Sunday, April 18, 2010

RunAPalooza - Jersey Shore Marathon Relay Race Report

A shiver runs up my spine before the Boston Marathon every year. Boston runners, we will be watching you tomorrow...do us proud!

Running relays has always given me a great thrill. Granted, the only relays I have run so far have been at school, when I did track - 4 x 100 and 4 x 400. But the tremendous teamwork that is on display during a relay is a beautiful thing. I used to train for my individual events, but always ended up running faster at the relay.

So I was really excited when a friend invited DH and me to join her team at the Jersey Shore Relay Marathon on Saturday, held in support of and to raise funds for the Special Olympics. My feet still felt a little fatigued, but I had been running a little again, so decided to go for it. DH had never run more than a 5K, but felt he could handle a little over 4 miles. We were just out to have fun and nobody was expecting any records. The race organizers had staggered the start based on predicted pace of the team...and because none of our team members knew how fast the others were, our team captain predicted a 12-minute mile pace, so we were given a start time of 7:45 A.M., the earliest start time. We found out just before the race that "teams finishing before 12 Noon will risk running ahead of support and may be disqualified". So, instead of running our guts out, we strategized on how to hold back if it looked like we would finish too fast!
These were the legs:

1st leg: 6.1 miles - Seaside Heights to Brick Beach
2nd leg: 6.2 miles - Brick Beach to Pt. Pleasant
3rd leg: 4.5 miles - Pt. Pleasant to Manasquan
4th leg: 6.2 miles - Manasquan to Belmar
Final leg: 3.1 miles - Belmar to Asbury Park

We all met at Prem's house at 5:45 A.M. and left for Seaside Heights. Jai drove, and when we were more than halfway there, we were pulled over for speeding. Bummer! We had intended to get to the start by 7 A.M. and were already running a bit late; this slowed us down even more. When we got to the start, we had just enough time to get our baton and rush our first runner to the start. Several teams had turned up in colorful costumes...we saw Stewie from the cast of Family Guy (with a huge backside) waddle toward the start and a group of gypsies huddle together. It was a beautiful day, in the 50s...perfect for a race. It was supposed to rain later, but we hoped we would be done by then.
At the start, Sula took off and we met her along the route a couple of times, to cheer her and others on. There was not much crowd support (hardly any, in fact), so we made a lot of noise to make up for it. She did really well, finishing her leg in style.
Prem ran the second leg, pacing himself beautifully. We were able to cheer him on at one spot, then drove to the next transition. The first 2 legs went off, uneventfully.
DH took charge of the baton at the second transition and was pacing quite well, as we gave him a final cheer, then took off to the third transition. After 20 minutes of driving, we realized we were nowhere near the hand-off point. Gary Garmin, 2 I-phones and the organizer's driving directions were thrown into action as we scrambled to find the way. Some time later, we found a few runners and a sign pointing to the boardwalk, so we headed in the direction of the sign. I was able to get DH on his cell phone. He told me he was just yards away from finishing his leg; I told him we would try to get there as soon as possible. Just as I hung up, we all noticed at about the same time, the flashing lights of a police car right behind us. We had not even noticed that we were going above the speed limit. Talk about timing! As we waited for the cop, I decided to try and make it to the transition by foot. I figured it couldn't be too far away, a mile at most.

The cop agreed to let me leave the car, and I sprinted to the transition, cell phone in hand. After a few yards, I was breathing heavily, and noticed I was running at a 6:30 pace! I slowed down, realizing that I would need to save my energy to run my leg of the race. After about a mile, I got a call from the team car, telling me I was heading in the opposite direction, toward the 4th transition, not the 3rd! They told me to turn around; they were driving toward me to pick me up. This is precisely why I never do solo trail runs…I can run, but need someone else to navigate. The runners we had seen were running the half marathon, not the relay. I should have guessed…they wore yellow bibs, not white! D-uh! We were more than 20 minutes behind, so I took a deep breath and slowed down, enjoying the beach and the cool ocean breeze. No need to worry about finishing before 12 noon, now!
A few minutes later, I was picked up and we sped off, this time carefully within the speed limit. We met DH at the 3rd transition, exactly 30 minutes after he had finished his leg. It was cloudy and a little chilly at this point. Baton in one hand and cell phone in the other, I rushed off to the accompaniment of bagpipes. For the first mile, I raced to cover a bit of lost ground...and realized I was outpacing myself. I tend to do that at relays...get carried away by the heat of the moment!

My form was all over the place though, so I soon slowed down and enjoyed the scenery.
The team met me at 3 different spots, cheering and hooting. It was awesome to have my very own cheering team. I completed 6.2 miles in 48 minutes, a 7:45 pace; a total of 7.46 miles, including the extra ground covered. No pain so far, so I am optimistic, but cautiously so.

The rest of the race went well. Jai was our anchor and took over the final leg with aplomb, doing a little jig on the course as we cheered him on.
He crossed the finish at 4:15:55, a few seconds before 12 P.M. Hah! I had predicted a 4:00:00 to 4:15:00 finish. Taking away the half hour we spent driving around in circles, we completed the race in 3:45:00, a lot better than we had hoped. I was extremely proud of the team...everyone did remarkably well.

The post-race party was elaborate with music, massages, lunch and free beer. Of course, I jumped on the massage table as soon as I could and got my tight shoulders and calf muscles worked on. Traffic tickets aside, it was a wonderful day with friends and I can't wait to do another relay!

23 comments:

ajh said...

It sounds like a lot of fun. I did a relay last summer and loved it. Come to Vermont with your friends and do the 100 on 100!

JSRC editor said...

What a great article! I'm glad you enjoyed the race. I'm the volunteer coordinator of the event as well as the JSRC Footnotes Newsletter Editor. My question? would it be possible to reprint your blog in the newsletter?
Barbara Hay editor@jsrc.org

Abby said...

Ha! With a relay experience like that, you're all set for adventure racing ;-)

Sounds like a lot of fun, though, cops and all.

lauren said...

sounds like a blast - congrats! But those cops needed to give you guys a break - geez!

I Run for Fun said...

Thanks, guys. Barbara, of course, that would be OK. Let me know if you want me to include more details...

JSRC editor said...

Could you please send me your full name (or how you'd like it to appear) and anything else you'd like to add to Editor@jsrc.org? So you can be credited

teacherwoman said...

Sounds like a great time, despite the cop!

Sarah said...

Wow...that sounds like such fun! And what a gorgeous day you had!

Erica said...

oh my goodness! What an adventure. Glad the cop was somewhat understanding and beautiful pics! My uncle lives in Pt Pleasant!! Sounds like a fun yet hectic day ;)

Marlene said...

Wow, what an adventure! Congrats to the whole team!!

I'd love to participate in a relay. It sounds like so much fun!

Heather said...

What an adventure - hopefully you guys didn't get any tickets out of those two traffic stops. :) Congrats on a great job by your team, oh and that is an awesome pic of you running!

joyRuN said...

Pulled over twice?!! Yikes!

A couple of co-workers talked about doing this for our unit & having the surgeons sponsor, but it hadn't panned out. I'm hoping we'll be able to pull it together next year.

Great job!!

The Happy Runner said...

Sounds like fun, especially finishing so much faster than you expected! Great photos.

Irene said...

Wow, a little drama there with the cop!

What a fun event to be a part of! Great pics, too!

Beth said...

That's fantastic that you had a half hour delay and your team still posted a phenomenal time! Despite the police and the getting lost, it sounds like you guys had a great time. I would love to do that sometime and be part of a team. The photo of you runnning by the water is beautiful and I'm so glad you are feeling good.

Bee At Work.. said...

Wow...nice article...I felt I was there all the way through with you..glad to know you had so much fun n you look reallly coool!!!

lindsay said...

hmm i am not sure i'd want to be on your relay team! ;) sounds like quite an adventure. glad you had fun!

Roisin said...

You look great! What an adventure too...definitely some good stories there, what with the 6:30 pace and all ;)

I was excited to read this because I'll be in a relay in June!

Emily said...

I'd love to do a race relay. It looks like a lot of fun, and I also like the team aspect.

You did a great job, especially for covering those extra miles. I also would get lost in a race without people around me, haha. Love the scenic race route, too!

X-Country2 said...

Looks like fun! Racing with friends makes it all that much better.

Scott Keeps Running said...

Free beer at the end of a race always makes the miles worth it. :)

Scheri said...

Great job! You ran strong!! I always think a relay would be great, just haven't done one yet.

Ali said...

Well done! I love a relay.