Monday, September 17, 2007

Go Rodger! Runner 1 Leg 1

Relay teams started according to their predicted finishing times, with the slower teams leaving first. At 7:30am the first group went out with additional departures every half hour. Our team had a 9:00am start time. The last team was scheduled to leave at 3:00pm! Needless to say, it seemed unlikely that we would win. Then again, there is Rosie's strategy . . .

After a brief team chat we decided not to use the Rosie strategy and thus prepared to run the race. First up was Rodger whose first leg was 6.6 mostly downhill miles. A little before 9:00 he warmed up and then came running to the start. The gun went off at 9:09am and our odyssey began.

You would think that those riding in the van can relax and enjoy the scenery. After all you ARE in a van and the person you are supporting is on foot. Boy would you be wrong! As we soon discovered you are busy nearly every minute of the race. First problem: find a place to stop where we could hand Rodger water on his route. The first leg, unlike most of the race, followed a biking trail and thus vans could only hope to intersect runners at various trail heads along the route. We stopped at the first one we saw but quickly decided Rodger had already passed it. We then drove down a bit further found another trail head and parked. Less than a minute later Rodger appeared, trailing the rest of the pack. We handed him a water bottle and off he went.

Next stop the first runner transition area (RTA). There Rodger would hand the team wristband off to Sue. While we stood around (and as you can see took pictures) we saw one runner after another come through. Where was Rodger? Was he hurt? Had he just falling behind? This was our next lesson, all through the race you see people coming through the RTA. Remember the slower teams started earlier and the faster ones later. After asking around a bit we discovered that we were looking at runners from 8:30 group come through. Whew! Then Rodger appeared! First among the 9:00am starters! Great job! Basically, he told us his strategy was to start slow and then finish as fast as possible. This is generally the ideal strategy in a race, as it typically produces the fastest overall time for most runners, and he pulled it off perfectly!

Rodger's final time for the leg was 0:47:30 for a 7:12 pace! This was way faster than his predicted pace of 8:23 which was based on his recent SF marathon performance. As it would turn out, Rodger would be the first among our many team members that would turn in times which greatly exceeded our pre-race predictions!


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