Daily Archives: April 30, 2012

about those five miles

So I blah blah blah’ed yesterday about how participating in a marathon relay is just a really long and lonely way to run 5 miles.

And I stand by that assertion.  I fully intend to write some sternly worded letter to somebody who doesn’t care about just how clusterfucky that experience was.

But, truth be told there was something pretty awesome about my five miles.

Nina, my best friend from college is a Runner.  She lives in New York and will occasionally throw out suggestions for meeting up with her to do some sort of running thing.  Usually, I’m all full of the running-loathe and oh-hells-no, I’m not going to fly to Bamboozle just so I can loathe over there.  But when she’s turning up in my backyard to do it, I’ve got to, right?

Turns out her sister, Andrea, was the original source for this Big Sur marathon relay plan and she coerced Nina into creating her own team.  So in the end, there were two teams, loosely connected by the sisters.

This was Andrea’s first time racing ever, she hadn’t been working on running for very long, and was planning to run it at a 15 minute/mile pace.  Given the sketchiness of my own running endeavors as of late, I figured we’d be a pretty good running pair and agreed to do the first leg with her – me for my team and she for hers.

Which means that even though I had to leave my own team mates behind, I had a pal for the whole experience.


sad and tired on the middle-of-the-night bus ride to the start

She reaped the benefits of my incessant questioning… “Where are we going?!” and “Why is it so dark out there?”
Probably also “Are we there yet?”
I couldn’t help it.  That bus ride was an HOUR.  In the dark.  And I pretty much had no idea what was going to happen when we got there.


on your mark get set

We navigated the shanty town of runners huddled together and camped out on the ground everywhere at the start, like a third world country of privilege.  In our efforts to make it to a porta-potty, we picked our way through the sitting-on-the-ground people, following another woman, while a trail of people followed us, pressing ever forward.  Taking this path of least resistance, we were funneled to a wall of porta-potties, where we discovered that we had not actually gotten into a pre-existing line, but formed a new one.  A new line of 30 people, with no way to turn around and go back.  The line next to us, which was using two porta-potties, started throwing dagger death rays at us as they discovered the interloping on their turf.  The woman who we’d followed fled the scene.  Leaving us to try and make a case for sanity.  Lacking previous experience in what you do when other people get all aggro and decree that they are going to forbid us from using their porta-potty, we also left eventually, to seek out yet another line of epic slow going.  I really wish that I’d thought to just have a squat right then for those people, leaving them my special good-luck tidings of pee and pre-race poo.  Instead, we just left them with a long line of people behind us so that they could, presumably, have the same psychotic argument over and over again.

Bonded by confrontation and the need to pee, we joined the throngs at the starting mob and got ready to run.

And I discovered the best possible motivator:  running with someone who’s newer to it than you are.  It was not an easy 5 miles and it was hard for her.  Which isn’t to say that it was a yawn for me – it wasn’t – but helping Andrea to do it made me do it.  Made me keep going when I might have otherwise just gotten into a little grump and start walking.  Made me find a milestone to which we would walk to (on the few breaks we took) and deem that we would start to jog again at that point.  Made me sing, terribly and loudly, and with all the wrong words.  Made me point out the obvious, regularly… like “we’re almost to the top of this hill!”  and “look!  another nice long downhill again!”  Made me tell her stories of lunacy about how I birthed a child directly into the Indian ocean in Bora Bora in a house on stilts with a floor that opened to the water below.  It made me tell her that lots of people think that they can’t do this.  But that it’s not about can’t.  It’s just hard.
Trying to motivate someone else was the best possible motivator for me and those 5 miles just melted away.


This bonded and motivational running caper also resulted in fancy photos of me, the likes of which have never existed before.


point a camera at me


pretending to run sideways in front of a mile marker.


Filed under Running, the bitch goddess

what it means to run a marathon relay

I ran in the Big Sur International Marathon this weekend.  And before you get all zippy about that, I ran it as a relay with 4 other people.  Which really just means that I did a simple, short 5 mile run.

I’ve never done a relay before and I was full of questions about what it would be like

I knew that our team would be running our legs independently, so I logically knew that I would be alone, but still… the vision in my head looked mostly like this:



The reality was a lot more like this:



From my experience of one race, here’s what I now know and impart to you…
-Because it’s happening simultaneously with the actual marathoning, a relay marathon must suffer all the same hoopty and brouhaha. This means I had to wake up at the grotesque hour of 3:20 am.  For a race start of 6:45 am.  So that I could run 5 miles.

-Leaving The David and Vinny, the 2nd and 3rd legs, to get on the bus to take me to the start was a super strange feeling.  We’re all in this race boat together, and now it’s “so long chum!  see you in 8 hours!”

-As the runner of our first leg, I had to contend with the actual race start and thousands of marathoners.  I could write a whole other blog post (stay tuned, maybe I will) or possibly even a scathing treatise of hate just about this race start.  It took an hour to get through the porta-potty lines and bag check.  Just so I could run 5 miles.

-Finishing my leg, seeing the exchange point and sprinting up to The David to pass off our relay slap bracelet was fun and exciting.  That was a pretty cool 15 seconds of “Hooray!  I’m doing a relay!  I’m passing my baton!  Go team go!”   But then he ran away.  Another 5 miles away.  Leaving me alone with the other Leg 1ers.  So that he could go run 5 miles.

-Finishing leg 1 meant that I was 21 miles away from the finisher’s village and was currently just stuck on the side of the road.  A very beautiful road, granted.  There were bananas and gatorade, but other than a promise of a bus ride back in another 3 hours, that was all I got.  Possibly another sort of marathon, one that’s not taking place on such a scenic, yet inaccessible and remote course, wouldn’t have this problem.  But being stranded for hours and hours of forever is a big fat dislike.

-So I went ahead and walked the next leg, and found The David at the end of leg 2. On my team, I ran one leg and walked a second.  The 3rd legger went ahead and ran the 4th leg, as well, and then ran/walked to the end (for a total of 16 miles!).  The 4th leg runner also ran the 5th leg.  All the extra running wasn’t about wanting to do a longer run, it was about wanting to get to the finish, rather than be stranded somewhere along the course.  Except for me.  I travelled 10 miles and was still el stucko.

-We had to be at the shuttle pick-up point to be carted off to the start at 4 am. The bus dropped us off at the finisher’s village around noon.  Not counting the next shuttle ride we had to take to get back to the parking lot where we’d left the car that morning, that is 8 HOURS of time for the sake of running 5 MILES.  Which kind of means that I had a pace of 96 minute miles.


Filed under Running, the bitch goddess, Uncategorized