Monday, August 31, 2015

Hood to (Almost) Coast 2015

Nothing like an epic relay adventure to feel the need to try and breathe some life back into this poor old blog...

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to run the 2015 version of the oldest relay in the country, Hood to Coast.  This was my second time participating in this relay, the first time waaaaaaay back in 2011.  (If you have all day to spend reading about my adventures, feel free to click HERE.)  In case you don't know how HTC works, it's 197 miles from Mt. Hood to Seaside and it is split up between 12 runners, 6 in each van.  This year, I was in van 2 and runner #10 "with a twist".  I ran leg 10, leg 22 and instead of leg 34, I switched with our #11 runner and ran leg 35... this gave me a little bit more mileage and our #11 runner a little bit of a mileage break which she welcomed as a somewhat less experienced runner.  Technically, that is against the rules, but we weren't exactly a competitive team so we weren't too concerned about bending the rules a bit.  So, onto the report...

Our team came to be because an old friend of my BRF, Heather, "bought a team" from a group that couldn't do it.  In an attempt to fill the 12 spots, Heather was given carte blanche to fill Van 2.  After a little juggling, and few last minute switches, we ended up with:
L to R: Marissa, Me, Heather, Christi, Chris, Jeff

Heather "Hill-Walking Cry Baby #1", Marissa "Just Along for the Food", Christi "The Tortoise", her husband Chris "The Hare", Jeff (a man we had never met) "Stranger Danger", and me "Hill-Walking Cry Baby #2".  Our team name was Running for Decades (because between the 12 of us our birth dates ranged from 1950-80 (would've been 90's too but we lost our highschoolers to strict cross country coach regulations)).
PC: Christi
We were a pretty slow inexperienced group so we got a nice and early start time of 5:45am.  Luckily, being in Van 2, we didn't have to be at the start and therefore didn't even need to leave Eugene until around 7am to have plenty of time to meet up with and take over for Van 1.  After an uneventful drive up I-5 we pulled into Sandy and found them pretty quickly and it was good that we had time to spare because they were running 30 minutes ahead of schedule.  Pretty soon we were on the clock and running our legs and it was HOT!  It was hard to complain about the heat, however, because we knew going into the night and Saturday, there was nothing but cooler temps, rain and lots of wind in the forecast.

My first leg, #10, was completely along the Springwater Trail in Gresham.  It was roughly 5 1/2miles and relatively flat.  While I was waiting for Heather to come in and hand off to me the clouds rolled in and I was blessed with an overcast run...although a still pretty toasty 81 degrees at 1:30pm. I've been doing a lot of mileage lately with zero speedwork so I wasn't sure what my legs could give me when it came to trying to run fast. I knew that I wanted to try to make them go though. The last time I did HTC I also got to run along the Springwater Trail but it was dark and I was seriously alone for the whole thing.  This was a much different story...there were people everywhere and much to my surprise, people a fair amount slower than me and I just kept on passing them (roadkills) and it felt great!  Before too long, I was into the exchange and handing off to Christi.

Stats: Leg #10, 1:36pm, 5.54 miles, 41:57, roughly 7:35 pace, Roadkills 23!!

After that leg, it was back into the van to cheer on Christi...
She was a good sport waiting at a stoplight while we drove by.
 and then her husband Chris...
They both killed it and then we passed off to Van 1 and headed to a local house for dinner and showers and little naps.  Awesome!!

Naps and resting went too quickly of course and before we knew it we were rushing to meet up with Van 1 and get back to our running.

Although feeling a little sore and groggy, I was exited for my second leg.  I love running in the middle of the night.  There is something kind of magical about it.  Also, my leg had a nice climb to start out for the first mile+ but then was downhill all the way to the exchange.  I loved every second of it!  I wasn't sure if it would really be completely downhill though so I was a bit conservative going up the hill but then I crested it and then I flew.  It was dark and a bit rainy and I was wearing a sparkly skirt and there was a little creek running sporadically along the road and I felt amazing! Well, that isn't entirely true, my quads started protesting a bit early on, but I politely ignored them and pressed forward passing runner after runner (while offering joyful encouragement) on my way to the exchange.  The runners, in return, were pretty jovial, one guy said "nice job man...uh I mean lady" (as I passed him in my sparklyness) and another guy asked what the speed limit was.  It was a lot of fun.  Although, my paces this year were nowhere near the last time I did it, I was still happy to see some numbers starting with 7.
A pretty decent progression run.
Stats: Leg #22, 12:52am, 6.7 miles, 52:25, roughly 7:41 average, Roadkills 27!!

Somewhere between when I stopped running and our last runner started so did the rain and the wind and the thunder and lightning.  By the time we handed back over to Van 1 it was really coming down and we were soaked.  Luckily we were able to call it a night and find some shelter in Tent City:
Although the tents were a little bit leaky and some of our neighbors were extremely loud, Heather, Marissa and I had a great time, camping it up in the middle of a pretty raging thunderstorm.  Poor Van 1 was out there running in it...again, it was good to be in Van 2.  I was pretty hyped up and didn't think I'd be able to get much sleep, but I did manage to doze for a while and it was surprisingly refreshing.

Up until that point, everything had gone pretty smoothly.  Leaving that double exchange, however, proved somewhat difficult.  It took us 30 minutes just to get out of the parking lot!  Then we were racing the clock to meet up with Van 1 who we had no contact with and could only assume were still running ahead of schedule...almost a whole hour at that point.  We would've made it too but as we rounded the last corner for the van exchange, traffic came to a stop and did. not. move.  We sat and sat and sat and sat and finally convinced Jeff that he should hop out and run an extra mile into the exchange zone to take over for the van 1 runner.  Good thing he did... she had to wait 30+ minutes after coming in to hand off to him.  :(

Apparently the hold up was due to the crazy wind and rain.  Some race officials were going van to van to let everyone know that the rest of the race was going to be left up to our discretion and that if we felt conditions were too unsafe to continue, we could pack up and drive the rest of the way to Seaside.  What?!!!! Not to mention the fact that the way they announced it caused a huge delay and made us way late to the exchange but there was no way we were going to quit.  Well, there was a small amount of consideration but ultimately we determined ourselves not to be quitters and opted to press forward.

They were not joking about the wind however. It was coming at us from every direction.  I was amazed at our runners though. Each in turn, they powered through, and around tree debris, and did an awesome job with it.  When it came to my turn, I was just walking into the exchange hoping to hit up the portapotty when I saw Christi coming across the bridge.  I ran to the front of the bathroom line said, "my runner is on the bridge! Can I jump in really fast?!!" Luckily they let me take cuts and I was in and out just in time to hear Christi say, "where is my runner?!".  I said, here I am, handed her my jacket and took off up the hill.

The wind was brutal.  It was constant with huge gusts that made you stumble.  It was so hard to run in it was almost comical.  In fact I may have laughed out loud at one point but it didn't matter because no one could hear me.  Had the wind stopped, I literally would've fallen flat on my face.  I was really glad that we decided to keep going though and finish.  I think we all would've been disappointed had we just driven to the coast.  I didn't really love my last leg.  I'm not a very big fan of running in the wind.  I'm also not a stranger to it, as I spent my first 3 years of high school running in the Columbia just have to kind of lean into it and push forward.  As for the route, it was on a mixture of gravel and paved patches and a large portion of it was just straight albeit gradually uphill.  I don't much care for running on gravel either.  I gave it most everything I had left though and managed to pass other people...a lot of other people.  47 runners to be exact (I didn't count the walkers).  It was like a death march out there.  I ended up averaging 8:40ish and I had to work hard for that.

Stats: Leg #35, 12:50pm, 6.94 miles, 1:00, 8:36 average pace, Roadkills 47! 

I handed off to Chris and then we jumped into the van to meet him and Van 1 at the finish.  We weren't really sure what we were going to find when we got there.  There was rumor that the finish line was closed and that they moved it into the basement of the Shilo Inn.  The only thing we knew for sure was that we were going to finish one way or another.  Here is what we saw when we got to the beach:
It kind of looked like some post apocalyptic world.
Sadly, this is the closest we got to the real finish line.
We didn't have to wait long for Chris and then it was a short jaunt down the boardwalk where Van 1 jumped in to join us as we happily made it across the impromptu finish line.  Our official finish time: 32:51:29.  Not too fast, but just fast enough. ;)

Van 1 had been hanging around for a while and with the finish line festivities mostly non-existant they were quite anxious to be on their way.  We did take an unofficial team picture, but I didn't manage to get a'll just have to imagine that there was another van involved.

Overall, I had a lot of fun this time around.  Everyone in our van stayed in good spirits and worked hard...I think it was a great group of people.  I would definitely be interested in running it again.

Really, the thing that made the whole weekend worth while, however, was the selfie I managed to snatch with Sasquatch...what more could a girl ask for?!
Oh, and here's what the news people had to say...complete with some nice video evidence of what we experienced.

Monday, May 11, 2015

I try to blog and nothing happens...

I don't know how many blog posts I have started since my last "return".  For whatever reason though, I just can't seem to make it a priority.  Life has been crazy and I'm so far behind, I feel like I have to do some catching up first.  This WILL happen.  I now have 3 50Ks to blog about...hopefully in order and hopefully before my next race.  In the meantime, here is a small glimpse at one of the things that is keeping me busy...
We're buying our first home!!! After 13 1/2 years of marriage and 5 kids, we're finally doing a super huge grownup thing and becoming homeowners.  If all continues to go well, we will be closing next week. It's a little bit scary, but mostly, incredibly exciting.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Hello, my little blog. I miss you...

11:30am on a random Tuesday morning, with tons of other things I should be doing seems like the perfect time to bring this poor neglected blog back to life.  There have been quite a few times over the last 2(!!!!) months that I've thought about blogging but for some reason (procrastination and/or laziness, perhaps) it just hasn't happened.

When I last left off, it was race day eve and I promised to write up a quick report about the Hagg Lake 50K.  Oops.  I guess that it still to come.  Also a write up about the 2014 Oregon Coast 50K...I know, I know, that's waaaaaaaaaay old news.  A nice review and GIVEAWAY!!! will be shortly forthcoming from seriously, one of my favorite products (spoiler alert) as well as a little insight into my current training and racing plans.  Not today though...soon...and I really do mean it this this week soon.

Now, for a quick catch up in life around Casa de Higgins.  It's busy and crazy as per usual.

Emme is in the beginnings of 6th grade track season and seems to be loving it.  She'll have her first meet this Thursday.  I think that she is looking to run the 800 and maybe do a couple field events.  I believe her goal is to work up the courage to do the 1500.

Calvin is taking this spring season of soccer season off...much to his dismay, although it does leave a lot more time for Wii playing.

Leona, on the other hand is playing soccer for the first time.  So far, she has had two practices and it seems like a good way to channel all of her extra energy.

Jonny is counting down the days until kindergarten could make for a very long summer.  Hopefully he is still so excited when it is finally fall.
Euan is a bully and constantly tormenting his older siblings, especially Jonny.  However, on occasion, he will fall asleep and we remember why it is we love him so much.
As for me, I'm adjusting to a 5 day a week running schedule (instead of 4) with longer week day runs and overall mileage that is higher than I've ever done before.  I've pretty much given up stroller running (maybe I need to change the name of this blog?!) which has made for some pretty early runs to get it all in.  I'm feeling stronger and as soon as I adjust to the earlier mornings without feeling like I need a nap every afternoon, I think it will be a great thing.

Dan is working hard and still continues to support all of my crazy running ideas.  Sometimes he even wakes up before I sneak out the door in the morning to remind me to be careful.

Anyway, that's a start.  Life is calling so I must go make it lunch.  Happy Tuesday!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Muddy trail true valentine.

It's race day's also Friday the 13th...and technically, it isn't really a race's a long run as part of our 50 mile training plan that just so happens to be taking place at an event I've paid to participate in and will get an awesome shirt and a cool pair of socks (assuming I finish).  Yeah, kind of sounds like a race.  So, happy race day eve!  The race event I'm referring to is the Hagg Lake 50K and rumor has it there will be a fair amount of mud.  In fact, the weekend itself consists of a 50K on Saturday and a 25K on Sunday and is billed as the ORRC (Oregon Road Runners Club) Hagg Lake Mud Runs.  Luckily, this year though, it hasn't rained since last weekend and it's looking like mostly sunny skies to round out this weekend, which should make for somewhat drier trails.  It should definitely be better than last year when it poured the whole time and there were knee deep mud puddles...or so I've read, here and here.   I'm not too afraid of mud, I've seen my share of muddy courses, in fact our last 50K (The Oregon Coast 50K last October that I've yet to blog about) had one of those hilariously muddy hills that you slide back about 3 feet for every foot that you climb and can't help but laugh at the absurdness of it all. Anyway, I'm looking forward to it.  Should be a great time.

Heather and our friend Katie are running too.  As is Katie's husband.  He has a decent shot of winning the race, mostly because that's just what he does.  This will be Katie's first ultra.  She's worked really hard in the just over a month she's had to prepare for it.  Unfortunately, however, she dislocated two ribs the day before yesterday.  Ouch!  She's been to the chiropractor a couple of times and is feeling better but still pretty sore.  Luckily she'll only need legs to run 31 miles.  HAHAHAHAHA!  She's a tough girl though and will still soldier through it all, it's just a bit unfortunate that she won't be going in totally healthy.  So, with Katie hurt and Heather and I merely running for the miles, it could make for a long day.  Good thing muddy trails are one of my big loves because it doesn't look like I'll be doing much else for Valentine's Day.

Being Valentine's Day though, I decided race day wear needed to be somewhat festive.  It took me a bit to figure out a combo that I was happy with, actually it took a long bit, long enough that Euan got bored and took a nap in my closet.
Finally, with some help from Heather (who happened to stop by at the right time) and a little fashion show for Dan and Emme last night, I settled on a red tank, black skirt and cherry blossom arm sleeves.
 I'll pretend that you care (and are actually reading this) and bring out my inner fashion blogger to tell you that the tank is the Scantron tank from Oiselle via clearance at, the skirt is a really old black one from Lululemon, the arm sleeves are from Sugoi but I got them on clearance through Amazon a million years ago and can't find them anywhere...they're fleece lined and super toasty though, the socks are from and they are the first pair of compression socks I they are old and have a hole but I'm going to wear them anyway because they have hearts, the shoes are the Pearl iZumi EM Trail N2 (also via runningwarehouse) and the headband has little red hearts on it and is from an etsy shop.

Unfortunately, Wallace thought it would look better covered in cat hair  :( (Wally gets called by his full name when he does bad things like this.) It really doesn't matter though, because chances are after a few miles it will all be covered in mud.  :)

Hopefully, despite the month off of blogging I just took (again!!!) I'll get back on here early next week for a legit race report.  Have a fantastically romantic valentine's weekend (or at least a nice and muddy one) doing something you love with the people you love.

Oh, and as a disclaimer and in case Dan ever reads my blog again, he is still my one and only valentine.  He knows where he stands with my trail running and that although if a decision ever had to be made between him and the trails it might take a while...I'd eventually make the right choice.  HA!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday again?!

Seriously, where did this week go?  It got off to  slow start but then ended in a blur.  I had great intentions of blogging a bit more than I did, but at least I've been somewhat consistent with this rebound into the blogging world.  Anyway, here is some randomness to end the week:

I ended up taking off Monday, like I mentioned earlier in the week and never did make up the missed mileage.  I think it was a good call.  My hammy is still giving me a little bit of issue, but nothing out of the ordinary (for me) and after resting Sunday until Wednesday my hip doesn't seem to be having any residual issues from Saturday's run.  I did run 8 miles on Wed and 6 this morning.  We have 16 on tap for tomorrow and then this first week of 50 mile training will be in the books.  I didn't do as well with cross training as I had intended to do this week.  That is my big goal for this year.  I'm thinking about hitting up some lap swimming next week.  I think in order to be motivated to actually do legit cross training I need to go somewhere.  Also, I'm a fish and I miss the water.

Last night we went to art walk at my kiddos elementary school.  Calvin's project was "paint it big" and he spent the entire art block working on a giant O.
 I think he ended up coming home most days covered in more green than his painting did.  Leona's project was "trees" and she made some pretty cool things out of sticks and leaves.  She was most proud of this creation, however, that she made for our cat.

In other news, Euan (and Jonny but I don't have picture evidence) has turned into quite a little gamer.  Yay, all my dreams are coming boys are gamers.  (Hopefully, the sarcasm is evident even through the computer screen.)

Well, it's now 5:17 on a Friday night.  Let the excitement begin... either that or dinner preparations.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Girls Gone Rogue: 2 Days and 40 miles on the Rogue River Trail Part 2

(if you missed part 1 (which I posted several months ago) you can read it HERE.)

Saturday, July 12th... Day 2 Plan:  Paradise Lodge to Foster Bar 13ish miles

We woke up Saturday morning with a nice leisurely attitude.  We weren't in a big rush to get on the trail and the lodge wasn't serving breakfast until 8am so I don't think we even set alarms.  On our way to breakfast we happened upon this pile of loveliness
(spoiler alert) it was the closest we got to a bear... apparently pretty close, but we slept through it.
Heather's bed was right there by that open window on the bottom...pretty close.
Breakfast was pancakes, eggs, sausage, ham and orange juice.  It was good and I ate too much.  I think we all did, so we took our time getting our packs loaded and went on a picture tour of the lodge.  The sauna might have been nice in a cooler month...
 although, I'm not sure how I would've felt about this guy staring at me while I was getting toasty.
We also found the Fountain of Youth
 and the best looking guy on the trail.
Enough dilly dallying though, the day was wasting away and it was time to get back on the trail.
 Leslie pointed the way and we were off...
 which sounds a lot more simple than it was.  We headed in the direction the sign sent us, but ended up wandering around the property a bit before we found the actual way and were truly on our way.
 Once we did though, we found ourselves in a beautifully lush forest,
 followed by high up views of the Rogue River,
 and then wonderful waterfalls and bridges.
 Honestly, there was a little bit of everything.
 With no real rush, and only a little over a half marathon to run, we took our time seeing the sites and relaxing under freezing cold waterfalls

 and jumping off of rocks into the river.
But, alas, the day wasn't getting any cooler and we had to finish at some point, so we left the water behind and headed inland to find our way towards Foster Bar.
 I won't lie, there was a fair amount of walking towards the end of day 2.  There was this horrible section that was full of switchbacks up the mountain and then right back down.  It was crazy, we seriously covered close to 2 miles but had only moved about 1/2 a mile laterally.
 We had to take a quick stop at "Dan's Creek".  I figured if I came home with a picture of me getting all snuggly with Big Foot, I better at least take a pic with a creek named after my husband.
 Then we came out of the forest and it was a whole lot of open dried fields, with no shade and no water coverage.  I think we all agreed that it was our least favorite part of the adventure.  If we were to do a down and back trip, I think that we opt to turn around before reaching Foster Bar...right about at the entrance to these fields.
 However, before long, we were at the entrance to Foster Bar and happy to be almost done.
 A few hundred more feet and we were once again reunited with the Rogue River and what should've been the end of our running, which was a good thing because we had each pretty much drained our water.
 But wait! My watch didn't quite have the mileage to make the whole trip add up to 40 miles.  So what do any crazy tired runners do...well serpentine through the parking lot until those magical numbers are reached of course!
I'm pretty sure that Leslie thought we were insane as she didn't take part, but she was kind enough to get some nice photo documentation of Heather and my obsessiveness.

Day 2 Stats:
12.81 miles (for a total of exactly 40 overall)
2:42:24 total time
12:41 average pace
2,137 feet elevation gain
2,317 feet elevation loss

In summary, it was one of the most amazing adventures I've had to date. I couldn't have asked for better company or better conditions. We were so blessed with the perfect weather, especially on the first day when we had overcast skies.  I don't think I would've done anything differently.  I was happy with my pack and my clothing and my fueling as well as hydrating.  Definitely an adventure worth repeating...or maybe we should go down and back next time... anyone up for an adventure?