Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Marathon Relay Recap

So this weekend was the Go! St. Louis Family Fitness Expo and Races. I participated in the marathon relay event and I just have to say that I absolutely LOVED being a part of a relay team. While my goal is to run 1/2 marathons as they seem like the distance for me, I can see myself doing the relay event at this race each year, even though it's the big spring race in St. Louis and the 1/2 here is a big one.

Being a part of the relay added a whole other level to the race and it was just fun to get to be a part of  team and have accountability to others. I was a team-sport athlete all the way through college so I think being part of a team is just something that is ingrained in me.

First things first, however was the expo! I love race expos, there is a such a great vibe and the most of the vendors there are so chatty and friendly. I had a seminar for work that was close to the expo center so I went during the lunch break to check it out. It was at Chaifetz Arena, which is the arena where St. Louis University plays their basketball games (Go Billikens!). I really liked having it in the arena there, however parking there is a nightmare! No, I don't want to pay an additional $5 to park for the expo after I've already paid my $75 entry fee...thanks very much! I chose street-parking instead, but that meant about a 3/4 mile hike in some pretty brutal wind.

The expo itself was great though, the vendors were, as mentioned above, very friendly and chatty. I got some fuel samples (Sport Beans and Gu) some Zoom Immune Booster supplements, a pacer tattoo to help you keep your pace without having to do math or have an app for it, some awesome lime-green shoe laces and a variety of coupons for local running stores and future race entries.

Of course I couldn't go and only get free stuff though, now could I?! The two big race expos in STL during the year are also the time when some of our local running stores have their best sales. I was on the lookout for a pair of Ghost 6's and wouldn't you know that I found a pair...in my size...for $85!! Score!

Love the colors and love the shoes!

I also snagged a Handana as I've been on the lookout for something like this for a while. The day before, in spin class, it was so humid that my hands were sleeping off the bike wheel and my towel fell off the bike twice. This worked really well for the race and was great at wicking away the sweat without absorbing it!

                                            image courtesy of Handana

So leaving the expo about $100 poorer, I was ready for the race!

Saturday we took it easy, I did some kettlebell work and took the dogs for a long walk to stretch out, but I didn't do any running. I had been fighting off a sinus infection all week and hadn't really decreased the exercise at all, so I thought it best just to take it easy before the race. We went to see the new Captain America: The Winter Soldier in the afternoon (I'd recommend it, I thought it was really good!) and then did an early birthday dinner for my mom. I had pasta primavera in a light olive oil sauce which was delish.

I hit the hay by about 8:30 to prepare me for the 5 AM wake-up call. I will have to say this was the tricky part about doing the relay when I was up, dressed and out the door before 6 AM, but not actually running until about 10:30. This made breakfast and warming up a bit tricky. I had a Greek yogurt and a cup of coffee before leaving the house then brought a banana that I had about an hour before I ran. I probably could have used a bit more food, maybe some peanut or almond butter on the banana...but overall it seemed fine.

It was pretty cold at race start (about 36) and the wind was kind of nasty. I was happy that I was the jacket Sherpa as it meant that I could wear my teammates jackets over top of my own to stay warm!

All of the relay stations were close to stops on our light-rail system, the MetroLink and travel on the link was free for race participants. So after each leg, we'd hop on over to the other one to watch our teammates in. Since I was the anchor, I was ferrying a lot of bags and the like, which also meant no pic were taking of my teammates (so bummed about that!).

When it got to my anchor leg of the race, I was so pumped that I foolishly took off like a bullet. My goal was to maintain 10 min/miles as this is a pace I'm comfortable with for 6 miles, however I did my first mile in 9:02, second in 9:19 and the third in 9:36. However after that my time began to increase and the course got hillier, my fourth, fifth and sixth miles were all over 10 with the 5th being 11:38 and basically uphill for the entire mile. Overall I ended up with a 9:54 average and I was really happy with that.

Despite the fact that we hadn't really come up with a plan for meeting, Joe managed to get to the finish line a few minutes before I arrived there and snapped some pics. I really like this one.

After the race we walked around the post-race festivities for a bit, although none of the food really appealed to me as it was all "St. Louis themed" and pretty heavy stuff. We decided to head to a local Mexican place to get some lunch and I attacked the chips with gusto and had a celebratory margarita!

I went home and rolled, stretched and iced my left knee (arthritis from an old field hockey injury) and we rented some DVDs from Red Box and got take-out from my fave Crazy Bowls and Wraps after hitting up Lowe's for some stuff we needed for spring landscaping. I made a comment to Joe that it was so funny how you reach a certain age and life is waking up early to run and spending an afternoon at Lowe's. What would our 21 year-old selves think of it?!

I had also taken off work on Monday as it was opening day for our St. Louis Cardinals (big fans over here) and we had tickets to the game in the afternoon. I was glad because my legs were still a bit sore from my too-fast first few miles of the race, so I got some much needed walking, stretching, rolling, etc. in.

The weather was rainy and cold but the festivities were still in full swing downtown and we loved taking part in it. We met some of Joe's friends at a stadium bar for a pre-game drink then headed into the stadium early to watch the Opening Day festivities. One cool thing they had were a bunch of ice sculptures to commemorate the beginning of the season and our great season last year. Kind of cool, huh?!

The Cardinals won the game and we headed home. I hit the hay early as it had been a long day out in the wind and rain but it was great nonetheless!

Have you ever done a relay, and if so did you like it?
How do you fight the urge to head out fast when the racing adrenaline is high?
Are you a sports fan? Who are your teams?

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