From Market to Market

Saturday, I got to run with a group of friends in the 4th annual Market to Market relay race.  Last year we tried to get in, but didn't get picked in the lottery...this year, we "won" a spot, which meant that there was again a real need to train for something. I'm always happy to have a makes getting out of bed at 4:30 in the morning have a purpose that is bigger than "because I shoud...not that it is terribly difficult to hop out of bed most days because working out with friends makes it more of a social event anyway!   I must admit that if we get to run again next year, I will train more diligently, as I'm sure it would help reduce the fatigue.

The meal blessing with all of our children.  8 runners, 7 families, 32 children 
 In preparation for a day full of running and riding in a car, our team "St. Teresa's Track Team", "St. Teresa's Trailblazers", or "Team Orange" as we became known by the end of the day by other runners, and families gathered for a pre-race pasta dinner.  I think that we should run a race every month just for the pre-race gathering!!  There are many teams that run this relay and meet each other for the first time at the race.  I'm sure it is still fun that way, but spending an entire day with friends--good friends--was truly a treat.  It was just one more of those "bubble blessings" that I think so highly of.  (I'm referring to our little bubble of friends that are like family--a community that feels like is a safe haven).  The icing on the cake??  The race was on the feast of St. Therese, so we felt we had a few extra little blessings showering us. 

So...this race...this relay:  begins at the Old Market in Omaha and ends at the Hay Market in Lincoln, although this year, due to the flooding, it was rerouted and began at Memorial Park instead.  It was 78 miles and completed in 21 stages.  Our team's start time was 6am, which meant a nice early departure...and the team graciously came and picked me up, which meant I got a few extra ZZZ's.  :)
There were eight of us, which meant that half of us had two legs to run and the other half had three.  Upon completion of my second leg, I was happy not to have a third!  It is definitely one thing to run 10 miles at a time, but quite another to break up 10 miles and stick a few hours of riding in a car in between.  Bottom line?  Still a great time!!  You would have thought we were going to be gone for several days based on our stuff in the back!  Notice the 6 lb bag of gummy bears??  Those were so nice to have!!!  :)

Each leg ended in an exchange of a chip bracelet to the next runner and then the seven that weren't running jumped back in "Sherman"--the Casady's white Suburban to head to the next exchange point.  Sometimes we had a while to wait, other times we had to hustle to get there before the runner did.  The legs ranged in distance from just under 3 miles to almost 6 miles and in difficulty from easy (flat) to hard (hilly).  Mine were 5.51 and 4.15--rated easy...and the second one began a mile from my home!  I sensed a little ownership of the territory during many of our miles since the roads and the stops are our Summer stomping grounds.  Hmmm...maybe I really do like living out here?  :) 

This is one of the rare opportunities we had to actually see and encourage a team mate on the course.  Our driving route took us down the same country road that T.J. was running on.  We took complete advantage of cheering him on from an arm's length before we drove off!

The temperatures ranged from 40 degrees and foggy in the early morning to 80 degrees by midday.  The surfaces were anywhere from paved to gravel to grassy fields.  Some courses were bike trails, some where country roads.  The route between Markets was not a straight-shot...we got to see much of the beauty of southeastern Nebraska by way of "middle-of-nowhere" routes.  In a quirky turn of events, I ran my first leg with a high school classmate!  Completely unplanned, but absolutely a pleasant surprise.  We didn't run the whole thing together--she's a much faster runner than I, but due to her faster pace, I ran a faster pace than I've probably run since high school!!  Let's just say I was pleased, and now--given how I approach things, I have a new personal best to beat!

I've not seen so many big passenger vans outside of a Catholic Church parking lot! It was a great opportunity to check some of them out a little better. :)  The other common (and welcome) sight at each stop were the porta-potties.  So glad to have had them--and the toilet paper that apparently has been know to run out didn't, thank goodness!  I have to say though, there is just something not right about not flushing!  Just sayin'!

There were thousands of runners.  I think something like 244 teams with 6-8 runners each.  Some teams dressed in costume.  Some teams where in it to win it.  We were not in either category.  We just ran it to do it and have fun.  Mission accomplished. 
We finished in 11 hours and 38 minutes. (The fastest teams finished around 4 hours better than that--Holy Smokes!!!) The last stage of the race was a quarter of mile in which we all ran together to the finish and the post-race festivities. You can imagine that we all probably know a few more details about each other after spending that much time together.

The day was all-together fantastic.  Crazy?  Absolutely, there is no doubt.  What does that say about us that we worked hard and payed money to run from city to city and cram our sweaty bodies into a vehicle together for 12 hours?  I would do it again--I can do it again four months post-partum right??  Yes, I think that is a good goal.