Last spring I decided that if I didn’t requalify for Boston that I would run the Green Jewel 50K instead. However, as it came time to train for my first 50K, I came down with some horrible bronchitis. By the time I got over bronchitis, it was time for 20 mile long runs for the 50K and I wasn’t ready. I got lucky though because they had a relay option for the 50K this year and Ryan said he would be my teammate!
If you can’t tell from our faces, it was pretty cold, even after a 1 mile warm up.
The race starts in the Rocky River Metro parks and follows the bike path or valley parkway all the way to the Oak Grove picnic area in Brecksville. However, I was only running the first half so I just had to get to Wallace Lake in Berea. About 15.5 miles for each relay leg.
I tried to start off conservatively to save energy in the race and quickly settled between a lead pack of females that were running about a 7:40 pace. There was A LOT of ice on the ground. Many times I had to stop to walk over or around the ice, slipped a lot and had to slow down.
I still managed to hold on to a 7:40 pace even with all the stopping and going but it was tough on the body. By mile 5, I was already feeling the effects of trying to stabilize my body on the ice and the sides of my hips were already getting sore.
I was still pretty close to the group of lead females and just trying to hold my pace. As far as I knew it was pretty flat for the rest of the race. For some reason I really started to hit my groove and was running a 7:20 pace! However, this was short lived because I came to a light and had to stop for traffic. The lead group I was tailing just barely made the light. The rest of us had to stop and wait for at least 2 mins! As a road runner I was really agitated. Having to come to a complete stop is frustrating and it makes my time longer. It also hurt my groove. I couldn’t get that pace again after that but that’s what you get with an open race course.
I may have failed to mention that I’ve been dealing with some plantar fasciitis lately. I didn’t run Tuesday-Friday and had graston done on my feet on Thursday. My body started to feel this around mile 8.5. However, I had 8.5 fast miles under my belt so I was happy with that.
I think it was around mile 11.5 that I started to hit a wall. That’s kind of scary when you have so far to go. I refused to walk though, even though at this point my feet were really starting to hurt.
I thought I was done with hills but there was one that snuck up on me towards the end. It had a lot of ice and snow and there was no way I could run up it. Not to mention how steep it was. Luckily, everyone around me was walking up it too so that made me feel better. I think it was at this point that I had to give major props to anyone doing the full 50K. To run a 50K road race is a lot on the body.
I took 2 gu’s on the course one at mile 6.5 and then another around mile 13. A couple times during the last few miles I almost went off course because it wasn’t marked or wasn’t marked until I was right on top of it. Luckily I could see a runner in front of me and was able to follow them when I was confused.
I became more confused when I saw Ryan in the distance. My watch only said 14.4 miles, I shouldn’t be seeing him until 15.5! I didn’t even have time to kick it in that last mile. However, there he was so I handed off to him.
I knew I had about 2 seconds to say something to Ryan. so I told him good luck and to be careful that it was so icy. Later after the race he wished I would have told him I only ran 14.4 and that he had an extra mile to run lol.
After I finished I grabbed some water and food at the aid station and headed to the car to meet Ryan at the finish line.
Ryan made up a lot of time on his part of the run. I’m not sure what place we were in when I handed off but I was pretty sure we would barely place overall. I felt like I let down our team but then again it was our first relay together so there would be plenty of time to improve.
I got to the finish line about 40 minutes before our projected finish time so I tried to stay warm by the fire that was already started and talked to strangers to pass the time. Before I knew it, they announced the first male was coming in for the finish. I ran over and cheered and thought to myself that Ryan and I teamed up to run a 50k and the overall finisher beat us. That’s some extreme talent.
A couple mins later I saw a neon orange and blue jacket and thought “no way that is Ryan”. As the runner got closer, I couldn’t believe it, it was Ryan! He had to pass so many people on the course to get us into that position. There were at least 12 males and 5 females when I passed off to Ryan. Not to mention, Ryan’s portion of the course was very hilly and he still managed to run 6:20 overall pace! (For perspective, Ryan’s pace for 16.6 miles is 40 secs faster than my 5K pace!)
Ryan pushed hard and was the second person to cross the finish line, making us not only the first relay team to finish but the first coed relay team to finish! Crazy to think that we beat the all male relay team. I actually wouldn’t have been if an all female team beat us. There were some talented people on the course.
Ryan and I had a blast at this race and were on a high all weekend because of it. Although we are competitive and not used to the relaxed feel this race had. Nor were we used to the aid stations or confusion on the course, we will easily be back! We have a new goal for next year but I won’t share it until then ;)
We had planned on grabbed donuts at Jack Frost since we first signed for this race. Then spent the rest of the day lounging around.