NH Reach the Beach Relay Race Report by My Wife Erin
Posted on September 30 2014
Let me begin by saying I don’t race. I hate racing and always have. For one, I don’t have a competitive bone in my body (except when playing backgammon, or any game for that matter, with my husband). I just don’t thrive on the stress and anticipation of race day. The jittery feeling, instead of charging me up, fills me with unpleasant anxiety. And as I see it, why subject myself to something that causes me unnecessary suffering when I get so much joy from running in my typical Zen-like fashion. I don’t need to prove to myself that I can run faster or farther. I run to relieve stress and recharge my batteries, to be outside and blissfully alone, and to stay fit, healthy and happy. Racing brings me none of that.
So, when a few months ago I somehow got roped into doing Reach the Beach, a 208-mile relay run from Cannon Mountain to Hampton Beach (NH), I was more than a little nervous and a lot skeptical. I had never run more than 7 miles before (most of my runs this summer averaged 4 to 5 miles or less) and my total mileage for the race would be 12.7 (which was, I am ashamed to say, the shortest of my relay group). This meant I had to train! As in run a lot more miles in a short period of time. So, here is my other thing about running. While I love it, I get really bored after 5 miles or so and am ready to be done. The idea of running for more than an hour makes me antsy.
The other big fear I had about the race was the sleep deprivation. We would start from the mountain at 8:45AM on a Friday and not reach the beach until around 4:45 the following Saturday afternoon. I can go all day like the Energizer bunny (my best friend jokes that I have hyperactivity disorder without the attention deficit component), as long as I get a good night’s sleep. I do not function well without sleep! How was I going to run over half my miles after a sleepless night, my body already aching from the day’s previous run? What had I gotten myself into?
Well, after weeks of tormenting anticipation (ahem, see the first paragraph), race weekend finally came and went. The event was at once a little, and not at all, what I expected. This wasn’t a race about racing. It wasn’t about running fast to catch up to the guy (or cow…don’t ask) in front of you. It wasn’t about time at all, or winning (unless you were the crazy ultra runner dudes that blew us all away). It was about teamwork and camaraderie. It was about having fun. It was about enduring pain, hunger and sleeplessness together with a group of fabulous people. Don’t get me wrong, it was damn hard! That first “moderate” leg was actually 5.1 miles straight up! And that “easy” 4AM run was the longest 3.5 miles I have ever run. My van-stiffened, exhausted body protested every single step. As for my last 4.1 mile leg, I can’t say I remember much of it, just that I knew I had to complete it or the onus would fall on my like-wise depleted teammates.
This race was about challenging myself to do something out of my comfort zone and building lasting memories and relationships in the process. Would I do it again? Had I asked myself this in the wee hours that Saturday morning, the answer would have been “Hell No!” With a few weeks passed, however, the answer is now “HELL YES!” I’ve got a cow to catch!