On the heels of our last successful marathon relay, Big Sur in May, I suggested to my mommy running group that we go for the California International Marathon Relay next, at that time, just 7 months away. As soon as 3 other people said yes, I made it official, registered our team, and we all moved on with our lives.
This was the 3rd marathon relay I have organized and participated in. You would think it would be easy to manage myself plus 3 other people, I mean, it’s no Ragnar, right? A LOT can change in a short period of time and, just as it happened with the the last 2 relays, once we hit a month or so away from this one, the issues starting coming up… one team mate decided to do the Rock n’ Roll half marathon in Las Vegas instead so needed a replacement, and then another team mate wanted to drop as well (I guilted her into staying on though), then there was the whole pre-race-packet-pick-up mania, hotel logistics, pre-race-dinner disagreements, shuttle confusion, on and on…
However, none of this was really a problem and everything got solved- we found a replacement, I picked up the packets for everyone, we finalized hotel arrangements, compromised for dinner, and skipped the shuttle all together bringing us to race day eager, happy, and ready to rock.
I got to Sacramento that Saturday and went straight to the expo- I was worried that it would be packed but, quite the opposite! There were no crowds, it wasn’t the biggest expo I’ve been to but you could still walk through with ease and everyone was smiling and happy and mellow- so very Bay Area! The highlight of the expo for me were these really cool silver and blue balloons all over the place spelling out “Welcome”, “Relay”, “26.2”, “Goody Bags” et cetera, and maybe I was in a mood but the balloons made me happy. Very helpful (in terms of finding everything), very festive, and pretty. I like that. (I know, I’m weird.)
I went where the balloons told me to and picked up our packets and our shirts, checked-in our timing strap, and then picked up our goody bags.
Do you see the stack of shirts in plastic under my arm there? See that color? Beige, khaki, flesh, hummus… whatever you want to call it, it is simply hideous. Bleck. Loved this race but hated the shirt! Green Light Apparel has been providing the shirts for a lot more races lately and while the quality and fit is just perfect this color is so NOT- last year it was lavender. Damn.
After the expo, I met my team mates at Aioli Bodega, a tapas restaurant in downtown Sacramento for some pre-race-stuff-the-face and bonding. If you noticed our team name in the above picture, then you already know we had to have some wine too… well, just a tad… okay, more than I should have but we were having way too much fun chatting the night away!
After dinner, I headed back to the hotel and laid out my gear for the next day and there was a LOT of gear- I caught the following picture on Facebook the day before, and being the leg 1 runner with the 7am start, knew I had to be ready for the December temps…
As I laid my gear out, I noticed something missing. My jog bra. Oh no. I looked through my suitcase again- definitely no bra. Okay, I figured, and just cinched everything as tight as possible on my under-wire bra and borrowed Andrea’s extra-small sized cami tank and that held the ladies in pretty well (the cami tank was up around my chin when I completed the run but the boobs held up, around, and sideways, no problem).
I slept horribly that night. I was anxious, nervous, it was cold, I was on a pull-out sofa bed shorter than me, roomed with Andrea who was running the full marathon so lights out by 9:30pm, I think I got maybe 3 good hours of sleep. Woke up at 5am, got dressed, then proceeded to the hotel lobby for a continental breakfast of scrambled eggs, a plain waffle, and lots of coffee.
Andrea and I left at 6am and got to the starting line together but thanks to all the coffee, I had to leave her to wait in the porta potty line. At 10 minutes until the start… I was looking at this:
When I finally got through the porta potty, the race had already begun so I jogged towards the start and off I went…
Once I started, I noticed that my pace was uncharacteristically fast. Well, fast for me. I started at about 8:45/mile and by mile 2 was clipping along at 8:21/mile. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I kept telling myself, “You never run this fast naturally! It doesn’t seem hard though, feels great, SO KEEP IT UP, LAURA!” I slowed down a bit on the hills but never went slower than 9:00/mile. The hills were very run-able- once I reached the top, it was very easy to continue running, so I did, hammering those downhills hard, going 8:17/mile at my fastest.
I seriously couldn’t believe it. I did not take another picture after that as I was too focused on holding this miracle pace! I just kept looking down at Space Watch in disbelief and telling myself to just keep going… until a woman I was running next to tripped over her own feet, fell, and slid down the street. I felt so bad for her, so I stopped to help her up and once she assured everyone she was okay, I took off again.
I completed my 6 mile leg in 52:50!!!! HOLY MOLY! That is 8:48 minutes/mile pace- I have never achieved that before. Ever. My 10K PR to date is 1:01 so this was not at all expected- everyone really flew that day, and as a team we completed the CIM in 3:56 placing 8th out of 35 all-female relay teams. SO proud of myself, SO proud of my team!
|Place||Team Name||Bib||Ovr Pl||City||State||Gun Time||Pace||Net Time||5.9M||Half||20M|
While this was a VERY successful race for me, this is somewhat of an incomplete recap. The race was in Sacramento, an hour and a half from Oakland, and with my son’s 5th birthday party happening that afternoon, I headed straight home after I ran my leg, missing the finish line festivities completely. From what I hear, my other team mates had some navigational issues getting to the start of their legs but agree that this was a great race. It wasn’t too crowded, the course was point-to-point and perfectly challenging but do-able. It was very cold but the winds had calmed down considerably, keeping it a perfect racing temperature all day.
Each time I complete a relay, I tell myself, “No more relays!”, so will I ever suggest a relay again? Hmmmm… I love relays because of the camaraderie and I like feeling very responsible for my performance- I know I have to run my best and I always push myself much harder because my team mates are depending on me, and ultimately, our final time depends on all of us performing well. I like that kind of pressure. On the other hand, relays can logistically be a nightmare, causing lots of undue stress for the person organizing it. Nevertheless, any issues leading up to a relay seem to fall away once my sneakers hit the road and that medal is around my neck… so yeah, I probably will suggest a relay again… I never learn…