For the third straight year, I raced on my company's team for the Marathon Relay. The format was quite different this year from previous years. Instead of five legs of different lengths (12k, 10k, 10k, 5k, 5k), it was six equal 4.37 mile legs. Or at least it was supposed to be. There was some mixup, and the first leg was short, about 3.9 miles. I spoke with an official, and apparently they moved the turnaround cone on Cesar Chavez once all the first-leg runners had been through. I had the good (or bad, depending how you look at it) fortune of being first for one of three teams fielded by my company, the "fast team."
The course was the same as many other downtown races, along Riverside, across the South First bridge, down Cesar Chavez, and back. One other change made this year was to have an actual baton to pass, with the timing chip inside of it. Having never run track (at least until an all-comers meet this summer), let alone relays, it was kind of weird to me to carry a baton. I was a little worried it would slip out of my hand, especially once it got really sweaty. It didn't slip out, and other than a brief second to find my next runner, the handoff went smoothly.
I had a goal pace for this race of 7:15. Thanks to superb fall weather of 65 degrees, and finding a good pacer for the final miles, I surpassed that goal, with a 7:02 overall average (at least according to my watch). Not bad for less than a week after climbing Mt. Rainier. The guy I found to chase/pace off of for the back stretch is a guy I see around all the time, but don't actually know. He dropped me in the final quarter mile, but I don't think I would have maintained my pace through the whole race without someone to follow. My pace tends to be somewhere between the really fast people and the moderately fast people, so at some races I start to feel like I'm all alone. I was grateful for some company this time.
After my race, I told the other team runners the course was short, then had to go back once I found out the distance had been fixed. I stuck around a little while to cheer some folks on, then went for some breakfast. I've been meaning to go to this place Bacon for a while, which has chicken & waffles, a favorite post-run breakfast I haven't had in a while. It was pretty darned delicious, with strips of bacon in the waffle. I have a friend who advocates bacon as a recovery food; I'll have to take him there next time he's in Austin.