Saturday, April 4, 2015

On the Run: Rock CF 1/2 Marathon Relay 2015

Emily Schaller, you've outdone yourself yet again.  Emily is the tireless race director who expertly executed a 5th Rock CF that was somehow even more spectacular than last year's event.  I always encourage any runner to participate and I wouldn't miss it for anything.

When I had my PRP injection in February and was looking at recovery time, I started panicking about Rock CF.  I am already missing Boston.  Missing Rock CF would actually be worse.  There was no way I would be ready for a half marathon but thankfully this event is more than just a half marathon.  There is also a 5k and a half marathon relay, split into legs of 7.7 miles  and 5.5 miles.  At first I planned on doing the 5k.  The distance would be good.  Then my friend and Girls Running Club coaching partner asked if I would relay with her.  Nicole had planned on the half but hadn't been able to train enough.  The relay would give me more miles, plus alleviate the anxiety of a 5k.  If I ran leg 2 (5.5 miles) I wouldn't have the pressure of starting a race, either.  I could either race it or just run it depending on how I felt when the day came.  No pressure.

Leading up to race day I'd been following my coach's plan of running easy, base-building miles.  My last 4-6 weeks have looked like this: 6 days running 4-5 miles at 8:30-9:00 pace, biking a few days a week, and Mechanics at Detroit Tough 2 days a week.  One day of rest.  For the race I would start at 7:30/mile and see how I felt, hoping to drop down from there (keeping in mind I'm still not 100% healed).

Similar to Corktown earlier this month, I didn't approach this race like most other races. I was running leg 2, so I wouldn't be starting the race at the same time as anyone else.  That was a bit of a game-changer.  It threw things off a bit in terms of warm-up, fueling, bathroom, etc.  Much of that would be done at the relay exchange point while I was waiting for my runner to come in.  

Because I wouldn't need to do those things until the exchange, Brian and I took the opportunity to volunteer at race-day packet pickup.  We're always there early for parking so we figured we may as well do something productive!  One of my goals this year is to volunteer at more races and what better race to start with than Rock CF.  We had so much fun with the other volunteers and loved helping runners and wishing them well on their race.  We got cool shirts for volunteering AND Emily even surprised me with a bib from the Groundhog Day race that didn't get to happen last year due to icy conditions.  

Brian stayed to help man the table until 8:00; however, I left a little early to get in on a RUNdetroit group photo and board the shuttle bus.  Waiting on the bus was probably the hardest part!  It was nice and warm but just sitting wasn't an ideal way to get ready to run.  Finally I had to get off the bus.

The only other relay I've done was The Great Lakes Relay in 2013.  I kind of forgot the excitement that comes with waiting for your runner to come in.  I was standing in the chute, trying to remember what Nicole was wearing, when I heard the announcer say her number.  I started jumping up and down and yelled to the person on my right, "1641!  That's my runner!"  When I saw her coming I shouted to another random runner, "There she is!  There's Nicole!"  I told Nicole how great she did but she was waving me on telling me to go go go!  I was so excited I almost forgot to run!  

So then I was off!  (And eventually remembered to start my Garmin.)  I ran through the water station and and into the stream of half marathon runners.  It was a gorgeous day.  The sun was shining and the water was to my right.  I was so happy to be out on my favorite race course again.  I was doing well running 7:30's and although I'd hoped to drop down, I quickly realized that wasn't going to be realistic.  My hamstring felt good but I was pushing hard to maintain my pace.  I didn't want to overdo it.  What I was feeling more than my legs, however, was hunger.  That is what slowed me down more than anything. I hadn't fueled properly and it was taking its toll.  So I listened to my body and did what I could.  I wasn't going to let anything take away the enjoyment of this race!

I wasn't on the course long before I made it to the Naval Station Hangar, which is the start of the 5k race hosted by RUNdetroit.  Justin Craig, RUNdetroit co-owner and 5k race director, was outside the hanger to cheer and offer support.  Only another 3.1 miles left?  Wow, this race was going fast!  Although it was a chilly day I was really warming up with the sunshine.  The wind had died down so my gloves came off.  I had already seen a few fellow RUNdetroit Flight Club friends (easily recognizable by the distinctive wings on our jerseys) on the course and saw several more as I made my way to the river.  

Due to snow on the track, the race didn't finish in the usual location.  Instead of finishing on the high school track, it ended at the middle school.  This meant more of the course was along the river at the end.  I loved this change, especially since I didn't get to run along the river starting the race.  The new finishing chute was pretty amazing, too.  Nice and long, with great crowd support all along.  I felt like a star running through it!  The first person I saw when I was done was Emily, watching each runner cross the line.  I found Brian.  Nicole was waiting for me.

I think this was my happiest Rock CF finish ever!  No worries about PRs or placing.  Just happy running, pure and simple.  



Banana, CLIF Shot (vanilla)

Nobody Really Cares if You Don't Go to the Party / Courtney Barnett
Birth in Reverse / St. Vincent
I've Had it Up to Here / Weezer
All Hands on the Bad One / Sleater-Kinney
Bitter Rivals / Sleigh Bells
The Middle / Jimmy Eat World
Youth Without Youth / Metric
Blood for Poppies / Garbage
Anklebiters / Paramore
Man / Neko Case
Jaded / Green Day
Run Right Back / The Black Keys
The Feast and the Famine / Foo Fighters

*Official time, based on 5.5 miles.  Garmin shows that the course was 5.23 miles for an average pace of 7:23/mile.  That's more realistic!

For fun, check out my other Rock CF posts!

Did you run Rock CF this year?

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