We were running against the wind. All five of us. All day.
But, hey, at least we outran the rain!
Such was the day for our team at the 2019 Market to Market Relay on Saturday, May 11th. The temps were chilly (it never got warmer than 55F), the air was damp, and the wind was brutal. That said, it still was a fun adventure in our five sets of running shoes.
Our day started with a 4:45 a.m. departure from our company's parking lot to make it to the start line for our 7:15 a.m. wave start in downtown Jefferson, IA. Of course, we had to swing through a Starbucks in Des Moines while en route.
|Ryan, myself, Ashley, Kristin and Nick|
There are staggered waves for start times, beginning as early as 5:45 a.m. to accommodate the 352 teams. Each team is comprised of 6-8 runners, and there are various team divisions based on gender, age, co-ed, collegiate, and corporate. Many of the teams have their vehicles decorated and the runners are in costume. It's quite an event!
|image from Pink Gorilla Events|
|Ready for the start line|
Before long, it was my turn to lace up and hit the trail, literally. Ashley and Ryan had both finished their first legs, and Nick would be coming in soon. There are volunteers, stationed about 1/4-mile out, with walkie-talkies watching for the runners, and then announcing the bib numbers to alert each team's "on-deck" runner that their teammate was approaching. I had planned on wearing a tank top with arm warmers, but opted to wear an additional long-sleeved shirt (layered over my tank) because it was so cold and windy.
As you can see from the elevation chart (above), most of Station 4 was a gradual uphill endeavor. There was a steady headwind, as well. A lot of the route was out in the open, but there were a few spots with patches of trees which gave me a brief wind block. I was relieved to see the familiar green banner flags, signaling my approach to the Station 5 exchange point. Before long, I was handing off to Kristin, and I was done. I wasted no time in grabbing my blanket as we jumped back in the van, and headed to the next exchange point.
Stage 4 - 4.83 miles --> 42:54 (8:53 pace).
Splits were 8:37 / 8:48 / 9:01 / 8:58 / 7:30 (final .83)
|Marking off my first leg|
As the morning wore on, the weather remained the same...cold, windy, and cloudy. My next leg would be Station 9, which is one of the legs I ran last year.
|Nick handing off the baton to me at Station 9|
|Handing off to Kristin|
Splits were 8:45 / 9:05 / 9:26 / 9:21 / 6:24 (final .68)
|Boy, it felt great to mark that leg as DONE|
|I make it an obligation, every year, to hit the slide at the Station 8 exchange point|
|It was my idea (at our first M2M, in 2014) to do push-ups at each of the exchange points...and that tradition has continued|
|numerous curves (in green)...all with a headwind!|
Shortly after what I'd thought was the first mile, the route turned onto a paved trail. We'd been warned to watch for route markers because there would be a lot of side trails (that were to be avoided). For the most part, I was on my own. I'd see an occasional fellow runner up ahead, but there was not a lot of passing happening (on my part or others'). The route ventured back into a residential area for a mile or so, only to veer back into another woodland trail. Every time the route turned, it felt like the wind shifted with it and there was a constant headwind in my face. I had not walked all day, but finally, in the final couple miles of that final leg, I gave in.
The route information had said this leg was 5.3 miles, and with my wonky watch, I wasn't sure exactly how far I'd gone. My watch had been beeping, though, at what "seemed" to be evenly-spaced miles (even after that first odd 7:17-minute beep). It wasn't until my watch showed 5.6 miles, though, that I cleared the exchange point, at Station 15.
|Coming into Station 15...that's a grimace, not a smile|
Station 14 - 5.63 miles -->51:40 (9:11 pace).
Splits were 7:17 // 9:17 //9:21 // 9:46 // 9:45 // 6.14 (final .63)
Although I was done, everyone else still had a final leg to run as we worked our way to the finish line. As is tradition, all teams rally near the finish line, and wait for their final runner to come in... and then run the final .1 mile together, as a team.
|just after the finish line|
A new thing our team did this year was to "mysteriously" leave magnets on other teams' vehicles. We represent a signage company, after all, why not do a little networking?
A few notes:
--Our 2019 team originally had six runners, but an angry achilles prevented our sixth runner from joining us on race day. In light of one less runner, our team "matrix" had to shift slightly, and a few of us had to take on some extra miles. Not a big deal.
--This was our team's sixth time (of the seven years of the event's existence) participating. This was my fourth time participating (I also was there in 2014, 2017 and 2018). It's fun seeing many of the same returning teams every year.
--With 18 total legs of the relay, and differing team matrices each year (depending on how many runners we have), there still are several individual legs of the route that I have not yet run. That makes for a fun "new" adventure each year, for all of us.
--Most of us bailed on the push-ups at the final exchange points because our time was limited and our bodies were tired....my total for the day, though, tallied at 150. I'm good with that!
So, that's a wrap on the 2019 edition of the Market to Market Relay in Iowa (there's also a M2M in Nebraska, in October each year). Have you ever been on a relay team for an event such as this?
I'm linking this with Meranda and Lacey for the Friday with Fairytales and Fitness link-up.