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.