My alarm went off at 4:15 AM! Up to start the journey toward runing a 7.4 mile segment of a marathon relay team in the Milwaukee Lake Front Marathon.
A shower, some oat meal with apple sauce and a quick run down of my check list. I am out the door. After the first rendezvous point, there are four of us. We stop at 5: 35 AM at Starbucks. I get a tall mocha. We all use the bathroom. Onto the next rendezvous "park and ride" point.
We have 5 relay teams sponsored by my company. All employees. Now with a caravan of cars we have 15 or so people. After a quick drive into Milwaukee, most of the teams jump on buses by the lake front in Milwaukee. 4 of us drive a can up the 26.2 mile race course just because we could. We stop and test out one of the port-o-pots at mile 12. We arrive way up in Grafton about 40 minutes prior to race time.
I do my race prep since I was running this first 7.4 mile leg. I get my race number pinned on my front and a relay tag on my back. Change from sandals to running shoes and get my watches on. I check to make sure other team members are going to get on their buses...look for two missing team members from another one of our teams. We don't find them because they ultimately wimped out.
Last year for this same race, I did the first relay segment, but this year they've added an additional .4 miles to this first leg. Still, a 7.4 mile run is well within what I've been practicing for all summer. I set a goal of 8:00 min/miles some weeks ago. I know Oprah did 5 miles at a 8:00 minute pace while training for her marathon. Since I haven't accomplished this in a 5+ mile race, that's the goal.
I ran a few laps around the parking lot to warm up about 10 minutes prior to race time. I felt good even though I got up early. I saw Tom Pipines from Fox 6 Sports standing along the starting area in a sweater. Hmmm...I'm running and he's not?
Ok, my team is shooting for 3:20 total race time. I'm the slow guy on the team. I can't afford to start out slow. I've got to really run/race this whole first leg. Ah, but I can't start out so fast that I burn myself out.
I'm getting into the starting queue in what I consider to be the second wave of runners. Not the really really fast people, but the next batch. The Star Spangled Banner starts. I take off my cap. I'm pumped to run. I don't even hear the starting gun go off, but I see people moving. Within 14 seconds I am across the starting line.
My first mile split is 6:55 min/pace. WAY too fast, but I feel good. I need to go just a bit slower. I cruised past the 5k point at 22:44. I realize immediately that I have NEVER run any 5k this fast. Not even close! Holy cow I'm movin'. Is this really a correct time? I know it's an accurate time since I have my GPS watch and the course is an official Boston qualifying race course.
The weather is perfect in the upper 50s. Not hilly. I've got people passing me even though I've never run this fast in my life. I've got to keep moving.
I come past the 10k point at 47:13. Wow, many minutes faster than any previous 10k race. My last 10k race was in early May. I ran that in 59:56 and was dead when I finished.
At 6.5 miles I find Mike our lone company marathoner. He's suddenly next to me. He's running the whole race. He's an excellent experienced runner. I ask him if the pace is correct. He verifies the pace. I ask him how he's feeling. He says he hasn't picked up the pace yet. I'm running all out and he's not even breathing hard. I'm running 7 and he's running 26.
I see my exchange point up ahead. I sprint my final .10 of a mile. Larry is there and ready. I'm standing there out of breath. He rips the timing chip from my ankle and is gone. I finished the 7.4 mile segment in 55:57. I catch my breath for a good 30 seconds, but then I felt good. I did the whole segment in 7:36 min/miles. I've finally beaten OPRAH!
My team members zipped onwards after me as the temps got hotter for them. We missed our overall goal by 1 second, but beat our previous company record by 18 minutes. A job well done!
My other relay teams did great. They all came to participate and run their butts off. Many had never run a race. They showed up in all their glory. Fantastic attitudes, sweaty bodies and an accomplishments. I am proud!
Thx to Dom for snapping a couple of pictures from his driveway as I came by at 5 miles.