Sunday, September 18, 2011

reach the beach

a bit of background: a few years ago, one of my friends in california suggested that a bunch of us run a long-distance relay race together. i was IN. i've always wanted to run a relay. well, it turns out, when you have friends that are in their 20s and 30s, a majority of them are always pregnant, so it just never worked out for us to get a whole team together. until this year. and the race was in september. and i moved in july. i was seriously bummed to be missing out. 

enter august 2011 and some new friends in new hampshire. i found out they liked to run and they found out i had just run a half marathon this summer. so they told me about a relay they were running, reach the beach, in mid september and the team was looking for three more members, hopefully two girls. i hadn't been training, but felt like i was in okay shape. i'd be running anywhere between 12 and 20 miles total throughout three legs. and so, kind of on a whim, i joined their team. i met a few members of the team a few weeks before the race and we figured out which legs we were to run. my legs ended up totaling about 15 miles, but they were all labeled "easy" meaning no killer hills {which is basically what new hampshire has to offer}.

the morning of the race {september 16th} came and i had some serious jitters. i'd packed probably 12 different clothing combinations, not knowing what the temperatures would be or exactly what time i'd be running. we all met downtown and divvied our things into the proper vans. 
top: jessica, katie {it could be the other way around...}, 
frank, chris, andrea, elissa, trisha, paul, charlie, 
bottom: mark, eric, maren

we piled into two vans - one park and rec city van and one minivan - and headed about two hours northwest to cannon mountain, where the race was to begin. 
after purchasing some fleece-lined pants (it was COLD!), receiving our bibs and timers and attending an information session, at 11:00 we were off. 
 official team photo taken at cannon mountain 

i was in van 2 and was runner #11, so i actually had quite a bit of time. i piled in to the back of the van with andrea and elissa with charlie and frank in the front and, after stopping for lunch, we drove to our starting destination. 

turns out, 10 of the 12 people on our team are wicked fast. like seriously crazy fast runners. it seemed like forever until it was our van's turn to run, but it wasn't really that long considering the first van probably averaged a 6:30 minute mile pace.  i think one person even ran a 5:30 for his leg. the butterflies in my stomach grew and grew and grew until it was my turn and, at 9:00 that night andrea handed me the baton and i was off. 

all runners from 7pm until 7am were required to wear reflective vests and blinking lights on the front and back, so with that extra gear, i debated whether or not to run with my phone. we were in a relatively remote area and the runners were quite spread out by that time, so i decided to run with it, just in case. i averaged a 9 minute mile pace {which was great for me and my lack of training...and there WERE hills}, so i reached the handoff area about 45 minutes later...and elissa was nowhere to be seen. i was seriously confused. we had been to each transition area in plenty of time and i was the slowest runner! i called out their names. nothing. and then i remembered i had my phone. so, i gave them a call. no answer. so i waited. and then i got a phone call from andrea. they had gone to get gas, but were pulling into the transition area...but where was i? um, i was standing in the chute, like i had been for the last 5 minutes, waiting for them. after a few comments back and forth, they realized they were at transition 12, not 11. so, there i stood in the chute, taking pictures of myself and updating facebook until they arrived. so glad i had my phone. arrive they did, 20 minutes after i originally finished {bummer that that 20 minutes got added to MY overall time!}, and elissa was off. 

after elissa's last run, we jumped ahead seven transition areas to where we would be starting again. the hope was to get some food and sleep. to our delight, the transition was set up at a school that was selling all sorts of yumminess for a fundraiser. i had the best hot chocolate and breakfast sandwich of my life. seriously. of my life. it was amazing. and then i slept in the car. 

early that morning, we got a phone call from the other van saying they were on their last leg, so we got out the sweaty lights and vests and got ready all over again. you'd think after running our guts out just a few hours earlier, we'd be so exhausted, but it was so great to see what the adrenaline did to pump us right back up. even the lack of sleep wasn't a problem - except for andrea who couldn't get anyone's name right. 

my second leg came around 6:00am saturday morning. i decided against running with my phone {my team PROMISED to be there on time}. only i really wish i had run with it. because i was the lucky runner who got to watch the sun rise. in the middle of nowhere new hampshire. on a quiet street. with mountains and mist on the horizon. one of the most beautiful things i've ever seen. i took a mental snapshot. this leg was exactly a 10k for me and ended up being my 2nd fastest 10k ever. so i was pleased. 

leg three was in a residential area right next to the beach. i was super glad i didn't have the last leg because 1) i'm slow! and 2) pretty sure it's kind of difficult to actually run on the beach. so i was happy to be second to last. i still kept up my goal pace and even "chicked" three guys on this leg {apparently that's what it's called when a girl passes a guy}. yay for me! then we quickly drove to the finish line where we cheered elissa down the chute. 
 elissa and her vibrams {a great choice for running in sand!} at the finish line

it was a whirlwind  25 hours, but so so much fun. i would definitely consider doing another one sometime. 

our team, the wreckin' crew, came in 78th out of 434 teams overall and 10th out of 138 in the mixed open category {at least half of the team had to be girls}. we averaged a 7:48 pace {and my pace and that extra 20 minutes definitely added to that} with an overall time of 24:59:00.

and i survived. the fresh new england clam chowder at the finish line didn't hurt.

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