Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Big Sur Relay

First relay and it was actually kinda fun.  Probably because it was a part of the Big Sur International Marathon event (marathon, relay on marathon course, 21 miler, 10.6 miler, 9 miler and a fun run).  I walked the 21 miler last year and was reminded this year on how fantastic of an event this is.  Organized well (mostly!!), tons of fun and you can't beat it for beauty.

Pretty hard to hate this run.

The day started early.  There are about 10,000 participants converging on a rather small area.  The logistics involved in this effort are impressive.  This year was a bit different.  Normally the course is from Big Sur to Carmel -- however a section of Hwy 1 near Big Sur fell into the ocean a few months back.  Major bummer.  So the BSMI organizers sucked it up and had us do an out and back course.

I'm sure it was a nightmare for the organizers but they pulled it off pretty well (with one exception -- I'll get to in a bit).

Anyway, the day started early.  I had to be up at 3am to be at the bus by 4am for a 4.15 leave time.  For a variety of reasons, I got a terrible nights sleep and had been awake since 2am already so I managed to get out of bed at 3 and did what I usually don't do before a race, drink coffee (figured with a 6.45am start, I'd have plenty of time for the effects to diminish).  I didn't plan well on eating but I did manage a power bar along with my coffee and was off to the bus by 4am though we ended up not leaving until about 4.35.  At least I was warm on the bus and I knew where we were going would be cold.

And it was!  We were dropped off about 5am at the start line (I was running legs 1 and 2).  5am for a 6.45 start.  WAH.  It was freezing and I did have sweats but was in no way even close enough to warm. Temp was 46 and the wind was deadly.  As luck would have it, there was a 24 hour Safeway located in the parking lot and a lot of us used that for shelter.

It got more crowded as the morning went on -- there were people sitting up and down each isle.  As my teammates were bussed to the relay hand off areas, I was alone until a friend who was doing the 21miler texted me that she was in Safeway and where was I?  So I wondered around and found her in the produce department which was good for a laugh.  We all lasted until the sheriff came on the loud speaker and shooed most of us out.  It was 45 mins before start time so we had to leave anyway to do last minute potty stops, figure out where to go, strip down and make way to start.

And we were finally off.  We were a 4 person team on a 5 legged relay and I got nominated to run 2 legs.  Without looking at the course elevations, I opted for legs 1 and 2 as that was the fewest miles of any of the legs combined.  But when we picked up our packets and saw the course elevation, I was regretting my decision.  The normal course is a flat first 10 miles, a 2 mile hill and then rolling hills for the remainder of the course with a finish of mostly downhills on the last 4 miles.  But since it was an out and back, I managed to commit myself to running probably two of the three hardest legs of the course.  My friends would have totally let me switch legs but then I got all indecisive and couldn't decide which two I should run.  So I finally just shut up and kept with legs 1 and 2.

The first four miles were just flat out killer -- there were breaks but they didn't seem to last very long. I knew if I could just make it to mile 4 I was golden.  And I was, though I'd have been very happy to pass the baton at that point.  Leg 2 wasn't as bad but I was running it on worn out legs so I didn't do as well as I probably could have otherwise.  I was so happy when I saw the relay hand off area approaching and almost hugged my teammate but she was totally not interested in a sweaty hugs and she was a bit concerned about her own run so poof she was gone.

I ran the hilly 9 miles (total elevation gain of 874ft) in 1.29.07 for a 9.39 pace.  I was happy.  No significant hill training, nor training in general really, ran 4 miles the day before (usually I don't run two days in a row -- wimp), indulged in new pre race meal of fish and chips and beer, and pretty much didn't sleep the night before.

Maybe I'm on to something.
My teammates were super awesome so for four girls who set out to run a five legged relay for fun, we ended up placing 15/60 for women's teams and 91/300 overall.  I like those standings.  And thing of what we could accomplish if we'd actually hill train (which we do -- just haven't started yet).

And really, this was what it looked like:

The day did not suck.

I had fun with the relay overall though I'm not sure I'd do one again.  Oh heck, I'll do one again -- I love being part of a team and I love the girls I run with.  The good thing about this course is that the handoff points for 2 and 5 were together on opposite sides of the road and the handoff points for 3 and 4 were the same.  So when I handed off to leg 3 girl, leg 4 girl and I hung out waiting for #3 to show back up (and we are so good with our times, she showed up right on schedule).  Then #3 and I hung out waiting for the bus to take us back.  And this where the revised course failed -- because they had to close down hwy 1 to runners on both sides, there was no room for busses.  So we had to wait until everyone had passed before they'd start sending us back. That was not so fun and unfortunately we missed our #5 run it in.  The other thing I didn't like was that I just didn't get enough time on the course -- and I had the most.  We each spent a lot of standing around.

But at some point, we all ended up here....

And that makes it all worth while.

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