Louis Track Club Marathon Relay
Sunday November 21 was the Marathon Relay. The course description stated that the 26.2 mile start and relay exchanges would take place in Forest Park at the Lower Muny parking lot. The course was a 3.25+ mile loop over paved surfaces within Forest Park covered by 4 runners alternating laps.
Runner A - 1st & 5th lap
Runner B - 2nd & 6th lap
Runner C - 3rd & 7th lap
Runner D - 4th & 8th lap.
A variety of team categories were available with everything from corporate to family. Janet Johnson asked me to participate on her 200+ category team. This meant that the sum of our ages was over 200 making us the oldies of the competitors. Our original team was comprised of Mark, Janet, Rick and I. Unfortunately Rick got very sick and could not participate so Janet asked her friend Gordon to take Rick's place on our team.
Sunday morning the first runners were scheduled to start at 8am. Before the race started I heard my name being called and was happy to see my former college sorority sister Lisa at the race. She was participating on a corporate team. Our team received our bibs with the number six on them. Each runner wore a black number six and the last leg runner would wear a red number with a tear off portion at the bottom of the bib to turn in. Gordon would run first, me second, Mark third and Janet fourth.
Mark and Janet are involved with Team in Training and they were trying to juggle two events going on in Forest Park at the same time. Prior to the start Janet told me that Mark was having one of the team chiropractors check out his foot muscle that had been bothering him. She checked in for the relay and went back to the Team in Training event. Meanwhile the relay started with Gordon setting the pace for our team. While Gordon was running Mark arrived and I gave him my car key because we were using my car to stow all our gear. Mark had a slight limp as he walked which I should have kept in mind as I took off running the second leg of the relay. Gordon got us in a great position and I intended to do the best I could pushing as fast as I could sustain. I found myself running behind a man with a hacking cough. He would cough and I kept thinking that I was running right into a cloud of his germs. I wanted to pass him but all I could do was get closer and closer until finally with a half mile to go I surged and passed by him and his mass of bacteria.
Running to the exchange I gave Mark a high five and he was off. The course had a short section that each runner would run and then loop back to the start and go the opposite direction. It was after this short quarter mile stretch that we saw Mark limping. He was not going to be able to do the entire circuit. Janet was still with her team in training group so Gordon volunteered to run again, quickly shedding himself of his sweatpants and shirt. I took his gear as he ran off to catch Mark and take his place for leg three of the relay. In the meantime I went and stood in line for the porta potty and met an interesting fellow. This tall young man was in his late twenties and he was wearing warm up pants that were about a foot too short. As we stood in line he explained that he was wearing a woman teammates pants and he had spent the night out and a nightclub called 'Pops." He shared with me that he loved to run a lot and he loved to drink a lot. The previous nights exploits were catching up with him as the told me that he "...was gonna meet God on the next leg of the race."
Janet arrived to do the fourth leg of the relay and then it got interesting. Gordon had planned on running four miles on Sunday so racing two laps put him well over his training plan. Janet and I decided to alternate the remaining relay legs. I ran leg 5 and Janet leg 6, alternating again for leg 7 and 8. All in all it ended up being around a ten mile race for Janet and me with our team finishing around 3:40 placing 3rd of 8 teams. You know I always stop and ask what I learned after these events and this time I have to go back to what I seem to preach often: You can do more than you think you can. Honestly I would not have gone out and raced 10 miles on my own, in fact my third run was roughly 1:30 slower than the previous second one which is amazing considering how much I had to mentally coax myself to run while I was tired, to run while I was sore, to run when all I wanted to do was take a little walking break. Now I must decide what I do with this stride in my training. Do I allow the momentum of this experience to raise my current bar and run with it or do I ignore it and coast?