Monday, June 11, 2007

26.2 Miles... The Easy Way

Over the weekend, I ran my first marathon relay in my hometown with three of my girlfriends. Let me tell you, folks... THIS is the way to run a marathon!

As is usual on race morning, my day started at an insanely early hour and after a long, bumpy bus ride to the starting line (made even more miserable when my bladder started making noise), I was ready to rumble. I had the first four-mile leg, so my teammates met me at the start to wish me luck and promptly at 6:30 a.m. (still an insanely early hour, in my opinion), I was off to the races.

Originally, I had planned to run the first 12 miles of the relay while my teammates divided up the remaining 14. But with the achilles and knee trouble I'd had the last couple of weeks, I re-evaluated that plan and instead only ran eight miles... divided into two separate four mile legs. One of my teammates really stepped up to the plate to take on the extra four miles, despite the fact she'd never run more than five or six miles at a time in her life. Her relay legs were also divided into two, making it more manageable for her, but I was really impressed and grateful for her willingness to pick up my slack.

My first four-mile leg was a walk in the park. I was surrounded by runners and fueled on by the adrenaline that always provides for me. When mile four came up, I was really warmed up and feeling great, but according to plan, I passed it along. From there, each leg of the relay went flawlessly. Although of varied experience, we all ran strong and fast and took every opportunity we could along the course to cheer each other on.

Personally, I ran a very solid eight miles. My achilles and knee weren't causing any trouble whatsoever and I was well rested. I took advantage of the break in between my four-mile legs to ice, stretch and hydrate. The only hiccup came around mile nine when a fellow runner started into conversation with me. We talked back and forth for about a mile, which helped it pass quickly, but I worried along the way the energy I was expending in carrying on a conversation could be better used in breathing more efficiently. Sure enough, when he made a move ahead and I wished him luck, I had to endure a side stitch for the rest of the way. Nothing that couldn't be tolerated, but it made the last two miles a little more uncomfortable than they needed to be. I guess I learned my lesson that despite my natural inclination to do so, the middle of a race isn't the time to engage in long, friendly conversation.

The final 6.2 mile leg was run by my friend, a former high-school and college cross-country standout. She had a baby just six months ago, but you wouldn't know it by the way she smoked that 10K. Her sub 45:00 leg brought our team into the finish line together at 3:51:19... good enough for 14th place out of 34 total teams, both men and women.

We had such a good time, we've decided to make it an annual tradition. It was all the exhiliration of a full marathon with only a fraction of the pain.

What's not to love about that?!


Ovens2Betsy said...

Great report Angie! And I'm loving the skirt!!! (I just got a zebra-striped one in the mail today from SkirtSports. The shorts actually seem like they're going to be long enough!)

Allen said...

Great race, especially so since your AT problem was on vacation somewhere.

Jim said...

Sounds like a ton of fun. Definitely an appealing way to run a marathon. Congrats to you and your buds.

See Zanne Run said...

man ... that's the way to go! great job to you & your team!!

Now - can we talk about the skirt? It is darling! I'm about to order one from Athleta ...

love the pic of you doing your IT band stretch! But i think you're bending the wrong way - bend in the same direction as your front foot - if you put your left foot in front of right, then you bend right. Right? Or am i the one doing it wrong?

anyhow - it obviously worked, cause it sounds like you had a pain free run!

robison52 said...

I've never ran a relay before, and after reading your report, I MUST run one someday too!!! What a joyful way to run a marathon, although I too would probably get chatty when I should be racin' Congrats on your year you'll even be stronger.

Allen said...

Maybe I do it wrong, but I think she is doing the ITB stretch the correct way. Notice how her rear leg is curved. It's that curve that stretches the ITB. I'm impressed that she can do it without holding on to something. I have to hold on to a wall or tree to keep from falling over.

Tall Girl Running said...


You'll love your skirt! The compression shorts stay put while the skirt provides coverage. And you'll get a lot of compliments too. ;-)

As for the stretch:

I tried doing it the way you described and although I do feel it in my leg, it's not quite the same stretch. Leaning to the opposite side of my front foot targets all three problematic areas along my right ITB: my hip, my thigh and my knee. In the picture, I'm actually coming out of the stretch. I was leaning down quite a bit more, both to the ground and to the side. I don't feel like I'm getting the best benefit out of the stretch unless I'm sticking my big 'ol wide hip WAY out there. Like Allen said, it does take a little pratice to keep your balance, but I credit this one stretch to helping me pull out of my ITBS very quickly. Give it a try and see if you feel a difference!

Anonymous said...

Say, those are some pretty spiffy shoes. Are they new? :P

Laurel said...

A relay marathon? I love it. What a great idea! Sounds like a good time.

Congratulations on a great race and finish.

See Zanne Run said...

well. whatdya know? i have totally been doing that strech wrong. shame on me for getting all cocky on you & thinking you were doing it wrong! I gave your way a try & am amazed at the difference! so actually, glad i got all uppity & called you on it - i would have been doing it wrong forever! Thanks for setting me straight guys!!!