Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Race Report: River to River Relay 2012

If some of you follow my twitter life you would have known I was running in the 25th annual River to River Relay this past weekend in Southern Illinois. Its a very popular race down there that spans the entire state from the Mississippi to the Ohio River. It is 80 miles in distance, and a team of 8 are challenged to tackle it. The course is broken up in to 24 sections and each runner runs the equivalent of about three 5k's throughout the day. So, not all of your miles are ran in a row. Your typically have about 2 hours of rest in between your legs of the race.
80 miles of Fun
This was my second time running this race. Last year the race taught me a few things. The two most important were 1) I was faster than I thought I & 2) that you need to be part crazy to enjoy downhills and subsequently, I am part crazy. We also placed 3rd in the Corp Handicap division last year. So we had an automatic bid into this years race.

So, putting the info I had gathered from last year, I signed up for Leg 1. Leg 1's 3 sections total 10.4 miles and most of the time you are running, its on gravel. Section 1 is 3.6 miles of downhill adventure on a road through Shawnee National Forest.

Section 9 is 3.4 miles of rolling gravel dirt road & cows.
 Section 3 is unadulterated 2 lane rural highway for about 3.3 miles.

So, this year I came into the race more prepared than I had been last year. I have been doing speed work for the last 6 weeks and actually training for the run. Hindsight, I should have done more hills, but I digress... This year my training paid off and I was able to average a 6:53 pace over all 3 legs. It was a hug accomplishment, because I thought I was going to be a 7 min/mile guy. It was a great day for me.

Now, as mentioned before this is a relay. So its not all about my numbers and how I did. It was a team effort and our team "Driving in a Van Down by the River" completely smoked the course this year. We finished the course in 9hrs 12min 40sec (something like a 6:45 pace over the entire 80 miles). With our handicap, our time was dropped by 54 minutes to 8hrs 17min which gave us First Place in our division. Fast times not withstanding it was such a blast. Even though our team all works at the same place, we really don't cross paths much in our work lives. So, its was really great getting together in a big white van with 7 other people, telling stories, and laughing at each other's expense. The bonding power sweat and funk have with human beings is incredibly strong and should be bottled up and sold. Its amazing.

Anyway, that was it. We'll probably be back at it next year and I hope we can put together another winner.

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