Monday, May 21, 2012

Reach the Beach:MA {Race Recap}

Where to begin? Last Friday and Saturday were literally the longest and most exhausting days of my life...therefore so shall this post be.

After getting about three hours of sleep on Thursday night due to getting home from work late, last minute packing, and pre-race nervousness excitement, I was awake around 4 AM on Friday and headed to Brunswick to meet up with the girls to start our out-of-state adventure at the Reach to Beach Relay. We picked up fellow van two teammates, Andy in Portmouth, NH and John in Methuen, MA and headed to the start at Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, Massachussetts.

We met up with van one and went through registration, a safety check, and orientation, got a group photo wearing our team Need for Speed sweatpants and our first runner, Ruddley, got ready for his first leg up the mountain that would eventually lead us to the beach in Westport, MA.

Logo designed by yours truly.
Being in van two, we had quite a long wait before we had to be at the first van transition area, so we decided to get some lunch and just hang out before our legs (7-12) began. At this point in the recap, I'll introduce you to van one, since they were doing all the work.

Runner 1 - Ruddley, husband to Runner 5 - Sarah (our team captain)

Photo courtesy - Eric Malinowski

Runner 2 - Gia handing off to Runner 3 - Emily

Photo courtesy - Eric Malinowski

Runner 4 - Eric

Photo courtesy - Eric Malinowski

Runner 6 - Christy hands off to Jill at Van Transition Area (VTA) 1

Photo courtesy - Eric Malinowski

Finally it was our turn. By the time I actually ran it had been over 12 hours since I had set out and the hardest part was figuring out when to eat. Once our van started running, all of us got ready even though some of us would still have a couple hours until the run. 

Runner 7 - Jill

Runner 8 -Andy

Runner 9 - John

Runner 10 - Stacy wearing her reflective gear. Even though it didn't get dark until later, everyone was required to wear a vest, headlamp, and two flashing lights between the hours of 6:30 PM - 6:30 AM. The way the timing went, Stacy, Jen, and myself would have to wear it for both our first and second legs.

Photo courtesy - Jen Boudreau

Runner 11 - Me, looking very serious as I await Stacy's arrival.

Photo courtesy - Jen Boudreau
My first leg was 4.45 miles. I felt good and fairly fast. I passed four ladies over the run (referred to as "kills" in relay lingo), and two guys passed me. I finished with a time of 36:05, an 8:07 pace.

Runner 12 - Jen (This is actually during her final leg on Saturday. The photos I took at night didn't come out.)

Photo courtesy - Eric Malinowski

So now we have arrived at VTA 2 if you're keeping track and it is now after 9 PM. Van 1 is now out on their second legs and we stopped to grab a sandwich before heading to VTA 3 to (hopefully) catch a little sleep. Well, that didn't happen. Slamming doors of the other teams' vans, talking loudly (even though it is quiet zone time), and can you believe cigarette smoke? kept us all awake though Andy and John claimed to get a little rest. To be honest, I HATED this part. I wondered why the heck I had agreed to do this. I was cranky and tired and missed my boys. I really wanted it to be over and I had only run one leg so far. 

Christy arrived in the wee morning hours and it was our turn to start running again. I started to really loose track of what time it was. When it was time for my second leg (leg 23 of the race), I had been awake for a full 24 hours. At least I looked cool!

Photo courtesy - Jen Boudreau
I thought I spotted Stacy coming in to the transition area, but then decided that the blinking light wasn't hers. Lo and behold, she zoomed up and shouted my name. Oops, not prepared for that handoff! I thought I'd go into this leg taking it easy since I was going on no sleep and much less than ideal fueling, but my legs felt great and once I was going it was like any other race...but it was dark in the beginning. I passed one guy toward the beginning and two gals on the hills, bringing my "kill" total to 5 on the positive. There was a fairly long, steep hill at the end of this leg that slowed me down a bit, but I must have been cruising otherwise because I finished the 4.34 mile route in 34:30, a 7:57 pace.

Jen finished up her second leg and we headed to VTA 5 while van 1 ran their third and final legs. We actually got at least an hours snooze here. All the other teams that were so loud at VTA 3 must have finally gotten tired and we woke up sweating in our car. I woke up feeling like absolute crap. I was tired and my belly was not feeling good. I tried to hydrate as much as possible and only managed to nibble on a small plain bagel. I lost count how many times I visited the Port-o-potties. I did eventually start to feel better and tried to stay out of the sun. It was going to be another hot day, and today I'd be running in the heat of the afternoon. I really haven't run in anything above 45 degrees and here we have a bit of early summer with temps in the mid-to-upper 70s. 

I botched another handoff with a last minute bathroom break, but we weren't going to win it so a few seconds wasn't really going to matter. I took the "baton" from Stacy one last time. Man, it was hot. At least there was a slight breeze that helped a bit. I passed one girl in the first mile and other at what must have been mile two. The team met up with me just after three miles to offer water and Shot Bloks. My legs at this point felt shot, I was battling cramps in my shoulders and sides, and I was struggling with the heat. 

I actually look so much better than I feel. Photo courtesy - Eric Malinowski
I walked for a bit to drink and took off again carrying a water bottle. I hate carrying anything and I had to keep alternating hands. I walked a little more up a hill, but again started running at the top where some runners from another team cheered me on while they were waiting to offer support to their runner who was somewhere behind me. I passed one more gal who was walking, but then came across a team who offered me ice to stuff down my shirt and oranges. I told them I loved them and I meant it. A little bit of sweet relief. They told me they loved my outfit, I thanked them again and carried on with about two miles to go (at least that's what they told me). I played leapfrog with the girl who I had passed before, but ended up pushing ahead. Finally I reached the turn that would bring me to Jen and the final transition area. The volunteers at the turn shouted, "You're almost there!" Yeah, right! A few twists and turns to go and runners coming back out on the final leg were a little more honest, "Two turns and you are there," "About 400m left." Finally I spotted the end passed the bracelet to Jen, patted her on the back, and I was done. 7.29 miles in 1:05:30, 8:59 pace. I was honestly surprised with all the walking that I kept it under nine minute miles.

Now we headed to the beach where we would meet up with van 1 and wait to run across the finish line with Jen. As we were on the way out, we caught her resting posing.

Photo courtesy - Eric Malinowski

We got to Horseneck Beach and before long Jen rounded the corner and in we ran...200 miles from where we started just the day before.

Running to the finish

Team Need for Speed
Top row (l to r) John, me, Eric, Sarah, Ruddley, Jill
Bottom row (l to r) Andy, Jen, Stacy, Emily, Christy, Gia

We finished in 30 hours, 4 minutes, and 23 seconds with an overall pace of 8:59. We placed 107 out of 165 teams and 31 out of 52 in our division.

I ran a total of 16.08 miles in 2 hours, 16 minutes, and 5 seconds with an overall pace of 8:27 and totaled 8 kills on all three legs. I am more than happy that I accomplished such stats having been awake for about 36 hours with 1 hour sleep and in the heat.

I drove the tank Excursion all the way home and was on autopilot once I got back to my car and drove the last 30 minutes home. Unfortunately, it was to an empty house (with the exception of the dogs), as Ian and the boys were at first in Saratoga Springs, NY for his sister's college graduation and then went down to Maryland for his grandfather's funeral. Ian did have his own all-nighter and drove straight from Maryland Sunday night and got home this morning. I'm so glad that we are all back together...even if they are super sleepy.

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