Sep 24

I Was Wrong About Relays and Running Shoes

It takes a very big person to admit when they’re wrong, doesn’t it? It probably won’t happen again so I hope you all really appreciate this post!


Since I returned from a whirlwind tour of New Balance and New Hampshire, I’ve been thinking a lot about all my experiences and the feelings I had about them. As I’m approaching 40, I find myself actually caring about what my feelings mean. It’s kind of annoying.

Let’s start with New Balance. When I was first invited (via Melissa Burton at TheValentineRD) by the company to be on a blogger team for the Reach the Beach relay race, I was thrilled! It came with a ton of perks, not the least of which was touring the New Balance factory in Lawrence, MA and getting new running kicks.

The whole team at New Balance!

The whole Team Pumped Up Kicks at New Balance in Lawrence, MA…plus Sarah Canney!

There was just one problem – I run in Brooks. Always have. For 13 years.

So when I got the email asking about what size shoe did I want, I wanted to respond with “I’m going to run in my Brooks. That’s cool right?” Yeah, not so much. Instead I responded with “Size 7 – can’t wait!” What I meant was, I can’t wait for the disaster that is me running in non-Brooks running shoes to unfold. I’m super optimistic like that.

A few weeks later the New Balance 880s arrived at my doorstep. The following day, I brought them to the track with me…and I also had my trusty Brooks in my car, because I’m a realist. Well, if you’re a runner then you know from the first few strides you take in new shoes, whether or not they’re going to work. Guess what? They worked! They worked real nice.


So, yes, I was wrong about only running in Brooks and not being able to have my toes ever touch the inside of a different brand of shoe. Who the hell am I? Cinderella? Certainly not. I’ll take my glass slippers in various brands, please.

I’m growing. It took 39 years, but it’s happening.

Now, for the second thing I was wrong about – relay races. You see, I was really excited about my very first relay race. I wanted to experience all the fun that was promised. I’ve read countless blog posts about how thrilling they are, what an experience it is, and how it makes running a team sport. I wanted to be a part of that, and finally the opportunity had come my way.

Thanks Melissa for having me on your team! BUT, I kinda hate theses day-glow jackets.

Thanks Melissa for having me on your team! BUT, do I have to wear this day-glow jacket??                       Picture Source: Christine at Love,Life,Surf

Except I didn’t really experience all of those warm fuzzies. Here is where I think the problems were:

I’m High Maintenance

I did not know this about myself until I spent two days in a van, without showering and using port-o-potties as my only bathroom. I know what you’re thinking – how can I not know that I’m high maintenance? I don’t know!! But now I do, so cut me some slack.

It’s kind of like how I hate the actual sleeping in a tent part of camping. I love the s’mores, the camp fires, the drinking but I cannot sleep in a tent. Same goes for relay races. I love the running, the people, the atmosphere, but I cannot sleep in a van.

I also cannot use port-o-potties for more the one race (read: one time), or brush my teeth by using a water bottle and spitting onto the asphalt of a parking lot. It’s gross.


I’m Old

A huge part of the problem was that I was away from my family for four days. At first I was thrilled to be far away for all the neediness that is my three boys (yes, I’m including my husband) but after two days, I was ready to go home. I missed them terribly and I actually started crying when I got pictures of my kids, during their very first track practice, from my husband who was with them. Where was I? Still in the f****g van!!!

Like I said to my teammates, when I run a race on a Sunday, that is a lot of time away from them. I consider half a day (when all is said and done) on a weekend to be a lot of solo time. I love my family and I miss them when I’m away for too long. I did not have this issue 10 years ago. I’m old.


I'm smiling because I just finished my LAST LEG of the race. 2.4 miles in 16:20. That's a 6:45 pace and how badly I wanted to be DONE!

I’m smiling because I just finished my LAST LEG of the race. 2.4 miles in 16:20. That’s a 6:45 pace and how badly I wanted to be DONE!

I’m Too Competitive

This, I absolutely do know about myself. I now know that I like my races to have a definite start and finish, that doesn’t take days, with hours of waiting and downtime in between. Call me crazy but I like to actually run when I’m in a race and not spend hours waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting to run again. It sucks.

I thought long and hard about if I were actually on a competitive team, with a chance of placing in the top 10, would I have liked it then? The answer is a resounding “NO!” In fact, the only thing I really loved about the race was my teammates. We had a blast. We laughed, we ate, we decorated the van, we made fun of each other – you know, all the usual stuff.  That was fun.

And, in this 1:27 minute video, it seems like an amazing experience. And it was, just not one I want to have again. Kind of like childbirth.


The highlight of the race, believe it or not, was my run at 1AM. I absolutely hated the hours leading up to it because it involved almost no sleep, ‘waking up’ at 11:30pm and climbing out of the van into the cold, and using a port-o-potty with only my headlamp to guide me.  But, when I was finally out there running, it was awesome! After I pushed myself mentally and physically through 9.4 miles at a 7:43 pace with killer hills and over 30 kills (‘kills’ are when you pass people along the way) I felt like a freakin’ super star.  So there’s that…


If I need to state the obvious, then I will declare that New Balance invited me to be on their blogger team for the Reach the Beach Relay, which included a free race entry, the lovely van, clothing and running shoes. They were extremely gracious hosts and I absolutely loved the two representatives who literally took care of us for the weekend. What should be blatantly obvious are my own opinions in this post, which I was in no way compensated to write. 

Have you ever run a relay race? Love it or hate it?

Do you only wear one brand of running shoe? Which one?

Have you ever been wrong?



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  1. I like New Balance too. I am running in Brooks now but that’s not to say I wouldn’t buy New Balance again. I did a relay a couple of weeks ago. It was a short one but it was really fun and would do it again for sure! I don’t know if I would have been super thrilled to run at 1am but being the adventurous type I would try it at least once. About being wrong… all I have to say if I had a nickel for ever time I was wrong I would be a friggin millionaire!
    Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness recently posted…Fitness and Depression aka What I Do To Stay SaneMy Profile

    1. I would absolutely recommend trying one. You really have to experience it for yourself. And, I think I would love a shorter one. Much shorter.

  2. One of my teammates said that he thought RTB should be 2 full days with 2 overnights. Ummm….hell no! While I don’t love using port-a-potties, living in a van, not showering or sleeping, I could handle it for the 28 hours it took to finish. Although, as you know, we “cheated” with showers!!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted…EnduroPacks Review {Giveaway}My Profile

    1. Yeah – no fair taking a shower and resting up at your friends house! That is a TOTAL game changer!! 🙂

  3. I love your honesty here! I think that experience would be a bit much for me.I run in Saucony. Only Saucony BUT I used to run in New Balance. They work for me too. I have a LARGE and wide foot 🙂
    Tara Newman recently posted…Why You Need to Hit the Pause Button in LifeMy Profile

    1. Melissa Burton needs the wide sizes too, so she really like NB. I may now have to try Saucony as well. Thanks Tara!

  4. I love that you could admit you were wrong here and I never have used New Balance sneakers and have either used Nikes or Reebok to be honest, but sounded like these sneakers were pretty darn good for you to say this. As for the van, you are still a better person then I, because I am not sure you could ever get me to do this. Definitely too old and too much of a girly girl, too!
    Janine Huldie recently posted…iPhone 6 Mania Wonderful Wednesday Blog HopMy Profile

    1. At least you know who you are and wouldn’t even attempt it! That is great Janine, stick with it!

  5. Wow! Thank you for the in depth recap. I enjoyed all of it. I am so happy to see you liked the sneaks!! They are super cute too! Love the colors. 🙂 I can only imagine how much you missed your kiddos, especially with something so big as a first track practice. Ugh. Relay races seem fun in theory but the actual scares me to death!
    Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama recently posted…Weekly Wednesday Workout: Side to Side PlieMy Profile

    1. Yes, it ALL seems fun in theory. Even the 5Ks (or maybe especially!) I’m all nerves at the start and often think “isn’t this supposed to be fun?” Of course, all the fun comes AFTER you cross that finish line. Thanks Nellie!

  6. This old lady appreciates all this, but especially the frank honesty. I missed out on a chance to do a Ragnar a few yrs back with friends. They all loved it, but they all knew each other well and had everything pretty well dialed in. That said, I think it would be very hard to be sleep deprived, away from home, sitting in a stinky van, no matter how much fun or how well it is going.

    On the missing family: the older I get, the less time I want to spend away from my kids. When they were little, it was a treat to get some alone time. Now whenever I travel w/o them, I picture them with me and think of how much they might enjoy the place I’m visiting.
    misszippy recently posted…One of the many reasons I runMy Profile

    1. Thanks Amanda. I’m so glad you understand, and I absolutely do the “oh my kids would love this,” when I travel without them. I guess it only gets worse over time? 🙂

  7. Good for you for breaking out of that comfort zone to try a different pair of shoes. It is good for us to rotate shoes, and may I recommend you try Saucony next….Okay, that is my only plug 😛 I have three different shoes that I run in, and it is definitely good for your feet, and the shoes.

    I don’t think you are high maintenance, that is the main reason I don’t think I could do one of those relays, I am a terrible sleeper, and there is NO WAY I would be able to sleep at all in a van or in a tent. Kudos to you for doing it, and happy you had such a wonderful experience 🙂 Ill stick to my marathon training for now 🙂
    Tina Muir recently posted…Secrets to Success: Dynamic warm upMy Profile

    1. I admire your Saucony plug and I just may try them too! Why not?
      And I’m really not high maintenance when it comes to things like getting ready. I can go from shower to fully dressed and ready to go in 15 minutes. The short hair helps 🙂 Thanks Tina!

  8. All the things you stated are why I haven’t done a relay yet. It just doesn’t really interest me at this point. Maybe it will eventually, but I’m just way too grouchy without sleep and I don’t see it going well to mix in all the other variables as well!
    Danielle@T-Rex Runner recently posted…Activity Overload…and T-Shirts!My Profile

    1. I definitely would not do it, if you already know those things about yourself. Plus, I know you’re an avid marathoner, and it’s nothing like a traditional race. Even though the mileage can be comparable (I ran 19.5 total) it’s a whole different ball game when those miles are spread over days.

  9. Am a loyal NB customer, so am of course thrilled to hear you enjoyed them, too! 🙂 The definition of “kills” when it comes to running made me laugh out loud!! Great post, especially your honesty! :)-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted…I Almost Failed The Ultimate ’80′s Kids Trivia QuizMy Profile

    1. You know I lived for the kill out there!! It was kinda my favorite part. Thanks Ashley!

  10. I love you for writing this post. I think that I had the opposite experience in some ways. I didn’t think that I was going to like this experience at all and (as you know) was freaking out beforehand. But now, even now, I had a great time. I’m OK with the whole camping thing so that part didn’t bother me. But I think for me, it was more about falling back in love with running and I think that was a much more personal part of the experience for me vs. the team aspect (and I loved my teammates and cheering, etc.). There’s a part of me that wants to do another relay but also afraid that I will break the magic of that this one held for me.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Progress and RutsMy Profile

    1. I love you back. And I really love how a race experience can change your whole outlook on running. It’s just that powerful. I’m beyond happy you found your running mojo out there, and I can totally see how it could have happened. Now, what race can we sign up for next? 🙂

  11. I give you a lot of credit for doing this race! I am super high maintenance. There is no way I would sleep in a van and use a port-o-potty for days! I can’t imagine having to run at 1am either! That is crazy. But it sounds like you still had an amazing time with some amazing people.
    Britt@MyOwnBalance recently posted…My Pregnancy EssentialsMy Profile

    1. I absolutely did. And really, you can do anything when you put your mind to it (as you well know!). This relay race definitely underlined that point!!

  12. I’m sad that you were sad during the relay. 33 hours when stuck in a van can seem like an exceptionally long time.

    I’m glad that I did get the chance to do this with you. Getting the chance to see you run (and spending time with you – despite the elements) was really great.

    I love that you when you wrote that you lay it all on the line. I also love that you’re open and honest with yourself about how you feel about yourself as a human, mother and an athlete.

    Overall, I had a great time at RTB and I know that it wouldn’t have been the same without you. I’ll let you choose our next joint adventure, if you want. Could it involve some massages and drinking something other than electrolyte drinks?

    Bucket list item checked. Xo
    Melissa Burton recently posted…#14in2014 3rd Quarter Check-In and Link-UpMy Profile

    1. I was only really sad for that brief period of time. I think you actually saw me welling up when I got those photos. The overall takeaway (which I hope came though in this post) was that it was a great experience…just one I wouldn’t chose to have again – hahaha! Of course I love ANY chance I get to hang out with you, and get to know you better, i.e., find out MORE ways we’re exactly alike, and I would truly love some downtime! Plus, anything that involves massages, I’m up for! Thanks Melissa!!!

      1. Yup, I saw it but didn’t want to crowd you any more than we already were.

        Relays aren’t for everyone but now you definitely know.

        I loved hanging out with you (as always) and look forward to our next iteration of getting to know one another better.

        Melissa Burton recently posted…#14in2014 3rd Quarter Check-In and Link-UpMy Profile

    • Dana on September 24, 2014 at 10:41 AM
    • Reply

    I appreciate your honesty, as well as your high maintenance. I can relate. I used to camp, and now my idea of camping is the Hampton Inn.

    You may find it less difficult to leave your family as the boys get older. I did, although that may be because I am heartless. 😉
    Dana recently posted…Wake up. Read a book. Be happy.My Profile

    1. OMG I’m laughing at so much here! The Hampton Inn is definitely camping!!! And I can totally see me needing more time away as the boys get older and it’s a total testosterone PIT around here! Thanks for the laugh Dana. You are awesome.

    • Kim on September 24, 2014 at 1:21 PM
    • Reply

    I’ve always wanted to run a relay race but now I’m sort of wondering if it is more just the idea of it because I already know I’m high maintenance. I don’t sleep well as it is and I never sleep in a van (or car or plane, bus, train…..). Maybe I will just keep the illusion of relay races alive by reading everyone else’s reports!!
    Kim recently posted…You Know What?My Profile

    1. That is the route I probably should have taken but, you really never know until you try it! Thanks Kim.

    • Jess on September 24, 2014 at 7:21 PM
    • Reply

    A couple of my friends are doing something very similar this weekend, starting in Saratoga and finishing in Lake Placid, they got the van, its 200 miles, and I think 6 people on the team. Craziness!! I wouldn’t do well with the van, no sleep, and being away from home either!

    1. That sounds like a Ragnar Relay race and a friend of mine is doing it as well. Believe it or not, I tried to organize a team for that one last year, but then the whole Spain thing happened and I didn’t do it. I’m sure your friends will love it. There are SO many people who do them all the time. It’s just not for me…at least I know that now! Thanks Jess 🙂

  13. I am one of those people who has feet that can run in just about any kind of shoe. I am low maintenance like that. I usually run in Nikes, but right now I have a pair of Sauconys that I love. I’m kind of high maintenance as far as racing goes though. I don’t want to run a race where I have to wait for a bus, sit at the start line and lose my clothes that I wore there (donate, sorry), so you will never see me running a big marathon. I ran Minneapolis a long time ago and my hotel was 5 min from the start. I used my hotel bathroom. That was my kind of race. That said I am running the Disney Princess half and I have a feeling its going to be all the stuff that I am going to freak out about, but I will do it once and we will see.
    Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life recently posted…Post Scheduling Changes in FacebookMy Profile

    1. I have to say, the more races I do (and the older I get) the more I love the smaller ones. They’re just SO much easier to plan and get to the start line!! And yes, I’m sure Disney will be all the things about big races you don’t like, but it’s DISNEY so they will insist you have a magical race 🙂

    • Jess on September 24, 2014 at 8:51 PM
    • Reply

    I always think I’m a low maintenance kind of girl, but I’m not. I don’t need to blow dry my hair, wear make-up or do other primping type of things and I don’t fear port-a-potties, but I like things to be the way I like them to be. And that was definitely not the case in the van.

    I brought my toothbrush and toothpaste with me when we used real bathrooms so I was able to brush my teeth using water twice which was huge! But, unless it’s an ultra relay team I don’t want to do a relay race anytime in the near or distant future.

    Lastly, despite the fact that I don’t have kids the whole thing made me feel like maybe I’m just too old for these things!
    Jess recently posted…Welcome to the Pain Cave: It’s Time to Rewrite the Script & Dig DeepMy Profile

    1. We are the same person when it comes to maintenance! I can get completely ready, for a night out with my husband, in 15 minutes flat. That includes a shower. But, when it comes to sleep and general grooming – I need tangibles! If I were smart, I would have used some restaurant bathrooms for brushing my teeth, but I didn’t think of it.
      Thanks for this comment. It makes me feel a lot better about my overall experience and clearly, we should have been in the same van 🙂

  14. Hahahaha “Where was I? Still in the f****g van!!!” this post has me laughing so hard- from the cinderella analogy to the freaking van. But overall tt looks like a great experience with a great group! to answer the questions: 1. only in high school track, so it did not involve a van 🙂 2. I switch it up- but i do have a favorite ballet flat brand for walking around boston and 3. nope never. and by “never” i mean absolutely always.
    Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness recently posted…Does Anyone Else’s Mom Do This? (TOL)My Profile

    1. I’m so glad I could give you a laugh. I mean, you have to laugh at it all, right?
      I also mean ‘always’ when I say ‘never,’ and it’s worked out for me so far. Thanks Charlotte!

  15. I’m often wrong, I think.
    And those kinds of experiences do show us that we’re not always as low maintenance as we want to be.
    Give me a luxury hotel any day.
    I still think I’m 24. True story. 34 is sobering me up nicely.
    Tamara recently posted…My Happy Place.My Profile

    1. I don’t think you’re ever wrong, Tamara so you must be mistaken on that 🙂
      I also think I’m still about 28ish (pre-marriage, pre-kids, pre-evrything!) but the verge of 40 is extremely sobering. *sigh*

  16. I love your honesty! I felt the same exact way as youa bout relay races during the entire race. “Where is my hotel? Why am I brushing my teeth in a parking lot? This port-o-potty sucks! Why do people do this year after year?!” But the thing is now that it’s been awhile, and heck even one DAY after finishing, I was ready to do another relay! I think that anyone can feel uncomfortable during a relay but whether or not you want to do one again days after the finish, that’s an indicator of the true opinion. And sometimes the true opinion is that relays are not for you (in your case) and sometimes it’s that you may be crazy enough to do another one in like…a year (my case).
    I was so thrilled to meet you and I can’t wait to hang out when I’m back in CT!
    Caitlin recently posted…Reach the Beach Part 3: Two Runs & Done!My Profile

    1. YES, that is so true Caitlin. It’s like when someone asks, you right after you finished a marathon, if you want to do another one. The answer is almost always ‘no!’ because it’s way too soon. After I ran my first marathon, I said ‘never again’…and then I ran 4 more. At least with relays I know it’s one and done. Thanks Caitlin!!!

  17. Just loved your post! And I am OLD too! Gah. It took me forever to recover from the lost sleep…I’m still having trouble getting up for morning runs. And I too am way to competitive..I was all about the roadkills, until my calf went AWOL.
    Sarah @RunFarGirl recently posted…Believing BIG for Your KidsMy Profile

    1. It’s tough when competitive runners get old, isn’t it? hahaha! Thanks Sarah! You and your team did amazing!!

  18. I feel like I learned all the same things: i’m old, i can wear other shoes than Saucony, i need sleep. Seriousy it took me three or four days to recover from the lost sleep. I was a cranky mama for a bit there.

    1. Isn’t it awful? What happened to the days of pushing though the lack of sleep? I get super cranky when I’m tired too…and hungry…and when I can’t go for a run… 🙂

  19. I was a Nike girl only because I worked for them 🙂
    I am open to a different brand if it’s good. Same with yoga stuff.
    Ok now that I’ve had the twins, I need to figure out when I can start working out again, right?
    Alison recently posted…And Then There Were FourMy Profile

    1. Well yes, you would have to be a Nike girl!
      As for the fitness aspect, give yourself some time. You have all been though a lot. If you feel like getting a little sweaty, keep it simple at first. There’s a ton of stuff you can do, right in the house. LMK if you want me to work up a plan for you. I would be happy to!

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