This week feels very strange to me. The UK had Monday off as a bank holiday and then I was only at work for Tuesday and Wednesday before having Thursday and Friday off (another wedding, hurrah!).
Anyway I mentioned in my last post that I ran the North Dorset Marathon as part of a relay team. There were four of us in total from (all female). Quite a few people from the running club were there as part of the relay (we had four teams in total), or part of the marathon, or to support.
Ben and me had to get up at the joyous time of 5.20am on Sunday to meet some guys for a lift at 6am. I ate my porridge in the car in a state of tired confusion.
There was a tiny part of me that was jealous of the marathon runners. I much preferred the idea of running slower for longer than faster for shorter, if that made sense. But the course is very hilly so in retrospect I’m happy I didn’t!
One of our team members had made us all hair ribbon ties to wear which were amazing.
A go faster bobble!
Coincidentally Ben and me were down to run the last legs of the relay so despite the race starting at 8.30am, we actually had around 2.5 hours until we were running. This was both good and bad. It gave my body time to wake up and get going, but also there was a lot of nervous energy coursing through me for an extended period of time. I sort of wanted to just “get it over with”, you know?
Actually though there really wasn’t much time to wait around and dwell. After seeing our first lady off for her first leg, we had to dash to the Race Mobile and get going to the hand-over point for the second leg. After getting there, parking, using the loo (I used each loo at each handover point – my pee likes to save itself up apparently), we stood there with the other running club guys and supporters and cheered on the super fast marathoners zooming through and other relay teams. It was a lot of fun to cheer people on and we saw our running club marathoners pass which was great. And it was also fun cheering on cyclists that happen to pass through too…and the odd car hehe “strong driving!”
Princess Leia, Darth Vader and some other Star Wars characters were out in force (tee hee) as it was May 4th (Star Wars Day). I am hugely impressed with them being able to run in full costume. Amazing.
As soon as our first lady appeared the hand-over commenced and then we rushed to the Race Mobile to get to the next location. This was a bit more hairy as we only had 4.5 miles (the first leg was 7ish miles). Our poor first team member barely had a chance to catch her breath! But she’d set us up well for a strong start.
The next location was fairly similar. At this point I was getting hungry. It was about 10am and having had breakfast a good four hours ago I was starting to wilt a bit. Luckily the other guys had the forethought to have brought more than just apples with them so I snacked on half a bagel.
The weather was lovely, though a little chilly in the shade. You just knew it would get hot on the run. Our ladies were running really strong and soon it was my turn to wait for the handover of the baton. I started doing a little warm-up as I waited. We knew only the rough time of when our runner would be coming in from working out predicted splits.
After seeing my team mate in the distance I whipped off my long running top to reveal my superman costume…whoops, no, to reveal my vest underneath with the bib ready to go go go.
As I grabbed the baton and headed off I felt exhilarated and ready. I knew that my section was fairly hilly (well, the whole course was really) and it was 6.8miles. I’d set myself a very loose target of a pace 7.30-8minute miles and just see how it went. It was a strange race if I’m honest as it wasn’t just my race, it was the team’s race. So that added some pressure but also relieved me a bit as it wasn’t just my time that mattered.
With a very small field of runners (less than 500 I think) it was quite lonely out there. I settled into a nice rhythm around 7.30min/miles and felt that I was comfortably pushing it but nothing extreme (not a Parkrun/5k exertion if you know what I mean). This did mean however that I quickly came upon marathon runners. Obviously I’d just started, my legs were fresh and I was only running about 7 miles so it made sense I’d be overtaking marathoners. But I felt very bad. I made it very clear when I ran past I was a relay runner and tried to encourage them (not sure if this was the best thing to do but I felt I couldn’t just overtake them).
I ran with one guy who was lovely and we chatted for about 0.5 miles until he told me to push on as he was trying to keep up with me which was ruining his pacing – he said something about a “male ego” 😉 I ran past another guy who grunted “hmph, relay runner” when I overtook. When I asked him if he knew how far we had left to go (as I couldn’t do the maths from my Garmin) he said in a very clipped voice “no”. I quickly apologised and headed off. Don’t annoy the marathoners, Anna!
After passing the 25 mile marker I knew I could push it on. I’m so pleased with how I felt during this race. I never once felt like I was dying, or it was too hard. It felt good.
This gives me huge confidence for my upcoming 10k (worst distance) in a few weeks.
I finished literally as my team arrived after getting to the finish and parking the car. Fairly amusing. We came second female relay team and our overall time was 3:23:05. Amazing, super running ladies! But it seriously made me realise I am so far away from that sort of time doing a marathon on my own.
One of our speedy marathoner’s had finished already in a very nice time of 3.17.xx (he did Paris as well…oh and he was the one who cycled with us on Monday – fresh as a daisy!) We then stood to cheer our other relay teams and marathoners.
Our other marathoners did amazingly too. Seriously impressive times considering the course profile and warm/sunny conditions. To be honest, I’m just hugely impressed at anyone who completed that marathon – my leg was hard enough with those hills! Paris was hard but that was flat. Not sure how keen I’d be to do this marathon…maybe when I’m a bit more experienced.
Ben’s relay team did great too with a time of 4:02:22. The morale was just brilliant and I loved supporting everyone and hearing how everyone’s run went.
As our team came second we got a little trophy (wish I’d have taken a photo) and a bottle of cider each. Not bad at all!
I definitely recommend a relay marathon to anyone; the morale within the team, the fun of driving off to the next location and supporting the marathoners is just a brilliant experience.
Have you ever done a relay?
What’s your ideal course profile in terms of terrain, popularity, length and elevation? I think mine would be a half marathon, off road with no more than 500 people (Cheddar Gorge half anyone…?).
Do you talk to people in races or do you like to be left alone? If I’m pushing hard then I tend to not be able to chat away but I do like a good natter in a race.