. I’m also told this area is less crowded than the west side. If you’re a 1-mile runner or walker, you’ll get there first. If you’re sticking around for the Finisher Festival, settle in there and wave in any other blue wristbands you see.

It takes about 7 to 8 minutes to empty the corrals, so the 8:30 a.m. race won’t technically begin for some folks till nearly 8:40 a.m. That means 1 mile runners and walkers should be finishing up around 9 a.m., our fastest runners could be arriving by 9:30 a.m., and the back of the pack will be coming in about 10:10 a.m. Have that third beer and wait for us!

– Paula

Please note: Exchange Street is at the top, so the back of the stadium is at the bottom of this map. Look for the gray boxes marking where we will meet before and after the race.

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fanwilbur02We had a special visitor Saturday: Blue Line Beginner super fan Wilbur! I think I might even have run a little faster around that loop hoping to pass him a second time (which I did!) Here’s today’s guest blog from Wilbur’s mom, Akron Beacon Journal photographer and fellow Blue Line Beginner Karen Schiely:

“I love the signs people make supporting their friends, loved ones and/or complete strangers in running the Akron Marathon. The funnier the better, with a grain of snark mixed in. I spotted these classics at past marathons: “Worst Parade Ever” and “You Are NOT Almost There.” I don’t know about you all, but I will definitely need a chuckle as I’m enduring my aches and pains on race day.

We’ve been missing that spectator participation on our Saturday runs so I thought I’d enlist my basset hound Wilbur to be our cheering section last Saturday at Copley Community Park. Adorned in his blue-lined t-shirt with matching wrist bands, he wagged his tail encouragingly as you all made your way past him in that wicked heat.

So “Go Blue Line Beginners!” Have fun on Saturday and as Wilbur says, “Run Like Cats!”

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And here are some spectator pictures from past marathons taken by myself and fellow Akron Beacon Journal photographers Michael Chritton, Ed Suba Jr., and Mike Cardew.

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See you Saturday!

– Karen

After walking and running 5 miles recently, our “long” workout yesterday was a mere 3 miles. We were thankful for that, given the heat and humidity, but we didn’t cut back out of some sense of discomfort. We have entered a part of the racing process that is known as “tapering.”

For moderate distances like the 8k, tapering takes about a week. Full marathon runners can take up to 3 weeks to fully taper in preparation for their race. The science behind it is that you need to reduce your workouts to give your body a chance to heal and prepare for the big race.

Picture your body as a fuel cell that has been heavily taxed by months of high mileage and intense workouts. This week, you’re going to recharge your battery.

This does not mean sitting on the couch, or reducing the intensity of your workout. But it does mean shaving some miles off.

The 8k Training Plan many of us have been using trims us down to 20 minute runs/walks twice this week, with one day of cross training, prior to Saturday’s 8k. That’s about 1.5 miles for most of us.

So this week might look like this: Monday rest. Tuesday, 1.5 miles. Wednesday, cross training. Thursday, 1.5 miles. Friday, rest. Saturday 5 miles.

From everything I’ve read on the topic – and there have been a lot of studies on the benefits of tapering – where you are in your training today is not going to change by Saturday, so overtraining offers you no gain and quite likely will set you back.

But again, don’t reduce your pace. As put by an article in Runner’s World: “The scientific evidence clearly indicates that the key to effective tapering is to substantially cut back your mileage, but to maintain training intensity. Reducing overall mileage has the greatest impact on lessening accumulated fatigue.”

Interestingly, the biggest risk of tapering appears to be mental. For those who were putting in 3-, 4- or 5-mile runs during their workouts, it can feel like slacking off. If you’ve experiened that “runner’s high” that comes from finishing a good workout early in the morning and letting that feeling of satisfaction carry you through the day, a 1.5-mile run might not feel like much of an accomplishment. You might also worry that you’re losing momentum or some of the fitness that you have been steadily building the past 12 weeks.

That’s all just one more mind-game that we need to control. Instead of feeling like your slacking off, take pride that you’ve stuck with your training to the point where you are required to cut back for this brief window. After all, next week many of us will start ramping up again on the way to August’s 10k.

Right now, trust in all the investment you’ve put in your body since April, and be confident that it’s finally going to pay dividends on Saturday.

– Paula

This will make you chuckle. To see what a mental drag tapering is on experienced runners, just check out some of these Google images: https://www.google.com/search?q=runner+tapering&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjg8IqRmMbUAhWB6yYKHT5RB9sQ_AUICigB&biw=1600&bih=765

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Housekeeping: This morning’s run is again at Copley Community Park, 3232 Copley Road in Copley. We’ll meet in the second parking lot. We’ll start at 9 a.m., and we’ll take a vote on whether to move to 8 a.m. on future Saturdays. This will be the last group run before our June 24 race. We will be headed to Barberton and the Towpath Trail after that. Stay tuned for details.

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A racing bib is the ultimate multitasker. It records your speed, serves you food, pours you beer, looks after your belongings, and calls your loved ones in an emergency. Okay it might need a little help, but those things aren’t happening without it.

So let’s take a closer look.

On the back of your bib is your emergency contact information. You provided this name and phone number when you registered for the race, but look and make sure it’s still the best choice. If you have a friend or family member on site as a spectator, for instance, that might be a better choice and one you didn’t anticipate when you signed up. Go ahead and make any change to this information on the back of your bib. Make sure you print clearly.

Also on the back of your bib is a chip that uniquely identifies you to the race timing system. Your personal time doesn’t begin until you cross the starting line mat that trips the chip. Likewise, when you pass a similar mat at the finish line, it will record how long you took to complete the course.  Don’t cut or bend your bib in a way that will damage this disposable chip.

On the bottom front of your bib are perforated tickets for food and drink. After the race, strip them off. Turn the food ticket in for a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich and a banana. If you are registered for the 8k, there will be three beer tickets; underage runners can use them for rootbeer. If you are registered for the 1 mile, there is one rootbeer ticket. Additional drink tickets can be purchased at Gate 2 for cash only; a photo ID is required to purchase additional beer tickets.

To the left of your bib is another perforated tag that says Gear Check, along with your bib number. If you do not plan on using a gear check bag, you can discard this. Otherwise,  this tag will be tied to the clear plastic bag you picked up on packet day. You cannot check any other bag. You must use the gear check bag provided at packet pickup.

Here are the types of things some runners bring and check in so they are available immediately after the race: A dry shirt so you’re more comfortable hanging out at the Finisher Festival. A towel. A fresh hat. Sunglasses. Flip flops. A comb. An energy bar or additional food items. Layers worn for a cool or rainy morning but not wanted during the run.

These are things you do NOT want to put in the gear check bag: Your cellphone. Money or valuables. Car keys. Anything breakable.

Gear check is at Section 112 on the concourse inside Infocision Stadium. That’s the west side of the stadium (the same side as the starting line outside.) Look for the tall “Gear Check” flags and check in your bag after you arrive on race day.

All items left at the event will be taken to the Information Booth inside Gate 2 at the stadium. If you notice you’re missing something while you are still at the stadium, go there. If you don’t know until after you’ve left, call the Akron Marathon office at (330) 434-2786. Items will be held for two weeks after race day. Then they are donated to a local charity.

– Paula

 

What are you going to be doing exactly one week from today?

You’ll be picking up your official race day packet, that’s what!

Here’s everything you need to know:

Drive to InfoCision Stadium between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday, June 23. Enter at Gate 1 at the corner of Exchange and Union streets (375 E. Exchange St. on your GPS). That’s where we met the day of our trial run. Park in the same parking lot where we parked that day, with the entrance across the street from Taco Bell.

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Once you get inside, you’ll need to make two stops.

The first stop will be to pick up a packet that includes your race bib. The envelope will include safety pins that you will use to attach it to the front of your shirt on race day. To get that packet, you will need to give them your bib number. This will be sent to you in an email from the Akron Marathon before you go, so watch for it. BUT if you don’t have it when you get there, there will be a board with all participant names and bib numbers. You can look yourself up. Once you know your bib number, you will go to the table that matches the range that your bib number is in.

If you cannot pick up your own packet, you may send a friend or family member who will be asked to verify your contact info. Also, no dogs are allowed inside the stadium so don’t bring them along for this errand.

At the bib packet table you can also ask for a gear check bag if you want one. This is a clear plastic bag that allows you to check in things you don’t want to carry on your run, and then retrieve when you return from the race.

After your bib packet is in hand, you’ll go to a second area where they are passing out the tech shirts and, for the 8k participants, the commemorative pint glass. You chose a shirt size when you registered. That size will be noted on your bib packet, and you will show that to collect your shirt.

Take the tech shirt and pint glass home and leave them there for race day. While lots of people will no doubt be wearing their shirts on race day, that’s a mistake. Akron Marathon Race Director Brian Polen said it’s not wise to wear anything that you haven’t worn during training – from your socks to your underwear! It’s not a good day to be experimenting with anything.

And you won’t need that drinking glass: Your beer or rootbeer on race day will come in disposable cups.

After you get your bib packet and goodies, take a look around. The finish line should be all decked out and the Akron Marathon lead vehicle will be on site. Take some pictures, walk around and shake off those pre-race jitters. Outside Gate 1, right where we lined up for our trial run, you’ll see the pace signs where we will be lining up on race day. Find the sign that matches your pace. Walkers, you’ll be lining up at the very back.

If you absolutely can’t get to Infocision Stadium on Friday, you can get your packet between 7 and 8 a.m. on race day. The staff asks that you do this as a last resort because they usually have their hands full with the out-of-town runners.

Now, about that bib. There’s a lot of stuff going on there. Come back tomorrow and I’ll break it down. I’ll also tell you why you might want to use that gear check bag, and what you don’t want to put in there.

– Paula

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I don’t know about you, but I am NOT a fan of running in the heat. That four mile non-stop run I was so proud of 10 days ago seems a distant memory. My last two outings covered 3 miles, and I had to walk part of it. I’m not an early riser so starting at 9 a.m. has been putting me in the 70s temp range. I still can’t get over how a lovely 75 degrees can start to feel like a brutal 90 just half a mile into a run.

So I’m watching for rain in the forecast and vowing to make the most of any droplets that come my way. If I’m lucky enough for it to be showering when I get home from work, dinner will wait.

Here are my four favorite tips for running in the heat, from Runner’s World. The first one is brilliant:

* If you have access to a swimming pool, do your routine in the water. “Substitute one weekly outdoor walk or run with a pool-running session of the same duration. If you’re new to pool running, use a flotation device and simply move your legs as if you were running on land, with a slightly exaggerated forward lean and vigorous arm pump.”

* Don’t fret about your pace. “Every 5°F rise in temperature above 60°F can slow your pace by as much as 20 to 30 seconds per mile. So don’t fight it—just slow down.”

* Save the breeze for your return trip. “If possible, start your run going with the wind and then run back with a headwind. Running into the wind has a cooling effect, and you’ll need that in the second half of a run.”

* Get off the streets and sidewalks. “Seek grass and shade: It’s always hotter in cities than in surrounding areas because asphalt and concrete retain heat. If you must run in an urban or even a suburban area, look for shade—any park will do.”

There are more tips here: http://www.runnersworld.com/run-nonstop/running-in-the-heat . The site also disusses how to prevent heat related illnesses like heat cramps and heat exhaustion.

I bought a headband that is also a visor. Even mesh hats seem hot to me, so this cool creation lets all the heat escape the top of my head while keeping my face in the shade. (Truth be told, I also like it because if I look toward the ground, passersby won’t be tempted to try and stop me when they see the cherry red my face naturally turns with any exertion!)

Hopefully you’ve all invested in tech shirts and running socks by now – garments that use wicking fabrics to pull moisture away from your skin and keep you cooler and dryer than cotton. If you haven’t, put it on your agenda for this weekend. You’re going to want to break them in before our big race June 24. A big rule among runners: Don’t wear anything on race day that you haven’t worn while training. We don’t need any surprises that we can avoid.

– Paula

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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

If you want to reduce the number of steps it takes to cover that 8k on June 24, you’ll want to employ a simple strategy that we don’t do during training. You just need to remember that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

We don’t worry about that when we’re on public trails, sidewalks and streets. We follow the rules of polite society and stay to the right to leave plenty of room for pedestrians, bikes, cars, dog walkers and others to pass by on the left.

But on race day, the road is closed and all the foot traffic is one way. As long as you stay on the course, you can utilize any and all of it.

So instead of hugging the right, look ahead and draw an imaginary line through the center of the course laid out in front of you. Then make a beeline through it. There are times this will put you on the left side of the course. Every time you round a curve, redraw your line.

This is called “running the tangents.” Truth be told, you need to run the tangents if you want to only do 5 miles because that’s the route officials use to measure the course.

Here’s a picture that shows what running the tangents looks like:

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One tip: Don’t wait to cross a street to adjust. As soon as you round the curve, redraw your line. Many times, your adjustment is going to be done while crossing an intersection.

I don’t run the tangents on training days, even if it’s obvious no one is in my way. There’s no point. Every step is part of the workout. But on race day, my only goal will be to finish the race as quickly as possible.

Not having run a race with thousands of other people, I don’t know how easy it is to run the tangents. If your pace is keeping you in the company of experienced runners and walkers, it may be that the whole mob easily adjusts at each curve. Or maybe you’ll find yourself trapped on a bad trajectory because you’re surrounded by swinging elbows.

If you are in the back of the pack with inexperienced runners and walkers, or on a pace that isolates you from everyone else, plotting the shortest route will be entirely left to you.

There may be some moments when it makes sense to forget the tangents. I might be tempted to swap the extra steps for a nice stretch of shade or a better running surface. But some articles I read said running the tangents can amount to a half mile difference for a full marathon runner. If that’s true, then it’s not unreasonable to think it could amount to nearly a 10th of a mile on a 5 mile course. I’ll take it!

– Paula