(Photo: Reach The Beach Relay)
201 miles. 12 women. 1 state. And 1 unforgettable experience. I’m ready for the New Balance Reach The Beach 2015 Relay! I’m running as a guest of New Balance with the “Girls Run Beta” media team! New Balance has kitted me out (along with all the other team members) for the occasion. I’ll also be taking a tour of the New Balance Global Headquarters in Boston before taking on the trails and roads of New Hampshire.
Vistas! (Photo: Reach The Beach)
New Balance Reach The Beach 2015 Relay
The New Balance Reach The Beach Relay, in partnership with the Ragnar Relay Series, takes teams of 12 runners 201 miles across New Hampshire, from the White Mountains to Hampton Beach State Park on the Atlantic shore. Mountain vistas, serene lakes, and a covered bridge or two are on the menu. I can’t wait!
Teams start in waves from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday and have until 8 p.m. on Saturday to finish. We’re expected to maintain a pace of 10 minutes per mile or thereabouts for a total of 33.5 hours running.
“Girls Run Beta” starts at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, so we have exactly 33.5 hours until 8 p.m. Saturday. The pressure is on to maintain that 10 minute per mile pace. I’ll be racing each mile as fast as I can. I’m aiming to stick as close to my 9:00-9:10 half marathon pace as possible, but we’ll see how I fare with the hills, multi-legs, and longer distances. As long as I’m at a 10:00 or faster, I’ll be happy!
Hand off! (Photo: Reach The Beach)
Most teams include 12 runners, who finish three legs each. Leg distances vary wildly from 2.5 miles to 10.9. Each team member runs 12 to 20 miles total, depending on the legs they’re assigned. We have a designated order that dictates which legs we run, always in the same rotation. So Runner #1 does Legs 1, 13, and 25. Runner #2 does Legs 2, 14, and 26, and so on. We pass off a slap bracelet between runners as our baton.
As with distance, the difficulty of each leg varies as well. Reach The Beach 2015 uses four descriptors to classify legs: Easy, Moderate, Hard, and Very Hard. There are nine “Easy” legs, 13 “Moderate” legs, nine “Hard” legs and five “Very Hard” Legs.
Me? I drew a Hard, Very Hard, and Hard for a total of 19.8 miles. No other runner has all three legs with “Hard” in the name. Everyone else gets at least one easy or moderate leg. And I’m tied for the second highest mileage overall. What did I get myself into??? An adventure, it would seem! Here’s goes something!
Karla’s Leg 1
Start Time: 10:30 a.m.
I have the honor of kicking off the race as Runner #1 on our team. Woohoo! This is the shortest leg of the race, but also the steepest. It takes me 954 feet up a mountain in 1.25 miles, then down just as quickly. Gulp. It’s apparently known as the “hero” leg: “For the mountain goats on your team.”
Um, that’s not me. If I’ve written it once, I’ve written it a hundred times: I swim like a fish and hike like a fish. I’ve run exactly one trail race in my life, this summer in Turkey at the Runfire Cappadocia 20K. And I didn’t even finish. Because I got lost. Oh boy. (You can read about it at Shape.com: What It Took to Conquer (Part of) the Runfire Cappadocia Ultra Marathon in Turkey)
In my defense, I did run three days in a row during the Runfire Cappadocia Ultra Marathon through the Turkish desert, with the heat index peaking above 100 degrees, for a total of 24 miles. If anything, that experience should have prepared me well for this. (More to come on that soon!)
Running the “hero” leg is poetic justice. In my Shape.com story about Runfire Cappadocia, I wrote:
I wanted to be an ultra marathoner for all my days. What does it take to run through the scorching Turkish desert? The willingness to be a hero “for ever and ever,” as David Bowie sang. Or, you know, just for one day.
Looks like I’ll be eating my own words! Read the rest of this entry →