I had no idea how this race was going to go down. It was my first ever relay (well besides track & field in middle school). I really wanted to do the full triathlon, but figured it probably wasn’t the best idea since I had not properly trained to do all three events. I’m a solid biker and could have probably pulled out a decent ride, but the swim is always pretty challenging and I hadn’t been in the ocean for any kind of training in almost two years. I heard about a new age-graded relay division the race was introducing this year called the Tri The Lab relay. It sounded like a great way to get back into the triathlon scene while keeping my training focused on running.
I arrived at the transition area at 6:45am to meet my teammates (by random draw) Pam and Sarah. Our wave went off at 7:16am with Sarah doing the swim. She killed the 1 mile swim with a time of 27:01. Transition times didn’t count towards our overall time which was awesome.
Pam collected the timer from Sarah and set out on her 34 mile ride. The most challenging aspect of doing the relay was the wait. I really didn’t have a clue how long the ride was going to take Pam. She mentioned she was a strong cyclist, but had only rode the course once and stopped a few times. This bike course is not for the faint of heart. There are a few gnarly climbs, so I estimated she would finish in around 2-2:15:00. For someone who is a little impatient (okay more than a little) two hours feels like an eternity.
I killed some time talking to and observing the other runners who were part of a relay team. One guy decided he was going to wear his headphones and was adamant he could never run without them even though he would get a 4 minute penalty according to USAT rules. There was a big group of women all in the same tri kits from a group called Moms in Motion. They were super enthusiastic and fun. I need to look into this group. And then there were a few hard core looking runners with poker faces on.
One by one the runners left transition and the numbers began to dwindle. This was mentally the most challenging part of the race. When Pam came in I wanted to hug her I was so happy. I gave her a high five instead, grabbed the timer and off I went!
I started out with a strong first two miles. My splits were 8:33 and 8:27 and I felt good. I thought I could hold that pace forever or at least the next 8 miles.
Here are my splits
Out of nowhere I got hit with a major side stitch right as I started up the beginning of a hill at mile 3. I had to stop. Something I never do. For a minute I thought I was done. How would I be able to run another 7 miles with this thing? Not sure how this happened. I had held a 8:30 min/mile pace during longer training runs with no problem. It must have been the second gel I ingested right before I left transition. I made a classic rookie mistake by doing something new with my nutrition on race day. Boy did I learn my lesson.
One thing I’m not is a quitter. I have never recorded a DNF and wasn’t about to let a cramp be the reason to get one. I tried a few tricks that helped and was able to (sort of) get my groove back. I had to stop one more time when the cramp made a reappearance at the mile 5 turnaround. After this I knew my hopes of a PR were over, but I was still determined to finish strong.
The last five miles were pretty smooth sailing to the finish. The cramp finally disappeared for good and I felt like myself again. I managed to finish only two minutes off from my previous best 10 miler.
Although I didn’t set any new records, I’m so glad I did this race and gave the relay a try. I learned a lot from the experience and best of all met two awesome new racing buddies.
Total Miles – 10
Finish Time – 1:28:06
Age-graded Time – 1:26:29
Average pace – 8:59min/mile
Team Age-graded Finish Time – 4:02:21
Next up is my first international race, Mitja Marato Sabadell 14k in Spain on September 6th! No idea what to expect. Just planning to have fun taking in the sights and sounds of Sabadell.