Yesterday I ran my first HARRA race of the year — and it was the last HARRA race of the spring. Oh well. It would be really nice if one of the races in the spring series was in/around Clear Lake. Then again, they are currently all inside the loop, which is really the best way to be fair to suburbanites all over the area. Next year I’ll have to make more of an effort, but I’m going through a period right now where I’m far less interested in driving all over the city to get to events than I used to be. The gas prices are a small part of that, but really I just need a break from spending more time in the car to get to the race than it takes me to actually run.
I did want to do the Bayou Bash Relay yesterday, so I signed on with a Bay Area Running Club team. It was my debut as a BARC racer, as in seasons past I have raced for the Striders. (Of course, “raced” is a relative term since I am not a speedster.) I’ve done this relay a couple times before when it was in Sugar Land, but skipped it last year when it moved way out to Katy. This year it was in another new location on the campus of Rice University. The race is a total of 8 miles, with each person running a 2-mile leg. I liked the course — except for the handoff, which involved taking the baton and running about 20 feet before immediately having to pull a U-turn to head back out onto the course. Running on the lovely Rice campus was fun.
I met my teammates Alissa, Stacy and Christie after I arrived. I’ve been a BARC member for a year now but haven’t been very active, so I don’t know many people in the club. Hopefully I can slowly change that. Alissa went first, I would run second, followed by Christie and Stacy brining up the rear. Veronica did a good job of putting our team together, as we were all pretty evenly matched as far as pace was concerned. Alissa went out strong and got back for the handoff in about 17:30. I took the baton, made the U-turn, and off I went. Joe took a photo of me as I raced out of the starting gate at top speed.
“Top speed” is again a relative term, but on the drive up to the race, I had mentally committed myself to really seeing what I could do with this short 2-mile course. At best, I thought I could do somewhere between 18:00 and 19:00 for my two miles so that was my goal — and I knew it would take some real work to do it.
I went out hard. The weather wasn’t that great for a race — windy and wet — but it never rained hard and so it wasn’t much of an issue. There were a lot of puddles on the ground that I tried to avoid for a few minutes at the start before I gave up on keeping my feet dry. I hit the half mile marker in 4:32. When I saw the split on my watch, I was both happy and appalled — because while I was excited to see that I was indeed cooking along, I was already starting to wonder how long I could really keep it up! The next half mile was under the trees at Rice, which helped keep the mist away. Unfortunately, this was also the portion of the race where the first “C” runners (third leg) passed me. This race draws some incredibly fast teams (my team averaged just over 9:30 pace and we were way in the back of the pack) and they flew past me like I was standing still. It was a little discouraging, but also amazing. I love watching the fast guys. They make it look so easy!
The next half mile passed in 4:39, for a first mile of 9:11! That’s the fastest mile I’ve run in a while, so I was pumped. With half the race over for me, I just kept reminding myself that I only had a mile to go. Less than 10 minutes. I could do it. The only people who passed me on this leg of the race were a dozen or so “C” runners — all of whom went flying by. Not a single “B” runner passed me, and I managed to “chick” two men, so I improved our team’s standing by two positions! If there was a 1.5 marker, I never saw it, but I could see the handoff point with a quarter mile to go and starting pushing to get there. I handed the baton to Christie and stopped my watch — 18:12! My second mile was 9:01. Dang! I was ecstatic. I was also about to fall over from lack of oxygen. It took me a couple minutes of walking before I caught my breath, and right around then was when the first team finished, just under 40 minutes. A sub-5:00 pace. A-freaking-mazing.
Christie ran our team’s third leg right around 22:00, and Stacy brought it home with a final leg of something around 19:00. Our total team time was 1:16:xx which I thought was not too shabby!
My Garmin measured only 1.97 miles, so it’s possible that the course was just slightly short, but either way I was well under 9:30 pace for my part and pretty pumped about it. Maybe in my next 5K, I should just go all out for the first 2 miles and then try to hang on. 🙂
It was a fun race, and well worth running. I enjoyed meeting some new BARC folks and seeing a lot of old faces as well.