I have to say, this was one fun race. It had it’s ups and downs like any race, but it was really fun and made for a day of running adventures. I give a big thumbs up to Seneca7!
There were six start waves for the race and waves were determined by your projected pace estimation that you had to submit in advance. We seeded ourselves at a 9:30/mile average pace for the group as a whole and ended up in the 7:30am wave. The slower your projection the earlier your start so you had more time to finish. Faster runners went out later. We were the second wave, so not the slowest, but not fast. We figured this pace would accommodate the few of us who were slower as well as balance out with Jeremy and Darnell who were both running 6:30-7:30/mile.
Darnell was our Runner 1 and lead the pack his entire first leg. He was the first over the start line and the first to the first exchange point. This really set us up for a great race.
|The whole course plus exchange points. It looks so crazy from this view!|
We had a borrowed mini van full of clothing changes for the unpredictable weather and loads of snacks and drinks. Middle of the pack groups take around 12 hours to complete the whole race, so you have to plan for a full day of needs. There were certain exchanges that acted as check points that you had to be to by certain times. In order for the race officials to know for sure you hit each exchange, get your splits and overall time, each team was given a link to access from their smart phones to upload their arrival times at each exchange. Our final finish time for all 77.7 miles was 11:11:34 at an average pace of 8:37/mile. In fact, we finished primarily with the 8am start wave, meaning faster runners. Happy with that!
I was runner 7 for our team, so that meant I ran last. As someone who typically does all their running at 6am this was tough for me. Lots of waiting around. But really, I am pleased as punch with my performance.
My first leg was 4.1 miles uphill. Most of it was steady incline, though there were a few rollers. One fun thing about this race is the “Roadkill Report” which is where they keep track of how many people each runner passes on each leg as well as how many people pass you. I had six roadkills on my first leg and knowing they dole out this “report” made my desire to pick people off stronger than usual. Being local definitely helped in terms of knowing how to run on the rolling vineyard terrain that is the entire region’s topography. Most of my pick off’s were on the hills.
I was so happy about my pace. I took off out the exchange clocking an 8/mile pace and knew I couldn’t maintain that, so I slowed my roll. I just can’t help my excitement and competitiveness sometimes. I ended up logging an average pace of 9:06 for this first leg.
Then after running you load yourself back into the van and continue along following the rest of the team on their run legs. And this is where the difficulty really kicks in. I can run 11 miles, sure, but break it into the three segments and stuff me into the back seat of a minivan for 2 hours in between each leg in the cold weather and you get stiff and crampy. I did my best to walk around and shake out my legs at each exchange, but you can only combat the stiffness so much. Especially because it was cold and windy all day.
My second leg went even better and I had my best mile of the day at mile six. My second leg was a 5k that had a good downhill in the beginning and some flat stretches with one climb.
By this point in the race we had pulled ahead of the other 7:30 start groups but we hadn’t entirely caught up to all the 7am-ers, although we did pass a few. This meant we were sitting in a lull in runners, so I spent part of this run running alone. Although I did catch up with some people and got in four more roadkills. I also started getting passed by the elites who started last at this point.
I ended up with a solid 9:01/mile pace here which I was thrilled with. However, the headwind and my pace thus far finally caught up to me on the third mile of this leg and I started to slow down some.
The way I worked my Garmin on this was to put it into “multi-sport mode” and just make “running” each of the three sport options. I included transitions and I stopped my watch once I finished my leg and lapped it to transition. I would then start it again while waiting in the exchange chute and lap it to running again once I got the slap bracelet from Amy. This worked great in terms of getting me my overall time for the entire day as well as giving me the individual data for each leg. Love my 310XT!
My third leg was tough. It was late in the evening, my legs were stiff and everyone else was done running at this point. I had a slight downhill on 96A onto the straight away of 5&20 then into Seneca Lake State Park. Once I got into the park my long day started to catch up to me. I was starting to drag some, but I refused to stop running and just keep talking to myself to keep myself moving.
After I entered the park I could see the Chamber of Commerce and the Ramada where I would meet back up with my team to finish together. I just kept my sight fixed on the Chamber of Commerce, reminded myself that I am capable, and kept running forward. Jeremy and Darnell happened to be walking towards the Team Reunification area a bit back and started to run with me once they saw me coming up behind them. We grabbed the rest of the team at the Reunification banner and rounded the corner to finish together.
I really, really loved this race. It’s a concept similar to Ragnar race, who happened to be there both running and volunteering at one of the exchange points handing out $50 off codes for teams who signed up. It was a lot of fun to cram into the van and hang out with a group of good people while also running a race. Such a fun concept and we all had a fantastic time.
|My runner 7 medal and Rob’s runner 2 medal. Very cool!|
The medals are pretty cool and come individualized with your runner leg number carved into them. Also, the swag was great!
Tech shirt, bumper sticker, and arm warmers! I’m definitely most excited about my new arm warmers. Hello, awesome to wear while biking!
I will definitely do this race again. We’re hoping to get enough of our own running friends together to do this next year instead of being invited onto someone else’s team. We are grateful for that though, because this race kicked ass and I am pumped to cross my first race off my racing bucket list.
The only real cons I felt about this race were the bathroom situations and the bike teams got a little irritating after a while, probably at no fault of their own though. There were porta potties at most of the exchange points, but there were only one or two, three if you were lucky. That meant lines long enough that sometimes you waited up to almost 30 minutes! A few of the wineries had their indoor restrooms open to us runners and we stopped at Pam’s house along the way right before my first leg. Since we ended up in a bit of a lull of other teams along the way though, if we hopped right out of the car we usually beat the line that showed up about 5-10 minutes after us consistently most of the day.
As for the bikes, Jeff Henderson, the race director (he also is the director for Musselman Triathlon and Fly By The Night Duathlon) is big into the whole being green movement. So he encourages teams to register as bike teams instead of driving. This means six bikes shared by all seven team mates and when you aren’t running you’re cycling to your next exchange. I can see where running 10-13 miles and biking the other 60+ would be exhausting (hello, IMCuse anyone??) but they didn’t always do the best job following the rules. Lots of riding side by side on streets that were still open to traffic, cutting across the road, and clogging up the entrances and exits to the exchange, causing car pile ups. But it was a slight nuance, nothing more really. Props to them for biking in between running legs. Not my cup of tea that’s for sure.
All said and done, I highly recommend this race! It makes me want to run another relay again and I’m hopeful to do this again next year with a bunch of our runner friends.