It’s a rainy Tuesday in New York City and I’m still in denial that the weekend is over. Running Reach the Beach with Team Off Balance was something that didn’t happen overnight. In fact, the first emails started circulating back in January! That’s four months of anticipation, planning and emails that all culminated in 31:47:24 hours of running 200 miles through the ski resorts, back roads and beach towns of Massachusetts.
I had great intensions of posting this last night, but I had a last minute opportunity to attend the 40th Anniversary FiFi Awards at Lincoln Center. Having never been to Lincoln Center before, the night was amazing! Jane Lynch, the master of ceremonies, was hilarious and it doesn’t hurt that our number one fragrance launch of last year, Gucci Guilty PH, went home with some awards!
It was a wonderful night of celebrating but I don’t think wearing 4 inch heels helped my sore legs at all.
Sorry, now that I’m done with that tangent, let’s get back to Reach the Beach Day 1!
We were able to sleep until 7am on Friday as we didn’t have to hit the road until 8:45. The group gathered in the hotel’s restaurant for a hearty breakfast of champions. While I knew I wasn’t running until far later, I still didn’t want to risk it by eating anything to heavy. Therefore, I had a piece of toast with peanut butter, a small portion of scrambled eggs, and lots of fruit.
*Photo courtesy of Tina
When we headed out the vans we were greeted by the most amazing weather you could imagine. The sun was shining, blue sky abound and the temperature was a perfect 70 degrees! Since I missed the van decorating on Thursday, it was exciting to see the vans in all their glory for the first time! I loved the fun sayings covering the vans’ windows.
Getting us all loaded and in the vans was a bit of another story. It was kind of like hearding cats as we were all so excited that getting into the van was the last thing on our mind. Eventually we got our acts together and sorted through all our gear making sure that our running clothes for leg 1 and food was most accessible, while storing everything else in the back and under seats.
We headed to the start of the relay at Wachusett Mountain, a ski resort about 20 minutes away from our hotel. I was immediately overwhelmed when we pulled into the lot and were surrounded by at least 60 other vans and teams of women, men, and ultra teams who were prepared to run more than 26 miles per person in the next 24 hours! Before we could get separated, our photographer snagged us for an official team picture, filled with smiles and clean hair versus the sweat and muck that would grace our finish picture.
Luckily, Reach the Beach is very organized and wants everyone to have a safe experience. Amongst the chaos of the race start, they organize the area into four clear stations which teams must go through before they can start.
The safety check is where they ensured that we had proper night running gear such as headlamps, vests, and flashing lights which are required to be worn by runners from 6pm to 6am, regardless of how much sunlight is shining.
Photo via Tina
After safety we were able to pick up our bibs which featured our team number and our individual number which would coincide with the order which we’d run for our team. Team 96 and runner number 12 meant that I’d have lots of fun but be faced with the most anticipation of anyone on our team! Early in the planning for Reach the Beach when Tina requested our input regarding legs I knew I wanted to be the last runner. After reading so many relay recaps, I thought it would be fun to be the final runner everyone cheered through at the end and if I know anything about myself it’s that I’ll always finish a race, which made me a dependable number 12 choice.
Sadly, Melissa was in Van 1 which means that this is one of the few pictures we shared together before we went our separate ways!
We were able to spot Gia who was on another relay team for some last minute motivation and a quick picture before heading down to the start.
At 10:20 Gretchen toed the line and headed straight up the mountain for her rigorous first leg of the journey. This is the shortest leg of the entire relay but also straight up the ski slope!
Then the waiting began for Van 2. We had five hours or so before our first runner, Tina, would kick off the excitement for us. We spent the day lounging on grassy knolls, sipping Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, eating lunch at Panera, and getting to know each other better. I really enjoyed having this time as this was my first chance meeting our team mom and epic driving, Monica, and fellow blogger Elizabeth.
Our last spot allowed us to cheer runners heading into the last half mile of leg 6 right before they transitioned to runner number 7 of Van 12. It was a blast seeing all the different types of runners. Before long we headed up to the hill to watch for Sarah who was going to be blasting through the transition area within minutes. This girl may have been worried about her first relay but you would have never known. She was smiling ear to ear when she ran through and even had energy to bust out a burpee post transition!
This is when the real adrenaline started. For the next few hours our van would drop the runner off in the transition area, cheer her on as she started, meet on the side of the road around the half way point with water and motivation, hop back in the van and get to the next transition point to cheer the runner through their sprint to the transition. One thing that I didn’t realize was that there were no aid stations along the course. Therefore, having the van along the course was really important especially during the hottest and darkest parts of the relay.
The wait was finally over and it was my turn to experience the relay! After waiting all day I was super excited and knew that it’d be a wonderful leg as it coincided with sunset! In fact, we realized that I’d have the chance to run at sunset, sunrise, and the finale. Not too shabby!
Leg 12 was 6.01 miles and would take me through a few small towns and into Hopkinton State Park.
Luckily, the run was just as gorgeous as I’d hoped!
The run itself felt pretty good since my legs were so anxious to run. The hills were an expected challenge but I just kept pushing through them knowing that my team was waiting on the flip side. I had the great fun to run with a fellow blogger from Team Vansome for about 2 of the miles. We chatted about the relay itself and our preparations. Going into the state park in the pitch black made me thankful to have her by my side though it was fun to crank my legs up into full gear and sprint the final quarter mile to pull ahead. Call me competitive but that final sprint is my favorite part of any race!