Friday night I joined Gale at the Whiskey Island3K x 3K Sunset Relay. We have done this race every year it has existed (2 years). The first year I ran with my friend Pete and she ran with Matt, last year we paired up to be Team Freebie and brought back our style for 2011. She asked to run first and I had no issue with that happening.
The course is cross country type terrain. Everyone starts in the middle of a grassy field, running toward the parking lot. They dip down toward the “beach” area and run in the sand (this year there was less course on the sand) back up onto the grass, past some volleyball courts, up a hill or two and down toward a pier. The runners take the cement road down to the end of the pier, run around a flagpole and back down the pier toward the field. Entering the field you do a zig-zag all over the grass and hills. At some point in this process the mile 1 marker exists. After galloping all over the grass, you are sent back near the parking lots, across the gravel and paved areas and in and out of the trees, which are thick and have an actual dirt trail among them. It’s best not to swallow around this time. Finally you break free onto the gravel road on the other side of the volleyball courts and sprint to the finish line up in the grassy area. A lot to cover in 1.8 miles, right?
Normally I have gone first, do I was excited to try the second position. Gale and I registered and took our batons to the car. I was expecting them to be a little higher quality, but they’re still very cool. In fact I wanted them to be heavier, a factor I appreciated later on while running with it! Ha! We took a bunch of pictures and talked with our friend Dan and the race director Kate for a minute. They were having computer issues, so the 6:30 start time was pushed back and back and back again. We began right before 7:00.
Gale took off and I was cheering for her! She went flying past and into the main course and I chatted with a girl who was waiting for her turn. She had just started running and was here with her boyfriend. I tried to encourage her and told her the course wasn’t easy, but it could be fun if you let it.
Before I knew it, Gale was flying up toward me with the baton. I went to greet her, (both runner have to cross together to get the same finish/start time) shouted “Good Job” and took off on my own adventure.
Right away I knew I went out too hard, but my pride wouldn’t let me slow down. I wore my minimal shoes thinking it would help in the sand, so I was bummed when that part was drastically reduced. They did help me keep an even pace though, which meant I didn’t actually get overworked at any point. Not having other people so close to me, I didn’t worry about how I stacked up. Suddenly I was catching up to people I knew left the starting area minutes before I ever did. It was very exciting!
The volunteer on the hill told us it was mile 1 and I looked down to see my Garmin beep at me that I had ran a sub 9 minute mile! WHAT?! The pressure was on (sort of). Gale had wondered down to the course too and was taking pictures of me. So I had to be fast and SMILE. I caught up to the “new friend” and cheered her on, “Only a half mile to go!” I said, as she adjusted her IPOD. It was exhilarating as I flew through the trees and over the course. My mind was tired, but my legs felt strong and pumped. Near the finish I went into an all out sprint passing a few other people. I’ve never been able to do something like that…and I wondered how much more I had in me? Although part of me felt guilty, the people I was passing had just listened to me say I’m not serious runner. Well I WAS running for fun. It just so happened though, my fun running is getting faster.
I looked down at Garmin after I crossed the line. 1.77 miles 15:40 time. HOLY CRAP. Where did that 15 come from? The first year I ran it in 21:22, the second year I managed 20:23. Now I don’t know the “official” time, the results have not been posted, but I can’t imagine it’s going to be that much more off. I was on cloud 9!
A group of us wondered over to watch awards and see if we won the raffle. Since the computer was messed up, we didn’t get to see all the awards and no one we knew won the raffle. Grr rigged! Just Kidding! Gale and I split some watermelon and ice cream before heading home with an arm full of free oranges. Yum oranges.
If you’re in the Cleveland area (Whiskey Island- Wendy Park) Next August I think this is an event you MUST check out!