Reach the Beach 2006
Well, with the overwhelming response Van 3 got to the Mass Soles name last year, we officially dumped the name "Wave Runners" (somebody else snagged it, go figure!), and officially took the name "Mass Soles" for 2006!
We registered early, and then our problems began. It seems that some of what we suspected about Van 2 last year must have been true, not only did only 2 of them sign up to return for 2006 (and one of them subsequently dropped out), but most of them wouldn't even return our e-mails!
So we knew we had a crisis! First, we needed to find a few more runners, and second, we had to make Van 2 a place where people would actually WANT TO COME BACK TO!
We tossed out a few mailers, and picked up a new member from Cisco (Welcome aboard JJ!), plus I drafted my nephew Bao, who enlisted his friends Jason and Nathan (the latter whom had never trained or entered any kind of running event EVER, but seemed real energetic, more on that later!). With a month to go, Carol had to drop out due to a back injury (suspiciously, she notified the team just a couple of days after our arch rival, the Go Go's, announced that they were looking for a runner), Pat stepped forward and took over as team captain, and enlisted his sister in law Liz as #12 (assuring her that we had a number of other women on the team!).
To solve the Van 2 'commorodity' problem, Pat and myself graciously agreed to move to Van 2, which kind of left Van 1 without a mature adult in it, something which we in Van 2 would have to learn to deal with later.
Our roster now consisted of Dave, Dane, Mike, Andy, Jason (new), and John (new) in Van 1, and Pat, Adrien, Bao (new), Nathan (new), Liz (*very* new), and myself in Van 2.
This year, we went high class, and rented a couple of passenger vans. It was kind of out of necessity, as Jason brought his van last year, and Pats wife was still trying to get the smell out of their minivan, so we had no choice but to rent proper passenger vans. In the end they were worth the expense, as they provided plenty of room for everybody to stretch out and get some sleep while we were driving.
Van 2 got a late start, partly because Liz was driving up from New York, and partly because Bao was at (not in!) the circus. So we had a late meal at Bertucci's, picked up Bao, and headed North to find a loaner condo. To be honest, we're not sure we ended up at the right place, but we did find something with a key under the mat, and it had plenty of beds, so...
We met Van 1 at the designated meeting place Friday morning, much earlier than we needed to. I noticed tears in Jasons eyes, and John was looking pale. Pat and I were concerned over what we'd gotten them into. To top things off, we had no reliable way of communicating with them, as most of them are not old enough to carry a cell phone (come on guys, even 11 year olds have cell phones nowadays!), Dane didn't bring his charger with him, and Jason didn't have roaming on his! What was the plan boys, smoke signals???
Anyhow, we somehow managed to get to the right place at the right time, got our picture taken, I got my picture taken with our arch rivals the Go Go's (pretty much the high point of my weekend, to be honest), and then started to take notice of our competition. We figured there were maybe a couple hundred teams to worry about, but other than that we were right in there! check the picture of the Go Go's <here> and see if you can find Carol under one of those wigs!
Our start time was 9:20, which kind of put us right in the middle of the average teams, and about an hour and twenty minutes before the Go Go's. Boo hoo, we wouldn't be seeing much of them this year, unless we were really slow. The first team off was at 7:30 or so, the last team off probably started around 3:00 in the afternoon.
Andy took over the first leg this year, which according to Dave was a bit easier than last year, including a lift ride up the mountain and a second leg that had been shortened by 5 miles! (Which meant that Dave, who was now taking leg 2, would have to run up the SAME DAMN HILL he had to run up last year in his second leg! Ha!).
Van 2 went off to try to find a proper place to eat, and also to figure out how to communicate with Van 1. We found a nice little place off the course route, and then Liz started freaking out over one of the other tables where a runner was chugging down Half and Half's pretty much straight up! Oh, the horrors! We tried to distract Liz with tales of our running prowess, but now the guy at the other table was peeling the tops off the little breakfast jam packets at the table and *LICKING* the contents out of them! We had no choice but to get out of there as quickly as possible, and maybe try to find an old radio shop or some place we could pick up a Morse Code machine or *something* to communicate with Van 1.
We tried calling the one working cell phone in Van 1, but it was always out of range. I know it would have been asking a lot, knowing you were going to be driving 210 miles through rural mountain ranges, to have a ROAMING PLAN, but I guess our expectations were just too high!
At any rate, we finally managed to hook up with Van 1, they seemed to be having a good time (which didn't surprise us at all..), and not a care in the world! What's to worry about? Van 2 seemed to have a couple of mature adults in it, why should Van 1 worry about logistics, or pretty much *anything*?
Anyhow, Jason came *flying* into the transition point, and handed off to Adrien. Remembering last year, when Adrien beat us (in Van 1) to the next transition point, we quickly gathered up our stuff and gave chase. Even so, we had a hard time getting to mile 2 before he did, and barely pulled in to the transition point before he got there. I'm really glad *I* don't pose such hardships to the rest of my team mates..
Adrien handed off to Pat, who then did what in my opinion was the single hardest leg of the event, an 8.8 mile leg with the most brutal hill climbs! Pat did something pretty amazing, and to be honest kind of stupid, he ran fast *up* the hills and then slower coming *down* them! Go figure!
After Pat came Bao, who mercifully edged me out for slowest runner honors (we'll both be calling Jenny Craig on Monday!). Having run more than one Marathon with Bao, I know he's kind of like me, not very fast but will get the miles behind him without complaint. But this time, at the transition area waiting for Pat, there was this cute Indian looking girl that would be running the same leg. Bao was bragging about how he'd be kicking her a$$, but I took a look at Bao and I took a look at her, and I put my money on her. I mean, I believe in supporting my team mates and all, but I'm not completely stupid! She did prove me right, as she took off 2 minutes before Bao and finished probably 15 minutes ahead of him (and looked a *lot* better at the end of the leg, of you know what I mean! <wink> <wink>).
Bao handed off to Liz, who was making excuses about having just had a baby, or something like that, and then she proceeded to go out and run faster than I've ever dreamed of running! Damn! Maybe *I* should have a baby!
At the next transition area, Nathan was doing push up's and sit up's while waiting for Liz. Ah, youthful exhuberance. It was at this point that I learned that Nathan had never, ever, done any kind of competitive running, nor had he trained for this event. But Bao assured me he was a pretty good specimen. Ok! My nephew, who just got his a$$ kicked by a chick, is now assuring me that his untrained friend will not let us down.
Well, Nathan really kicked some butt! He never seemed to notice that they added a mile or so to the beginning of his leg, such that the hill he was supposed to have crested at the end of the first mile didn't actually happen until mile 2! But he really flew! Hmmm, maybe *I* should stop training! And have a baby! Yeah!
Nathan handed off to me, runner #12, for a short and easy 4 mile leg. I was hoping for a pretty quick (by my standards) time, after all it was an easy and short leg, but having waited for almost 11 hours to get started, I made the typical rookie mistake of taking off too fast. Or maybe it was the girl in the mini skirt that started off ahead of me that team Captain Pat ordered me to catch up to. Whatever, I had a fast (by my standards) first mile, then burnt myself out and plodded away for the next 3 miles. I was pretty discouraged by the end of this leg, after all if 4 easy miles could be so painful, then how was I going to deal with 7 easy miles? Maybe I should go make a baby, and quick!
I handed off to Andy, from Van 1, pretty much on schedule, and then we made team plans. What a novel idea, team plans! Van 1 didn't seem to see a need for any planning or logistics. Van 2 should just *know* when to show up! Sleep? We don't need sleep, just sit at the transition spot and wait for them to show up! We assured them that we could use some sleep, and asked, no, *begged* them to call us 30 minutes before they arrived at our transititon spot, so we could try to get some uninterrupted sleep. We'd learned some lessons from last year, and intended on catching some good rest this year.
We went to grab a quick bite to eat, and headed straight to the next major transition area, where we could get our sleep. Everything was going according to plan, and then all of a sudden something happened that made me really regret not hiring a baby sitter for Van 1. Yup, they started making PRANK PHONE CALLS to us! Ha ha ha!! So damn funny! What a bunch of comedians!
So, for me, what *should* have been 3 hours of sleep turned in to 45 minutes. Captain Pat woke me up 30 minutes before Van 1 was supposed to arrive, we hadn't heard from them but they were due in, so should we wake up Adrien?
I stumbled out of the Van and walked over to the transision area, no sign of any of our team mates from Van 1, but it was getting close so I called Pat and told him to go ahead and wake up Adrien. I tried calling Van 1, but they were either out of range or didn't feel a driving need to answer the ONE CELL PHONE they had with them. I mean, after all, who could be calling at 11:30 PM? Certainly not anything important, like THEIR DAMN TEAM MATES!!!!
About 10 minutes before they pulled in, we finally got a garbled call from them informing us that somebody was able to dial a phone. Beyond that, I couldn't understand a word they were saying, other than it sounded like they were having a lot of fun.
Finallly, we saw this streaking light that turned out to be Jason (he's really fast!), Adrien took the baton and disappeared into the darkness (he's even faster!).
This leg of Adriens was a little longer than his last one, and had a big hill in it, so I think it affected his pace a little bit. He was only a *lot* faster than I could ever dream of running, as opposed to his normal *holy sh!t, how can anybody run so fast?* pace.
Adrien transferred to Pat, who I realized has become a very, very solid runner! Pat was a solid 9 minute runner last year, and was at least a half a minute a mile faster this year. And his pace never seemed to change, up or down, he just put those miles behind him!
Pat transitioned to Bao, who was about to run his longest leg, a bit over 7 miles. Bao never missed a beat, however we did notice the Indian girl *flying* at the finish, and Bao was at least 20 - 30 minutes behind her (to be honest, we don't know how much of a lead she had at the beginning of the leg..).
Bao handed off to Liz, who zinged quickly through her 5.6 miles, then chastized us for not having any Half and Half for hre during her run. At this point I thought of making some prank calls to Van 1, but being the good team mate that I am I figured it was most important for them to get a good nights sleep. Plus, I figured their cell phone wouldn't work anyhow. I found out later that Pat had given them *his* cell phone, so we could talk to them a little more reliably. However, all tey did is use it to make prank phone calls to Pats wife, and scare his children.
After Nathan finished his push ups and sit ups, he had some free time so he lit up a couple of green glow sticks, and was now doing some kind of dance at the transition area. Liz came barreling in to the transition area and handed off to Nathan, and we watched the green glow quickly fade into the distance.
We passed the glowing green ghost a couple of times in the next 6.5 miles, every time Nathan passed somebody he'd do a little dance with the glow sticks, either making them laugh or annoying the hell out of them. I don't know, and I don't think he cared.
Nathan handed off to me, I've got to admit I was a little jittery after my first leg, and again I went out at a pace that I felt was a little too fast (for me!). This time, however, I didn't get tired, and I kept on going! For the first time in my life, I almost felt like a real runner! While my time was not quite what I thought it would be, I was pretty happy about how I felt at the end of that leg. 7 miles, at a good clip, and I never let up! Whoo hoo!!!
I handed off to Andy, and Van 2 went off to try to get a little breakfast and sleep.
Seemed I had just dozed off when the damn phone rang! Nope, it was not Van 1, but it was a friend of mine, calling to say hello! Damn! I finally had a chance for a couple of hours of sleep, and again, an hour in, I'm woken up!
We woke Adrien up, and he got ready. He pointed out to us this other guy at the transition area, apparantly one of the top 2-3 runners in New England. As luck would have it, he started not too far behind Adrien, and we got to see something we thought we'd never see! Yup! somebody made Adrien look like Adrien makes the rest of us look like! Wow! But as fast as this guy was (and he was pretty damn fast), Adrien is still my running hero, and he made those 7.4 miles pass by pretty quickly.
And at this point we realized we had another problem It seems that it was getting a little bit warm, and Liz had only brought long running pants. So she needed some running shorts quick, and they HAD TO MATCH!
We asked the folks in Van 1 if they could stop along the route and fetch Liz some running shorts, but when they started smirking we suspected they'd show up with a mini skirt and a thing (don't laugh, there was a woman running in a mini skirt and a thong!).
So instead, we asked Van 1 for some logistics help. It seems that while the teams are staggered at the start, they tend to bunch up as they approach the finish line. That, coupled with shorter legs near the finish, and traffic, and you end up with places where some times it is difficult for the vans to get to the transition areas before the runners! So we asked Van 1 if they could provide the support for the runners in Van 2 during the legs, which would free up Van 2 to just worry about getting to the next transition area. And I'm happy to report that Van 1 actually behaved in a mature and responsible manner, and did just as we requested! Except, of course, for the fact that they'd exhausted their supply of refreshments.
Adrien handed off to Bao, so we figured we had some time to go shopping for some outfits for Liz (see <here>), and maybe even a quick manicure and perm before we had to get to the next transition area.
Well, we found the shorts, but decided to pass on the rest, and got to the next transition area with only 20 - 30 minutes to spare before Bao arrived! Phew! That was cutting it close!
Bao handed off to Liz, who now not only ran fast but also made a fashion statement at the same time!
At the next transition area, Nathan finished his push ups and sit ups early, so amused himself by doing cart wheels while waiting for Liz to arrive (I'm not making this up - look <here>).
Nathan took off, and then I realized, there was just one leg to go, and it was mine!
Now, after my second leg, I was feeling pretty good about my third leg, but the fact of the matter is, I think the lack of sleep caught up with me. Or maybe it was just the general old age and extra pounds. At any rate, the good feeling I had when Nathan passed off to me was quickly replaced by legs that felt like they were in cement.
I'd told my team mates in Van 2 to just leave me the hell alone during my runs, that they were short enough that I didn't need any refeshments, and I don't like to be watched while I'm plodding away. And for once in their lives, they sort of, half listened to me! While they stopped at the 2 mile point, they didn't have water with them, but they did offer me a thimble full of warm Half and Half!
To their credit, I think they realized that I was really struggling, so they quickly pulled ahead a little bit and offered me some water. And then, the truly amazing thing, and more so than the moment I spent with the Go Go's, the real high point of the run for me. You know how you do some things, and certain aspects of them really stand out? Well, after running 208 miles as a team, and with every team member already having run legs of 15-20 miles, Captain Pat, Nathan, and Bao started to run the last 2 miles with me! I've got to admit, I was kind of pi$$ed off at first, but the fact of the matter was I was really struggling, and I would have done a lot of walking in the next couple of miles. But with their support, I plodded most of the way, and with the exception of one short rest along the way, I was able to plod the final couple of miles and cross the finish line!
I think at the end of the day we finished a little over an hour quicker than last year (no thanks to me), but still lost to the Go Go girls! Maybe next year. I don't know much about what happend in Van 1, Jason and John were speechless at the finish line, but both wanted to come back and try again in 2007! And with any amount of luck, we'll have more than one person from Van 2 want to come back as well!
For Van 1, I do know that Dave, while taking a different set of legs this year, still had to run up one of the same damn hills he had to run up last year. I also know that without any protruding compound fractures or bloody sneakers, this year probably didn't have enough adversity (or pain) to make it really challenging for him. I also know that Mike, who took over my set of legs from last year (with an extra mile added on to the second leg), did a fantastic job on them, and that even though he was his usual worry-wort self before each of them, he finished all of them without any problems at all!! And that John who only started training a week before the event (but who is *always* ready), still managed to make me look slow (ok, ok, other than Bao, who *doesn't* make me look slow???). I also know that I'm glad Andy took leg 1, because even if that was the only 3 miles I had to run, I still couldn't do it. Oh, and I know that whatever numbers Dane sent me to plug into our spreadsheet beforehand, his actual times were less than half.. Finally, I know that I kept hearing from everybody in Van 1 that this new guy Jason was pretty effing fast!
Hopefully somebody from Van 1 will tell us what really happened, although if last year is any indication of what went on in there, most of it can't be printed anyhow..
Below, some more pictures and commentary:
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