[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Whether they’re family members, college roommates, your better half, a furry friend, or eleven pals in matching New Balance gear and twelfth dressed as a banana… life is better with teammates.
[Photo courtesy of Theodora]
Our team had spent most of Thursday together, touring the New Balance facilities in Lawrence, enjoying dinner at the inn, and chatting by the fire pit, but it wasn’t until our van left the Wachussett Village Inn and headed to the starting line on Friday morning, that I realized how much we’d be depending on one another for the next 30+ hours. Run on sentences are sort of acceptable when you’re overtired.
[Pre-editorialized photo courtesy of Theodora]
From handing off the team’s
baton slap bracelet at each transition point to sharing compression sleeves and salty snacks, to making room to “stretch out” (everything’s relative when you’re in a van), to cheering one another on from mile to mile, everything is better with teammates. Especially when those teammates are kind, generous, thoughtful, supportive, gracious, and a bit sassy. That wasn’t even a full sentence; I do what I want.
Our Reach the Beach adventure officially started when our sweet golden vans, driven by New Balance tracksters (and the weekend’s MVPs) Monica and Nicole, arrived at Mt. Wachusett. I learned to ski at Wachusett, and am a big fan of their infectious advertising jingle. The mountain and lodge look much different in warmer weather, especially when Santa’s parked out front.
We breezed through our safety equipment check (which would be called into question later on, when we’d realize we were short 2 safety lights…), team orientation and team photo with plenty of time to see Gretchen to the starting line.
The race director set the perfect tone for the relay during orientation with advice such as, “If you find something that belongs to someone else… and you can’t use it to your advantage… turn it in to lost and found.” He covered reminders about course rules, information about specific legs, and promises of beer at the finish. All that was left to do, was start.
Being in Van 2 meant our first official duty was to wait. This doesn’t bode particularly well for anyone who gets race anxiety and wants to get the show on the road, but with such incredible weather and perfect company, it was all good. Monica (who was sent from
Heaven Southern California to drive, coach, and encourage us) brought us out to our Van Transition Area 1 to relax before our first legs.
She checked in with each of us on Thursday night to get our estimated pace and then compiled a spreadsheet of each leg, calculating and updating arrival times throughout the relay. This meant that we were never late to a single transition, and that our time was budgeted perfectly. I’m telling you, this woman is a genius.
The chart also included our cell phone numbers, our estimated pace and finish times, as well as our actual finish time. Monica coordinated all of this with Nicole, Van 1’s driver, to be sure everyone was on the same page. I was really excited to come in under pace on my first two legs; I think the chart added some extra motivation.
While I am not sure if I could have handled this half as well as Monica did (on top of navigating and putting up with our shenanigans) with next to no sleep, it seems like every team could benefit from her system. Apparently a similar chart is available online for Ragnar races, and perhaps it will be available for future Reach the Beach events.
[Photo courtesy of Tina]
We enjoyed some downtime at a park not far from the first VTA, sipping iced tea and iced coffee, and getting excited for our time on the road. We stopped for lunch at a nearby Panera before settling in the sun at Assumption College, where Sarah would hand off to Tina, putting Van 2 officially in the race.
[Photo courtesy of Tina]
We spent the next few hours tracking our runners and switching off at transition points. When we left Theodora for her first leg (as prom goers gathered alongside runners on the town common), I could feel the nervous energy building. In true nerd fashion, I was required to wear safety gear for my first two legs, as they both fell between 6:30 PM and 6:30 AM. Nothing says fresh and sexy quite like a reflective vest and headlamp.
My first leg was 3.68 miles and flew by, save for the hill at the end. Is it me, or did all of our legs end with a climb? I suppose that’s payback for the free wheelin’ downhill just before the 1.5 mile mark. I was passed by a few runners towards the end, but everyone (both passing runners and vans) was extremely friendly and encouraging. Though I am not a particularly competitive person, I loved the challenge of trying to keep up with other runners, or hold someone off from passing me, if possible (usually it wasn’t, let’s be serious).
When I reached the top of the hill and the transition area was in sight, all I could think was Hurry up and get to Anne. It took us until our third and final transition to get the slap bracelet, which team members pass off at each leg, to actually slap and become a bracelet, but hey. Practice makes perfect.
[Photo courtesy of Tina]
After some quality time with the baby wipes and a quick change of clothes, I was ready to join my vanmates for a Call Me Maybe (the unofficial theme song of the entire relay, judging by van decor, tweets and blasting speakers) dance party as we met Anne halfway through her first leg.
Ashley brought our team to our second VTA as the sun set along her gorgeous waterfront route. She flew into the transition area, where I presented her with one of the glow rings I packed for the team (fun and functional for night runs).
Life truly is better with teammates. And things that sparkle.
Soon to come: where to not eat dinner in Hopkington, how to run on no sleep at 4 AM, and why the top of the van is where it’s at. For those of you who don’t feel like waiting for 12 more posts: Yes, you should definitely sign up to run a relay.
Also On Tap for Today:
Who are your favorite teammates in life?