Monday, May 18, 2015

Race Recap: Colfax Marathon Relay

Sunday was the 10th annual Colfax Marathon. While that's the name of the race, it doesn't come close to covering the massive event which starts on Saturday with a 5k followed by the marathon, marathon relay, half marathon, and 10 miler on Sunday. Across the various races, the routes extend from Aurora east of downtown to Lakewood out west. 

I ran the marathon relay with a team of fellow Oiselle runners - Laura, Kasey, and Lindsay, plus honorary bird, Lisa. It was a pretty fantastic morning and went much better than I expected.

Waiting for Lisa - our first runner - at Mile High Stadium
I hardly slept a wink Saturday night. The nerves had hold of me. After not running for more than two weeks with a virus that just wouldn't let go, I spent last week desperately trying to get back into shape. I've been working hard this year to build up my mileage and speed, in smart and manageable ways, with this relay - my first race of the year - and Monday's BolderBOULDER in my sights. And it had all been going really well until I got sick and everything came to a halt. 

Once I started running again I kept running. I ran every day last week. Which I realized on Saturday, when I struggled through a four-miler, probably was not the smartest idea. 

But I had the heavy weight of self-imposed pressure on my shoulders to not let my team down. This was my first relay; four other people were counting on me to not sleep through my alarm (which thankfully I've never done before), be ready for Lindsay for the hand-off, and finish my leg of the race - the last leg of the race - without collapsing on the side of the course. 

Lisa flying into the chute, ready to hand off to Laura

Laura on the 2nd - and most scenic - leg around Sloan's Lake
Lindsay out on Colfax, heading my way
I warmed up three times while I waited at Mile High Stadium for Lindsay to pass me the baton. I stressed over when to eat the Picky Bar I had in my pocket, how much water to drink, if there was going to be toilet paper left in the port-a-potty on my last visit (there almost wasn't), and when to use my inhaler without knowing exactly when I'd start running. I decided to go out conservatively and take my time then kick it up a notch in the second half if I was feeling good. I also tried to focus on the fun atmosphere, the beautiful day, my awesome teammates, and the fact that we were in it to have fun, not to win the race. 

After nearly 3 hours they called our number and I popped out to the front of the line to see Lindsay coming down the hill - the only relay runner coming through. I cheered her in and took the baton. It was my turn.

Most of the next 6.2 miles were familiar territory for me with the exception being the start. The last leg, like the first, runs through Mile High Stadium, right along the edge of the field. Even though I'm pretty indifferent to the team, it was pretty cool to run through the stadium where the Denver Bronco's play.

I was feeling pretty good as I got going and waited till we crossed over the Platte River to glance at my watch. 8:30-ish pace?! Oh heck no! From that point on my pace varied wildly as I consciously tried to keep it real but kept catching myself speeding up and needing to pull back. It was a roller coaster but one that didn't come completely off the tracks. 

We ran along the Platte River, Cherry Creek, through downtown, and down a long stretch of 17th Street back to City Park where it all began. The police presence along the course managing traffic was pretty incredible. I tried to thank as many as I could along the way because I certainly would not want their job!

The finish line seemed a lot farther than I expected once we made it into the park, but as I got closer and it came into view I spotted my teammates along the side cheering, giving me that extra push I needed. Better yet, they joined me on the course and we kicked our way to the finish line. Together.

Yep. It was pretty awesome.

Finish Line Selfie 
Celebrating at the post-race festival
I finished my leg with an overall pace of 9:09 - which is far beyond what I was expecting. Our team finished in 3:57:26, an 8:54 pace and #235 of 1074 relay teams. We rocked it.

Big props go out to Laura, who organized the team and raced at 23 weeks pregnant, and Lisa, who ran Boston last month! Lindsay and Kacey are also running the streets of Boulder Memorial Day. Thank you for being such a fun and strong group of women to run with!

In the end, I didn't need to stress nearly as much as I did so this week I'm going to take it easy on the training, try to get a little extra sleep each night, eat well, and get to the start line Monday morning feeling great. I certainly look forward to my next relay with Oiselle!

If you've run a relay race, what was your favorite part of the experience and what advice would you give to newbies? * What races do you have on tap for this spring/summer?

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