Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Market to Market Relay Recap

I've professed my love for relays before.  After this weekend, I can tell you that I'm a relay junkie.

12-step program?  No thank you.

I'm a social creature and totally believe that running is a team sport.  Besides, several stinky people in a van eating Twizzlers and Cool Ranch Doritos just makes for awesome stories and memories.

Let me start from the beginning of my Market to Market weekend....

Friday, 4:15pm.  Kym picked Sarah and I up at my house and we drove, int he rented minivan, to Grandview to pick up the rest of our team, Doug, Aimee and Christie.  Once everyone was loaded up, we headed south to Milford, Ohio to pick up our race packets.

But first, let me take a selfie.
Funny story: While Kym drove, she had a little trouble with the windshield wipers.  Every time she turned on the right turn signal, she bumped the windshield wiper control (that is located on the turn signal lever) and the wipers would swipe.  Every. Single. Time.  After the seventh or eighth time this happened, we started cheering for the windshield wipers.  We'd be in mid-conversation, Kym would signal to change lanes, we'd all cheer then return to our conversations.  Maybe you had to be there.

After our team packet was safely in our possession, we fed our hungry bellies then checked into our hotel to rest up before our 7am start time.

We all met in the hotel lobby at 5:30am since we were advised to be at the starting line by 6:30am and that parking might be difficult as some roads would be closed for the event.

It turns out that parking was easy and we were early....which meant that we had plenty of time to "tag" the vans of other teams before we started.  I've mentioned that during road relays, everyone writes on other teams' vans.  Doug made it easy for us: he made little magnets to stick on other vans.

Our magnets.  Very clever, in my opinion.

This tickled me.  I had so much fun "pea"ing on all the vans.  Later in the day at one of the exchanges, we saw the race director pull into the parking lot.  When he left his truck, I tagged it with a magnet.  No one was safe from my pea. 

When I ran out of magnets, I drew peas on the vans using window crayons.

Every time I'd finish running, my teammates would tell me how many vans they pea'd on.  Such silly shenanigans.

We wrote on our own van too.

Finally, it was about time to start.

Team Princesses and the Peas at the starting line.
Saturday, 7am.  Go time.  Doug was our first runner followed by me, Sarah, Christie, Aimee and Kym.  Most of this relay was run on the Ohio-Erie trail system of paved bike paths.  Kym's second leg was on the road, but other than that, there wasn't much road running.

We cheered Doug off and loaded up the van to head to the first exchange.

7:29am.  Doug passed me the team "baton", a neoprene bracelet, that we quickly discovered got disgustingly sweaty.  I ended up velcroing it around my race belt.  I took off running on the Little Miami bike path.  I had a straight shot.  It was impossible to get lost.  At 5.5 miles, this would be my longest leg and since it was my first, I wanted to keep my pace on the conservative side so I didn't crash and burn on the next two legs. I intended to keep my pace around a 10 minute mile for the first 3 miles and speed up toward the end, but I went out a little fast, slowed down a little and picked up the pace at mile 4 as planned.

Leg 1: Milford to Loveland, OH
5.46 mi, avg pace 9:40

9:42, 9:47, 9:57, 9:42, 9:36, 8:40

The next few hours were spent cheering on the rest of my team, "pea"ing on other vans and eating Cool Ranch Doritos, gummy bears, granola bars and Island Boost.  Diet of champions, my friends.

11:22am. My next leg started from Fort Ancient State Memorial.  Before I could even get to the bike path, I had to climb down a mountain for this one.  It was so steep that there were steps built into the hill for hiking.  I loved climbing down and was a little jealous that Doug would get to climb up to get to the parking lot to find our van.

This leg was another straight shot up the Little Miami trail.  No turns, no chance of getting lost.  I'm a fan of that.  My strategy for this leg was to negative split (run faster at the end than in the beginning) but not wear myself out for my third leg.

Around mile 2.3, I was surprised to see my team driving by in the van, honking and cheering out the window for me.  I was thrilled to see them, but slightly confused as to why they were there....apparently, they took a wrong turn (navigator error) but they still made it to the next exchange before I did.  That's all that matters.

Leg 2: Ft. Ancient to Oregonia, OH
3.71 mi, avg pace 9:28

9:43, 9:37, 9:18, 9:06

By this time, I was starting to get tired.  And stiff.  All the sitting in the van was wearing me out.  I closed my eyes and took a power nap for a little bit at one of the exchanges.

3:30pm.  I told my teammates that I'd try to be done in less than 40 minutes, but I was tired and starting to get a little achy.  I had no idea if my legs would cooperate for this one.

What I did know, is that I was super excited for this leg.  I got to run through Xenia.  If you'll recall, Xenia has a special place in my heart.  I was hoping it would be kind to me again.  My strategy for this leg was to run progressive (each mile faster than the last), but since I was starting to get sore, I had no idea what pace that might be.

Unlike my previous legs, this one was not a straight shot.  Around mile 2.5 I had to make a left turn from Little Miami to Creekside trail.  This turn was well marked with Market to Market signs.  I had no trouble navigating this.  I did hear that some runners got lost on this leg, but I'm assuming they didn't read the race guide that we were all provided before we started.  If they had read it, they'd have known to watch out for this turn.

Leg 3: Xenia to Greene Co. Fairgrounds
4.14 mi, avg pace 9:06

9:31, 9:16, 9:06, 8:39, 8:16

I had no idea I had that in me.

I passed a lot of people on my last leg, so I must have done something right to have some speed left at the end.

After everyone else ran one last time, our whole team crossed the finish line together.  Our "medals" were pint glasses, which I prefer over medals.  Lord knows we don't need any more pint glasses in this house, but at least it will be seen and used rather than shoved in a drawer with the rest of my medals.

Finish line selfie!

About the Race

Back in July when my friends Doug and Kym asked me to join their Market to Market Relay team, I had mixed feelings about it.  Of course, I was super excited for another relay and I knew it would be a great time, but I wasn't sure about the distance.  Market to Market was "only" 76 miles long.  The other relays I've done were twice that distance.  I was afraid Market to Market would feel too short or wouldn't be as challenging or exciting.

Not at all.  My three runs, instead of being 10-12 hours apart, were about 4 hours apart.  That has a whole new set of obstacles as far as resting, fueling and hydrating are concerned.

It turns out that there were plenty of challenges, there was plenty of excitement and, bonus, by the time we were all exhausted and cranky, we were finished and it was time to go home.  No need to sleep in the van overnight or on a high school gymnasium floor.  I like the one-day distance much more than I thought I would.

This was the inaugural year for Market to Market in Ohio.  Often times, inaugural races come with unforeseen glitches and bumps in the road are to be expected.

Not with this one.

This event was flawless...and if it wasn't, they hid the flaws well.  Doug was a little concerned when we weren't provided with GPS coordinates or addresses to the exchange points, we were only given driving directions.  The driving directions were very detailed and spot on.  We never had trouble finding the exchange points.

I thoroughly enjoyed Market to Market Ohio and will totally be back next year.

Have you ever run a Market to Market Relay?  The other locations are Iowa (May) and Nebraska (October).  You should check them out if they're in your area.
Will you run Market to Market Ohio next year?  I think this one will catch on fast so register early!