Monday, September 24, 2007

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.

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