Another race down for 2 Generations Running!
Yesterday, my mom, brother, and I all ran the Mill Cities Relay, a 27-mile relay race open exclusively to running clubs in the Mill Cities region. Since we were running with the club, there were A LOT of teams (16 to be exact), and we were all on a different team. My mom and I were both slated to run the longest leg, 9.5 miles (That’s what happens when your running club knows you’ve run a marathon/half marathon recently!) I was hoping we would leave around the same time, but our teams ended up being just a few minutes apart, so it was a solo long run for both of us!
You may notice we are pretty bundled in the above photo. That’s because it WAS FREAKING COLD in the morning! I had been checking the weather all week leading up to the race and was psyched when I saw Sunday was supposed to have a high of 55 degrees. Well, I kind of forgot about the fact that it was going to be in the 30’s at 6 am.
Thankfully, the 9.5 mile leg was the second to last leg of the relay, so it did manage to warm up a bit before I had to run. Good thing too, because I had decided to wear shorts when I saw it was going to be so warm!
Watching my teammates take off to run their legs got me really excited. My goal going into the race was to try to run the pace I ran for my PR at the Baystate Half Marathon in October, 8:16/mile. I wasn’t 100% confident I’d be able to pull it off though. I hadn’t run long at that pace in a while, so I didn’t know if I was setting myself up for a total bonk.
When my turn finally came around, I pulled off my sweats and the 500 layers of jackets I was wearing and headed to the exchange area. The hand-off was super smooth; my teammate saw me, I saw her, and then she was passing me the slap bracelet and I was off!
I was happy that the first part of my route was the same stretch of road along the Merrimack River in Lowell, Mass that I had run during Baystate. It was a real confidence booster to be running the same roads that I had previously run such a great race on!
Even though, I was happy with my times during those early miles, my body did not feel so great during. Much like at the start of Baystate, I felt stiff – particularly my ankles (which never bother me usually!) With every step, I was very aware of my ankles flexing – and how TIGHT they felt. I just tried to stay calm and remind myself that I was still warming up, and that the crappy feeling would go away after the first few miles. And it did.
Mile 1 – 7:58/mile, Mile 2 – 8:10/mile, Mile 3 – 8:08/mile
I didn’t take any pictures during this race because I was really focusing on maintaining my pace, but after the first 4 miles running along the water, we were mostly on the edge of busy roads, so not very scenic anyway. I didn’t mind though. The temps had warmed up to the 40’s, the sun was out, and it felt PERFECT for running. The other great part of the 9.5 mile leg was that it was very straight, which meant I could always see runners ahead of me, and if there’s one thing I love, it’s chasing runners down. 😉
Mile 4 – 8:07/mile, Mile 5 – 8:14/mile, Mile 6 – 8:07/mile
The whole leg was mostly flat, but there were a few long, gradual ascents. I tried to focus on my form, rather than the hill itself as I ran up them. I am definitely not one of those weirdo runners who enjoy hills, but I think I did a really decent job keeping my pace in my target zone anyway. I also walked for a second around mile 4.5 while I drank the water at the one water stop provided on my leg.
Around this time, I started seeing more teams from my running club passing me in their chase vehicles. I got a lot of cheers and honks, which I LOVED!
Mile 7 – 8:05/mile Mile 8 – 8:06/mile, Mile 9 – 7:57/mile
By Mile 7, I was getting excited to finish. I knew I only had a couple miles to go, and I had a good pack of runners I was chasing. I managed to catch a few of them! I was ecstatic when my watch beeped at mile 9, and I looked down to see I had run a 7:57 – 1 second faster than my first mile! I think that officially means I did not bonk. 🙂
I flew into the exchange area, passed off the baton to our last runner, and just like that I was done with 9.5 miles! I quickly met up with my team and we hurried back to the car to make our way to the finish. The traffic gets HORRIBLE around this stage of the relay, and we knew there was a chance we would miss our teammate finishing if we didn’t move quick.
It took us a long time to get out of the exchange zone since there was a steady flow of runners that the traffic had to yield to, but finally, we were able to get out and make our way to the Claddagh Pub in Lawrence where the race finishes.
Then, it was off to the pub for some well-deserved post-race beer and pasta!
There, I finally caught up with my mom and brother. My brother had ended up having a difficult race, with 2 of his 5 teammates not showing up! 😦 Not what you want in a relay race. My mom had a great day though, running an average of 8:30/mile over the 9.5 miles.
My team didn’t end up winning any awards, which was a bummer, but I’m still thrilled with how Mill Cities went. I feel like my paces are really starting to get faster, and I’m able to hold onto that pace for longer distances. A year ago I would have thought it was crazy to run an 8:05 pace for 9 miles. Hell, that was pretty much my 5k pace! So I’m happy. I feel like I’m in a great place with my running right now and I’m excited to see what that leads to in the future. I’ve got some pretty lofty goals when it comes to running, and I’m beginning to think they just might be within my reach…
Did you run/race this weekend? If so, how’d it go?