This morning I had the pleasure of running a marathon relay with Ellen, Allie, and Sarah. I haven't done much faster-than-marathon-pace running in a while, and the few attempts to do so since Boston have fallen pretty flat, so I wasn't sure what I could expect of myself. The race was supposed to be run on roads in RTP, and I thought staying sub-7 seemed like a pretty reasonable goal. A last minute course change brought the race to WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, and the loop was now a very hilly one on the cross-country course. Though not excited about the change, there wasn't much I could do about it, so off to Cary we went...
We arrived at the race and there was plenty of parking, check in was a breeze, and there was more than enough room to set up our gear... I do appreciate the easy logistics of running a super small race! After a short briefing, the race was underway. The first lap was supposed to be 0.2 miles shorter than the rest (after which each lap was 1.65) to get an even 26.2, but the race started about 200 meters in front of the finish line, so I would guess it was a little long. Allie took the lead leg because she had to take Z to tea with Miss America (isn't that what everyone does on a Saturday?), and came through in first overall right behind the lead bike. Sarah ran the second leg and kept our lead, and so I was actually the lead runner until the guy on the team that would eventually win passed me about a quarter mile in. I tried to stay with him as he went by, but redlined and pretty quickly realized that was a horrible idea. After a flat/downhill section through a field we came to the trail and hit the steepest of the hills. I passed some runners here already, which shows how fast our first two runners were! After that it's pretty much rolling until coming back into the field, which is a .4 mile incline to the exchange zone. I was definitely not a fan of the long, gradual uphill finish! I managed to (barely) keep it under 7 minute mile pace, but it wasn't particularly fun! Given our big lead over any other women's teams, I ran the next laps more like a tempo run than a race, so that really made it a lot easier and more enjoyable! My pace for the last 3 laps averaged 7:10-7:08-7:02, so not setting any speed records and once again played the role of the team turtle, but it is what it is.
We ended up finishing in 2:58:03 (turns out the mid-race team photo put us over 2:57!), good for 2nd overall and 1st among women's teams. Our prizes: a very fancy medal (not really), frosted beer mug (which the victorious men's team was nice enough to fill with beer for us), and a box of Balance bars. More importantly, of course, I got to spend the morning with my friends, who entertained everyone with a stellar rendition of Living on a Prayer (complete with dance moves).
Now that my calendar is clear of marathons for a while, I am hoping to run more short stuff and incorporate more speed work and tempo miles in hopes of getting faster. I may just not be built for speed, but I am at least willing to give it a shot... time will tell...
Lap 1: 11:22 (6:56)
Lap 2: 11:45 (7:10)
Lap 3: 11:42 (7:08)
Lap 4: 11:36 (7:02)