a blog about running fast with style
Relay confession: on race day, I wasn’t so sure I was actually ready to race. Apparently a month of rest and a few weeks of training doesn’t build one’s confidence in one’s ability to relay. Still I had a great tempo the week before so I figured we’d give this little relay a go.
Last year our team brought home some hardware:
This year the chase was on. Not only were were looking for some hardware but we were looking for the “W” in the mixed open. As a result we opted for the late start time (2:00pm) thinking we’d start with the fastest teams and that we’d race them head to head.
What we failed to realize is that the there was not 1:30pm start so the closest group to our start time was the 1:00pm group and they were long gone by the time we arrived at the start. To make matters worse there were only 5 teams in our start and most of them appeared to be all men’s teams though one high school team looked as though it might be mixed. On a side note there was a 6th team but for some reason they made their own start time of 1:30ish… which makes no sense since the race isn’t chip timed. So 30 minute head start?
Back to the race.
We started promptly at 2:00. 3 of the teams ran guys on their first leg, we ran one of our girls and the high school team ran a girl who completely crushed the field. She cruised into the exchange way ahead of all the guys including the men’s team that won the race. Pretty sweet.
Our team fell behind the pack pretty quickly but it wasn’t because we weren’t running fast but rather our coed team was racing men’s teams. Additionally we realized the 1:00PM start might have been better option. Not because we were last, but because the rest of teams started in half an hour blocks and we would have had a chance at catching some of the earlier teams with a 30 minute window but an hour was too much to get back on our first legs.
If I was a good blogger I’d have pics of my teammates but I think we’ve established I am by no means a good blogger.
But here’s the line up:
Leg 1: Elizabeth
Leg 2: Stephanie
Leg 3: Zach
Leg 4: Mason
Leg 5: Dave
Leg 6: Me
Our team mustered up all our cheering and running strength and fight through our first legs while the course officials closed exchange zones, volunteers waited to go home and the porta potty guy started pumping out potties. One volunteer even stopped us once we were in the van to tell us what an inspiration we were running so hard in dead last. Um wow…
We were also running in the heat of the day but we rallied and ran and shut down the course.
I took the baton from Dave at about 6:30. We’d steadily gained ground on the field but it was clear I wasn’t going to see anyone on my run.
(Thanks Elizabeth for the pic!)
My leg (leg 6) was 6.5 miles.
You’ll note leg 6 has quite a few twists and turns and while Ragnar does a nice job marking the course I’m a bit directionally challenged (at best). So I wrote my directions on my arm with a sharpie:
And leg 6 started off just the way every relayer would like their first leg to start, uphill. Okay maybe not ideal. My leg climbed for about a mile and half uphill and there was a rather long stoplight that you couldn’t run (not that really ever encourage running stop lights). I almost missed the turn at mile two because I thought it was a another block down (based on my Garmin) but luckily my team was there yelling for me and hooked me up with some electrolytes. At this point was feeling okay. I was still breathing a bit harder than I’d prefer but figured it was the hill.
I rallied for another small hill and small downhill and then started to feel bad… like chills bad. Oops. I’d been averaging 7:00s on the up hill and 6:30s on the downhill. I figured I’d push through a mile around 6:45 and see how I felt. By mile 5 I was still hurting worse than one should on a leg one. I backed off for a half mile, let my body recover and rallied for the finish. On my home stretch into the exchange the Ragnar car that shadows the last runner passed me.
Not gonna like, that one hurt a little bit.
I saw the school, got yelled at by a volunteer for misunderstanding his directions and somehow managed to find my team.
The were hard to miss because we were the only team at the exchange.
I was pretty much exhausted and overheated by the end of this leg. I shuffled my way through a short cool down and we made our way to food were I continued to sweat through our entire meal. Sorry team (about the excessive sweating that is).
I averaged 6:45s and while I was happy with the time I was hoping to run a little faster.
Refueled and hydrated our team made our way to our next exchange.
My next run wasn’t going to be until about 1:00-2:00 in the morning so we tried to get some sleep, though I’m fairly certain I did not sleep.
(View from my bench seat- I know I take awesome pics)
My second leg (leg 18) really only had one turn (the one after 2 wasn’t really a turn) and it was nice and flat:
I was really excited for this leg since my second leg last year was my favorite. Something about running in the countryside in the middle of the night. I know, I’m weird. I was also excited because it had cooled off and everyone was running really well.
I took the baton from Dave again and was ready to run. I decided to not look at my watch and just run how I felt and I felt like I was flying. Unfortunately when I did look at my watch it disagreed with me. To make matters worse my new headlamp wasn’t tight enough and it kept slipping. I tried to take it off and run with it in my hand then I tried to tighten it and then I just ended up adjusting it every 100m.
At least I’m not focusing on my splits.
I ran hard and it felt good and I decided to just forget Garmin and compete. Besides I love the night legs and I wanted to enjoy he experience. What’s nice about the night legs is that you’ll be running in complete darkness and then you’ll see it, faint at first but brighter as you draw near: little flashing red lights or parts of a reflective vest. Which means people and a little racing. Hi competitive much? So I worked my way up the line and to the exchange happy to see Ken who btw at this point I had yet to officially meet but happy to see just the same.
I again shuffle ran for a few minutes and felt beat. My splits were pretty even and the same as my first leg (right around 6:46). And I was again disappointed. Not with the time as much as I felt like I’d put forth a lot more effort. Something was just feeling off and I couldn’t place my finger on it.
Oh well. Keep running right?
We all hopped back into the van and to the next exchange where I think I slept the most I’ve ever slept on a relay (maybe 2 whole hours).
We were up early ready for van 2 and our last set of legs. By this point most of us had run the bulk of our miles and were pretty excited to finish up (except for runner 4 Mason who still had about half of his left to run… and a rather hilly half I might add).
It was also about this time that we realized we’d caught the high school team from our start. Around leg 2 we realized we were just minutes apart. Hmmm, smells like a race.
And race we did. Back and forth through leg 5. When I took the baton we’d taken the lead. I only had to hold off their runner for 2.4 miles. Their runner btw runs for a college (not in the northwest) that shall remain nameless and was on his fifth, yep fifth leg of the relay. So he’s speedy and I didn’t want him to pass me.
Dave and I exchanged one last time around 9:00am and I was off for 2.4 (leg 30).
I took off fast (or what felt like fast). I knew I had a quick climb, a half mile slightly downhill a half mile climb uphill and then a one mile downhill to the finish. I can do this.
The first half mile ended up being sort of awkward because they routed us up a spiral cross walk bridge (I’m sure there’s some other official name for them) and then back down and across a road. My timing was perfect on the road and I made the light.
I worked my way along the trail trying to pass people but honestly it was hard and my legs were spent. I caught a guy who decided to go with me so I had to fight that much more to drop him. And drop him I did and then I hit the hill. Okay so I’m guessing the hill might have actually dropped him. The hill really was nothing to look at but my legs felt every step. I pushed knowing I was almost to the mile to go sign and then could cruise into the finish.
I hit the mile to go and ran. I swear I heard the college guy on my heals but never saw him. (In his defense I think my team gave me a 4 minute lead on him and 2.4 miles isn’t long to make that up… well and it was his 5th leg).
I kicked with everything I had, passed the baton to van 2 and was d-o-n-e done! Surprisingly the last half mile or so my legs finally woke up. I averaged 6:34s and was okay with it. I know I’m like every runner that just wants to run faster but for me these legs just felt harder than they should have… something just felt off.
After my hand off we quickly (very quickly since our leg 7 runner was speedy) chatted with van 2 and informed them of our epic battle with the high school team and wished them well and told them we’d see them at the finish.
We ate and then we waited and waited and waited and then finished! Ahead of the high school team. Hmm… does wanting to beat the high school team make us bad people? Serious props to their team they were down a runner and still finished 4th overall and only a few minutes behind us. Those are some speedy kids! I mean what was I doing at that age? I could barely running 3 miles…
To the best of our calculations we thought we got the W but it would be several days before Ragnar posted results (though through some interwebs snooping we found the results).
3rd overall! And yes the W in the mixed open! Boom.
I love me a relay.
We had a great van and great team and I’m already counting down the days until next year’s race.
But first I better focus on the one I’m running next week.
run pretty run fast and always remember to relay