FINALLY! I get to sit down and spend a little time talking about how last weekend went. The short version is, it was incredible. You couldn't ask for a better race, with better weather and a great time at the expo.
Saturday was the Health and Wellness expo being held on campus at Savage Arena as it is every year. The weather was great and this year they had Rosie's, an Italian food Truck, parked out front serving some really good food. Yeah I splurged and got a mini pepperoni and cheese calzone, it was damn good and worth every calorie. The expo this year seemed packed with vendors, more than previous years, or at least it felt that way. Lots of great stuff to look at and shops giving some amazing discounts on gear. Once I was done looking around I went to pick up my race packets. Prior to me joining the relay team I was already signed up for the 5K so I decided to pick up the packet anyway. It had a nice shirt and anytime I can promote this great event I might as well right?
After the packet pick up I headed to my physical therapist's booth to meet up with the rest of the relay team. The team was made up of Tim and myself who were both patients of Alisha's, her husband Eric and her cousin Linda. It was fun getting to know them a little bit since this was the first time meeting all of them. We finalized our plans for the morning before I split off to start my shift at the information tables.
The shifts between the Ambassadors were overlapped by about a half hour so we all would be together for a quick photo and have a few minutes to hang out. My shift also included Jes who writes the blog Running Rogue and Amanda who writes the blog There Are 2 Sides. We spent the afternoon answering a lot of question particularly where to park and what time should they get here. It was fun to interact with a lot of interesting people from all walks of life.
Race morning finally arrived and it is a little weird to wake up so freaking early and not have to run for several hours. The plan was to meet at the start line and watch Linda take off, then hop in the car and head over to the first exchange point. Being the type of person I am I got to the parking lot an hour and a half before the race start and was relaxing when I got a text from Alisha. She had sent out an email earlier in the morning that I missed and she was checking to see if I got it because I didn't respond. The team decided due to traffic and road closers, Alisha would drop Linda off at the start and meet Tim and myself at a coffee shop a few blocks away. This turned out to be a great idea, however I was not able to see any of the starting festivities. I did grab a few pictures that were posted on Facebook of the start for your viewing please however.
Tim, Eric, Alisha and myself headed over to the church parking lot that is a short walk to the first exchange which also turned out to be a major spot for spectators. There was a ton of people with signs, cowbells and just simply clapping and cheering on the runners. I have to say seeing the runners up close from this perspective, there were a lot of unique personalities showcased with their pick of running attire. One that I missed getting a picture of was a guy wearing a tight tank top with matching spandex pants that had images of cats all over it.
Here is kind of what I am trying to explain, but imagine a 6'2" 200+ guy wearing them!
Anyway, Linda showed up and passed the belt with the bib on it to Tim and the rest of us headed back to the car. It was quite congested trying to get out at that point because of all the other relay teams trying to leave, but what made it really hard was a really bad accident just in front of the church, which slowed things down. Eventually we made it to exchange two where Tim would hand off to Eric and we would then just walk maybe a half mile northeast to the next exchange point. Eric's leg was 3.1 miles and was a loop shape so that is why the exchange points were so close. The next exchange was a happening place. Lots of spectators and a DJ pumping up the crowd with some great music. Once Eric passed off to Alisha the four of us headed back to the car to make our way to the last exchange point and this is where things got a little interesting.
We followed the driving instructions, however what we didn't plan for is the police that were blocking the road for the runners earlier were still blocking the road now. According to the instructions they were to have had the road open a half an hour prior to us coming and we were scrambling to find another way to the exchange point. We started heading a different way, but decided to turn around and see if we could sneak in another way. Just at that point they opened the road we were suppose to take and headed to the exchange point. We parked and I headed to use the bathroom quick because we knew Alisha would be showing up any minute. As we were walking with still a couple hundred yards to the exchange Eric used his GPS tracking on his phone to see where Alisha was. He said she is just around the corner and sure enough there she was speeding to the exchange. I had to sprint to cover the ground between me and the exchange point just to meet her in time. She handed me the bib belt and I was off and running.
The fifth and final leg of the relay was relatively flat with one long very mild climb that wasn't much of a problem. Due to the excitement of the race and speeding to the exchange point my pace was faster than I wanted it to be. I was planning on taking it slow and building my pace each mile, but adrenaline usually changes your plans in the race. My first three miles went 9:44, 9:36, and 9:25 before I got a side stitch and had to throttle back a little. I was able to recover and managed a 9:34 in that fourth mile. What happened in the fifth is something I told myself I wouldn't do, but it happened anyway. The last 1.3 miles were heading back to the finish on campus and was lined with tons of spectators. At this point my hip was feeling great, almost like I never had surgery 5 months ago. Combine that with all the great support and just the right adrenaline pumping songs that I cranked to full blast and took off like I was shot out of a cannon. Remember mile four was 9:34, well mile five clocked in at 8:42, almost a minute faster. I was feeling so good I almost missed my team waiting for me me with the .2 left to go. They fell in behind me as we turned down the final stretch and crossed the finish line with a total team time of 3:50:53.
When we started, we never discussed times and what we wanted to try and do, we were just running the race for the fun of it, but we were all really proud to combine for a sub four hour marathon. We got our medals and grabbed a quick picture before heading down to the after party. We decided not to wait in line for food because the line was just to long. We headed to the beer tent so some members of the team could grab a free beer and I stopped over to say hi to my old band mate and friend Zak who's band was the entertainment for the after party. Afterwords we headed back to the car so Tim and I could get a ride back to our cars at the coffee shop and go enjoy the rest of the day.
All in all I say this year went really well. I forgot to mention how good the weather was this year. When I got up it was in the low to mid 40s and by the time I ran around 10:30ish it was in the mid to high 50s and climbing. The sun was shinning bright all day and if you asked a runner to describe the perfect weather for a race I would bet most would describe the kind of weather we had on Sunday.