a blog about running fast with style
My one picture summary of Hood to Coast 2013:
We crack ourselves up. My teammates were pretty rad this year and we laughed a lot and had fun, but before we get to that I should set the scene for this years Hood to Coast Relay.
One thing every runner should know when running a relay is this: they very rarely go as planned. For me that’s part of the draw and what makes them fun. It’s an adventure race and the adventure is sometimes is found during the miles but can just as easily be found during the time in-between the miles and that was certainly the case for Hood to Coast 2013.
Growing-up Hood to Coast was a family affair. My dad would race and we would anxiously await his team’s arrival at the finish line. Okay maybe we weren’t that anxious my brothers and were pretty bored and it felt like we waited an eternity for him to arrive. While we waited we watched teams like the Killer Bs, Nike’s B team (the Nike team that beat Nike’s A team) break the finish line tape year after year for the win. My dad’s team had their share of victories including mixed masters and masters titles. If they didn’t win they placed in their division which is especially important at htc because the top 6 teams in each division get invited back to the race the following year and don’t have to enter the lottery for a spot (if you’ve every tried to enter the lottery for a spot you know what a big deal this is…)
I was lucky to run my first Hood to Coast 7 years ago on my dad’s team (leg 3). The following 4 years I ran with a competitive women’s team (leg, 11, 3, 8, and 10- sort-of). Last year I took a break from my competitive team (okay if you’ve read the blog for a while you know htc 2010 sort-of killed my team) and ran with Nuun’s bloggers team. It was a blast. I loved my van, my team and everyone I met.
But after a year away from the competitive teams was ready to dive back in but alas we (my old team) were no more. Before I had a chance to beg for spot on another competitive team I found out Nuun was putting a speedy team together and was lucky enough to land a spot and ready to run!
As you might remember I spent most of spring injured or trying to bounce back from being injured. I took a nice little break in June and then focused on getting back in shape. When August rolled around I was ready to run.
I however wasn’t quite ready to run the leg I was assigned: Leg 2.
I had pretty much sworn I’d never run leg one or two of htc. In fact my old coach used to tell the group if we ran either leg (but especially one) we could plan on not returning to the group. He had a few runners hammer those legs and never quite bounce back.
Now I’d seen my dad run leg one a few times and he seemed okay so it couldn’t be that bad right? And LB seemed cool with the leg last year so I should be okay… right?
Err… right? Guess so…
So after a few fun day in Seattle:
(Me and my eastside peep Paige– from van 2)
I boarded this thing:
With my new besties (please note I like to close my eyes in pictures):
Picked up this speedy (and I might add ridiculously hilarious) gal on the side of the road outside of Portland:
… and we were off to the start on top of Mount Hood.
We arrived, checked in, ran into one of my besties, a teammate and my old boss/groomsman, ya know the usual. And then we ran.
DB was our first leg and I wish I had an awesome photo of her but I was too busy being nervous about my leg to remember to use the camera function on my phone. I will say this- she killed the leg and not only that but felt good after her run. Quads of steel that little one. Rumor has it in grade school (err maybe middle school) she set an unofficial Guinness Book of World Records world record for the wall sit and I believe it after the way she hammered her leg.
Leg one down and it was time for me to run. I took the slap stick/baton and was off.
My plan was to not hammer this leg but let the hill do the work but not even 30 seconds into the run my hips were feeling it. Yay 30 seconds, great sign.
I figured it would go away but not so much. To add to the awesomeness I was already in serious oxygen debt thanks to our good friend altitude.
I glanced at my watch and to no surprise my watch read 5:XX. To be clear, I did not feel like I was running that fast thanks to our good friend gravity, but I was also prepped to see the fast times so settled in for the ride and didn’t panic (surprising everyone who has ever met me).
It was a foggy day so I missed most of the sweeping vistas which was a bummer but still can’t complain. Looking back on it now (several, several, several) months later I will say it was amazing. During the run however I felt the down hill in my hips (surprisingly not my quads) and I was breathing like I was gasping for my last breath of life.
Great way to start a relay right? Two more legs to go?!?
5.67 miles felt long even though it went by fast. Here’s the ridiculous profile:
You read that right, 1500 foot drop over 5.67 miles.
It was a crazy 32 minutes and 50 seconds. It was great but not sure you’ll talk me into running this leg ever again. My average pace was 5:47- completely ridiculous.
I handed the baton/slap stick off to KT (my favorite person to see during the relay) and she flew! I only hope to have her ridiculous turn over one day.
After she finished we had a serious discussion about sparkle skirts, banana slugs and how we might be twins… or something like that (clearly).
(sorry vanmate… I forgot who took this pic… oops)
Next off was JENNNNNNAYYYYYYYYY and she flew:
Watch out for this one, she has some speedy times a head of her. On a side note we might also be separated at birth.
Jenny had her longest leg (7.18) and she handed of to Julia (our speedy friend from the side of the road). She was ridiculously fast even with a 10 second walk break. I would take all kinds of 10 second walk breaks if I could run as fast as she does.
After Julia’s speedy (and might I add rather difficult leg) she handed off to Slats:
Who clearly just had a baby right? She was sub 6 and looked great. Her first race back post baby and didn’t miss a step.
Leg 6 done, a little van hand off and we were ready to eat.
And that my friends this is where the adventure began.
We handed off to van two slightly ahead of schedule and in an intense (okay not that intense) competition with some of the mixed teams (including several of my peeps). I was looking forward to seeing them at the next exchange and then through the next 6 legs but it wasn’t in the cards for us.
Our van took it easy and spent some quality time with each other at everyone’s favorite hangout- the Safeway parking lot- before heading into the city for the next exchange. Exchange 12 was tricky to find. It had been moved this year due to bridge construction and there were lots of twists and turns through neighborhoods but we finally arrived at the second major exchange.
And waited some more.
And then we realized something was a miss. We tried to contact van 2 but no luck. When we finally were able to get a hold of them we found out that runner 10 was missing. The good news is that she actually wasn’t missing and she was totally okay. She was found at exchange 10. The bad news, our van 2 was actually at exchange 11.
It happens, it’s a relay.
It took some time to sort everything out (like an hour and 30 minutes) but runners 12 and 1 finally exchanged the baton and we were back on track ready to start the (windy) night shift.
DB was up first. Leg 1 always deserves some props but this year in particular. The usual reward for taking the first downhill is two short and sweet legs. Not so much this year. Leg 13 was rerouted and the reroute added another 3-4 miles to leg 1’s usually short second leg so anyone running leg one this year mad props.
While DB ran our van picked up some food and got me to the exchange ready to roll.
I was nervous for this one. The leg didn’t look that challenging and that’s what worried me. From years past I remember every leg 2 runner pretty much hating this leg (leg 14). Now I’ve run leg 3 before and the second leg for 3 (15) is amazing- so this can’t be that bad right?
Mason ran with DB for her leg (he was getting a bit of workout in and our leg 1 runner had scare through Portland last year so better to be safe) and he decided to run my leg with me as well for more miles. As we headed out of the exchange I told him I didn’t want to go out too fast. He told me I should probably stop running 6:22 pace.
I settled in to 6:50 and felt pretty good, okay well I felt better than expected. So of course I sped up, 6:42, 6:43. And then I hit this mountain on mile 4:
Yep kids, that monstrous climb about did me in. I don’t think I’d ever wanted to quit a race as much as I wanted to quit at this point. I started to run through the options in my head and quickly realized that 2.5 miles was a long ways to walk so I better just suck it up and run.
It was totally dark out but I could see the street lights climbing in the distance. Up, up, up.
2 more miles?
Are we sure this leg isn’t 5:08? I feel like the exchange should be right around the corner.
But it wasn’t. It was 2.08 miles down the dark and windy (very windy) road.
Here we go. That exchange has to be here right? After what seemed like ages, rather than .75 miles, I spotted the exchange and did my best to find some turnover. 6:38 for 41 mins and 17 seconds of pain and 6:47 average.
A side note. That cute little flat graphic from the htc manual is a bit deceiving; that run had 591 feet of climbing. Okay it also had 512 of dropping but still you get the idea this leg is just a tad bit harder than it looks on paper.
Two down. And not ready to think about three.
KT too over and rocked her second leg, followed by Jenny, Julia and Slats. At this point we were fairly certain we were out of the hunt for the title. I’d seen teams come back from 30 or 40 minute mishaps but 90 minutes seemed to deep. We still wanted to finish in the top 6 and wanted to see how much time we could earn back and more importantly we were having fun.
Something about the night legs, you just can’t help but laugh. While everyone is tucked snug in their warm beds your camped out in the middle a dark dank field waiting for your new relay besties to come sprinting down a dark country road decked out in headlamps sparkle skirts and reflective gear.
I think we might have managed to earn some time back before handing it off to van 2. We made our way to the next exchange and tried to get some sleep (except for Julia who was ready to pull and all night-er after her leg… she needs to find a way to bottle that energy).
The highlight of the last major exchanged included me loosing our van in the sea of white 12 passenger vans. I mean full on lost and panicked.
I finally found my teammates at the exchange (not the van) and stayed glued to their side and tried my best to not get lost again.
The only thing I really knew about my last leg was that their were no turns (can’t get lost) and that there was a nice downhill into the next exchange. Which of course means I must have to go up at some point.
It was early morning by this point but still foggy so I was decked out in my reflective gear (you’ll have to take my word on this because I clearly stopped taking pictures after the first few hours of the race- surprising no one).
At least it starts downhill so chances of me going out too fast are high. And wouldn’t ya know I did go out too fast but it was downhill after all and I figured I needed all the help I could get on this leg.
I had no pace goal for this leg. I was hoping to keep the leg turnover going and was trying my best to stay in the moment and in the mile. 6:45.
By this point I’d stopped looking at my watch and was just trying to get through one mile at a time.
One mile to go until the top of the hill and .77 downhill into the finish!
Have I mentioned I’m not good at running math? This leg is not 4.77 miles but rather 5.77.
.5 into this mile I was getting to what I thought was the top of the long climb before the 5 mile marker but no, I looked down at my watch and it read 3.5. 3.5? Isn’t this 4.5?? It feels like 4.5. Must have gotten real lost in the mile.
Mile 4, 6:56. And now we climb.
I was clearly tired and a little delirious at this point. I kept going by trying to catch people ahead of me. I passed a guy going up the hill who quickly passed me back. Now I admit I don’t like getting passed (I mean who does?) but at this point I was giving it all I had and if he had more well good for him I just worked the last 4.77 miles to make it to this moment and if he has more in his legs good for him. I’m going to keep running my race (even though clearly I wanted to catch him- I mean I am slightly competitive).
My new running friend continued to look back every 5 seconds. I just want to yell at him and tell him that he was faster than me but I was breathing way too hard to even try. We reached the top of the climb (just past the 5 mile marker) and he kept looking back. Now I’m starting to get a bit of a complex… it there something wrong with me? I mean I know I’m in a red sparkle skirt and neon yellow safety vest with some super sweat knee-high compression socks… but really? And now I just wanted to pass him so he’d stop looking back. I won’t drag this out any longer (than I already have) I did not pass him and he kept looking back (6:26 pace for the last .77).
39:08 for 6:46s, 643ft climb (676ft loss!) and just like my 2013 htc relay was done.
Well my running was done but our van still had 4 legs to go and then another 6 for van 2. Time to cheer!
And cheer we did.
I also tried my best to walk like a normal person… but clearly was struggling, this my friends is what broken muscles look like (thanks DB for the next few pics… because we all know how awesome I am at taking pics on relays):
Slats brought it home for van 1 and we passed the slap bracelet/baton off to van 2 and made our way to breakfast:
Yes. That is bacon.
And yes, I was tired of van food.
After the bacon we made our way to the beach and found van 2 and crossed the finish line third with a time of 22:43.29.
I know it wasn’t what we were hoping for but still an amazing effort. It was an amazing twenty-two hours, forty-three minutes and twenty-nine seconds.
Later Saturday night we met up with all the Nuun teams. We played on the beach, ventured into the cold Pacific Ocean and we finished the night off eating ice cream while sitting on a curb on the Seaside Prom watching fireworks. And we laughed. And I think that’s what I’ll remember the most. Not the pace, place or race (ha) but the amazing people I met and now have the privilege of calling friends.
So thank you new peeps for being you. Thank you Nuun for another amazing year and experience.
Maybe we’ll find a W next year (hey… I’m competitive just a tad… remember?)
run pretty run fast
… and laugh a lot