Monday, February 20, 2012

Winter Marathon Relay race report.

For the third year in a row, I ran the HMRRC Winter Marathon Relay with my friends Amanda and Suzy. For the first time, the weather was actually decent. Last year, we froze. The year before, we froze and endured wind gusts of 40 mph. This year, we enjoyed a sunny day with the temperature in the high 30s.

It was a great race! There is something special about a relay -- you're not out there alone, you're part of a team. And when you've run with the same team for 3 years, the race becomes even more special. It is definitely a race I look forward to every year.

So, the race. Amanda ran the first leg (about 9.7 miles), Suzy ran the second (5.5 miles) and I ran the third (11 miles). Amanda wanted to run her leg between a 10:30 and 11:30 pace, and Suzy was shooting for a 10 minute pace. I'm happy to say they both nailed it! This meant that I was able to start right around when I expected to, about 12:45-ish. Of course, I'm paranoid about missing the hand-off, so I was out waiting for Suzy a good 20 minutes early. (Just like she was out waiting for Amanda 20 minutes early! Birds of a feather. . . )

Now, before I tell you about how I did in the race, let me go off on a tangent and tell you about an awesome runner I know: Elisa. This woman rocks. She showed up at the relay not to run with a team (her teammates from last year couldn't run yesterday) but to run with Amanda and keep her company during her leg. Can you imagine giving up your Sunday morning to do that for someone? Well, it gets better, because earlier in the week, Elisa took a half day off from work to run with our friend, Janis, so Janis would not have to run her scheduled 16-miler alone.

Elisa rocks! She pretty much defines the word generous. Anyway, here she is with Amanda, just before the start of the race:

And, while I'm sharing photos (thanks, Suzy!) here are the two relay teams of Strong Running Mamas:

Amanda, Melissa, Karen, Tami, me, Suzy
OK, so how was my portion of the race, you may ask? Well, in keeping with the theme of the day, it was great! I wasn't sure exactly what pace I'd be able to hold for the 11 miles. I was, after all, going to start around 12:45pm, just a little later than I started the Hangover Half Marathon on January 1st, and that race was a tough one for me. I couldn't quite get the eating part right and I ended up with a major cramp, finishing the race at an 8:50 per mile pace.

I told Amanda and Suzy I was hoping to run between 8:10 and 8:20 miles (which, based on my marathon goal time, is my steady-state run pace). Ideally, I wanted to finish in 90 minutes.

So, when Suzy finished up her leg I headed out. I was running by myself but saw a pair of runners not too far ahead of me. I wanted to catch them so I could run somewhat near them for my leg, rather than run alone. By the end of the first mile, I caught them. Around the same time, two guys -- UAlbany students -- who had started shortly after I did, caught me. They were running faster than I was and I foolishly picked up my pace and ran with them. What happened to "Run Your Own Race," Happy Runner? Who knows! It wasn't with me for those two miles when I let my pace be dictated by two guys -- guys! -- about 20 -- 20! -- years younger than me.

What was I thinking?

Dunno. But, after 2 miles in 7:44 and 7:52, I snapped out of it and settled in to run my own race for the next 8 miles.

It worked. I found my rhythm, kept my pace in the low 8s, and felt wonderful. Yes, I had some of the regular race discomfort but I never felt like I needed to stop. I never felt like I was pushing too hard. I never felt bedraggled.

Instead, I felt like the race sorta sped by and, had I needed to run a few more miles, I could have easily done so while holding my pace.

What a good feeling.

I crossed the line in just under 90 minutes -- GOAL MET! Our team completed the marathon relay in 4:11:06, which was almost exactly what we had predicted. Go, team!

Unfortunately, we were one of the last teams (53 out of 57), which meant that there was no soup (there is always yummy soup after the races during the winter series) and slim refreshment pickings. No matter, I had a delicious salmon dinner ahead at my parents' house. I didn't need the soup!

Overall, another fun relay!

Here I am pre-race, laughing after Amanda accidentally sprayed me with her sports drink. 

My mile splits:

Mile 1: 8:12
Mile 2: 7:44
Mile 3: 7:52
Mile 4: 8:00
Mile 5: 8:13
Mile 6: 8:12
Mile 7: 8:12
Mile 8: 8:04
Mile 9: 8:28
Mile 10: 8:06
Mile 11: 8:11
Extra on the Garmin: 23 seconds

Finish time: 1:29:40 ~ 8:10 pace according the official distance; 8:06 pace according to the Garmin. I'll go with the official, but I have to admit I liked seeing that 8:06 :-)

My recovery run today was a nice-and-easy 4-miler at a 9:30-ish pace. My legs felt a wee bit tired on the hills, but there was really nothing to complain about. All is good.

And now, back to marathon training! Hope you all had a nice weekend -- and have a good week ahead! Thanks for reading.

~ Felice


Elisa said...

OK, I am completely blushing. I just love being part of the running community. Runners are in fact some of the most generous people I have met, and it is always an honor to give back.
Enough about me.....fantastic job out there. I really had to laugh at the part of you pacing with mere children! (ha!) Moments like that are magical, but snapping back to your own pace must have felt good as well. I am so looking forward to the May marathon. Onward and upward I say.

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

You had some fast splits! Congrats to your whole team!

Michelle @ said...

Graet job!!!! That's just wonderful1!

Suzy said...

ITA, Elisa is absolutely AMAZING!! Congrats to all of us on hitting what we set out to do. You ran well, despite the late and strange starting time.

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