I’ve been purposefully slow in recapping last weekend…I’ve had trouble putting words together to describe it. Runners have highs and runners have lows. I’ve certainly had both, but I am not sure I’ve ever had a high this high. I feel grateful, honored, energized, inspired, and so freakin’ lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of such a special couple of days.
I began counting down the days to Hood to Coast from the moment Nuun made the announcement last April. I was invited to join 35 other runners on one of three Nuun Hood to Coast relay teams, aptly named after some of my favorite Nuun flavors — Lemonade, Watermelon and Cherry Limeade.
As the countdown became real and weeks turned into days, my anticipation reached a pretty serious high, but I’m not sure I could have imagined the experience to be quite as grand as it was. A simple thank you to the team at Nuun, and the friends I made through the experience hardly feels like enough — and certainly not something that can be summed up in just one post. [warning, there's a part two coming, and maybe three]. For now I will focus on the run, which seems, perhaps, the easiest to encapsulate.
Friday morning we woke up at the bcod to drive from Seattle to Mt. Hood. I was on Team Lemonade – Van 1, composed of runners 1-6 (Lauren, Leslie, Lisa, Jolene, Me & Kristen) and one hell of a superstar driver/Nuun employee/fan/friend/just plain awesome person, Jay We arrived late morning, and as you can see, we could not have had a more perfect view, or more perfect weather for the start. Talk about gorgeous.
Lauren led us out the gates as Runner #1, starting about 1:15pm on Friday. I had Leg 5 – a straight uphill [f-uuuuuuun] 6.08 mile run that started about 5p. I started out a bit conservative, not trusting that my legs or my post-lunch gut were quite ready to rock, but quickly eased into a strong pace up the hills. I don’t know who this dude is, because shortly after this killer Team Lemonade power arch, he was eating my dust.
Second leg was almost just as projected, at 3:30 in the morning. We stopped for dinner around 8p after our entire van was done with their first leg, after which I did my best to take a solid power nap before our van started leg 2, but let’s be real, the idea of a solid power nap is pretty much impossible when you’re awkwardly seated in a van and parked next to a makeshift church rec room-turned-roller rink listening to the DJ spin PM Dawn, Taylor Dayne and Journey’s “Open Arms” for the ‘couples skate’. memories.
Anyway, my second leg was just about the mid-point of the relay, just under 8 miles on what looked fairly flat, but felt like a very slight incline the entire leg. Jay had volunteered/asked if anyone wanted a partner on any of their legs and I told him he was more than welcome to jump out and keep me company during leg 2 – especially since I [accurately predicted] that my second leg was going to be pretty darn boring in terms of scenery. Jay quickly donned a sparkle skirt, reflective vest and head lamp and was my run-buddy for next hour as we pushed our team forward another 7.7 miles. yes, the hotness is real at 3:30amPost leg 2, I crashed. Truly. Out cold. Woke up in a field of about 400 white vans with zero cell service, zero coffee, honey buckets with zero toilet paper and zero sense of how I was going to eek out another [extremely hard] leg. Why did I ask for this one??
I knew I was in for it. I hadn’t run many hills since the training for this race and wasn’t very confident that 3 months later, any of that endurance was left. And I was right. The 3.6 miles up may have been my slowest miles ever. Ever. Really. I’m guessing in the 10′s. But at each mile, my freakin’ amazing team was there to power arch me up that hill, hand me some water or tell me to get my sparkle on up to the top. And of course I made it. Not alone. With them. For them. Because of them.
And if what goes up, must come down, the downhill gods found me out on that mountain. The sweetest 2.5 mile downhill followed. And when I say sweet I mean miles that started with a 6:xx. FAST freakin’ fast. [I had some tiiiiime to make up! Which I did...and some! No better reason to shake my sparkle.]
Van 1 finished our third legs about noon and after handing off to Van 2, drove to the finish to shower, inhale food and get ready to welcome our teammates to Seaside and head through the finish as a team.
With a final time of 28:45, we placed 9th overall in the Women’s Open Division and I am super proud of the effort we all hammered into that course. It wasn’t easy, but I also know they don’t call Hood to Coast the Mother of all Relays for nothing.
The running was only a piece of what made this experience so unfreakin’believable – the friends, the journey, the hospitality… I’ll be sharing some of those highlights over the next week.