Reach the Beach, Part 2

Out of the 207 miles of the 2009 Reach the Beach relay I ran 19.09 miles, divided into three legs, over the course of 24 hours with only two hours of sleep. It was tough mentally and physically but a lot of fun. Here’s a quick rundown of each of the legs I ran:

The Start at Cannon Mountain

The foggy 3:00pm start at Cannon Mountain

Leg 6 (8.62 miles):
When I started my first run it was still light out, but I was required to wear a flashing reflective vest and a headlamp. The vests our team brought had a ridiculous number of flashing lights that made each of us look like running Christmas trees.  A moving disco might also be an appropriate comparison. It was a good thing we had them, though — at least the rest of the team was able to spot me as I came down the hill to the transition area in complete darkness. I was lucky to be able to run in the New Hampshire mountains during a beautiful sunset, but this long leg, mostly downhill, was very challenging. Also, I was passed by two people. At first I was dismayed but then I found out that they were both on top-placing teams so I shrugged it off. At the very least they helped me quicken my steps a bit and I finished with about a 6:40 pace. My van then took advantage of the handoff to Van #2 and drove down the road to Conway to get some dinner.

Transition area at AMC's Highland Lodge

Transition area at AMC's Highland Lodge

Nervously getting ready for my first leg

Nervously getting ready for my first leg

Leg 18 (4.89 miles):
With my hardest leg already completed, I figured this would be a piece of cake. Not necessarily so, I soon learned. This was probably one of the strangest moments I had during the entire race: running through small, sleepy Laconia, New Hampshire at 3:30 am with no one in sight, not sure if I was going in the right direction (I was, thankfully). The tough part was that last mile, entirely uphill. I think this might have been the first time in my life that I went running that late at night (or that early in the morning, depending on how you look at it). Finishing this leg meant that my whole van got to take a short, well-deserved sleeping break.

Leg 30 (5.58 miles):
By the time we got to my third leg it was around noon on Saturday. And by the time we got to my third leg I was also functioning on about two hours of sleep. We were able to crash for a bit at the last van transition area, but were woken up a bit early by our over-zealous Van #2, giving us a 90-minute warning before their arrival. A few hours later, and still desperate for a coffee and a meal of something other than granola bars and pretzels, maybe something like the delicious breakfast I had at Polly’s Pancake Parlor the day before, I took off on my final leg. Of all my legs, the level of difficulty for this one was the lowest, but it ended up being the hardest. My body was pushed to the limit, but I held my pace knowing it was the last few miles I needed to do. Can’t let the team down! When I finished I was tired and starving but exhilarated. We made our way to the beach, got some food and waited for the rest of our guys to come in.

My Final Leg

My final leg. Tired. Trying to fake a smile.

It was great to leave the city for a couple of days and enjoy the fresh air of New Hampshire. My team did a fantastic job, completing the relay in 24:49:43 to finish 24th overall. The training paid off and recovery went well – and now I’m back to focusing on the NYC Marathon.

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