Sunday, October 9, 2011
Florida 1-Day Relay
Team Sisters with Blisters was made up of me, Dawn, Gina, Stephanie and Linda. We all arrived in downtown Bradenton at 7 am. Race start was 8am, but we needed to be there early for the race directions meeting and to decorate Dawn’s car. The hour went by quickly, and before we knew it, Linda was lined up at the starting line with about 14 other runners. The race had a little over 50 teams. There were staggered starts of 7, 8, 9 and 10 am.
After loading into the car, we followed the path Linda had just run. She was the third woman and hot on the heels of the woman in front of her. We drove on to the exchange point to wait for her and write a few more things on the car windows. Soon, Linda came in and slapped the bracelet on Dawn. We all loaded into the car and I drove us to the next exchange point at Palma Sola Causeway Park. It was here, out in the open, with water on both sides, that we noticed how very windy it was. It was great for the people running toward the island because the wind was at their backs. I knew for me, when I was running off the island later this morning, I was going to have the wind coming at me. Dawn came in at a good pace and Stephanie ran off. Stephanie just ran a marathon last weekend! She did great on this leg, running a good pace. We all loaded back into the car and drove to the next exchange at Bradenton Beach were I would start my first run.
For some reason I was so nervous to run! Maybe because it was a team event, I felt like I needed to run a good pace. My run started off great. My garmin was having issues with the signal, so every time I looked at it the display would show anywhere from 10 min mile to 7 min mile pace! I ran down a curved neighborhood street that put me out onto the main road of the Island. I had to cross to the other side. I lucked out here as the light was already green, so I didn’t have to stop. I ran in the bike lane, no sidewalk, facing traffic. First mile was 8:14! A little fast, but I figured I’d push hard for this first leg. About a half mile later, I had to cross the street again at a pedestrian cross walk. Thankfully, the cars in both directions stopped for me right away, so that I could cross the street. Lots of team vehicles out on the road honking and yelling in support of all the runners. It was great. They strange part was being out there pretty much on my own. I saw one guy way up ahead of me and that was it. It was fun running this route, since I used to live on the island and would run this all the time. I passed by my old place at one point too. Mile 2: 8:32. I caught up to the runner in front of me at about mile 3: 8:38. The last .8 was all under the trees on a path next to the beach. It was beautiful out. I finished strong and handed off to Gina. Total time for 3.8 miles: 32:21 with an average pace of 8:30!
I changed into a dry shirt and stretched a little before we loaded into the car to head towards the next exchange. We stopped a little ways down to get out and cheer Gina on as she ran by. She didn’t have much shade on this section, so she was pretty hot when she came into the next exchange and handed off to Linda. We again got into the car and drove down the road a bit to find a good spot to cheer on Linda as she ran by. Then headed to Ken Thompson Park for the next exchange were I would be running again. I changed back into my race shirt and then we all hung out on the swings while we waited for Linda to come in. It was still pretty windy with partly cloudy skies. I decided to leave my visor in the car so I wouldn’t have to fight the wind to keep the visor on my head. Linda came in and I took off!
My second leg of the race started around noon. Thankfully the temperature didn’t feel too bad because it was so windy. I had the wind at my back for a very short distance, but then I changed direction and it came at me from the side. Mile 1: 8:44. When I ran over a small bridge and got the full force of the wind, it was so strong that my skirt lifted up around my waist. Good thing there are built in shorts under it. :) Just past the bridge I turned into a neighborhood that went along the water and ended at the major road leading to and from the Island. This is where I started running straight into the wind. Mile 2: 9:00. It wasn’t too bad for the first half mile because of trees and buildings on my left that helped to block a little of the wind. But then I got to the open and the flat bridge and got slammed. I powered through it to get to Bird Key Park were my team was waiting to cheer me on. We had to cross the street here and use the light. I was so lucky that a truck was already waiting at the light so that when I got near the cross walk, it had turned green. I ran fast through the intersection because the light didn’t stay green for long. Now I had to power up the bridge. Running up that bridge into the wind was so tough! But I did it! Top of the bridge was end of mile 3: 9:49. Running down the bridge felt great! Even with the wind hitting me, I felt my pace pick up. I passed a runner going down the bridge and then passed another as we ran near the Kissing Statue. I ran into Marina Jacks for the hand off to Dawn. Last 1.09 mile was 8:58. Total miles 4.09 in 37:17 with a 9 minute mile average pace.
I was tired after this leg. It was really hard. I stretched a bit before we loaded into the car. We drove down to Southside Elementary to park and wait for Dawn to run by. While Linda, Gina and Stephanie played on the playground, I hid behind the car door and changed out of my sweaty sports bra and top into dry stuff. I got into the car to change my bottoms though. We stopped at another spot on Siesta Key to watch Dawn run by before heading to Siesta Beach to wait for her to run in. This was the longest leg of the day with 7 miles. We hung out with some other teams at the transition spot waiting for Dawn to run in. She made great time and soon we were on our mandatory 45 minute break. At this point all teams needed to load into their cars and drive to the next exchange just over 9 miles down the road. It’s not a great area of 41 for runners to run on, so the race organizers cut this section out of the race. My teammates were nice enough to stop at the gluten free bakery for sandwiches on our way to the next exchange. I got a yummy turkey and avocado sandwich and a brownie to save for after the race. By the time we left the bakery and drove to the next exchange, we had only a few minutes to wait before Stephanie took off on her last run.
This part of the race was run down Casey Key. The runners were warned to run against traffic and to be very careful because there were no sidewalks and the road is very narrow. The roads were extremely narrow! So happy that Stephanie made it through that section safe and sound. It was pretty crazy with all the team cars on the road, plus other cars on the road heading towards our runners. Soon Stephanie was handing off to Gina. We all used the bathrooms here and then took off to find Gina on the course. We got worried after a while when we couldn’t find her and noticed missing signs on the road. Stephanie noticed a friend of hers in his front yard, so we stopped to talk with him for a while before driving on. We kept looking for Gina, but could not find her, so we drove to the next exchange point at Nokomis Park. The runners had to run down part of the Legacy Trail (rails to trails path) so we couldn’t drive on that section of the course. Soon we saw some runners that had started after Gina at the last exchange, so we got worried that she was lost. Dawn and I left Linda (the next runner) and Stephanie at the exchange and then drove back along the course looking for Gina. We still couldn’t find her, but just before getting back to the exchange, I called Stephanie, who said Gina had made it in and Linda was off and running. We picked them up and headed to the next and last exchange by the Venice Airport. Gina said some of the runners that we saw come in ahead of her had missed a turn and ended up running a shorter distance, that’s why they ended up ahead of her. We grumbled about that for a little while waiting for Linda to come in. I got my gear on and got ready for my last leg. It was now about 4:30 and the wind was even stronger now, but I didn’t think I would be running into it much. Linda came in strong and handed off to me for the last leg of the race.
I started off my last leg way to fast. I got a side cramp right away, so slowed down a little in hopes it would go away. I noticed a guy from another team a ways behind me, so my goal was to keep him there (and I did). :) The first mile was along the intercoastal waterway. Not much to see here, but it’s a quiet, peaceful place to run. Mile 1: 8:38. Soon, the course curved to the right, and we ran past a playground and through the beach parking area. Then we turned again to the right and headed into the wind once again. Mile 2: 8:56. This last 1.3 was tough. I was so ready to be done! Running hard 3 times in one day takes a toll on the body! I was so happy to see my team waiting for me at the turn into Sharky’s restaurant. We all got together and headed across a grassy area to the finish. Yeah!! Mile 3: 9:22 and last .34: 2.5 for a total of 3.34 in 29.48. Average mile pace of 8:56.
Sisters with Blisters came in 4th out of 20 in the women’s category! So proud of my team! I hope we can all run it again next year. :)