Good morning!! I’m sitting here this Monday morning still on a high from Saturday’s Iowa Market to Market relay event. This was my second time running this event. You can read my 2014 race recap here. I’ll give a little background on this race. It’s a relay that takes place from Jefferson to Des Moines Iowa, through some pretty awesome rural trails. Teams of 6, 7, or 8 runners cover 75 miles and 17 exchange points. Some teams deck out there team vehicles and get up in costumes. It’s a lot of fun seeing what they come up with!
A few weeks ago our team wasn’t sure we would be running. We were running short a few runners due to other commitments that had come up. Our team captain worked her charm and found us two subs. This brought our team back up to 5 runners. Not necessarily ideal when covering 75 miles, as this would mean that several of us would be running between 15-20 miles. We took a quick team poll and decided we were up for the challenge. My teammates had not been training for this kind of mileage so we all agreed that we would run this with no expectations of time or paces, just to go out there and have fun.
Since we only had five runners, we had to do some fancy switch-aroo action with our bib numbers throughout the day. Here’s the segments I was assigned to run this year:
Saturday morning the weather was a bit cool, but it looked like we were going to get lucky with warmer temps later in the day and clear skies. This was such a relief considering the threat of rain and storms we’d been having all week. I was prepared with some trash bags in my supplies. I’m quite certain had I forgotten them – it would have let loose on me! I started the team off with the first stage at 6am! I met a gal who was from my hometown and we really hit it off. Found out we knew several people and she’s even neighbors to a fellow GOAT/running buddy! The company made the miles pass by pretty quickly, and the trail was just breathtaking! I could see these being a real gem to run on a regular basis in the summer- lots of pretty wild flowers, shade from the direct sun, and creeks and streams with bridges!
After my first leg, I had some time to rest up before my harder/longer second segment. I was assigned to be the Navigator for the day. Not really a hard job though – as the Race Day Guide really gives you all the information you need to navigate between the exchange points.
My second segment was designated as “hard” due to the continuous elevation climb. I haven’t been doing much hill or speed work lately. My training has been primarily focused on endurance, or time on my feet. I went out there thinking I would try to maintain a 10:00/mile pace due to the incline. Once I was out there running, I found my groove and just kept going. I felt like I had a good stride, my heart rate was holding at a good beat, and I was pacing just over 9:00/miles. I was ecstatic! In fact, I ran so fast that I beat my team to the exchange point by well over 5 minutes!
The day continued on with great weather and great vibes. We were each feeling really good during our runs and making great time. We had a lot of fun checking out fellow team costumes. One group that we just couldn’t seem to get away from was Bro White and the Seven Dorks. One of the men was wearing a gold speedo and blue fishnet top. My teammate nicknamed him “Golden Nuggets”!!
Segments 3 and 4 for me were just as great as the first two. I managed to stay in the low 9:00/mile pace for each of my four segments, even as the heat set in during the final run. I was really proud of myself for pushing my pace and still enjoying the run.
We wrapped the day of running across Iowa in 11 hrs 34 mins. The post run shindig was great. Everyone got their free beer and we just hung out and soaked up some sun before heading home.
Anyone considering putting a team together for this event – I would say DO IT! It’s a blast! The volunteers and event coordinators did a great job.
Have you participated in a team event? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below!