Monday, August 20, 2012

River to Sea 2012

On Saturday, August 4th, while battling crazy heat, humidity, and hills, The IT Band & Other Maladies ran 90 miles, consisting of 14 legs across New Jersey from Milford to Manasquan in 13 hours and 11 minutes! This was the 2012 River to Sea Relay, and we conquered it! The team consisted of Andy, Joe, Justin, Melissa, Pete, Sachin and myself. Also along for the ride was our official team photographer and cheerleader, Chris. Each of us did two legs that ranged in distance from 2.5 to 9 miles. Everyone put forth a tremendous effort.  We were all hurting at some point and we were all supporting each other to get through each leg.  In the end, it was well worth the struggle.  It was a truly awesome experience both from a running and social standpoint.

Very Long Blog Post Warning: This is going to be my longest post.  There is a lot to cover and I don't want to skip anything.  I want to remember this day as well as the very long lead up to it and so there will be lots of details. It's very likely that some of these details will not be interesting to you, but like I've said from the beginning with this blog, this is more for me than for you :) Please feel free to skip around. I'm not even going to get to the actual relay until you start scrolling for a while.  After all, we didn't just show up that day unprepared.  There is a whole back story, and that's going to be covered here as well. Now that I have warned you, let me start from the beginning.  First, the Earth cooled. Then I started putting together a relay team.

Putting together the team

Ever since I ran the River to Sea Relay with my buddy Frank last year, I knew I wanted to captain my own team with some of my long time friends. I had such a great time even though I only really knew Frank, and I just figured doing it with more of my friends could only make it better. Right around this time Andy, Pete and Joe were doing the Steelman Triathlon together as a relay.  Being there with them was such a cool experience and I realized that this was definitely something I wanted for 2012.  I brought it up to them soon after, and they were all interested. Even though Joe had just started running at that time (his first fitness love being the bike).  But, I knew Joe could handle it no problem and he was very excited.

So now we had 4 people so we were trying to figure out who else could join our team. Frank was already going to be part of another team with his running club, the Hamilton Area Trail Runs so he was out. Chris had not really been running too much recently, and whenever I would bring up my interest in long distances, he would insist that they were not for him.  He was more interested in doing faster, shorter stuff with a 5k being on the longer side.  But I figured this was such a cool thing to do with our group of friends that he'd be willing to go a bit farther. I figured right and he was down for it and now we had 5.

Then I started thinking about Sachin.  Sach has never expressed any interest in running, but I knew that it was possible I could convince him to do it as a cool thing to do while hanging out with friends.  And, there was the added benefit of getting into shape. We talked it over and I was pleased that he didn't flat out reject the notion. He was tentative to say he officially wanted to do it until he ran a couple times with Joe and by himself.  But, after a couple weeks, he was ready to commit.
Then I remembered that Justin was interested in doing this years back so he was an easy 7th choice. We had our team, and we were going to blast through the training with no problems! Ha, right...

Sickness and Injuries, like the IT Band and Other Maladies

This is how we got our team name. Runners get injured all the time.  Anyone who has run for more than a few months has gotten injured or will get injured soon (sorry to break it to you if you just started running).  I'm using the word injury in a very broad sense.  I'm just referring to anything preventing you from fully training the way you want to.  Sometimes these are nagging little things that last a week.  Sometimes they make you stop indefinitely. As runners we expect that this will happen.  And so it did, and then again, and then again, and then again. You get the idea. These are the injuries we dealt with, somewhat in chronological order.

Andy was having an awesome winter.  He had come off a crazy fast 8K in 32:47 (6:36 pace) and was just getting faster and building miles. He got up to a 17 mile run and we had signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon. Then on a 12 miler we did together, his knee started bothering him. He decided to keep running, but then it escalated rather quickly and forced him to stop. He stopped for a week and tried to go again for a while thinking it would go away, but it wasn't happening. It was his IT band and in April he had to stop completely for almost a month.  Stopping training when you can see your fitness improving is awful, but he was lucky to find a great physical therapist.

I heard fantastic stories of how she would stick these needles into him to find trigger points which would cause his muscles to spasm.  All of this torture was paying off, and very slowly, and very carefully he started coming back. But, he was the first big injury and for a while it looked like he might not be able to run in the event.

I too was having an awesome winter and then an even more awesome spring. I was running every day. I had PRd in daily miles, weekly miles and monthly miles. I ran a PR for a half marathon at Rutgers and I completed my first 50 mile ultra! I had not been injured in a long time and I was looking to really ramp up the mileage in the summer for the Marine Corps Marathon.

But, then after the soreness subsided from the 50 miler, it left a bit of a sore knee.  I didn't think it was too bad (runner's injury denial) so I took it easy but kept going. Then a few weeks later I ran 14 miles with ultra legend, Scott Jurek! I figured it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I was already compromising by not doing the whole 50k around Manhattan.  The next couple days my knee was really aching and actually kept me up at night.  This was not a good sign.  I went to the doctor and he said I most likely have bursitis (inflammation near the tendon below my knee).  He wanted me to get an MRI to rule out anything more serious but at $500 out of pocket, I opted to just wait and see.  So I took a week off running for the first time in at least a year and really reduced my miles. 

I was always thinking that I would still do R2C, but I was a bit concerned about the lengths of the legs and how well I would do them, and with other folks getting injured, I needed to be reliable. 

Pete has known injury for a large part of his running career. He's had issues with his knees, feet, back, Achilles, calves. I may have missed a few there. But, somehow he has always been able to continue training after taking a few breaks. But then things got really bad with a problem he's had for a while. Pete's foot goes numb after running for a few miles. He went to the doctor and it was revealed that he had a pinched nerve.  And on top of that he had some Achilles tendinitis. At the end of June and early July he stopped running completely. He wasn't sure he would do the event. 

Jeff had started running on the weekends with us at this point, and we thought we may have to ask him to fill in. Then we decided that if we reduced his miles a bit, it might work out alright.  We did this, but honestly, going into this thing, I was most worried about Pete re-injuring himself.

Justin had some scares in the Spring with his heart, and you don't fool around with your heart. After getting it checked out and running all sorts of stress tests he was good to go and started to ramp up to some serious weekly miles. Then, only a month out, we got a scary email about his knee saying he might not be able to run! Luckily, after some PT and taking a little time off, it wasn't as bad as he thought, but as a result we did reduce his miles a bit.

Chris for whatever reason refused to jump on the RunningAHEAD bandwagon.  I knew he was running, but I wanted to see it and I wanted the whole team to see and be able to help with motivation and all.  Finally, at the end of May, I convinced him to log his runs, so he went back and logged the last month of running, and I was very excited because it was more than I had expected.  Things were looking good.  

The next day, Chris suffered a high ankle sprain and that was that.  Unlike the other injuries the rest of us had, Chris was not going to recover in time before the race.  This was very upsetting, especially considering how good he was doing.

We only had two months until the race at this point and we now needed to find a 7th. Justin suggested his friend, Melissa. She had run the same half marathon as me in the Spring so we knew she could handle the distance, and plus we didn't really have anyone else.  Luckily, she was available and she joined our team.  And let me tell you, it was a good thing she did, because she ended up having to pick up all of the slack from the various injuries. She ended up getting 2 of the toughest legs of the race. I should clarify that.  It's not like it happened by accident. I knew she was a strong runner so I gave them to her :)

Joe and Sachin had some minor tweaks here and there but luckily did not suffer anything that forced them to stop for too long.  Our two newest runner were the ones most likely to make it to the day of the race!

Team Runs

Starting early on in winter, we started getting together for some team runs on the weekends. Sometimes we had 5 people, other times it would just be 2 of us. With the exception of 4 or 5 weekends, we had at least 2 people every weekend from the End of February, until the relay! I'll take a break from all the words and let this compilation of team runs video show how it was.


One of the hardest parts of this relay, at least for the captain of the team, is the organization involved. I'm not a very organized person, so this was a bit tough for me, and up until the very end I was nervous I was going to forget something.  

There were a slew of emails involved of course, but there was also dealing with who will run each leg so that it's spaced out alright and that the level of difficulty of the legs are inline with the runner's ability. This was especially challenging with our injuries. The second part that was very challenging was creating a schedule so everyone knows where they are supposed to be and what they should be doing for each leg of the race.  Of course, I created a spreadsheet.  I largely copied this from what Frank put together for the relay last year.  This was extremely helpful but even so, putting it together was quite challenging. 

With a couple days to go, I was trying to think of all the things we needed in terms of food, drink, clothes, and anything else.

Race Day!

Congratulations, you've made it to the part of this post where I actually talk about the race!

Pre Start

Andy and I woke up at 4 am to get ready to leave.  We had a bite to eat, drank some coffee and packed up the Mazda.  We arrived at Pete's right at 4:45, like we planned.  Within a few minutes, everyone was there.  So far the plan was working! This was also the first time most of the team got to meet Melissa. Andy, Sachin, Chris and I got in my car and Joe, Justin, Melissa and Pete got in Pete's car and we were on our way to Milford.

On the way, Chris started singing "River to Sea" by Jeremy Enigk, and no matter what music we listened to on the way there and throughout the event, it remained in everyone's heads all day. We were in great spirits despite the early morning and having fun taking turns listening to some tunes from way back in the day. Sometimes when I say things like this, I think am I old enough to make comments like this? Yes. Yes I am.

We got to the check in location with plenty of time to get situated with our race numbers and make sure we were all set and everyone knew what was happening next. Chris snapped this nice group photo of us before we headed to the start of the race a couple miles away, right at the bridge in Milford that connects NJ to PA. 

This was a nice shot, except I felt the need to go alternative camera. 
After Pete dropped off Joe, we stopped at the market to grab some ice and a few more snacks before Joe's start. After all the planning and training and injuries and close calls, we were finally ready to start this event.  I was so excited!

1st Leg - 4.75 miles - 6:45 am - 9:22 pace - Joe

Joe hamming it up and
feeling good
Joe started 5 minutes early at 6:45 which was just fine with me because I thought we might be cutting it close with the 8:30 cutoff and my estimate of us finishing at 8:15. Because it was so early it was still in the mid 70s and the sun hadn't really come out, but it was darn humid. We stopped about a mile up the rode and all got out of the car to see how he was doing. He came by all smiles and was off to a great start.  As expected, he started a bit quick with an 8:30 pace.

We stopped a couple more times and every time we saw him he was in good spirits which is very impressive.  That is one lesson I would like to take from Joe - to keep smiling and being in a good mood even when I am pushing hard. I am fully aware that I can come off a little bit prickly.  More on that later.

2nd Leg - 8 miles - 7:29 am - 7:55 pace - Me
Joe and I slapped hands and I was on my way for my first leg.  The weather hadn't really changed too much.  Still in the mid 70s, a bit foggy and sticky. I started out at what I thought was a conservative 7:5X pace.  I was feeling good for the first few miles and I decided I would keep it at that pace which would keep my HR in the mid 160s. The support was great for my leg with folks stopping pretty much every mile or two. The route was all on one road and just a little hilly, but nothing too crazy. 

At around the 3rd mile I started to slow down a bit, but my level of effort was increasing.  I was a little upset that I couldn't maintain a pace under 8 minutes, but I didn't want to work too hard with my 2nd leg being so much more challenging. The humidity was really getting to me, even though the temperature was still below 80. I continued just above 8 minute pace with my HR in the low 170s until the last mile when I figured I was feeling pretty good and I'd pick it up a bit. I saw Pete waiting for me in the distance at the transition, and I couldn't help myself so I sprinted it in a little and slapped Pete's hand.  I was very happy with my level of effort despite a little bit of a slower pace than I wanted.

3rd Leg - 5.95 miles - 8:32 am - 9:45 pace - Pete
Pete's third leg was mostly on a path which is nice to run on, but hard to support because there were only a few spots we could access it from the road. I was a little worried about Pete's leg (I mean the stage of the race, but come to think of it also his actual legs) because it was 6 miles which is farther than he had run in quite a while.  I know Pete can get through anything which just made me worry more because I was afraid he would push too far through the pain.

We saw Pete for the first time at about the 2 mile mark and he was already starting to hurt. He also had started way too fast in about 8:2X pace.  He still had 4 miles to go, and I wasn't sure where we would see him again to support him. Plus, the temperature was starting to creep up.

We found another spot a couple miles later and he had slowed down a bit, but was still going. He walked with Melissa as she gave him some water and then he was on his way again. We were able to stop one last time with around 1 mile to go and even though I could see he was hurting, I knew he was going to finish this thing, because I know Pete. We were not able to park at the next transition but we were able to find a spot not too far away which meant we could see the Pete -> Andy transition! I was so happy to see Pete finish this leg.  It was a really gutsy performance and I could see how much effort he put into it.  After he took some time to recover he told me that he would never be this unprepared for a race again.

4th Leg - 8.5 miles - 9:30 am - 8:10 pace - Andy

Andy took off for his first leg, but unfortunately we were not on top of who was going to be supporting him.  We were stopping to grab some bagels and use the bathroom, and the other car was mistakenly waiting for us. By the time I realized this, Andy was already a couple miles in. We started driving to support him and of course we hit some traffic.  This was just the beginning of the traffic problems in this event. Luckily the other car caught up with him after he was a little more than 3 miles in. 

Andy's leg was the only one that had a nickname - "The Beast", and this was certainly deserved. I remember talking with Andy about this leg a few days before the race. I had warned him that this thing was really hilly, and mostly up hill. He had looked up the elevation on a map online and it didn't seem as bad I thought. Although it had a huge gain for the first couple miles, afterwards it seemed to go back down and level out. I figured my memory must have been hazy so I figured maybe it wasn't that bad.  Unfortunately, we were both wrong.  After the initial hill, which was pretty intense, it was followed with several rolling hills including two more very significant hills. This thing truly was the hardest leg in this event. On top of the difficulty of the course, it was really starting to warm up.  

I would guess that it was already into the low 80s at this point. But, even with all this, I was pretty confident that Andy was going to handle this thing no problem.  I knew it was going to hurt like hell, and he might not go as fast as he would like, but he was going to push through it. You could tell that most of the other teams put their faster runners on this leg. But even so, as we drove past the last hill, we saw plenty of people walking. We were all able to park in the next transition area to see Andy come in. After almost 9 grueling miles, he finished strong. 

5th leg - 5.9 miles - 10:39 am - 8:30 pace - Justin

I know I keep saying it kept getting hotter, but I think this is where we really started realizing we were in for a really hot day. With the sun overhead and a lot of the remaining legs having little shade and on asphalt, we were going to be dealing with extreme heat. Justin's leg started with some rolling hills, and he was moving along at a good pace and looked very strong. We stopped in downtown Hopewell and when we got out of the car to help support him, it was uncomfortable to be standing, let alone running! This was the point where we started to introduce the ice towels.

Despite the heat, Justin just kept going and surprisingly kept a pretty steady pace. I was impressed that he was able to keep it up. I had done my best to come up with an estimate of how long each leg would take. I really was trying to stress to everyone that this was just a means to help us figure out approximately when we could expect each runner to come into a transition area, but of course everyone ended up taking it as some time they needed to hit. I had estimated an 8:31 pace for Justin, but I did not think it was going to be this hot already, or that his leg was so hilly in the beginning. Despite these challenges, he took the last mile in at sub 8 pace to finish his leg averaging 8:30 pace!

6th Leg - 8 miles - 11:29 am - 8:53 pace - Melissa
Remember how I was just saying how hot it got during Justin's leg, well this would just get worse with Melissa's leg. I ran this part of the course last year and I started out way too fast and was really hurting by the end. So much so that my team was a bit worried about me and asked if I wanted to trade to an easier second leg.  

Now Melissa was going to be doing this and it was hotter than last year. The only thing I knew about Melissa before meeting her this morning was that she was very fast and had run a half marathon in the Spring. Like I said before, with our injuries, I figured I'd give her two long legs. I did not know that running 16 miles in one day would be a distance PR for her. She just took it in stride. I've seen from some of her races, that Melissa likes to start fast, and this was no different. 

We caught up with her after a couple miles and tried our best to offer her water, Gatorade, something, but she was all set. I didn't see her again until the end but I remember the hills in the last mile from last year, and I was thinking about how hard it would be. It was great to see her running it in hard at the end of her leg.

7th Leg - 4 miles - 12:40 pm - 9:15 pace - Sachin

On February 5th of this year, Sachin went for his first run in preparation for this event. He ran 1 mile in just under 11 minutes. Today he was going to run more than a 10K, in the heat and at a much faster pace. Sachin had obviously come a long way, but this was not going to be easy. The sun was directly overhead at this point, and although there were a couple spots of shade, it was mostly out in the open. 

Right before Sachin started, we ran across his parents.  I hadn't seen them in a while and I thought it was so cool that they came out here to see Sachin run.

It was clear that they were really proud of him.  They ended up following us for the rest of the relay, stopping to take pictures and even ended up at the finish.

Sach kept a nice and steady pace throughout the whole thing. Every time we saw him he just kept moving.  After his leg was over, he said there were a few time in the last mile where he wanted to stop for a bit and walk. He figured no one was around and nobody would know. But, then he realized he would know, so he kept on running. This may sound a bit cheesy, but these kinds of moments is what an event like this is all about.

8th Leg - 5.2 miles - 1:19 pm - 11:32 pace - Joe
We were now half way  done, but the hardest legs were still to come for some of us. I think Joe's leg was the hottest of all. I would guess it peaked in the low 90s with some lingering humidity. Even though my leg was coming up and it would still be crazy hot, I got a bit of a break with some cloud cover.  Joe had absolutely no cloud cover. Also keep in mind that with this leg, Joe would be running 10 miles today, making this a daily distance PR for him. He started out at a nice pace, but eventually the heat started to catch up with him and it would force him to slow down a bit.

His HR started to skyrocket so I told him to just take some time to walk to let it come down a bit. Once again, despite this tremendous effort, Joe kept a positive attitude throughout the whole thing. Then with less than a mile to go we hit some really bad traffic. At some point Joe passed us and we realized it was possible he would make it to the transition before I did.  We yelled out of the car for him to walk some more.  He mixed in some more walking but still made it to the transition area before us.  Luckily, it had only been about a minute.  I jumped out of the car, and tagged his hand. Joe was done for the day.

9th Leg - 9 miles - 2:19 pm - 9:11 pace - Me

Wow.  This was really hard. I knew going in that my predicted pace of 8:26 was a bit unrealistic. I knew that I wasn't really trained enough for 17 miles in one day. I figured I would just take it nice and easy and try to keep my HR low and just make it through. It's funny how your state of mind changes during a run. Everything started great. I was running really easy at just under 9 minute pace.  My HR was in the 150s and I was getting great support and feeling pretty good. Even though it was super hot, the ice towel under my hat and constant water was working for me. I actually had the thought I could pick it up a bit if I was still feeling good later.  Ha!

Somewhere around mile 4, I entered some part of town where the traffic was ridiculously backed up. I just thought to myself , "OK, be cool. You are not going to have support for a couple miles, but you have a bottle of water in hand and you are just going to take it easy".  Well the traffic eventually let up after a mile, but then a mile later there was still no sign of my team. I still had half a bottle of water left so I figured it would be OK, but then in an attempt to fix the position of the ice towel under my hat (at this point it was a hot warm wet towel) I dumped out the entire bottle of water by mistake! 

Now I was starting to get a bit upset.  I was approaching 3 miles unsupported with no water, and I was really starting to drag.  My earlier thoughts of picking it up sounded hilarious right now. But, I also thought, this is nobody's fault.  When I do see my friends I need to keep a positive attitude just like Joe does. I really did think this. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in implementing this idea. When I did finally see Andy, Joe and Sachin, I was all business. No smiles, no thank you. But what really made it worse was the dumbest thing. At some point Joe mentioned that he thought I had passed Frank, when in fact it was just someone who looked like him. Andy thought so as well so it was the second time it was mentioned. Instead of saying something like "Oh no, I think that's some other guy.", I yelled "That wasn't Frank! Why the hell do you guys keep saying I passed Frank?! It's not Frank!!" So, yeah, the whole be pleasant to the support crew didn't work so well. Sorry guys :( I think I was a bit nicer to Chris, Pete, Justin and Melissa though.  At least I think so. Needless to say, they all did an amazing job supporting me when they could get through the traffic.  Constant water and ice towels got me through this thing, as well as the cheering out the car window.

I was now about a couple miles from the end and this was probably the longest 9 miles I've ever ran. Luckily, there was some cloud cover.  Even though I was still really hurting, I think if it continued to be this hot, walking might have become a possibility. With a half mile to go, I saw the transition area and I took off. That last half mile was under 8 minute pace, so I guess I did have something left. I tagged Andy and I was done. Unfortunately, there was no one at the transition area when I finished.  I was pretty upset, but I don't need to go in to more detail about this, as it really wasn't anyone's fault, and I think I've already maxed out my act-like-a-princess quota. I was done for the day.

10th &11th Legs - 13.8 miles - 3:41 pm - Crazy Fast pace - Andy & Pete

Andy and Pete decided that they were going to take turns doing mile repeats with Andy starting and ending with a 2 mile. I was a little concerned about Pete doing 5 more mile repeats, but I was also concerned about Andy doing too many more miles after "The Beast" this morning. I guess I was just concerned about everyone doing everything because I can be a bit of a worrier. Pete assured me that this made the most sense since his numb foot wouldn't be an issue if he kept it to a mile at a time. Also, with them being able to come in to the car after each leg and sit in the air conditioning and drink some water, they wouldn't get the cumulative effect of the heat. This plan made sense to me, and though it was by no means easy, I think it definitely worked. How else can you explain the crazy paces these guys were running?

I won't go into every single one of their legs, but they were really moving and they just kept it up. Everything was working great.  The only hiccup was again due to traffic. We couldn't get to Pete for his first leg so he ended up running 1.5 miles, but I think that was better to happen in the beginning rather than near the end. Andy was easily under sub 8 minute pace for all his legs, including his first 2 miles in 7:16 pace, and his last mile in 7:17! I don't have Pete's times, but I am pretty sure he was sub 9 for all his legs and in the low 8s for some of them. Despite my super slow 9th leg adding time to my estimate, by the time these guys were finished we were 16 minutes ahead of schedule! This was my single biggest estimation failure having figured a 9:12 pace for Pete and an 8:14 pace for Andy, but I was darn happy about it :) Pete and Andy were done for the day.

12th Leg - 6.3 miles - 5:32 pm - 8:44 pace - Justin

Justin took off for his last leg, and even though it was starting to cool down a bit, the start of his leg was still hot. I know that a lot of this post has been about the heat, but you have to realize that the majority of races are held in the spring and fall and in the morning when it's cool.  Perfect running temps are in the 50s.  Anything above 60 already means a slower pace. This past spring during the Boston marathon when temperatures reached the 80s, a lot of runners dropped out of the race, and there were a ton of people in medical tents.

Justin looking very intense, finishing up his last leg
Even though we all knew going in that this would be in the middle of August, nothing can really prepare you for it, other than experience. There's not much to say here about Justin.  He was just a machine. He kept up pretty much the same consitent pace throughout the whole leg. It's very typical to start out a bit too fast and then fade in the end, but Justin had the most consistent mile splits of anyone. The only thing he was a bit upset about at the end, was that he wished he knew that it was a bit short so he could have started his kick earlier. Even so, he brought in the last 3rd mile in 7:40 pace. Justin was done for the day.

13th Leg - 7.7 miles - 6:27 pm - 8:50 pace - Melissa
This was the last hard leg left, because after Melissa, Sachin just had 2.5 miles and then we would be done. As we drove by, all of us completely exhausted from our efforts, we couldn't believe Melissa still had to run 8 miles. Just driving through to the final transition area seemed to take forever. Melissa was running this whole way and we were done.  I kind of felt a bit guilty.  Maybe I should not have given her two long legs like this. But if not her, then who? Regardless of how I felt about it, Melissa was handling her leg like a champ. She did also, finally accept some support from Pete with some water :)

I remembered this leg from last year.  The last couple miles are on a trail and even though it's nice to get off the road for a bit, it does feel a lot longer than it really is. It's hard to see when the transition area is coming up, but before you know it, there it is. Melissa saw the transition area and really sprinted it in hard.  I would say her sprint at the end was the fastest any of us had ran all day.  She tackled two challenging legs, and she finished in style.

14th Leg - 2.5 miles - 7:36 pm - 8:15 pace - Sachin

Sachin was last to go.  With the short distance and the cooler weather, I knew he was going to have no problem.  I was no longer worried and just looking forward to meeting up with everyone at the finish. It had been a long day, and after 88 miles, there were just a couple miles left. Sachin really took it fast.  We weren't sure if we would be able to support him at all because I wasn't sure what the traffic situation would be like at the beach. Luckily we were able to see him one time, about a mile in and he was looking strong.

After that, Joe and I dropped off Andy and Melissa at the finish and went to park.  We knew that Chris, Pete and Justin would already be there but we wanted to be sure that someone would catch Sachin crossing the finish line.

An exhausted Sachin with other team members. Finished!


Happy to be finished!
Joe and I parked the car and had to walk about a half mile back to the beach to meet up with everyone. We were now all together at the finish, and we could finally celebrate. It was over, and it felt great. As I walked around the beach, I was thinking about how the day went. 150 teams started this relay, but only 129 were able to finish. They announced at the end that in the relay's 17 year history, this was the second hottest day! That made our accomplishment even greater.  

I thought about the many other teams we saw along the way.  There were young and old, elite and not-so-elite. Some teams had super team spirit down to matching blue ribbons in their hair. Some had questionable running form, hunched over with bad posture, while others flew by us near the end at 5 minute pace. It was great to be part of this community of runners making their way across the state.

Enjoying some well earned pizza
But most importantly, it was great to be part of a team, supporting each other. I think the best part of this event for everyone was not only the accomplishment of finishing your legs, but supporting the other runners as they fought through theirs. And of course along the way, there was much joking and just being in each other's company. I had very high expectations for this event when I first thought about it a year ago, and they were, without a doubt, exceeded. R2C 2013? Absolutely!

Team Awards

Just one last thing that I'll leave you with. I started thinking about how each person contributed and it made me think of the high school cross country awards we had at the end of each season.  So here are my list of team awards (in order of relay appearance).

Best Attitude - Joe
Everyone knows that Joe is a pleasure to be around.  Sure, he is funny and charming, but really it's his awesome positive attitude that is so contagious. 

Most Upset About Confusion Regarding Which Other Runners Were Passed - Me
Contagious to everyone but me.  This is for me acting like a princess due to a simple misunderstanding and also being annoyed anytime my schedule wasn't followed exactly.

Most Gutsy - Pete
Considering the injuries Pete faced going into this, taking on 11.5 miles is pretty much insane. Managing to get through 3.5 more miles of his first leg after his foot went numb was something few folks would do, but then afterwards running 5.5 repeat miles in the heat?! Impressive stuff.

The Beast - Andy
This is pretty self explanatory.  When you conquer the hardest leg on the course called "The Beast", then you become "The Beast". So move over Yohan Blake, although I would recommend to Andy that he does not start to do Yohan's pre-race beast pose, because frankly it looks rather silly.

The Machine - Justin
I was happy to support Justin on both of his legs, and he was all business. From start to finish of both legs, he maintained a very consistent pace without fading.  Ever the competitor, he sprinted in the last part of his last leg, at 7:42 pace, passing a guy who he'd been running behind for a while. Also being a good sportsman, he went up to the guy after his leg to thank him (Well at least that's what it looked like, I actually didn't hear their conversation :)

Atlas - Melissa
I know Atlas holds up the Earth, but he didn't have to pick up the slack of a bunch of injured team mates. This is of course for carrying the team on her shoulders while handling two 8 mile legs and doing so with style.

Most Improved - Sachin
Going from 1 mile at just under 11 minute pace, to finishing 2.5 in 8:15 pace after already having run 4 miles?! That's some serious improvement.

Best Cheerleader - Chris
When Chris sprained his ankle, I was very upset. Not only because he was doing so good with his training, but I was looking forward to hanging out with him for this event. But then it turned out he was going to join us for the whole way! So although he didn't run the legs, he was very much a part of the team, helping with driving and support in a way that only Chris can. As I'm typing this I have "River to Sea" in my head, so thanks buddy :) And of course he took some awesome photos, many of which are included here.


  1. Dimitri great job putting documenting every detail of this race. Thanks for putting this together. It couldn't have been easy.

    1. Thanks, Justin! Yeah it was one of those things that when I started I thought it might take me a while, but then it ended up taking about 3 times longer than I thought! But, I'm glad I did it.

  2. Nice job on the race, team IT Band! And come on guys, how could Dimitri pass me on the nine mile leg??? Really now...(ok, just kidding). In Dimitri's defense I was very miserable on that leg too so if someone had told me I had passed Dimitri, but it wasn't really him, I would have gone ballistic :) Nice race report - very detailed though I expect nothing less from D. See you at Marine Corps in Oct, then River to Sea in 2013!