Having always wanted to compete in a long distance triathlon relay, my friends and I assembled our relay team months ago for Sunday’s Longleaf International Relay (0.9 mile swim, 23 mile bike, 6.2 mile run). Allan, our swimmer, swam miles each day in the pool to finish close to 20 minutes.
I tortured myself with speed drills. I constantly tried to run between 8:30-9:00 minute miles to finish under 54:00. My Race for the Cure performance indicated that I had my work cut out for me.
Our cyclist, Julie, battled a hip injury which prevented her from reaching any distance higher than 12 miles and she felt like she would be the weakest link in our team.
Since the three of us love the movie Old School, we selected the team name We’re Going Streaking with streak offering such a great play on words. After all, we hoped to move at lightning speed. Other great names thrown into the mix included Average Joes, Strategery, Pager-Friendly, Wolf Pack, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, That’s What She Said, Shake-N-Bake, and Tri Us.
Days before the event, Julie decided not to compete. Between her hip, issues with her bike and some personal matters, she didn’t feel prepared to cycle 23 miles. In the last minute, our friend, Mike, filled her shoes.
Going into the competition, we weren’t quite sure how the relay/transition thing would work. Then, the morning of the event, we learned how to transition between legs. We were to pass our electronic ankle chip like a baton, which seemed simple enough.
The temperature Sunday morning dropped to 49 degrees and the winds began blow. Poor Allan froze for 45 minutes waiting to enter the water. The swim was seeded with men leading, then women and then relay. As a mixed relay team, we were pushed even further down the line, however, being a strong swimmer, Allan quickly found himself at the front of the pack.
Unfortunately, another swimmer grabbed his ankle and pulled off his chip. Thankfully, his wife snapped numerous pictures and his performance was digitally recorded by Cathy. Although we estimated that Allan finish in 14:50, our relay team would not make the official roster.
As Allan ran into transition, we learned about his lost chip, but the show must go on! Chipless Mike bolted out of transition to begin his 24 mile ride. He hoped to finish it in 1:15, but he faced some strong head winds which added a minute onto his time (1:16). As I waited in transition, I chatted with Andrea (a fellow Strider competing in the Sprint Relay) and I worried about the winds affecting my performance.
Once Mike arrived back in transition, I took off and passed my family who cheered for me as I began my journey. From the very start of my 6.2 mile run, I struggled with the fierce winds and I couldn’t move any faster than 9:30. Faced with only our second cold snap of the season, I don’t think my body was prepared enough to face the cooler weather. My lungs hurt and I could feel an asthma attack building.
At mile 3, the route turned and finally the wind was behind me. My pace picked up to 8:30, but I knew I couldn’t shave any minutes off my time. Around mile 5, Larisa and several other Striders formed a cheering squad on David and Karen’s front porch and cheered for me as I ran past. It always feels good to have friends and family rooting for you or even honk for you as they leave the race.
During the last half mile, I passed Andrea strolling back to David’s house for the post-race party. She had finished her 5K in record speed (20:26) and made it back to cheer for her fellow Striders. Hearing the kudos from such great runners like Andrea really helped put some pep in my step.
As I turned the final corner to the finish line, I found my family cheering for me once again. With Cathy’s mad photography skills, she snapped a photo of me crossing the finish line with our “unofficial” finish time. My Garmin clocked 57:02 for my 10K run.
After crossing the finish line, I had an asthma attack and needed my rescue inhaler. With the relatively cold winds and whatever grass/weed the wind blew triggered an attack.
Despite all our hurdles, we had a great time competing in the relay and we can’t wait to do it again.
Loved reading your blog Denise! You did an amazing job:)
Great recap and so glad I got to compete in this… I am looking forward to next year’s LongLeaf race and whatever other relays you would like to do with me as your swimmer. Who knows, maybe I will get crazy and do a triathlon as well with you.
sounds like a fun relay! stinks about losing the chip, but it could’ve been worse.
i never knew your asthma was this bad! i guess i just assumed you get a lil’ wheezy like i do when running. pollens are no fun for me either. hope your lungs are feeling better!
Fabulous race report. Thank goodness for cheerleaders with their (our) cameras! Go girl!
Allan was soooo brave for swimming in such cold conditions. Mike was awesome for being able to bike over twenty miles on short notice. And, Denise, I still think you had an awesome finishing time–too bad about that chip! I guess that means you guys will have to team up again sometime….
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