Hey guys! I’m so excited to tell you about the First Light Marathon relay that we ran today. If you run and you haven’t ever run on a relay team … you really need to! It is hands down, one of the most fun running experiences you can ever have, especially if you have a wonderful group of teammates, which I most definitely did.
The marathon course is divided up into 5 legs for the relay. Runner 1 runs 1 – 5, runner 2 runs 6 – 10, runner 3 runs 11 – 15, runner 4 runs 16 – 20 and runner 5 runs 20 to 26.2. Our goal this year was to run under 3:00 (6:52 pace) and get a new course record. We needed to beat 3:01:39 to get the course record.
We had an early wake up call, as all of the Running Wild relay teams met at 5:45 to caravan to the start. Daniel dropped me off and headed over to Mobile to run part of the course with some of his friends. Running Wild is one of the race sponsors and they always have lots of relay teams in the race.
The race started at 7:30 a.m. in downtown Mobile. The weather was chilly, but perfect for running. It was low 40s at the start and stayed right around that for the entire race. There is so much energy at the start line of a marathon. It’s really cool to experience. Everyone was lined up and ready to go!
Jessica was our first runner. She had a phenomenal day today! She ran our first leg and then continued on to run the half marathon. She ran 4 PRs (i.e., your personal record or your best time) today … the 1 mile, the 5K, the 10K and the half marathon. Holy moly.
She came blazing into mile 5 and handed off to Lizzie, our second runner. Lizzie also had an amazing run and she made up some serious ground on the first two relay teams during her leg.
At mile 10, Lizzie handed off to Jill. Jill also ran great (and on a really hilly leg)! She caught and passed one relay team and came into the exchange less than a minute behind the lead relay team to hand off to Rebecca.
Only problem was that Rebecca was in the bathroom. Eek! I started yelling at Rebecca, telling her that she had to HURRY! She flew out of the bathroom and got to the exchange seconds before Jill came through. Whew. Definitely cut it a little close, but it’s the stuff like that that makes relays so much fun!
Rebecca ran the hilliest of all the legs and killed it! She averaged 6:38, which was only 2 seconds per mile off of her course PR for that leg (which was also pre-baby).
Rebecca and I have had a few “mishaps” at past relays, like that one time when we tripped each other during the handoff (2012) or that other time when she made it to the exchange point before we were expecting her to get there, I was still out doing my warmup and had to sprint (over half a mile) to get there before she did (2015). In typical fashion, this year we flat dropped the bracelet that we were supposed to pass off at the exchange (like the baton in track) on the ground. I had started to run, but then had to stop and pick up the bracelet. On top of that, my first attempt to grab it was unsuccessful so I pretty much was at a dead stop by the time I got the bracelet secured and took off.
We were less than a minute behind the lead (MEN’S) relay team at that point, so I knew what I had to do. The last leg is 6.2 miles and it is flat (if not slightly downhill) and fast. I was ready to run. Maybe even a little too ready … I came through the first mile in 5:56. Too fast, too fast! It’s really hard not to start that section of the course too quickly, because you are on a slight decline.
I told myself it was no big deal, I would just slow my roll a little bit. Well, I passed the lead relay team runner during the second mile, so that really got me pumped up. Second mile was 5:59. After that I pretty much ran by myself the rest of the way in. Mile three was 6:05 and then the fast start caught up with me a little bit. Miles four through six were 6:17, 6:20, 6:17 and the last 0.28 (I didn’t exactly run the tangents very well) was 1:43. This gave me a total time of 38:37 for the 6.28 miles, which is an unofficial PR (I say unofficial because my results will not be listed separately). I ran this same leg in 39:06 last year. I love being able to see tangible fitness improvements and so this definitely gave me a boost!
I did have one other slight mishap out there. I started out with gloves on because I was freezing while I was just standing around waiting. I really didn’t even want to take my long-sleeves off to run, but I knew I would warm up. I just didn’t realize quite how warm I was going to get. The second half of the race I knew I had to lose the gloves. I was burning up! Unfortunately the bracelet was wrapped around my gloves and when I took them off it hit the ground. Again?! Thankfully I heard it and was able to stop and grab it. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have mattered if I hadn’t had it at the finish, but better safe than sorry.
I carried my gloves with me the rest of the way and decided to toss them to Daniel as I came into the finishing stretch. See them?! Ha. Side note: I tossed them straight up and not actually towards him very much so they actually landed in the middle of the street.
We finished in 2:54:53! The results aren’t posted yet and there seemed to be a little bit of confusion about the finishing times. An almost 2 minute confusion at that. I don’t know how that really happens, but it did. Regardless, we do know that our time is somewhere between 2:53 and 2:55. We met both of our goals and we were the first relay team to finish (out of everyone … men, women, coed, etc.). We were so excited!
We hung around downtown for a while, got some coffee to stay warm and waited to get our awards.
The relay came at just the right time in my training journey. I am so thankful for the friendships and connections that running has brought into my life and today was a wonderful reminder of those things. There is something really special about a hometown marathon too. It is great to see so many familiar faces out there and to see everyone cheering and supporting each other. That’s what community is all about and we have (in my opinion) the best running community around.
I ran with joy today!