Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Seneca 7 Relay Recap

I feel like nothing I write will do this race any justice, 
but I'll give it a shot.
[This is going to be wordy...]

Pre-Race shot of our 7 runners and amazing chauffeur :)
Team #118 "Sloppy Sevenths" (all-male category since we only had 2 girls)
Quick overview of the race itself:
*3rd year the race has been put on
*The race is 77.7 miles long (around Seneca lake)
*7 runners, with each running 3 times (varying distances)
*Staggered start times: 7, 7:30,8, 9, 9:30
*Categories: Male, Female, Mixed, Bike

Our team was named "Sloppy Sevenths", I knew all but 2 prior to the race, but by the end of the weekend I felt like I had known them all for years. I guess that's what happens when you spend an entire weekend in close quarters with people :)

Weather: It was a gorgeous sunny day, but windy! When you weren't running, sweats were necessary and staying out of the wind was ideal. But when you were running, it was very warm even with the wind by the water. This made for lots of outfit changes for the team, and lots of last minute stripping layers before relay exchanges.

Our team:
Chauffeur: My wonderful Fiance John
Legs 1, 8, 15: Al 
(wicked fast dude from Albany-went to college with the boys)
Legs 2, 9, 16: Katie 
(She's a cheetah, WON the Wineglass Marathon last year, runs for +Saucony )
Legs 3,10,17: Nate 
(Incredible ultra runner, Running Coach)
Legs 4,11,18: Dave 
(My soon to be Bro in Law, another crazy fast man!!!)
Legs 5, 12, 19: Mark
 (Went to college with the boys, super fast even a year after knee surgery)
Legs 6, 13, 20: Joe 
(Used to work with John, is on a 100+ day streak of running right now!!)
Legs 7, 14, 21: Laura 
(Yours truly)

Our team started at 9:30 (last wave out) which was kind of nice because we didn't have to get up super early. The first few exchanges were so easy, we had plenty of time to get to the stops, and little traffic and people to fight to get there. John brought a red carpet, and every time our runner finished, they got the red carpet back into the van before we headed to the next stop. There weren't many other teams around at the time but those that were, really got a kick out of us.
"If the van's a rockin', were probably getting our socks on"
 I was antsy all morning, it got to the point where I just wanted to run really bad, but I was the last to go in the rotation. So I did my cheering, and helped others while I not so patiently awaited my turn to go. All of our runners threw down some incredible paces for their first legs, which made me even more nervous....everyone was ahead of schedule. Finally, shortly before noon I got my first go around.

My first leg (leg 7) [4.1 miles]- This was a gradual uphill section, gain of about 200 feet. I debated for a while on what to wear and settled on long sleeve Saucony shirt with shorts and my Kinvara's. About 30 seconds after getting the bracelet, I knew I should have worn a tank top, the sweating began. This was my longest leg of the 3, so I knew I had to set a good pace. 6:44, 6:48, 6:52 were my first 3 miles, I was disappointed to see my pace going down. Finally mile 4 I ran a 6:30 which made me feel a lot better. I ran 4.1 miles in 27:15, about 2 minutes earlier than expected (good thing Al was ready early at the exchange for me).

At this point we were on the second rotation of the 7 of us, and this is where things really started getting crazy. We were running fast, so didn't have massive amounts of time to get to next stop. We started catching up to a lot of the teams that started in earlier waves which made exchange points harder (no more red carpet, it was jump in the van and go....no stretch, no cool-down until we got to next stop). There was less parking, more people around and less time to do things.

During round 2 of the rotation, my teammates were still throwing down some incredible times (even with some heavy elevation changes), but I didn't have time to be nervous. We got the van stuck in mud at this point, but with the help of some runners from other teams we didn't have an issue getting it out (just made for another funny story to tell, EVERYONE saw it happen).

My nerves were still on edge and I was standing on other side of road waiting for Joe to come in and pass off the bracelet to me. At this point I got to see Jamie come in and pass off to her teammate, I yelled as loud as I could hoping she could hear me over the crowd (and she did!). This was her second year doing the race and you could see how much she loves it by the smile on her face!

My second leg (leg 14) [3.1 miles] {roughly 3:15 pm}I took off and I didn't realize we had to turn shortly after and I yelled where do we go (there was no sign), thankfully the man I just passed was nice enough to yell "LEFT". This leg was much more enjoyable than my first, because there were so many more people around. I knew I was going to have a decent amount of roadkills (# of people you pass) but I wasn't sure how many(I wasn't counting..OUT LOUD). We had caught up so fast to so many teams though that I found myself well over 10. One guy asked me as I passed "what number am I??"and I hesitantly said 17 and he responded with "go get 20!". Oddly enough, this was the least stressed 5k ever for me (even though I knew I had another leg after this), and I was ECSTATIC to pass off to Al in 19 minutes and 48 seconds. I was so freakin' happy to run sub-20 5k on not-so-fresh legs, I had to text Hollie and tell her...immediately (we have been talking about speed lately).

The next few exchanges were getting closer and closer together, and we were worried about having enough time to get there. We even got lost at one point (in Sampson State Park) but somehow managed to get where we needed to go. I am still amazed how we pulled it all off, we really had to work together and be flexible with (warm-up/cool-down, how far we were parked from exchange point etc) to make it all happen. Long gone were the days of red carpets, but we were still the loudest cheering, most fun van out there, running our hearts out.

Last hand-off of the day: Joe to Me
Getting ready for my last leg was hardest, it had been a long day and it was starting to wear on me. My hamstring had a knot in it, and my stomach was NOT happy with me (and bathrooms were hard to come by without a 20 minute wait...which I didn't have time for). John could tell I was getting really nervous about it and was trying to help and keep me calm, telling me it didn't matter what I ran. At the last relay exchange point while waiting, I FINALLY got a bathroom stop which was much needed, and just bounced around waiting to get my last chance to run for the team.

My final leg (leg 21) [3.7 miles] started around 5:38, I saw Joe over the horizon, grabbed the bracelet and told myself "just get there". The first half of this leg was blah, I was running on a highway with no one around. Finally got to Seneca Lake State Park and actually could look at the water which was nice. I also had a little boy try and run with me at that point, he kept up for about 25 yards then said  "I'm tired" and I asked for a high-5 and he was so excited, gave me one, and then he just stopped (it was adorable). I knew I was averaging 6:30's (I never looked at my watch so much as I did during this leg), and just wanted to hold that until the finish. There's a team "reunification" point about 100 yards from finish, so the 6 other runners and John jumped in with me and we all crossed together.
Al, Dave, Katie, John, Me, Mark, Nate, Joe
8 hours and 32 minutes to go 77.7 miles. That's averaging a hair over 6:30's for our team...I was amazed and so proud. We took 6th team out of 208, and had a blast doing so. We were also the 4th team in our division (all-male...because you had to have 3 women to be considered mixed, Katie and I held our own as "men" though!)

[My total was 10.9 miles at an average of 6:32 pace]

 Some thoughts on our team/experience:
I told you yesterday our official fuel was cheese-balls....fact: we ate them ALL.
*Not only did our team keep track of "roadkills"(people we passed), we kept track of ACTUAL roadkill (we had 2 very serious hunters/nature lovers on the team). There are actual pictures of these, to protect the dearly departed animals, I won't post them.

*Instead of yelling "looking good" while cheering for our teammates we were yelling "looking sloppy" to go with our name. Other teams must have thought we were the least encouraging people EVER.

*What do you do when you forget the cowbell in the car when you are waiting to cheer your runner on? YELL COWBELL OVER AND OVER. Yes, we did this....multiple times.

*I can't reiterate enough how well our team worked together. We were consistent, flexible, helpful, and still managed to have a fun (and fast) time. I can't imagine doing a relay without a solid team like this, logistics were difficult at times even being as efficient as we were. 

*Doing a relay made me realize how much I loved them in college track. I love running because you can do it for yourself and don't have to rely on others. But there is a lot to be said about teamwork and support, I didn't once feel like I was relying on my team. We all played our parts and we all kicked ass, got along and didn't get arrested. 

*Proof that runners are amazing people. Granted a few of the team members went to college together, we all came from different backgrounds. Some run for teams, some are elites, some are ultra runners, some are running for health but we are all runners. It was never a competition or anything, it was a true team effort and I loved it. We were there to run, kick ass, and have fun and I can safely put a check mark next to all of those.

*Looking back at it now, I am so happy about our time and placing but I also realize it didn't matter. We knew going into it we had a strong team, but never did we take it so seriously that we weren't having fun. We cheered ourselves on, other teams on, it was a day to celebrate running:)
Seneca Lake post-race ice bath and beer, totally worth it.
Some thoughts on the race itself:
*Great concept, great local race!

*Scenery was incredible...the lake, vineyards, all of it!

*They REALLY need to figure out a better plan for the staggered start (or let less teams in), the congestion in the middle of the race was unsafe and very frustrating.

*The "all-bike teams" (some teams rode bikes around instead of a car, while the other person ran) needs some work. Bikers were not following rules of road (saw some without helmets, riding in middle of road, texting while riding, not paying attention) and there were quite a few very close calls. I understand this is an eco-friendly alternative to another car on the road, but it created some dangerous situations.

*Exchange points should not be in parking lots where people were parking vans (most exchanges were on the road but some were in parking lots where everyone was coming in and out, and it was really dangerous)

* The race swag was great! We all got shirts, hats, 77.7 stickers, temp tattoos, and cool medals.

*Something I would do again, YES....but I would really like to see what they plan on doing to reduce congestion and make safer transitions in the middle exchange points.

~Overall I had a fantastic time and am proud to be a part of this running community. This was my first road relay, and I can say for sure I will do another. I couldn't have asked for a better team than I had and am truly lucky to have those people in my life. I also gained a boost of confidence in myself that I really needed. My training has been so spotty this time around, but seeing what I was able to do Sunday, gave me a little more spark heading into my next few races.~

Have you ever done a relay?

What are your thoughts on bike teams at running races?
(Being a 'cyclist'[newbie one] I appreciate bikes & cyclists, but part of me questions their place in a logistical race like this....for SAFETY reasons)


  1. Sounds like an awesome race!!! Way to go on the awesome times and all the people the team passed.

    1. Thanks, we had a great race and all had good days cant complain about that. I feel bad saying "people passed", but well..it was the case....more than anything though I loved those parts simply because there were more people and runners around made it more fun seeing people and cheering for people and interacting.

  2. Glad I saw you, I definitely heard you!

    Sorry that you guys had some issues, we only had two points that were sticky but our driver was aggressive (she would drive closer to find a spot than most people probably would) and then Mike just jumped out of the van at one point to get to the exchange. We already knew warmups and such are going out the window in this kind of race (since we've done a few before). I love it, though, and can't wait until next year!

    1. The middle few exchanges we did drop offs and pickups on the go which helped but there were just so many people! I loved it, but I was nervous there were so many times I almost saw runners or cyclists get mowed down. We got pretty good about doing warm-ups/cool-downs at the stop before or after we were running to be efficient.

      It was a fun experience and I see why you love it so much! I'm sure we will be doing it again (probably not next year depending on the date, Boston is April 21 next year) but in the future I do see it!

  3. OMG a sub 20 on your second leg!!! You are so amazing! Sounds like you guys had a ton of fun, I can't wait to try a relay someday :)

    1. It was indeed an amazing feeling...not sure if I could pull that off like that again but oh well! It was so much fun, um you should do a relay in the North East some time... um hello that would be the best DM meetup EVER.

  4. When you texted me about your sub 20 I was literally like "hell yeah that's what's up". My coworker was like...yes Hollie what's up. It was extremely awkward. Anywho-I didn't even realize how crazy it could be. It is overwealming just to read about. That is really cool too about the red carpet..I wish it was more inclusive to do it everytime ha ha.

    I wish I was here next year to do it-that def seemed like a lot of fun! Actually, I just read your comment above about Boston being so close...so one year I'd love to do it!

  5. Awesome job! Every time I read someone's recap of a relay, it makes me want to do one more and more. There's a possibility of doing one in September that I might go for if my schedule allows.

    1. It was a great experience, I wan't wait to do another one someday. I don't know when it will be but, someday!

  6. I would LOVE to do a relay someday! sounds like so much fun :) and you are stinkin' speedy! teach me the ways! you know they make those cheeseballs where I live!? Best kind there is! :)

    ~Katie (Katie Moves) blogger won't let me put in anything else lol

    1. You have cheeseballs too? I'll be right there, my stock is low!!!!

  7. Sounds like your relay was a ton of fun!! I have still never done one, but one day :) Taking notes for now.
    What a seriously red-hot pace!!

    1. It's something to try, ton of fun and allows to to spend quality time with great people!

  8. Crazy fast!! Great job!! Trying to finish up my race recap now! :)


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