Reach the Beach 2005...a brief background. Back in I guess it was May I agreed to be a part of Reach the Beach (RTB)...a 200 mile relay up in New Hampshire. The way it works is you have either a team of 12 or 6 (if you're nutso and want to do an ultra version). We did the regular version so the team of 12 is divided into 2 vans of 6 each. There are 36 total legs and each person partakes in 3 of them. The van not running has "off time" to get to the transition area and do whatever it is they want to do. As you probably figured out this takes longer than 24 hours and you tend to not sleep much. However, for some reason runners enjoy this!
So Thursday afternoon I got out of work at noon so I could head over to Jgo's place to meet up with the team and drive up to New Hampshire. I got there around 12:45pm assuming that a ton of people would be there (that was what most had written anyway). Naturally, only 5 people were there so we couldn't leave just yet. We decided to order food and wait for more people to arrive. Around 1-1:30 Q arrived so we had a full van to send off! I signed up as an alternate driver so Coach Sponge could have relief from driving! And thus began the adventure...nothing quite like living in a van for 2 days.
So the van leaves...first stop: Upstate Manhattan, otherwise known as Inwood. Orange Gazelle had to stop by his apartment to get gatorade and his luggage. While he was doing that, P. stopped in a bodega and bought vitamin water. This became a story in itself. So we start the drive around 2:30pm FINALLY. Naturally we hit traffic in Connecticut...what else is Connecticut for? Anyway, a little bit into the trip I ask P. if I can have a little bit of her vitamin water. I take a sip and look down only to notice a peciular thing floating in the water@_@ I look again hoping I was halleucinating or something but it was still there..floating. I don't know what it was but it looked like mold:( Both P. and I looked at eachother...at which point Coach Sponge suggests that we are the official testers of anything weird since we're "contaminated" now:p So we continue the drive and end up stopping at KFC for dinner...which meant nothing for me. As most of you know me and anything super greasy is not a good combination! I ended up having pretzels and cookies for dinner:p So when we got to about 100 miles from Bretton Woods, NH I took the wheels. Man did I end up with the worst part of the trip. I couldn't see 5 feet in front of me...it was so damn foggy! Parts of the drive seemed like I was on a runway with all the reflectors!
We arrived at the hotel around 10:15 or so. Headed to the room and got ready to enjoy a last night's rest. Sempre Libera and her sister arrived shortly after as they were my roomies. We were out cold within 30 minutes!
Saturday morning we wake up and the excitement is brewing. We head to the start of RTB. RTB starts in Bretton Woods, NH which is a ski resort by winter. The first leg is a 5k but not just any 5k...5k up and down a mountain!!! We had 2 teams participating each with 12 members. Orange Gazelle was the first to come down the mountain within our wave of runners! He was flying! At this point we head to transition 2 to see the next batch of runners off before heading to the major transition area for my van's start.
Leg 7 was the first of my van's runs. Coach sponge was up and he had a 6.5 mile run or something to that effect. At this point I'm trying to stretch out and get ready for my brutal leg 8. My leg said on the map that it was 750 feet of elevation and "extremely hard." However, the maps did not show elevations well at ALL as we found out. Coach Sponge came through with the baton (or more like a slap bracelet) and I was off. This is where pacing became a must. I knew there was a mile stretch of pretty much VERTICAL and I had no idea how to mark mileage. This is what makes you stronger! Anyway, so I start running and the first couple miles aren't too terrible...a few inclines but nothing out of the ordinary...not worse than Cat Hill. And then my guess is around mile 3 the climb started! I just started going up...and up some more! I describe it as Cat Hill + Harlem Hill x 10. It was insanity...I kept wondering why I was breathing so hard and then I remembered...ah ha...On the right you can see what it feels like to conquer a gigantic hill. Rock on! The rest of the leg was pretty as I ventured off into the woods for a trail type run. The awful part was the straight downhill portion which did a number on my legs later on. I ended up running about 1:16:00 for about 9 miles. Not bad. Under 9 and a very tough course. Very rewarding experience though.
So once our van was finished with running we headed out to find a restaurant to eat at. We stopped at some local family restaurant along with several other RTB'ers. However, it took so long to get our food:( We ended up losing precious minutes..which meant precious sleep in a van:p Finally we headed off to the next transition area. We decided that it would be about 1am when the group would call to tell us its time to get ready. Oops. Around 12am my phone starts ringing and you hear a giant collective groan from the crew. Apparently they were on their last runner which meant Coach Sponge had to scurry off to get ready and I was not far behind. I was not ready to run but I guess I had no choice, no?
My next run was at 2am. It was pitch black and I mean PITCH BLACK. Now that I'm a city girl I'm not used to this rural stuff;0) I had my coal mine light on...well that's what I felt like anyway. One of my fellow runners on my team had told me that running at night is like being a part of the Blair Witch Project. Man was she right! It was pouring rain and you couldn't see anything except the occasional runner with the reflectors and moving headlamps! It was crazy. I also ran into the morons that actually wore headphones at night! WTF! First off it is a 4.5 mile leg and second you don't need it>_< Second, it's pitch black. Blah. Anyway, my leg ended up being a lot more hilly than originally thought. I think part of the problem is I had no idea where I was running until I got there. So I ended up running the 4.5 in 38 or 39 minutes? I can't really remember but it was definitely my slowest run of all the legs which I'm not surprised. Whenever a car or truck came roaring my way I'd head to the side of the road and stop...not very good footing! Safety first:0)
Zippy's run ended up being next. So after she heads out we start to head to a midway point to make sure she's OK. Q goes "hey isn't that her" right when we got there and Coach sponge goes "nah she should be here in a few minutes." We wait...and wait...and wait. She never comes! We couldn't find Zippy! So we head to the transition area hoping to see her but it was so dark. We drop Sempre Libera and her sister for the next transition......and I head off with Sponge and Q to find Zippy. We still couldn't find her so we head back to transition area again and there's Zippy with Sempre Libera. Turns out she finished faster than we thought and had been waiting in transition for 8 minutes>_< Oops.
As the hours passed, the delerious nature became oh so apparent! I have a feeling the stuff that I thought was funny and hysterical probably made no sense:) Ahh the joys of no sleep, no? Anyway, oh yes back to RTB. Sempre Libera and I were comparing "electron clouds" to see who's was worse...and she actually remembered what the term is for increasing electrons. Anyone out there know? Give up? Ionization! Cookies were eaten...I knew the Betty Crocker in me would serve well! So at the end of our second stage of runs we headed for the last big transition. We had some down time..thank goodness. I know I was starting to go a bit loopy. I ended up driving to the next transition via "main" roads...and I use that in quotes as in New Hampshire there aren't many BIG roads. As you can see, I was on my own for this drive:p
So my last run was around 1pm Saturday afternoon through a town. This was my easiest run by far which is weird. My quads at this point were starting to scream at me...basically yelling at me! I gave them a pep talk though...yes I talk to my legs...got a problem with that?:) It was interesting to run this 4.2 leg without a clock, without mile markers. I relied on my instincts to run. And you know something I realized that's what makes it so enjoyable...just to run. You don't need a clock everytime to make it worth it. It made it worth it to run through towns and have random people cheer. It was cool to run well and pass a whole bunch of people:) I ended up running about 7:55min/miles for the last leg! No idea where that came from but it was pretty flat. There were a couple of times I got a little confused on which way to go but ultimately I made it to the finish. They had little tiny arrows posted to tell you which way to go...which after lack of sleep becomes very tricky to see. After I was done, I felt the let down and my legs just say "I QUIT!". But hey, I didn't mind because I didn't have to run anymore! I definitely made sure the rest of the van knew I was done...nananana.
At this point my legs did a revolt. They pretty much said...I'm done and I'm going to make sure you know it! During one of the last legs at a transition area, I tried to stand up on a ledge a bit higher up and when I tried to get down, it was not a fun experience! I must have drove the rest of my vanmates crazy with my cries of "OW". So sorry guys:) But seriously I think I felt more pain in my quads than after the NYC marathon last year! It was insane.
So skipping ahead Sempre Libera was the last one to run. Since she was our team captain (YAY) she was the lucky winner of running the last leg! She got to reach the beach:) She had told us "oh I'll probably run around 8 minute miles. We wanted to calculate this leg right because one of the neat parts of RTB is being able to run the last portion of the race together as a team! So we get to the finish line area and the other van is already showered and such. We await Sempre Libera when all of a sudden her sister yells "there she is!". At which point we all go HOLY SH&* because it was WAAAY earlier than expected (not that I should really be that surprised anymore by what miss speedy does!). Anyway, so she's speeding in and the rest of the team is getting ready to join her. However, she arrives and sprints by us. Meanwhile the rest of us limp/jog/not sprint to the finish:p After the race we ask her what that was about. Turns out miss 8 min mile my a** ran a personal best for 5 miles! She ran something ridiculous like 35:13...:) Man I would love to know what she'd run if she felt GOOD on that course?! So the finish was a bit of a blah...you think oh cool you reach the beach. You don't even really run on the beach at all which I'm sure Sempre Libera was happy with:p However, as you can see my van made sure to get a photo on the beach to celebrate!
Overall this experience was amazing. I learned a lot about the other people in my van and that I can tolerate them...especially if I can pretty much live in a tiny van like that for over a day!! We all ended up taking the same van home together so more quality time. I know I want to do another relay...they are so much fun. I love the idea of it being a team and that it's not just you...you need to think about running for those on your team as well!
Some other memories:
As we were getting to the end of the race, we caught up with our other team. They were waiting for their runner and chowing down on some krispy kremes. All of a sudden a van stops and goes "Oooh are those krispy kremes" to which they reply "yes." So then they ask "want to share with us?". At which point R. shuts the trunk of the van and says "NO!". The van has a Virginia license place and the people asking go "Isn't Virginia for Lovers?" R replies we're not from Virginia, we're from New York! And then the stereotypical response "Oh, now it makes sense!" haha!Quotes:
"Poor poop - wait I meant poor pup" -Zippy
"I'm getting hungry - it's about damn time!" - Sempre Libera
"No that's not an automatic sink - it's the urinal" - Q. referring to the port-a-john in transition 6
"Is that Zippy" - Sponge "Nope, she's too big" - Q
"Hey that van says spank the turtle" - me ::Zippyturtle frowns::
"Is anyone dead yet? Is it your fault" -Astro in a text message (not at RTB)
"I'm prejudice against white people" -Orange Gazelle (who is well yeah white)
"Do you really get pink eye from looking at someone?" -Sempre Libera's sister