We did it! Our team finished off a long day of racing without dying. This was my first long distance relay race and I’m happy to say that it went over pretty well.
The days leading up to the race I was getting a bit nervous. My run times were slacking due to my missed week and bronchitis recovery and I was seriously worried that I would not make it through at least one of my runs (after all, I had committed to this race while still hacking up a lung).
Post-marathon (in January), I haven’t booked nearly as many miles. This came in part due to the craptastic weather combined with back to back sicknesses that took me out of commission for weeks at a time. In the 3 months post-marathon, I missed a cumulative of 3 weeks of running and hadn’t put in a run over 4.5 miles since.
This race was my get back to it race. With 3 legs featuring steady and rolling hills I was ready for a wake up call.
My First leg wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected and the flat portions of the run provided me enough recovery to climb the slight hills. The nice drop off at the end also allowed for a strong finish and left me feeling determined for my next legs.
Leg#5: 3.88 miles, 42:47, 11:01 pace (was actually 10:55-10:57, but didn’t stop my clock on time)
My next leg wasn’t as thrilling. The thought of rolling hills seemed fairly appealing, but the climbs were back in my face just as quickly as my drops and my HR never dropped below 176 bpm. For me that is way higher than I am comfortable holding for long distances. I usually prefer to stay in the 165 bpm range to avoid burnout. Despite my struggle, I was able to end strong with relief that my longest run was over with.
Leg#12: 5.19 miles, 58:55, 11:21 pace
Then came my last leg. The leg that I thought would be my little slice of heaven….yeah, it wasn’t. This piece was by far the hardest. I was already starting to feel tight from my prior runs and being crammed in a car all day and a steady climb was the last thing I wanted to see.
This leg actually didn’t bother me in the first mile. Mile one was flat and easy. It wasn’t until mile two that my legs started burning. I kept seeing the peak of a hill and figured it would level out or go downhill. I was wrong. It just kept climbing and the last half mile was by far the worst! I so badly contemplated stopping and walking.
Leg #19: 2.61 miles, 30:00, 11:29 pace
My legs hurt, my heart rate was through the roof and it felt like every stride was propelling me nowhere. People kept passing me with their words of encouragement and all I wanted to say was “fuck you” (yeah, I’m that kind of runner who gets pissed by the sympathetic compliments). I can’t help it, I get in the zone and don’t necessarily want that pat on the back. For me when I’m already struggling it can feel like a condescending slap in the face. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but it does make me feel like an asshole.
Despite my irate attitude, I finished off as strong as I could and ended my final leg with heart pounding satisfaction.
Our last two runners ran their final legs and our team ended up finishing at 7:42pm, which put us at a 9:47 pace for the day. We crossed the finish together and received our corresponding finishers medals along with a hot bowl of chili and cornbread.
I really enjoyed this adventure and would love to be part of a race like this again. It was definitely a new experience and it taught me that training on hills needs to happen more often. I can see how it will work to my benefit even though I despise them.
Have you ever competed in a long distance relay? What races are you training for?