Thursday, May 30, 2019

Joplin Memorial Run Relay

In 2017 we ran the Joplin Memorial Marathon relay, read about it here. Last year they decided to discontinue the marathon and switched back to just having a half-marathon. Due to the popularity of the marathon relay they decided to offer a half-marathon relay. We were out of town visiting Ty's family so my family did the 4 person relay without us. They said it was still fun so when it was time to sign up this year, I said I was in. The 4 person relay has 3 legs at the 5k distance and the last leg is 3.8. It said the distances were estimates so I was prepared for my leg to be long but the distances were spot on. Dad and I both had 3.13 or 3.14 and Jeremy had 3.8 on the nose. We decided to run based on speed, putting our faster runners at the end. So dad started us off, then Thomas ran next, I was 3rd, and Jeremy brought us in. I told dad the only problem with that was Jeremy would be hauling at the finish and we would have a hard time keeping up with him for his finishing sprint. Dad was confident he could keep up and when I asked him if he thought he could run a tenth of a mile at 5:30 pace he was still adamant he could do it, so we decided Jeremy would still go last and we'd run in to the finish with him. It wasn't until after the race that I realized I've been the 3rd leg in every relay I've run. In the marathon relays it's been because that was the longest leg, so I thought it was funny that I ended up with the 3rd leg in the half-marathon relay as well. It's actually perfect because I have plenty of time to watch the start of the race and then get to my relay leg riding the shuttle bus. Then I have time to run my cool down to the finish to run in with the last person in the relay.
Our relay team with the names of those who were lost in the tornado.
The race starts at 6:30 and we have a bit of a drive to the race so we needed to leave the house by 5:30. I had my alarm set but it was really quiet and I must've slept through it because Ty woke me up when he noticed what time it was. My mom was surprised I was the last one up but I was still ready with plenty of time. Even though it was just a 5k I went ahead and ate half a Clif bar and drank some Nuun on the way to the race. I planned to watch dad take off before going to the shuttle bus area but he got out of the restroom before me and I couldn't find him at the start so I decided to go ahead and head to the shuttle bus area. I was glad I went early because they weren't at 7th and Main like the website said they would be. I still found them with plenty of time and was the first person on the bus waiting to head to our area. I started to get a little nervous when we kept waiting on more people before driving to our stop, but I made it to my stop with plenty of time for a warm up. I ran a little over a 2 mile warm up and realized we'd be running into a pretty strong headwind when we started. One relay went by while I was waiting. A man handed off to a man and they had a decent lead on us. I was hoping it was an all male relay. I got really excited as I saw Thomas coming up to the exchange and cheered like crazy. A lot of the people waiting gave me weird looks but I didn't let that bother me. It was still super overcast so I handed my sunglasses off to Thomas before taking off. This year we all had timing chips on the back of our bibs so we didn't have to hand anything off at our exchanges.
Dad taking off at the start.
Thomas killing it uphill!
I took off into the wind and I felt strong. I saw a girl I ran against in high school who was running the half marathon so I cheered for her as I passed her. They just had a small section on the right side of the road blocked off with cones so cars could drive by. There was only room for one runner on the inside of the cones and since I was passing people the whole way I just ran to the left of the cones. I had some decent hills in the first mile and with the strength of the wind I kept looking ahead hoping we would turn out of the wind soon. I was glad I wasn't running the full race even though I wouldn't have been running as fast if I were. I went through the first mile in 6:48 and I was a little surprised the mile was that slow but figured I'd be down to pace for the 2nd mile since we had finally turned with the wind at our side. The whole first mile of my race was into the wind. I found myself wishing I could tuck in behind someone to draft but since I was running a much faster pace than the people around me (being in the relay) that wasn't an option. There's not a whole lot to say about the 2nd mile other than that I passed people the whole way. I went through the 2nd mile in 6:32 and felt much better about that. I figured the wind just slowed me down on that first mile and we did have some decent hills in that section.
Uphill into the wind is my least favorite running, can you tell from my face? haha
When I ran the marathon relay in 2017 my leg of the relay ended up being about a tenth of a mile long so I was prepared for my leg to be over 3.1. I was afraid to pick it up too much toward the end in case my leg was over a 5k. I went through mile 3 in 6:38 and waited until I could see the relay exchange ahead to really pick it up at the end. As I approached the timing mat I saw Jeremy making his way to the front to take off. I had been a little worried as I first approached because I didn't see him and thought I might end up having to finish out the race. I ran the last portion of my race in 5:53 pace. The nice thing about running the relay was I was really just racing myself and not the other people in the race. It allowed me to really pace myself and run my own race without trying to chase anyone down. I was super impressed when I looked at my grade adjusted pace on Strava and saw my mile splits were 6:36, 6:36, and 6:37. How is that for even pacing?! Jeremy said I was 10 minutes early as we high fived at the exchange. That surprised me so after I crossed the mat I pulled my phone out and saw I was actually 2 minutes early. Later we realized he misheard me when I told him what time to expect me at the exchange. Thank goodness he was there early and ready! I ran with my phone in a pouch with me so I could easily navigate back to the finish area in time to run in to the finish with Jeremy. I knew from the course map that Jeremy would run a little square back to the finish so if I cut across I could make it back before him. I freaked out a little bit when it said I would arrive at my destination at 8:10 before I realized that was assuming I was walking and I'd be running so I should have no trouble making it back before 8:00 when I predicted Jeremy would finish.
Jeremy around mile 11 of the race.
I got a 2 mile cool down in to the finish area and saw mom and dad texted where they were waiting for Jeremy so I ran over to wait with them. I saw a friend I ran with in college, Kevin, in 3rd overall at the 10k point where I was waiting at my exchange so I asked if he had finished yet. They said he hadn't. A little while later the first finisher came through. We saw the first place relay team meet their runner to run in together. They had 2 men and a woman. I was a little disappointed that the only relay in front of us was in our division. I told the guys they would have been better off with Ty on their team than me because the winning men's relay team was significantly slower than ours. Jeremy was confused and said no relay runners came through when he was waiting for me. I saw the guy running the last leg of the relay and he was the same guy at my exchange zone so he ran the last 2 legs. He must've been pretty fast because Jeremy and I averaged 6:37 and then 6:27 pace for our legs! When Jeremy came into view he looked so awesome and we were excited. We cheered for him and then I took off running a little before he got to us to give myself a head start. I could tell he was hauling in to the finish. I was impressed dad kept up and each time Jeremy surged he was able to hold on! Jeremy ran the last 0.8 in 6:04 pace and I'm sure the last tenth of a mile he ran in with us was much faster than that even! We finished in 1:31:16. We were 2nd of 34 teams and also 2nd out of 12 in the co-ed division. Mom joked that next year they need to kick me off the team and have Ty run in my place so they can win. But next year would end up being the year with a bunch of fast all-male teams! We had so much fun and always appreciate running to remember those who lost their lives in the Joplin tornado. The medals this year were of the high school sign. The tornado blew off all the letters of Joplin in the "Joplin High School" lettering of the sign except for the o and the p so someone used duct tape to write in Hope High School right after the tornado. It was very touching and when we saw that was the medal for this year we knew we had to do it!

Mom's picture of us running in to the finish.
Finish line photos.
Mom ran the 5k and had a good time. Dad finished his leg of the relay in time to see her finish and get some pictures of her. She finished in 34:42 and won her age group by one second! We were so impressed when we saw the results. This year they did tumblers instead of plaques for the awards which I didn't really care about. But then I used my tumbler and I love it so much I've used it pretty much every day since the race! I'm looking forward to hopefully following this up with some trail races this summer!
Mom finishing the race looking good!


  1. I am very impressed with how even your GAP was! I also love your family relays. :-)

    1. I was really surprised when I saw my GAP! The family relays are a blast!

  2. I gave Nancy her stuff before we left for Mexico. She left it in the car, and while in Mexico we saw how much use she could have gotten from her tumbler if she'd taken it! And of course you didn't see Dad at the race start. For some reason he decided to wear race camo and none of us saw him. Thomas was so excited about Kevin and Jeremy finishing, he kept walking up the course, so was to far away to run in with everyone. It was a good time and a good reason.