Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hood to Coast 2014

I have done the Cascade Lakes relay for three years straight.  This year, sadly, we did not get into that race.  I got an opportunity to be on a team to participate in the Hood to Coast relay this year.  I was excited to do this race because many people have told me that I haven't done a "real" relay until I have done the Hood to Coast.  I wanted to see for myself how it compared.

The team I was on was Kiss My Assphalt.  My hubby was in Van 1 and I was in Van 2.  My legs were 10, 22 and 34.  In the Hood to Coast you are required to run in the same order for each of the people in your van.  So if you go 4th in Leg 1 you have to go 4th in Leg 2 and Leg 3.

Now, I have stated in earlier posts this summer that I was not as ready as I should have been.  It was stressing me out.  Last week I decided not to be stressed out about it.  It was what it was and nothing I could at that point would change it.  My plan was to go, do my best and have FUN!

Mission accomplished!

I got up on Friday morning and took Joe to meet at our team captain's house so that Van 1 could take off for the start.  They met at 4:00 a.m.  Ugh.  That was early.  I tried to go back to sleep when I got home but that didn't work very well.  By the time I did I only got about 45 minutes more sleep.  Kristy met me at 7:30 and we headed toward Gresham to meet up with the rest of Van 2.  Now, usually people rent vans but we decided to save the expense and just use our Yukon.  It worked out very well and we had quite a bit of room for all of us and all of our crap.

Van 1 started at 7:45 at Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood.
Wendie, Tina, Heather, Joe, Rosco and Brad-Van 1 Kiss My Assphalt
Mt. Hood.  Joe said it was cold.
We were at the first exchange before noon waiting for the last runner in Van 1 to come in and hand off to Kristy.
Christa, Tony, Jeremy, Kristy and me.  Van 2!  Katey met up with us later.  :-)
Wendie came hauling in with a BIG smile on her face!  She had totally rocked her run and was totally pumped about it!  I loved seeing that.  She (unlike myself) has been working very hard and it paid off for her in a big way this weekend.  So very proud of her!!

898 was a very good number.  :-)
When we got close to the exchange a volunteer would yell our number out and then a volunteer at the exchange would yell the number so that you can be ready for your runner coming in.

Then we were off.  Our van kicked butt, mostly.  :-)  Everyone was running around 10 minute miles or less.

I did not.  I didn't even come close.  A couple of weeks ago that would have made me miserable.  But since I had decided to have fun no matter what and be proud of being out there no matter how miserably I probably would do that is what I did.

Hot and tired but still smiling.  
My first run was along Springhill Trail in the Gresham area.  It is along an old railroad track that they paved over and is now for bikes, runners and walkers.  It was very pretty.  It was very hot!  There was virtually no shade along the entire run.  Every once in a while there would be a tiny bit of shade along the left side of the trail.  It was pretty entertaining to watch all the runners move over to the left just to catch a second or two of shade.  Everybody did it.

I ran the first 2.5 miles of my leg and did it at a decent pace considering my lack of training and the heat.  But the heat got to me and I ended up walking the last 2.5 miles and then running the last little bit into the exchange.  I was a little bummed about having to walk so far but reminded myself that I had run the first half really well and oh well about the second half.  At least I did it.  :-)  At least it was just heat and not hills and heat.
Leg 10
Our van kicked ass and finished strong at the van exchange.  The van exchange was in Portland down by the Willamette River.  It was a huge party.  People everywhere, vans everywhere and noisy.  We had a lot of fun people watching.  Some very interesting outfits that people chose to run in.  This one was a particular favorite.
Portland Runner
He had a mime face painted on and didn't speak.  He had the safety vest on because everyone who ran after 6:00 p.m. had to wear one.  He was wearing a running belt that is used to hold bibs on, usually worn by people doing triathlons.  He had a little flap covering the front too.  But there was nothing on under the bib or flap.  Seriously!?  How does someone run like that?  The chaffing would be brutal.  lol

This was another unusual outfit.  The whole team wore red dresses or red lingerie.  Some of them pulled it off and some didn't.  But they were having fun. :-)
I can't imagine running in an outfit like this.  The garter is a nice touch though.
While we were walking to the exchange area I saw a tent with the awesome people from Cascade Lakes Relay!  I wish I had been wearing my shirt because I had it along.  :-)  I shouted "I love Cascade Lakes Relay!!!" and they gave me a high five and a Frisbee.  :-)  They looked like they were having a blast!  

We sent off Van 1 and then headed up the road to have some dinner and then get some sleep at the next van exchange.  Subway for dinner and putting on comfy clothes was wonderful.  We got to the sleeping area around 7:30 and had our sleeping bags arranged and were snuggled in a little after 8:00.  We were expecting Wendie to be in around midnight, maybe sooner since she was killing her runs.  :-)  We decided to be getting up and repacking the car at around 11 pm.  

I couldn't get to sleep.  First I had to keep getting up to pee.  Trying to stay hydrated always is a pain later when my body decides to flush the system.  Then I was getting attacked by mosquitoes so I had to get up and use some bug spray.  Then there was the other racers.  You would think that a bunch of people who are participating in the same event would be courteous to fellow racers who are trying to sleep.  Not so much.  Cars would pull in and leave their headlights shining right on the sleep area.  People would pull in and have regular volume conversations while they set up their stuff to sleep.  Right in the middle of where all the other people are already trying to sleep.  Stuff like that went on all evening.  I finally gave up sleeping and just enjoyed being able to stretch out.  It was nice to be able to lay flat and just be comfortable for a long period of time.  So, while it would have been better if I had gotten some sleep, it was excellent that I was able to relax and stretch out.  

Van 1 arrived at about 11:30 and we expected Wendie before midnight.  The van exchanges were ridiculously crowded.  People everywhere and loud.  It can be a bit overwhelming and hard to keep patient when I am tired and people are being rude.  Heather says this is where you practice being patient.  So I pulled on my earlobes and said "whoosa"  and tried to be patient.  :-)  Just in case you don't know what that means, here are some clips from Bad Boys to show you.

Kristy took off on her second run of the relay and off we went again.  The second leg felt more stressful in the first as far as trying to get to the next exchange before the runner did.  We would exchange runners and then head straight to the car to try and get to the next exchange.  The reason was because of the traffic.  Sometimes it would take most of our time to just wait in line to get into the parking area.  A few times the runner and another person would get out and walk to the exchange on their own and we would pick up the runner who finished as we drove through.  

My second leg was my longest and technically ranked as my hardest.  It had a big hill at the front of it and was downhill the rest.  I think it is considered hard because of the hill and the length.  I loved it. 
Leg 2
I ran up about half the hill, which is excellent for where I am at right now.  I walked up the rest of it but managed a brisk walk.  My average pace was a 15 minute mile when I got to the top.  Then I started running.  My goal was to run the rest of it without stopping (it had been a VERY long time since I had run that far without stopping) and to get my average pace down to at least a 13'30" pace.  The temperature was right around 55 degrees which I think is my perfect temperature.  I get warm enough running that 55 degrees I can still wear a tank top or t-shirt and be comfortable.  I don't get too hot because the temperature is cooler.  I love it.  Especially in the summer when I can get up and run in the early morning and that's the temperature.  :-)

I had an excellent run.  My breathing was good, my form was good, I felt good.  It is the first run since probably November that I had that.  I loved every minute of it.  It dark and the stars were out.  There was enough other runners that I didn't feel creeped out but not so many that they were in my space.  About mile five I could feel that I was in that place where everything feels solid and I am killing it.  That also happened to be my fastest mile.  :-)  It was really, really good to remember what it feels like to just be running and love it.  I needed that a great deal.  My average pace ended up being 13'11" for the run and I had almost all negative splits.  

It was a great reminder that I can run faster again.  I know, it's is easier to run downhill.  But that doesn't matter.  Right now I will take good downhill run over any bad run.  :-)  I needed to remember what I like about running.  :-)  It took the second leg, in the middle of the night, only practically no sleep to find my good run.  I will take it!!

Trying to get to the van exchange to hand off to Van 1 was the biggest fuster cluck.  We literally sat on the road and maybe moved 3/4 of a mile in an hour.  It was over 2 miles to the exchange and Katey, our last runner, had to walk to it.  We didn't get to send her off as a van or even see the other van at all. I didn't like that at all.  I was "driving" at this point.  Actually what I was doing was sitting in a car full of people sleeping and trying not to fall asleep myself.  Talk about brutal.  We decided to head out to Astoria and come to the sleeping area/van exchange from the back side so that we didn't have to sit on that road and possibly have back ups at every exchange for Van 1 racers.  I don't know that we saved any time doing that but it was nice to be moving.  

We got to the exchange and once again I curled up in my sleeping bag.  This time I dropped off to sleep immediately.  The funny part was it was daylight, even noisier than the night sleeping area and I had no problem tuning it all out.  Probably because I was exhausted but it might also be because taking a nap during daylight I've learned to tune noise out but when it's dark I expect it to be quiet.  I don't know but what I do know is that the nap was wonderful and just what I needed.  
Sleeping Hood to Coast runners.  
Soon enough we were heading out for our last leg of the Hood to Coast.  The sucky part about being in Van 2 for a relay is that Van 1 gets done first and then starts bombarding you with pictures and texts about how they are eating and drinking and relaxing.  Shut up!  lol  So not fair!  

My last leg was supposed to be my easiest.  Short and rolling hills.  I really thought I was going to kick its ass.  It kicked mine.  Well, I probably just was tired and sore and done but it didn't go as well as I had hoped.  
Leg 3
Part of the problem was that I started out WAY too fast.  I actually felt pretty good.  However, it was hotter than they had originally forcasted, getting into the high 70's and I got really overheated.  So the first half I ran fast and the second half I walked.  I still managed to finish with a 13'58" average pace so in that way it was better than my first leg.  But I had started out so well that I was sure I could do it in a pace that was under 13 minutes.  I was a bit disappointed but overall it felt it could have been worse.
The ladies of Van 2-Christa, Katie and Kristy
We got our last runner on the road and then booked it for Seaside.  Then tried to find parking.  We parked at the shuttle parking lot but there was a line for the shuttle that would be over an hour wait.  Nope.  We managed to park at the Safeway and then walk down to the road to the finish line.  Then we found the rest of our team and joined Katey for the run into the finish.  It was a lot of fun.  Loud and crazy too.  There were people EVERYWHERE!!
Kiss My Assphalt at the finish line.
Kiss My Assphalt is done and still smiling!
Showing off our muscles.  I think Katie is still too weak from her run to lift her arms.  :-)
Normally we would have stayed and played for awhile but unfortunately my dear husband had to work the next day (and the day after that too) so we headed for home.  

My shower felt so good!!  When I crawled into bed it was amazing.  I think it took me less than 5 seconds to fall asleep and I didn't move until after 8 a.m.  That's sleeping in big time for me.  

I realized when I took my shoes off after my long run that I had gotten blisters under the toenails of the second toe and both feet.  They are slightly longer than my big toe and I have this happen almost every time I do a half marathon or a relay.  I tried bigger shoes and it still happens and my feet slide around so I went back to my regular sized running shoe and am embracing losing toenails as a sign that I did something hard.  :-)

When we got home we were joyously greeted by our puppy who promptly stood on my toe and popped the blister.  lol  Oh well, then I didn't have to take care of it.  Runners have such problems.  :-)  
New medal for my display. 
Now I have officially run the Hood to Coast.  Now I have the right to compare the Hood to Coast to the Cascade Lakes Relay because I have done both.  If I had to choose to do only one relay a year I would pick Cascade Lakes Relay without question.  I would not work hard to get into Hood to Coast again.  I would do it if someone asked me to be on a team or needed a replacement to help out but I would not actively work hard at getting into it.  Here's why.
  • There were way too many people.  I mean an absolutely ridiculous amount of people.  Crowds are one thing but this was downright insanity at times. 
  • We couldn't support our runners, ever.  Nobody really needs water or anything when they are running. We have all run enough to know what we need and bring it.  We do it all the time when we are training.  But at Cascade Lakes Relay it is a blast to drive a ways ahead of our runner and then spray them off with water or yell and cheer for them as they go by.  We also get to encourage other runners while we wait and harass other teams (in a good way).  It is so much fun and I just thought that was how it was on relays.  Not so much. 
  • The traffic to the exchanges was horrible due to the ridiculous amount of people.  This meant that as soon as we dropped off a runner we loaded up and headed for the next exchange.  No yelling or ringing cowbells to encourage our runner.  No time for the runner who just finished to stretch or walk it out.  Made it a bit stressful at times.  
  • The feel of Hood to Coast is more competitive and serious.  People are out there to "beat" other people.  At least that's how it felt to me.  At Cascade Lakes there is some of that but for the most part the teams are just out having a great time.  Makes for a different atmosphere.  
Another thing that people have told me is that Hood to Coast is the "real" relay because it was first and it's harder.  Ummmm, no.  Cascade Lakes has longer runs, more heat and it's lowest elevation is still in high so you are running in elevation the entire relay.  But I will take the harder for less stress getting to exchanges and more time to interact with the other van and my runners while they are running!!!

Kiss My Assphalt was a blast and I'm glad I got the experience.  But I'm hoping Super Team Dwayne will be back to Cascade Lakes Relay in 2015!!

Good things that I came away with are:

  • I didn't get sick. No upset stomach, no headaches.  
  • I dialed in my eating much more effectively.
  • I had fun.
  • I remembered how good it felt to have a good run.  
  • I made some decisions about my goals for the next few month.  (Don't worry, I will share in a later blog.)
  • I have some really great friends.  Ones I have had for a long time (Christa, you rock), ones I have had for a shorter amount of time (Love ya Krista!) and new ones (Jeremy, Tony and Katie, you are so much fun!)

Today is a good day! :-)


  1. I was really looking forward to your race report, so thank you for getting it posted so quickly for me. (ha!) Congratulations on a great race! I'm so happy that you had such a great time, and was able to experience some fast running. You amaze me! Such an inspiration!