Monday, September 21, 2009

Even Better than We Thought

The official results have been posted, and we rocked this thing even more than we knew! Our time was 27:31:46, for an average pace of 7:57. We were 25th out of 123 teams in our category (mixed open men/women) and 112 out of 399 teams total.

Not that we care about time.

But it's nice to know.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

We R'ed the B

In record time: 27 hours, 30 minutes, for an average pace of 8:15! At the moment I can't remember exactly what we managed last year, but I think we beat our record by a fair bit. And more important, we all had such a great time that everyone, more or less, has already signed on to the RRFC for Reach the Beach 2010. They did this even before the actual and remembered pain has faded, and that's saying something.

And now some of our favorite quotes from the vans:

"I'm cramped up and I'm totally nude."

"The sun, just keeps comin' up every day."

"You can spank the devil!"

"Who brought the bag lady?"

"Good work!! Nice socks!"

"Ewww... I shouldn't have picked THAT up!"

"You're still flashing, Leslie. Could you knock that off please?"

(When passed by a speeding Ultra racer, who makes you feel like you're standing still): "It's like, I'M running and HE'S doing some other thing"

How's the weather, you ask?

Perfect! Not so in the beginning. Weldon flew in from flat,dry Texas to run straight up a mountain in a monsoon. In fact the first 3 legs or so were executed in the worst rain we've had in our 3 years. Then it cleared completely and the night running has been starry and sublime. Temp is cold for spectators, just perfect for runners.

sun's comin' up

There is light on the horizon and energy in the van! Chris's run was "focused" and excellent (in his own words),Joe killed his hero's leg, and Kathy is working a real runner's high. Leslie is out there now on her longest leg, and Rodrigo and Erica both did the impossible:got some sleep in the van.

No Sleep for the Orange Line

That's the new motto for us on the Green Line. We're certain the Orange Line is running so fast out of spite, to deny us sleep, and we're on deck waiting to return the favor. At this point,2:30 am and exactly halfway through the race, we are running a full hour ahead of our pre-race projections! The Green Line had a few hours sleep in a nice hotel room: our fortunes have certainly risen compared to the first year! Chris is about to kick off our 2nd legs and Joe is coping with the prospect of his impending 600 foot gain over 9 miles... Stay tuned. For now, all are healthy and if not exactly happy, at least not outwardly hostile.


Testing our midnight remote posting capabilities...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Introducing the 2009 Rosie Ruiz Fan Club

Welcome, Fans of the Fan Club!

We arrived in Sugar Hill, NH last night at 10:30 and quickly got settled into 5 rooms of a B&B that would under other circumstances be called romantic. For those of you new to the race, an orientation:

Reach the Beach is a 200-mile, 24-hour (in our case, more like 30-hour), round-the-clock relay race. This is the 3rd year the Rosie Ruiz Fan Club has made an appearance in the race, albeit with a slightly different membership each time. Rosie Ruiz, as you may know, is the woman who famously won the Boston Marathon in 1980 with an assist from the Boston subway system.

You can read more about the race here and about our honorary team member, Rosie, here.

And now, our team! These are the brave/naive souls who will be taking us through New Hampshire this year:

In Van 1, the Orange Line, we have (in order of runner):
Judson Lew, Weldon Johnson, Zak Megeed, Barbara Farell, Ali Crum*, and Tammy Feldman.

Van 2, the Green Line, is:
Chris Dawson*, Joe Simmons, Kathy Ball-Toncic*, Leslie Martin, Rodrigo Canales*, and Erica Dawson*

* means the person has run this thing before. Note there is only one * on the Orange Line. That means that the non-*s are basically running the show over there with no experience of van transitions, night running, etc. (Of course they also have no experience of nearly missing the transition point or sleeping in a room so dirty you wouldn't use the bathroom, so it all evens out I suppose).

Sadly missing from our team this year is my sturdy co-captain (whether he knows it or not!), Matt Spiegel. Mend well Matt and we hope you are back next year. I mean REALLY hope.

I can't go into the full educational experience for those of you new to the race, so feel free to look through posts from previous races on our blog (Spet. 2007 and Sept 2008) to discover what it's all about and why we would need Christmas lights and window markers.

We will try to keep you all posted on our progress here as the race goes on. Our start time this year is 12:40. It's now 7:09, so that gives us enough time for Barbara to barely make the start line ; )

Let the van decorating commence!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Good Luck to the 2009 Team

Yours truly is not running with the team this year due to my time on the DL. Alas, the loss is mine. The weather looks like it may hold up and spare everybody from running during a major downpour! Wow that will be different! But, I could have predicted that with me on the sidelines they were sure to have clear running weather over the whole course. So, good luck to this year's fan club. Fleet feat to all.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I know, long time no update. Well your RRFC blog writer has been on the DL for quite some time and that has significantly reduced my motivation to keep this blog up to date. Of course, the fact that my teammates have not seen fit to send me updates has not helped either. So team members try to send me news about your racing if you want all the world to know of your achievements!

So here goes with a new post! Alas, no running for at least another three weeks, but a new post. ;)

Sue sent me this in May:

Sue is still pounding the pavement but for a lot less miles than in the past. She is mixing up off-road trail runs and hikes with running on the roads and the combination is teriffic. In fact, she climbed Bear Mountain, the highest peak in CT and it was a thrill to get to the top and look at the vista- Beautiful! When Sue is not running, she is practicing yoga and now teaches in Westport at Target Training, a fitness facility that specializes in cycling training and overall fitness training. Sue teaches Monday nights at 7pm and is thrilled to have a regular class to teach. Sue also has two private yoga clients. She's looking forward to getting the group stretched and limbered during the upcoming relay in September.

Chris way back in February sent me this which he also posted on his personal blog:

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Follow Through

Every time I look up at the corner of our dining room ceiling, I feel a tweak of sheepishness. Two years ago, I began to replace our cruddy old drop ceiling with a less-cruddy new drop ceiling that has a pressed tin-tile design. I had some problems with the adhesive and ended up re-doing large chunks of the ceiling, and now it stands 98% complete. The 2% incomplete section is the corner my eyes travel to every time I walk in the room.

It is undone because the ceiling is not flat in this corner—it slopes upward, leaving an irregular and problematic surface upon which to glue new tiles. I am not dumb, but I am also not very handy around the house, so I have simply walked away from the project without figuring out a way to make a new flat ceiling appear below an old, not-flat ceiling. The job is undone.

I start with this illustration to make a point: I have a problem with follow through. I get near 80% done with any major job or commitment and I start to lose interest. It happened in the Peace Corps, it happens when I tackle a major chore like cleaning out the basement or getting the yard ready for winter, and it sometimes happens in my relationships with people. I pull away before they have actually left my life. I noticed and put words to this habit of mine back in the fall, when I decided I needed to do something about it.

For me the first step to doing something about anything is simply noticing it. I am not a noticer and I am certainly not very good at identifying my feelings. Heck, I used to be able to go days without even realizing I was having emotions. So now I am working at noticing when I have settled into my pattern of pulling out and walking away. Along with simply noticing when it is happening, I am developing strategies for re-engaging with whatever is the matter at hand. And I am also working to simply build my stamina for tough, unpleasant tasks.

One task I decided to take on was running the Half at the Hamptons LOCO Half Marathon this weekend in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. I decided back in November that I would train through the winter and try for a personal best half marathon time at the Hampton race. I knew that in order for me to actually set a new personal record, I would need to train consistently and hard through the winter. I also knew this was exactly the kind of commitment I would be likely to flake out on and find some reason to give up just weeks before the race.

I am back from the race and I can tell you right off the bat, I did not flake out and give up on the training a few weeks ago. I stuck with it through some tough weather, inconvenient schedules, and winter-induced inertia and managed to train hard right up through Friday of this week.

No, I did not give up on the training at all.

But I DID almost give up on my goal during the race.

It was a beautifully sunny, cold, clear morning on the beach today and around 900 runners lined up for the 11:00 a.m. start. I could see in the pack up ahead the pacesetters for those who wished to run a certain time in today’s race. I know myself and I knew that I could not start up with the 8:00-minute mile pacers, though my eventual goal was to finish with them. I need to start races slowly and then speed up through the easier miles later in a race or else I simply crash and finish disappointed.

There was a good crowd of runners today—very friendly and supportive and the first few miles were good. I got to mile-marker four and found myself running with a group of about ten runners who were all following the 8:00 minute pacers, (Lisa and Cliff). I settled in just behind Cliff and locked onto the yellow bib pinned to his back. I was not feeling like I had a lot in me today, but I made up my mind that I was going to simply dog Cliff the entire way, and then sprint ahead in the last mile and see if I could finish in under an hour and 45 minutes.

To make a long story a little shorter, I found it very hard to keep up with Cliff and Lisa. I struggled with the temptation to drop back and then try to catch up later in the race. In fact, I had almost convinced myself that this would be the best course to take when I remembered that damned ceiling and its incomplete corner. I caught myself doing that thing I do where I back away from something I have committed to without even putting up a real fight.

So I dug in and just gritted my teeth and matched Cliff step for step. At mile eleven I pulled up alongside Lisa and asked her about the etiquette of using the services of pacers and then taking off ahead of them at the end in an effort to get a better time. She laughed and said, “That is what we are here for—take off and see what you can do.”

So when I got to mile twelve I thanked Lisa and Cliff and turned up my speed a bit. The final mile was along Ocean Blvd. in Hampton and the wind picked up in this beachfront stretch. I was hurting—my calves were tight and getting tighter with each step, my lungs were burning, and my head was screaming at me to slow down and coast in, knowing I would beat my goal of 8:00 per mile.

But my heart was saying NO NO NO with each pound. It wanted me to stick to my goal and work it until the last step across the finish line. So we held a quick committee meeting and my heart overruled my calves, lungs, and head and I gave everything I had all the way to the finish line.

In that last mile I thought about how I used to go to yoga classes a lot and loved them, but could never make myself do yoga at home. I needed to simply get to the studio and once I did, I would follow any instructions the teachers gave and work really hard at it. I also thought about the growth I am experiencing lately in my personal life and in my relationship with Erica. It is happening because Erica is out in the world learning important lessons and bringing them home to me and I am simply applying what she has learned. In both cases, someone else is doing the work and I am merely following along.

The same was true of the race today—until mile marker 12. Cliff and Lisa were doing the real work and I was simply following along. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t anything to be proud of either. But then, when I stepped out and around Cliff and Lisa and fought off my own efforts at sabotage, that was when I really learned something about follow through.

I finished with not a drop left in the tank. The clock said 1:42:56 when I ran over the finish line. That works out to be seven minutes and fifty-two seconds per mile. It was faster than I had hoped possible and the only reason I did it is because I didn’t listen to most of myself.

As to me (a.k.a. Matt) leg problems have prevented me from running for nearly six months now. The doctor tells me I have at least another three weeks to go. Hopefully after that I can get back outside and get going again!