Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Beach 2 Bay Relay - Corpus Christi

Beach 2 Bay Marathon:

Time forecast for the relay race split between the 6 on team “Chariots of Striders” was based on 4x5:45 mpm runners and 2x6:10-15 mpm runners = 2:34 total time for the marathon or 5:53 mpm. Line-up in order of the running was Steve Schroeder, Andrew Sharenson, John Yoder, Tommy King Jr, Garrett Rychlik, John Hill(me) - That's an awesome line-up of runners out of Houston - a very competitive team and we were looking for a podium spot in the Master's division.

It was a hot day – that pretty much sets the scene for the last 5 races in a row for me. On this particular day by the time I ran my leg (~9:30am) it was 80°F with a Dew Point around 70°F. I’m still in a bit of shell-shock from the blazing hot Boston Marathon recently but this is actually hotter – fortunately I only get to run just under 5 miles in this marathon relay instead of the whole thing like Boston. Heat and Humidity overcame 1,050 people treated for heat exhaustion compared to last year there were 60 according to news reports the next day. With 2500 teams of 6 (15,000 people) – that’s around 1 out of 15 people – amazing since we “only” ran 4-5 miles each.

Our pre-race forcasts had me getting the baton at 9:06 so I timed my pre-race 5 miles of jogging around to finish about 10 minutes before. 9:24 was when I received the handoff to start my relay after apparently a late start at leg 1 plus we were all a bit slowed by the heat vs the time forecast. I’d counted 9-10 people through the exchange before my handoff so I started this leg in either 10th or 11th place and I could not see the next guy coming so figured he was pretty far back. Here’s my splits:

5:34/163 – I kept trying to slow down – I was targeting ~5:50-6:00 for the first mile but I couldn’t seem to get that slow – there was a pretty good tailwind this mile that about matched my speed so the air felt very still (and the heat felt hotter). A kid (High School?) caught up and passed me before the end of the mile which surprised me a bit since I was so much faster than planned and didn’t see anyone close and the handoff – he must have been flying that first mile.
5:53/174 – closer to my target pace – not feeling too hard yet - I'm all alone.
6:06/177 – I was hoping to stay in the 5’s but pace is slowly slipping – getting hard.
6:15/178 – getting real hard – man it’s hot. I resist the temptation to look behind to see if anyone was chasing me down – there’s no one for a long way ahead.
5:58(pace for 0.95 miles)/180 (186 max) – last ¼ mile or so a couple team mates get me motivated to sprint it in and I’m still not so sure if there’s someone coming up from behind to sneak past me at the end so the last ¼ mile was closer to 5:00 pace.

Total 5:57 mpm/4.95 miles (per Garmin – 4.89 miles per race website).

The magic moment as I’m running full speed for the finishline --- announcer calls over the loudspeaker “First Place Master’s Team from Houston” – YESS!!!!

Our final time was 2:40 (6:07) so we all averaged ~14 sec/mile slower than plan (did I mention it was hot). That's about 1 minute faster than last year's 2nd place Master's team which 4/6 of the team was on (not me or Steve) and also about 1 minute faster than my 2nd place team back in 2008. 11th place overall with 7 open teams and 3 junior teams ahead of us leaving us 1st place Masters! Great job guys!!

Others on the team certainly mentioned the heat out there – three of us had just run Boston so we were feeling the déjà vu. Leg 1’s out and back with 2500 packed together running opposite directions on the same stretch of sand sounded especially interesting. I think I managed to get two extra beers at the finish beyond my 2 per bib allocation so all was good in the post-race party.

That’s the 4th team victory I’ve been a part of this year. The other three were Houston Marathon Team Challenge – 1st Marathon, Texas Independence Relay – 1st Overall, Bayou Bash Relay – 1st Masters. There’s something pretty sweet about winning as a team – love it! I’ve got one more team challenge next month (track meet – Shell vs Exxon are the typical rivals for top spot) – hopefully we can bring home one more victory. Chances are pretty high that report will start “It was a hot day”. I do hope to get a cool race in next month to break this streak of hot races – after my fishing trip in Alaska in June I plan to hang out a couple extra days and run the Anchorage Marathon on June 23rd – I ran that race back in 2008 and found it a fun cool race so looking to repeat and maybe I can pull out a Master’s win up there since they define a Master as 45+, something to shoot for anyway.


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