Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Market to Market Relay Race Recap

On Saturday, six days after running the Lincoln Half Marathon, I ran Iowa's second Market to Market Relay.

Market to Market was founded by Ben Cohoon and Jason Bakewell, two guys that I have known forever -- like, elementary school, forever. It started in Nebraska a few years ago, came to Iowa last year, and is heading to Ohio for the first time this year. I'm super excited that the guys are doing well -- and even more excited that they're putting on killer races for me to run. :)

I was a bit nervous going into this race since I was quite injured from Lincoln. You saw my foot a week ago, and I was going to post another pic of it in this post, but I can barely even look at it. You can thank me for sparing you that gruesomeness later. :)

And, let's be real: I ran 13.1 miles after not a whole lot of training, and I had nearly 11 miles to run only six days later.

My nervousness was not without reason.

One thing I was sure of was that we were going to have a freaking blast. My team consisted of seven rockstar staff members from my school: five teachers, a counselor, and our attendance officer.

Are those retro uniforms badass, or what?

We met downtown at 5:30 in the morning to park our cars and load up the minivan that Maggie's parents so generously loaned to us. We then drove 75 miles to Jefferson, Iowa, for the start of the race. (And the further and further that we drove, the more we were thinking that we were bat-shit crazy since we were relying on our legs to get us back to Des Moines.)

Waves started leaving Jefferson at 6:00 a.m., but we didn't have to take off until 7:30. We hung around the starting line for a bit, made sure our gear was ready to go, grabbed some free water, used the facilities, and saw our first runner, Jeff, off:

I love how the trombone-playing gorilla leads the charge.

As soon as Jeff left the gate, my nerves were at a ten. It was my turn to follow him, so I only had about 45 minutes before I actually had to run.

We skid-addled to the first exchange point, where I blasted some Montell Jordan (you know, to get me pumped and ready to go), took care of my normal pre-race porta-potty necessities, and got even more nervous.

Before I knew it, Jeff was in the exchange point and handing me the timing bracelet, and I was off. I had a three-mile stint to start my running for the day, and while it was short, it was pretty much all uphill -- a gradual incline, but a hill nonetheless. And, it started raining almost immediately as I started running.

I started at a pretty good clip (9:30/mile, which is insane for me), so I tired fairly quickly. I took a walk break for one minute at each mile, and that seemed to be a good plan for that leg.

Also, because earbuds weren't allowed on the course, I had to find inspiration elsewhere. For some reason, I thought about my colleague's wife who is battling cancer. I repeated over and over (and over and over some more) to myself, "Running isn't hard: fighting cancer is hard. Running isn't hard: fighting cancer is hard." And I finished those darn miles.

It wasn't my fastest run ever, but I wasn't too disappointed in myself.

Interestingly, my foot didn't hurt all that bad during my run. However, my left leg (hip and knee) were very, very achy, and I'm pretty sure that's because I was somehow overcompensating for my foot -- and likely running just a smidge differently. And, when we stopped at the next exchange point and I got out of the car, my foot started throbbing. So, I took off my shoe and walked around like this the entire day:

Yep: I was pretty darn sexy. (I also ended up wrapping/re-wrapping my foot for each leg. The ointment -- anti-bacterial stuff and/or zinc oxide, gauze, and pre-wrap only held up so well.)

The course was absolutely beautiful. I loved that we got to see so much of the countryside, including grain elevators, cornfields, cows and horses, trees, gardens, and more.

It was so rural, in fact, that we had to wait for a tractor/combine/something to pass:

I don't know why, but this absolutely killed me. Only in Iowa, I suppose.

After everyone ran his or her first leg and Jeff ran his second, it was my turn yet again: and this time, I had to run 4.6 miles.

I was super nervous for this leg, but it ended up going pretty darn well, even though it was approximately 8,000 degrees, and I was wearing a very unbreathable basketball jersey.

The route didn't seem as far because there were more twists and turns (instead of one straight shot like my first run). However, the jaunt to the exchange point seemed to last forever since I could see it about a mile before I actually got there: super ugh.

But, yet again, I did it. This time my mantra was as follows: "Miles to go before I sleep. You are stronger than you think." I repeated this over and over in the same rhythm that I was running. It was very helpful -- so helpful, in fact, that I got annoyed when people tried to say hi or talk to me because it totally broke that rhythm.

At each exchange point, we hung out with several other teams who were also waiting for their runners. My favorite team by far this year was the Husker Tailgate team. I mean, just look at their set-up:

At each stop, they laid down the turf, set up a game of bags, inflated Herbie, erected (tee hee) the sign, and blasted Nebraska-themed music (which I need to acquire).

And, when each runner came into the exchange point, someone ran alongside him or her with a huge Husker flag, and another teammate released three red balloons into the air.

I loved it.

As we continued running and as it started getting warmer, we tried to relax in between runs:

This particular park was absolutely glorious, and I think we were all able to get a bit of a snooze in. (I especially like Emily (far right) who fell asleep with her Gatorade and open bag of beef jerky next to her.)

Shaw and me -- looking pretty fly.

Unfortunately, we got some weather later in the day: the wind picked up like crazy, the temperature dropped quite a bit, the rain started pelting down, and lightning definitely happened. But, we (perhaps foolishly) kept going.

This is also about the time that we started getting really, really far behind all of the other teams, about the time that only three or four other teams were at the exchange points with us. I don't think we did too horribly bad time-wise, but I definitely think we should've been in an earlier heat: it was hard to stay motivated when it was just us and it was clear that we were going to be the last team finishing.

But, we somehow kept on trucking.

My last leg was only another three miles, and I knew it could've gone one of two ways: awesomely because it is a route I run all the time (Ashworth Pool to Gray's Lake) or horribly since I had already run nearly eight miles.

That last leg was a little awesome and a lot horrible. I loved running a route that I knew, but about a mile in, my knee completely gave out. I was limping like crazy, trying to run as much as I could. But, was super tough.

I ended up finishing (barely) with a not-so-awesome time:

There was no mantra for that last leg. Instead, I kept focusing on how much my knee hurt, how badly I just wanted to be done.

I handed off the timing bracelet to Mags, and the rest of the team and I headed downtown to meet her for our last leg of the day: 0.3 miles as a team.

And we did it. It's pretty remarkable to me -- still to think about it even now -- that the seven of us ran a total of 75 miles. I mean, that's pretty unreal.

It was a super-fun day, and I am so glad we did it. I cannot wait for next year -- and will definitely train more so that we don't come in DFL.

Super pumped to take my finishers' pint glass to the after party for some free beer.

Thanks for yet another great race, Ben, Jason, and the rest of the Market to Market team!

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  1. Way to go! I don't know how you ran that much a week after running your half, lol! I did my first half last Saturday and had a BLAST! I just posted about it...www.homespunkitchen.blogspot.com

    Are you done racing for a bit now???

    1. CONGRATULATIONS on your half! Your recap was beautiful -- I hear you with the crying!

      I'm not sure how I ran that much a week after a half either -- but I did! I am done for a couple weeks, but then I have another half marathon on May 31. Then I'm done until mid July. :) You?

  2. Oops, wasn't logged in to Google, haha...

    1. Haha I love when that happens! :)

  3. That's awesome, way to go! I think that race time is good!! You should be proud of yourself!

    1. Thank you so much, Alisha! I am definitely proud of myself: all things considered (blister, half marathon, eating like crap, etc.), I think I did a pretty darn good job. :)

  4. Nice Report, glad you had such an awesome time -Ben

    1. Thank YOU for such an awesome race. :)

  5. Yay for finishing! Boo with the Huskers love :) I think you did great especially considering being injured and the not so great weather.

    1. Not a Nebraska fan, huh, Kristin? :) And thank you for the kind words -- and for making it through the world's longest blog post. :) Hope you have a great day!

    2. I went to ISU so no. I just like to tease their fans. Especially growing up in SW Iowa where there were lots of them and Hawkeye fans.

  6. You're my inspiration yet again. That race with a blistered foot and aching hip and knee sounds worse than running with a broken arm. A whole lot worse. So proud of you!!