If I keep this up I’m not going to be able to classify myself as a “non-runner.” From the “seemed like a good idea at the time” file, late last week I found myself packing for a weekend of running, driving, spectating, beer-drinking, and power-napping that was the Massachusetts Reach the Beach Relay! It had its ups and downs but overall was a good time and I’ll probably do it again.
Reach the Beach (RTB) is a relay race from Wachusett Mountain to Horseneck Beach. I was part of a team of 12 members responsible for 36 legs of the 200 mile relay. As I’ve mentioned here before, I don’t really run that much. I feel I’ve almost met my lifetime running quota thanks to the ole’ triathlon days. So my running training consists of (mostly) weekly hill repeats (2-3 miles) and one (mostly) weekly 1/2 mile time trial. That’s it, no moderate pace jogging to report. So this event turned out to be the equivalent of approximately 5-6 weeks of running in less than 24 hrs.
Here’s how it went down:
One thing I kinda forgot about was how beer is such an integral part of the running culture. After learning the hard way a few times, I now cut out alcohol and caffeine in the days leading up to any event. However, during the team dinner I did not want to be “that guy,” so I threw back a few with my crew. The two Johnny Walker Blacks after the beers were my decision though; can’t chalk that up to peer pressure. Still, I was in significantly better condition (assuming BAC and running performance have an inverse relationship) than some of my teammates. Some of these guys got after it!
Rtb Day 1:
0700 dip in the outdoor pool (pretty surprised it was open) and some coconut water alleviated the minor grogginess and dehydration. My 1st leg started around 1000. I cruised through 3.22 miles of big hills by Wachusett in 21 min. It was a solid start to the day and besides a little tightness in my calves, I was feeling good.
Several hours of spectating, a late lunch at a former Worcester stomping ground, The Boynton, and a mini nap followed until leg #2 at approx 1900. This was less steep but longer. I felt pretty smooth, paced myself well, and got into a “race within the race” when a fellow participant challenged me for the last 200 yards. He’s more of a runner. I’m more of a sprinter. I left him pretty far behind as I crossed my 6 mile leg in about 45 min. The rest of the night was spent cheering people on, driving, and setting up my sleeping bag in a cold field somewhere in south central mass.
Rtb Day 2:
0000 to 0245 I estimate I slept about an hour. It was intermittent and of low quality thanks to the 40 degree temps and snoring symphony put on by a few of my camping neighbors. I was not too excited to get up and change into my third running outfit in 18 hrs, but put up and cheered on some other half-miserable runners (I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one) as they plugged away in the darkness. At 0400 I headed out for leg #3 which turned out to be an 8.34 mile personal battle. The first mile just didn’t feel right and unfortunately, it was probably the best one. I couldn’t get myself going, couldn’t see where I was going (even at a slow speed), my calves were extremely tight which led to significant foot pain, and I got passed by 2 guys on the ultra teams (6 members instead of 12). Not at all fun is the best way to describe the last 5 miles. Still, I caught up to one person and finished my last leg in 65 min. I was happy and relieved as I watched the rest of my team grind out the last 60+ miles to Horseneck Beach.
Overall I am pleased with my performance – 17+ miles at a 7.5 min/mile pace avg. I’m also happy to have participated in a cool event with some really cool people. I’ll (most likely) see them again next year!