Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quad Cities Marathon Relay 2011

So last year I ran this Marathon and wrote about it here: http://mikemac356.blogspot.com/2010/09/quad-cities-marathon-2010.html . This year however I was asked to be a member of a relay team. Never having been a member of any sort of relay I decided it might be fun. Unfortunately I think I missed out on a lot of the relay experience due to the fact that prior to the race I hurt my left foot and couldn't run for over a month. Also due to my work schedule I couldn't meet any of my relay team members until race day itself. I think it would have been more fun for me if I could have participated in the group training runs leading up to the marathon. That being said it was still a good time.

So on race day I woke up at 0400 and drove the 100 miles to the start line. Much like the previous year my pre race breakfast consisted of a bottled water and some Little Debbie Donuts. I met and was introduced to my team members outside the packet pickup and was given my race goodie bag. Once again the Tshirt was an excellent one. This race gives out the best shirts.

As I was going to run the first leg I went back to my car and got geared up for the race. It was overcast and threatening rain but it hadn't started yet. I hit the porto potties just prior to the 0730 start. I joined the 10,000 or so other runners at the starting line and I tried to worm my way up to the 9:00/min per mile marathon pace group. My plan was to hang with them until my hand off to the second leg at 6.6 miles. Unfortunately I couldn't get any closer to them than a good look at their sign. After the prerequisite words of wisdom from the local dignitaries a large Civil War cannon signaled the start of the race. I was so far back it took me 2 minutes 15 seconds to actually cross the start line.

I immediately started pushing myself in a effort to catch the 9:00 minute pacer. Unlike last year when I started out slow and stayed with my pace group this year I wove in and out of other racers trying to get some clear space to run. I was passing people left and right in the jostling crowd and every time I passed someone with a relay sign on their back I wondered how many more where a head of me. After about 3/4 of a mile we headed up an on ramp to I74 and crossed the Mississippi River as we headed north on the one lane closed to traffic. As the thousands of us ran across the bridge it swayed and bounced with the rhythm of our steps. I was forced to slow down crossing the bridge as we were all jammed into the one lane and their was no room to pass anyone. After we crossed the Mighty Mississippi we took the next off ramp which must have been at about a little over a mile as I had been running about 12 minutes.

From this point on my mission was to find other relay runners and reel them in. I could have jogged as I knew we where never going to win anyway but Action Guys don't jog,not even Former ones. So I continued to push myself. From mile 2-4 there was a huge hill that was certainly there last year but I had totally forgotten about. This hill sucked my will to live as I tried to keep moving forward. I caught up with and ran with a friend of mine Brian T on this hill but eventually he faded back a little. He was running the half marathon and had to pace himself a little better than what I was doing. I continued to try and keep an even pace as we crested the hill and took a right. Once again we were running on a fairly flat surface until we started heading downhill.

I tried to stretch it out until we reached the bottom and took another right that headed us back up hill again. We continued this pattern of big ups and big downs for the next several miles. The whole time I was cussing myself for not running more prior to the race, for agreeing to the relay, and trying to gasp for air like a fish.

At the bottom of the last large hill we once again turned right and ran about 2 miles along the Iowa side of the Mississippi on a bike trail. It was hard to gauge my pace for certain as they didn't have the course marked every mile but it was marked about every 2. I figured I was somewhere around my goal of 9 minute miles. I also had a goal to finish under an hour. At 54 minutes I hit the 6 mile mark, I could taste the transition point from here. I tried to hold a steady pace and as we meandered left I saw the cones marking the spot. I took off the bracelet that was acting as our baton and passed it to my team member that was running the second leg at 59:51. This turned out to be a pace of 9:04 per mile. I figured I had done my part. All I could do was wait.

I grabbed some water and fruit and waited a few minutes talking to anothermembers to finish. Once I got back I changed into some dryer and warmer clothes. I wandered around and ate some free hot dogs and chili, listened to the band. I talked for a long time to TJ and her boyfriend. After about an hour Brian showed up after finishing his race. We talked for awhile then it started pouring rain. I felt bad for the people still out there running but I was glad it wasn't me.

After about 4 hours I headed to the regrouping point for the relay. I met up with my team members from the other legs and we all ran in together with our final team member. Our team finished the race in 4:36:49.

Thoughts on this race:

Due to my injury and lack of training I was happy I hadn't signed up for the full or half marathon as I probably wouldn't have finished.
It felt really weird being at a marathon and not being IN the marathon if you know what I mean. Not sure I liked that.
I think relays would be more fun with people you know

All and all mission accomplished though, maybe next year I can get all my kids to participate, now that would be fun

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