I know, I know – “What have you been waiting for?” Well I kinda left my camera in the van after the race was over. Whoopsy!
Thursday night after #FitBlogNYC (that recap is coming up too!) I drove from the train station to Fitchburg, MA to meet my other teammates at our hotel. The fun began pretty much right away…
Our first goal was to get dinner in our bellies and since Janine was the most organized Team Captain, she already had a place picked out for us. After carbing up (on food AND beer – of course) we headed back to the hotel room to get a good night’s sleep.
Or so we thought. My roommates, Sara and Alyssa, and I settled into our room with some Nuun and our pajamas, and settled into bed. As our room got quiet it became quite apparent to us that our neighbors (the room right behind our beds of course) were having a little bit of late night grown up fun. And they were loud. Which, of course, made us giggle like a bunch of little kids. And when Kristen, our 4th roommate, arrived we had to tell her what was going on. And she was appalled. She was also appalled when she found out she was our first runner – whoopsy. All of this made the other 3 of us giggle even more. It was like being at a teenagers sleepover. With our alarms set for 5:30, we finally got to sleep around 12:30-1 a.m. So much for a good night’s sleep.
5:30 a.m. comes really fast when you get to sleep at 12:30 a.m. and you’re sleeping in a hotel bed. But we all got up with our alarms and got ready to head over to Wachusett Mountain for check in. Blah blah blah there is nothing exciting about checking in to a relay race – lots of paperwork, safety checks, photos, etc… Finally we’re heading toward the start line!
The race started and Kristen was off! Those of us in Van 1 headed to the van to drive to Transition #1 to meet Kristen. While we were waiting for her, Teresa (our #2 runner) practiced a little road side yoga to warm up.
And then she was off…
We continued this way all the way until my leg, which was the final leg for our van until the evening.
I was beyond nervous for my first leg since this was my first relay race. “What if I get lost?” “What if I didn’t tell the van to stop enough for me?” Etc…It was also 1:15 in the afternoon, full blown sun, and it felt like 80 degrees out (although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that hot.) Thankfully I carried my handheld water bottle – even with that I needed two refills on that leg. There was NO SHADE. The highlight of this leg: While running the streets of Worcester a police officer spoke to me from his car via his intercom and said “Keep going, pick up the pace, you can catch them!” I was pretty amused by that!
My awesome teammates filling me up with water and cheering me on!
Splits and elevation from Leg #1:
I knew from the start that I was in the company of a group of amazing women, but I knew it even more when I got to the transition point and there waiting for me was Kristen with a bag of ice, just as I had asked. I promptly placed it on top of my head and worked on cooling down.
Relay lesson #1: If your first leg is due to start at 1:15 p.m. in Mid-May, wear a hat.
While Van #2 was running, it was time for Van #1 to find some food and get cleaned up. We were supposed to go to the home of the parents of a fellow teammate and shower at their house but there was confusion, a miscommunication, something. I don’t really know. All I know is that it didn’t happen. So we did the next best thing and took baby wipe baths in the local Price Chopper. Alyssa had the best idea of the day:
Right after I took that picture I threw my bag in the cart too – it was so much easier than carrying it! Then we went out to find some food and attempt some sleep until it was time for Round #2!
Relay lesson #2: Find somewhere to sleep/rest where you can elevate your legs. This was the best thing I could’ve done – we were at a state park waiting for transition, and the ground just happened to slope downward, so Sara and I laid with our legs up and our heads down to let the blood drain from the legs. Wicked good idea. I did the same after Leg #2 by sleeping with my legs up on the dashboard of our van.
Before we knew what had happened, all of our rest time had flown by and it was time to hit the road again. Kristen led us off again – this time headed into Hopkinton. She got to run right over the Boston Marathon Start line! Wicked cool! At this point we were starting to get a bit punchy – nothing an impromptu dance party and photo session can’t fix!
Relay newbies – me and Alyssa
I was even more nervous for my night leg than I was for my first leg. This leg started at 11:09 p.m. and was just under 6 miles long. As I hit the start at transition I hear a voice “Be careful out there, those first 3 miles are DARK.” Holy. crap. She wasn’t kidding. There were no street lights for at least the first almost 4 miles. The only thing that kept me going without being too petrified was that once in a while I’d get passed by another team van, and once in a while I’d see a sign telling me I was still heading in the right direction. I have a minor gripe with the signage for the evening legs – there WASN’T ENOUGH! When I started to get a bit petrified I would tell myself “At least you have your phone on you. If you get lost you can call for help.”
I was beyond happy to see the transition point at this leg. It was also midnight and I was running on 5 hours of crappy hotel sleep plus a couple hours of “rest.”
Splits and elevation from Leg #2:
That’s a lovely hill the last couple of miles…
And then it was time for sleep…Kinda. Since I was the last person back in the van, I missed where everyone claimed their sleeping spots and ended up in the front seat. It wasn’t too bad though – as I mentioned before, I was able to put my feet up on the dash and prevent the blood from pooling.
I woke up a few times – once because I was freezing (I forgot my blanket…). And a few other times just because I was sleeping in the front seat of a van! I finally woke up around 4:15 and had enough of trying to sleep, especially since the alarm was going off at 4:30 so we could get Kristen ready for her final leg! I turned on the van and turned on the heat – it got down into the 40s the night before, no wonder I was so cold.
Relay lesson #3: DON’T forget your blanket and/or sleeping bag. There’ll always be room for something squishable.
Thankfully it only took us to Kristen’s transition to find a Dunkin’ Donuts – we were all in desperate need of coffee at that point. I also had to start getting myself psyched up for my leg since I was running in the #4 spot this time around, and it was to be the longest of my 3 legs.
This was THE hardest run – quite possibly that I’ve ever done. I didn’t even want to run it. I was not feeling up for another 8 miles after what I had just put my body through. Plus I was tired, cranky, in need of a shower and a real meal. I did manage to really get into it after the first mile or so – thanks to gorgeous weather and awesome teammates. It was another hot one (so it was actually only 57 degrees…) – little to no shade once again – so the girls met me every 2 miles with more water for my handheld. They also got me my gels and some desperately needed body glide! I could not for the life of me keep a steady pace during this leg. My body ached and I swear I moved based on the song and elevation. I took advantage of every downhill to get my pace down closer to where I wanted it to be! I did kick it into high gear for a strong finish once I could see the finish – I couldn’t have been happier to be this close to completing all of my legs!
Splits and elevation for Leg #3:
Not so steady…
And like that my first relay was done. Almost. We had 2 more runners in our van to go, plus we had to meet Van #2 at the end so we could all cross the finish line together.
In the meantime, after our anchor runner got done, we got showered up and hit up Not Your Average Joes for a long awaited real meal and, even more important, BEER.
Then we were ready to hit the beach. One our way we ran into Van #2! Naturally that stop wasn’t complete until we took a few pictures:
And after 33 hours, 29 minutes, and 43 seconds of running and driving – Team Tutu Hot to Handle had Reached the Beach.
This was an amazing experience, I’m looking forward to joining my fellow Tutu’s once again for a future Reach the Beach Relay!
Have you ever run a relay? How did it go?!