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.