This was the inaugural Lucky 7 Relay Race for the new running company in Halifax, United by Running. Having never participated in a running relay, outside of junior high school gym class that is, I was excited to try a different style of race with some good friends from work.
Before I get to the race part I just have to say that trying to get a 6 year old out of bed on a Sunday at 6am so you can meet your relay team buddies for 6:30 across the city is nothing short of a miracle. I heard frequently on the drive over "But it's still daaaark!" It sure was, and it was one of the first mornings this fall where the temperature was below freezing. I was not exactly well dressed for the weather when my sleepy husband and daughter dropped me off, but I stuck my flimsy gloves on and shivered with all of the other 1500+ nutcakes outside on a Sunday morning.
The organizers decided to keep the course very flat so each team member did 4.75 laps around the large commons area in the center of the city. When we walked up to all of the other runners a volunteer awarded my teammate's daughter with a buff for bringing a sign. Her mom, Andrea, stuck it in a bag but after I started shivering badly she grabbed it and offered it as earmuffs to me. Surprisingly it made a difference and the only part of me that was actually frozen were my feet.
The organizers also decided to keep the start times for each of the three legs the same, so the first team member, in our case Andrew aka speedy legs, went at 7am, then the second, my friend Andrea, went at 8:15, then I was up to start at 9:30am. Andrew took off at a steady strong clip and we cheered from the side each time he passed us, always near the front of the pack. He finished his leg in 29 minutes, much to my and Andrea's awe. Andrea had to wait for another 45 minutes before it was her turn. Andrew gave us some tips on where the bottlenecks tended to be and where he saw people starting to walk.
Andrea joined her group and off they went, she looked cold but she held a good pace, always running and smiling when she would pass our cheer squad on the sideline. She reached her goal and finished in under an hour. My husband and daughter arrived at the end of Andrea's leg and waited to cheer me on. By then the sun was finally out and gave us a bit of relief from the cold. Andrea said her feet didn't defrost until lap 2, so I knew I just had to muddle through until at least that point where my feet might just get feeling back again. I did a bit of a warm up jog and was actually alarmed at how unresponsive my feet were. Jumping up and down, carefully, so I didn't fall over, I got a tingling sensation, enough to put my fear of falling at bay. I lined up in the middle of the pack and we waited for the buzzer to sound.
The start was on the one small hill on the whole course, but it got my heart pumping and me feeling warm sooner, so I didn't mind at all. Alot of costumed runners passed me initially, a princess, a care bear, a guy wearing nude colored spandex shorts and a bright pink thong, although I have to say at least he could pull it off(!) I rounded the first corner, occasionally passing people, when I saw the water stop. Not having had a drink in 3 hours I stopped to grab a quick cup before picking up my pace again. I tried to keep it steady but I was distracted by my frozen feet. During the second lap I thought for sure I had a branch in my shoe against my heel. Turns out it was just my frozen heel rubbing against the back of my shoe. After 3 laps my feet finally felt normal and I tried to pick up my pace a bit. At that point my quads were starting to feel the cold so it was a bit of a battle just to maintain my pace. On the fourth and final 0.75 lap I ran off and on beside an older guy all of the volunteers seemed to know, Stu. Stu was breathing really hard and loudly but he was keeping his pace strong. I just passed him when we hit the finish line chute. I picked up my pace and so did Stu, the next thing I know we're racing neck and neck across the finished line mat. I laughed and he said "I guess we'll call that one a tie!" I said that was great, we chuckled and went off to get our own medals.
I met up with my family and my fellow Mach 7 Teammates, we all congratulated ourselves on a good morning of running and agreeing it was kind of cold to stand around a chit chat we all went our respective ways. It was a great day with a well organized race. Maybe next year the runners can convince the organizers to hold it in October?
I checked my time when I got home, 4.4 miles in 42 minutes, just a hair under a 10 minute per mile pace, AWESOME! I've been chasing that elusive 9 minute anything per mile pace for a year now and finally got it in a race, what a sweet way to finish a good day. Oh, and on the next line under my finishing time was Stu, with the same time as me, yes we can call that a tie Stu!