Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Illinois Marathon Relay 2012

 Once again, I participated in this year's Illinois Marathon Relay.  Originally, we had tried to bully my 18 year old cousin into running with Katie, my sister, and me.  Therefore, we came up wit the name Flatheads, an term of endearment for our grandpa.  When my cousin bowed out due to Senior obligations, we recruited or friend Lara to complete our team.

Lack of time and commitment to other obligations made training pretty tough for most of the team.  Katie probably prepared the most, but her feet have been giving her enough trouble that even the most prepared were having concerns.

I ran the first leg of the race and my whole goal was to do better than I did last year.  I had held back on a few recent runs just to be a little more fresh when it came to this race, but not enough to endanger my half marathon training for June.  As soon as the race stared I felt great.  The weather was cool and cloudy which turned out to be perfect weather for a really good race.  I started well back of the pack because our corral position was based on our predicted finish time, 4:20 or about 10 minutes/mile, but I run much faster than that and therefore got caught behind the crowd.  I did a few nifty maneuvers and managed to work my way through the crowd, while still maintaining a good pace.  As the mile ticked by I was running a pretty regular 7:30/mile.  I was feeling good and I was concerned that pace would not beat my lasts year's time.  So I picked it up a bit for the last couple of miles and finished my leg, 6.7 miles, in 50:01.  I felt like it was a great run.

I handed off to Lara,  who was joined by her husband Phil.  Lara had some concerns about her abilities to complete her leg, so Phil ran with her as moral and, if needed medical, support.  Lara ran past her parent's house where her son was cheering them on. Phil grabbed a hot dog.  Lara claims to have struggled a bit with a few aches and pains, but she completed her 6.9 mile leg in just about 1:10!  Right on schedule.  Note: Phil ambushed the remainder of the race with a couple of other friends!  No recent training to speak of and he ran about 20 miles on a whim!

Next came Katie.  She had the good fortune of running past her parent's house and they made a great sign for her and recruited the rest of the spectators to cheer her on as she passed!  A couple of miles later, Katie passed by her brother and nephew, who were out cheering her on.  There was also the offer of beer from a neighbor, which she bravely passed up.  Her feet held up great and she completed her 6.9 mile leg in about 1:11!  by this point we were ahead of our predicted time!

For the Final leg we handed it off to my sister, Anita, to bring us home!  Anita's job had kept her from thorough training, but she had recently completed the Shamrock Shuffle in preparation.  She was not nearly as nervous as last year, and her performance proved it.  She only stopped to walk one time on the only hill of the entire course, and met us at our designated meeting place right on schedule!  We all joined up and ran across the finish line in Memorial Stadium as a team.  We finished in 4:11:34.  We were 26th of 65 teams in our division and 97 of 202 overall relay teams.  I think we kicked ass!

We had a lot of support along the way.  Besides Katie's family on the course and Phil's assistance in the race, my parent's and our kids came to the stadium to cheer us on.
Anita's friend Betsy was also huge support!  She ran the half marathon in the race, lined up with me at the start, and came back out to join our triumphant run across the finish line!  i am trying to get Betsy to be my marathon partner for next year, but she seems a bit hesitant. And let's face it, I am pretty hesitant myself!

In my typical fashion, I attempted to incorporate alcohol into the event.  You can see from our shirts that the intent was there.

Mission completed!

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