Ice Beaker Indoor Marathon Relay
In my last post I mentioned that last Saturday I was fortunate enough to participate in the Ice Breaker Indoor Marathon Relay as a guest of the Oiselle team. Overall, it was a great experience. Because I was a fill-in for someone who had been unable to participate, I was a little late to the game with regard to planning and really wasn’t sure what to expect. However, it ended up being a great time and I met a lot of awesome people!
|Obligatory group shot from before the race|
There were 24 girls in the group that I was with, with everyone split into teams of 4 based upon their projected 800 pace. The track itself was 445 meters (which was a pleasant surprise, as I have found that most indoor tracks are smaller than a standard outdoor track – making for a lot of laps). The arena was a little chillier than I expected (it encloses an indoor ice rink) and it was definitely cold when we were just standing around. However, once we started running it wasn’t too bad.
The coordinator of our group was amazing (she had run/organized groups for the race a number of times before) and knew all the “insider tips” for the race (such as bringing lots of layers and blankets and hot tea to alleviate the dry throat). We arrived about 2 hours before the event and didn’t have any difficulty parking or finding a spot by the track. We were able to set up camp and set our blankets, bags, and snacks all together in the same area. There was also a bathroom located right outside of the track entrance – which was key since there was very little time between sets.
The race itself was well run and organized. The relay teams were allowed to have 2-4 runners and the race was chip timed. The chip also served as the baton, in that it was a velcro band that was strapped around the runner’s ankle and had to be exchanged every time a new runner entered the track. The hand-off could occur anywhere around the track (this was what threw me off the most at the beginning, being accustomed to stringent exchange zone rules back from high-school). The laps could also be divided in any manner and do not have to be pre-determined (although, having a plan of attack and a way to track laps is definitely beneficial). Our group decided to do 2 laps at a time (totaling 890 meters), which ended up being 12 separate rounds (24 laps) apiece.
|The “baton” exchange|
The track looked incredibly crowded at the start line and I was nervous that it was going to be overly congested. However, the runners spread out rather quickly and more often than not there was plenty of room on the track. The other runners were generally very respectful about using the inner lane as a passing lane and moving out of the way when quicker runners were coming through.
Periodically, the results would be announced over the loud speaker and there was a screen that displayed the standings. Because our team’s camp was set on the other end of the track, it was difficult for us to see where we were ranked (we had adopted the “our main goal is to have fun” attitude). We were quite surprised when about half way through the race we heard that our team was in third! Of course, hearing that gave us all the little boost that we needed to keep it up!
|I wasn’t crying, I swear!|
My only complaint was something that nobody could control — the dryness of the air was killer! Otherwise, the race was incredibly well run. It was easy for spectators to view (being on a track after all) and there was even a photographer from Running in the USA taking pictures.
It’s never a good sign when after your first round (1/12) you feel exhausted. I was nervous for this event going in, as I have only very recently (within the last month or so) started doing speed work again. I was diligent in my speed work pre-surgery, but after a year and a half of zero to easy running, I wasn’t sure what to expect from my body. I was terrified that I would not be able to live up to my projected pace and that I would let my team down.
My fears were alleviated once I met the girls on the team (who were all super nice and who were sure to mention that they were all in it just to have fun). Although the first laps were tough, I also managed to complete them quicker than I anticipated. Somehow, my splits were almost all even (and faster than I had projected)! The team atmosphere helps a lot too – it is much easier to push through the pain when you know that there are other people working hard who are counting on you. The 9-10 minutes between sets fly by – it was just enough time to recover for another hard effort, but not so long that you got too stiff or cold.
Learning that we were in third place about halfway through the race also helped with our momentum. We managed to hold our place, finishing 3/39 of all the women’s teams and 20/95 of all the teams (women’s, men’s, and mixed). A nice little surprise to finish out the day (and a major confidence booster as well)!
While placing was nice, I was even more excited that my leg/hip were able to hold up. Just a few months ago, this would have been an impossible task. Even over the summer when I was marathon training, I couldn’t even do short striders without my leg discoordination/ pain/ tightness completely shutting down my right leg. I had managed to build back my endurance, but my body still couldn’t tolerate any sort of speed without the leg “turning off.” While my pace still may not be back to where it was, it has improved dramatically. I feel like my running life is now divided into three distinct sections: high school (H.S.), before surgery (B.S.) and after surgery (A.S.) and I need to remind myself that I can’t compare myself with myself across these segments. I am never going to be the runner I was in H.S. or B.S. But this race was a huge accomplishment for my A.S. self and has definitely encouraged me to stay positive and consistent with my training.