One Heck of An Experience: RTB

Last Friday/Saturday was the Reach the Beach:Massachusetts relay race.  It's Wednesday and I'm finally feeling rested/focused enough to put this together.  It was an amazing experience and I can only hope my recap can capture these feelings. 

Being a huge ball of nervousness, I was up well before my 4am alarm.  Great, just great.  Starting this sleep deprived weekend with even less sleep!  I got up, had my coffee and showered knowing it was going to be quite a while until I was able to shower again.  I made my rounds - kissing the kids and husband goodbye while they slept ever so peacefully and then laid out some small gifts for the kids with their notes and a sweet little note for the husband, wishing him luck at Sugarloaf on Sunday.  Then I was loading up the car and heading over to Jill's house.

Do you think that maybe I packed too much???
 I did share the water and the cooler space. 
I told Jill I would be at her house around 5.   Again, because I was so anxious about this, I was at her house around 4:45 loading up the truck.  Ooops!

We met Stacy and Carrie at my inlaws house.  As we were getting closer, I realized I had forgotten to ask my inlaws if the girls could park there.  Thankfully I had paper with me and left them a little note in the door explaining why there were random cars in their driveway.  Oooops again.

Wachusett Ski Mountain
We loaded up the truck and were off!  First stop was Starbucks (priorities people!) and then we picked up the guys.  We arrived at the start and hung out.  I was mesmerized by all of the fun team outfits and van decorations. 
I think this was my favorite group!  ha! 
When van 1 finally got to the start, we hung out for a bit,  went through the safety check, attended the orientation, got our team sweatpants, bib #s, shirts, and then had our team pictures taken.

photo courtesy of Megan Swanson aka Van #1's driver

  Before we knew it, we were heading to the starting line to watch Rudley take off for the 1st leg. 

checking out the huge hill he gets to start with - poor guy!

As soon as Rudley took off, we said our goodbyes to van 1 and headed to the 1st van transition area - where Jill would start our van off with our "legs" of the race.  Before we got there, we stopped at a great little sandwich shop and ate lunch.  We had plenty of time before we started running and a real meal was so nice to have.  We arrived at Assumption College with plenty of time to hang out and relax. 



us girls - waiting to send Jill off on her 1st leg
Soon we got the notice that Christy was on her way. Jill got ready and we headed off to the transition area.    Christy came around the corner, handed off the slap bracelet to Jill and she was off!  We loaded the van to follow the course, checked out the hills Jill had to run (ouch!) and headed to the next transition area, where Jill would hand the slap bracelet off to Andy. 

While we were there, we saw our friend, Danielle.  She and Andy apparently coordinated their outfits. 

Andy & Danielle in coordinating outfits

Without boring you with all of the legs we ran, I'm just going to focus on my 3 legs and some of my favorite moments.  If you'd like full recaps, I have links for Carrie & Christy's recaps below. 

Not sure what I'm doing here.  Praying that I make it through? 
Photo courtesy of Stacy Chubbuck

The start of my 1st leg
Photo courtesy of Stacy Chubbuck

My 1st leg started around 7:45 pm Friday night.  It was definitely beginning to get dark when I started out my 1st run.  I wanted to run this as hard as possible and knew I could, but I didn't want to completely exhaust myself for my next two legs with who knows how much sleep.  I was beyond happy when I entered Hopington State Park and wished it was daylight so I could have seen how pretty it is.  6 miles/48:39/8:05 pace. 

My support team - giving me some water a
few miles into my 1st leg
Photo courtesy of Stacy Chubbuck

After this leg we headed off for some dinner, and ended up just grabbing Subway in Hopington.  We did head off to the next Van transition area with hopes of getting some sleep.  But between the doors slamming, people smoking, and people talking/shouting - sleep did not happen for me. Grrrr.....  We didn't have much time to sleep because Jill was going to start running sometime around 1am, but I was hoping for some. 

2nd leg 4:45 am Saturday morning.  The sun was coming up, but not fast enough.  Carrie came zooming around the corner and handed off the slap bracelet to me. Within a few hundred feet I found myself deep in a dark trail with large, loose rocks and holes.  Thankfully there weren't any roots because I had the hardest time with my footing and I could barely see the ground.  My navigation through this section was a series of blinking lights beside the RTB arrow signs. This was my first experience ever with trail running and I am greatful the trail portion only accounted for 1.6 miles of this leg.  When I finally got out of the woods, I saw my "van" driving by.  We couldn't have timed that any better.  A couple of miles down the road, I came to the next transition area and saw Rudley standing there anxiously waiting for me to hand that slap bracelet to him. 

The two luckiest guys in the world who got the share the van with us - Andy & John

After this leg, I was able to go inside the school and use an actual bathroom that had sinks and a mirror.  I took advantage of this time to change out of my disgusting clothes, use the shower wipes, reapply deoderant, and wash my face.   3.5 miles/29:01/8:24 pace. 

After this leg, we loaded up the van and headed off to the next van transition area where we thankfully got about an hour or two of sleep.   While we hung out here, it was the perfect time to do a little rolling with John's foam roller and then the girls and I did some yoga on the lawn.  Doing this helped quite a bit with our sore, tight muscles and I think it really helped. 

photo courtesy of Danielle Sterling

I had seen this guy several times throughout the race.  Little did I know that he was from Maine and he is the race director for MDI!  Pretty freakin' awesome.  (by the way, on Monday, I did finally take the plunge and registered for MDI) 

I want his abs
Photo courtesy of Stacy Chubbuck

3rd leg.  I have no freakin' idea when I started this run.  It did start at a sweet little ocean side park with some great views.  I was too tired/hot to care at this point and I was wearing Stacy's garmin because my battery died.  I don't even know how hot it was at the time, but I'm guessing it was in the 70s. I drank tons of water waiting for Carrie to come in and kept obsessing about my zipfizz.  I contemplated drinking several of them because I seriously doubted that I had enough energy to get me to the finish line.  In the end, I only drank one.  I usually never run with water for distances less than 10 miles, but I thought it was absolutely necessary on Saturday.  I started off running with plastic water bottle for the first 3 miles, finished it off by the time I saw my team and then grabbed another one for the remained of the race.  I was suprised that I wasn't really bothered by carrying something in my hands and I really enjoyed the water pouring down my front when I took a drink of water.  It definitely helped to cool me off.  7.2 miles/60 minutes/8:14 pace. 

about 3ish miles into my last leg - Stacy is taking this picture, Carrie is taking another &
 I think Jill's swearing at me? Telling me to go faster or something.  Jeez!
 Is that Andy hanging out of the truck? 

As you can tell, I was too tired because here I am taking in a little rest when I supposed to be out there running. 

Courtesy of Eric's camera/Andy was the photographer 

As I came up to the beach area, I thought for sure the race would never end. I had to go to the bathroom so badly, I was in pain.  But there was no where to go and it was against the RTB rules.  I didn't want to get the team disqualified at this point.  Heck, I was running the final leg.  We've come this far, surely I could hold it.  Right?  I ran through some more loose rocks (lots of fun, not really), then the dunes and then some sand.   I was quite happy when I rounded the last corner and saw tar and my team.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Emerson

 I also thought my bowels were going to explode (tmi, sorry).  When I eyed up the finish line, something happened inside of me and I completely took off and left my poor teammates (who were waiting to join me).  I feel so badly about this.  I really do.  I need to let go of the finish line sprint.  Lesson learned, next time I will slow down.  Sorry team Need For Speed! 

John, Carrie, Eric, Sarah, Rudley, Jill
Andy, Jen, Stacy, Emily, Christy, Gia

Our fun sweatpants - mine are actually capris now since they shrunk when I washed them, but oh well! 
They are super comfy. 

Things I learned about this relay. 
- ask team members when they would like to see you on the course, but remember finding a spot to pull over at those exact spots aren't always going to happen!
- people who need a lot of sleep really shouldn't do this race
- perhaps I packed too much food! 
- I can actually survive without internet for 2 days
- trust the Tom Tom
- Nuun worked wonderfully for hydrating between legs
- bring extra sunscreen
- bring earplugs
- bring more compression gear
- having my outfits in baggies did help quite a bit

Is this Bruce Springsteen?  I didn't know he ran relay races.

It's going to be a little bit, but I definitely will do another relay race again.  I have some marathons I would like to focus on and check off that bucket list first.  Maybe I'll do RTB: MA next year but the timing isn't great because it is usually the same weekend as the Sugarloaf Marathon and it was my goal to run Sugarloaf next year.  I suppose I could find another spring marathon.   Decisions do not need to be made today.  I have plenty of time to figure out what will work for me. 

Ronald McDonald & the Hamburgler even ran

What I do know is that next time we do this, we have to have fun outfits and creative "van" decorations.  I have tons of ideas floating around in my head right now.   I might be a little obsessed with it actually.  Most of my morning conversations with Stacy this week have been centered around "next year".  We are crazy. 

thank you No Sleep Til Horseneck - I had Beastie Boys
 streaming through my head the entire time

Team Need for Speed finished this 200 mile adventure in 30 hours, 4 minutes, and 23 seconds & we had an 8:59 pace.  I'd say we did a pretty awesome job, wouldn't you agree? 

If you'd like to read some of my teammates recaps - check these out! 


  1. Wow - I just can't imagine. Way to go! So impressive to me. And I love that one picture of you "praying." You look lost in thought ;-)

  2. Love it!! I would love to run a relay race sometime, but need to get more runners around my neck of the woods first.:) Looks like a blast!!

  3. Congratulations!!! I'm glad you had such a great time :) I definitely love relays so whenever you are ready to do another one, you can probably count me (and Mike - he's said that I can't do any relays without him haha) in!

    Oh and the smoking thing, really? Gross!

  4. I'm so bummed I missed out on the RTB MA this year and will miss the NH version, too! Next year!! Looks like fun and tiring! I think costumes are a must!

  5. hahaha... that is fun! Great job on capturing such cool photos. Yes, sleep is definitely not something to be experienced on the relay.

  6. That was amazing.well done. hope you are insanely proud of yourself xx

  7. Congratulations! Looks like fun. I am excited to do RTB:NH!

  8. Congrats, girl! That sounds like so much fun! :)

  9. Jen, I read every word and thoroughly enjoyed this story about your relay. It sounds like so much fun and I am glad you had such a great time ... you did such a good job of it, too.

    Hurray for The Need For Speed!

  10. Congratulations! Looks like an awesome time. I'd really like to do a relay sometime, but I'm also pretty reliant on sleep. I'll have to see if I can balance it at some point...

  11. Yay! This sounds so fun (though the sleep situation sounds tough)! I've been wanting to do a relay forever! Did you use a flashlight while trail running in the dark?? Sounds like an ankle sprain waiting to happen!

  12. This sounds like a blast minus staying awake for so long but when the adrenaline is pumping and you're having fun it's hard to sleep! Great job with the relay!


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