Monday, September 24, 2007

RTB 2007: The Movie

Here is a little trailer of our soon to be released feature length film on our racing odyssey.

Leg 35 and 36: Molly Brings it Home and the Epilogue

Leg 35: 2.90 miles – 12:46pm – 18:02 (6:13 pace)

We’ve driven ahead to the final VTA at the new Sandown HS. We are so far ahead that the VTA is nearly empty. No runners will come through for a couple of hours and the porta-potties are still clean. This is really cool. The sun is now up but it’s still raining a bit so we all stay in the van, me crammed into the front passenger seat again. I curse Ryan to myself for snagging the back seat…again. He runs hard, he sleeps harder.

We all try to sleep, most don’t but we do have some quiet time for a couple of hours. Denis is antsy, I think he wants to run. My legs are killing me and it hurts to run. I start to worry about how I’ll be able to run my last leg. Trent stops by our van and we all have some small talk. He is not worthy of our van and he is shooed away. Suddenly the winds pick up and the rains come again. We check our watches, 11am, just like Mark said. Maybe he should do the spreadsheet for next year…

We get to TA35 and I start to get ready. Again, no vans and clean bathrooms at the North Hampton School. This is really weird but kind of nice. My legs are really sore and I lather them up with Ironman Pain Relief Cream hoping for a miracle. I decide not to warm up and try to run, opting for the ‘give me the baton and let’s see what happens’ approach.

I take the baton and head out for what at the time was listed as a 3 mile run. It hurts but I know it’s only 3 miles. I feel like I’m running fast and I pass a few more runners but they are few and far between at this point. I LOVE this run though, a nice flat to gentle downhill run on mostly quiet streets. The transition comes up faster than I thought but I’m glad to see Molly waiting on the sidewalk. Transition goes well and I’m done and feel good about my run. I check my watch: 18:02. Holy crap I think, I nearly ran 6 minute miles on my 3rd leg! Very happy indeed. Later I find the leg is a little short but I’m still happy, having made up (in my mind) for my less than stellar run on leg 2.

Overall time: 18:02 with an average pace of 6:13.

Leg #36 4.3 miles
This was it. I was finally about to be finished. I spent the morning thinking about how nice it must've been for van 1 to pass off to us and then go out and have a nice breakfast, while we were still eating bagels in the van and trying to grab a faint hint of sleep in the transition area. The rain had rolled in once again, but seemed to pass by pretty quickly. One by one, my team mates finished up their last legs and I still waited and waited... At least by then I wasn't tired anymore and I wasn't dreading my last run. I knew I could make it 4.3 miles. We had passed most of the teams by then, and there was hardly anyone left. I took the bracelet from Steve 1 last time and took off. I spent the better part of the first mile trying to get the bracelet to stay on my wrist. Which one of you broke it so it didn't wrap all the way around? Once I determined that it wasn't going to fall off, I set my sights on the only runner in front of me. It took me until we got to the ocean to get past him, just after the two of us almost got hit by a truck crossing route 1. There was a cop blocking traffic at the first intersection, but not the second one. I passed him right on the coast but only stayed in front for 2 or 3 minutes. He came back up to my side and I asked him what time his team started the day before. When I heard 11:30, 3 hours after we had started, I knew I wasn't going to have to race him. So I didn't fight too hard when he started to pull away. I just kept my eyes up the beach, searching for the finish line festivities. I got to pass plenty of old people out for their Saturday strolls, wondering what the heck we were doing running down the sidewalk there with numbers on. My legs were hurting, but not as much as I expected them to. I finally came around a corner and had a race official ask for my number and then was handed a baton to carry in to the finish as they pointed me to run along the sand. All of that running and sleeping in a van and I had to run the last quarter mile on soft sand. That wasn't fun. But I just kept running and made it towards the finish line where there were 2 separate chutes: 1 for the runner (that would be me) and 1 for the rest of the team. I was so fixated on finishing that I didn't even see my team, but apparently at least some of them crossed the line with me. Our 5th place finish was secure, although we didn't find out until later. I was thrilled to be done, and also humbled by being on a team with such incredible runners. Thanks to everyone. I had a blast!

Epilogue – Hampton Beach by Michael W.

Looking back at our eventful 24 hours over a plate of eggs, hash browns and wheat toast with my van mates at a diner in Kingston, and later with the full team in Hampton, I realized how fortunate we were. We were able to come together to run what is quickly becoming one of the most popular Relay races in North America. We ran from Cannon Mountain in beautiful Franconia Notch, through some of the most scenic (and hilly) roads that our state has to offer, before finishing 203 miles later at Hampton Beach. Even with the foul up at the VTA, we ended up completing the race in 23:08:01, at an average pace of 6:44 per mile and finished in 5th place overall (out of 350+ teams). However, far more important than the time we ran, was the time we had. We had a blast running this race and truly enjoyed the camaraderie that can only be achieved during the ups and downs of this type of team adventure. As it turned out, I didn’t need to “atone” for my mistake. My teammates did that for me. Everyone ran their hearts out and brought us in well below our expected time. Our unofficial team motto was "200 miles, 24 hours, 12 people, 2 vans and unlimited insults". But, after having shared this year’s RTB with our team of friends I'd have to add "A lifetime of memories" as well!

Leg 23 and 24

Leg 23: 6.25 miles – 4:52am – 41:48 (6:41 pace)

We got to the 2nd VTA at Laconia Tech around 11:30pm or midnight and it was packed. Bodies (sleeping bags) covering most of the grassy areas (for some reason I thought of Jim Jones and his cool aid drinking cult). Anyways, Steve Delahunty went inside for some nice warm food, I opted for turkey soup, Steve D picking Chili. Chili? This is not good, especially for his van mates.

I was hoping to get some rest/sleep so I grabbed my sleeping bag and found some nice quiet grass about 100yds from the transition area….NOT. Apparently this is not a quiet zone. After enduring constant screaming from the runners at the TA station I finally started to doze off and then the rains came. Thankfully, just sprinkles to start to make sure you were awake, then the downpours. All the body bags came to life and headed for cover, I headed for the front passenger seat of our van, and making sure I kept the light on as long as possible so that no one else was able to sleep. At the time, I thought it was fair. It is now 1am, I have no sleep and will run again in less than 4 hours. Oooh, I can’t wait.

The second leg starts in my hometown of Pittsfield. As we pull into the TA, I spot my younger brother volunteering, Denis yells something like ‘we’ve got your brother’ and we go and park. I walk up and chat with him for a while and then decide to get ready for my run. It is raining….still.

Brian is cranking and comes in early but I’m ready. Again, he’s racing someone in and I take off with another runner, heading for the Epsom traffic circle roughly a 10k away. I’m hoping this will be an easier run, no real hills, mostly flat. I run hard for the 1st mile finding someone to race with. Good, I like competition, this should be fun. However, after a mile, he fades back….never to be seen again. I know start to focus on the seemingly endless line of red blinkie lights all along Rt28. I feel like I’m working hard but again I have no idea of my pace. I start passing runners, lots of runners, 5, 10, 15. I remember Ryan’s phenomenal roadkill total of 33 from his last leg and I keep that number in my head. 20, 25, 30. It’s a killing field. I start counting ahead to see how many kills are still available. 35, 36, 37 and finally 38. I really want to hit 40 but I have less than a mile to go and I can’t see anyone or at least anyone within range of catching. 38 roadkills it is (a personal record) and once again I see a tall blond runner standing at the TA. I’m running hard and I overshoot the transition…still with the baton in my hand. Whoops, sorry Molly. Leg number 2 is done.

Overall time: 41:48 with an average pace of 6:41. I’m disappointed with my time. The effort felt faster than that. Crap.

Leg #24 6.9 miles
My second leg was the hardest one for me to mentally prepare myself for. It was my longest leg, and I knew I wanted to do it fast enough to be respectable, but not so hard that I wasn't going to be able to run my last leg. It was also hard knowing that very soon after I was only finished with my second leg, many of my team mates would be done with their races entirely. After lying down for a while but not sleeping at all, I watched my van mates do their runs in the rain and wasn't particularly excited for when it would be my turn. But inevitably, it was. The transition area had become a lot more crowded as we caught up to some of the later starters, but I saw Steve coming in and I was off once again. It was about 5:40 in the morning, which is a common time for me to train. The faintest hint of daylight was starting to show, although the sun was hidden by the clouds. I lucked out and didn't have to run in the torrential rain that I'd heard earlier from the safety of the van, but it was still sprinkling and wet out. I'll admit that I didn't have high hopes for running a good pace on that leg. I really didn't think I was capable of it. But having seen how fast my team mates were going, I had to at least try to hit my projected pace. I decided that lungs burning = ok, legs hurting = not ok. It was a series of rolling hills as I made my way to Bear Brook State Park. Many other runners were lined up in front of me, primed for the road killing. It began early, and I racked them up pretty quickly. At least 4 of them were walking, so I'm not sure if that counts, but I'll take it. This was the only one of my legs that was long enough that I asked my van to stop and give me water at about mile 4. I started to get worried when I didn't see them until about 30 minutes in, but they were beyond 4, so that made me feel a bit better. It was getting brighter and I didn't need the light of my head lamp anymore. The normal people were waking up and cars that weren't part of the race were on the road once again. I turned the corner and headed towards Bear Brook State Park, still trying to reel in as many runners in front of me as I could. I passed a member of the Google team, which made me feel good because I had heard that they were fast. By the end of my leg I had amassed 24 road kills and didn't get passed once. I ran down the final hill and was thrilled to see that I actually had a team mate to hand off to. My second leg was done. Most of the team would be done racing in a few short hours, but I still had a long time to wait.

Leg 11 and 12

Leg 11: 6.04 miles – 8:43pm – 39:36 (6:33 pace)

A lot of things were going through my mind waiting for Brian to come in at TA11 (Brass Heart Inn). Most importantly, would I be the one that gets passed by Hello Kitty. Our incredible team had been holding off their runners for the last couple of legs but they were getting closer. I really hoped Brian would be the fall guy and not me (sorry Brian).

I have to admit, my running abilities were a complete unknown even to me. When I committed to this race back in March I was already coming back from one knee surgery and a blood clot a couple months earlier. Then in April I was struck (or run over) by the injury bug (or bus) again…tearing the meniscus in my other knee and having surgery on that one too. Needless to say, I was a little anxious when it was my turn to run.

My handy-dandy spreadsheet said Brian should finish at 8:45pm so I got lit up, did a couple strides and then figured it was pointless and proceeded to the transition area to wait for Brian. At 8:43 I see him racing up the hill with Hello Kitty guy right in front of him. I take the baton and I’m off, with Mr. Kitty right in front of me now. Since he’s the only runner I can see (it is bitch friggin black out) I try to stay with him as best I can. We run together for the 1st mile or so, some small talk and then I think he gets annoyed with me and picks up the pace. I feel pretty good, realize I’m probably running above my means but I keep pushing. It’s still a race and this guys pulling away. The next couple of miles had some killer hills and I seem to gain on him on the ups and that’s encouraging. Now deep down I know this is probably one of there slower runners but I don’t care, it feels good to be racing again. Van 2 is waiting just after ½ way, I think I grab some water and continue on. This is my first relay that I started in the dark, and this road is DARK. No cars, no runners (except HK) no streetlights, nothing. HK now has about 50yds on me and we’re starting to see an occasional runner, which we kill (in a roadkill kind of way). I have no idea what pace I’m running but I’m not holding anything back, applying the Delahunty race rule of go out hard and hold on at the end (note to self, not a good plan for a 3-leg relay). At about 5 miles we hit Rt16 and I know White Lake State Park (the next TA) is not far away. I also note I’m starting to gain on Mr. Kitty. I pick it up some more, getting closer and closer. I see the glow of the transition lights over the next hill and race down to hand off to Molly. She’s easy to spot, a 6+ft blond standing in the middle of the woods of NH. I hand off (or up) and keep on running a bit, having narrowed the HK gap to just a few yds. One down, two to go and I feel good about my run.

Overall time: 39:36 with an average pace of 6:33. Sweet.

Side Note:

It is true there was some disappointment when we got to the next TA and Van 1 was not there, having preferred to stay at another transition to avoid all that fuss that goes along with teams handing off the baton. I was disappointed because we were competing with the team that had won this race last year (even though they actually started a 1/2hr after we did), and we were having a lot of fun with it. It was definitely a mental letdown when we found out van 1 was not there. Yes, I was mad but contrary to what others have said or not said, I was not alone (just more vocal). I did not, as far as I can remember, show this anger with van 1. It was a mistake and I did get over it.

Leg #12 4 miles
By the time it was my turn to run it almost felt as though the race was just about over. My team had started about 7 hours prior, and I was just getting around to participating. According to the eerily accurate spread sheet, I was due to start running at about 9:20pm, which is past my bed time on a normal day. Instead, I lined up at the cones and heard Steve Wolfe calling out "292" from the darkness. I took the bracelet loaded with 11 prior runners' slime and took off. It began down hill, and I immediately recorded my first road kill. The man was likely in his 60's, but I'll take what I can get. Before I even had a chance to be happy about it, I was quickly road killed as someone flew past me at a pace I can't match. I am not much for running fast. I can go forever at a moderate pace, but my marathon pace and my 5K pace are way too close together. I possess no fast twitch muscles, so I let him go and continued on. I was running on dirt to start, which was difficult to maneuver with the light of a head lamp. I stumbled more than a few times but at least managed to stay on my feet before I finally made it back to actual pavement. I kept thinking I was seeing a police car's flashing lights up ahead of me, but I was actually slowly reeling in another runner who was decorated like a Christmas tree. At least his team would know he was coming. I passed him to at least get myself back into the +1 for road kills. There just wasn't anyone else out on the road. I rounded a final corner and saw the flashing lights of the transition area up ahead. I wasn't that tired, but I was happy to be almost done so I picked it up to finish strong. I saw Brian a ways out and he said something to me, but all I made out was something about taking it easy. What? Take it easy? I'm almost done! I sprinted to the finish calling out our team's number and searching for Steve Tomasi, who was supposed to take over from there. Instead I saw Steve Delahunty who seemed to really feel sorry for me (and the team) when he simply said, "They're not here." Great. All that work and I could've run some nice 8:00 miles and cruised in to save it for later. I'm probably the only one on the team who really works to run 7:00 miles. I was irritated at first, but I got over it pretty quickly. What can you do? I was just glad that at least the first one was out of the way and I finally wasn't the only one left who hadn't run. The other van finally showed up, just over 5 minutes later. I just hoped that the next time they didn't make the same mistake because at least once during the race I wanted someone to hand off to.

Leg 34, aka "Brian Is No Tolstoy"

Leg 34: Time to let it all hangout until I get stopped at the traffic light. So it was like 2 races in one.

Van 2 was a blast I had a great time and everyone ran extremely well!

Legs 19 and 22

Denis T:
Ok, this leg is what caused my disgrace in the 2006 RTB, it could have been the lack of training or Mike's overly ambitious 1/2 marathon pace estimate for me, but what ever the reason the leg sucked.

For all you people in Van #1, this is the "money leg" for Van #2. I was ready, at least I hoped so.

After the Van #1, can't find the VTA fiasco, our team is running a little behind on getting to the rest area. I do have time for a nice sandwich that will serve as my food for the next leg. Steve W. knows a short cut to the VTA and we get there with 3 hours or so before my scheduled run. I walk around a bit stretch the legs, see what they have for food. Its pretty crowded not going to get a quiet place for sleep, seeing they parked us near the road.

I get out my sleeping bag, and lucky yellow pillow. (Owen, thanks for letting me bring it) toss it on the ground and try to rest. There are some annoying people talking, cars and runners going down the road, but I set my alarm for 1am and close my eyes hoping for a little sleep. I wake up, my watch say 12:50ish but I feel a couple of drops of rain. Hmm, a couple more, I pick up my stuff and search for coffee. The rain picks up, I drink my coffee and realize that I am pretty tired, no one should have to get up at 1am. I talk to a couple of the "competition" before making my way to the van.

I proceed to open and close the back door 30 or 40 times (thats Ryan count not mine), get some running gear on. Try to get warmed up and stay dry. Van #1 pulls up, (please note that Van#2 was at the proper VTA). I am not sure that Steve W and Mike are on talking terms at this point.

Finally John G is coming up the hill to the hand off point. I receive the very sweaty and somewhat gross "baton" and start my run. There is a slight up hill grade for the first 1/2 mile or so and my legs aren't very happy. I crest the hill and it flattens out, I open up my stride and feel pretty good. I figure I can try to give a good hard run since I only have 2 miles tomorrow. Running at night on a back road is pretty cool, I catch a couple of people, say some words of encouragement but I doubt they are happy. I don't really remember the course too much there are a few more turns then I remember and the slight down hill and flat spots seem pretty good. I look at my watch once or twice and notice I don't have my number on me (Oops) and I am wearing my glasses. The van will meet me around 4 miles in, I will give my glasses to them and get my number then.

They come by take my glasses give me some water, no cow bells no threats no comments that were suppose to be humorous they come out wrong. I get to run with it for 3 or 4 minutes while they find my number. They drive by and take the water bottle and give me my number. I put it on while running, trying to maintain my pace. I felt like I was cruising this whole time. Then comes the big steep hill. Ouch, I slow down I keep working it but it doesn't feel quick. I past some more people give them the distance left and keep going. Ah the top of the hill, I open I my stride and continue to the end. I pass about 16 runners, probably more but my counting skills aren't too good.

My time was a little disappointing thought I was clearly faster then 7:00 pace, but it was definitely better then last years run.

Leg 22: Wet and dark but it was fun reeling in all those red blinkies.

Leg 7 and 10 (8 and 9 are missing..Ahem..)

Denis T:

This leg started last year as I failed to meet the expectations of the team. In my defense if I don't train, they shouldn't expect big things from me, so it was really their fault.

So I start my training early this year, suffer a few set backs (i.e. motivational black holes), but get myself into decent shape. Then procede to run only twice a week for the last month prior to the race. At least my legs will be rested.

The drive up was uneventful, actually it was pretty painful listening to Ryan, Steve D, and Brian talk about work for an hour. At least it isn't that long of a drive. (This was the only time that Ryan was in the van and wasn't sleeping)

Brian Coates

Leg 10: Ouch!!! Where the heck did these hills come from! That elevation map is crap but at least I held kitty off until 10 feet from the finish that is.

Get to the start of the race, get our stuff, learn that some evil person has nicknamed me Chardonnay, this is the same person who made a comment about timing me with a sundail.

The race starts and Van #2 makes our way to T6 where I will be running my first leg. So I am a little nervous, having tapered really well for this, I was beginning to think that maybe my training wasn't where it should be. My I put my running shoes on they feel strangely comfortable, almost light. This has to be from the good vibes from my team.

Finally John G. is in sight and I am ready to run. He hands me the baton (wrist strap), and I realize again how sweaty John gets. I really want to wash it off before I put it on, but this is a race and my team would frown on it. Ok 7 miles to go down the beautiful Kank till N. Conway. My team will meet me at mile 4 with water, all is going to be fine. There is no one near me. I get to set my own pace, and it is down hill so this won't be too hard, unless I blow up and go to fast. I like being on the Kank I think, but there is no shoulder to run on, the road isn't wide, I don't have my glasses so I can't see and it is already getting dark. I wonder how fast I am running probably doesn't feel too fast.

Finally I see our van, I haven't seen anyone for 20 mins so it is good to see someone. Then the $%^# cow bell, who the heck brings a cowbell, and even if one is silly enough to bring, what in God's name would possess them to ring it. I make some threatening comment at Brian, grab the water and keep going.

It is now dark, and I finally see another runner, or at least their blinkers. I am avoiding looking at the watch, don't want to make time slow down. I finally pass him, say some kind words of encouragement, and keep going. Then I keep looking for the turn on to rte.16. Not sure if it is ever going to come. Finally the tell tale blue lights and I am almost done. I keep my pace up turn into N Conway and look for who to pass too. Hmm I forget who is next, finally Steve D shouts to me and I am done. 1 Road Kill in 7 miles not a great start, but I am under my target pace and I felt pretty damn good. Lets see how Leg 19 goes.

Legs 25 and 26 and 28, aka "Mt. Delight and Record Road Kills"

Second Intermission – Laconia to Allenstown

After the completion of our respective second legs it was now well after midnight and time for the team to rest. So, I climbed into the driver’s seat and headed off down the road that would lead us to Rt. 93 and eventually on to our resting place for the evening, Bear Brook State Park. Most of the team members slept for the balance of the one hour trip down the highway. Nearing the park I could see signs for the race, but no runners. We had jumped so far ahead at this point, that no one had even come through yet. We were gaining on them! I pulled into the parking lot and once I confirmed that we were indeed in the right spot, I grabbed my gear and headed out for a couple hours of sleep under the stars. Unfortunately, the rain had picked up again during our drive south and the stars were nowhere to be found. So, I picked as dry a spot as I could find beneath some large pine trees and zipped myself into my own personal sleep cocoon. After an hour and a half of restless tossing and turning with more than a few splashes of cold water on my face from the branches above I decided that the growling in my stomach could no longer be ignored. I ambled over to the van in the dark and grabbed the peanut butter, some bagels, a banana and a diet Pepsi. Mmmm, the breakfast of champions! I settled down at a picnic table at the race pavilion and I started to slather my bagel with some yummy peanut butter. Many of the tables, some with runners still sleeping on them, were starting to become filled with other breakfast eaters. A few of whom sat next to me and we quickly struck up a conversation. Apparently they had begun running at 9:30am the previous morning. When I told them that our team started at 2:30pm their jaws hit the floor. We had made up 5 hours on their team during a mere 15 hours of running. It was then that I realized our team was really doing something very special.

Leg 25 [9.44 miles at 7:14 pace]

I would have preferred sleeping outside but the rain kept me in the van. My scheduled run time was around 6:30am. I had two hours to sleep before I needed to get up. I woke up a few times during the night (open door lights, someone’s watch alarm set to 5am). I woke up to my watch alarm at 5:30. My right calf cramped up while putting on my shoe. (not a good sign). I put my contacts in using my penlight so as not to wake anyone else. I stepped out of the van and saw what seem to be over 300 white vans. What a difference! There were only about 50 vans when we pulled in 2 hours ago. As I warmed up I was hoping it would get light soon so I wouldn’t have to wear the reflective vest, blinking lights, and headlamp. (Don’t need the nuisance while climbing Mt. Delight, especially knowing that I would only need it for a short time.). Molly came in and I was off. I’ve been training on hills with my heart rate monitor and had a plan to not exceed 175 while climbing any hills. Though my calves were on the edge of cramping, the run went pretty well. Since this was the time in the race where we push through many of the slower teams, I started counting my roadkills. This helped me concentrate and motivated me. I even caught a few runners I saw take off before me which looked like they were moving pretty good. It took a while but I finally caught them too. The road kills were coming often. 10, 15, 20 how many could I get? 25, 30, 35, now I’m thinking 50 would be a great number. Mark stopped at the top of Mt. Delight to let me know I was at the top of the highest peak. I continued on, feeling good but knowing at any instance my calves might shut me down. I went though an intersection and a lady said 1.4 miles to go. I hope she was right, my watch agreed. Finally the course flattened out. I was on roadkill 48. Turning onto a busier street I saw more runners ahead. Needed to get to 50. 50, 51, and 52 as I pulled into the school parking lot for the handoff. I had a good run. The calves held up. I was hungry and tired but I was done. What a great feeling. Now to root on the team and enjoy the rest of the adventure.

Thinking in the Rain – Deerfield Community School

The funny thing about a 3-part race like Reach the Beach is that you really don’t know what to expect from one leg to the next. You don’t know what the weather is going to be, you don’t know what the course is going to be like and, most importantly, you don’t know how your body is going to respond after all the pounding and lack of real rest. The physical aspect of the race is sort of akin to a deep well that you can’t see the bottom of. You know that there’s water down there, but after depleting it time and time again, you’re not sure really how much is left. These were the thoughts that ran through my head as I prepared to start my final leg in the rain. This leg was supposed to be a victory lap. A short, easy 4.5 trip from the Deerfield Fairgrounds to nearby Candia. But, some last minute bridge work required the organizers to re-route the course and therefore lengthen this leg to 8 point something miles. I say 8 point something because no one was really that sure how long it truly was. As it turns out, it was 8 point forever.

Leg #26 – 7:32am - 8.3 miles – 59:18 overall time – 7:08 pace

Leg description: typical New Hampshire running - up 1m, down 1m, rolling 1.5m, big climb 2.5m, down 1m, steep up again 1.5m.

After my 8 hours of “rest” I grabbed the baton (bracelet) from Steve and began my last leg of the race. There were many more runners and vans now as we really started catching the other teams. I would later find out that on the leg previous to mine Steve T. had caught and passed a record 52 runners (roadkills) on his 9 plus mile run up and over Mt. Delight. Fortunately he left some for me as I passed 28 on my way to Candia. The first two miles, or so, seemed to go pretty well. It was rolling, but not too tough. Then, while cresting a hill it was like my energy had suddenly been dropped by the side of the road like Rae’s coffee. This can’t be happening! I’m just 20 minutes into my leg! I looked down at my watch and it only read 16 minutes. “Oooh, this can’t be good”, I thought to myself. Ok, here it is. Welcome to “well-bottom”. My run wasn’t even a third over and I was really starting to struggle. I finally reached the fairgrounds, where my leg was supposed to start, with the big hills looming in the distance, and all I could think about was how the heck was I going to do this? I chugged slowly up the first hill. Those 2 plus miles seemed never ending. Twisting & turning but always up. Halfway up, I got passed for the first time ever at RTB. I tried to stay with him but I just couldn’t do it. Near the top I grabbed a quick sip of Gatorade from a bewildered bystander. Apparently he was going to drink it himself or maybe pass it to a teammate behind me. Either way, I didn’t care. I hadn’t seen my van yet and I needed something to get me through. Just before the road descended, however, I saw my team again. Rae handed me some Gatorade and said I looked great. Liar. “I’m dying”, I said before trudging down the hill. Sure enough, after a bit, I got my legs back under me and started passing people again. “One more hill and then I’m done”, I thought. I pushed through, handed off the bracelet and finished in a heap on the ground. I was finished. Literally.

[Leg 28] 4.8 rollers
The best thing about having done RTB before is that you know the 3rd leg hurts more in anticipation that in actuality. I'm freaking relieved just to be able to start running and prove to myself that I'm not going to lose the 8 nutter-butters I ate for breakfast. Leg starts with a down, then steep up -- then rollers for the rest of the run. I'm loving the roadkill, but I want more (Tomasi got greedy with 52 on his leg) My legs feel good, except the front of my calves from leg one (fyi - if you run my leg 1 next year don't expect sympathy from your vanmates for this soreness, you can call me though) I finish with a 6:22 pace and all my nutter butters.

Race Report: Legs 13 and 14, 16, aka "The Transition Fuck Up"

First Intermission – Conway to Tamworth

When each of our first legs were completed we headed into Conway for some dinner. The first Pizza Place we came to had closed their doors for a 1 hour break. Apparently all the hungry RTB’ers must have worn them out. So, we had our meal at the next Pizza Place (right next door). It was nice to sit out on the deck and relax with some crispy pie and reflect on the first of our three runs. We didn’t even mind the commotion outside as some Conway kids got into a heated argument. I don’t know what it is about white teenagers and their apparent need to talk like they are black. I mean, here we are in Conway Freaking New Hampshire probably one of the whitest towns in probably one of the whitest states in America and it was like we were watching a scene from “Boys in the Hood”, or something. I just don’t get it. Afterwards we headed out to our next VTA to wait for Van #2 to finish their first runs. On the way we stopped for gas and to get Rae some coffee, which she promptly dumped while trying to re-close the van doors as we drove down Rt. 16. Fortunately, Rae didn’t spill out onto the road like her coffee. Unfortunately, when we went back to re-fill her cup they had closed for the night. Later, we continued down Rt. 16 and over to Rt. 25. We by-passed the race course in an effort to cut down on driving time and to give our runners a chance to rest at the next VTA. Little did we know, a critical error in navigation was about to shake up our relaxing between-run break.

Panic at the Disco – Bennett Corners Community School

The group of us tromped into the little community school and set up shop on a couch and a couple of comfy chairs to wait for the arrival of our other team. Later, as Steve T’s warm-up preparations were coming to a close, there was some anxiety since the other van hadn’t shown up yet and it was almost time for him to start his run. I assured Steve that they would be here shortly and not to panic. Of course, I quickly walked away and began to panic. Fortunately my cell phone, which up until then had not had a signal, rang with a voicemail message. On the other end of the line was a screaming Steve W. “Molly’s almost here! Where the hell are you guys?!?!” Before last the words had even reached my ears I had already begun sprinting back toward the school. “What leg is this? What leg is this?!?!”, I frantically shouted in the general direction of the sleepy RTB official seated at the check-in desk. “leg 13”, she replied. My heart leapt with joy. We were fine. But, before my brain could even register this news she continued, “The end of leg 13”. Crap. The adrenaline hit my leaping heart like a bolt of lightning. Damn we’re in the wrong place! “Guys, we’re at the wrong TA! We gotta’ go! Now!” We all jumped into the van and sped off down the drive. Then, I had a brief moment of clarity and hit the breaks. I had to run from this point and Steve’s leg was less than 4 miles long. I needed to stay here. So, I quickly jumped out and the van continued on to bring a now breathless Steve Tomasi to the start of his leg. Fortunately, Rae jumped out with me and did her best to talk me down. But, all I could think about was how stupid I was and how I had let my whole team down. Those 25 minutes waiting for Steve to come back were some the longest I had ever spent.

Leg 13 [3.94 miles at 6:23 pace]

Just chilling out at the transition area was relaxing. This is my short easy leg so all is good. I was happy to hear that our team was keeping pace and I was going to run at the predicted time. I started warming up when I head that Molly would be here for the handoff in 15 minutes. The next thing I heard was Michael telling me to get in the van, “we’re at the wrong transition area”. My heart rate monitor proved I was a bit anxious driving to the transition area and I felt bad for Molly showing up and I wasn’t there. We were in constant contact with the other van and had play-by-play as Molly came into the transition area. We then knew how far behind we were and watched the clock continue to run. Jumping out of a moving van and attaching nighttime flashing lights seemed like it took longer that it did. I finally took off on the run and felt that I had to make up some time but still knew I had the long hilly run in the morning. I did have the advantage of seeing my running course before I ran it.

Leg #14 – 10:16pm - 7.8 miles – 51:15 overall time – 6:34 pace

Leg description: dark & rolling with two big hills at 4.5m & 6m.

Frantic pacing and self-flagellation had done wonders to break me out of my sluggishness from earlier in the evening. So, as Steve’s shadowy figure finally came into view, my 6 hours of “rest” came to an end and I was on my way. Again, my goal was to run this 7.8 mile leg at a 6:30/mile pace. But, I’m sure that as I left the parking lot, with all that panic-charged adrenaline coursing through my body, I was traveling a heck of a lot faster than that. I quickly passed a few straggling runner and headed onto the main road. Once I realized that I was breathing way too heavy for this early in the run, I throttled it back a little bit and settled into a comfortable, yet demanding pace. As each dark and lonely mile ticked away I found myself fighting two battles. The first was against the toughness of the course, the second was against the negative thoughts creeping into my mind. My team was racing so hard and I screwed them with a stupid mistake, I should have known better, all that preparation down the drain, etc. But, as I crested the first big hill at mile 4.5 I could see my van mates illuminated by my bobbing headlamp. They were there waiting for me with water and shouting words of encouragement. So, I downed the drink they gave me, only briefly thinking it might be poisoned, powered through the hill and picked up the pace. The second hill at mile 6 was tougher but once I got to the top I rolled down and quickly picked off a few more runners. 12 total for the leg. As I took the final turn and headed toward the handoff I found myself in a much better frame of mind then when I had started. I was tired, yes. But, I knew that the race was long from over and there would be plenty more opportunities for me to atone for my major mistake.

[Leg 16] 6.4 hard
Never trust the altitude maps, luckily I ran this last year and I know it starts out with a 2 mile up (not the flat/down it promises and lies about). Then it hits gravel - nice, big chunky fun gravel. The gravel is actually pretty challenging at night, but better than last year since there is no fog. The rain also started on this leg though, and I love the rain. This leg has one more pretty challenging uphill after the gravel section. I'd really like to see this hill in the daytime because it feels huge, and both last year and this year I felt awful on it. After the hill it's cruising flats and downs. And, awesome, I'm 40+ seconds faster than last year!

Reach the Beach: Race Report Legs 1&2&4

Steve T.

Leg1 [6.6 miles at 6:21 pace]

I felt a little pressure starting the team race but I tapped into my 25 years of racing experience to keep calm, “everything will work out fine”. I was interested in were I would place among the other 8 teams starting with us. I started in the back of the pack to watch the race unfold. It was clear after the first mile that I was going to finish in the top group and Olympic marathoner John Tuttle was going to kick everyone’s butt. It took me about 3 miles to catch the guy which was in 2nd place. I noticed that I gained on him on the flats and uphills but he cruised and pulled away on the downhill sections. With about 1 mile to go, I was hoping for another uphill and I got it. I passed him and moved into 2nd place and held it until the last 50 meters. There was a long downhill to the first transition and he came roaring by me. It didn’t really bother me, I was saving my quads for the later stages and I gave my captain his first roadkill. “If I see that guy again on hilly leg 25, I’ll bury him on the hills”.

Michael Wade

Leg #2 –3:12pm – 9.5 miles – 1:02:45 overall time – 6:37 pace

Leg description: elongated skate ramp – 3m down, 3m flat, then 3m back up.

After all the time I spent building, coordinating and preparing our team for the 2007 RTB, I was anxious to get on with it already and start my first leg. My goal was to run this 9.5 mile leg at 6:30/mile pace. I ran a few frantic warm-up laps around the Flume Gorge parking lot while we waited for our opening leg runner (Steve T.) to come through. Finally, someone yelled “here he comes” and I hurried to the starting line. I saw Steve running strong to the finish with some “yahoo” sprinting past him at the line. Steve calmly handed me the baton (bracelet) and I was on my way. I quickly picked off the “yahoo’s” teammate as we headed out of the parking lot. As I rolled down Rt. 3 I started to wish I had toyed with him a bit more and not passed him right away. Now I was on my own with no one else in sight. Ah, the joys of the early RTB legs! The first few miles passed quickly. Going downhill I had no clue what my pace was. I guessed probably around 6 min per mile. The road started to flatten out as I turned and headed toward town. Ok, we’re rolling now. Through town I saw a few Van #2’s having a pre-run snack. Then I saw our team’s Van #2. Steve W. was filming and said something about being “2 minutes behind”. 2 minutes behind what? My expected pace, or the guy in front? Neither prospect seemed particularly appealing. Brian made some half-hearted attempt to cheer me on & Steve D. snapped a picture. I heard “Oooh, I got a good one. Look at this…” his voice trailed off as I ran up the road. Sheesh, with teammates like this. Just past town the road started to slope up now. I must be 6 miles in, or so. Just past Loon Mountain (7m) the pace was starting to feel slow and labored. Later on, during a particularly rough patch, I saw Damian Rowe driving Van #1 for the GCS – Old Farts. He slowed down just enough to shout, “Great job Mike! Our guy is 200 yards behind you!” What!?!? NFW, I thought. I refused to turn and look, and struggled to maintain my pace. It felt so much harder, by comparison, to those early downhill miles. As I neared a turn, to what I assumed to be the finish, I glanced back down the road and saw no one for at least a half mile. F’in Damian! Now, for some reason, the course headed down a trail and into the forest. Great. Just what I need. After a 1/4 mile or so of messing around in the woods, over a bridge and around a closed gate, I handed the bracelet off to Mark and stumbled over to the van. Someone let me know I had just run 6:45 pace. Well that sucks. And so began my RTB 2007.

[leg 4] 4.8 crashing down
Leg is marked as approx 1 mile up, followed by a crashing 4 mile down. Sadly for Mark, the course was mismarked and he got to run my 1 mile up, and I got all the down. I move to the start of my leg - I can see Mark coming for about 3/4 of a mile and I can see him closing on the Rochester runner he is racing. It doesn't look like he's going to have enough time, and the Rochester runner toeing the line with me looks me over and says "Sh*t" That's right, buddy, prepare to be chicked. It's hard to not run fast when Mark hands off to you, and I start off my leg 1 of RTB to the encouraging calls of my teammates "Your ass is hanging out of your shorts!!!" I pass the Rochester runner right after the summit, and then I run as hard as I can downhill for 4 something miles. This run is FUN, it's just like a roller-coaster ride. Next time I would recommend training with a few downhills if you get this leg - because the after-effects were painful. During though - no issues, and I finished in 25 minutes (later turning out to be a 5:26 pace when Wolfe recalcuted the true distances of all legs, but for a brief period of time I will always remember -- I ran a 5:13 pace).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Meet the Team ...

Runner #1 - Steve T.
Age: 49
Nickname: “Tom”
Occupation: Unknown (but works with Mark, so its probably weather related)
Leg #’s: 1, 13 & 25
Total Distance of Legs: 19.6 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:36
Little Known Fact: Tom has just received his first issue of “Playboy-Senior” with an “article” on the girls of the AARP, and a nice spread on a couple of sexy GMILF’s.

Runner #2 – Michael
Age: 38
Nickname: “Captain Fly”
Occupation: Architect
Leg #’s: 2, 14 & 26
Total Distance of Legs: 25.1 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:40
Little Known Fact: The details of Michael’s life are quite inconsequential... His father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. His mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. Michael’s childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring he'd make meat helmets. And, in his spare time, Michael likes to build teams of elite runners with the sole purpose of crushing their competition.

Runner #3 – Mark
Age: 36
Nickname: “Superman”
Occupation: Meteorologist
Leg #’s: 3, 15 & 27
Total Distance of Legs: 24.5 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:42
Little Known Fact: In addition to leaping over tall buildings (and small litkas) in a single bound, Mark enjoys eating mountains like they were candy.

Runner #4 – Raelyn
Age: 36
Nickname: “Little Miss (intense) Sunshine”
Occupation: Computer Code Writer
Leg #’s: 4, 16 & 28
Total Distance of Legs: 16.0 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:37
Little Known Fact: Raelyn holds the unofficial state record for most men “chicked” (not what you think) in one racing calendar year.

Runner #5 - Kerry
Age: 31
Nickname: “The Polly Pocket Rocket”
Occupation: Teacher
Leg #’s: 5, 17 & 29
Total Distance of Legs: 16.9 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:36
Little Known Fact: Kerry is is shortest member of the Knights who until recently said "Nee", but who now say, "Ecky-ecky-ecky-ecky-pikang-zoom-boing-mumble-mumble".

Runner #6 - John
Age: 43
Nickname: “Snowman”
Occupation: Air Traffic Controller
Leg #’s: 6, 18 & 30
Total Distance of Legs: 14.2 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:58
Little Known Fact: John enjoys creating mid-air close calls just for “shits & giggles”. His words, not mine.

Runner #7 - Denis
Age: 37
Nickname: “Chardonnay”
Occupation: Unknown, (probably computers)
Leg #’s: 7, 19 & 31
Total Distance of Legs: 17.0 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:40
Little Known Fact: Denis once ran a 10 mile race in 57 minutes then proceeded to fall off the face of the earth.

Runner # 8 - Steve D.
Age: 44
Nickname: “Dick”
Occupation: Another Computer Geek
Leg #’s: 8, 20 & 32
Total Distance of Legs: 14.8 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:38
Little Known Fact: Despite his loud and sometimes arrogant nature Steve has the fragile psyche of a canary with brittle bone disease. Steve also like searching the web for pictures of little boys in compromising positions.

Runner #9 - Ryan
Age: 30
Nickname: “Agent Zero”
Occupation: Engineer
Leg #’s: 9, 21 & 33
Total Distance of Legs: 13.9 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:53
Little Known Fact: Ryan is a current member of the US military and can kill you with his bare coccyx (also, not what you think). That is, if he can find you.

Runner # 12 - Molly
Age: 28
Nickname: “Ironwoman”
Occupation: Professional Tri-athlete
Leg #’s: 12, 24 & 36
Total Distance of Legs: 15.2 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 7:02
Little Known Fact: Molly likes to ride 100 miles on her bike before any (and all) of her races. Needless to say, we had her bikes confiscated prior to RTB.

Non Runner # 1 - Kevin
Age: 41
Nickname: “Barnacle”
Occupation: General Contractor
Leg #’s: None (Alternate)
Total Distance of Legs: 0.0 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: N/A
Little Known Fact: Kevin's fondness for riding the pine has left him with a chronic case of "gluteus maximus splinterus". Which is self-evident if you've ever seen him run.