Or should I call this – the shortest distance I can run and still get a medal? 🙂 In my defense, I did run the second longest portion of the 4 relay legs (6.5 miles – so basically a quarter marathon, a distance a little longer than a 10k). Having run over 65 races in my running career (ranging from a 1 mile race to 5ks, 10ks and half marathons), this was one type of race I had never done – until now!
The Rochester Marathon holds a special place in my heart, because that is where I ran my first half marathon and longest-distance-to-date run ever- back in 2010. I remember how scared I was during training and how I did not believe I could ever run longer than 6 miles. But, I trained with a great group, watched my diet, lost a bunch of weight and felt really strong on that day. I ended up running it in 2:09:37 – less than a 10 minute mile – a time I consider (for me) very respectable.
Flash forward a mere two years and – understatement – it has been more of a challenge as far as running goes. I thought I hit rock bottom last year when I gained about 20 lbs. I still managed to run though. I trained and completed my second half marathon (Wineglass Half Marathon in Corning, NY) in horrible weather, adding 13 minutes to my time (an 11 min mile pace). Then, 2012 came to be. One car accident, a serious neck/arm injury and family death later, I have not handled the year and those events well. For me, this meant a huge weight gain and bad diet. Nevertheless, I trained with a new training group at our local Y – knowing I was not training for the half, but just looking for company. It was a hot summer to train in! Met some nice folks and the highlights for me were completing two long training runs by the end (10 and 11 miles). Running at this weight is very difficult and leaves me more prone to injury, but what I lack in speed I make up for in grit, determination and stubbornness. Pride is the main reason why I opted to not do the half this year. I knew my time would be soooo much slower and I just was not willing to accept that. I also did not want to suffer thru 13 long miles, and at this weight, it would be suffering because even a few miles is tough.
In the meantime, an option to run the relay came up. Even though I was feeling VERY self conscious about my size (and embarrassed about seeing former running friends who knew me as a thinner/faster version of myself), I decided to go ahead and try. I knew I could do the miles, it would just be much slower. And, I vowed to never sit on the sidelines again. So, with that in mind, I joined up with my running friend Kristine, and new running friends Caroline and Colleen. We named our team Team KC (Get it? Our first names start with K or C). I picked the first leg – honestly – to avoid waiting around in anticipation. The relay runners start with the full marathon folks at 7:30 a.m., fifteen minutes earlier than the half marathon folks. I would be doing leg 1 (from the starting line downtown near Frontier Field to the Park & Ride lot at St. John Fisher College – 6.5 miles). From there, my relay members would continue on to do leg 2 (from St. John Fisher to the Burgundy Basin Inn – 6 miles), leg 3 (from the Burgundy Basin Inn to Clinton at the Erie Canal – 7.5 miles) & leg 4 (from Clinton to the finish – 6.2 miles).
Day before the race, I picked up my packet at the expo. No goody bag- bummer! But, the bib was very cool with a nice scenic shot of Rochester on it in the background. I also saw my fellow runner friend Kelly. I was starting to get nervous, but that is just my nature. Of course, I ended up getting just 2 hours of sleep, which is actually better than I usually do. A member of my running group doing the half picked me up. She was nervous and got to my house at a little after 5 am (!), but I was ready. Then, my relay team member picked us up and drove us downtown.
The weather? Windy and chilly. I started getting a mini raynauds attack in my hands right away. We went inside Frontier though and I warmed up, got out my gloves and hand warmers and then just milled around. I saw members of my former running group, so that was nice. I was supposed to take a group pic with my training group, but they were all doing the half that did not start til 7:45. I got nervous (shocking I know) and headed to my start, which was 15 minutes earlier. The start line is about a half mile away. I ended up seeing my friend Karen, doing her first marathon. Her daughter kindly took my jacket to put in her car. It’s hard knowing what to wear – it was in the 40s but you warm up fast. I also saw J-Mac- that kid famous for the basketball game a few years ago. He’s 23 now and running his first marathon. Someone sang the national anthem and then at 7:30 we were off! I know I lost 20-30 seconds at the start, since people were walking since it was crowded. But that’s ok, I was not aiming for any record. I knew I would be slow.
In terms of the relay itself, it’s a bit tricky in terms of logistics. You have to get to your starting point and can then take a shuttle back or provide your own transportation. We decided to go from relay point to relay point. My leg ran from Frontier field to East Ave. The half marathon people follow 3 miles of that route and then they veer off. There weren’t tons of spectators, but I appreciated the ones I saw. I saw one guy in a a gorilla suit. I saw 2 other guys running in tu tus and one guy running in a kilt. Moments like that I wish I had my camera.
The route was flat and slightly downhill, which I appreciated. I DID NOT appreciate the 2 ambulances that drove in front of me (was that a sign?) for a mile or so. I could not pass & had to run outside of the cones where there were cars. Not good. I had people running alongside of me at first, but many times I was in my own little pocket of space. Towards the end (mile 5.5?), there was one incline part which I did not care for. Nevertheless, I kept my pace pretty consistent, but I was slow. I did come in a couple minutes faster than I have previously been running the same distance. It was still a little over a 12 min mile though – ugh. My watch said I ran 6.6 not 6.5, so I am basing my stats on that.
When I got to my relay point – the Park n ride past St John Fisher – Caroline was there with a homemade sign for me! So sweet. She had cowbells and pom poms too. Kristine was there too, and she started her leg. Caroline and I then drove to Burgundy Basin. The relay point on the canal path was packed with people and a water stop. We waited for Kristine to come in and then Caroline was off. We then drove to Schoen place to give Caroline’s hubby her camera and then went to the next relay point on Clinton Ave on the canal path where Colleen, our final member was waiting. Tired yet? Yeah, me too. Getting to that relay point was trickier- no place to park and cars everywhere. We parked quite a ways away and walked. I was so cold! Caroline then ran in and Colleen left for the last leg. The three of us then made our way downtown to the finish – also tricky since there were so many road closures. See what I mean about logistics? Finally, 4 1/2 hours later – it was over. Colleen rounded the corner and we ran to the finish together with our team sign! We got our medals, posed for pics, ate a piece of pizza, and that was it – my (our) first relay in the books.
I had fun doing the relay (except for the actual running part – ha!).
Doing this event was less about time and competition, and more about team spirit. I did not get to see my half marathon training group members come in, which was a bummer. I was super proud of my new friend Meredith though. She ran 13.1 miles in honor of her baby’s 13 month birthday! We ran many miles together since June. I was also very excited to see my friend Karen finish her first marathon! I saw her in the beginning, at a relay stop and the end. She is 50 and only started running a few years ago. I was also super proud of my friend Margaret for her first marathon. Saw a few other running friends too. Very proud and excited for them and what they have accomplished. All and all, a nice day for a run (minus the wind).
As for future running plans, I still want to get 50 miles of races in for 2012. I’ll have to run 5 more races I think- hopefully it won’t be too cold, because my Raynauds always seems to kick in. More importantly, I have to get serious about my food. I can’t continue gaining- it’s shameful, no clothes fit & it destroys my psyche.
That being said, I’m proud I saw my training group through. It would have been easy to just not do this and hide. It took courage for me to stand there amidst thin, fast marathon runners and run part of the same route they did. Maybe I will get it together and maybe I won’t, but I will always keep trying and you should too. A big thank you to Team KC too – you guys rock- you all did great!! And a big CONGRATS to all the members of the Pittsford Y’s “13 weeks to 13.1” training group and Jim, our fearless leader! He finished 10th for the half! I saw him fly by me at one point.
P.S. Sorry so long- this post was mainly a journal/diary type entry to capture my thoughts about an event that was/is a significant milestone for me. Also, please excuse the choppy arrangement of photos – had a lot of trouble lining everything up.
Pros: fun way to get a group of friends together to do something active. Loved the medal! Great bib. Well organized.
Cons: Figuring out how to get from relay point to relay point is not easy. Prepare to spend a lot of time waiting around in the cold. I froze since I did not have a jacket after my leg of the relay. Standing around in sweaty clothes is also not good. No goody bag. Overripe bananas at the end (yes, I’m that picky). Bummed I missed my friends running the half marathon.