A few weeks ago a friend posted a link to a marathon relay at a local park. It was to be a marathon like no other. The first lap is 2.2 miles then 15 laps of 1.6 miles.
For those willing to go it alone the race is a Boston Qualifier, but the majority of the race is comprised of two and four person teams, and every team has a category, including age, weight, and co-ed.
After a five-mile Saturday trail run I asked my buddy, Jim, if he wanted to team up and run the beast. He responded with, “Sure, why not?” Why not indeed. The winter has been mild, averaging 45 degrees in the past 6 weeks. My legs felt good. And I’ve been dying to run 1.6 mile intervals.
Two days before the race the race director sent out an email:
Thank you for registering for the Massacre Marathon Relay. The good news is there is no snow. The bad news is that it will be cold. If you have never run this race we encourage you to bring a tent, heater, blanket, etc.
How cold was it projected to be? 20F with winds up to 18 mph and single digit wind chill. Thank goodness running isn’t always an individual sport.
The morning of the race I asked my magic eight ball if Jim and I were going to have a good race. It replied:
Well, Jim and I were determined to prove the magic eight ball wrong.
As it was, Jim and I were 1 of 5 two-man male teams, and 1 of 134 teams in total. We decided I’d go first, and he’d take the even laps. Out of the gate I put my legs to the test. 2.2 miles later I returned at 6:30 pace. Jim went out at 7:21 pace where he stayed +/- a few seconds the entire race <– very consistent runner he is. I, on the other hand, leveled off at 7:00 pace for the next four laps and hit 7:30 my last three (7:06 pace overall).
I only ran one lap barefoot as the ground was so cold I don’t think I would’ve been able to tell if I stepped on anything or injured myself. So the other 7 laps were run in my new VFF Bikila LS.
To prepare for the cold I packed a duffel bag with four pairs of shorts, 4 short sleeve shirts, 3 long sleeve, a sweatshirt, tights, two pairs of insulated track pants, socks, a ski coat, two pairs of gloves, two tobaggans, and a skull cap. I ended up wearing shorts and changing clothes once. Whatever. I was glad to be over-prepared.
The piece of clothing that got the most use (apart from my running shorts and shirts) was my ski coat. Hands down it was the best piece of clothing I brought. When I didn’t have it on, the wind went straight through me. There were times, when I wasn’t wearing my coat, that I literally could not feel pieces of my body. It was that cold.
In spite of the weather, I loved this race. I love being on a team and knowing that my effort or lack of effort will impact someone else’s outcome. I pushed myself farther than I would have had I been alone. A great run that I look forward to repeating.
The best lesson of all: Frequent 5Ks work. By increasing the number of race pace 5Ks in my training I’ve been able to improve my times and endurance drastically.
One last thing, screw you magic eight ball.
23rd overall / 3rd in two-man team
Jim: 12.8 miles / 1:35:17 / 7:26 pace
Chris: 13.4 miles / 1:35:10 / 7:06 pace