Reach the Beach

I’ll admit I hold myself to some pretty low standards when it comes to exercise, but nothing makes me feel both inspired and disgusting quite like watching a dozen women between the ages of early 30s to early 40s embark on a 24-hour relay race. Because I like to cheer people on while simultaneously feeling bad about myself, I volunteered to drive a van carrying these runners between relay points this weekend.

See, this is how it works. This group of hard bodies–honestly, some of them? They make me wish I were a sculptor–is collectively running from Franconia, NH, to Hampton Beach in the Reach the Beach Relay. I’ll be leap frogging along, picking up and dropping off, for the duration of the event.

Some of these ladies just started running within the past couple years or so; some of these ladies have been participating in various athletic competitions for year, like triathlons and mountain-top obstacle courses, but never really ran; some of these ladies are former track stars. In some way or another, they have been training for this relay race for a long time. Me? I’m like this Tootsie interloper when I’m around them. (I was thinking about the scene with Geena Davis where she’s in the dressing room all hot and Dustin Hoffman is simply bothered, but the scene I linked is one of my favorites.)

I just realized that paragraph and link make it seem like I’m sexually attracted to these girls. If that question popped into your mind, the answer is no. If that question popped into your mind because I drew your attention to it, the answer is still no.

Naturally, I am happy to volunteer to drive them because, when you think about it, I’ve been training for this relay race for a long time too. Pulling an all-nighter and driving a bunch of people around? Come on. Child’s play. The only difference is that I won’t have to listen to yet another drunken rendition of Bye Bye Miss American Pie (because that seems to be the only song people remember when they’re pie-eyed, unless you are three certain fellas from Camden who seem to remember only the words to a certain acapela song that requires one person to keep time with his foot, which is always conveniently located under the driver’s seat, which makes me get a kick in the hoo hoo with every beat).

I’m hoping some of the adrenaline or ambition or healthy metabolism will rub off on me, but I doubt it. If anything, I’ll be driving along, singing some stupid REO Speedwagen song, offering Mr. Rooney a ride, and yelling at the girls in the back to sit down or get off! For the most part, I think it’s going to be a lot of dozing and driving and dozing. Or, perhaps…this. (For what it’s worth, the movie clip I linked here scarred me for life when I was a kid. So, let’s hope the relay is nothing like that, actually.)

that’s my dad on the left with his palm out

One thing I look forward to, besides cheering on these amazing women–seriously amazing women–is seeing Hampton Beach. I haven’t been there since…well, I’ve never been there. At least, not while I was a fully formed human. My dad ran a diner at Hampton Beach during the summer of ’68. My entire family, including me inside my mom’s belly during her first trimester or, as the conservatives think we liberals categorize it, during her abortionable-mester, packed up and moved to this little coastal tourist spot. So, I don’t remember much from that time period. All I have now is the picture here. I always assumed it was from the diner, but I’ve never been entirely sure.

Growing up, when I wasn’t getting traumatized by movies like “The Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” I would put Peter, Paul, and Mary (the band, not my siblings) on the turntable and listen to Puff the Magic Dragon while looking through photo albums dedicated to the many many years that existed before I existed. Hampton Beach took up pages of those albums and it looked like everyone had so much fun–birthday parties and days on the beach and funny hats. I know the reality was that my mom and dad worked their tails off at the diner while my grandparents watched my very young brothers and sisters because my 29-year-old dad was trying to raise four kids (with a fifth on the way) on a math teacher’s salary (go CTU!). I also used to hear stories about my sisters and brothers helping to count the earnings from my dad selling roasted peanuts at the football games at Salem High School, but by the time I was cognizant enough to really interpret my surroundings, those salad days had ended.

Well, there I went on another tangent. Back to Reach the Beach. I’ve asked one of the runners to write up a post for me, from her perspective, so look for that soon. She had a baby in March and has since competed in the Tough Mountain Challenge (this past July) and will be running as part of this relay.

Did I mention she had a baby? In March? I’ve never had a baby and I still couldn’t do this. You know what? I blame Jane Fonda for this exercise madness. If she hadn’t shown off her awesome post-40 hard body in On Golden Pond, we could all be sitting quietly on our couches right now.

I’ll be back online after the weekend. 

Sarah Devlin

About Sarah Devlin

Sarah Devlin has been writing about the recreational industry since the late ’90s but ironically can’t run, swim, or bike a mile.