Friday, September 24, 2010

Running Faster to Finish Sooner at Reach the Beach 2010!!

I do believe I questioned my participation in this race more than once and even made it known a few times. But in the end, words can’t describe how much fun I had. (Though, I’ll try my best to do it justice here.)

What race you ask? The 2010 Reach the Beach Relay in which teams run 200-plus VERY HILLY miles from Franconia Notch, N.H. to Hampton Beach, N.H. Teams came in different numbers, different costumes and different intensities, for sure. We were a team of 12 and went by the clever name of Run Faster, Finish Sooner. I was assigned the fourth leg, which I thought would be a pretty easy 16 total miles, little did I know it was the total opposite (we will get to that later). I landed myself in Van 1 with a bunch of crazy, complaining, inappropriate-chatting, sleep-deprived, fantastic runners.

Van 1 plus Sandy (from Van 2) met up in York and to head to the start together. The adventure began pretty quickly when we heard Lee so calmly state, “I think our thing just opened.” That ‘thing’ he was referring to was our storage container on top of the van and our stuff that was in it … WAS ALL OVER THE HIGHWAY! Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself:

That provided a pretty good laugh once we had gathered everything back up and off we went to find a bathroom. This is what we found:

Believe me, the outside looks much nicer than the hole-in-the-ground we had to use. But, hey, at least it wasn’t the woods.

We eventually made it, with all of our belongings, to Cannon Mountain where we ate, took pictures and waited for our 12:40 p.m. start time to roll around. Here’s everyone pre-race – clean, showered and ready to roll:

While Danielle was out running our very first leg, I took it upon myself to decorate our mode of transportation. I won’t tell you the other things we considered writing, but it would have been pretty funny. We also added a 'you love it' on day two because obviously, we loved it.

At the very first transition I knew I was going to have fun when I met three triathletes (two have completed a full Ironman) who might have had smoother legs than I did! I’m not sure how exactly the conversation came about, but all three of them completely shave their legs during race season. They were pretty into talking about it and suggested I take a picture:

My first leg was an easy three. Sort of. If you like running down a really steep hill pretty much the whole way.

Totally trashed my quads and the water looked nice so I joined Jason for a chilly soak.

I met a sweet ultra runner mid-way through and he told me how this was his second of three consecutive legs. He was a part of a four-man team – so hardcore, so cool and I’m super jealous of their feat. We kept the same pace pretty much the entire way which made it really fun. Ask anyone on my team – I couldn’t get enough of these guys. Their youngest runner ended up going to the hospital after his third leg with bad dehydration so they finished as a three-man team. Wow.

After our van finished our first legs, we grabbed some dinner at a cute café and attempted to grab some shut-eye before our night of running. That turned into a whole lot of schoolgirl giggling and silly chatter. Super tired because of this, but it was well worth it!
My second leg proved to be pretty tough. I mean look at that elevation chart. Climbing nearly 1,000 feet in my first 3/4 of a mile was not ideal:

My legs were pretty sore from that downhill earlier and I felt it during that first hike and then again on the second. When my fellow runners pulled up alongside to see if I needed anything I let them know just how much fun I was having. (Note: lots of sarcasm here. I was angry! Haha.) While I didn’t really love the whole hiking up a mountain thing, I did enjoy running at night. I had done it a couple times before with one of my friends, but never alone, so it was cool. Even neat, if you will. This 6.54-mile leg nearly broke me, but I am actually considering asking for it again next year. I need to show those hills who's boss!

Once we finished up our second leg, we briefly, I mean briefly, slept at the local community college. I was lucky enough to score the couch for a whopping two hours of sleep. We actually slept this time. No slumber-party-esque behavior.

After a bit of sleep and a quick breakfast we were off for our final leg. Here’s what my third leg looked like. It was challenging, but not nearly like the previous near-disaster that was my night run. I ended up passing a handful of runners who were really struggling – one of their teams had been running since 8 a.m.! I was just pumped to be moving and stretched out after being cramped up in the van.

Unfortunately, Danielle had to depart early after her super hard third leg for her brother’s wedding (who gets married the same day as RTB??) and we definitely missed her. Our sleep-deprivation got to us and we shared lots and lots of stories. We laughed a ton and know more about each other than we probably ever imagined we would. We even decided to give each other mini adult-topic pop-quizzes during our runs. Here we are post leg three and waiting on Van 2!

And here we are at the finish. Down two runners, but looking good. Official time 28 hours, 51 minutes, 27 seconds!

Like I mentioned before, I had such a blast. I'll admit I was a bit concerned with the age difference in the van (I'm 22 and the oldest could have been my father!) but it seriously didn't matter. Can't wait for next year - be on the look our for the 'Vanpires'! Trust me, you'll be able to find us ... our van will most definitely have 'we will SHOCK you' somewhere on it.
Until next year ...

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