Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Icebreaker Indoor Marathon Relay with Oiselle Team Frozen Flock

All of the Oiselle teams.
So instead of running the F3 this year, I made an impulsive decision to run  the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon Relay with my sister. I had already decided i wasn't going to run the F3 and was thinking of working the hydration station for CARA when my sister texted me and asked if I wanted to run this relay. With four team members, I had to run roughly 6.5 miles. No big deal right. Plus the race, while in Milwaukee, wasn't until 1 p.m. so I didn't have to get up early and stand around in the cold. And it was inside, so that was a plus. Of course, it was inside an ice rink so it wasn't actually warm.

We didn't run on ice, because that would have made it next to impossible and a bit stupid. Apparently the Pettit National Ice Center is this crazy ice rink that has two hockey rinks on the inside of an ice track which is surrounded by a three lane running track. Like I said, crazy! So here's how the day goes:

Wake up. Lay around while deciding what one wears to an race at an ice rink. Get picked up by my sister. Stop at Starbucks because Whole Life Challenge or no, I am having coffee I enjoy if I have to travel two hours to a race. Drive to Wisconsin. Meet up with the other Oiselle team members - there were maybe seven other Oiselle teams all with cute names like Frozen Flock and Frozen Flight and Birds of a Feather. Put sleeping bags, blankets and what not on the ground next to the track and watch the end of the half marathon. Figure out our order, put on the cute socks that Jackie bought so we all match and try to stay warm.

Not drawn to scale.
Runner C not necessarily a short person/child.

At 1 p.m. Jackie takes her place at the start line and does her first 800. We, like most teams, have broken up our race into 800s. You can technically do it anyway you want to. And you don't have to have four people on a team. You could have just two, but no more than four. 800s sounds about right to us, so we get into the groove of doing two laps around the track and then switching the timing chip on our ankle (it had to be on your ankle, not your wrist, not your head, not your neck, your ankle. They made this very clear) to the next runner. This is a complicated maneuver where the runner who is going next (runner b) waits for the current runner (runner a) to come in. The runner who is going after runner b (runner c) is in charge of taking the velcroed timer off of runner a's leg and placing it on to runner b's leg. It's an awesome responsibility and one that you want to do quickly but securely. I was the third in the order, and the first time I switched the timer I was sure I hadn't put it on securely enough and it was going to flop off and we'd end up dead last reliving my most painful running memory when I came in last in the mile race back in grade school.

After Jackie came in from her first set, I switched the timer and then Jackie gave me her singlet. Because as I was a last minute replacement for someone who couldn't make it, I didn't have my own Oiselle singlet. My first 800 wasn't too bad. I took off as fast as I could making sure not to run into one of the other 99 runners on the track (there weren't really 99 others - there were 100 teams signed up, but only 87 teams finished). Anyway, I keep to the outside since I know I'm pretty slow compared to a lot of the runners and just try to go as fast as I can. I make it to the far side of the track before my lungs begin to burn and I slow down a bit. But then I'm coming back around by the group of Oiselle teams and they're all shouting for me, and so I speed up again. By the time my lungs are hurting again on the other side of the track I realize I'm almost back to the exchange area and there is no reason to slow down now so I keep going.

And this is how it goes for the next 3 plus hours for 12 sets. In 8 minuteish segments, I switch the timer, I run, I recover, I cheer, I switch the timer, I run, I recover, I cheer. I'm not entirely sure how far I ran because the track was slightly more than a quarter of a mile (443 meters apparently) and the start and finish weren't full laps. But if we say I did a quarter of a marathon - which is 6.55 miles, then my overall pace was a 8:56. Overall our finish time was a 3:31:54 (definitely my fastest marathon time ever!) with a pace of 8:06. So my speedy teammates helped me a bit, but I feel pretty good about running sub-9's over and over again, having just enough time to cool down and then actually cool down necessitating the need to warm up again on my next go around. Not really the best way to run speed drills. But it was fun.

What was really fun was watching the fast guys and gals running on the inside track blaze past you. The winners ran a 2:10 marathon which is insane. Normally you don't get to see that kind of speed when you're a middle to back of the pack marathoner. Also, it was kinda cool as people finished to gradually be the faster person on the track. The big downside was being inside in the cold, dry air. By the end of the day my lungs were burning and it sounded like I was coming down with bronchitis.

I would definitely recommend this race. It was fun, fairly well organized but also low key.


Pete B said...

Congrats on the finish. Sounds like fun. Sounds like running 800s was a good strategy. Were most other teams doing the same thing as well?

Melanie Higgins said...

Pete - For the most part I think so. The guys who won only had three people on their team, so obviously they did something else. also I did see people with dry erase boards letting their runners know what lap they were on - so I'm sure some people went longer.

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