Sunday, August 30, 2009

20 Hours 31 Minutes

I figured a 197 mile relay race would be crazy. I had no idea how beautiful, fun, massive and hard it would be. Going into this race I did not know any of the 11 other people on my team. I either got lucky or was meant to end up on this team because they were all absolutely awesome. Every single person was talented, interesting and fun. Oh - and also a rock-star runner!

For those of you who don't know much about Hood to Coast - it is a 197 mile relay from Mt. Hood to the Oregon coast in Seaside. Each team has 12 runners, who run 3 separate legs of the race (each about 10k). Our team goal was to win the mixed submasters division (6 guys / 6 girls, all age 30+). There are 1,000 teams, which = 12,000 runners. It is CRAZY!! Some teams start as early as 6am Friday morning. Our team started at 6:30 Friday evening.

Brian and I were a little overly excited about the free stuff Cliff gave us!

The race literally starts on Mt. Hood - the first leg is brutally all steep DOWNhill. My teammate Nona rocked it.

Sometime around 12:30am I tried on what I thought was the most awesome reflective vest EVER that Jeffrey had snagged for me from work. Apparently my new-found Slughunter friends thought it might slow me down and outfitted me in this reflective vest instead.

My first leg of 6.4 miles took place along a dark river trail at about 1:30am. Running at 10k pace with a headlamp in the middle of the night is somewhat surreal and amazingly weird. In some ways it seemed like an odd dream. I saw people sleeping in tents along the river, bizarre reflections from my headlamp and even though I was running around 6:30 pace, it felt more like I was running a 4:30 pace because everything was coming at me so quickly. Words can't accurately describe it.

As sleep deprivation and miles added up, so did the loopiness. Around leg #8 our team moved into 1st place. What was awesome was to watch the momentum each of us added to the race. We all had predicted times for our legs. Continuously each of us came in slightly under the prediction and our lead started to grow.

This is what the van looks like after you run and try to sleep.

Billy had no trouble sleeping upright.

My 2nd run took place around 8am Saturday morning. It was only 4.9 miles, but I was somewhat worried since I hadn't slept and my legs felt less than frisky. This was probably the hardest leg of the race for me - I got a side stitch and didn't start to feel good until about mile 4. It was motivating how strong our team was running. That combined with some caffeine in my GU kept me moving fast.

Yes, those are jean shorts.

The finish in Seaside was beautiful. My legs were nothing but unhappy with me by the time I hit the final leg around 2:30pm Saturday. But running over the hill to find this view of the fog, ocean and my friends waiting to run through the finishing chute was something I think everyone should experience at some point in their life.

We won our division with a team average pace of 6:15 for the entire 197 miles. It continues to amaze me at how many beautiful places two legs can take you! I have a million more fun pictures to post later this week. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was the fact that by the time I came home today, my abs hurt from laughing so much!