Yesterday I took part in my first ever relay and my first ever 25(ish)k. I say ish because my leg ran long, but we will get to that later. The race ended up being awesome for both my partner and me because we both competed exactly like we wanted to and came in as the 2nd place co-Ed relay team. So here is my summary of how it went.
Friday was spend watching the weather and hydrating and carbing up. It snowed here on Friday and I was worried about the snow freezing and turning to ice and messing with the footing on the path.
After work I stopped in to pick up my packet and headed home to carb up. Once again I had my standard spaghetti and ground beef pasta and toast. So simple but it works great for me and it doesn't mess with my stomach. I relaxed and stretched out my legs while watching Netflix. I also had to study the hourly forecast to try to plan my outfit, knowing that it could be sunny, rainy, and snowy during my leg. I then headed to bed somewhat early.
Saturday morning, I waited a while to eat my breakfast until 7:30. knowing that my leg wouldn't start till 11. I had my standard toast, banana, coffee, water, and Nuun. My relay partner showed up at 8:15 and we headed over to the start, which was only 10 minutes from my house (awesome right?). I waited with him at the start before his leg and dropped my bag. They took off at 9 and I had 2 hours to kill. Luckily the race started where my run club starts so my running partner and club showed up right after the start and I talked with them for a little and strategized with my running partner. We decided that although it was a training run, it would be okay to treat it more like a race and hold something in the 8:15-8:20 range. I said goodbye to them around 9:15 and drove through the park to the relay exchange, yelling at my partner as I drove by him.
I got to the exchange around 9:30 and began my long wait until my leg. I hate waiting for races to start. I get really bad anxiety while waiting for races to start and having to kill an hour and a half alone in my car was torture. I blasted my music and scrolled through Instagram to kill time.
I headed to the porta-potty (lol) around 10:40 and made conversation with some other runners in line. We discussed our terribly hilly portion of the route and I met a couple people who knew my relay partner and who I was going to lunch with after. I also met a woman whose husband was running the race and she wished me luck.
Around 10:50 I decided to head over to the exchange and get my watch, music, and shoes set to go. I bent over to tighten my shoes and heard "Heather, Jim's here!!!" My partner was in early and I wasn't ready to go yet. I quickly laced up my shoe, threw in my headphones, started my watch without the satellites ready, and took off.
I made it my goal to hold the first 4 miles under eight minute miles. Around mile four I caught up to two guys were ahead of me and running the full 50k. One was pacing the other and the pacer had won this race the year prior. The pacer gave me advice on strategy, warning me about the hills and how he doesn't know anyone who runs the hills. He told me to bank energy to handle the hills and that I needed to be ready to take off again after the hills if I wanted to hold my lead. My friend (the woman from the bathroom) drove by and cheered for me. I ran with the two guys, sharing stories until mile 19 for them, which was 5.1 for me. They stopped at the water stop and I ran through. They stayed about 3 tenths of a mile behind me at all times and I held about 7:50 avg through mile 8.
At 8 I took my gel and noticed that the hills were starting. I kicked myself a little for my standard "I don't like to see the course map" because I wish I would have slowed a little sooner before the hills. Right before I got to monster hill #1, I had to pull over because my gel decided to come back up. The two guys passed me after checking to see if I was okay. I took off after them and started up the hill. About half way I called it and walked because I saw the two guys do that. When we got to the top, I kicked it back up. I settled back in at an 8:30 for a while, and we headed back down hill. I was thrilled to get through that hill till I saw the next one. I headed back up it, running about halfway again until my legs were screaming, and I walked, again, following the guys ahead of me. After that hill we headed back down and it was about mile 12 and only little rolling hills left. I ran out of Nuun at this point and I couldn't find any aid stations after the first one I saw. I was a little worried but luckily it wasn't too hot and I had one more gel to get me through it. The picture below doesn't do the beast of a hill justice.
Knowing it was only four miles left of mostly downhill I kicked off again, wanting to bank some fast miles. I worked in an 8:40, then 8:30, and 8:15. After 13.1 I really started wanting water and getting mad that I never saw an aid station. I told myself it was a simple 5k left and I would get through it. During mile 14 I met Allison, a woman I had been running down for a while. As I passed her I told her she was awesome because I had watched her run every single hill and she didn't even look tired. She and I went back and forth from 14.5 to 15. At 15 I saw that it was all down hill and I bolted. I kicked it up to 7 mins/mile and soon I was running 6:40. I couldn't believe I had that much left in the tank at the end. At 15.7 I passed the pacer who was watching and waiting for me. He cheering at me as I sprinted passed telling me how strong I was for powering through and yelling not to stop. My watch dinged at 16 and I saw no sign of the finish line. I knew it would be closer to 16.1, but when I got there I saw no sign of a finish. I worried I made a wrong turn or something, but I kept going. My legs started hurting because my mind was panicking about where the finish was. At 16.4 I saw the arrow and made my turn. I kicked it up and passed the race officials and saw my relay partner waving at the finish. I kicked it around the last bend and crossed the line with my relay partner at 16.6 miles. 4:15 for the both of us. Allison crossed a couple minutes behind us.
I grabbed some water and Tailwind and chatted with Allison and her partner. I also chatted with my pacer friend and found out that his wife was the woman from the bathroom who cheered for me every time she drove past! Soon after, they started the awards. We found out we were second place co-Ed relay team and Allison and her partner took 3rd. I managed to hold about an 8:20 for my leg of the relay which makes me very happy with all of those hills. I'm glad I took a risk and treated this as something more like a race, because the results make me confident in where I am at so far. With almost 2 months left until race day, I'm thrilled. I would definitely recommend this race in the future, and the only issue I had was that the aid stations late in the course were located off the course, which is why I never saw them. All in all, it was a great time.