So, spoiler alert: we did reach the beach.
But I want to recap the trip we took to get there.
On Thursday night, after touring the New Balance factory (more on that later), we headed to Wachusett to stay at the adorable Wachusett Inn, near the start.
The bathroom doors had beer openers inside them, which I found hilarious.
We had breakfast as a team before taking off for the start.
Knowing I had to run later that afternoon, in the heat, I had a hard time trying to figure out what to eat. I didn’t want anything that would bother my stomach, and I knew I needed some protein, since I had no idea what would happen for lunch. I decided to go for some scrambled eggs, a pancake, some fruit, potatoes and bacon. Luckily, it didn’t bother my stomach at all.
We boarded our van at 8:45 to take off for the start. Maybe the most clutch part of the whole experience? New Balance also hooked us up with drivers, so we could just focus on the running. (Or maybe because they thought we’d be too busy tweeting and get lost.) Our driver was the AMAZING Monica, who is a trackster (tech rep) for Southern California for New Balance. You’ll see later just how awesome she was, but all weekend, we had an answer to basically any running or New Balance question we had, and she also put together a spreadsheet with our paces and leg lengths so that we could project when each runner would finish and be at transition area. She even kept this up as we were running so that we could make these predictions as accurately as possible.
How much stuff does it take 6 girls to run a 200-mile relay? A lot. We had much more near our seats.
We arrived at the Wachusett ski lodge, where the race was starting from, around 9.
I KNOW HIM!
Before we could start, we had to go to safety check and show that we had our race handbook, maps of our legs, waivers and all of our safety gear–the reflective vests, headlamps and flashing lights. After that, we sat through a brief orientation just going over some more basics of the course and some more rules and regulations. Up next was registration, and then we got to head outside for our favorite part: team photo time.
Gretchen gave us some jumping-photo instruction (make sure to kick your knees as close to your butt as possible, and I’m proud to report I acheived some serious air here. Although not nearly as much as Gretchen.
Speaking of Gretchen, she was up first, and so we walked her down to the start to send her off.
On the way there, we found Gia, and took a NYC blogger photo.
And they’re off!
Poor Gretchen had to tackle a serious hill right off the bat–and she says they only got worse.
Once Gretchen took off, my van, Van 2, had a few hours on our hands as Van 1 went through the first 6 legs.
So we found a park near the first Van Transition Area and hung out there for awhile.
[photos via Tina]
I was already feeling a little tight from sitting on a bus two nights earlier and then standing for a few hours at the New Balance tour, so I did some yoga in the park to loosen up.
We found a nearby Panera for lunch, and I had a roasted turkey and avocado BLT on sourdough with a salad and an apple. If I have a nighttime run, I won’t usually eat salad, but this ended up being okay for my sensitive jerk of a stomach.
Go Tina! She looked so strong. All that damn Crossfit.
Next up was Monica. I was on deck after her, so when she was up, I started getting really nervous. Would my stomach be okay? Would I be too tight from sitting in the van?
By the way, I’m happy to report that there were approximately a million Porta-potties at each transition area. There weren’t any sorts of bathroom stops on the course, but each transition area only ended up being around a 10-15 minute drive.
It was the first time running in my shoes, the New Balance 860v2s, and they were a bit loose. NB Monica taught me a new-to-me way of lacing them. She called it “marathon lacing,” and New Balance’s site describes it as preventing heel slip.
Monica and I did our transition…
And I was off!
(Yes, this is my new Facebook picture.)
My first leg was leg 9, which was 6.36 miles and rated as hard. It went from Shrewsbury, Mass. to the Marion Zeh school in Northborough.
It wasn’t an easy run, because of the hills and being a little tired and tight, but it was gorgeous. It included running past a nice pond and a good amount of downhills.
The awesome thing about the relay is that every mile or two, your van will pull up next to you and cheer for you, and this made me so happy.
There’s also no water stations, so if you need it, your teammates have to bring you some. (Thanks Ash! And yes, that is the videographer running next to me. No bigs.)
I played mental games with myself to keep going, but at some point during this leg, I lot all ability to do math, and kept telling myself as I got to 4.90ish that I was almost done. Fail, Theodora. I still had more than a mile to go.
I eventually finished, handed off to Elizabeth and tried to take a minute or two outside the van to stretch before we started going again.
[photo via Monica]
While, as a team, we weren’t racing for time, I set time goals for myself for the first two legs just to keep myself going. I did the 6.36 miles in 58:23. Not anywhere near a PR sort of pace, but still a time I was happy with.
I usually spent the entire next runner’s leg attempting to recover/stop sweating/stop breathing like a monster. The hills definitely gave me a good cardio workout.
Once Anne and Ashley finished their legs, we had another 4-5 hours to kill before it was our van’s turn again, so we stopped for food.
We found a restaurant called Carbone’s near the transition area and made a beeline for it.
I ordered spaghetti and meatballs, which was not so great. By some miracle, it didn’t bother my stomach much, but almost everyone else had stomach issues the next day.
After this, we headed to the Van Transition Area to get a few hours’ sleep. I think I’m a good sleeper, but I had a hard time falling asleep in the van. I started off in the seat I was sharing with Ashley, but eventually ended up taking over the driver’s seat to sleep, since NB Monica was sleeping outside in a sleeping bag. I’ve never slept outside, but I think if I did a relay, I might try it. It seems like it beats sleeping sitting up.
More to come…