So what would make a person want to run a marathon relay on a 500m indoor track?! Awesome friends and a promise of food and beer when you finish!
Two teams of Woo Hoo Crewers showed up last Sunday to run the inaugural Indoor Insanity Marathon Relay. Katie and I were Team Woo Hoo Crew Girls, each running a half. We were the only 2 person girl team! Hells yeah! Bekah, Daniel and Cara made up Team Three’s A Crowd, each running slight under 9 miles a piece. Amanda and Bob ran the earlier indoor 5K race and they both stayed to volunteer and cheer on the runners.
All teams, or if you were brave enough to run to solo, had to complete 84.4 laps around the JDL Fast Track. Thankfully, the relay was “free form” so each team could decide how they would complete the marathon. Some teams went for the speed approach and alternated every 1000m (2 laps); other teams opted for trying to get some miles under each leg before handing off to their teammates. That was our approach to tackling the marathon. We each thought running 7 laps (3500m, just over 2 miles ) for as long as we could be the best way to break the mileage up and maybe help us not to tire quickly. Each team also had a lap counter and ours was Craig, who was awesome and super supportive! He cheered for us each time we passed through the start/finish line. He also kept us on track for finishing under 4:30, my goal for our team, though I’m not sure Katie knew that I made that goal. I just thought if we ran really well, we could finish around 4:30. I didn’t want to pressure her but I had complete confidence that we could do it!
I started our team off, which the .4 was tacked on so my first leg was almost 2.3 miles. With all the excitement of the race, I ran the first leg a little too fast and knew that I had to back off just a bit to be able to keep a good solid pace for the remaining legs. The course was similar to an Indy Car track. We made left and right turns with each lap around the track, which was key to saving our legs and avoiding injury. The layout of the track lent there to be a lot of crowd support from all of the other runners and volunteers. We ran through the middle of the track where a lot of runners waiting for their turns were camped out. The back side of the track and one of two straightaways was where I would recover and then work to gain speed again for the rest of each go around the course. The other straightaway was behind a set of bleachers and out of view from the crowd, so it was my other time to recover a bit. I really ran each 500m much like a Fartlek…running quickly through part of the course and recovering along the straightaways. Not sure when I thought that was my approach, but I stuck with it for the entire race.
Katie ran the next 3500m and we kept this plan for for 3 legs a piece. On the fourth leg, we were going to back down to 5 laps, but Katie, luckily great at math at that moment, realized we needed to run 6 so that we didn’t end up with a lap a piece at the end. She quickly found me on the course and told me to run 6 laps. After 6 laps a piece, we dropped to 5 laps each until the finish. We finished the first half of the marathon right at 2:05:25. It seemed like we’d have the 4:30 goal easily if we just kept up our momentum. While Katie was out on her second to the last leg, Craig and I were chatting and looking at our time to see where we stood as far as the 4:30 goal. Katie and I had been running really well. At this point, we easily had 4:30, so Craig said if his math was right, we could have 4:20! He had been tracking how fast Katie and were running each lap and he thought 4:20 was in reach. He told me on my final leg of 5 laps, I needed to get back to the exchange zone by 4:00 in order to put us at 4:20 or under.
Katie finished up her 5th lap and she handed off to me. I remember looking at the clock and thinking I only like 14 minutes to get all 5 laps in and get back by 4:00. I am awful at doing math when I run, so that seemed almost crazy! I took the time bracelet from Katie and just went. I stayed with my Fartlek approach and with each lap I’d take a glimpse at the clock and try to figure out how fast I was running each lap. I knew I was running each 500m about 2:45-2:50 so when I came through on my last lap, I had to keep a quick pace in order to make it back by 4:00.
I came rolling through the last turn and headed for the exchange zone just staring at the clock. It was on 3:59:58! Holy moly, I made it back in time! I handed the bracelet to Katie at 4:00:02. Katie had to just finish up her last 5 laps in 20 minutes. Craig and I watched the TV that had the live results on it, looking at our time as Katie passed by for her first few laps. We started doing the math and realized after her first 3 laps, we were going to be faster than even 4:20?! Katie was running each lap progressively faster. GO girl!! She came through and started her last lap. I joined her and ran with her for the last go around. I filled her in while we ran at how well we were doing. We looped through the course and came through the finish line, 4:16:56!
We got our medals and gave each other a big hug! I was so proud of us both and how well we ran. We stayed upbeat and positive the whole time! Sure we were tired and achy, but we did it! Both of us went into this marathon relay just for the fun of it. We knew that no matter what, we’d each run a half and it would take us a long as it would take. Little did we know that we’d end up running not only faster than 4:30 or even a 4:20. We were the first all girl team to come through the finish line! That was just the icing on the cake. WOO HOO!
As promised there was beer and food post race. Everyone grabbed a beer, some went over to get massages and we decided that we’d head to Foothills for post race grub. It was an awesome event! We look forward to returning next year and bringing even more people with us.
To read about Team Three’s A Crowd’s experience, read Daniel’s race recap: Indoor Insanity Marathon Relay