2018 Pettit Indoor Marathon Relay

BWRC at Pettit Marathon Relay

A few months back the running group I trained with decided they were going to send some teams to go run the Pettit Indoor Marathon Relay.  I somehow got swept up in all of the excitement and put my name in as well.  I was able to convince my old college friend Christine to join us also.  If anything, it would give us a chance to catch up while we do the relay.  Spots seemed to fill up quick and before we knew it, the BWRC was sending enough runners for 11 teams.

Each team can have up to 4 runners and would collectively run the distance of a marathon on the indoor track – which ended up being 95 laps in total.  If you have a full team of 4 runners it ended up being between 6-7mi per runner.  The active runner ran with a velcro strap with the timing chip around their ankle. After their leg was done, we’d transfer the velcro strap to the next runner.  Along with Christine, we were matched with Emily who is one of the site leaders for BWRC and Nolan who was a last minute replacement for someone else who couldn’t make it.  From the very beginning we told each other we were not trying to hit any specific time or pace, so that took some of the pressure off.  I brought my wireless Bose speaker and we had music the whole time so it was pretty clear we were in it to have some fun.

Marathon Relay Team
Nolan, Christine, Emily, and Me

The last time I ever did any kind of relay was when I was in high school.  In the second or third to last event of the track meet, there would sometimes be a race called the “Weightman’s Relay”.  It was a 4x100m race for shot-putters and discus-throwers.  That’s right, it was the big guy relay.  A lot of times this race was just an “exhibition” race – also known as “watch the fat guys run”. In all honesty I really enjoyed when I was able to run it, because just for 100m I could pretend I belonged out there on the track with the rest of the runners.

High School Track Team

The Team

 

Christine on her first leg
Christine on her first leg

I’ve known Christine for over 20 year now.  Is that right? I can know people for that long? Man I am old! We were cheerleading stunt partners in college so our shared fitness goals started early on.  After that we stayed friends and eventually started running around the same time. She even helped me finish my second marathon.  I knew having her on the team would help me mentally just like it did when she ran in the marathon with me.

Nolan
Nolan making it look easy

Out of the four of us, Nolan was clearly the fastest.  He is 11 years old and on cross country at his school.  It was pretty amazing watching him run so fast and so effortlessly. I didn’t care about finishing fast, but with him on the team, he could cancel me out since I was the slowest.

Emily on her first lap
Emily on her first leg

I haven’t known Emily very long, but one thing I do know is that she absolutely brings the positive energy.  She is one of the site leaders and pace group leaders for BWRC and I was happy to find out she was on our team.  I wish I was faster so I could run in her pace group too.

The Race

The race started promptly at 1pm and we set the order of our runners – Christine, Nolan, Emily, then me.  When Emily became our captain a few weeks back we decided to do 4-lap legs.  After talking more on Facebook we decided to shave it down to 3 laps.  We had no goal or strategy, so we just wanted to see how things would go.

After each of us completed our first leg of 3 laps, we quickly changed our strategy to running 2 laps per leg.  Since the track was a little longer than the standard track at 445m (.28mi) it messed with our pacing.  We worried that we would get tired faster.  “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” could not be more true at this point.  We figured, if we knew we only had to do 2 laps at a time, it would be much easier to manage throughout the rest of the race.

I had my Marathon Relay playlist rocking the entire time at our pit stop so we could pass the time waiting for our turn.  Now with the shortened legs, there really was not that much time to wait around for your turn.  One thing I did not consider was how quickly I would tighten up waiting my turn.  The running track is secondary at the Pettit arena to the two hockey rinks and the olympic speed skating long track.  The temperature felt like it was in the 50s the entire race.  I would absolutely love this climate during an outdoor marathon, but not during an indoor marathon relay.

One by one, the length of this race was starting to wear on us differently.  First Nolan’s foot started hurting him and he was running out of energy.  He was still clocking pretty quick splits, but you could tell he was not quite enjoying himself any longer.  He ended up swapping his shoes out with some shoes he had broken in.  Next my ankle started stiffening up and then eventually Christine started hurting also.

My last lap

The Finish Line

Just like my marathon experiences in the past, we just had to keep chipping away at the miles.  I refocused on the task- run 2 laps, rest for 6 laps, and repeat.  At around mile 20, I caught a second wind, which was the opposite experience I have had running a marathon.  I had three more legs to run, told Christine “I am feeling good, I am going to do these fast”.  These last three legs were my fastest of the race.  Christine was hurting bad by the end, so Emily and I picked up an extra lap to cover Christine’s last leg.  That left Nolan to finish the last leg and the race for us.  We wanted him to cross the finish line for our team, and the math of the of all the laps made that happen.  We finished just under 4 hours, so now I can say I finished a marathon under 4 hours.

I definitely underestimated what it would take to finish this relay.  Normally, a 6.5-7mi run is something that seems absolutely doable, but when you pair that with constant cold temperature, and stopping and waiting a majority of the time, it gets a little more difficult.  Next year I will be more mentally prepared for the race and hope that we will get a better time…as long as Nolan is back on my team.

American Heart Association kickoff meeting

On Thursday (5/20) was the kickoff meeting for the American Heart Association Start! Heart Walk team for the Chicago Marathon by Sears Tower – I won’t call it by it’s new name.  I was running late but I was able to dial in on my cell so I could listen while I drive through the hell that is 90/94.  I was tweeting back and forth with @cubicledad to tell him I was going to be late.  He said I should make a dramatic entrance.  I was hoping they would ask whoever was on the phone (me) would introduce themselves and then I could pop my head in the room as I was talking.  Didn’t quite work out that way.

When I finally got there 15 minutes after it started I was just in time to catch Bernie Salazar talk.  He was the at home winner of the Biggest Loser Season 5.  He lost 130 pounds over the past couple of years, and pretty much cut his weight IN HALF! Can you imagine that? I’m not sure I want to weight half of my heaviest weight (310lbs/2 = 155lbs).  But even just hearing him talk about his struggles with weight loss and his story about his first marathon, it really gives me hope for this year.  I was able to talk to him after the meeting a little bit just to get some tips and a little more inspiration.

They also showed a video of a woman who is a stroke survivor and is still motivated to run.  I pretty much was near tears watching the video.  Unfortunately I forgot her name, (her first name is Phyllis) once I find out, I’ll write up a post about her.  Just an amazing story!

Now onto the pictures, and don’t forget to check out my donation page: http://www.runningforjerry.org

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Me and Dan (@cubicledad)

 

Me and Bernie Salazar

Me and Bernie Salazar (Biggest Loser Season 5)

 

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American Heart Association Team!

 

After the meeting was done I walked back to my car in the garage next to SEARS Tower, so I had to snap a quick picture of it…

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Walk before you run; Run before you run faster

I mentioned this a little bit on one of my recent DailyMile entries. It just amazes me how fast some people can run. As a teenager I could run a 10 minute mile. I absolutely HATED running back then, and just played basketball. There is a level of endurance involved in basketball, but it is definitely different than distance running. I look back now at my teenage self and I wish I could talk through time and tell past me to start running more, because when he turns 30, he will want to be faster when running races. He would probably tell me there would be no way that he would end up loving running. Somehow I would have to convince him that basketball would become secondary to running in his life. Right out of the script from LOST or Back to the Future, huh?

Anyways getting back to the topic at hand. Speed. How is it that the human body can travel at such speeds? For instance, the guy who won the Shamrock Shuffle 8K I ran in just a couple of weekends ago finished around 25 minutes! That means when I got to the start line (28 minutes after the elite group took off), he had already finished the race and finished a couple cups of water, a banana, and got his free beer. Meanwhile, I finish a couple of minutes under an hour, and I celebrated that! 🙂

Then I see people on DailyMile posting runs where they would average anywhere from 7-8 min/mile. Even in my best shape in high school, I never touched those kinds of speeds. Let me get across that I am not hating on these people. I am simply in awe of what they can do with what they have. And what they have is the same general anatomy as me: Two legs, two arms, brain, heart, lungs, etc. Now of course there are variations in their equipment compared to mine, and they have had years and years of training and discipline.

So I can’t help but wonder what kinds of steps I need to take in order to close the gap on some of these runners. Now I am pretty I won’t be getting to the 7-8 min/mi speed, but I would just love to chase my old self. 10 minute mile. Obviously with this marathon training hindering any true progress in speed, I may not get to it this year. But I think it is something I would like to pursue. Last year I was able to shave around 5 minutes off of my 5K time bringing me down to 32:32 – 10:29/mile. Just need to shave off another 30 seconds to reach that goal (assuming I still could run as fast). Maybe I’ll catch you next year, “16 year old Joey”. I’ve got my eyes on a bigger prize this year! 26.2!