Monday, September 24, 2007
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
Epilogue – Hampton Beach by Michael W.
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
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.
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
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.
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)
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.
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.
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
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.
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”.
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.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
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.
Nickname: “Captain Fly”
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
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.
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
Nickname: “The Polly Pocket Rocket”
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".
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.
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.
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
Nickname: “Agent Zero”
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
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
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.