What a whirlwind the past few days have been with the Reach the Beach Relay and starting my clinical (hospital) internship yesterday! Thank you for all the good luck wishes for day 1 yesterday – my first day went well and was much less scary than I thought it would be. I’ll share more thoughts later this week!
For now – back to Reach the Beach! I have so much to say about our adventures that I’m splitting it into three posts – one per leg of the race. Here’s the first installment!
It all begin Friday morning at Wachusett Mountain ski area.
As I mentioned, our team was made up of 12 bloggers. Also pictured above are Nicole and Monica, who work for New Balance and volunteered to be our awesome drivers during the relay race (they are top left). They were amazing and became part of the team as well! Most relay teams either drove themselves or had a friend/relative drive them – having drivers made the adventure so much less stressful and we were so lucky to have them.
The way this relay race works is that when runners 1 through 6 were out running, van 1 was checking in on them, getting the next runner to the checkpoint, etc., and van 2 was relaxing, eating, sleeping, or whatever. When runner 6 finished and runner 7 started, the two vans would switch out and van 2 would take over while van 1 rested, ate, etc. We did this three times since there were 3 legs.
Gretchen started off our race for us as she was runner #1 in van 1!
Here she is getting interviewed about her thoughts before starting the race. We had a camera crew with us the whole time and they will be putting together a cool video series of the adventure! Stay tuned for that.
At 10:20 a.m., Team Off Balance officially began the race! Go Gretchen!
The starting area was literally a ski slope – yikes. Gretchen said the first part of the run was basically straight up the mountain. Props to her for tackling it for us!
Once we sent Gretchen off, van 1 headed out to support her along the way and get ready to transition through their other runners, and my van, van 2, headed to a park near the first big van transition area to chill and wait.
The weather was stunning this weekend – we were so lucky! Perfect day to chill in a park. It was weird – we didn’t really feel like we were doing a race since we spent from 10 a.m. until about 4 p.m. just relaxing! We went to lunch, got some iced coffee, sat around outside… and then made our way to the official van transfer area, where van 1’s runner #6 would come in and our runner #7 would take over for her.
Before too long, runner #6, Sarah , came barreling in!
She slapped our official slap bracelet over to Tina , and it was official – van #2’s first legs had begun!
After Tina left, we headed back to the van and drove along the course to support her along the way. One of the best things about this race was that even though you were out there running alone, your van stopped once or twice (depending how far you were running) to check in on you and cheer you on. It was so fun to be running along on a random road and then see your teammates cheering and jumping around up ahead!
A couple miles before Tina was done, we made our way to the transition area where Monica , runner #8, would take over from Tina.
Here she comes!!
From there we stopped to check in on Monica along the way… and then made our way to the next area for Theodora , runner #9, to take over from Monica.
It was so fun when your van was in action – we had a blast cheering each other on and every time a runner returned from running they’d be all pumped up and give some great energy back to the group in the van. Plus, they got to check off their leg on the window of our van.
Next up was Elizabeth , who would take over from Theodora!
We were required to wear safety gear between certain hours of the day (I think 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. or something), so even though it wasn’t dark yet, Elizabeth still got suited up with a vest, two flashing lights (one on front, one in back), and a head lamp.
Off went Elizabeth…
And then it was my turn to get ready! Whoever was up to run next would usually get ready in the van on the way to the next transition area. Safety gear – check!
My hat counted as my head lamp because it’s an awesome New Balance one that has lights built into it!
After hanging out all day, I was really excited to finally get out there and RUN! By this point it was about 7:15 p.m.
Bib – check!
Here comes Elizabeth…
Slapping the bracelet on my arm…
And I’m off!!
My first leg was about 4.5 miles and I felt great the whole time. I tried to keep my pace in check because I didn’t want to burn myself out for later in the relay, but it was hard because I was excited to be out there.
Plus, while I was out running… my van-mates were secretly plotting to surprise me with: The Banana Costume!!
Tina packed this costume just for fun but I had completely forgotten we had it with us – it was basically the best moment in my life when, half way through my run, I saw my van and the girls ahead cheering… complete with Monica jumping around in a banana costume. If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is. I had the biggest smile on my face.
The banana costume excitement carried me through the rest of the race (including one point where I nearly missed a turn, even though everything was well marked – I just totally zoned out but realized it quickly because the girl in front of me was gone!), and I finished strong to pass the torch (er… slap bracelet) on to Ashley , our final runner!
Total distance: 4.54 miles. Total time: 38:27. Average pace: 8:28. My fastest mile was the one where the banana costume made an appearance.
The sun was just starting to set as Ashley headed out for her first leg – the last runner from our van. She had some beautiful views before the darkness settled in!
After cheering her on, we headed on to the next big van transition area, where van 1 would take over again. One leg was finished! Two more to go…