Sunday, April 14, 2013

Race Report: Hogeye Marathon Relay (AKA, I know people!! Lots and lots of PEOPLE!!)

Hometown races - you can't beat 'em. Seriously. I've traveled to my fair share of races at this point - Las Vegas; Washington, D.C.; Nashville; Houston; St. Louis; Greenville, MS, and many more 5k's, 10k's and triathlons. This is the second year in a row I've participated in the Hogeye, and for convenience and familiarity, it cannot be beat.

This year, I signed up as a member of a relay team together with some of my fabulous co-workers. Law of averages - one of our team members got sick at the last minute, but lucky for me, I know PEOPLE!!! I have such a fabulous run group here in Fayetteville, so I had not one, but two women volunteer to step in at the last minute. Because I'm occasionally a disorganized doofus, I didn't remember that I had already asked one person, and then proceeded to ask another. DOH. But let's chalk it up to what wonderful friends I have instead of my terrible memory, shall we?!

Anywho, our "girls rule" relay team:

Hollan, me, Kate and Becca
Sunday morning bright and early, we joined up downtown with my running group, most of whom were doing the half, one of whom was doing the full. He's the crazy one - he's been known to run 50+ miles per week in his craziness. We love him anyway.

Richard, Angie, me, Hollan, Jeff (the crazy one), Mike and John

Did I mention I know people? One of my other co-workers joined us in our pre-race spot (provided by another running friend whose office is on the Fayetteville square, approximately 8 1/2 steps from the start line!!). Kate and I realized that we had an Army, Navy, and an Air Force veteran - picture, please!!

Jereme - Air Force, Kate - Navy, Me - Army

It promised to be a beautiful day - if you're into 20 mph winds and highs in the 70s when you're running a marathon. But HEY! It's been such a wet, cold spring, at this point, I'll take what I can get!! We made our way down to the start line, and found more evidence that - I know PEOPLE!! Lots and lots of people!!!

I've been to several races alone, where I talk to random person while we're waiting to start. I've also run a few races with Jill, where she's the only one I know. But at my hometown race, I can walk up to the start line and see PEOPLE!! So fun.

Becca, Nick, Jereme, and Kate - all coworkers
(in case you didn't get that from the blatantly branded running gear)

Sarah, Becky (her first Half today!!), me and Greg - NOT coworkers!
Evidence that I DO have a life outside of work!!

As leg 3 of my relay team, it was a bit odd for the starting gun to sound and for me to just be standing there. I realized pretty quickly, though, I had two choices - stand there freezing in the wind and feeling sorry for myself, or walk myself over to where the shuttles were picking up and get to my exchange point with plenty of time.

First problem: I wasn't 100% sure where the shuttles were.

Relays are a totally different animal than "just" running a race - good thing there were plenty of people around headed generally in the same direction. My assumption with any race I run is that I'll never be the one in front, so I can just follow someone else. Totally held true for the shuttles today, too. Let's just chalk that up to good planning. (What, you thought it was inattention to detail??)

I hung out at the relay exchange point for a while, talking to random people. I didn't know anyone there, but hey - runners are friends, whether they know each other or not. I was able to do the runner-nerd talk about races, Marathon Maniacs, fuel / gel strategy, running groups, how the weather would affect our time, etc., etc., and it was totally normal.

After about an hour of waiting, I saw Becca approaching the exchange point just shy of the two hour point. We swapped the chip and off I went. Way. Too. Fast. I should've realized that using a race for a taper run was an impossibility for me - I mean, I can't pace myself on a good day. Put people in front of me that I then like to play "catch up" with (strangely, that seems to always be a one player game), and I was in high gear from the first step.

I averaged 7:55 overall. My splits:

Not sure what was going on there at mile 2. Oops.

As the day went on and I got closer to my exchange point with Hollan, it got windier and warmer. I don't know what it is with me and windy races this year - Houston, craziness; Mississippi River, headwind the whole way; Hogeye, 20mph winds by the time I finished. Kansas next weekend - I'm not exactly holding my breath. I mean, it's KANSAS. You know, Land of Oz, tornados, wind on the prairie. All that.

But, wind and sun aside, it was still a great race. I had the leg around the lake, which is a newly paved portion of our trail system, and one I enjoy running. I had a nice downhill section for most of mile 4 when the wind really picked up, so at least there's that. Or something.

Finally got to the exchange point, passed off the timing chip to Hollan, and my run was done. Time to socialize, because I know PEOPLE!!

This was when it hit me that a small town, hometown race cannot be beat if you're a part of the running community. At the exchange point, I saw Kindra (a triathlon friend); Mitzi (below left), who also gave me my medal, and Shauna (below right) - who I'd actually seen at the last exchange point! Mary ran through the station while I was there, too - all in the space of about 15 minutes. I know PEOPLE!!

(Thank you Mr. Developer who created the turn-around camera thing on the iPhone!!)

As we were standing there talking, Shauna and I realized that Hollan is so dang fast, I'd better get to the finish line so I didn't miss her - and then I got super lucky and she took me there so I didn't have to figure out the shuttle again. Logistics. Hmph. Apparently no longer my strong suit.

Once I was down at the finish line, I hooked up with everyone again - everyone who'd done the Half was finished, so we were just waiting for Hollan to finish our relay and for Jeff to finish the Full. I had seen him around mile 20, and I could tell it was a tough day for him - the wind and the sun were killer, and for anyone doing the full, it was only getting harder as the day wore on. 

Eventually we saw Hollan, and about a minute behind her was Jeff. Race finish lines are always a party atmosphere, and this one was no different - maybe even more so, since there were many UofA kids that ran this morning, including a couple of Alpha Delta Pi teams with their sorority shirts on. Own it, I say!

Final team time, somewhere around 3:56 and some change - pretty darn good for a relay team that included two first-timers. And Kate rocked it by doing both the first leg of the relay AND going on to finish the Half, too - her first!!!! Becca said she wants to do a Half now, too, and I'm super excited - I'd like to think that maybe had a hand in inspiring both of them. It was either me or the bling, hard to say.

So here we are - Team Tide, Girls Rule, and a sub-4:00 relay:

And, of course, I know people - and here are my favorite running peeps at the finish line, too:

I sure am lucky to know not just people, but really, really good people. And that's what made today's race so much fun.


Postscript - how could I have left this out - speaking of knowing people, I had the unbelievable good fortune and luck to gave dinner with Jeff Galloway on Friday night!! He was in town as part of the Hogeye Marathon weekend, and Angie is a Hogeye board member. She was gracious enough to invite me to join the group, which of course, I totally accepted. Lucky me - I know people who know OTHER people!!

I got to tell Jeff that I finished my first marathon because of him!!

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