Story and Photo by: Joy Love
I love to run by myself even though oftentimes I’ve found that I run farther and faster with a group. The Lake Padden Relay was never on my list of races to do even though it’s included with my GBRC membership. I’ve done plenty of training laps around the lake over the years to prepare for other races so I didn’t really understand why anyone would want to run it as a Relay let alone run the 4 laps (10.35 miles) solo unless they were training for something. This year it was on my radar only because I’ve been photographing most of the GBRC races so I thought I would give it a shot as a spectator.
The start and finish were side by side with the exchange zone in the middle and cones set out with flags to differentiate the zones on the corner for solo runners. I stood just outside the flag lines amongst plenty of other spectators and got to see firsthand what it means to be on a relay team. The anticipation was palpable watching the runners in the exchange zone. I could see them waiting for their teammates to come around the corner knowing they had mere seconds to be ready to run as the invisible baton was about to be passed along.
Legs were moving as fast as possible right up to the tag line, every breath laboring on the edge of exhaustion knowing that in a moment it was going to be someone else’s turn to burn and run as fast as possible for the benefit of the whole group. Adrenaline on both ends had some competitive people leaping forward for the pass and crashing to the ground just as the next person powered forward for the next lap as the next person checked their watch and waited for their turn. The teams were all different combinations with college students, parents and their kids, youth and everything in between. It all added to the accessibility by mixing and matching age groups and abilities. The littlest humans seemed to be especially loving participating on the same level with the adults.
I finally saw the value in such a scenario and how it was instantly gratifying on so many levels. It made me want do a 2.6 mile lap with my own team so I could go as fast as possible, working for something greater than I could achieve on my own. I realized afterward how it applies to life as well. It’s amazing how when we work together on anything, we can accomplish much more and must faster than we can by ourselves. And then not only are we sharing the anticipation as well as carrying the load we get to enjoy the sense of accomplishment together as a team. It’s good to find balance in everything so if you tend to fly solo, maybe give a relay race a try sometime as a part a team. You’ll see what I mean.