Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday Flashback: Another Epic 2011 Hood to Coast Relay Experience

Remember how I introduced a new staple: The Sunday Flashback?  I started with my very first big race: my first marathon in 2008 and last week I recapped my 2010 Hood to Coast experience.  Since Nuun  recently released their call for applications for the 2012 Nuun Hood to Coast team, and I am working on my application, I thought I'd recap both my two Hood to Coast experiences, so here's the 2nd one: August 2011's Hood to Coast awesomeness!


Hood to Coast 2011 is in the book and team Run, I will (a Yoda specialty) rocked it!  In case you're wondering about the team name, no I'm not obsessed with Star Wars!  But during last year's race in our sleep-deprived delusional state we decided that talking like Yoda was the most hilarious thing EVER.  Tired, I am.  Beer, I need.  Hurt, my quads are.  You see?!  Hysterical laughing ensued, and it spawned our team name for this year. 

Hood to Coast continues to be amazing and the highlight of my year.  My only complaint was that this year the traffic was a serious problem from leg 24 to the finish, which caused us to get literally zero minutes of sleep, as it took 3 hours to get from exchange 24 to the sleeping field (leaving just 45 minutes before our runner had to start, just enough time to get ready and chug some caffeine).  Vans were repeatedly not being able to go fast enough to meet their runner during this time and at the finish we were about an hour late while we just sat in horrible traffic.  Apparently they added 250 teams this year and that decision probably caused this. 

Just a small glimpse of the traffic issues!

We tried not to let it get us down though, and of course we still had a blast!  I loved our van, we had the best group of awesome rockin' girls.  Although we seemed to constantly FAIL at many of the needed tasks (such as driving correctly, following directions, drinking enough water, sleeping, etc.) we DOMINATED the actual running part.  Lisa was especially a trooper as she picked up an extra leg when it was needed at the last minute!  Everyone was just amazing and they are all my heroes. 

Getting ready to meet Van #1.  Yes I made t-shirts again!  Didn't I already tell you I'm the iron-on queen??

Waiting to finally start running our legs!  Hydrating like crazy because of the crazy heat.

Leg #9 - Friday, 3:49pm, Gresham, OR, Springwater Corridor Trail

One word to describe it = HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT.  The car says it was 92-94 degrees, and I felt it!  We saw about 15 ambulances (including one on my leg) carting heat exhausted runners off the course.  This run was on the road for about .5-1 mile, then on 3 miles of terrible rocky gravel (which it did NOT say in the course handbook!) and then 3 more miles on the paved trail.  Some shade because of all the trees and blackberry bushes which was nice, kind of boring scenery but I liked it, very nice and flat!  I only passed 3 people and I got passed by a lot of people, I was hot and the weakest link in this leg - I was the one who was 8 minutes over their predicted time!  Whoops... I blame the heat.  I had to wait at a stoplight for 30 seconds or a minute so that was probably in mile 2's time.  My water bottle (I am never running without a handheld water bottle again, I love that thing!) was gone by the end and I was seriously thirsty, but they did have a water stop which I used to throw on my head, which seriously gave me a boost for mile 6 (my fastest time).

Total Time: 1:01:32   Total Distance: 6.97 miles   Average Pace: 8:49

Splits: 8:52, 9:13, 8:38, 8:50, 8:53, 8:36, 8:44

It's hot!  I was smart and carried water.  Thanks Nathan handheld!  And yes that's a light saber!

After our first set of legs Kasey was nice enough to let us crash at her condo, where we enjoyed some Pizza Schmizza, took showers, and laid on her couch for a bit.  Then we picked up Laura (we had a runner drop at the last minute, which is why Lisa had to do an extra leg, but we were able to snag a great runner from last year to finish out the race) and headed to the St. Helens fairgrounds.

Random shenanigans occurred at Pizza Schmizza.  Yes I'm choking Batman.  Totally normal.

Leg #21 - Saturday, 2:37am, The middle of absolute nowhere, Vernonia, OR.  This was the leg I had been dreading since I knew I was going to have to be runner #9 (the toughest set of legs in our van, and up there with the toughest set of legs in the whole relay).  I seriously tried to get EVERYONE to switch legs with me but no one would!  Shocking!  :-)

One word to describe it = TERRIFYING.  I absolutely hated this leg, which was a shame because the gravel wasn't as bad as I thought it would be (yes, all on gravel, very loose in spots which was very hard but most of the time was decent, the problem was seeing the bigger rocks and potholes so you could avoid them), I didn't even wear the bandana I stole from Cooper, though I did wear it around my neck just like he does, and the weather was absolutely perfect (it said 54 but I though it felt warmer than that, I was still warm while running even in just a t-shirt and shorts). 

But it was DARK.  As dark as dark gets.  I guess because there was no moon; we were literally on a tiny gravel road in the middle of nowhere forest in Oregon (you should have seen the stars!), and I was pretty much waiting for a coyote / bear / bobcat / etc. to jump out of the woods 1 foot from me and take me down (it didn't help that I kept hearing rustling!).  I had been warned about hillbillies and shacks (ha!) but that was not an issue, just the complete darkness so much so that I could barely run because I couldn't see where my feet were landing or what was ahead of me.  I wish I'd carried more light somehow.  I passed one lady almost immediately (one of my only 2 roadkills on this leg) and I knew I should just slow way down and run with her but I'm stupid and didn't because I just wanted it to be over. 

In the first mile I felt extremely alone and wanted to cry and even walked for a bit because I couldn't see ANYTHING.  Then I took my headlamp off and used it like a flashlight instead and then I could at least see a little.  After that I would try and keep up with the guys that would pass me for as long as I could, desperately wanting a buddy and some extra light from their headlamps, but I just couldn't keep up.  Every time they came or a van came (rarely!) I would sprint while I had the light.  I've never been so happy to be done!  It's a shame I was so slow because I felt like I was going as fast as I possibly could since I just wanted to be done!  I guess the gravel, the darkness, and I think it was a gradual uphill the second half, took its toll.  It's kind of embarassing that I was so scared, last year running in the dark was awesome!  I just needed to carry way more light somehow.  A headlamp AND a flashlight AND knuckle lights.  AND mace.  For sure mace. 

Total Time: 43:30   Total Distance: 5.00 miles    Average Pace: 8:42

Splits: 9:02, 8:35, 8:29, 8:30, 8:57

Trying to rest while others were running since we didn't sleep for a single minute. 

Waiting to run our 3rd and final legs!

Leg #33 - Saturday, 11:41am, the middle of nowhere, Astoria, OR

One word to describe it = HILLY.  Definitely challenging rolling hills, you were either always going up or going down, and the leg was so long that this never seemed like it was going to end!  It was about 75 degrees outside which felt great if you were just hanging out but running plus the direct overhead sun made it quite hot.  Thank you handheld water bottle again.   Some kids were spraying runners with water which was greatly appreciated except the last set of two boys who whipped out their POWER SPRAYER and sprayed me at point-blank range (felt like they were beating me up!) and then violently threw two cups of water as hard-as-they-possibly-could right in my face!  The spectators (there were several at this point!) thought it was HILARIOUS and were very entertained by me getting beat up by two little boys and water!  I ended up passing 20 people here which made me feel way better (until Jordanne passed 20 people on a leg half as long as this!), although by now we were catching up with some of the walkers. 

The scenery on this leg was beautiful - beautiful sun and blue skies, cows, rivers, meadows, etc.  General loveliness, except for the hills!  Again, like last year, this leg hit me with the thanksfulness gene - I was so thanksful to be out running, to be healthy enough to run, to have the opportunity to do this amazing race again!

Total Time: 1:07:52   Total Distance: 7.73 miles   Average Pace: 8:47

Splits: 9:03, 9:12, 8:43, 8:28, 8:41, 8:49, 8:48, 8:25

Then we headed to Seaside - and ran Lisa in to the finish!  Team Run, I Will: awesome, the team is! 

So glad we stayed the night there this year.  That was a big win over last year when we didn't have a hotel room.  Our room was very luxurious and we could see the fireworks from the balcony! 

Cheers-ing with our delicious free Widmer beer from our "van decorating kits"!

Wow, what consistency throughout those 3 legs! I ran way way WAY faster last year which makes me a little sad (I do feel more out of shape this year in terms of speed, I think Singapore killed it) but in my defense, the heat, gravel, and hills really played a factor as well.  Another epic adventure, can't wait until next year already!


But sadly my team didn't get in this year!  So I NEED to make something amazing so Nuun picks me!  Are you going to apply?  Hood to Coast is seriously THE BEST THING EVER!  Have you seen the movie?