|We are Runners and We are Runners Too|
|We are Runners - Pre Race|
Soon enough we were ready to go and Brian led us off. It was indeed a stacked wave as he later related that he ran the first mile at a sub 6:00 pace and was near the back of the pack. He held his own just fine though and reeled in some of those who went out too fast. The rest of us loaded into the van to meet him at the second check point. There wasn't a whole lot of down time after arrival at the exchange point and before long our second runner and team captain, Jaime, was taking over. Then we all piled in the van again to do it all over again.
My first leg was leg 4 and I took over from Jack who ran a smoking first effort. The leg was a straight shot south down the Raccoon River Valley Trail for 4.8 miles. The best part of that was that there was a sweet 20 mph tailwind shoving me along. It wouldn't be so sweet in later stages, but I was able to relax, let the wind do half the work, and save the legs a little. As I started the leg I could see one guy far up ahead in a black shirt and I made it my first goal to catch him.
Taking part in my first relay race I was quickly introduced to some new lingo. Overtaking another runner in the race was referred to as a "kill" and the goal was to rack up as many of those as you could. Starting in the final wave of the day and fielding a fast team we were set up to score quite a few kills. We marked each one the team accumulated in chalk on the window of the van until we ran out of window space. Or maybe we just lost count. Either way there was a lot
So I kept black shirt in my sights and slowly reeled him. And I do mean slowly. After the first couple miles ticked by it seemed I hadn't even closed half of the original gap. Either he gassed the next two miles or I picked up the pace, but I eventually caught him shortly after the 4 mile mark. The remainder of the leg I managed to pick off a few more people.
Pace: 6:27 min/mi
After that it was back in the van to recover a bit while the other runners on the team continued to kick butt. Ryan and Liz had stellar first legs and soon enough we were preparing to start the second cycle of stages. Everyone was running hard and having so much fun it was just a great group to be a part of. By the time stage 10 rolled around I felt like I could at least run again, having fueled and recovered a bit, and was ready to do my part for the team.
The route was now heading east so that super sweet tailwind was no more. Now it was a pain in the butt crosswind that tried to blow you off the trail if you weren't paying attention. There was a decent tree line along the trail, but every now and again there would be a break in it and you'd feel the wind full bore. So the second leg was much more of a struggle than the first, but we had caught back up to the meat of the teams running so the kills were plentiful.
After the first couple miles I was feeling pretty spent. I decided to just put my head down and run and not look at my garmin to see where my pace had fallen off to. Apparently this strategy worked somewhat. I just kept trying to catch the next person ahead of me and didn't glance at the watch until there was about a half mile left to go. That made it seem like only a half mile and bringing it in didn't seem quite so bad, and looking at my total pace for the leg it really wasn't as bad as I thought it was.
Pace: 6:30 min/mi
More recovery time in the van while my teammates had a go at it. Again, they were all running great in that nasty crosswind, and the team was slowly ticking off their final legs of the day. As the late stages of the race unfolded we were certain we were locked in a close battle for 3rd place in our division. By the time my final leg came up we were still behind by a bit.
Luckily for me my last leg was also my shortest, a mere 2.8 miles. I kept telling myself that it would be a piece of cake. That wasn't even a 5k! I took the exchange from Jack, who came running in dueling with top hat guy, and I promptly took out top hat guy's teammate on a downhill section that made it feel like I was flying. Less than a 5k, no reason to hold back now.
Apparently the legs didn't get the memo that I wanted to run fast because they were complaining big time. I did the best I could to keep the turnover going. The stage wound through water works park and it was easily the my most scenic leg of the day. It took my mind off my unresponsive legs a bit at least. With a half mile to go I started to ratchet up the pace until I was doing my best attempt at a sprint to finish things off.
|The Final Handoff|
We happily joined him for the final short group run through the finish line. It turned into more of a haphazard free for all as no one could match each other's pace, but we eventually all crossed the line for a hard earned finish.
|Final Stats: 10/205 OA, 3/66 Open Div.|
The second team finished not too long after ours in a very respectable 25th place, and we all met up for a post race celebration after such a productive day. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and feel truly grateful to have met and run with such a great group of people. Running for the the most part is a very individual sport. You can go to races with friends, but you're the one racing the clock (or the field). For this race you have to rely on your teammates and it is the sum of their superb efforts that produce the final result. The best part about this team was that while we were competitive, there was a constant positive vibe and sense of fun from all of the members. That's what made the day. The time and placing on the final scorecard was just an added bonus.
|We are Runners - Post Race|