Monday, September 7, 2015

Market to Market relay recap

I was going to attempt to wrap two race recaps into one, since both occurred during the same weekend... but then I realized that I didn't want to do a disservice to either of these awesome events, so I'll keep them separate :)

First up: Market to Market relay!  Back in December, I asked some friends if they would be interested in participating in this race.  It is a 76.4-mile relay race that begins in Milford (a suburb of Cincinnati) and ends in downtown Dayton.  This is the second year of this race, I believe, and I'd heard great thing about it from my friend Jamie.  I recruited some of my best friends to join me, and we've been planning things for several months!  Our team was aptly named "Classy, Sassy and a bit Smartassy," and was composed of Jen, Stacey, Christine, Amy, Jess and Allison.  

We all got these tanks in different colors.  This one highlights Jen's assets ;)
Christine has a huge 12-passenger van, and Jen's parents live in a nearby suburb of Cincinnati, so we were set with our ride and accommodations the night before the race.  We all decided who was going to bring what--I chose the all-important item of CANDY!  Other very important items included fruit punch Gatorade and Cool Ranch Doritos... oh, and of course healthier things like peanut butter, yogurt, granola bars, and a ton of water.

Christine picked me up on Friday afternoon as soon as we both got done with work, and we met up with Jess, Allison and Amy at Christine's house to load up the van. We picked up Jen and Stacey and then we were off!  

Car selfie!
The ride down was long--traffic was heavy and we had some nice storms happening.  Christine loved the lightning show that we encountered!  We made it to Jen's parents just after 7 PM and after a few quick hello's, we headed to dinner at Carabba's.  I had invited my cousin Katie, who recently moved to Oakley (another suburb of Cincinnati), to join us.  It was a wonderful dinner of laughter and wine for all!  None of us typically drink the night before a race, but this was all about friendship and fun, so wine was definitely called for.

Jen & Stacey--cheers!
We headed back to Jen's parents' house and Stacey crashed immediately.  The rest of us stayed up till around 11:00 PM just chatting in the basement--a true runners' slumber party.  I had a little trouble falling asleep, but eventually was able to rest for a bit.  We were all up by 5 AM ready for the party to get started!

So it was off to the starting line, where we were easily able to park and find the packet pick-up, which was in a local camping/sporting goods store right next to the starting line.  Since we were early, we hung out in a coffee shop and studied the course maps that we'd been provided... this was actually a thick booklet with specific directions and instructions.  

Amy's gonna hate this one...
Then we headed back to our van and decorated it with car markers.  We hadn't planned what we were going to draw/write, but ended up going with hashtags with a bunch of smart-ass comments, of course!  Most of them were really inappropriate, and we added more as the day went on... and we got several compliments on how funny they were! 

Fooling around pre-race!
The time quickly arrived for Christine, our first runner, to head to the starting line.  

She's so ready!
We had drawn the 7 AM starting wave, which ended up being perfect as we didn't need any lights or reflective gear at all during the race since we started after sunrise and ended before sunset.

Pre-race selfie!
Christine's wave went off right on time, and things got crazy from that point!  

I had been elected the driver for when Christine was running her three legs, so right off the bat I had to get her big ol' van to the first exchange point.  Fortunately, the race guide had great directions to get us from one exchange point to the next, and we were able to make it to the first spot with plenty of time to spare.  We were excited to cheer in Christine from her first run, and send Jen (our second runner) off on her leg!

Christine coming in!

The first exchange!
It was during Jen's leg (when Christine took over the wheel and I became the navigator) that I first thought about running both of my legs in the relay.  You see, originally I had decided just to run one of them.  At first I thought I'd do the shorter one, only 2.4 miles.  But I've felt good lately and figured that I could handle the 4.6 mile leg, especially since I ran short this week.  Stacey had originally offered to run my 2.4 miles, and that was how things had been set... until all of a sudden I thought, "Hey, why not?  I can do this, if I keep it easy!"  My team agreed that as long as I kept things easy, I would be fine.

The next few stages went by quickly. 

Official photographer :)

Excitedly waiting...

Stacey coming in for her first exchange!

And Jess heading out!

Selfie at the top of Ft. Ancient, waiting for Allison!

Love these mamas!
 I was the 6th runner, so after Jen, Amy, Stacey, then Jess, it was my turn!  Jess handed the timing chip (a velcro bracelet) to me at around 10:15 AM, and I was off!  About all I can say about this leg was that it was boring.   Like, truly one of the most boring runs I've ever done.  The race doesn't allow headphones, so I was without music.  I passed a few runners who were walking, and that was that.  Oh, I did hear a woodpecker.  Yeah, super exciting... not!!!  I worked to keep my form steady and keep my pace as close to 9:00/mile as I could.  I was almost successful--my splits were 8:50, 8:57, and 8:35 pace for the final 0.4, with an overall pace of 8:51/mile.  I felt relaxed and good physically... just bored almost to tears!  I was actually thrilled that the run was shorter than announced (2.33 miles). The temperature was in the mid-70's at this point, so it was hot but not too awful yet.  My route was somewhat shaded as well.  I handed off the bracelet to Allison, who was our 7th runner, and headed back to the van to take over as navigator again.

The next few legs flew by.  We watched the temperatures rise and started to get worried about the heat.  By 1 PM it was almost 90 degrees and still climbing.  

Amy waiting for Jen in the crazy heat

Stacey throwing water at Jen as she came in!
Amy isn't too happy in the heat...

Stacey finishing her super-long leg in the sun

After her 2nd leg, Stacey needed a snack...
I started to get nervous... our runners would come in, and we would immediately pour water over their heads and put an icy-cold towel on their necks.  (Oh, the disgusting orange towel... that is one thing I don't ever want to see again!)  I began to wonder what I'd gotten myself into... my legs were a bit tired and I was not sure I could handle the heat.  My mind kept drifting back to the half marathon back in October 2013 when I literally collapsed due to (what we later learned was) dehydration.  I knew I wasn't a good hot-weather runner.  How on earth was I going to run 4.6 miles in temperatures above 90???

My time came though... I stood at exchange point 12 waiting for Jess, trying not to cry.  Thankfully I had on my sunglasses so no one knew how scared I really was.  Jess ran in and then I was off.  This time, I'd decided to put Pandora on my phone in my FlipBelt, so at least I'd have something to listen to while I suffered.  I was hot... oh so hot... but I was less alone this time.  I had three men pass me during my leg, but I passed several walkers, and I also passed one of the men who had passed me when he started to walk.  I made it a little game... I wouldn't let myself check my progress on my Garmin till I passed someone.  Otherwise, the tenths ticked by super slowly.  I managed to keep my pace relaxed and only felt a little dizzy twice during the run; both times I just drank more water and breathed slower.  But man was it hot!  Oh and did I mention that this leg was entirely uphill?  It didn't feel that way, thankfully... probably because I was too busy thinking about how I felt like I was in an oven.  I again controlled my pace well... 9:06, 9:10, 9:01, 9:12, and 8:47 for the final 0.6 miles (overall pace 9:04/mile for the run).  I honestly couldn't go much faster than that, not safely at least.

I was so very very happy to see the final turn off from the trail to the exchange point.  I handed off the chip to Allison and grabbed icy water and Gatorade from my friends.  They were a little giggly... more so than usual.  Back at the car, I immediately gathered that something was up.  As it turns out,. there had been some navigation issues and they'd arrived only a minute or two before I finished... needless to say, I was more than happy to take over navigation duties again!

I didn't feel so hot after I'd finished my second leg... tummy issues mostly.  It was still fun cheering on everyone else on my team and laughing about how awful we all smelled at that point.  
One of the few pics of Allison, since I handed off to her!

How Jen feels about the heat...

Christine powering through her final leg!

Their last exchange!

Because she didn't work out enough today ;)

Amy is so thrilled to run her third leg ;)

The best part was meeting up with a team of very attractive college-age male runners who seemed to be at every exchange point just ahead of us for the final 4-5 stops.  Lots of eye candy to keep us happy! 

Our favorite ;)
Amy's got this!

Stacey is ready for her final leg!

Waiting on Stacey... Allison is checking out the guys ;)

Here comes Stacey!

The final exchange!

Stacey lending Jen a hand ;)

 Runners #1-5 had three legs total, while runners #6 and 7 only had two, so Jess was our final runner.  The way the race works, everyone on the team runs the final 0.2 miles into the finish.  We met up with Jess in downtown Dayton and headed together as a team towards the finish arch.  

Here comes Jess!

Our team finishing!
Such a wonderful memory, all of us together running!  We were surprised to get medals (hadn't seen anything about them in the race info), but were underwhelmed by the post-race party. No real food, so once those who were drinking had their free beer, we headed out to the van and back towards Columbus.  

We did stop in Urbana to have dinner (half of us at Chipotle, the other half at Five Guys Burgers & Fries--oh, the deliciousness of a burger and salty fries after running!), and made it back to central Ohio before 10 PM.

Our official results: 

We were the 10th-fastest all-women's team out of 31, and 65th out of 163 teams overall.  Our overall pace was a 9:09/mile.  Given the heat of the day, we were pretty happy with that!  We all agreed that it was an amazing experience, one that we'd all definitely like to repeat.