When we left off, Vishal had just picked Char and I up at our hotel and we headed to Publix to meet the rest of our team. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that yet another Nuun employee would be completely awesome, but we immediately liked Vishal and the conversation and laughter was flowing!
We pulled into Publix and were greeted right away by teammates Rhonda (this was her 10th relay!!) and Lynda. The pre-relay energy was buzzing and we were all excited to get to know each other and for the adventure to begin. We loaded vans and did a little additional van decorating to supplement Vishal’s stellar art work.
Soon rockstar triathlete, Julie, joined us and we headed to the first major exchange, where Char was 100% focused on getting our *free* pre-race fuel secured.
We quickly realized how crazy hot & humid it was, as we were sweating just standing around at the pre-race meeting. It is fun to hang out in tanks & flip-flops in January, but I wasn’t super excited about running in 80+ temps, especially since I hadn’t run in anything above 25* in 2 weeks!
We had over an hour before Van 1 was supposed to arrive, so we hung out with Megan at the Nuun tent, tried to get our bib situation sorted out (they gave us Team Clif Bar’s bibs) and just waited (as anyone who has done a relay knows, there is always plenty of that!).
And finally a little before 3, we got the call that the speedy Eli, had just started his leg and would be there in 20 min (running ~6 min miles!). It wasn’t long before we saw Eli’s blue shirt in the distance and then I had the baton (ahem slap bracelet) and was off!
My adrenaline got the best of me in the first 0.25 miles, and I looked down to see 6:30 min/mile on my Garmin. I quickly pulled back and tried to settle in around low 7’s for the 4.1 mile leg. I was happy in the first 1/2 mile that my legs felt fresh and light and the pace seemed manageable. But shortly after I hit the halfway point in the first mile, the stabbing stomach cramp from the day before was BACK. The same as the day before, it started in my chest and then quickly settled in just to the right of my belly button. My heart sunk as I knew this was going to make this a tough run. I started pinching it and trying to massage it out, but didn’t have much luck.
Somewhere around mile 1.5, the van passed me honking and screaming and I tried to smile and wave and not let them see me grabbing at my waist. I knew Char would have seen it and would know what was happening though. I kept running, just telling myself that it was *only* 4 miles and to suck it up and push through it.
Then around mile 2.5, I was completely stopped at a red light at a busy intersection. I had perfectly timed 3 lights before that and knew I had been lucky, but it was bound to happen. At first I was frustrated, but then as I stood there longer (helplessly watching my pace drop from 7:30 to 9:10), I was finally able to massage away the cramp. When I took off again, it was still there, but dull and manageable. In the end, the stoplight may have helped, despite losing over a minute waiting.
The rest of the run was just hard. The cramp wasn’t really affecting me anymore, but it was so hot, with the sun beating down and no protection and running HURT. Eventually I stopped caring about my pace and just decided that it was time to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. I looked at the bracelet Jocelyn gave me and kept repeating “Never Give Up”. (pretty dramatic for a short 4-miler, but it was rough).
I passed the “one mile to go” marker and told myself I could do *anything* for one mile. And FINALLY, I saw the exchange and kept moving until I could hand off the bracelet to Rhonda, who was waiting, with a huge smile on her face.
I don’t remember a time that running was so hard and painful. I also don’t remember the last time that I disliked running as much as I did on that leg. The first thing I said to my teammates as I finished was “ugh, that sucked.” And then I sprinted directly to a porta-potty (where thankfully there was no line).
Leg #1: 4.23Mi, 32:32 (7:41 min/mile)
My (ridiculously positive) splits: 7:05, 7:21, 8:29 (stop light), 7:47
Needless to say, I was disappointed with this leg. And not just because of the positive splits and the fact that I ran 4 miles at my current half marathon pace, but also because I didn’t enjoy the run. I LOVE to run and really LOVE to race, so to want nothing more than to “get it over with” is pretty unfortunate. It also disappointed me that when I started hurting, I didn’t feel any fight to push through the pain, I just wanted to crumple up on the sidewalk and quit.
But the good news is that there is so much that goes into relays, that I was able to quickly put this run behind me and HAVE SOME FUN before it was time to run again.
Legs 2 & 3 and all of the fun in between to come soon!