How to piss people off at mile 17

Okay, not intentionally. But I have to admit I felt like kind of a jackass today.

Because, well…I picked up the relay baton at mile 16.5. And then proceeded to bounce along the race course on my relatively fresh legs, passing tons of poor people who had been running for two-plus hours at that point. Most of whom looked like they’d rather be chewing glass than climbing the notorious hills that plague this most difficult stretch of the City of Oaks Marathon course.

“GREAT JOB YOU’RE THE SIXTH WOMAN!” people yelled. And I cringed. “WOW YOU’RE LOOKING SO STRONG!” they screamed. That’s because I’ve only been running for four miles, I yearned to disclaim. Even though I had a giant “RELAY” bib pinned to my singlet, I felt like a big fat fraud.

However: it was so fun.

Until this morning, I had never participated in a marathon relay. And honestly, I was sort of skeptical of the whole idea. Because I’ve been the marathoner in that situation: a merge with another race/course, usually late on in the game…and right when you’re at your absolute stabbiest, you must contend with hoardes of 5K walkers or whatever who have been doing their thing for like 30 minutes and they’re pumping their arms and chatting and having a grand old time and you kind of just want to kill them.

(I sincerely hope that no one wanted to kill me today. I tried to just do my thing and not be obnoxious.)

But after that slightly disastrous ATT 10 Miler a couple of weeks ago, I needed a confidence boost, and even though I may have pissed some people off – I got that today.

9.4 miles. Elevation change: 2,100 feet. Time: 1:12.

(A little off, as I was already swaddled in a space blanket and halfway through my bottle of water when I remembered that my Garmin was still running. I think my split was probably right around 1:12.)

Yeah…not the 8-minute marathon pace I’d planned. But I’d also planned that my legs would feel like crap after Saturday’s 18-miler. And they didn’t.

Around mile 7, I emerged from the course’s most intimidating climb – a nearly 3-mile stretch that slowed me to a walk more than once when I ran it on training runs this summer. I decided that I felt good. And I could see this other relay chick up ahead and decided to catch her and pass her.

And that’s how I ended up cruising (surprisingly comfortably?) at a sub-7 minute pace for the last two miles of this thing. That felt good. Maybe all of this training and higher mileage is actually doing something for me.

Of course, I wasn’t the only one who had a standout performance today. The entire team absolutely rocked it. I’d estimated we would finish in 3:30. We busted out a collective 3:17.

(Three of four – we’re missing Pat, our lead-off leg, who had to skedaddle but ran his 6+ miles at 6:20 pace and put the rest of us in a great position! On the left is Lindsey, leg 2, who claims that her 5K pace is 8 minutes but cruised through her 4-mile leg in 31 minutes – and just a week after running a marathon. In the middle is me, always and forever the midget in group pictures. And on the right is leg 3, Jack, who predicted he’d run 8:35 pace and kicked that square in the ass by averaging 8-minute pace on a horribly hilly stretch of the course. Which also resulted in a near awkward situation because I was, ahem, out in the woods watering a tree when he came up road approaching the hand-off point..thankfully, someone yelled at me to get my shorts on and get over to the exchange zone.)

Anyway. I’m still not sure how I feel about marathon relays in general, but I think in this situation, it was okay. City of Oaks is a small race (capped at 1,000 marathoners and 100 relay teams, with an additional 2,000 half-marathoners for the first 13) and I think at some point, from the marathoner’s perspective, on balance it’s helpful just to have some more people out there in the later miles, even if they’re obnoxiously fresh-legged relay people – like me.

And at the risk of being all sunshine and rainbows here…I feel pretty awesome about my CIM training this week.

That, right there, is most definitely a weekly mileage record for me. Holy hell! With two high-quality workouts in there, too. And I’m knocking on the fake wood of my Ikea computer desk when I say that my legs actually feel pretty great right now.

And to all of the marathon runners that I cruised by at mile 17-26 today, let me say this: you’re braver than me.

I can’t imagine taking on a course like this, with hellish hills from mile 10 until 23, for a full marathon. Nope…I’m a huge wuss who is totally fleeing the hills and getting on a plane to California to run flat when I take on 26.2 in December.

Yep, City of Oaks is a really tough course. And I’m sorry if I was obnoxiously bouncy and happy at mile 23. But…don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Because, damn…it was fun to run fast and feel good. :)

Miles until 2,011 in 2011: 290. Weeks until CIM taper time: one. NaNoWriMo Word Count: 4,390 / 50,000.

31 responses to “How to piss people off at mile 17

  1. Nice job on beasting out 70 miles this week!

    So…can you give us a slight briefing on the plot of your NaNoWriMo efforts? I’m curious!

    • I might post an excerpt sometime soon, if you all would be interested in that. The plot is still kind of a work in progress… :)

      • Definitely interested! I know how I am about showing my writing prematurely though, so no hard feelings if you’re the same way. :)

  2. That actually sort of happened to me at the half marathon I ran a couple weeks ago. The 3:20 marathon group merged in behind us right as we passed through a water stop, and everyone was like, “Way to go 3:20 marathon group.” Uh yeah… definitely not me!

  3. I think the relay looks like a lot of fun. I saw them doing it for the marathon/half weekend in St. Louis earlier this year and said that would probably be the only way I’d run a marathon (if I’m being completely honest).

  4. I feel this way at triathlon relays too. Of course I can bust out a fast 10K after not swimming and biking before hand. I did a 1/2 marathon as part of a 16 mile long run once too. I ran most of it much slower than I’d race, and then kicked it at the end passing everyone and getting lots of cheers. Fraud, indeed!

  5. You did that after an 18 miler? You’re nuts. And more motivated than I am.

    • The 18-miler was done very slowly. But yeah…I was actually surprised that my legs didn’t feel junky at all on Sunday morning.

  6. I found your blog through the Nest! I ran a marathon relay in May and I completely understand how you felt. I was also the last leg and it was really annoying to hear people say over and over again, “you look great!” Race organizers need to figure out a way to make those relay bibs stand out even more. Perhaps blazing orange bibs would help!

  7. Hey! I just found your blog for the first time this morning through some of my blog’s readers! I can’t believe I haven’t seen it since I’ve been blogging for 3 years now! I’m a runner and blogger in NC too.

    I ran the half yesterday. Great post, I think it is awesome you were up for being bouncy ~ Mile 17! I’ve seen Lindsey at some of the RRO runs with Big Boss but haven’t ever met you or her before. Congrats to your team!

  8. Awesome job this week! The whole relay thing is so intriguing to me…I totally want to do one someday. How’s your little guy doing, by the way?

    • He seems to be back to normal! It’s really scary how quickly the blockages can come on, though. I’m still watching him very closely.

  9. Relays seem like fun but I think I’d be the last girl picked for the team! Unless you got time “handicapped” so that having a slowpoke was a competitive advantage.

    • At the relay I did up in New Jersey last summer, they did exactly that: all of the teams were seeded and handicapped according to their (self-reported) 5K times and then the first team to cross the finish line was the winner.

      Of course, there was a whole lotta sandbagging going on. :) But in theory it should have worked!

  10. hey-oooo! great job! running some faster miles at the end of Biggest Week Ever will be an awesome marathon training boost! and since CIM has a relay, you get to be all stabby towards fast relay runners there (there weren’t many of them compared to the marathoners, so it actually didn’t annoy me very much)…

    • It certainly is a psychological boost!

      I wish you were doing CIM this year too – or that I could make it out there for the Carlsbad thingymabobber!

  11. DAY-um, if I ever run 18 miles followed by 16 miles in a 48-hour period, I will feel like I have ARRIVED! What a week!

  12. Good job girl! Bask in the sunshine and rainbows, it so rarely happens that many things go right :)
    And embrace your teeny tiny stature. I’m like 5’9 and permanently hunched over from trying not to be mistaken for a building.

    • Haha. The thing is, I don’t actually feel short until I see myself in pics like that. And then I’m like…WTF, when did everyone else grow? I’d love to be 5’9″!

  13. Bravo!! You are most definitely ready for a big marathon PR in California.

  14. Sounds like a blast…even if you were a fraud! 😉
    I’d love to give a long distance relay a shot and eventually try one of those crazy long two day relay races…eventually!

  15. A mileage PR!? That’s gotta feel good. You just might be setting yourself up for a pretty slick marathon in a few weeks…

    When do we get to read some of your novel?

  16. Congratulations are in order for being so dedicated! Best non-jinxy wishes for an awesome marathon time at CIM! Can’t wait for vodka o-clock, though we’ll be sure to keep things mostly under control. No sense in doing anything to screw with all your training! Hope Parker’s out of the woods.

  17. What? No beer review? I thought for sure you would have celebrated that slamin’ performance with a brewskie.

    • Of course I did! I have a few beer reviews I need to catch up on actually. Been slacking on the writing, but not the consuming. :)

  18. Shelb – that is an AWESOME mileage week. I think my most ever, back in my NYC days, was 68 miles. I didn’t have a Garmin, though, so that was old school estimation mileage. I’d just recommend being super careful now leading up to your marathon. I know you’ve added miles slowly and wisely, but still- that’s a lot of mileage, and when I ran that many, I felt awesome….then got injured. Good luck at Cal International! Have fun.

  19. Hi! Awesome work in the relay! I ran in the Old Reliable, my first 10k! Trying to make it up to a 1/2 for next year. I found your blog on the Athlete’s Foot site, my favorite place to buy shoes in Raleigh, love the beer reviews!!

    • Congrats on your 10K and good luck with your new blog/return to running! We have a casual group run every Tuesday night at the store, if you’re ever looking for people to run with. Say hi next time you come in for shoes! :)