For those of my friends and clients who run, the idea of Reach the Beach is a bizarre concept, even to them. I always get raised eyebrows when I explain what I will be doing this Friday morning through Saturday afternoon. Yup, the fun begins on September 12th at 9:45am up in Franconia, NH.
(Follow me on Instagram. I'm a fan of running selfies and IG'ing while running.)
Running 200 miles as part of a 12 person relay from Cannon Mountain to Hampton Beach?
Running for 30 straight hours?
Running through the night?
Running on minimal sleep and wayyy less than ideal caloric intake?
It always elicits the same answer.
"You're crazy." Complete with a totally over dramatic eye roll and suspiciously raised eyebrow.
And not only am I running Reach the Beach, but this is my second year in a row doing it. (It's in its 16th year and there's this old guy who has run it every.single.year.)
Last year I had ignorance on my side - which worked both in my favor and against it. One of my besties and I thought it would be a good idea, so we just signed up on a whim and organized a team. Without really putting a lot of thought into our decision.
Like I said, it sounded "fun" or at least, a runner's idea of fun.
Ignorance is bliss right? Or is it?
Last year, I talked with legions of people who had run the event. I was on a quest to learn how this 200 mile relay across New Hampshire unfolds. To say there are a lot of logistics is well, an understatement. I figured out what to pack, what each of my running legs looked like and our, um, cough, cough, "sleeping" arrangements.
The one thing that I didn't totally understand was the food situation. As someone who is constantly thinking of food and always preparing her next meal (even if just in my mind), I couldn't quite wrap my brain about how, when and what to eat.
As our van began moving and our team began running, this is how last year's Reach the Beach food situation happened.
Friday, September 13th, 2013
5:45am : my usual breakfast at my house 9amish : some sort of snack on the way to Cannon 11:00am : run 9+ miles 12-3pm : some sort of snack at some point. (I might have eaten an entire bag of popcorn, although I'm not sure exactly when.) 3pm : Lunch in Conway. I'm pretty sure I inhaled a burger, fries and lots of veggies. Washed my meal down with gallons of water. 5-9:30pm : Pre run snack at some point. 9:30pm : 8 mile run
Saturday, September 14th, 2013
10:30-7am : No eating, not much sleeping, lots more running 7:30 am : Go Macro snack bar 9:30 am : Ran 6 miles 10:30 am : Finished my part of Reach the Beach. Was famished and I ate anything in sight. 1 pm : Our van was finished running and we grabbed sandwiches, soup, fruit and snacks. 4 pm : One beer. It was the fastest I've ever drank a beer 5 - 7pm : Finished up, shower, change. Became a total zombie, barely able to talk and function. 8 pm : Dinner with team...in silence. 9pm : Immediately crashed and went to bed. I very distinctly remember how painfully low my blood sugar was.
My runner's high wore off and I was running on fumes.
That post run zombie state of existing, when you're bonking, bi**hy and beat after a long run (or three in 24 hours) is still very clear in my mind.
And that cranky, miserable post run zombie state is exactly what I teach my clients to steer away from. I spend weeks and many coaching sessions teaching my clients about better food choices and about improved ways to eat.
It's all about showing them the connection between how they feel and what they are (or aren't) eating.
My personal experience when it comes to long, half-marathon training runs, or my client's experience during even longer marathon training runs, is that preventative eating is key. It's not about waiting 'til you are hungry to eat.
Nope, girl you've got to eat to keep up with what your body is burning (you-well-oiled-running-machine-you!)
A food plan is exactly what I need to do better this weekend during Reach the Beach.
That bonking, bi**y and beat zombie state isn't a place I will live during this year's Reach the Beach. This time, I'm running Reach the Beach armed with wayyy more information, tricks, tactics and a plan to keep my calories topped up.
(The lack of sleep is something I just bless and release. Ain't nothing I can do about that.)
This Friday, I will step into my van armed with veggies + hummus, my USANA health pack + USANA meal replacement shake, green smoothie (maybe), chia fresca spritzer, Go Macro snack bars and veggie pouches.
And next week, I'll tell you how it goes.
If you are also crazy enough to be running Reach the Beach this year, best of luck! Here's to the perfect running weather Friday and Saturday. If you're somewhere around the NH Seacoast on Saturday afternoon, swing on down to Hampton Beach State Park.
It's one helluva good time. Heck, there's a beer tent if you get bored looking at all the fit, sweaty, tired, under nutriented people running across the finish line in jubilant fashion.
Now, where'd I put my sneakers...?