how to train for a relay

Disclaimer: I am not an expert. This is what works (or worked) for me:

So, I had done a few “tempo” 5-9 milers, then met with the group for a 6-11 miler in the morning (mentoring a half-marathon program). This seemed to work fairly well, but wouldn’t test my legs with a longer distance in 24 hours.

So, today. I chose to do three runs mainly because I have a week off, and it is 2-weeks out from our relay. (OMG! Two weeks!)

If you are thinking What the heck is a relay?! Here is a brief overview of the Tuna200, which I did in the fall…

love seeing these!

love seeing these!

Now that you’re all caught up…

I am captaining this relay team van, from Columbia to Charleston, SC. My first leg is the hardest of the relay according to the race directors, and those 8 hilly miles will earn me a car magnet (Woo!). My next leg will be 10 miles at around midnight. My third and final leg will be 4 miles in the morning, after the sun has come up. I get to “rest” in between, and eat plenty of doughnuts and Nuun, so I should recover just fine. But, in my head, that’s 22 freaking miles!

relay_leg6

So, I wanted to get in at least one day, where I did a “mock” relay, and ran three times.

Last night, I purposely chose a hilly 8 mile loop. I took it easy on the straight-aways, and charged the hills. My average pace was about a 9:00, but that included the 9:42 warm-up and 10:11 cool-down. I stayed around a 8:40 the rest of the time. It was hard, but brought a sense of clarity. I envisioned my van-mates cheering my name on, or picking up roadkill (when you pass someone), and pushed through the pain.

This morning I met another half marathon mentor, who runs around a 8:30 pace, sometimes a 9:00 on long run days. We had agreed to run 10 miles. And I figured she’d want to go a little faster, and push my speed.

We met at 9am (yay for State holidays! Good Friday indeed!). When we started our loop around the lake, we saw a “dog” scoot into the woods. I said “that dog didn’t have a tail… Omigod, I think it was a deer”… Sure enough, it was. There were two doe just standing at the edge of the running pavement, staring out toward the lake. It was so quiet and serene. It was really beautiful! I didn’t pay attention to my speed any. But my running partner kept checking to make sure I felt comfortable, because she didn’t want to go any faster (haha).

The last few miles, I felt like I had something left in me, so I started pushing the speed, as we came back to the lake. We pushed our pace from a 9-9:30 down to a solid 8:30. Then the last 0.5 miles we were running a steady 7:30 pace. She smoked it in a little faster than me at the end, but I still felt like I finished strong with a 9:08 and 8:06 for my last two miles of a 10-mile run. That rounded it out to a 9:12 pace (which is right on target for my predicted time).

So, now, I have a 4-miler tonight. I intend to smoke it as fast as I can.

My advice for running a relay, in general, I’ll post separately.

relay_sleeping

how to sleep during a relay…

But as far as the running part goes-

It helps to run often. You don’t have to run fast or hard, but don’t let your body recover. It sounds strange at first. You want to teach your legs quicker recovery time. If you currently run 3-4 times per week, this may mean running Monday and Tuesday, then Thursday and Saturday, and eventually throwing in another run. Or running twice one day, then leaving your body time to recover.

Treat each leg as a separate race. If you don’t hit your pace on one leg, don’t worry; you may have more kick on the next one. You may be side-by-side with someone to encourage you to push your pace. You may just be sick of running, and want to run faster, so you can get to the beer and post-party faster. Or you may be freezing cold, and want to run as fast as possible to get back to the warm van and eventual coffee (my third leg from Tuna).

Enjoy your night runs. Some research has suggested you run faster at night because you run closer to your true pace. Seeing the trees blur as you run past them tells your brain you are going fast and many of us slow down. In the dark, that is not an issue. You get a chance for clarity. You can see your roadkill flashing along ahead of you as you come up on them, greet them, and pass on by. There’s also an extreme bonding with the people on the road. Teams tend to line up and cheer for you, even if you aren’t their runner.

And stretch. And foam roller (or stick massage). And eat right. Oh my god, eat right. Test out which foods work for your stomach. Which gels or chews work for you. Not just during the run, but in between. What is your time window before you run? Do you need an hour, three hours? For instance, I can almost always eat a banana. During a run, before a run, after a run; it doesn’t matter. However, I’ll admit- after living on bananas, apples, Nuun, Honey Stinger chews, and donuts, my stomach wasn’t feeling too great before my final run, in those 1-4am hours. And judging by the porta-potties, everyone else must have felt worse than me.

If you’ve never run a relay before, the biggest thing is to enjoy it! Laugh. A. Lot. Cheer on others. Honk. A. Lot. Just have fun with it!

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Captaining a relay team

I think relay races are tons of fun. They are like a combined destination wedding of best friends and a race weekend. In that, you get to hang out with some people who are truly awesome, run several mini-races, and travel to somewhere you maybe never thought you’d ever want to go (usually on the way to somewhere you do want to be).

For this relay team, I was chosen as captain. Or was defaulted to captain. Which became slightly awkward when I started dating one of my teammates. Trust me, he’s getting no preferential treatment; he has one of the worst leg set-ups, in my opinion.

So things to know-
1. Speed does not matter as much as personalities. Personalities have to mesh well, as there will be times when, for instance, you ask for a banana at 5am, and demand someone search for a freaking banana because I know I grabbed two bunches, and unless you turned into a freaking monkey back there, there are more bananas. Most people wouldn’t mesh well with me.
2. People like leadership. People like to get some direction. So you should email them daily with tasks. Oh, and these emails need to be extraordinarily long, and not get to the point until the last couple lines. Bonus points if you forget to attach a document you reference.
3. Organization is key. You must enjoy (or just be good at) organizing to keep track of everything. You want to have a list of who has paid you (& how much/ what for- hotel, van, registration). Personally, I used google docs, and had an excel sheet. This came in really handy when I would randomly run into a team member, and they would hand me $100 cash at a bar. I could simply open my google drive on my iPhone and add $100 to the “paid” column for that particular person. On another note- having either disposable savings account or a high credit card limit helps too (At one point, everyone on the team owed me about $1500 for the registration [$1100], plus van rental [$350? I have it saved somewhere how much that was…]). Either way, without an organization system, I would have gone crazy. It was stressful at times as it was.
4. Remember these are adults. Although you can make suggestions about what or how they should pack, they are grown-ups, and if they forget necessities like underwear, they can deal with consequences (commando). You will want to email 1000 times between signing up and race day, and probably kick your best friends when they do not respond with a simple “4pm sounds good” or when one person of the six people in your van respond “430 works better” and the other four are mute.
5. Create a packing list the week-of. This will help you visualize what is left. You clearly don’t need to buy a box of trash bags. Likely, everyone has a trash can at home, and have a few bags lying around. If everyone brings two bags, you should be covered. As captain, you get veto power as the van begins to fill up.
6. You will need access to a printer. Handbook, course map, race worksheet, etc. Although you could lug around a lap top; it’s much easier to just print it all off.
7. There will likely be the following types of people-
The vet. He has done 5 relays, but refuses to say much when you ask him for a breakdown of what to expect in front of the group. He will likely be one of the “non-responders” to emails. The good thing is you can give him whatever leg, and he will run it 🙂
The newbie. This person may be new to running, in general. This person is most likely to get injured while training, so it’s best to calm their nerves. They are anxious to be a part of the team, so they will tell you their injury is nothing; until after their first leg, then struggle through the second leg; and finally someone will have to pick up their final leg. (You always hope to be wrong thinking you will have to pick up their leg, but you may).
The disappearing act. This person is the last person to pay for everything (even though he may have been the first person signed up), he will not respond to emails, texts, or facebook notifications. You will wonder if he is still planning on showing up when you told him to. But, he will likely show up, and kick butt on some of the longer/harder legs. And he is usually someone you want on your team again.
The pack-rat. This person plans everything. They are one of the first people to sign up, and ask you thousands of questions about when/where/etc. They will likely bring enough food to feed an army, and enough toilet paper and wet wipes for an oversized newborn. You will likely have to reign this person in some with their packing strategy. If someone mentions a bringing a tent, hammock, or yoga mat, this is your pack-rat. You will tell them you are all bringing X, Y, and Z; but they will bring their own box of food, two rolls of toilet paper, a large duffle bag, enough wet wipes for the octo-mom, several foam rollers/ massage sticks, an extra first aid kit, an extra relay handbook, several car chargers, and possibly their best friend. Basically, bear with this person- they are just excited to relay. And you can usually talk them out of bringing one of these options, but likely not all, without major drama.
All of these people are essential to a relay team. You will need the vet to pick up an extra leg when the n00b develops a stress fracture. The disappearing act will generally be doing something for the van, or just occupying less space in the vehicle. Likely, the pack rat will pack something that you need- like a 12-pack of beer in her third pair of shoes.

But, most importantly, remember to enjoy the race; even though you are captaining the vessel. Also, people should get the free drinks for the captain at the end- they deserve it. And hey, they’re free! 🙂

And the winner is….

Note: This was a fun horrible race experience. It was 35-38 degrees outside and pouring down rain the entire race. All 24+ minutes of it sucked. Just sucked.

You can see that all over my face. I don’t think I really need to say anything else-

SecondEmpire5K

Is there a place where I can enter my race photos for “worst ever?”

SecondEmpire3

I feel like some people would be interested. I am not, in fact, this ugly in person.

SecondEmpirecloseup

Dan’s weren’t good either. And everyone just looks sad and defeated in their pictures… No matter their speed.

Happy Wednesday… Just think- you could be running in this… I will definitely be bookmarking these for a day when I feel like I need a good laugh 🙂

Thanks, Carolina Snapshot. You made it fun(ny).

the results (& soreness) are in!

The results from my 5K were officially posted today- 24:24 (7:52 average pace).

Not too bad, #4 in my age/gender. The “winner” of my age group was 21 or something. That will not be happening any time soon (if ever).

So how do I feel today? Honestly better than Monday. I was so sore yesterday and just couldn’t wait to get home and make sweet romance with my foam roller 😉

Mentally, I was exhausted Monday. I think that’s more March Madness hangover.

I completed my goal of a sub-25 5K, but based on other runs, I didn’t feel like it was the best, and I want faster. I mean, who doesn’t want faster right? But I feel capable of a faster race given better weather. I think the cold rain affected everyone. I think I am capable of shaving 30 seconds off that time for a sub-24, not that I’m not proud of my 24:24! I’m so proud of it, but I’m also capable if a little faster so I want to try that 🙂

Cheers! And happy running!

my 5K PR during a tournament of underdogs

aka ‘I hope San Diego State beats you too

So today’s 5K sucked. It was really hard. Dan and I joked about not even going.

We started off the day a little later than usual, and headed to Cirque de Vol’s Align and Shine yoga. Which was an amazing start to the day. But it just kept getting colder and colder, and the rain started falling around 1pm (and kept falling harder). We started with a ~mile jog to the start. Then desperately tried to stay warm and dry not soaking wet until the start of the race at 2pm. I was looking Dan under the tiny packet pick-up tent (which had about 100 people under it). Suddenly, the wind picked up and dumped a gallon of water on my right shoulder. I quickly huddled under the tent next to some guys who were rocking Florida Gulf Coast University shirts (This made me happy- as FGCU was a strong underdog and took out Georgetown, officially killing my slightly red NCAA bracket). I made conversation with them until I saw Dan. He found an empty awning by the start, and we made our way there.

A woman came up to me and said “We look like purple condoms. Big, purple condoms.” I replied “You can stand under here with us” 🙂

Finally, at 1:55pm, people started heading toward the start line. I had satellites on my watch (which excited me). I left Dan with a pat on the butt (he was trying to break 20-minutes, which put him much closer to the start than I cared to be). I made my way to the middle of the pack. The weather was 38 degrees, and pouring down rain. We were all soaked to the core, just by standing out there for about 5 minutes.

At 1:59pm, Paul (Dan’s friend), and other various legit runners stripped off their sweats and jumped to the start line. And we were off at 2pm!

The anxiety and nerves rushed me. I felt strong for the first couple minutes, weaving through some of the people. Then, started to question my pace. [Given the weather conditions, it was impossible to check my garmin constantly). The thought occurred to me that I was going at an all-out pace, so I dropped back a little. Then, started focusing on a person-by-person target (in lieu of a “pace”). I kept picking people up, slowly. I overheard a guy saying we were going a 7:42. Since we were only about a 1/2 mile in, that made me slow back a bit…

We hit the “1 mile” mark, and the time-keeper yelled “8:42″… I was so disappointed. (btw, he was not at the one mile- see splits below). I sped up as much as I could hold. Then the cramping started. Damnit! I thought. I wasn’t even running that fast. I decided to just try and hold that pace. And we got past the “halfway” sign, and I pushed a little extra. I was struggling to breathe. And it felt like my legs were frozen.

Two miles. Finally! And my watch dinged “7:59” for that mile. Okay, mile-by-mile doesn’t matter anymore… I switched my view to overall time (as opposed to pace time) and distance. Time to kick it in. I tried to pick up the motivation, but it was just so freaking cold. And wet. I kept pushing.

I saw this older guy (probably 60?). I just had to pass him. I kept telling myself I could do it. We volleyed back and forth as to who was leading. Then, I saw my “nemesis” (this girl who was likely in my age group, and looked too pretty for an ugly day 5K)… I wanted to beat her, just for the principle of it. And I could see she was slowing down.

Finally, getting up the last little hill, and a downhill stretch for less than 0.5 miles to bring it in. I had to get in front of the old man! Finally, with about 0.25 miles left, I conceded. “You’re…. doing… awe-some!” I said to him in between breathes, and decided we’d finish together. Final stretch and I could see 24xx. I heard Dan yelled my name, and “24:15!” Looked up, saw 24:19, and flew past the finish. I’m still not sure what my final time was (not yet posted), but my garmin said 24:27, but I ran an extra bit to get out of the finish shoot before stopping my watch.

SPLITS:

Second Empire 5K Splits

After running through the final shoot, I hunched over, and glanced around, giving the old guy a high five “Nice job!” He agreed, then I saw the FGCU guys come through the shoot. Immediately my mind went to tonight’s game (which I am currently watching)

I hope San Diego State beats you too.

There is a sassy black woman inside of me. They were actually pretty nice about it, and wished San Diego luck as well.

(I went there for grad school, and, personally, they’re underdogs too. Hopefully my cockiness doesn’t push them out of the Sweet 16 advancement…)

Prep week for a sub-25 5K

Like a Boss.

In preparing for this weekend’s 5K, I can’t help but think back to my first 5K, my very first race. It was in November (’08), in San Diego, so it was warm and sunny. My ex-boyfriend (we broke up a few weeks before the race) signed up with me to encourage me to finish the race.

I didn’t know anything about running. I went to the Road Runner Sports in San Diego because a friend completed a training program with them and it came highly recommended. I don’t remember a lot, but if you’ve been to that store, you can understand- its huge and overwhelming. I do remember the sales associate asked how many miles per week I ran, and I laughed out loud. ‘Ummmm 5? Maybe. If its a good week

So there I am, at my first race. I didn’t have any race day rituals. Basically just parked and walked over to start. I even wore all cotton (gasp!)

I just wanted to finish in a better than 10-minute pace. I stopped to walk at the turn around. I finished in 30:30, and was so upset because I was slower than a 10-minute pace (it was actually slightly faster than a 10:00). That actually makes me laugh, your time on your first race doesn’t matter. I didn’t realize there was an extra 0.1 mile (I probably walked it, thinking I had passed the finish line when I saw the 3-mile marker). But at the time, I thought 30+ minutes was horrible (maybe the ex being an easy sub-18-minute 5Ker had something to do with it…).

So how do you train for a sub-25 5K?

The way I’ve been “training” (let’s admit I’m using that term loosely) is as follows-

I run about 20-35 miles/week (across 3-5 runs). One long/slow run (usually Sat AM), 1-2 fast pace (track workout/ tempo/ hilly/ intervals/ whatever; “fast” pace is a 8:30 or better for me), 1-2 super easy shorter run.

Rather than training for a certain distance, I have been keeping a steady base, and I noticed I was getting stronger again, and faster. Holding a 8:15 seems hard, but do-able (a year ago, that would have been an all-out mile for me). But something made me think- I need a legitimate 5-K speed (and 10-K for that matter… maybe in May). And I thought about it- and I feel holding 8’s would be hard, but do-able. And in all honesty, I could probably run faster than a 25-minute pace… but I’ll get back to you about that on Monday (after my 5K).

So my game plan for Sunday is to: Warm-up by jogging to the start line from Dan’s (about a mile). By the way, this will be my first time ever warming up before a race. I generally just scrap the first mile or so of the race as a warm-up. Other new things-

I plan to line up near the front.

Say what?!

I know. I know. Crazy! But I don’t want to spend the first mile elbowing past the first-timers (me, circa 2008). I glanced at the finishing times for last year, and 24:45 was the #25 female, of about 600 racers, #120 overall. So, don’t get me wrong… I don’t plan to be front row, ready to trip Paul (Dan’s friend who freaking wins 5K’s all the time- with 15-16 minute times), but I do plan to be near the front, so it is easier for me. Dan is planning to run even faster. He might be second-row.

And it looks like weather is going to be gross- 40 degrees and raining. Wish me luck! I will definitely need it! Sunday at 2pm.

now, shameless NCAA tournament plug- Go NC State!… And San Diego State! (my grad school-alma mater)

[Yes, I will be carb-loading with cupcakes today and tomorrow… What? Who says it has to be a long race to stuff your face 😉 ]

Fartlekking St Patricks wknd

This weekend was pretty hectic… I was rarely by a computer, and trying to limit my iPhone usage in front of company (thanks SarahsDoodles for making feeling guilty about that one 🙂 )…

I moved my gay bestie on Saturday. I love his family and his boyfriend, and we get along great, so no worries or unnecessary drama. In fact, we have kind of gotten into a routine of it. He has moved 6 times in the past 3 years- we calculated, and I’ve been around for all of them. So because this was planned out, I knew I wouldn’t want to get in extra miles after our training program’s 10-miler Saturday morning

So, I wanted to get in some miles Friday. Ideally, I wanted to do a short warm-up, then a close-to-5K speed for 3 miles, then just mess around with mileage until my legs felt shaken out. I had been thinking somewhere in the 5 to 7 mile range. The weather was beautiful- in the 60’s and sunny, so I was ready for whatever.

Well, as I’ve mentioned before- I’m recovering from a cold that has a cough that seems harder to kick than using my iphone so much. Every night last week, I got a cramp on my run (probably due to change in breathing). This run was no different.

Fri (3/15): Oops! I fartlekked!

I started out easy, and everything felt good. Then, when I started the 5K-pace, it felt like I turned into a wind turbine, creating extra (unnecessary) resistance. I managed a 8:12, but it felt so hard. I got through another 0.85 miles before “giving up” (on a fast speed… though I did almost stop completely), which I later saw was a 8:06 pace, so would have still been good. I dropped down to an easy jog for 0.5 miles, then tried again for a fast speed. I felt like I was hitting my stride, but after 0.5 miles, I started coughing so bad I thought something ugly might come up. So I dropped back down to an easy pace, and knew I’d stay there for the rest of the run. So, I got in one last 100-meter sprint (all out), then dropped down to an easy pace to settle into. When I got back into my apartment complex, I decided I had another mile in me. When I got on the treadmill, I decided I could be ambitious. I pushed my speed a little and got a 7:03-minute mile. Woo! Which means my “average” pace was a 8:45, not bad… Esp for 5 miles. Definitely a little harder than I had originally planned.

[Fartlekking= intervals by which you play with the intervals. Rather than use a specific time or distance (say, 0.5 fast, .25 easy), you run for whatever distance you want at whatever speed you want]

Sat (3/16):

So, Saturday morning, I had my half-marathon training group. We only had one lonely participant in the 10-11 group, and she had just dropped down to the 10-11 pace group, so I figured we’d go extra slow. It was 10 miles, so that’s not the time for a half-marathoner to push your pace. Well, I really liked her. The conversation was enjoyable. And she pushed a good amount up some of the hills, and took it easy when she needed to. Our first two miles were too fast- 9:11, 9:24… But, I kept asking if she felt okay. And she did, so we kept going in the 930’s, which was a speedier pace than I had thought we would go, but is a comfortable pace for a long-ish run for me. We completed 9.91 miles in 1:35 minutes, which isn’t too shabby at all.

*** Flash forward to moving my gay bestie. And he moved into a two-story house, so I probably did the equivalent of 30 stair climbs, and I burned a good bit of calories this weekend… Clearly, I earned St Pats this year

Sun (3/17)

I woke up bright and early- 645am to be exact. Stupid getting old! I stayed in bed (in the second bedroom) until 7am. Until I was finally like This is stupid! Just accept that you are old, and get up more regularly than these younger guys… And got up to pee.

Went to turn the doorknob. Ruh-oh! It wouldn’t open. I did that stupid thing everyone does in similar scenarios though- continue to jiggle it in hopes that I had just forgotten how to open a door. Still no luck.

So, I laid back down, and tried to convince my bladder to go back to sleep. Then, texted my bestie- “her-row? (the sound my cat makes at 2am looking for someone to snuggle with- or scaring the ghosts or something, either way it’s a creepy hello and we always do it) I am locked in the room”

He woke up 45 minutes later, and let me out. We waited for the cable guy, who came 3 minutes after his time window, and took 45 minutes to install. This is all pre-coffee. Which can be a scary state for those around me.

FINALLY! At 11am, I had coffee! Woo! St Patricks Day could officially start now!

I went home, met up with Dan and some other various friends- a few who had recently finished their first marathon- CONGRATS to them! And drank some good beer. And perhaps got a little too excited about stouts. Oh, and Dan lost his credit card in his kilt/ on his kitchen floor (apparently the cats decided to mess with it in the 5 minutes we were gone, and played with it until it was hidden under something). So, I was buying.

Fun times! Happy St Pats! Oh, and random, Johnny Knoxville has been in Raleigh for the past few weeks, and everyone is amazed! I’m more amazed that he must think Raleigh Times is the only place in Raleigh to get a beer (all the sightings have been there. Maybe he just moved here. After all, everyone else is moving here, per all the reports)

various wonders of my world

1. Why does lesbian running tights keep coming up on my “search terms”? Is this to presume the blog gods believe me to be lesbian? Or more so, how exactly are lesbian running tights different than heterosexual running tights? Do they come with attachments? Or a tool belt? Or other stereotypical things?
Whoever keeps searching for lesbian tights, and getting this blog; here it is- lesbian tights and heterosexual tights are the same! I know, I know; I know. Now that you have digested that… Go buy some women’s running tights 🙂 They’re on sale this time of year!

2. How did people over 40 years old suddenly become so proficient in their computer skills? Seriously. They are all over facebook and twitter, and email constantly. They even text a lot. I think most of them must have secretly gone to some computer skills training class in 2012 or something… Just an observation; not saying they do not have the right to all those things, or that I don’t enjoy speaking with them in these technological ways.

3. Will I ever be so fast people wonder how I look so normal while running? I usually think this upon seeing someone killing it (sub-6:00 pace people), who look so normal and comfortable; even though their wind pushes me off my pace because they are that fast!

4. What is the inside of a Cadbury egg made of? and how can I replicate that deliciousness? Are there illegal substances that make it so addictive? Is Cadbury like Santa, in that they work all year, but only receive recognition during this time period? …that list could go on and on. I should just hoard those things, since I am so obsessed. Spoiler- they don’t come from the cute bunny on commercials…

Also, on an unrelated note, I’m slowly getting better. But experienced major ab cramping on Tuesday and Wednesday night’s runs. I’m guessing its due to the constant coughing and ‘hocking’ during my run

Has anyone else had random things they wonder, that frustrate you to the very core?

running while coughing… BAMF!

(If you don’t know what BAMF means, look it up 🙂 )

So, last week I was sick. And not like couldn’t get out of bed kind of sick, but just coughing a lot.

So this isn’t an exciting post. Just a statement-

Running through a coughing fit…. Bad Ass? Stupid? …Sexy?

I only got through 15 miles this week, even though it was beautiful in Raleigh. And I managed to do a 5 miler last night, with 2 “fast” miles (8:06-8:10), but one was uphill. And I couldn’t decide if coughing meant I should stop or just keep running.

I have also been listening to “Artists to Watch 2013” on slacker radio, and heard the best song lyrics ever- Don’t just dream in your sleep; it’s just lazy

(something to think on)