Early on in our overnight relay race, our 12-person team decided it would be a great goal to actually beat 24 hours to travel 187 miles by foot. That is the neat thing about these crazy relay races, is that others depend upon your performance both mentally and physically. Whenever the baton was handed to me I felt the surge of responsibility to do my best to get through my run as fast as I could so that we could meet our time goal. In the end I performed a lot better then I would have on my own.
My first leg was a rather hilly 10k course with lots of shade and glimpses of the Pacific Ocean. I finished it in a 9:06 pace per mile which was way better than a flat and hot 10k I'd completed a month earlier in 9:50 pace. I then helped with other tasks of timing, driving, and guiding my teammates to and from other handoffs as the sun set. We passed of the baton to team 2 and tried to get some sleep on a creaky gym floor which runners kept walking on. It was impossible without some serious earplugs so I just gave up.
My next run was only 2.7 miles at 3am and I wish I had taken this run faster. It was over before I knew it and at the same pace too. I could have run this faster but i got a bit disoriented in the dark streets of Anacortes, WA (no street lights).
Pushing the team forward by driving the old Vanagon up steep hills from 3am on till 6am was the hardest part of the race for me. It was harder then running for sure. Staying alert while driving and making sure you follow directions are really hard tasks at this stage.
The middle of the night logistics as well as proper hydration, fueling of the car and yourself, and containing inflammation are all key parts of making it through a relay safe, sound, happy, and a winner.
A sense of humor is key at this time of the race as well as a high tolerance for smells and crowds.
My final leg was looming after one hour of sleep and a pile of pancakes. It was a 7 mile trek up some serious hills and down a steep backside. Each hill slowed me to a 11 minute mile pace, as I raced down the other side at sub 7 minute pace. In the end I ran this last leg in 9:40 pace (still faster than that flat 10k back home). My personal finish was down a steep downhill to the ocean and to some awesome music my husband was playing for me on his dulcimer.
Our team finished just below 24 hours and in 16th place out of around 200 teams. My overall pace for 15 hilly miles was 9:20, a lot faster then my 11:10 pace of two years ago. Relays definately have a way of kicking me into gear.