Race Relay Recap 3/13/16
Darlene signed up for the Celebrate Life Half Marathon. I told her it was too bad, I would have been interested in doing the relay with her. So she found me a relay partner. And then the partner got injured the week of the race! Barbara, Darlene’s friend, whom she’s been running with the past few weeks (I just meet them at the beginning and the end of our runs since I can’t keep up with them) agreed to partner me.
This is a long recap, so the short story is: very hilly half run for a great cause (cancer survivors and those battling cancer), I did well and am very pleased with my run, a well run race which still has room for improvement.
So what is the Celebrate Life Half Marathon? From the website:
Celebrate Life honors, remembers and celebrates those who have fought against cancer.
The race annually raises funds to assist cancer patients in their financial needs donating 100% of the proceeds to patients in treatment. No overhead nor administrative expenses, what we raise we donate. Any donation is appreciated and welcome.
My family is riddled with cancer — some survivors, but the disease has claimed far more family members than it has spared. So it’s a cause near and dear to my heart, and only that would get me up far too early to drive in the dark to catch a bus for a 2 hour ride to a race!
There is a local survivor who organizes a bus that goes to this race each year, which, as I said, is about a 2 hour drive from home. And it’s a 20 minute drive to the bus from home, too — lots of fun considering I’d never been there and with the time change it was pitch dark, which almost had my GPS guiding me over a hill, but I made it.
In addition to Darlene and Barbara, I knew several other people from my USAFit Group on the bus.
The bus was supposed to leave at 6:45 am sharp, but not so much. One person was lost, and we ended up heading out to pick him up, only to return to the start to pick him up there. Which made the woman behind me, who was signed up for the early start, a tad nervous as we didn’t leave until 7 am — I chatted with her a lot, but never got her name; she did PR her race though, so she was a happy camper..
The late runner also happened to sit in front of me, and he also happened to be wearing Brooks, which amused me and caused me to take the photo above. Darlene said I should run fast because we wore the same shoes. I wish! He won the masters division and came in 6th overall.
The drive there was pretty nostalgic, too, as it’s close to the town my grandparents lived in when I was a little girl (later there’s another connection to that town), and we drove through Ellenville, a town I’ve been to many times to visit the ice caves. I hadn’t been in decades; we lost my grandmother shortly before I got married, 3 decades ago.
Packet Pickup was day of the race and pretty darn easy if you were running the half. However, I was running the relay and the bib number lines stopped at about 1050 — but our bib number was 2042???
Turned out the first line was for the relays, too, but it was not marked as such, so that was confusing.
You were supposed to find your own way to the relay exchange, but obviously we needed rides. The woman who organizes the bus and the race director assured us that we’d be able to find a ride and that people had done so in the past.
Basically, we were told to ask in the lobby. Ask WHO?
So we asked when we got the bib. The volunteer said she was too busy handing out bibs and that she’d keep an eye out for the race director. Thanks. NOT. I do understand that they’re busy, that they don’t have a ride service, but they also knew we were looking for a ride, and maybe could have been just a wee bit more helpful.
Somehow my partner found some people and we secured our rides. Sigh of relief!
Suggestion for the future: why not have a line/table with a sign for the relay teams? Even though most are local, the race is run on small country roads, so some ride sharing would really be helpful to all.
My ride, by the way, was Michael Decker (thank you so much Michael!); he happens to live in the town my grandmother lived in, and went to school at the college I run to on a regular basis. Small world! He came in just 8 minutes before me; it was the longest run he had ever done.
The line for the bathroom was long, so we used the bathroom on the bus — despite the fact that there was no light in there, having it available was a real plus.
My Race Plan
I have a space in my journal for race plans, but with it just being a relay and a shorter race, I didn’t even think to write down a plan. Like it just never even crossed my mind. The week leading up to the race had all sorts of crazyness going on and a lot of nights with too little sleep.
I knew the course was hilly. That is, I knew it in the abstract.
I also knew that support was only available for the 2 1/2 hour race limit, and that our bus was supposed to leave a 1 pm, so I knew I had to at least try to push my pace.
My plan was simple: try to keep my pace under 12 mm and take the first mile easy.
So how’d that work for me?
- Mile 1: 12:05. I definitely felt I could have gone faster, despite the loooong hill, but in the end, probably good to start out slow.
- Mile 2: 11:41. Still climbing for most of this mile.
- Mile 3: 11:15. Rolling hills.
- Mile 4: 11:44. About halfway through this mile we started another steep hill. I also took my only gel this mile, and I think it might have been the mile I had to jump almost into a ditch to avoid the ambulance (yes, there was an accident but apparently the person is okay; no, I didn’t see it, thankfully). I was actually very pleased and surprised that I managed to stay below a 12 mm for this one.
- Mile 5: 11:13. Rolling hills.
- Mile 6: 11:24. Rolling hills.
- Mile 7: 12:03. Rolling hills. No real explanation for the slowdown here; just giving in to fatigue, I guess.
- Last bit: 11:14. Seeing that 12 on my watch made me angry. Seeing Barbara’s green capris (thank you for not wearing black!) helped me to give it my all!
The weather & dressing
It was pretty much perfect racing weather: about 50 at the start, partly cloudy, no wind.I chose a tee, capris + compression sleeves, a windbreaker, and the new Brooks Ghost 8.
I still overdressed. I like to have a jacket in case the wind picks up later on, but I didn’t need my windbreaker and it spent the entire race tied around my waist, but it didn’t bother me.
What I Saw/Felt
I lined up with my friend Lisa D (she had an awesome PR on a tough course!) at the start, towards the back, not realizing that it was gun time, not chip time, although my bib didn’t have a chip; Barbara’s did, since she ran the final leg of the relay.
Seriously, as usual, it’s all kind of a blur. It’s a pretty race, going around two lakes, but the scenery isn’t enough to distract you from the relentless hills. Apparently last year it was snowing, and the runners couldn’t even see the lakes, so we were lucky.
The first mile isn’t really all that steep, but it just goes on . . . and on . . . and on . . .
The aid stations were every 2 miles, and despite the fact that it was near perfect racing weather, I found myself to be very thirsty. In fact, I forget to bring a salty snack for after the race and I did have some leg cramps afterwards. Why do I keep forgetting I need salt after long races?
There are free GUs at mile 6 1/2, and I grabbed a few even though I rarely use GUs anymore — I use Huma Gels when I do use Gels; I gave them to Darlene.
I think I say this about every hard run, but man, I was so happy to stop! It didn’t bother me at all that I didn’t go through the finish line. I didn’t take a medal, either. Darlene and Barbara urged me to, but I really only want them from my halfs. I heard later that they ran out, so I was glad I didn’t take one (although I also read that they didn’t).
I kept in mind family members who had battled cancer, my cat Simba, who died from lymphoma, a friend’s sister who is battling cancer. Mostly, though, I wasn’t thinking much at all.
Was the race well run?
Overall the answer is yes, with a few little glitches (like trying to find a drive to/from the relay exchange & no sign for where to pick up the relay bibs). Although there weren’t many turns on the course, they were all well marked. There were volunteers at each mile marker calling out your time.
I would have liked a bit more information for us relay runners. I also missed out on the wine/beer/donut mile, as that was in the second half of the race. I suppose I made up for it by getting some of the pizza at the finish line, which was gone by the time Darlene came in.
In addition, something at the relay exchange — at the very least some water — would have been really nice. I had some snacks in the bag I’d given to Barbara, but I didn’t think to put in water, assuming they would have some.
The race is not closed to traffic (in fact we had cars coming through the start!), they are narrow roads, as I said, and one runner was hit by a truck and airlifted to a hospital (just as a precaution, thankfully she wasn’t seriously injured). All those ambulances and police cars were pretty scary.
The volunteers were enthusiastic, and the water stops were all well stocked, and there was even some of the free GUs left when I came to that water stop. My one complaint — and this seems a theme with races lately — put more water in the damn cups! I was really getting thirsty towards the end of the relay, and it wasn’t a hot day. At one water stop I had to grab 2 cups of water because together it still wasn’t a full cup.
It’s nice swag, too — even some useful stuff! A sweatshirt/jacket which I’ve already worn, despite it being too large. We were warned at the sign up that they were unisex and ran large, so I asked for a small. I like jackets to be a bit large so I can get a sweater on underneath. It’s huge! I should have asked for an xsmall. I’ll still wear it — in fact, I have already walked Lola wearing it, and the RD suggested I wash it in hot water. I’m a little scared to, I’d hate to ruin it; but it really is quite large.
There were also GU chews, a mini clif bar (already consumed!), some purell, a water bottle (I could live without that), and the obligatory Dick’s coupons.
There are free massages before/after the race, but unfortunately I was waiting for Barbara and Darlene to finish, so I wasn’t able to get one. We thought we had a tight window to catch the bus, but it left an hour late (and runners were still coming in).
And did I mention the free photos? Quite a few them too!
Lunch was also included, although this was another area where more information would have been great. You get wristbands for your lunch. There was baked ziti outside, or you could go inside and eat at Outback in the hotel, which had more options. We just got in line for the ziti, and once your wristband is cut off, that’s it — although personally I was fine with the ziti. I also had some of the protein balls I’d brought, a hammer nutrition bar, a small piece of the brownies that were passed around the bus (there were cupcakes on the bus, too, but I’d already eaten as if I’d actually run a half, which I didn’t, so I didn’t partake — they looked really, really good).
Will I run it again next year? Maybe. I definitely would only do it as part of a relay. If I did run it next year, hopefully I’d sign up earlier and be able to raise a little money.
(which is gun time, and actually the time Barbara crossed the timing mat after she gave me my bag at the relay exchange, so I was a little faster)
I’m linking up this race recap with the Weekly Wrap (Weekly Wrap goes live on Sundays at 5 pm) from Holly @ Hohoruns and Tricia @ Misssipppiddlin. I’ll be back tomorrow with my regular weekly wrap so you can see how this week went down.