I’ll tell you what: Marathon Relays are the way to go. They’re even better if you run the finish line leg, and it happens to be the shortest leg, and even happens to be roughly a half-mile off the anticipated mileage.
Team Salmon Run went through a couple iterations from when Emily and I first started it. First, our mother/daughter duo had some physical setbacks and had to bail. Then we filled it with a fun couple from Soldotna. Then one of them blew a shoulder and couldn’t run. Then, I found a guy and as quick as he committed he had to bail. So finally, we ended up with me, Emily, Megan and Cody – Team Salmon Run/Take No Prisoners.
We met Megan at the start line at 7 AM to hand off bibs, relay chip (no more batons, it’s a funky wristband that looks like an Apple Watch) and cheer her on at the start. Anticipating ~7 miles, she came to Cody at Leg 2 closer to 6 (this is a theme with Mayor’s Marathon), in less than an hour. Cody was off and running by 8:35 AM and finished his leg (~7.9 miles) in an hour. He handed the chip bracelet to Emily, hopped in her car and made his way to meet me at the final relay exchange. Emily got pranked with the longer leg (anticipating 6.3, and finding it to be ~7) and rolled in to our exchange zone with a big smile on her face and a loud “take it and go!”. Off I went, noting the time to be around 11:11 AM (make a wish).
A week earlier, my stepmom helped me break my ego and change to a running style that was reflective and appropriate for my training (or lack of) to date. She and I ran intervals, timing ourselves for 12 minutes of a comfortable pace and 3 minutes of walking. At Mayor’s, I logged 13 minutes of running at an increased pace (~ 1.49 miles in 13 minutes) and three minute brisk walk before starting the timer again (~ 3 x 13 min, 2 x 3 min).
And while it doesn’t feel quite the same, just different, it was an amazing feeling to run up the final hills with the other marathoners and relayers and charge across the finish line to a timestamp of 4:25 and some change. Our net time was 4:24:37. I dreamed of a time like that last year, on my own merit/two feet. And to be honest, I’m still a little hungry for it… But, in the wise words of my friend Stacia: I’m a different runner (a different person even) this year, than I was last year. And there’s opportunity to try for that 4:30 marathon again. But for now, I’m relishing in a race well run.