Hood to Coast 2011
Until recently, I'd LOVED races--loved the camaraderie, the swag (t-shirts! medals! Jamba Juice!), the energy. I looked forward to them, and that anticipation made training somewhat fun. I would just go out there and give it my all.
After having done two marathons this year (Seattle Rock 'n' Roll and Eugene), I've been kind of burnt out on running. The stress of months of training and several VERY disappointing races had taken a lot of the fun out of it. I felt like my body and I were at odds with each other, and I became really critical of myself because I wasn't meeting any of my time goals. I decided after my last race (Lacamas Lake Half in July) that I was going to take a break from racing, and just run for fun. I wasn't going to worry about time or pace, just run when I felt like it, and spend more time doing other kinds of exercise.
The only kink in my plan was Hood to Coast--a 200 mile relay with 12 person teams. I'd committed to doing it a year ago, and couldn't back out on my team so close to the race. I dreaded the 200 mile relay for weeks, but didn't want to be a Debbie Downer for my team, and reminded myself that if I gave my best, my friends would be proud of me no matter what my pace was, and that we had decided to run H2C a second year because it was FUN--we weren't going to win any division, but we had a great time doing this crazy relay anyway.
Our team was named the Trail Nuts, and we each had a nutty nickname. Half of our team lived in this van for two days! Most of our teammates from last year returned to run again this year, which was great. Our van was a great group of people--I don't think I'd ever do this race again unless it was with them! We had a great time decorating the van with window markers, and Mr. Peanut decorations. Our mascot, Mr. Peanut! When it actually came time for me to run, I was nervous because it was getting dark and it was still hot out. And right after runner 7 handed off to me, my flashlight stopped working! Everything seemed to be going wrong. Fortunately, my teammate gave me their headlamp and off I went. My first leg (Leg 8) was dark and hot, but only 4.55 miles. I couldn't see very well, and I didn't want to run too fast on this fairly easy leg because I knew my next leg would be killer. I tried to pace myself and listened to music (I pinned my headphones to my tank top like little speakers, because it's against the rules to have them in your ears). I was glad when it was over. After our van finished our first set of legs, we stopped at one of our teammate's houses to eat some delicious pasta and get two hours of sleep. Then it time to get back on the road!
My second leg (Leg 20) was at sunrise. The course was half paved, half gravel, and almost totally uphill (700 feet elevation gain over 5.75 miles). I knew it was going to be hard, so my only goal was to run the entire thing, without walking. It was hard and I was discouraged by how slow my pace was, but I reminded myself that my teammates wouldn't be disappointed by my pace since they knew it was a tough climb. But if they saw me walking, they'd probably give me a hard time! :) Fortunately, the last 3/4 mile was all downhill, and I decided to go full speed and try and make up as much time as possible. I really killed it, and my teammates were really impressed :P
Fortunately, on our way to one of the next few exchanges, there was a Dairy Queen! It's kind of a tradition for our van to stop and get some DQ during the race, and I was SUPER excited to have a mini Oreo Blizzard. I love that my teammates are serious about this race, but like to have fun too. At the Dairy Queen drive through. My last leg (Leg 32) was 4 miles of gently rolling hills, mostly uphill. I was tired and really ready to be done. I knew Van 1 was on their way to the coast to shower and eat and relax, and we still had one set of legs to finish. I was tired and hungry and sore but I wanted to finish strong. I tried to take the course as it came--running faster when it felt good, and slower when I needed it. It was really really hot, and I was glad I'd filled my hydration belt, even though it was a short run. I was glad when it was over! I wasn't FAST, but my pace was better than I'd expected, and I did my best. While Hood to Coast was very hot and difficult this year, it was tons of fun. We laughed a lot, supported each other, ran hard, and made it all the way to Seaside. H2C is definitely a crazy thing to do--you hardly sleep, you miss real food, you're tired and sore--but I would absolutely do it again next year. I'm so lucky that I had such an amazing team. Touching the very cold Pacific Ocean.
Have you done a relay, or do you want to try one? Would you do it again? :)< Previous Post Next Post >