Thursday, October 2, 2014

Spectator Report: Akron Marathon Weekend, The Expo

About eight months ago, I got an email from a group of #runchat friends- some of whom I hadn't even met yet- about participating in the Akron Marathon Relay on September 27th. There would be five of us and we'd each take a leg of the race. I would start the race, then hand off to Steff who would hand off to Jeff who would hand off to Lauren who would hand off to Chelsea who would finish the race.

We trained all summer for speed. We kept each other updated on our progress. We all participated in races during Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend and bonded like crazy. We counted down the days until we'd be reunited in Akron.

Jeff, Steff, Matthew, Chelsea, Lauren, and me after the Pittsburgh Half/Full Marathon.

Then I got diagnosed with a stress fracture nine days before the race. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. 

But, the race would go on. Steff agreed to pick up my leg and last Friday, we all started making our way out to Akron, OH. 

In addition to our team, we had some other guests make the trip. Matthew ran the half, our friend Nathan ran the half, and Lauren's husband Mark came along to cheer for everyone. 

Matthew and I started our five hour trek to Ohio at o'dark thirty (aka 5:00 am) because we wanted to meet Joan Benoit Samuelson at the expo at 10 am. If you don't know who this bad ass is, just click here. Anyway, so as soon as we crossed into Ohio, we stopped at a rest stop. As we were getting back into the car, I heard someone call my name. I don't know anyone in Ohio so imagine my surprise as I turned around and saw Jeff aka Coach Frog, parked RIGHT FREAKING NEXT TO US! Insane!




After exchanging quick hellos, we got back in the car to get to Akron by 10 am. Once there, we were quickly parked and meeting with Joan Benoit Samuelson. She gave me kudos for listening to the doctor and not running on a broken foot- she wasn't sure if she would have followed his advice :-) She also told Matthew to have a great race, signed a picture for us, and took a few photos. Pretty cool.



After that, we waited for the expo to open at 11 am. Akron did something that I thought was brilliant- in the big room just before the expo, they had all the bib numbers listed for each person along with little sticky notes that said "My bib number is ______." This way, everyone would have their bib number before waiting in line for packet pick-up. Genius!

When the expo opened, we were one of the first 100 people there. Packet pick-up was a breeze. We easily picked up Matthew's half marathon bib and my whole teams' bibs, shirts, Team Panera shirts, and... VIP BADGES!!! I feel like a real blogger now!



Then we headed to the social media booth to finally meet Andrew- Akron's social media guy- who'd we'd been emailing for months. He was absolutely great in person and so helpful and enthusiastic. Then we checked out the vendors. I loved how organized Akron's expo was- lots of vendors, lots of space, and you picked up race shirts at the very end of the expo- cutting down on massive lines usually found at packet pick-up.

Andrew!





After a great lunch with Jeff and Nathan, we headed to our hotel to rest up. Another great thing about Akron- our hotel, start line, finish line, and expo were all within about a mile. Easy to walk and easy to get to- it made the whole weekend so much nicer and less stressful.

Matthew napped at the hotel while I met up with Lauren and Steff to give them their packets. Then they headed off to a late afternoon volunteer shift while Matthew, Jeff, Nathan and I checked out the finish line area. I may have scooted down the blue line just for fun.



Matthew and Jeff standing in the STILL OPEN ROAD to grab a picture at the start line. 

Lauren and Mark joined us for dinner that night which was a whole lot of laughs and maybe a few tears. My team bought me a whole bunch of princess stuff to decorate my scooter and myself for the race the next day. It was so unbelievably touching. They truly are the greatest people I've ever known and I can't ever repay my gratitude for the wonderful things they did for me.

ANOTHER PRINCESS CROWN!!!! 

One for me, one for the scooter.

Me, Captain Chelsea, and Steff. The best friends a girl could ask for :-)

After dinner, we all made our way back to the hotel- we all stayed at the Akron City Center Hotel. We made a plan to meet in the lobby at 6:15 the next morning to walk to the start. Matthew and I laid our clothes out, I dressed up the scooter, and we were sound asleep by 10:30. Marathon morning was just around the corner :-)


Chelsea, Matthew, Jeff, Steff, and Nathan

Ready.

6 comments:

  1. Glad to hear you had a good time despite the circumstances. Cute scooter! -L

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    1. Thanks! I'm trying to think of it as a fun accessory!

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  2. You have to be the most positive injured person out there. Keep your chin up and your attitude positive, and you'll be back at it before you know it!

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    1. Thanks, Kathryn! I am really trying to be positive because the alternative is not as fun!

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  3. You have the most thoughtful friends to buy you stuff to decorate your scooter. Your outfit and scooter are both adorable!

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    1. Thank you! They really are the best!

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