about the photo

Downtown Temple,NH

Monday, September 21, 2009

Reach the Beach 2009


Mine Falls Milers - Team #8

Another RTB is in the books (my 5th)! This continues to be my favorite race (event?) of the year and this year it was pretty darn near perfect. Sunny, cool temps, no injuries, no lost runners, no complaints (well, except for that dumb ass van going 5 mph, refusing to pull over even with a parade of vans piling up. I think I remember yelling words of encouragement as we went by.)

This year we moved up into the 3:30pm start time (after getting annihilated in the 4pm start last year), but had similar results early on....DFL. Not a problem though and we took it in stride. Frank wasn't exactly dogging it, averaging 6:10's for the 8 mile opening leg. Although last in our start group early on, it wasn't as bad as last year. In 2008 we started with the last group of the day. Within 10 seconds of the start we were officially DFL in the entire race, acting as race sweeper, officially closing down the transitions as we went by. We ran alone (no runners in sight!) for nearly 7 hours before we finally passed our first runner. It was not fun.

Frank on leg 1, alone and last

This year we'd be starting with our competition, team Hey Bud! and team The Free Radicals. Hey Bud was a new team and we chatted a bit before the start. They were a bunch of Wake Forest Alumni runners, nice guys and they wanted to win (Mens Masters division). Most of us were pretty sure we'd be racing for 2nd this year.

The strength of our team is our depth. We have no ringers. We could probably switch 10 out of 12 guys to any legs and not miss a beat. Kind of makes it easy assigning legs. In fact, this year I think more effort was put into making sure we had different legs from previous years. We do put some effort into our magical spreadsheet and are generally slaves to the spreadsheet once the race starts. Every effort must be made to beat your predicted time otherwise you'll hear it from the 11 other runners. No mercy, no 'nice try', nothing but a beat down. On the flip side, if you beat your time by too much you'll be accused of sandbaggin' your 1/2 marathon time. If you need a pat on the back or words of encouragement to make you feel good, you've joined the wrong team. The key to success on this team is to run like we think you should run, not how you think. We'll let you know if you did a good job :-)

I know it sounds serious but it really isn't. Our motto is "We'll trash talk our team so you don't have to". It can be funny as heck sometimes. Run too slow and we'll threaten to send you to our retirement team: Grumpy Old Men. It's where Mine Falls Miler go when they get old and slow...well at least old (come on, it's a 50+ team, lighten up). Run too fast and you'll earn a trip to van 1 next year (van 1 runs about 20 more miles than van 2).

I was in van 2 this year (runner 7) since I didn't meet the height requirement for van 1. I'd also be running three brand new legs (for me), leg 7, 19 and 31. After a pasta dinner at the Spaghetti Shed, we headed over to Attitash Ski Area, the start of my first leg. Van 1 was smoking, averaging 6:09's for the first 37.8 miles, 13 minutes ahead of schedule. Unfortunately team Hey Bud was also smokin' and probably had 10-15 minutes on us, maybe more. I'd be running my first two legs in the dark. I headed out at 7:22pm for my 7.2 mile run down to Echo Lake State Park. No warm up, zero to max heart rate. I passed a few runners in the middle but mostly I was all alone. Most legs are like that. With 3000 to 4000 runners you'd think you'd have the opportunity to run with someone but it just doesn't happen. Being a relatively faster team we do pass alot of runners along the way but we rarely run with anyone. I personally like to be pushed (by other runners) and find these types of races very hard mentally. 45:40 later I was done, with an average pace of 6:19. Van 2 continued on through the night as we made our way to the Kenneth Brett School in Tamworth 31.6 miles away. Van 2 averaged 6:30's during our first set of legs, staying 13 minutes ahead of schedule. By this time team Hey Bud was clearly kicking our butts with probably a 20 minute lead. We were pretty sure we were in 2nd, with the Free Radicals not far behind.

Rest during a 24hr race is a relative term. Some sleep, most don't. There really isn't a lot of downtime when your not running. By the time you actually get to the next Vehicle Transition Area (VTA), get settled and ready to sleep, you really only have about 3 hrs until we need to get ready to run again. It was nearly midnight when we finally got to New Hampshire Technical College in Laconia. At 2:45am I would get my wake up call from van 1. Mike was due in at 3:05am so I had to hustle. Nothing gets me ready to run like sleeping outdoors in 40 degree weather, waking up and changing in the parking lot, and meandering down to the transition area in just enough time to see Mike coming in....all at 3am. No warm up, zero to max heart rate once again. Van 1 had cooled off a bit, only managing 6:43's over the last 38.7 miles and dropping to 11 1/2 minutes ahead of schedule. We were no longer watching for team Hey Bud. Maybe they thought we needed more rest. I guess van 2 would have to make up some time.

My second leg (leg 19) was relatively short, finishing the 4.3 miles in 27:21 with another 6:19 average. Van 2 would cover a lot of ground during our second legs (39.5 miles) as we ran through Belmont, Gilmington, Barnstead, Pittsfield, Epson and finally Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown. We would average 6:41's. It was 8:30am and we were hungry. We did manage to get our overall time back up to 17 minutes ahead of schedule, however.

Tim finishing up leg 23

Steve 1/2 way thru leg 24

Tent city at Bear Brook State Park

After we left Bear Brook we headed over to the Henry Moore School in Candia (T26) for some breakfast. In my opinion, this is one of the best food stops on the course with the local fire dept cooking up a mighty fine breakfast. With the help of GPS we then made the quick trip to Kingston for our final rest of the day (T30) arriving shortly after 9am. Most of us laid down in the grass directly across from the transition area and watched the other teams come through. We would pay special attention to the faster runners, checking their team numbers and then checking their start time and race category. With a staggered start, you don't always know who your competition is. Around 11am we saw a fast runner. A quick check and we discovered they (Haverford College Honor Goats) were a masters team that started at 3pm (1/2hr before us). If Mike didn't get here by 11:30am we'd be in 3rd place.

Mike arrived at 11:36am. Van 1 had run 37.4 miles with a 6:34 pace, increasing our time to 20 minutes above predicted. They were done for the day. Once again, van 2 would have to be the hero's and reel in the Honor Goats if we wanted 2nd place. No friggin way we were going to make up 6 minutes....I was happy with 3rd place. Surprisingly I was still feeling pretty good. My legs were a little stiff not but really sore.

My final leg (leg 31)

I was ready to run as the freakishly tall Mike handed off to "I look smaller in the photo than I really am" me. I had 6.7 miles to go, mostly with a tailwind. Apparently I was so fast that Denis wasn't quite ready when I got there 42:35 later, (with an avg pace of 6:21). As Steve T would say, we danced around a bit at the transition, not the best example on how to hand off.
We had our van 1 drop off our next 2 runners in advance. We were concerned our runners would actually beat the van to the transitions since the legs were only 2.2 miles and 2 miles respectively. As it turned out we made it in time (barely).

Denis handing off to Brad at T32

John finishing leg 34

We were all running well during our third legs. Well, everyone except Denis. He had a brutally hard 2.2 mile leg (which he claimed was hilly). Maybe he was just going slow so he wouldn't beat the van to the transition. Thanks Denis! Everyone was running well above predicted pace (except Denis). Brad, John and Tim all had nice runs. Steve T was running our anchor leg. After a slow start on his first leg he seemed to be coming around. We all hoped he had a good run otherwise he was off to the glue factory (aka Grumpy Old Men). Steve would run his fastest leg of the day and finished strong averaging 6:20's. Van 2 would run a measly 22.4 miles in the final 6 legs but we would average 6:23's.

Just before 2pm we finished at Hampton Beach State Park. Hey Bud got the Masters victory in a time of 21:55:15 (6:20 avg), 6th overall. We managed to make up some time and finished with a respectable 2nd place (3 minutes ahead of the Haverford College), with a time of 22:29:11 (6:30 avg), 8th overall out of 400 teams. There was a little drama at the finish as Hey Bud was initially hit with a 2hr penalty. It took nearly an hour to find out where the penalty allegedly took place (T34). However, a phone call to T34 found no record of an infraction so the penalty was dropped. We were glad since we didn't want to win because of a penalty. They beat us fair and square, plus they seemed like good guys. Congrats to them.
Complete results can be found here.
I took a bunch of photos, mostly of van 2. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: Although we (me) give the Grumpy Old Men a hard time, they are in fact a very talented 50+ team made up of fellow Gate City Striders. They finished this years race 25th overall, 1st in their division and would have placed 3rd in the 40+ teams (Super Masters) and 5th in the 30+ teams (Masters). Pretty impressive for a bunch of old farts!