To runners in New England, it doesn't seem too odd since the Reach the Beach relay has been around for years. However, to many others, it seems a bit ludicrous. Ok, I exaggerated a bit- I didn't sleep in the van, I slept on a tennis court, oh and I slept on wet grass... and we all took baby wipe showers- that counts as a shower, doesn't it?
I was excited to be running with Team NRG Bar again- a great group of fast runners and fun people!
A few of us started our Reach the Beach journey by riding from our houses out to the start at Wachusett Mountain.
After a great ride with some great climbing to the summit, I recharged with a recovery drink and we loaded the bikes on the NRG Bar Land Rover. We were ready to spend the next 26 hours relay running 200 miles from Wachusett Mountain to Horseneck Beach.
The teams all had staggered starts. We were in the 12:30 pm wave. I was in Van 2 and runner #12, meaning I would run the last leg of each section. We all ran 3 legs of the race, but our total mileage was all slightly different. My three legs totaled just under 17 miles. Which doesn't seem too bad, but when you are running race pace, it fatigues the legs more than you would think. I started my first leg just after 8 pm. The section was 6.1 miles. I was antsy to run after sitting around all afternoon and was pleased with how strong and good I felt. When I finished, it was Van 1's turn to take over the running. We went to the Van Transition area where we were going to meet them to take over. Some of us stayed in and slept in the van and some of us pulled out the sleeping bags and slept for about an hour and a half on wet grass. At 12:30 am, it was our time to run again. It is a bit surreal to be running in the wee hours of the morning, however it is not as difficult as I initially expected. It is rather serene and spiritual to be running in solitude in the dark, nothing quite like it. I had my second leg at about 4 am. I did need a little caffeine kick, so I sipped on some green iced tea that I had packed.
In addition to the green tea, I had packed some other goodies to keep me fueled and strong while on the quest of reaching the beach. Some of my snacks included apple sauce. I mixed in some chia seeds for some an extra nutritional punch:
Banana chips I had dehydrated in my dehydrator:
Roasted purple potatoes with salt, pepper and herbs de provence:
Roasted sweet potatoes, celery sticks and sunflower seed butter, and homemade "trail mix" of cacao nibs, dried cherries and goji berries were among the other things in my cooler.
We had a bit of a transition SNAFU before I started my second leg. After Ian had worked so hard and ran his butt off to have a fast leg, I wasn't there when he arrived to hand off the baton. I was walking down and heard volunteers calling my name. I dropped my sweatshirt and started sprinting. We had had a bit of a time calculation miss. I grabbed the baton from him and took off. And I took off the wrong way. Ooops. I realized the dirt path I was running down, wasn't the proper trail. In my haste to make up for lost time, I missed the sign with the arrow. I quickly turned around, found the trail and proceeded to run my little tail off to make up for lost time. It was a nice trail in a state park (it is all a blur, I couldn't even tell you what town I was in), but the trail was packed dirt rather than jagged roots and so it was easy to run through the night with a headlamp as my guiding light. I arrived at the next transition area realizing the same thing that had just happened was repeating itself... Charlene wasn't there. It was only about a minute later when I saw her fast little legs sprinting to take the baton, and she was gone in a flash.
We went to the next transition area where we were meeting Van 1 for our final leg in about 3 hours. It was 5 am and the sun was coming up, but a couple of us spread out our sleeping bags on a tennis court and I got a couple of hours of surprisingly great sleep. At around 9:45 am, our van took over to run our last legs. Everyone was running strong. The temperature was rising and the sun was beating down on us and our fatigued bodies, but our paces slowed down very minimally. I wasn't feeling great going into my last leg and knew I needed to dig deep to finish strong. The second part of my run was a gorgeous run along the water. As I got closer to the beach, there were trailers lining the road where I was running. My mind envisioned that I was running the Ironman Mont Tremblant course and the trailers were really flags and banners along the finishing chute... haha my imagination was definitely going wild as I was digging deep to keep the pace up and to keep on picking off teams. There was one guy pretty far ahead that I was slowing reeling in. About a mile out from the finish, people were cheering me on to pass him and shouting things like "Road kill ahead! Go catch him!".I wasn't going to let him get away, so I picked up the pace. The whole team was waiting at the finish and we were able to pass him and run across the finish line together.
Team NRG Bar ended up winning our division and getting 14th/175 teams.
A huge thanks to Dan O'Rourke and NRG Bar for sponsoring such a great team. Thank you to Charlene Nassa, our fearless captain. It takes a lot of work to organize all of this and even more work to keep all of us in line! And thank you to Jo, Tracey, Chad, Mark, Gregg, Kyle, Ardria, Jen and Ian for the fun, hard work, laughter and good times. To Jo and Jen for letting us trash your Mini Vans and to Timmy Glickman for taking great care of our bikes!
Don't forget to stock up on some healthy, delicious "Naturally Really Good" NRG Bars. They are great to fuel your workout or as a snack. Check out where you can find them at a store near you using the store locator. Follow NRG Bar on Facebook and on Twitter @NRGbar