This past weekend was the second annual Run Away to the Bay, a 55-mile-ish relay from Oshkosh to Green Bay. This is the one that I wasn't going to do last year, but then did at the last moment as I got pulled onto a team that needed a replacement. (To read about last year's event, whose review will be much more detailed than this one, go here.) This year, I actually planned on running the relay, but somehow due to double-booking by a certain someone (that would be me) I was only involved with the event through the completion of leg 4 - so shy of the halfway point. So, that's where my story ends. Here's where it begins...
A while back my Wednesday morning running peeps started to put together the idea of a team for Run Away to the Bay. This all seemed rather funny as Peep A.'s involvement with the team would be limited, seeing as she was actually the race director for the event. No matter, however. When this group of gals comes up with an idea for a fun running day, I like to be a part of it, so of course I signed up without much thought. Unfortunately for me, I should have given it a bit more thought because I failed to take into account that my family had already purchased tickets (last year!) for the broadway version of The Lion King at Appleton's Performing Arts Center for that same day.
Okay, there was no need to panic. Showtime wasn't until 2 p.m., which meant that I could run during the morning hours, jump off close to the halfway point of the race and still have time to have lunch, shower, and get myself show ready. And, that's what I did. What a day.
I wasn't the only one making our team a bit discombobulated. Out of the five of us, only two of us were going to be in it for the long haul on race day. I was leaving before the halfway point. Peep A. would start things out for us by running the first leg, but then would have to leave to resume her RD duties. And, Peep E. had a prior commitment for the early morning hours and would have to join in the fun just about the time I was exiting. Whew.
For me, race day started at 7 a.m. when Peep C. picked me up for the drive down to the start line. Getting ready for this relay was a bit odd for me, seeing as I wasn't going to be around for the whole race. There was no need to think about clothes too much, no need to pack extra things to wear. No need to think about a day's worth of food and hydration. From a preparation standpoint, knowing I wasn't going to be driving along the whole day made things a heckuva lot easier.
C. and I got to the start of the event with plenty of time to connect with Peep A2, who was meeting us at the start, and see Peep A. off and running for our team. Then it was into the car to get to the first exchange point. For some reason, though, I ALWAYS get lost in Oshkosh. I don't know why. I really can't explain it. But Oshkosh won again Saturday as I got us turned around on our way from the start to exchange 1. We only got lost the one time, though, which was a bonus.
At the exchange point, I got myself ready to run, was convinced I had everything, and when A. got there, I took off in a blaze of speed. Okay, not really. Since I couldn't run at all in the afternoon, the plan was for me to run legs 2, 3, and 4 straight through. That would give me a bit over 15 miles for the day and it would give my teammates time to drop off A. at the start again so she could get to work, as well as enough time to go and pick up teammate E. too. There were a lot of logistics involved in these first few hours.
Even though I had 15 miles planned, because this was a relay I didn't think about my run in terms of "long run." I really struggled to keep my pace down to a 15-mile manageable pace. I was shooting for 10:30 pace, but every time I would look at my watch, it would say closer to 9:30 - or faster! While this was a big ego boost for me, I also knew I couldn't run that for 15 miles. Also starting out, I forgot to grab my Clif Blocks as I left the exchange. Who needs those when running a relay, right? Oh, right. Not just running one leg; running three legs. Oops. Luckily I remembered before I got too far - and also lucky for me that everyone seems to know the RD - as I was able to ask someone coming out of the porta potty, which was past the exchange point, to find my team and ask them to drive by with my Clif Blocks. They got the message right away and before the first mile was done, I had Clif Blocks in hand.
Once I settled into a somewhat manageable pace, I started thinking of nutrition strategy. Yeah, I know. Maybe would have been better to think of that beforehand. And, I did! I had sort of thought maybe I could eat one block every ten minutes to keep a constant level of food in my system. But because I didn't have my blocks from the start, that didn't work out. What I did end up doing was eating two blocks every 20 minutes. This seemed to work out well for a couple of reasons. First, this guaranteed a nice walk break every 20 minutes and I was really happy with how that worked out. Secondly, I think that having that steady but small intake of blocks really helped keep my legs moving. I noticed even later in the run, that my leg turnover didn't seem to be suffering all that much.
I can't say my stomach was completely happy with me, though, because there were a couple of points during the event that I did feel a bit nauseous. However, I tend to think that had less to do with the blocks and more to do with the fact that it was warm for one of the first times this season - and I wasn't used to it. That, and I ran out of water somewhere during my second leg.
All in all, though, I am happy with how my legs went. It was weird running through the exchange points, though, and NOT handing off the slap bracelet to someone else. I just cruised through and would grab some water or Gatorade. The volunteers at each stop asked me, are you glad to be done? Um, not yet.
The three legs I had were relatively flat. There might have been a couple mild inclines in there, but nothing too noteworthy. I tried to run in the dirt along the side of the road as much as possible to save my legs from the concrete where I could. The highlight of my legs included running along the shore of Lake Winnebago, which was beautiful, and then into Neenah with its nice paths and sidewalks.
I had several people ask me what I was doing and they all seemed rather impressed that it was a relay from Oshkosh to Green Bay. I don't know that they got that I was part of a team or they just thought I was doing it solo. Some of their reactions would suggest the latter.
I made sure to refill my water bottle at each exchange, but as stated earlier I ran out of Gatorade during leg 3. It was fairly warm that day and besides the water issue I hadn't thought to wear a hat, so I was grateful when I ran past a team I knew parked on the side of the road (waiting to cheer someone on, I assume) and was able to get a little water to squirt on my head. That felt wonderful, so am very happy they were able to help me out.
As a testimony to how unprepared I was for this event, I had no idea how long my individual legs were; I just knew they all rolled together to make 15 miles. Mentally, I feel I held together nicely, though, despite running solo the entire way and not having music to distract me. I really just enjoyed the day. The miles seemed to tick by, and I had a nice rhythm going. Run 20 minutes, walk a minute or so to down a couple of Clif Blocks. Switch hands with the water bottle every mile or so, and whenever the legs ended, I got to walk through an exchange point.
It was a hard effort for me, but an enjoyable one somehow. I was pleased that for the most part, pace-wise I was more worried about going too fast than too slowly. That was nice for a change. My left hip did start bugging me around mile 5, but then disappeared again after a few miles. There were a few other aches and pains along the way, but I didn't let them bother me. I just kept telling myself I am tapering. Things are bound to complain a bit. In the end, I am happy with the way things went. I wouldn't say I got too tired until almost mile 13, but then I just had two more to go. Those two miles were punctuated with more walk breaks, but what are you going to do? I had just run 21 miles the week before, so all in all, I think it went okay.
Getting into the exchange after leg 4, though, I was so happy to see my teammates all there to cheer me in to what would be my finish. And, it was nice to see C. and A2 fresh and ready to run. Peep A. showed up briefly as well and with E. there too it was our one chance to get a team picture.
I was also happy to see my family there waiting for me at the exchange, too. It's so rare when I have anyone at the finish of one of my events. In fact, it hardly ever happens anymore. More times than not, my parents are watching the kids and they are either not there at all or off playing somewhere. Hubby is usually running the races himself, and we always miss each other at finish lines. Saturday, though, my parents just caught me coming in before they had to leave for work, as well as Hubby and the kids. With so much love, it was a nice way to end my part in the relay.
After saying bye to my teammates, the family and I headed out - onto our next great adventure, the Lion King, which as an ending note - was really good.
So, a very incomplete race recap. I can't say anything about the second half of the course or the after party. But, by all accounts that I have heard, things were just as good as last year, if not better. The after party on Green Bay's waterfront was especially a hit, I hear, and I am a bit sad I missed it. But that's okay, just incentive to do the race again next year!
In the meantime, I am enjoying this taper thing. Went out for a three-mile (3!!!) run this morning, and it felt really good. It was a nice spring day here with rain and everything. I thoroughly enjoyed getting soaked in the warm shower and jumping through puddles. Hope the rest of taper is just as good!