What a day it was on Sunday... I've never run a relay race before (not even on the track) and it was a totally different/awesome experience. I gotta say, I loved the team atmosphere and it certainly took some of the pressure off of the race itself (even though I had a very specific time goal). My teammates were Beth (a high school and college friend), Brad (Beth's husband and a college soccer teammate of mine), and Nate (another college soccer buddy of mine).
I got there early morning (as I tend to do on race day) and got the chance to see all the nervous marathoners in their race preparation. That was an interesting thing to see when I wasn't feeling nearly the same anticipation. Although I was running the long leg of the relay, 8.8 miles (8.93 on my Garmin), I just wasn't all that nervous. These poor souls were about to embark on a body pounding, 26.2 mile journey. I was just along for the ride.
I met up with my teammates and tried to figure out what the heck we were doing for the race. It turns out that the first leg was about 6.4 miles and was looping back to City Island (where the race started). Beth handled that leg and she was our only girl on the team. Go Beth.. That is where I would take over and take us just under 9 miles out to HACC (Harrisburg Area Community College). Then, I'd pass to our strongest runner (Nate) for a 6.2 mile leg. After that, he would pass to probably our speediest (but not long distance) runner Brad for a 5 mile finish.
My leg was actually pretty attractive. I ran out 3-4 miles along the Susquehanna River. That was great and sucky all at the same time. The wind was pretty brutal despite a slight decline in this part of the leg. Running along the water, I guess that should have been expected. But, it was really tough.
There was also a pretty smelly/noxious portion of the run along Industrial Road (yeah, it was just as it sounds). That was a pretty lonely part of the run and I couldn't help but feel bad for the marathoners who had this as part of their experience. I also thought it was funny that I was passing virtually every marathoner. They had more than half the race to go and I was trucking along in my 9ish mile race. Weird.
For the most part, I was lopping off pretty even splits.... right around 8:03-8:05. There were a couple tougher miles where I had tailed all the way down to 8:12-8:15ish. But, overall a pretty even race. I had planned to run a 8.8 mile 1:12:00 (about 8:10-8:11 miles). I ended up running a 1:11:41 over 8.93 miles (a 8:03 pace). So, I came in quite a bit faster than expected. In fact, my five mile PR isn't much faster than that at this point. So, I'm pretty stoked about my performance.
Overall, we did great too. We were called the Running Dutchmen (our Lebanon Valley College mascot). We finished 13/50 in the mixed (guys/gals) category and 18/78 overall for the relay division. That's worth talking about. I was very impressed and would totally do a race like this again!!