Three things that dawned on me while running 200 miles


I could hear him coming. The quick rhythmic thud of his shoe was getting louder. And louder.

Next thing I knew, he was next to me.

We nodded. Exchanged hellos. Then he asked me if this was my first "Reach."

It took me a second to understand what on earth he was talking about.

"My first Reach?" What!??!

Then it quickly dawned on me. (I was after all operating on a couple hours sleep and minimal breakfast.)

He was asking if this was my first Reach the Beach.

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 6.51.57 AMI smiled back at him and replied "Nope. I'm a professional. This is my second. You?"

Turns out it was his first Reach the Beach.

Our short time running together was quickly coming to a close. We bid each other good luck and then with a goodbye nod, he picked up his pace and passed me.

The short exchange got me thinking. I wondered "How on earth did I not know what he was talking about? This is my second time captaining a team. I've talked with oodles upon oodles of people about Reach the Beach. I thought I knew most everything about the experience."

Turns out everything, from running relays to cooking to hiking to a gym workout, has it's own lingo.

I'd never heard of this 200 mile relay from Cannon Mountain to Hampton Beach referred to as just plain ol' "Reach" before. "Reach the Beach" and "RTB" were about the extent of my vocabulary for the experience.

In some weird way, during that half a millisecond when I had no clue what he was referring to, it made me feel small, like an outsider.

And I realized, when you're starting something new, or trying something for the first time, the language itself can be intimidating and a barrier.

For example, I just bought a new (to me) road bike. Are you into biking?

Talk about crazy, intimidating language - the cassette, spokes, forks. The list goes on and on. And truth be told, that (and the high start up costs) are reason enough to avoid cycling. But I ask a lot of questions and everyday I learn a new cycling word.

Lesson number one : When you're trying something new, don't be intimidated by the lingo. All that matters is you're trying.

During this "Reach" event, our two vans (full of our 12 runners), while on the same team, were in one, muy importante, way in competition with each other.

Can you say scavenger hunt? Thanks to one team member, we had this elaborate list of bizarre-o (honestly, it kinda was, Jim) list of things to find during our 30 hours running around and across New Hampshire. We were on a mission to find things on this list and take photographic evidence.

RTBHuntThink wedding gown, a clown, Texas license plate, bowling ball, naked runner and Santa to name just a few items that made the list.

And that list sure kept the laughs coming when we were tired, delusional and in a state of low blood sugar.

Lesson number two : Never, ever forget to pack a little bit o' fun.

As I mentioned, I've done Reach the Beach twice now. And it's been two fantastic, absolutely amazing experiences. What hasn't ceased to amaze me is how everyone pulls together.

Sure, I'm talking about the logistics of the event. I mean, over 5,000 people running and volunteering at 36 stations across the State of NH? During about 36+ hours? That's no easy organizing, pun totally intended.

But on a grander scale, I'm thinking about how it takes a team to make this work. One person can't do it alone - not the planning, nor the running. We were all part of running groups, track workouts + cross training classes at the gym before Reach the Beach. Each runner steps up and commits to running different pieces of the route.

RTB3And once the event is happening, you're in a van and you get sick or twist an ankle, rendering  you dis-functional your teammates step in and run with you. In some cases, they run for you.

Lost your sneakers? Borrow someone else's Can't find your fuel belt? Use someone else's Can't motivate for early morning runs? Find a running partner No time to make dinner? Hire someone to prepare meals or ask your partner to do it Overwhelmed by what to eat? Hire a nutrition coach

Don't over think this. Keep it simple.

Lesson number three : You've got all the tools and resources you need to be successful. Use them and lean on your community.



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