Race Recap: Sweetheart’s Relay
Remember how I kept lamenting the lack of racing opportunities available to me through the winter?
How I was going to go braindead without a race?
How there supposedly wasn’t going to be anything on the race calendar until April?
Well, guess what.
I was wrong!!!
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I was thrilled to participate in this morning’s Sweetheart Relay, which is composed of a two-mile and three-mile leg.
If you like, you can run the entire five mile course solo. This is what I did.
Due to the iciness of the trails, the course was altered so that it included an out-and-back portion on the beach, about a mile total but more if you weave like an intoxicated porcupine trying to avoid the ugly headwind and the creeks flowing into the channel, all while attempting to locate a tangent of sand that doesn’t suck too much energy out of your foot strike.
The rest of the course was on road; a combination of hills and flats.
Let’s just say my performance was… not my best.
Even running solo for both legs, I quickly found myself out in the front with no one to catch. A lot of my weekend running buddies were running the relay in the three-mile second leg, so I didn’t have them to pace off of.
Guys, I’m a terrible front runner. Absolutely awful. I spend the entire time being anxious about going off course, and I become immediately complacent once I identify that no one will be able to catch me. I prefer to have people out in front to patiently stalk, to run as if I am hunting something.
You know, hunting. That thing Sarah Palin likes to do. Are we sick of Sarah Palin jokes yet?
Anyway, with no mile markers, no one to catch, and no concrete knowledge of the course, you’d be correct to presume that this turned into a tempo run right quick. It’s a laid-back event to begin with, and I didn’t care to be the doofus going all-out in a relaxed Valentine’s Day relay race.
Then why even bother racing? some of you might ask. Confession time! I’m not Steve Prefontaine. I’m not badass enough to be all run-’til-you-puke if I have no one to catch.
Chalk it up to a vestigial structure from my soccer and lacrosse days, but I like having something to chase.
All told, I crossed the line first overall in 34:08. That’s 6:50-ish pace, if we’re calling it five miles.
This pace is:
…nine seconds slower per mile than my 10K PR pace
…25 seconds slower per mile than my 8K PR pace.
For the metrically challenged, an 8K is ~4.97 miles. In other words, about five miles. In other words, about the same distance I ran today.
I realize I have been training with the consistency of a short-tailed weasel this winter and consequently have completed no speedwork in the past two months, but even so I would have preferred to put down a faster time — one more consistent with my recent race performances.
And I do adore the racing scene around here — the laid-back atmosphere, the lack of mile markers, knowing so many people at the races, the unbeatable sense of community — but there are times that I miss being another face in the running crowd with leagues of faster people ahead to chase. Winning races here is inflating my ego and more frighteningly, my expectations.
I don’t want this to dissolve into another whiny diatribe about how I have trouble pushing myself, so let’s stop there for now. I’ll call this a “rust-buster” race and move on.
In other news, I bought several bags of Valentine’s Day-themed Hershey’s kisses for my Monday nature education program. I plan on having my kids use the Hershey kisses to play a food-caching game inspired by the habits of ravens.
If this were a nature education blog instead of a running blog, I would write a lot about ravens. They dominate the landscape here, and they are so cool it hurts. They swagger around like they own Alaska, because they do. They also have an outrageous sense of humor, are scary smart, make more vocalizations than any other animal aside from humans, and are about 37 times cooler than crows.
But my point is, I bought all those Hershey’s kisses and they keep leaping into my mouth. It’s going to be meager pickings for my raven-imitating kids on Monday if I keep up this pace.
Have you ever been the front runner in a race? Do you like being out in front, or do you prefer having people to chase?
What are your strategies for running on sand?