May 20, 2012

Reach the Beach Relay: Team Need for Speed

I have an odd way of celebrating things.

When I finished my thesis, I took off to Spain to run a marathon.

When I graduated with my Masters, I took off to Massachusetts to run a 200 mile relay with a bunch of strangers...kind of.

Don't be surprised if when I get my first job post graduate degree, I go off and run an ultra that weekend. I'm kidding. Maybe.

I signed up for Reach the Beach: Massachusetts a few months ago when Sarah tweeted that she was looking for runners to join her team. Soon after, I posted that we were looking for a few more runners to join us and got Emily and Gia to take the bait and run Reach the Beach with us.

Thursday morning (I know, I have a whole week to recap you guys on), after a busy morning, I met Emily and Gia at the Bolt Bus stop to bus our way to Boston's South Station, cab our way to Boston's North Station to meet up with one of our teammates, and then train our way to Fitchburg, Massachusetts...which is in the middle of nowhere.

Friday morning, Sarah picked us up with her husband, Ruddley and our teammate Eric to head to the start line and start our 200 mile journey. We met up with our teammates in Van 2: Jen, Jill, Carrie, John, Andy and Stacy. After a brief orientation about learning how not to die on the race course, we sent Ruddley off and hopped into our van to head to Transition #1 and start the race.

I was Runner #6 so I had quite a bit of time before heading out for my first leg.

The Start Line
andy and sarah...we all look so...clean
There wasn't much time to decorate our van so we didn't get around to it until Emily headed out for her leg when we had some down time.

Our official Twitter hash tag plus all of our Twitter handles...

Legs to check off!
I was getting super nervous before my leg started, especially when some of the roads we ran on looked like this...

Handing off to Sarah...and not quite understanding why she was bent at 90 degrees...
...but once I headed out for my first run, I felt awesome! The run was challenging but nothing Central Park or Madrid training hadn't prepped me for. It was listed as 6.71 miles but ended up being around 6.85. It's pretty much impossible to run the tangents when you're running across traffic lanes. When my watch hit 6.5 and I saw Assumption College, my transition area, I started sprinting...up and up and up and up until finally, I reached transition and handed off to Jill.

Feeling strong on Leg #1!
Leg 1 is DONE and Van 2 is OFF!
With about 4 hours to kill while Van 2 took over, we went and got some food before heading to the 2nd major transition area and resting up for a bit at Hopkinton State Park.

It started getting dark slightly before Ruddley headed out for his second leg and I started getting really nervous about running in the dark. By the time Gia went out for her leg, it was pitch black. I knew I would be starting my 2nd leg somewhere around midnight and had thought about running in the dark but I hadn't thought about running on rural back roads with absolutely nothing around but trees. By the time I headed out for my 2nd leg, I was terrified. Donning my headlamp, reflective vest, and 4 blinky lights, I was lit up like a Christmas Tree but I still couldn't see past the 2 feet in front of me that the head lamp offered. I was trying to run as fast as I could to get the run over with me. When I felt like I had gone about a mile, I looked down at my watch only to find that I had run 0.35 miles...and I started crying. I hated running at night and was just freaking out. I felt completely alone out there. There was one runner ahead of me who I lost pretty early on and through the rest of the leg, I never saw another runner. Just before Mile 1, saw my van and called out to Emily to come join me. About half way through the run, she hopped back into the van and Gia ran me in.

For me, this was the absolute worst part of the relay and the one thing that leaves me hesitant about running another relay. I was so thankful to have such awesome teammates to get me through that leg of the run. When we finished, we headed to our next major transition area and went to sleep.

We transitioned around 5:30am and sent Ruddley off on his 3rd and final leg. I slept through his and Gia's legs (sorry guys) and woke up to cheer on Eric, Emily, and Sarah before running my final leg.

My final leg was a beast of a run. 6.6 miles on some serious up hills. Holy hell was it tough. I found a girl who kept me on pace for about half of the run before passing her and finishing strong. That run was tough. My legs felt surprisingly fresh but it was hot out and those hills were brutal. I was trying hard to run hard and fast. I was in a groove and my legs were just moving on autopilot. I couldn't slow down or speed up. I was just going. I passed my teammates at one point and heard Eric say that I looked strong which made me want to run even harder. When I finally made it to transition, I was flying. I wanted so badly to be done...but I felt on top of the world. I had done it. I had finished the hardest leg of the relay...and I had finished strong.

Climbing a mountain Running up a hill of Leg #3
The final hand off
Once I finished my final leg, we were off to the beach! We made our way to the Finish Line to wait out our teammates in Van 2...which we did by eating burritos and drinking $4 beers. (Making runners pay for beer after finishing a race should be illegal.)

We reached the beach!
Celebratory beers!
When our 2nd van go to the beach, we eagerly headed to the Finish Line to await Jen, our final runner, and run her in to the that we could officially reach the beach as a team.

The Finish Line!
Running Jen in to the sweat pants and sandals...
We had done it. Team Need for Speed finished the Reach the Beach Relay in Massachusetts in 30:04:23 (average pace 8:59).

My Stats
Leg 1: 6.84 miles in 1:01:49 (9:02 pace)
Leg 2: 4.16 miles in 38:11 (9:11 pace)
Leg 3: 6.60 miles in 1:00:50 (9:13 pace)
Total Run Time: 17.6 miles in 2:40:50 (9:08 average pace)

Overall, Relaying was an awesome experience and I was lucky to have such an amazing group of people to run with. A huge thank you goes to Sarah, our Team Captain, for organizing the relay. To anyone not afraid of the dark, I highly recommend running  a relay...if I can bribe you to run my night legs, I'll totally join you.

I'll be back this week with regular posting including graduation recaps, the answers to your questions for The Pilot and more! Stay tuned!


  1. Awesome and congrats! I'm so proud of you :-) can't wait for more life updates soon! This makes me want to run in a relay

  2. That was quick!!! Great recap & awesome meeting you!

  3. wow girl great job! Keep up the amazing work!!

  4. SO PROUD OF YOUUUUU!!!! and im so happy i got to see you as much as i di :) im pretty sure your team was like "who the hell is this random chick running at our teammate and molesting her at sign in?" hehe. <3

  5. YAYYYY!!! and youll learn to love running in the dark! so happy that you were on our team!!! so many awesome memories!!!!!! you ROCKED IT!

  6. Loved reading this -- I think I'm doing my first relay in the fall and this just gets me more and more excited! Keep up your running awesomeness! :)


  7. That's amazing!! I have never heard of a relay going that long, but it sounds like so much fun :) Congrats on finishing!

  8. Congrats on finishing your first relay! The reason I haven't done one yet is my fear of dark and also me being cranky if I don't get enough sleep :)

  9. Aren't relay's such a blast! I'm glad you guys had a great time! I'm sorry you weren't a fan of the midnight leg, it was always my favorite in the Ragnar's I ran because it was much cooler at night. If you do another just talk with your team ahead of time about having a pacer and you'll do great!


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