Reach the Beach was so many things.. fun, intense, difficult (really damn difficult), exhausting, hilarious, and did I mention tiring as hell? I'll try to recap the actual race as much as possible, although some details are a little fuzzy due to the fact that I delirious by the end.
I spent thursday night at Julia's condo. I was feeling really, incredibly nervous. Partially because I'd never done a relay before, and partially because I was definitely coming down with a chest cold. I simply said to myself "Hey, self? You're not allowed to be sick. So shut up. And suck it", and that was that. We ate a carblicious dinner and then went out for supplies. And by supplies I mean candy, bubbles, gatorade, booze and trail mix. What can I say? I like to be prepared. I also like to take pictures of myself in my gear. Case in point:
We arrived at Wachusett Mountain on Friday morning at around 8am. It was here where I actually met the other girls with whom I'd be sharing a van for 30+ hours. Going into the race, I only knew Julia but had been communicating with Danielle and Sarah via text and twitter. We had to go to an orientation where I couldn't stop making jokes and mocking everyone around me. Really, guys? Did you just ask if they'd be using two-way radios? Yea, they're called cell phones. What I learned from the SEVENTY PAGE race booklet and orientation can be summed up in a single sentence: don't poop on people's lawns, there is no beer tent, you need a headlamp at night, oh, and don't poop on people's lawns. This was all srs bzness to some people, as we were shushed repeatedly before finally ducking out to the start line.
I was runner 2 (which is actually fitting consider how many times I talked about poop throughout the duration of the race). I felt really nervous watching Kelly start the race, knowing that my turn would come very soon. Good thing Juls and I thought ahead and purchased the bubbles. It kept me occupied for a good long while, and took my mind off of my impending doom, er, I mean, run:
My first leg was an easy 3.25 miler and I started at around 10:00am. I ran the first mile fast (for me), 8:05. I actually think that may be my fastest mile EVER. I had to remind myself that there was a LOT of miles left, and slowed down to a 9:50 pace for the rest of the leg. It was actually really hard to slow down, and by the end I felt as though I was moving really slowly (although Garmin disagreed). It just goes to show you what the excitement of the race can do for your energy and speed. The weather was crap: humid and overcast. Lovely! But I was so excited that I didn't care I didn't even mind that I had to wear a stupid reflective vest and flashing lights.
Leg 2 was 4.35 miles and listed as "moderate". And by moderate, apparently they meant death-inducing. There was a pretty big hill around the 2.5 mile mark but that was eclipsed by the the mother effin' MOUNTAIN that I hit at 3.5 miles. I made it to the base of this beast and the van was waiting for me. Danielle kept repeating "I'm so sorry.." as she handed me the water bottle. Garmin later calculated it as having an elevation of 540 feet. If this had been my last leg, then I would have just attacked it. But the last thing I wanted to do was trash my legs so I went with a run/walk up the hill/mountain. I was displeased, to say the least:
When I handed off to Danielle at the end of my leg, I could only let out a string of expletives as I willed myself not to puke. I got quite a laugh when I checked my twitter and saw this:
The rest of the second leg involved Danielle taking a digger after tripping over a pothole and me taking a wrong turn and almost losing Julia in the middle of.. wherever the hell we were. Finally at around midnight we made our way to one of the transition areas in the hopes of catching a few hours of sleep. I hadn't brought a sleeping bag so I slept in the van. Good thing I am about the height of a 12 year old, otherwise it would have been a huge problem. Also, good thing I was so exhausted that I could have slept standing up, because the next thing I knew it was 3:30am and we were frantically rushing to get ready. Van two was almost done with their second leg and we had very little time to get ourselves together and get back on the road. And of course we managed to miscalculate and went to the wrong transition area and had to double-back. We sent Kelly out for her third leg a little after 4am and put me back out on the road at a little after 5am.
Let me tell you, after having run twice the day before, and getting hardly any sleep, the last thing I wanted to do was going out and run again. Actually, I believe I said "I'd rather be at the gynecologist than doing this shit". It was really difficult to get myself out of the van and mentally prepared to run again. But I felt amazing once I got out on the road. Leg 3 was an easy 3.5 miler, with two of the miles taking me on a path through a state park. The first bits of morning were coming through and I felt incredibly peaceful. I actually kept a pretty decent pace, 9:43 minute miles. Not bad for slightly under three hours of sleep.
It's impossible to adequately capture the Reach the Beach experience in a single blog, so I'm not even going to try. To be continued..