Monday, February 17, 2014

IMS Arizona Relay Marathon

Yesterday was the IMS Arizona Relay Marathon, and I was one of four people on the "House Headz" team.  The marathon started out in Buckeye and traveled through Avondale and Glendale, finishing at Westgate.  

There were four "legs" to the race:
1st runner: 7.1 miles (Jeff)
2nd runner: 6.1 miles (Abby)
3rd runner: 8.3 miles (Laura)
4th runner: 4.7 miles (Christi)
Total mileage: 26.2 miles

The thought was for us to all cross the finish line together at the end, so I planned to run the final stretch in addition to my six mile leg.  I figured that waiting until meeting up at mile 25 would be too long of a rest period in between, so I might as well just run the last one. No big deal.

But of course, as luck would have it, my work and school schedule made prepping for this race a challenge. I was able to get to the grocery store and prep a bunch of food, but I ended up working really late on Saturday night (about 1 am) which meant I did not get to eat said food, and I only ended up with about 4 hours of sleep before the race! 

I do not recommend this.

Saturday night, I also realized I was starting to get sick, and was feeling a bit run down.  This was not helping me feel better about Sunday.  When I got up at 5:40, I was feeling pretty tired but quickly ate and drank some coconut water to try and revive myself.  For the most part, it worked.  (Or maybe it was the adrenaline, who knows).  We rushed around like crazy to find the spot where we were supposed to meet Jeff, so he could pass the timing chip to me and I could continue on.  The race wasn't clearly marked and was a bit unorganized.  The chaos at least gave us a good laugh.  It was a bit chilly but otherwise a gorgeous morning.    

Up bright and early for the race! We were leisurely taking pictures until we realized we were in the wrong spot and needed to dash to the correct one!

My leg of the race was actually really beautiful. The sun was up, but it was still cool, and I ran through the golf course community in Avondale.  It was really quiet and serene and actually really pretty.  I got cheered on by a lot of retirees in golf carts passing by.  Physically, I did pretty well.  It was my fastest 6.1 miles and the longest I have ever run by myself.  I finished in 1:00:49, average pace of 9:58 per mile.  I felt really good with this considering all the underlying factors. I was also pleased with my self-pacing, since I have never run that distance solo and am used to having someone next to me to talk to and gauge my speed.  Mentally, it was a bit of a challenge, but nothing I couldn't push past.  For one, that portion of the race wasn't very crowded, so I literally was running alone in some parts.  I was also running with marathoners who were used to the distance and were all passing me.  I didn't pass anyone at any point, which was a little tough on the psyche.  (PF Changs I passed a LOT of people in the course, which makes a difference).  I had to remind myself it wasn't about them and to just run, and my six miles went relatively fast.  When I hit the 3 mile mark, I was actually surprised at how fast it had seemed, so I knew then that the 6 miles wouldn't be a problem.  I was still pretty happy when I hit mile 13 and saw Laura waiting about a half a mile a way, ready to take the timing chip from me. :)

Feeling good, I decided that I would continue with the original plan to run the final leg with Christi.  I ate a banana and some pecans and tried to keep my legs moving for the hour break.  I don't think it mattered though, because the minute I started running the final leg, I regretted it.  My legs had cooled too much and I was too tired to begin with, and every single step of the 4.7 miles was heavy and exhausting.  This got in my head a bit.  Christi had the timing chip so I was trying to keep on her pace, since it was her portion.  I decided if she stopped, slowed down, or went faster, I would do the same.  I couldn't stop, because I was in the middle of nowhere and had no way to get to the finish line.  But I was also worried I was holding her back.  I didn't have to worry about that, because we kept a pretty speedy pace at the beginning (9:20) and finished in 43:50, an average 10:06 pace. I couldn't have run faster if I tried! Laura didn't end up running the last leg with us because the 8 mile portion was unexpectedly hilly and brutal.  She found us during mile 26 and we crossed the finish line together.  Her timing was impeccable; she met us right after we climbed a huge, daunting hill that kicked out ass.  We were out of steam but finding her meant it was almost over!  When I finished, I literally almost started crying, that's how hard that leg was for me.  I think it would have been easier to just run straight through for the 10.8 miles, instead of having the break in between. I'm not sure I would want to do that again without specifically training for it.

In the end, our team finished in 10th place out of 30, Total time: 4:07:52! Hell yes! Considering we weren't training as a team and weren't even competitive about it (although we got competitive around the end), and considering all the various factors for the day that had been a challenge, I think we did really awesome! 
I couldn't get the full sheet in the picture

The relay was a bit hectic, but was a really fun experience that I would do again in a heart beat.  I decided that I need to get all races for the year on the calendar ASAP so I can get my time off for work.  I cannot continue working the night before a race; it's just way too hard. Not to mention, I'm on my feet for 8 hours the night I should be resting them.  Physically, I can push through, but it makes for a tougher recovery.  I'm feeling pretty beat today.

We were missing our 4th at the finish so we should probably Photoshop him in.

This was a huge test for me...I feel proud of what I accomplished.  The night before, I was feeling a little distraught about the thought of getting up in four hours to run over 10 miles.  Jay's words: "Your stronger than that."  I kept remembering those words while I was running and it helped.  I am stronger than that.  But in the end, regardless of the misery at the finish, I am thankful for the experience.  I needed this to push myself both physically and mentally.  Things are not always easy and there is always going to be a voice in my head that will scream at me to stop and curl up and eat a brownie.  I needed this to prove that I was capable and am glad that I didn't bow out at the last minute.  I would have been sad to have been missing in the picture above.  

It was a great way to spend a beautiful morning in Arizona. :)

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