208 miles. 12 runners. 2 vans.
What a long strange marvelous trip it’s been.
That about sums up my first experience doing Reach the Beach Relay, New Hampshire. (FYI – the manufacturer sent RTB the wrong medals. That’s actually the Cape Cod bottle opener that they handed out. The real medals are to be mailed).
I don’t think I’ve been so sleep deprived, delirious, smelly, sick and happy all at the same time.
I have so much to share about this race that I thought I’d split it up into three posts – one for each of my legs. So let’s start at the beginning.
It all began Friday morning when Team #islagiatt all came together for the first time. Our start time wasn’t until 11:45 so we had plenty of time to drive up to Cannon Mountain in the morning.
As I mentioned before, some of us knew each other and others it was the first time meeting. We had a 2 hour van trip to the start to get to know each other a little bit better.
I was in Van 2 and extremely lucky to have Kim’s husband as our driver. He drove that van like a boss while we all could sit back and relax. Van 1 didn’t have the luxury. I actually felt like we cheated a little bit in having this little perk. Oh well…
When we left Portsmouth, the sun was out and the temp was around 55 degrees. It was chilly and I immediately started to do a mental check off what gear I had brought. It was going to be a lot colder the further North we went. What happened to the 90 degrees from earlier in the week?
One thing we all realized – We were a LONG way from the beach once we got to Cannon. The weather was overcast, with low clouds and the temps were in the 40s. Quite a change! Mariette and I hustled into team registration, safety gear check and orientation while everyone else shopped. From there we got the vans decorated before we sent Van 1, runner 1 (Fred) off.
The way this relay race works is that when runners 1 through 6 were out running, van 1 was checking in on them, getting the next runner to the checkpoint, etc., and van 2 was relaxing, eating, sleeping, or whatever. When runner 6 finished and runner 7 started, the two vans would switch out and van 2 would take over while van 1 rested, ate, etc. We did this three times since there were 3 legs.
At 11:45 a.m., Team #islagiatt was off!
Once we sent Fred off, van 1 headed out to support him along the way and get ready to transition through their other runners, and my van, van 2, headed to North Conway to get some lunch and chill before heading to the first big van transition area.
Van 2 lucked out big time again. Kim (Runner #8) has a condo in North Conway, in addition to having an awesome husband that was our chauffeur. So we hung out there and enjoyed the gorgeous day in the grass and drank coffee. I was very hesitant when it was suggested to stop for coffee. I’m not a huge coffee drinker and have never had one before a run. I threw caution to the wind and got a small Heath Bar Latte. What harm would that do when you are running 7.3 miles very soon? #islagiatt
It really didn’t seem like we were running a race but the anticipation and nerves were there. We finally headed back out on the road to the official van transfer area (VTA), where van 1’s runner #6 (Mariette) would come in and our runner #7 (ME!) would take over. I got the text from Team 1 with Mariette’s ETA and anxiously waited.
My tummy was in knots and the adrenaline was high. I just wanted to run!
At 4:35 p.m., Mariette came flying in and promptly passed off our official slap bracelet to me.
Van 2 was on!
My first leg was 7.3 miles and rated hard. I was so excited to be running that I just let my legs go as fast as they wanted. It felt good to be moving. Mile 1 beeped and I glanced at my watch – 6:30. WHOA! I told myself to back off. This was not a 5k! Mile 2 I fell into a much more doable pace of 7:30. By mile 3, my stomach started to hurt. I started plotting ideas of where I could jump off the road for a pit stop if needed. Mile 4 I started to feel weird. Besides my stomach still hurting, my vision was off. It felt like I had vertigo. At mile 5 I stopped to walk because I was losing my balance on the edge of the road. It felt better walking but the road seemed to be moving in weird directions. I texted Kailey to let the team know that I was going to be in later than expected to the next transition. She wanted to know if they should come pick me up but I was feeling ok with walking. There was no way I was not going to make it to the transition off to Kim. By mile 6 I was feeling mostly better so I tried to run again. Whatever had been going on, seemed to have passed for the most part.
I was never more thrilled to see Kim waiting for me. I passed off the slap bracelet and gladly checked off my first leg as being done. I finished in 1:05. Not nearly as fast as I wanted but after the rocky middle section, I’m happy with it.
We jumped in the van to get Kailey (Runner #9) to the next transition spot. By then it was totally dark so safety gear was on for everyone. I still wasn’t feeling 100% and honestly I don’t even remember what we did during Kailey’s leg. I think I was stretched out across the seat with eyes closed trying to get everything back to normal.
I do remember getting Jared (Runner #10) to his transition. It was at a school that was selling hot soup for a fundraiser. As my teeth were chattering non stop, nurse Karen (Runner #12) insisted I get some soup. I’m glad I listened.
Chicken Noodle soup cures all.
Poor Jared had an insane amount of hills to climb. It was only 5.1 miles and rated moderate but it was by far one of the hilliest that Van 2 saw. While we waited for him to come into transition, Sarah (Runner #11) practiced the slap bracelet hand off.
Sarah rocked her run followed up with our last runner of the night, Karen. She passed the slap bracelet back to Van 1 around 9:30. It was time to get something to eat and hopefully some sleep for Van 2. The school at the VTA 2 had a great spread of food waiting for us. I wasn’t super hungry but the brownies were calling my name. All the healthy living rules are out the door when you are running a relay right? I enjoyed them immensely.
Once our bellies were happy we moved on to VTA3 to get some rest. It was definitely an interesting sight. I tried to get pictures but it was too dark. There were bodies everywhere huddled in sleeping bags. It looked like it was the zombie apocalypse. Sarah and I decided it would be “fun” to sleep outside under the stars. The Northern Lights were supposed to be out but it was partly cloudy so we didn’t see anything. However, the moon was up and stars were still twinkling. The temp was in the upper 30s/low 40s.I surprisingly was quite comfy in my sleeping bag. But not so comfy that I could sleep. My eyes were wide awake from the adrenaline still pumping strong. That and there were so many people walking around and moving in and out. I heard stories of teams waking up and realizing they were at the wrong school for their runner. Whomp whomp.
I had ear plugs and an eye mask but I was too lazy to get out of my sleeping bag to get them. So I just laid there and looked at the sky and tried to slow down my breathing. Before I knew it, it was time to get ready for Van 2’s second leg to begin.
Here goes nothing at running 8 miles at 3 a.m.!