Monday, March 15, 2010

Ragnar Relay race report, part 2

Continued from Part 1.
After I handed off the baton to our next runner, we leap frogged the rest of our runners into the early evening. We had a blast cheering on our runners, ringing the cowbell, and chatting with our teammates and other runners. Our last runner finished just as the sun went down, and handed off the baton to the first runner in van #1, and we drove to the next major exchange (#18), stopping for some dinner along the way. At the exchange area, we tried to get some sleep. Cramped in an SUV with 5 others didn't make for very comfortable sleeping arrangements, though. I think I slept about 30 minutes before it was time to get up and meet van #1.
Somewhere around 1:00 am, our van's first runner got the baton, and took off for his 7-ish miles along the quiet highway. We met him three times along the course to give him water and encouragement (and cowbell). During one of our stops, we saw a police car, with lights flashing, fly by us. We then headed to the next exchange where I was to get ready for my 8.8 mile run. When we arrived, the volunteers said the parking lot was full. I jumped out, downed a gel and some water, and they directed the driver to pull back out on the highway and park on the shoulder. When I thought our first runner was getting close, I pulled off my jacket and pants, and headed to the start line. As I was waiting, they told us that there was a serious accident down the road, and the road was blocked, and that they weren't letting anyone go yet. So, we waited and waited. Our runner arrived to pass off the baton, and we waited some more. And then some more. Then, they finally told us that, due to the accident, everyone was to go directly to exchange 24, skipping legs 20-24 all together. Needless to say, we were all disappointed, but our thoughts were with the runner, or the volunteer, or the individual with no association with the race whatsoever (the rumors were flying, and nobody really knew what was going on).
At exchange 24 (where van #1 would have been scheduled to run), we were told that they would be starting everybody from that exchange, but there was a lot of confusion as to what was to be done with the rest of the legs. It turns out that we could pretty much do whatever we wanted. We contacted van #1, and found out that our captain was sick and not able to run again, her husband was hurting, and everybody else was indifferent on whether they ran their final leg or not. So, we decided that van #2 would run the 6 legs van #1 would have run (legs 25-30), and three of us would join three of van #1 for the final six legs of the race.
Coming out of exchange 24, I ran the first leg of 8.5 miles, all of which was uphill. Prior to starting, the accident was really getting to me. It put a real damper on everything. None of this mattered. Somebody was hit by a car, badly injured, or dead for all we knew. But once I started running, I began to feel invigorated, grateful to have the opportunity to run, grateful to be alive. As I ran, the sun was just starting to rise. A new day was beginning, and the world was brightening. I was filled with energy, and hardly noticed the hill. I began passing person after person, encouraging them as I passed. And my teammates were there for me, cheering me on. I reached the end of that 8.5 mile long hill with all smiles in an hour and 2 minutes, wishing I had said I'd run that last 8 mile run instead of the 3.3 miles in the last stretch to the finish.

Click here for Part 3.

Celebrating 31 years with a week of 5ks and a virtual race

So, I turned 31 on Friday. 31 isn't really a milestoney year, but I wanted to do something different, something I have never done before. Sounds a little daring, doesn't it? I got to thinking, 31, 3.1. That's kinda cool. Why not make all my runs this week 3.1 miles? Why not run 3.1 miles every day? Why not go for "negative splits," and make each 5k faster than the previous day? What a way to celebrate, eh? I haven't run everyday since high school cross country, so I didn't know how I would hold up, and afterall, I'm not a teenager any more (even though I could probably pass for one).

Monday. 3.1 #1. 25:12
I started out the week pretty easy with a 5k before track practice (I'm coaching at the high school this year). Pretty slow, but considering I still had 4 more to run, I thought I was in a pretty good position to reach that negative split goal.

Tuesday. 3.1 #2. 24:29
I thought I was going to get rained on, but it was just starting to clear up when I headed out. I'm not really used to early morning runs anymore since I've been running mostly in the afternoon before track practice. And I forgot how dark it is.

Wednesday. 3.1 #3. 22:11
I didn't start out very fast. Maybe these consecutive days were starting to get to me. After about a mile though, I got in a groove, and just went. And it felt great!

Thursday. 3.1 #4. 21:15
This one felt pretty quick, but I was feeling pretty week towards the end. I started feeling nervous about the big day coming up. I'd have to really crank it out. I kept telling myself that a goal that is easily attainable is not much of a goal. That helped me stay motivated to keep going strong.

Friday. 3.1 #5. 20:52
This was by far the hardest 5k I've done this week. It was the coldest morning run of the week (a mere 47 degrees), I was tired, I had just run a reasonably quick 5k 14 hours prior, then spent about an hour running hurdles with the high school kids in the evening. But, afterall, a goal isn't much of a goal if it's easily attainable. So, I pushed through all that and managed perfect "negative splits" for the week. Happy birthday to me. :-)

Saturday. 6.66 miles. 50:46
So, Razz at Running off at the Mind put together this little "I hate winter" virtual race. I thought I'd give it ago, even though I love winter. I mean, come on. I live in Phoenix. Winter is the best time of year. The weather can't get much more perfect. 60 degree temps, sunshine. I feel sorta bad participating in this race because I haven't had to deal with the seemingly never-ending winter much of the rest of the country has had to face. But, I love races, so I couldn't pass it up.

I ran with a couple friends on a favorite course. There are some trails and some good-sized hills. We took it pretty easy most of the way, and enjoyed the course and our conversation. After a couple miles, one friend started to drop behind. He waved us on, and the other friend and I picked up the pace going up the hill. We got back to our cars at exactly 6 miles, and my buddy ended his run, and I kept going for another .33 miles, then turned around and finished with an even 6.66 (it was actually 6.68, but what's 2/100ths of a mile?). 50:46 was the final time. Oh, and 67 degrees was the temperature. And no cloud in the sky. Not to mention a lovely breeze. Sorry, but I love Arizona winters.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ragnar Relay race report, part 1

It's not too late for a race report is it? It's only been a week and a half! I think it's taken me this long to catch up on the sleep I missed out on during the race.

Before I get started, though, I want to express my condolences to the Mayasich family, whose son, Robby, an 18 year old Phoenix kid, was hit by a car while passing water to one of his teammates about half way through the race. He was air lifted to the hospital, but died a few days later. I don't know all the details, but it is really a sad story.

I had never done a relay race before, so I was really looking forward to this adventure with a bunch of friends. I was excited to be running over 20 miles in about 36 hours. The plan was to run our first leg, get dinner, nap, run our second leg, go to our team captain's parent's house to sleep, then run our last leg and finish as a team.

Everything started out as planned. I was in van #2, so we went straight to the first major exchange and waited for van #1 to arrive. As the last runner from van #1 passed by us (almost without us seeing him), we cheered him on and jumped in the van to cheer on our first runner. I was telling Lani later that it was like running three races while having our own little cheering section. The van would leap frog the runner throughout the course and everyone would cheer them on as they ran.

So, we cheered on our #1 and made our way to the next exchange where I got ready for my first run of the day. My first leg was a 5.5 mile route that started out slightly downhill, but had a couple pretty tough and long hills. I really wasn't intimidated by the hills, and thought they wouldn't really be anything to worry about. I started out pretty fast, and when I passed an older gentleman, he made a comment about the hills coming up. He was probably thinking something like "This kid is gonna die on those hills." To be honest, I had actually forgotten about the hills, and it got me thinking that maybe I was starting out too fast, but I didn't want to slow down. I had been waiting to run all day (this was 1:30 in the afternoon), the adrenaline was pumping, and I was feeling great, so I just kept charging ahead. The hills definitely humbled me, though. The were much tougher than I anticipated, but that man's comment helped push me up those hills. I just focused on moving forward, and like in any other race, focusing on the person in front of me. I finished my leg in 40:44 with and average pace of 7:19. I was totally expecting my pace to be well over 8 minutes. It certainly felt like it! After handing off the baton/snap bracelet, I stretched a little, and we hurried to cheer on out next runner.

Click here for Part 2.