A mile to go. I could push a little, up over this hill and I’ll see the next exchange. I passed a few runners making the turn and spied a couple more ahead. If I kept my pace I’d pass them too.
I was on my fourth leg of Reach the Beach, an extra three miles I hadn’t planned on running, which came just 20 minutes after my third leg of 5.7 miles. I’d felt great on that 5.7 mile leg winding through picturesque backroads in rural New Hampshire, but 20 minutes later after a ride in the van and a little bit of standing around my legs had stiffened up. This was going to hurt.
The first few strides were awkward, my left hamstring was tight and a everything else felt sore. I eased into what felt like a comfortably hard pace. Three miles, I told my self, just three miles. Everyone runner knows that three miles isn’t just “three miles” when you’ve already been running for 16 miles, it feels more like ten.
The slightly downhill leg and a few rises, nothing crazy but enough to break up the ease of the downhill. I was working as hard as felt comfortable. Don’t kill yourself on this one, run hard, but don’t kill yourself.
Oh, you wanna race?
White vans started signaling and turning. Even though I couldn’t see the orange cones and blue tent of the exchange, I knew I was just minutes away from finishing. My comfortably hard pace increased a bit. Let’s get this done, I thought. The exchange came into view and ahead of me two guys running at a slower pace. I passed one and then began to pass the other just over 100 yards from the finish.
I expected him to let me go, like every other runner I’d passed over the weekend. But instead of fading he came back up on my shoulder. What?!? Really, you’re gonna race? My tired legs wanted no part of this, but the competitor inside me wasn’t about to let this guy beat me. I picked up the pace. He matched it. With the exchange just 50 yards away I sprinted, he sprinted too. Neck and neck we charged towards the exchange, the crowd egging us on with their cheers. Running all out I swear I was grimacing, but holy heck this was fun!
The crowd cheered louder and we ran harder, crossing the orange line of the exchange simultaneously (actually I think I was just ahead of him;) He stopped and I ran a few strides further to pass the bracelet to my teammate who took off running.
Breathless and grinning I congratulated him for a crazy finish and found my team.
That moment was one of the highlights of the weekend. It’s what relays are all about: they bring out the best in us, make us friends with strangers and put the biggest smiles on our faces.
I was a last minute addition to the Turbocam Blade Runners, a corporate team from the company my Dad has worked for since I was a kid. There were a few members of the team I’ve known for a years and others I was just meeting.
I ended up in Van 1 as runner #4, with some of my favorite legs (#4 through Crawford Notch and #16 past the Loose Laces neighborhood cheer/aid station). We had one runner not show up for our van, but we were able to distribute the extra miles between us. I ended up with an extra 3.1 mile leg that I’d run as our Van’s final leg before we headed to the Hampton Beach for the finish.
Since my final mountain race is coming up (Oct. 1) and RTB was an unexpected addition to my training schedule I wanted to make sure that I stayed comfortable and didn’t go too hard. This was hardest on my first leg, the downhill portion through Crawford Notch. It was tempting to try and make those miles sub 6 min pace, because I could have, but it would have been a dumb move to burn myself out on the first leg.
My remaining runs all felt good for the most part, with the exception of my middle of the night 6.5 mile run where I had a little stomach issue that had me praying for a random porto-potty somewhere around mile 5 (there wasn’t one and ran a mile counting down the quarter miles to the porto-potty at the exchange).
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Run 1, Leg 4 Crawford Notch 2.9 mi
2.88 miles; 18:12; 6:17 min/mi avg pace
Run 2, Leg 16 Center Harbor to Meredith 6.5 mi
6.52 miles, 51:52; 7:52 min/mi avg pace
Run 3, Leg 28 Chester to Sandown 5.7 mi
5.75 miles, 42:40; 7:25 min/mi avg pace
Run 4, Leg 30 Danville to Kingston 3.1 mi
3.15 miles, 22:48; 7:14 min/mi avg pace
After a relay the whole experience feels like one big highlight reel, blurred by lack of sleep and an adrenaline high. A few memorable moments were…
Jumping in for a swim after roasting on the first legs of the run.
Seeing the best parts of New Hampshire just as the leaves are starting to turn.
Cheering on other runners.
Running with the woman who got me into running and had a huge impact on my life by speaking her concern when I was struggling with an eating disorder.
This weekend I had the chance to run with someone who had a huge impact on my life-perhaps even a hand in literally saving my life-and she didn’t really know it. . This is my mom’s friend, Patty. She’s the reason why I got into running and the reason why I’ve been able to continue to run. . When I was in high school I heard she ran a Boston Qualifying time at the Maine Marathon. The only runner’s I knew who ran marathons were guys and here was Patty, mom of three little kids running BQ’s. If she could do it, I could do it. . The problem was I really couldn’t do it. I was anorexic and really struggling. . I asked Patty to create a training plan for me and while she was kind and loving towards me and agreed to help me with my marathon goals, she expressed her concern with my low weight to my parents, suggesting that maybe there was something going on. . She spoke up because she cared and I’m so incredibly grateful that she did. It’s because of Patty that I started treatment for an eating disorder and ultimately have found complete freedom. . The thing about eating disorders is that they thrive in silence, in quiet places where people are afraid to say something. Speaking your concern for a person you think is struggling with an eating disorder is a hard thing to do; you don’t want to push them away, but if you it do from a place of love it can literally save someone’s life. . I’m so grateful that Patty said something, there’s a chance I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her. . To run with her this weekend at @rtbrelay was a JOY, an absolute and complete JOY! #lovewins #edrecovery #speakup #eatingdisorders #anorexia #womensrunning #womenshealth #mentor #inspiration #rtbrelay #embracethehill
Running into old friends. I ran Hood to Coast with Katie (@msfitrunner) four years ago and randomly found her along the course at RTB! It was so fun to catch up!
Our team ended up finishing 26th out of over 400 teams! Not too shabby!
Have you ever run a relay? What is your favorite memory?
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Email: RunFarGirl [at] gmail [dot] com