I realize that most runners laugh at the thought of a marathon relay (5 runners, 4 running 5 mile legs, last running 6.2 miles). But, for a group of not so young kids who all just finished Couch to 5K about 4 months prior, this was a perfect next step. Not only was it a challenging 5 miles, but it was SO much fun! We might not have won any timing awards, but I’m pretty sure we won the Spirit Award!!
The night before, Team Running on Empty met up to do the most important part of a Marathon Relay: Team Spirit! Decorated car? Check! Signs? Check! Team logos? Check! Check!
We met up bright and early, and got ready to cheer on all of the marathoners, half-marathoners, and the relay-ers, especially The Love of My Life, at the start!
Then the rest of Team Running on Empty piled in our decorated car (full of snacks and hydration), and headed to the first relay point. Thanks to the handy-dandy stalker app “Find My Friend”, we were able to track our teammates. But, until they got there, we had a great time cheering on all the marathoners as they passed!
Soon, The Love of My Life rounded the bend, and I was up. He handed the timer chip off to me, and I was off. I was rocking my new Garmin, but had only used it once, and it took me a solid 4-5 minutes to figure out how to start the thing (“I don’t care how much battery is left! Just time me!!”)
I was smarter this time (as compared to my last race), and ran it how I trained. I am a run:walker, and that’s just how I roll. I like the mental and physical break of the run:walk. Anyway, I started my timer (no technical difficulties there) and started with 4:1. A few of the hills killed me and I had to take some unplanned walk time, and the last 1.5 miles I had to cut down to 3:1. I was a bit disappointed with myself about that. But, I saw my check point up ahead and I finished strong!! And there’s no better feeling that having your team cheering you in!!
After my leg, (and a quick potty break and protein shake) I took a peak at my Garmin, and PAINT ME GREEN AND CALL ME GUMBIE!! I averaged a 10:54 mile pace! And that’s with walk breaks! That means I was averaging about a 9:00 min/mile during my run intervals! This is crazy fast for me! Like SuperMan fast. The Flash even.
So, we kept on with the runner-stalker, driving to the next relay point, and cheering, having fun the entire time. This is when I thought we became a super important part of the marathon experience. Every 5 miles there we were with signs, smiles, and cheers for all the marathon participants. In a marathon in a city like Jackson MS, there just isn’t great fan support, especially as the hours drag on. But Team Running on Empty represented!
We finally sent off our last runner and headed toward the finish line. We app stalked her, and when she was about 2 blocks from the finish, we all joined to bring it in together.
Official finish time: 4:56:36, #59 of 79 relay teams, average pace 11:19.
Leg 1 (The Love of My Life), Mile 1-5, 52:23
Leg 2 (ME), Mile 5-10, 53:55
Leg 3, Mile 10-15, 1:02:02
Leg 4, Mile 15-20, 1:04:13
Leg 5, Mile 20-26.2, 1:04:03
Moral of the story, I highly recommend a relay, for anyone looking for a fun day of teamwork, running, cheering, and good times! And this experience has only fueled my fire to one day participate in a Ragnar!