HoodToCoast Recap

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From L to R: Jenefer, me, Amy, Jess, and Bill. Todd is in front keeping it classy.

 

My H2C experience lasted almost 39 hours total and was more mind blowing than I could have ever imagined. The sheer amount of people involved including runners, volunteers and spectators is hard to describe. H2C is like a moving town. There are thousands of people and vans all moving in the direction of Seaside, OR. I saw every part of humanity imaginable along with every emotion: the good, the great, the bad, and of course the ugly. 

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Me and Amy hanging out in the back of the van.

I’m lucky that I knew everyone in my van prior to the relay. And I liked them all. A lot. 

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Hamming it up on the way to Sandy where we had the first van exchange.

Since I was the 12th leg (aka the last runner), Van 2 was able to go from my run to dinner. We stopped off at a local brewery and enjoyed a bit to eat along with a pint. We probably hung out there a bit too long as it cut into our sleep time. Not that anyone besides Bill slept. Our rest location was in Scappose near the fair ground. It’s near impossible to get any sleep with thousands of runners coming and going. Car alarms went off while people were shouting and slamming the door to  only port-potty. I laid on my sleeping bag and tried to rest. The stars were amazing! Around midnight Todd came and got us all up. At this point, I had been awake for 17 hours. Not too bad.

At HTC you are consumed with meeting your basic needs: water, food, sleep and a bathroom. At each stop, runners refill their water bottles, grab food, and run for the nearest port-potty. There weren’t a lot of bushes to run into. Plus it was dark, somewhat scary and unfamiliar territory. 

Tired

Tired

My second run began before 6am on Saturday morning in Mist, OR. Mist is a great name for the foggy secluded town. I ran past the solid line of vans at a pretty quick pace before I realized that the vans were backed up all the way to the next exchange. HTC never did come out with a hard reason why traffic backed up for hours, but the back up at exchange 24 profoundly affected the rest of the race. 

I waited in the cold with the other runners for almost 45 minutes for Van 1 to arrive so I could pass of the slap bracelet. Once Gina headed out on her run, I decided to go out in search of my van (Van 2). I walked/ran about 2.5 miles before I finally saw them. Bill had a pancake for me which I washed down with a YooHoo. Sitting in the warm van was awesome. At this point, I had been awake for over 24 hours. Ugh.

Who knew a YooHoo could be so satisfying?

Who knew a YooHoo could be so satisfying?

Our plan was to get to the next exchange where we could sleep for awhile. Unfortunately the earlier backup caused us to journey much slower than we anticipated. I fell asleep a few times for a few minutes at a time. Honestly each time I woke up, I thought I was having some dream. Not only was I pretty exhausted and dehydrated but I kept waking up in the van and seeing the same van in front of us.

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Very tired.

Amy, Jess and I hung out in the van resting and chatting during our break. There was no way we could sleep. The temperature was rising steadily and the dust was thick in the air. We were all exhausted and patience was in short supply. We snarked at the volunteers who shouted the runner’s bib numbers as they came to the exchange. Todd had the best mimic of all of us with aa high pitched creepy voice: “6-2-3-4!” “2-1-6-9!” We all joked that we were going to prank each other and leave voicemails of us shouting out random numbers. 

Eventually we got back out on the road again. Everyone except me ran in hotter temperatures. Amy ran a solid 7 miler in 70+ degree weather. As I was getting ready to run my leg, the fog rolled in bringing much colder weather. We were right on the coast less than 6 miles away from the beach. At this point, I had been awake for 35 hours. Bleh!

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Ready to run my final leg.

My plan was to run down the hill as fast as I could and as the elevation evened out, I would slow my pace. That’s what I ran. My upper quads twinged in pain and my breathe sounded like an asthmatic as I ran down the hill. But I ran as fast as I could. There were so many spectators along the course giving encouragement and high 5’s! It was so awesome. 

Eventually I found my team thanks to Bill’s height. After we ran across the finish line, we posed to a million photos.

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Vans 1 and 2 unite!

 

 

I Was Wrong

For years I’ve badmouthed HoodToCoast (along with a lot of people). I’ve contributed to conversations complaining about the traffic, the cost,the van drama, and the whole idea of a relay. I did all of this before taking the time to volunteer or participate in the event. And I was wrong. 

H2C is an amazing event which I am proud to have participated in. It raised over $500,000 for cancer research. It gave me the opportunity to spend time with friends and get to know them even better. It tested my limits as a runner and a human being. I spent some time in self reflection and know that I need to continue to work on my patience, my compassion towards other people as well as my expectations of them. 

I hope to participate in this event in years to come if I am lucky enough. 

Hood To Coast (or HTC as it’s know)

I’ve alway said that I would never run HTC. It’s a relay race that covers 199 miles from Mt. Hood to the Coast (hence the name). Teams are comprised of 12 runners divided into 2 vans. The vans are known as Van 1 and Van 2. Each runner from Van 1 runs their legs. Van 2 meets up with Van 1 as the last runner from Van 1 completes their leg and the first runner from Van 2 begins. Then each runner from Van 2 runs their legs and then Van 1 shows up as the last runner from Van 2 completes their leg. Each runner completes 3 legs with little sleep. HTC boasts 1,050 teams of 12 runners.

This leads me to why I said I would never run HTC. The idea of being in a van with other exhausted runners leapfrogging another van dodging traffic for 2 days doesn’t sound like a great time. But….I got asked by Todd to be in his van (Van 2) along with several other wonderful people (Bill, Jenefer, Amy, and Jessica). I love hanging out with these people. I may never get another chance to do this. So I said yes.

I took a few days off after Mt. Hood 50 but then got down to business with a new training strategy. 4 days a week I began running twice a day. I went from doing one speed session a week to several times a week. My runs went from 7-25 miles to 6 miles or less. I had to buy new shoes as my lower shins started hurting. My calves remained tight and sore until I started stretching 4+ times a day. Running twice a day means doing laundry more frequently. I have enjoyed having so much free time on Saturdays but miss the long trail runs. 

So on Friday we meet up at Bill’s house at 10am. I’m runner 12 which means I am the last runner. :-) And I bring Team Amok over the finish line.

Three days until HTC!

Love These Ladies

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Cincinnati

On Monday I traveled to Cincinnati for a quick business trip. It was one of the shortest business trips I’ve ever taken. My round trip travel time was long than the time I spent with my client. But the time I spent with the team was amazingly productive.

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We got into Cincinnati very late on Monday night and spent a few glorious hours sleeping before getting up (3am Pacific) to meet with the team.

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Running Just to Run

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Mt. Hood 50 (aka Mt. Hood 32) Race Recap

I wrote this post so many times in my head. Not sure what to really say about this race. So here goes.

Amy and I arrived in Government Camp at 3pm on Friday. We quickly unpacked and began relaxing. Dinner was had and I was in bed before 9:30 because my alarm was set for 3:49am. Woke up feeling completely freaked out but tried not to dwell on anything.

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Credit: Michelle R.

Early start started at 5:30am. I was quite pleased with my pace for the first mile. It was spot on. Then my pace started to drop. I was getting very panicky because over the next 5 miles my pace went from 13 minute miles to 18 minute miles. My heart was beating too fast and I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to execute my plan. I arrived at the Animal Athletics aid station (mile 6) and my Garmin read 5.3. I smiled and realized that my Garmin was just freaking out.

I relaxed a bit watching my pace fluctuate from 9 minute miles to 23 minute miles. I was still freaked out but trying to maintain some sense of control. From mile 9 to 14, I had an amazing time. People doing the normal start started passing me. I recognized a ton of people and was so excited. I tried running with a smile on my face and that helped improve my mood.

After the turn around at Frog Lake, the temperature started climbing. I talked to a few other runners all of whom tried not to mention the impending heat but it was impossible as it was on all of our minds. By the time I got to mile 18, it was hot and muggy. But I soldiered on.

At mile 22 I hit the Animal Athletics aid station again briefly stopping to grab a gel and nod at Yassine who let me know I was getting close to cut off but could make it. Sarah Duncan ran with me for a bit asking my strategy and giving me encouragement. In my heart, I knew I was going to be in trouble really soon if I didn’t pick up the pace.

I started jamming along at a faster pace but then hit a party of people riding horses on the trail. I patiently hopped off the trail but the people stopped and wanted to talk about the race. Then more horses. Then people on mountain bikes! And then (no joke) a large party of Boy Scouts who didn’t want to share the trail.

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According to my watch I hit the start/finish at 12:30. I heard someone tell Amy Sproston that I was ‘3 minutes past the cut off.’ I didn’t say anything but pulled on my fresh pack. Amy asked how I was feeling and I lied saying I felt great. I was a tiny bit starstruck as I admired Amy but wasn’t going to stop at 28 miles.

Amy and team let me go and I slowly took off for the 22 mile portion of the run. I started off walking as there were more mountain bikers on the trail along with an older couple who was hiking. I started slowly running but started to feel very hot and very dizzy. I attempted to choke down a gel but it wouldn’t go down.

The next 6 miles were the longest 6 miles of my life. I couldn’t eat anything, felt really dizzy and hot. Then I was cold which I knew wasn’t right. I was sweating really really badly and felt horrible. I prayed that something would happen that would make me feel just a little bit better. But it never came. Drake, the sweeper ended up behind me. He let me know there was no way I was going to make the Warm Springs cut off. I wanted to sit down and cry but I kept moving towards the Red Wolf Aid station.

Once I got to Red Wolf, I saw another runner there taking off his number saying ‘I’m done.’ If I hadn’t been so dehydrated I would have cried but I sat down saying “I’m done too.” The volunteers at the aid station were the nicest people. They didn’t make me feel bad but instead were sympathetic. Still I felt sad and depressed and sick. I wanted to throw up and ended up with a horrible backache and headache. I wanted to lay down in a  cold river until the water swept away all of the horribleness of the day.

We finally got a ride back to the start/finish. The worst part was when I saw Andy a while later. He gave me a ‘hey why aren’t you on the course running look’ and I had to give him a thumbs down. I felt like I had totally let him down. Let everyone down.

I put on a brave face for everyone at the start/finish but cried for several hours the next day.

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I feel much better now. I’ve communicated with a lot of runners who didn’t finish the race who either go pulled or dropped. I know I made the right decision however hard that decision was. I haven’t decided whether or not I am going to run this race again. But I probably will.