Maui Marathon is in 5 short days. I’m a little nervous as it’s going to be warm so I’ve been running at lunch or in the afternoon.
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.
I’m lucky that I knew everyone in my van prior to the relay. And I liked them all. A lot.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.