a blog about running fast with style
After several years of all women’s Hood to Coast teams this year I found myself on the coed team of Puke and Rally. I’ve had several friends run on the team in the past and knew they were fast and fun. They also make pretty sweet t-shirts and sweatshirts:
To make things even better I was assigned leg 4 which I’ve been itching to run since my first htc team. Leg 4 has fewer miles than the other legs and you get your longest run one over first (just over 7 miles), and it’s slightly down hill. The next two legs are short by relay standards with about a 3.5 miles and 4.1 miles or something I can’t remember now since let’s be honest I ran this thing in August. The shorter distances are perfect for this once middle distance runner.
Our little mixed team from Seattle and Minnesota ended up with one of the late and last starting times (5:15) which I actually prefer. However by the time our wave was sent down the mountain most of the 1000+ teams had started the race and htc was actually shutting down the start line.
There is a race today right? Because we were clearly ready to run. (Accidentally left our team captain Nic out of the team photo… maybe next year?)
We also found out that we were not actually in the mixed open race since apparently we were all moderately old enough to qualify as sub-masters. Woohoo! (Side note, I can’t wait to be a masters runner).
Things finally got started, we said our goodbyes to van 2, and started the race down the mountain.
Sarah quickly found her self close to the front of the pack and by the time she
fell off ran down the mountain she was in first for our wave, she might have even caught a few people from the previous wave.
Sarah handed off to Peder who ran a speedy leg 2 (the leg I ran last year and will most likely never ever run again). Peder handed off to Meghan and you can read her recap here. She’s clearly a much more punctual blogger than I am. Meghan handed off to me and I was ready to get the running part started.
Leg 4 is listed at 7.18 miles of gradual downhill. My training/racing hadn’t been outstanding leading up to the race and I hadn’t tempo-ed anything close to 7 miles so I knew this was going to be a challenge… but I have the downhill right?
My plan was to relax and let the hill do some of the work. I figured on flat ground if I felt good I could run 7:00s-6:50s so I’d start there and see if I could pick-up any speed.
Mile 1, my legs felt okay but my hips felt tight. I must have checked my watch a million times before coming through the first mile at 6:39. Not 6:50 but I figured with the downhill that was okay. My breathing was okay however my hips were still tight or just not used to the downhill and they didn’t feel like they were going to get any better. I figured as long as my breathing was good I should be able to run 6 more miles? Dang that seems long. I settled in for a 6:40 mile 2. And then I’m not sure what happened, I think maybe a guy passed me? I was also playing around with my form/stride since my hips were bugging me so maybe my form got better? Either way mile 3 was a 6:30 and since my breathing was still okay I went with it.
Mile 4 was 6:31 only 3 to go and yes that still seems long. I knew there was a bit of an uphill close to the end of my leg but couldn’t remember what mile it was at- should have looked at that map longer- at least this leg is a straight line with zero turns. Wanting to make-up as much ground as possible before the hill I didn’t back off and held my pace for a 6:31 mile 5. I continued to hold the pace until I saw on the horizon the nice stretch of downhill slowly climb up, up, up, and yes up. Mile 6: 6:48.
Okay one more to go, I can do this… and there was a steeper downhill the last mile. I still only managed a 6:27 though I was able to gain some momentum the last .18 with a sub 6 pace. I didn’t mean to pick it up but this guy came barreling down the hill at me racing like it was his last leg. He blew by me like I was standing still right before the exchange, but I promise I was running:
(Meghan’s pic- both feet off the ground!)
You win buddy.
I finished in 47.13 for a 6:34 average and was more than happy to have finished my longest leg.
I handed off to Ben who had the privilege of running leg 5 (it’s not the easiest set of legs). He sped his way through his miles and handed off to David for leg 6. More speedy miles and we were ready to hand things off to van 2, find some food, and get ready to run all over again.
The view from the exchange was ok.
Finally leg 12 handed off to leg 1 and we were back at it.
Sara to Peder, Peder to Meghan, and Meghan to me for a short 3.78 miles with no turns and mostly flat!
Leg 16: I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited for a relay leg. 3.78 miles seemed like a dream. I had absolutely no plan for pace on this, I just didn’t want to die at the end.
It was a dark night with not much moonlight and not very many street lights for the first few miles. I tried to keep my eyes up looking for blinky red lights and shimmering safety vest to pass. I found a few and made it through the first mile in 6:34. Only 2 and 3/4 miles more to go. I figured I’d try just hold tight but there was an ever so slight downhill that helped me to a 6:28 mile.
I knew I was more than halfway done but I was starting to feel tired. I tried to relax and just make it through mile 2 knowing the last 3/4s of a mile would take care of themselves. Mile 3 passed at a 6:35 and I realized it was going to be ugly but I’d make it to the exchange. By this point in the leg the dark highway was replaced with some signs of civilization including a stop light that I was lucky enough to hit on the green. The last sprint into the finish was slower than I’d hoped but my legs were feeling the weight of the miles. I finished in 6:41 pace in 24:54 and a 6:34 average and feeling like I might have pushed a little too much on the night leg.
I handed of to Ben, Ben to Dave and we once again passed things off to van 2.
The next little stretch is a bit blurry. Our van headed off to the next exchange only to sit in traffic for hours at exchange 24. It was the worst I’ve ever seen it (and by seen it I mean I did sleep through the first hour our so of it- teammate of the year? Nope.). When we finally pulled into Mist and the exchange it was unclear what the wait was about. We’d heard the parking was full, but it wasn’t. We heard there was a stalled van but we easily went around it. We also heard there was a missing girl who was luckily found so maybe that was it? Still not sure but it was it was not excellent.
Leg 12 and 1 finally made the exchange and we raced-off to the next exchange since leg 1’s final leg was short. Our runner 12 (Bri) had to walk back in traffic for 45+ minutes to find our van. No water, no warm clothes. I think she managed to get a sweatshirt from someone. It was a mess. At one point van 2 didn’t think they’d make the exchange they’d been sitting so long. They only made it because Bri got out of the van and ran a few miles to make the exchange in time.
Hopefully they clean that-up a bit next year, it’s been a bit unruly for the past several years.
I know, hoping is so cute.
Unaware of Bri’s situation van 1 was trying to catch Sarah. We made our exchange in time and ran through the line-up again until it was my turn to run.
Leg 28: 4.2 miles of straight but slight up hill. I knew this one was uphill so while I was excited for the short distance I knew it was going to hurt. Legs 25-30 are some of the prettiest on the course. My leg was on a small country road before the real hills/mountains begin. It was just past dawn at this time and having run leg 3 twice I had a little bit of idea of what I was getting into.
At this point in the race everyone is tired and it’s just a struggle to put one foot in front of the other. I was concerned I’d run my last leg too hard so I knew I need to be careful the first few miles. I also knew to not trust my gamin since my satellite struggled as much as my cell phone did to connect to any form of civilization.
The leg started off okay. Though the leg climbs it does wind its way around the countryside so you can’t always see what’s coming.
I looked at my Garmin the first mile split (7:02) and then stopped looking. I knew it wasn’t going to help me at all. I only had 3.2 left, I did my best to stay in the mile. I wish there was more to say about this leg but it kind of sucked. My legs were dead and it was hard (it’s leg 3 of a 200 mile relay? Really?). I will say it was pretty to run but hard to enjoy when you in the middle of a hurt fest.
I finally spotted the exchange zone in the distance and finished in 28:56 for a 6:54 average. Still can’t believe I managed sub 7.
Just like that my relay was over, but we still had a lot of running to do. Ben to Dave and Dave to van 2 and we were off to the beach and the bar.
We made our way to the beach and managed to get cleaned-up before van 2 finished.
Yay showers and we’re going to the beach!
(Ben, Dave, and Peder)
And then we finally crossed the finish line:
The team ran our fastest time breaking 21 hours with a 20:54.02 (6:19 average). We’re currently listed as the winners for the sub-masters. We did narrowly lose to our arch enemies the New York Bad Apples but there’s always next year right? They started at an earlier time so we actually never saw our arch enemies on the course… so it was a little anticlimactic.
We all did a little ice bathing (ok I didn’t):
And everyone was happy to get cleaned-up, find some sort of real food:
Most of us called it an early night since ya know we did all that running and very little sleeping. Surprising no one we were up early for a little team shakeout run on the beach:
Laughing or crying?
Team pictures with everyone:
Donuts and coffee and we were back on the road.
Hands down the weekend of the year. Our team was amazing and yes I’m already counting the days until htc 15.
I promise to post before next August though… still have some catching-up to do. Until then…
Puke and Rally and rprf