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)).
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.|
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.|
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:
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 Gorge...you 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.|
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 copy...you'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?!