Awesome, Awesome, Awesome! This was my first relay event. There will be more in my future!
The Mount Si Relay was such an awesome event. It’s a 59 mile, 10 leg relay that requires 5 people per team. We were in the masters category as our total team age was over 200 years.
My prep for this race started the night before with my pre race dinner. While cooking my new traditional meal, I couldn’t help but be entertained at how my opinions about “race fuel” have changed so drastically in a few months. My heaping plates of spaghetti with a lot of bread and a little salad have now been replaced with a giant steak and tons of vegetables cooked in olive oil. My morning pre-race meal of a giant bowl of oatmeal with berries and brown sugar has now been replaced with 6 slices of bacon and 3 eggs.
If you don’t know, I switched to a Low Car High Fat diet 5 months ago. If you are interested, I’m documenting that journey on this blog as well.
Back to the race report:
I met up with my team, The Eastside Runners, at 7:15 a.m.. These were all strangers as I came to be on this team via a Facebook post on a local running groups Facebook Page. Yes, I planned to spend 7-8 hours in a car with a bunch of strangers. Good thing everyone was nice and we all got along. 🙂
I was assigned leg 4 and leg 9. Leg 4 was a 6.2 mile run with only an alleged 40 feet of gain, but 250 feet of loss. Leg 9 was a 7.2 mile leg with no gain and 3 miles of downhill. I liked my assignments.
I went into cheerleader mode for the 1st 3 legs. It was fun to be a spectator for a while and cheer on other teams as they made their exchanges as well as the amazing ultra marathoners that were running the 50 mile race.
I have to admit that after some of the speedy times I watched my team mates turn in, I was feeling a bit of pressure to run the times I had promised! 🙂 This was a competitive group, and we wanted to do our best. Based on the elevation gain of my first leg (and the fact my legs were fresh), I promised no worse than a 7:00 minute pace.
Mount Si Relay Leg 4
My team mate and I made the exchange, and I was off. We were behind at least one other team in our division, so I decided to push it a bit. I wanted to run fast, but I also wanted something left in the tank for my 2nd leg of the race.
First split came in at 6:45! Right on target. Usually my splits will drop as my legs warm up, so I was loving this. Then a small grade appeared. It was longer than expected, considering I had read that their was only 40 feet of gain on this 6.2 mile segment. My mile 2 split came in @ 7:03. “no worries” I thought – this is a gravelly trail, and that section was mostly uphill. The slower speed is understandable. (I never look at my pace when running – I run by heart rate and cadence).
As I continued, I kept thinking to myself “that sheet is full of shit, this is way more gain than 40 feet!” The trail continue to climb. It wasn’t a steep hill – just a gradual climb that required quite a bit more effort as it was trail, and not pavement. I kept my cadence and heart rate right where I wanted them, and split 3 came it @ 7:14! “WTF?” I thought – “my splits don’t get slower, they get faster as I run”. Then I remembered it was a steady grade, AND I was thinking like the road runner I am. I always forget that trails are slower – especially ones with loose gravel on them.
I kept my pace and mile 4 comes in at a 7:22! Mile 5 a 7:20. “When the F*ck do I get to run downhill as that stupid synopsis promised me?”
Finally – just past mile 5 the trail turned and headed downhill. I really turned on the burners as I had to make up a bit of time. I had promised my team mates a 7:00 minute pace! Mile 6 came it at 6:28! My average for the run was a 7:02. I was very pleased with that.
Mount Si Relay Leg 9
Leg 9 promised to be all downhill, but after the lies about leg 4, I was skeptical. Still, I was pretty amped up for my leg, because I think we were gaining a bit on the team in front of us. I told my team mates that, based on the 450 feet of loss on this route, I was going to run a sub 7:00 min pace. I took off, and unlike the synopsis of leg 4, this one was accurate. The decent began almost immediately.
Mile 1 came it at 6:46. I was very happy with that, but recognizing that I was running downhill for the entire first mile, I was also a bit worried. You see, my legs had begun to hurt within that first mile – and I still had 6 to go!
I focused on my cadence (which was running a bit high @ 186 spm). I slowed it to 182 spm, and kept my heart rate in the 165 range (this is my normal race pace). I kept that cadence and heart rate very steady and mile 2 came it at 6:49. Not bad I thought.
Mile 3 was 6:58 and now I was starting to get a bit worried. The pace was travelling in the wrong direction – EVEN THOUGH I WAS STILL DESCENDING! 🙂 The legs were hurting, and I looked at my watch. My cadence was down to 180 spm! I was fatiguing! “Nope – this isn’t going to happen” I said. I decided to go into the “zone”. That’s what I call it when I find my almost meditative like state. This state is good, because in it, my body knows the cadence to keep, and I become unaware of the pain in my legs. I become hyper focused on the muscles in my face bouncing, and the sounds of nature as I’m running. It’s a great place that I can’t always find, but when I’m in pain, I try to find it.
I found it temporarily, but I kept dropping out of this trance like state. None the less, mile 4 came in @ 6:57. At least I was maintaining my pace. At this point, the slope became less noticeable. I was running out of downhill. I continued to focus on my heart rate and my cadence. I noticed that my cadence actually increased as it often does when I get sore. Smaller steps, but more of them, and I can usually keep the same pace well past the point of a little pain.
Mile 5 came it @ 7:05. Only two more to go. Now the random thoughts kick in – “I can do this, Holy shit this hurts, Keep up your cadence Chad, don’t let your team down, catch that girl in front of you, WOW – nice pace booty, I think I’ll run here for a minute!” – SNAP OUT OF IT CHAD – you’ve got a race to win. Mile 6 came in at 7:13 – I blame the pace booty!
The trail was dead straight, and I thought I could see the exchange point way in the distance. This gave me a small adrenaline burst and I picked up the cadence to 186 spm again. Sure enough, that was the exchange point. As I neered, my watch buzzed the last miles interval – 7:02! I tagged my team mate, and he was off for the last leg.
He came within 50 seconds of catching the team in front of us that we were targeting. All in all, our team put in their very best effort and I had a blast. We made our way to the board to check what place we had come in. Turns out, the team we were chasing all day was in another division! We got 2nd place, and the first team place beat us by 45 minutes! LOL.. That’s ok, for this one day, all of us “masters” had fun competing at a great event.