This past weekend I ran in my first ever Marathon Relay. I ran the second leg which was 7.1 miles long. My relay team included my husband's brother-in-law, cousin, and my husband's cousin's husband. All three of my teammates run much more quickly than I can. I was very intimidated to run with them but all three encouraged me and told me that we are running for fun. After running alongside my cousin and her husband for a training run, I felt better because they totally meant that I could run at any pace and they would support me.
We ran in a large running festival and it was so much fun. I trained hard and ran as much as possible following a training plan. The night before the running festival I kissed my kids and husband goodbye as I planned to stay with my cousin-in-law and husband. I had to be on my bus for my leg of the relay by 7:30am. As the running festival was more than an hour from my home, I thought it best to be as close as possible and to carpool to the race. My teammates and I carbed up the night before and went over race details. Who would drive, how at each leg we would hold a bag of things needed for the runner finishing his/her leg so they could be comfortable as he/she waited for the rest of us to finish, what time we would get to the race, ideas of what to wear because it was going to COLD!
After dinner I headed back with K. and A. to their house. We pinned our bibs to our shirts, talked again about race day clothing and what to bring in our backpacks, breakfast ideas, and my own nervous conversation about race day. I also got to look at family photos, got to know the cousins better, and enjoyed my time with them. They were excellent hosts. I called Hubby to say goodnight and finally fell asleep around 10pm. I slept fitfully thinking that I overslept. I woke up at 2am, 4am, and finally at 5:30am, 15 minutes earlier than I planned to get up. I dressed, finished packing, ate a banana (the only food I thought I could keep down), and peed 3 times. Seriously. I suffer from anxious bladder. Ugh! Hubby sent me an encouraging text early in the morning and I signed him up for tex alerts so he would know how were doing for each leg. He sent me another awesome text after my leg and videos of the kids wishing me luck. AWESOME!
E. came to pick us up by 6:30am and off we went. Race traffic was crazy crowded, but with a little quick thinking avoiding a scammer who would give us a deal on parking (only $10 to park!) we found FREE parking not 100 yards beyond the scammer. It was crazy cold outside and I wish I had thought to bring a pair of pants to put on over my racing capris while I waited. We took a pre-race picture and I headed to my bus. I was 15 minutes early and looked for jiffy john, but none was found. I was assured by my seat mate that there would be one at our leg of the race. That would have been fine if we left on time, but the bus left 15 minutes later than scheduled and we took a long circuitous route avoiding the marathon route. By the time we stopped I begged to be let off the bus and ran to get in line for the jiffy john. My bladder was bursting and I made a mental note to always look for a jiffy john before a race and go when needed.
My seat mate was awesome and we chatted during long wait/bladder-burstin ride. She even caught up to me on our leg and wished me luck before she sped up and left me in the dust. I was impressed how the running festival was so well organized considering there were more than 30,000 participants. They hosted a marathon, half marathon, marathon relay, 5K, and Kids fun run. WOW!
My brother-in-law came in around the time predicted. Thank goodness he was wearing a bright orange wicking tee and I was able to find him easily. We quickly exchanged our stuff, I gave him his bag and my sweatshirt to hold and he gave me the timing chip and with freezing toes off I went. I did take a detour at the jiffy johns one more time to go and Hubby noticed that my runkeeper looked like I was running a 33:13 minute mile. Yeah, that's because I stopped. But after I kept around an 11:15/mile pace. About a full minute per mile faster than I ran a 5K last month. I thought my device was wrong, but after hearing consistently that I was running under a 12minute mile, I finally believed it.
The overall running was awesome. However, I was a little disheartened for the first 4 miles because I couldn't find anyone with whom I could keep pace. I thought I'd find someone and then they would leave me in the dust. It happened repeatedly and I kept seeing people pass me and I was passing no one. I was afraid to look back in case I was near the back of the pack. But I was running with marathoners and relay runners so chances were that I was at the way back, but still it was disheartening. One piece of advice I received before the race was to check out the marathoners during my leg of the race and to notice how they were feeling. My friend also encouraged me to soak in the atmosphere. Soak it in I did. I loved giving high-fives to the kids lined on the sidewalks who wanted to slap the hands of the runners. I loved the signs along the way. My favorite was "Smile if your running commando." I chuckled and smiled although I was not commando. A girl with a pink shirt ran past me with "I'm not last" written on the back of her t-shirt. I was able to talk to a marathoner for the two minutes he ran with me until he also left me in the dust. The other runners were pretty cool, the crowds awesome, and gave me the itch to want to run another race with a longer distance. My play list was also pretty good. I'm so glad I made a new playlist without children's songs ("Banana Phone" anyone? Or "Shake a toe") or Christmas songs. Much, much better ;) A lot of my songs had the words: run, fragility, stronger, runaway. Each of them I was able to apply to my run to make me run faster and harder.
By mile 4 I was noticing more and more shirts that people wore saying who they were running for...whether it was a cancer victim/survivor, someone who had died, someone who was battling some illness. As I ran, I thought about why I was running. I run for Boogie, Buggy, Mr. Bananas, my husband, and most importantly, me. While I run for them, I also run for myself. It makes me a better mama to do something that is solely for me and my health. The great benefits are tenfold as I have more patience throughout my day. I have more endurance and I am an example of how to live a healthier lifestyle for my children. Running has become a part of me. I recently read a book where the author wrote that if you cannot solve your problems on your long runs or several long miles, then maybe you won't be able to solve it. It reminds me of this verse: Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 2 Corinthians 4:17. I carry that with me when I run. Running is my time. Whether it is an hour or two hours, it's my time with my thoughts, my prayers, my burdens, my celebrations. Then I leave the negativity behind and carry the positivity with me for the rest of the day. Here is a link to an article that I read today about women runners. I totally agree with Freedom Green.
By mile 6+ my legs were feeling it. My breathing was fine, my mental state was fine. I was well hydrated, but my legs were giving it out. I ran a little slower the last two miles, still staying well under 12 minutes/mile.This verse is a good one when you feel like you can't keep going: But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31.
I was able to find a couple of gals that I used as my target pacers and tried to pass them or keep up with them. I also realized that by my 4th-5th mile, I was starting to pass people and others were walking. I kept running, afraid to stop. If I stopped I was afraid I wouldn't be able to start up again. So I kept running. My goal was to hit under 11 minutes/mile, but alas I couldn't do it on my last mile, but was able to do it for miles 2 & 3! Holla!
As I approached the end of my leg, my cousin-in-law ran into the street and again we exchanged the timing chip and away she went. I spent the next two hours bonding with my brother-in-law in the runner's village while we snacked on after-race food and beers. My cousin-in-law was able to get back from her leg and watch her husband cross the finish line at the end of his leg. I missed it because I was yet again in the jiffy john. Seriously. Ugh! I used to have a bladder of steel, but after three kids it's totally shot.
I have been on a runner's high for the last 3 days. My legs were severely aching for two days after the race, but feeling much better today. I think I'll start training tomorrow for next month's 5K. My goal is a race a month until I am finally rid of the last 8 pounds of baby weight! Yes, I know, I lost it all in February and gained 15 pounds back February to August. I'm back to losing it again and hope to keep it lost!
Oh, and yes, I ran in my new Vibram 5 Fingers and they held up well and it was an awesome run. Though I do recommend wearing toe socks for these chilly days. So glad I bought them before the race.
So whatever you do for you, do it wholeheartedly for you without the guilt. Whether it is running, sneaking away for a mani/pedi, enjoying a good meal with a friend. Do it. It will make you a happier person and renew your stores as you help/work with/work for the important people in your life.
p.s. I don't have any pictures as my phone was close to dying after my run. If I get any from my teammates, I'll post them!
p.p.s. I ran a 5 mile race about 2 1/2 years ago and finished at 56:25. This year, I finished my 7 miles in 1:21:02.