This race has been on my wanna run race list for ever. I’ve tried for years to do it and this year became that year! The River to River Relay turned 30 years old this year! It’s an 80 mile relay all done in one day! After running Hood to Coast, this one seemed like a “little relay”. Until I saw the elevations! These were my first two legs and they were CRAZY!
Knowing I didn’t have the time to coordinate a team, I took my chances on finding a team that needed a runner. Luckily, I did! I found an all girls team (all really fast) that needed not one but two runners, so I grabbed a high school friend and we headed for home! If I tell you these girls were awesome, I would be understating their awesomeness. I have no problem meeting new people, in fact, I love it and these ladies seemed to too!
I ran the last leg of the relay for a total of 11 miles. With high temps in the low 50’s and rain expected all day, I wasn’t expecting perfection. It was so wet, the race manager had to cancel the first leg. The girls I ran with had raced before and estimated about an 11 and a half hour finish time. We took off about 7:30 from just inside the Mississippi River. After watching the girls take their turns, I was chomping at the bit to run.
My first leg had me crossing two flooded roads, which left my feet soaking wet and freezing! But it’s amazing how at these races, you don’t even think about the elements or the distance. The excitement of the event and the anticipation of knowing your team is waiting for you at the exchange was enough to get me through all of it.
First leg pace: 3.6 miles ~ avg 9:48 pace
You get to learn a lot about people when you’re in a car for hours at a time Luckily, these ladies had a lot to share! I found out one girl has top secret clearance and couldn’t tell me what she does for work. 🙂 I found out two of them were sisters and they lived no more than miles from me!
Having this race in my backyard (essentially) also meant running into old friends (literally). That’s Herb in the picture above waving! I also saw a couple friends from high school that were running! Seriously, this is like my running heaven! Friends and miles! What could be better?!
Leg two was all downhill. The rain dried up and there a great crisp breeze. It really was perfect running weather. At the handoff, it had started to rain again but you couldn’t tell by the crowds that were there greeting the runners! And what Southern Illinois race would be complete without a tractor selfie?
Leg two 4.05 miles~ avg pace 9:01
Leg three was the final leg and I was really looking forward to running it in for the team. Just before the finish a girl came up behind me and my team wasn’t about to let me let her pass me without a challenge. I found a little left in the tank and found my way into the finish just in front of her finding a short but sweet 6:23 pace?! WHAT?! It’s amazing what you can find when you dig deep and have the support of friends!
Leg three 3.3 miles ~ avg pace 9:05
We ended the day in 5th place in our division which I was pretty stoked about!
Once we crossed the finish line, we picked up our finisher shirts and headed to the Ohio river to take our team picture. How cool is it to think we ran from one river to the other?! How cool that it was right here in the deep southern part of Illinois, my home!
Right about the time we got together for our team picture, the clouds broke some and for a second or two we actually saw the sun! A perfect way to end the day!
We finished 80 miles in 10:47:37 with an average split time of 8:38. I’ll take it!
I drove all the way back to St. Louis after the race and by the time I got home I was sick. Full on head cold, which means my plan of doing a local tri on Sunday was abandoned and honestly, it’s Wednesday and I still don’t feel good AT ALL. This cold has laid me out.
The only silver lining, if there is one, is that it came in a rest week in my Ironman Training so I’m not missing too much. I’m hoping to try a workout tomorrow evening. Cross your fingers that I can breathe enough to complete it!
The race numbers for Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga are out and I’m in the mix! Guess there’s no turning back now. 🙂 If you choose, you can track me by following my number
I’m so happy I was able to run this race with this team! I couldn’t have asked for a better experience! I love the team feel that relays have and hope to do more in the future!
What race are you looking forward to next?