Reach the Beach, September 16, 17 2005
One day not too long ago, Carol, the fitness center manager and my own personal fitness consultant who's gotten me through 5-1/2 marathons, asked me if I'd be part of a team for the "Reach the Beach" relay (see www.rtbrelay.com). Well, if Carol wants to do something, there's got to be some pain involved, but in the end I usually come out a little bit stronger, so I said sure, why not!
The bulk of the team was Cisco people, plus some other friends of Carols. Most of our team I barely knew before this event, but having bonded with them through training and the actual relay, I now feel like I've got another extended family. Especially the fellow nuts who were with me in "Van 3" (shhhhhhhhh!).
Most of my pictures and captions were taken from a Van 1 perspective, so my apologies to those in Van 2 - hopefully I'll get some pictures from those guys (and girls) and post them here too. In the mean time..
To begin with, we had 12 people:
Carol "Let's make a checklist"
Adrien "I can beat the van to the next checkpoint"
Rick "You're a pain in my I.D.B."
Amy Jo "Am I *always* this happy? Sure!"
Heidi "Dave P? Dave P? WHERE'S DAVE P!!!!"
Jeremy "It's fun to hand off to Heidi!"
We needed a name. Dane suggested "Mass Soles", but Carol, playing the part of prudish team captain, rejected it in favors of "Wave Runners". Simply put, they don't allow names in poor taste. Somebody should tell that to the "Big Booty Hohs", I think.
We all volunteered or were assigned positions, 1 - 12. While we argued between Van 1 and Van 2 over who had it worse, nobody could argue that position #1 (legs 1, 13, and 25) was without question the absolute worst sequence of legs. We needed somebody really crazy to take that one. Surely nobody in their right mind would agree to it. Wait a minute, we have a volunteer? Yup! We can thank the Army Rangers for turning out people who thrive on pain and self abuse, Dave P actually wanted to do it! As the rest of us in Van 1 watched Dave, all we could think is thank God these people are on our side..
We drove up Thursday night, Van 1 stayed in Andy's brothers condo (Andy's brother lent him a condo and an ID!) and Van 2 volunteered to stay in a place much closer to the starting line. Still, Andy's brothers place was great and had plenty of room for us all.
There was no hot water for a shower in the morning, but it still felt great to get wet. I wouldn't be saying that at midnight while running leg 17..
Van 2 got lost on the way to the meeting point Friday morning, and then 2 more times on the way to the starting line (Bretton woods? Hmmm, I wonder if that enormous sign that says "Bretton Woods" might be Bretton woods? Nah, lets just drive past it..).
We decorated our vans, which mainly consisted of pasting some identification placards to the front and rear windshields, and writing the name of the team on the sides. We wrote "Wave Runners" on one side, but as a protest Pat wrote "Mass Soles, Van 3" on the other side. This other side got a lot of attention throughout the event!
I don't have detailed write-ups from each leg, but I'll offer up my perspective on a few of them. Leg 1 was insane, 1,000 foot climb up a ski slope, then 1,000 feet back down again. Dave was salivating at the prospect. He snapped his toenail off on the way down, not broken at the tip but snapped off inside the toe. Normal people have trouble walking when this happens, Dave still had two 8.5 - 9 mile legs ahead of him. No problem, it's just pain, ignore it!
Andy set out next, he's in training for a marathon in October so he just cranked away at a short 3 mile run. Didn't even notice the uphill!
Dane set out next, he'd projected 8:45 miles but cranked away at around 7:20 - 7:30 pace. He'd do this for the entire event, which earned him the sandbagger award!
Next up was Pat, also in training for an October marathon. Pat was as consistent as could be, clocking 8:30 miles consistently, regardless of hills. We almost suffered our first handoff mishap, as when he reached the transition point he ran right past me, thinking I was there to congratulate him!
After I wrestled the dripping wrist band from Pat, I set off on the first long leg of the event, 8.6 miles, a hill at the beginning and then mostly gradual downhills from there. I think I set a personal best for the distance, at just over 9 minute miles (I'm more of a plodder than a runner, the token old fat guy on the team). I passed off to Mike, who's never done anything like this before, but had been training heavily all summer long.
Mike was quick and consistent, wrapping up a good sized leg like a seasoned pro!
Mike handed off to Adrien, our very own ringer! Adriens the guy whose feet don't touch the treadmill when he runs, Carol had selected the perfect position for him - the most miles, evenly balanced between 3 moderate legs. We could really pick up some time here.
In Van 1, we left the transition area, following the course to look for lunch, and hopefully catch a glimpse of Adrien. Well, wouldn't you know it, Adrien reached the next transition point before we did? Incredible!
After that, I don't have many reports of the runners in Van 2, because we were off looking for lunch, or trying to think up clever ways to pass the time. Let's just say that Van 1 was a very fun place to be..
We did catch Amy Jo walking up a portion of a pretty brutal hill, so we stopped to offer encouragement. We also realized that while we, in Van 1, were very considerate of our runners, Van 2 didn't seem to offer any help whatsoever to their runners on the course! What a terrible place to be, Van 2! Van 1 was much better, and more fun to boot!
After a little bit of rest, we made our way to the next transition point.
We went through another sequence of legs, Dave ran his second leg, which was described as the single most difficult leg, 8.9 miles (our odometer recorded 9.1 miles), with some nasty hills. Dave never missed a beat, the worst part about it was the headlamp and vest he was forced to wear. It clashed with his 'religious' (i,e, holy) Ranger shirt that he's been wearing on every run he's done in the past 15-20 years or so. Andy cruised through a medium distance run, and Dane continued his sandbagging ways by posting more 7:30 miles on his next run, which was notable because it was raining heavily the entire time. Pats run was notable in that it was so damned consistent, even though he had some nasty hills he never missed a beat, and maintained his 9 minute per mile goal perfectly!
My next leg had two nasty hills, the first one went on for two miles! By the end of the leg it was raining heavily, but seemed to let off when I passed off to Mike. Mike was also the image of consistency, logging mile after mile right on his target pace. Mike passed off to Adrien, and Van 1 decided to try to sleep at the transition point. They were advertising that we could go inside and lay out sleeping bags, etc.
Well, the other guys went inside, I didn't bring a sleeping bag so I tried to crash in the van. I think I got the better of the deal, because apparently, inside, they kept broadcasting announcements over the PA system - "attention, is anybody sick?", or, at 1:30 in the morning, "we're closing up at 3:30, you have 2 hours to sleep", followed by a reminder every 30 minutes! I mean seriously, why shut down at 3:30? And why wake everybody up every 30 minutes to remind them how much longer they have to sleep?
Anyhow, partly due to all of the wakeup calls, and partly because they evicted us at 3:30, Van 1 was at the next transition point nice and early. We parked and tried to catch a few more Z's in the van, which was difficult because some people parked there just didn't seem to understand the concept that there just might possibly be a few other teams around. Horns honking, radios blaring.
Note to self - when trying to use a porta-potty in the dark, a flashlight helps..
Carol called to tell us we had about 10 minutes before Heidi arrived, but before I hung up we all heard "Dave P? Dave P?". It was Heidi! I think Carol forgot to factor in the 10 minutes they spent parking Van 2. Anyhow, it was a good thing we in Van 1 were so well prepared, but we did start scratching our heads - clearly we'd have to keep an eye on Van 2..
We also found out that Carol had injured her foot during her first leg, which didn't stop her from running her second, 8.6 mile leg, but did knock her out of her third leg.
Daves third leg was described as 'easy', 8.5 miles. Well, the map topography was all wrong, it was worse than his second leg! Good thing he didn't know in advance! This was followed by a couple more 8+ mile legs, finally Andy got to exert himself a little bit, and Dane had some real mileage to slow him down (it didn't). Pat did another clockwork run, and my last run, which should have been my easiest, turned into 3 miles of trying to warm up stiff legs followed by one good mile, then it was over. I cleaned up and changed into street clothes, I was pretty sure that I didn't have another mile in me..
Mike ran yet another great leg, and then we were done in Van 1. Except for Andy, of course, who would now be running the final leg..
At this point, we were spectators, we drove along the route trying to provide support to Van 2 runners (seemed like Van 2 still wasn't offering much support! Where was the comrodity?), and finally snapping some photos of them in action. Adrien continued to amaze all, in Van 1 we were pretty sure that a couple of 7 mile runs per day might have been less mileage than he's accustomed to running. We gave Amy Jo some cat calls (didn't seem like we were the first), gave Rick some cat calls (we were definitely the first!), then stopped and tried to offer Jeremy a Devil Dog, a Twinkie, and some special carb loaded water. Jeremy refused, and we noticed he was running with a fuel belt - seems the Van 2 runners also knew they could not count on support from Van 2 during their runs! We were happier than ever to be in such an awesome Van 1!!! Even the refreshments were better, Van 2 had to suffer through trail mix, nuts, and fruit, we had Devil Dogs, Yodels, Beer, and even found Twinkies along the way!
Jeremy passed off to Heidi, along with a big kiss! We heard a bunch of mushy sighs from all the women in the crowd, and a bunch of disappointed sighs from all the men in the crowd.
Heidi ran a great 6.3 miles, and handed off to Andy for the grand finale'.
Andy was really cranked! He ran a couple of quick miles, then we handed him the last remaining Twinkie and he really turned on the jets! His last 3 miles were all less than 8 minutes per mile (maybe even less than 7!), and when the team tried to join him to cross the finish line together, nobody could keep up! Ha!
Dave had left at the end of his third leg to attend a wedding close by, but he returned to join in the celebration, suit and all (Army Ranger green, of course!). This made for a great 'after' photo on the beach, after which we all swore to do it next year.
As the "Mass Souls".
Here's some pics from my camera, I'll try to add more from the rest of the crew if they have some to share:
<Friday pics - 2005_09_16>
<Saturday pics - 2005_09_17>
And last, but not least, the Van 2 perspective written by Rick!
Oct 8, 2007 UPDATE!!! Rick finally got around to producing the official Mass Soles 2005 RTB video!