I’m not even sure how to put the amazing experience of running the Reach the Beach NJ Relay into words, but I’m going to try. Just a warning, it may take me a few posts to do so. Needless to say, after 31 hours and 200 miles…Team Run, Eat, Sleep Repeat REACHED THE BEACH!
I didn’t know much of what to expect going into this. I had only met one of the people on my team beforehand, I had never run more than 13.1 miles in 24 hours, and had literally no idea what to expect from my body since my mileage was split into three separate legs. But I ended up finishing the distance, my body felt pretty good, and my teammates were AMAZING!
If you haven’t heard of relays before, basically you create a team of 12 runners split into 2 vans and each runner has 3 legs of various distances. Together, the runners complete 200 miles. First, the 6 people in Van 1 run all their first legs, then Van 2 runs their first legs. Then its Van 1′s turn again and so forth until you reach the finish!
I took a bus from the Port Authority Thursday night and got dropped off by a town near the start line in Vernon, NJ (Mountain Creek). But I got dropped off in the middle of nowhere in a random church parking lot in the middle of a freezing cold night. Luckily, I didn’t die like I thought I was going to and my teammates came to save me in one of the vans. We stayed in a hotel that night and I shared a room with the awesome Colleen.
The next morning we headed for registration and orientation before meeting up with my van: Van 1! My van was starting off with the first 6 legs of the relay so after team photos, our first runner Dave headed to the start line and the rest of us went to transition 1 to wait for him.
I was runner 6 so that means I was the last in my van to run my legs. That means that even though the race started at 9:30am, I didn’t run until 2pm because 5 other people were in front of me. Needless to say, I had a lot of time to cheer on and hang out with my teammates in my van at the transitions before my first run.
One of the transitions was in a church where a cute old lady sold us homemade soups and sandwiches which was SO awesome since it was really cold. Most of the transition areas weren’t that stocked with food and most just consisted of the awesome volunteers and one port-a-potty.
We also rocked our bright neon green Jersey Shore-inspired team shirts throughout the morning
During our first legs, Van 1 had some seriously insane hills since we started so close to the mountains. If you’ve met me or read my blog you know I hate hills with a passion so this wasn’t my favorite part. But all my teammates were able to rock them out, so I figured I could too.
Before I talk about Leg 1, here was the breakdown of all my distances. The official ones are different but I went with what my GPS watch said. Everyone’s distances were longer than what the RTB people had listed:
2:00 pm: Leg 1: 6.21 miles, 1:00, Average pace 9:48/mile
1:00am: Leg 2: 2.52 miles, 22:42, Average pace 9:00/mile
12:30pm: Leg 3: 5.34 miles, 47.18, Average pace 8:52/mile
Total miles: 14.07
2:00 pm, 6.21 miles, 1:00, Average pace 9:48/mile
After Alex finished her longest leg (9+ miles!!), she handed off the slap bracelet to me and I was off!
I think this summarizes my first leg pretty well…
Because of the elevation my pace suffered, but I’m just happy I kept my pace under 10 minute/mile. Luckily there was a girl from another team in front of me for most of this leg who kept me motivated (even though she didn’t know it until I told her at the end) to push through it, especially this one insane switchback hill that I felt like I needed ropes to get up. Yep, we were definitely running in the mountains! My breathing a bit more labored than usual because of this, plus having asthma doesn’t help.
Towards the end, the transition area was also located on top of a giant hill so of course I had to scale that too. But coming down it was like heaven and I passed the slap bracelet off to runner 7 (and van 2′s first runner) Issac. Then Van 2 was off!
After leg 1 our team quickly stopped at a diner for some lunch/dinner while Van 2 took over. Some of us decided to brush our teeth on the side of the road.. very classy. Then we went to the transition area we would eventually meet Van 2 at and tried to sleep on the ground outside in sleeping bags before our nighttime legs. There were another group of runners there too from the Caveman team, who we actually saw so many times during the race. Yup, they ran in caveman outfits. We saw them and a team called the Tough Moms (12 moms) team so many times!
I didn’t sleep at all at that point but just laid there and rested my eyes a bit. I guess it just wasn’t late enough in the day for me. Or I’m not into sleeping outside with bugs or in the freezing cold.
Stay tuned for the overnight leg and day two…
We had SO many great sponsors for this relay, and one of them is hosting a giveaway on my blog:
Tommie Copper Compression!
Tommie Copper is a fantastic compression gear brand that I first discovered at the NYC Half last year. They also provided me with a compression shirt for the relay this weekend which I absolutely fell in love with. The material and quality are great, plus we all know how I feel about compression and its recovery benefits. I am obsessed with it and Tommie Copper is no different! I love it and know you will too!
The good news? Tommie Copper is offering a FREE pair of compression sleeves to one lucky reader. All you have to do is use the rafflecopter form below to enter for your chance. The giveaway will be open until October 21 at 10pm EST. May the odds be ever in your favor!
Have you ever run a relay? Did you love it too?
What did you do this weekend?