Drake Relays Recap

Better late than never??  I have been lacking some serious motivation to stay on top of my blogging lately- my apologies!  THANKfully, that hasn’t transferred into my workout motivation!  But, maybe that is my problem :).  I am steadily training to become a Group Power instructor and that has translated into an average of 2 workouts a day for the most part.  So, I’m short on time and energy.  And, I am hungry!

Last weekend proved to be as awe-inspiring as I thought it would be at the Drake Relays.  Friday night kicked off with the Women 4×100 Meter Shuttle Hurdle Special.  Des Moines native and hometown favorite, Lolo Jones was back!

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Her relay team included Brianna Rollins, Queen Harrison, and Vashti Thomas and they went on to take first place!  Although, in the end, one USA team disqualified and the other didn’t start, so it was between this team and Jamaica.

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Then, Michael Tinsley took to the track for the Men 400 Meter Hurdle Moscow Games Rematch.

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Followed by LaShawn Merritt and Kirani James battling it out in the Men 400 Meter Dash Moscow Games Rematch.

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The night rounded out with one of my favorite races- the Women 1500 Meter Run.  And we had the pleasure of hosting another Moscow Games Rematch with Morgan Uceny and Heather Kampf competing!  Unfortunately, none of our picture turned out for this race.

Saturday’s events included a Men 1 Mile Run Special and the Womens 400 Meter Hurdles Moscow Games Rematch.  The big surprise came in the Women 100 Meter Hurdles Moscow Games Rematch when Kristi Castlin came in and beat out Vashti Thomas, Queen Harrison, Brianna Rollins, and Kellie Wells!

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Watching the Universities, Colleges, and High Schools compete was spectacular too!  What was not so spectacular? Sitting in a bathroom stall for 15 minutes waiting for a bloody nose to subside.  I missed watching my alum UWEC in the Women 4×400 Meter Relay.  I did see the Men’s race and they didn’t exactly run their strongest race, especially after winning it last year.  It was still fun to support the Blugolds though!

Saturday night, the clouds rolled in.  It was supposed to start raining overnight with strong storms throughout the morning.  It was, of course, race day for the Drake Relays on the Roads Half Marathon.  I was going to sit it out this year, given the fact that I just ran a marathon 3 weeks ago, but my friend didn’t want to run it alone and she had an extra bib, so I volunteered myself to run with her.  The plan was to take it slow.  My plan was to bail in the event of bad weather.  I was about 90% sure I wouldn’t be running when I went to bed Saturday night. To my surprise, it was grey and cloudy and cold when I woke up Sunday morning, but no rain.  It looked like I would be running.  Marzia came to our house at 7am and Josh dropped us off near the start line.  We had 20 minutes to kill so we headed into the stadium to use the bathroom and hide out in the warm shelter.  About 7:25, we started to make our way outside when we ran into one of Marzia’s friends who told us the race had been delayed for a half hour.  That meant there had to have been lightning in the area.  It still wasn’t raining and I was starting to lose steam for the run.  We headed back to the warm shelter of the bathroom, same spot I had hid out the day before with my bloody nose, and chatted the time away.  Problem was, a half hour later, we were delayed again.  Only now, it was absolutely pouring.  Again, I was about 90% we wouldn’t be running.  Based on the forecast, the rain wouldn’t stop.  So, I hung out and waited.  All the while anticipating not running.  Thankfully, the time in the bathroom went fast and was full of fun conversation.  By then, we were joined by several other ladies, who were keeping us updated on the race status via twitter.  And… the race was on! Much, Much, MUCH to my surprise.  As we headed towards the start, my motivation drained. I did NOT want to run this.  I was freezing.  I didn’t want to get poured on mid-way through the course.  Marzia wasn’t going to have it though.  She wasn’t giving me an out.  And, realistically, I had waited in a bathroom for an hour to run, it would be silly to turn around and leave now.  So, off we went.  Here we are around mile 2.  Still freezing.

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That’s Marzia giving the thumbs down sign.  Thankfully, it only got better and better!  At first, I thought we were running fast to get warmer faster.  But we kept the pace.  At mile 5, I decided to grab a GU from an aid station since my pre-race fueling was off due to the rain delay.  All of the sudden, I heard some guy calling out to a Nicole.  Not expecting anyone on the course, I kept on running.  The voice kept getting louder.  It was Josh!  Who showed up out of nowhere and was asking if I needed any gummies!  I was beyond surprised and waved and smiled!  I guess he was surprised too- by our pace.  He had shown up to catch us at mile 4 and missed us because we were running faster than we had predicted.  I asked Marzia if we should slow down or if she was still feeling good at this pace.  We both did a mental check and decided we were good and kept going.  Somewhere along the Meredith Trail, as we entered Greys Lake Park, I was hit with a side stitch- hard!  We stopped at an aid station and I gulped down some water.  Then, at mile 10, we took a longer stop and I gulped down water and a large cup of gatorade.  That did the trick and we were off.  As we started up the long hill on Grand, we saw Marzia’s husband and girls.  We stopped very briefly and then trudged our legs back up… and up… and up.  Once we turned off Grand, it was a slight downhill until we reached the MEGA hill on 28th.  Once again, there was Josh standing at the bottom of the hill that he ran me up last year- this time yelling at us not to walk!  We smiled, laughed, and waved and once we were out of earshot, Marzia outlined our plan to walk as soon as we were out of his eyesight.  And we did.  And it was definitely a walk of shame.  As we walked by one couple, the guy shouted in our faces that we could do it and to get running!  I did share the irony with Marzia that if it was so easy, why wasn’t he running it too?  After being shamed, we did start to run again.  At this point, another spectator got up beside us, crouched down in our faces and yelled at us to get going, keep running!  It was just like having Jillian Michaels there and I yelled back at her “you’re awesome!”  We made it to the top.  Then stopped at an aid station.  There was another slight hill and Marzia wanted to walk a bit, so we walked until the next aid station.  Then, it was all flat and to the finish.  Marzia must have been feeling good post-walk breaks because she kicked the pace back up!  I was impressed!  We held it steady and saw Josh one more time before we rounded the corner and headed into the stadium to finish on the blue track.  As we stepped foot on the track, with about 100 meters to go, Marzia went into a full-out sprint!  Caught by surprise, I pumped my legs and caught up with her.  It felt great and we were finishing strong.  I was so glad that I didn’t wimp out at the start, because completion is so much more satisfying.

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