Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Race Report: Hood to Coast 2012

Alright y'all, Hood to Coast IS TOTALLY what everyone says it is...it truly is the MOTHER of all relays.  I'm not even sure where to begin, I guess best place to start is the beginning.

I was runner #8 in Van 2!  This meant I had a late start on Friday and actually went to work for a few hours in the morning.  Around 11 am I met up with my van-mates to load em up.

After we loaded up we headed to the infamous Safeway parking lot to meet Van 1.  If you have heard anything about HTC you've probably heard that it can be quite chaotic.  Well, it is a total cluster at the van exchanges and at some of the runner exchange points too but honestly, I thought the whole spectacle was hilarious and amazing.

And, here we are in the Safeway parking lot with a GAZILLION other people with their crazy vans, costumers and blaring tunes.  I was ready to run!

Here is good looking Van 2!  Ready to roll.

After we handed off from Van 1 we hit the road to the next exchange where I would get to run my first leg.  

Leg 1: 4.55 labeled "easy"

I set pretty conservative paces for myself not knowing how I would hold up.  I told the van I'd be around a 12:00 min avg.  As I headed out, I felt great.  It was warm but not too bad and there was intermittent shade.  There were also rolling hills.  Going up was SLOW but going down, WOO HOO, I felt really good.  I let myself take a short walk break once a mile which worked out great.  At mile 4, I was right at 12:00 min pace.  In the last 1/2 mile I kicked it up a notch and ended up with a 11:55 avg--right on target.

Back in the van, sweaty and happy, Leg 1 was in the BOOKS!

Van 2 lucks out that we hit the van exchange right around dinner time.   We were all ready to eat.  On the way to our team captains house in Portland we called in dinner and when we got to the house, we ate, showered and tried to get a little bit of sleep, we would be ON again at midnight. Sleeping at 7:30 pm was tough but I do think I was able to sleep for maybe 45 minutes.  We hit the road to the van exchange, turned up the tunes and got ourselves psyched out for our next set of runs!

Leg 2: 5.75 miles labeled "very hard"

Again I set a conservative pace for this leg.  I knew it was going to be hard.  If you've seen the movie this is the leg that the woman proclaims something like "I ran up a MOUNTAIN." Here I am ready to go...totally NERVOUS.

Oh man, where do I begin with this leg.  It was WAYYYYY hard.  Total elevation gain per Garmin was 1300 ft.  Not only was it predominately uphill (LIKE REALLY UPHILL) most of the run was on a dirt road.  Well, there are two problems with this: 1) it was sooooooo dusty! They warned about this but it was so bad I saw someone barf up dust.  I could barely see since the vans were also driving on this road and the headlights into dust made it virtually impossible to see anything.  I saw a couple people totally eat it, it was pretty awful. 2) Dirt road = semi trail running and this girl isn't so good on the trails.  With all the loose gravel and rocks I was worried about a morton's neuroma flare up--luckily this didn't happen.

The best part about this leg, THE DOWNHILL last mile.  Oh yes, it was a screamin' downhill where I logged my fastest mile of the whole f'in relay--boo yah 9:15!

Average pace for this leg per Garmin 13:26, yikes SLOW!  While I was off the pace I put for this leg, my teammates were amazing.  They all commented on how hard the leg was and how awesome I did. (Member they drove this leg.)  It was so great to have such a support crew.  

Once back in the van, around 2am, it was operation let's not get cold.  I took off my VERY sweaty clothes and put on Pjs since I was on my rest break.  Side note: I baby wiped my face after my leg and I was covered in mud.  Since I was all sweaty and the dust was so bad I had caked on sweat-dust aka mud.

Here is what happens in the van between midnight and 4am...
There may have been teeth brushing. (and yes, those are the break lights of a traffic cluster!)

And funny self photos...

At the van exchange, there was hot chocolate being sold, yes please!  All part of operation stay warm.  We finally got to the parking/sleeping area and we hunkered down opting to sleep in the van versus outside.  It was interesting but I did probably sleep maybe an hour or two.  

Van sleeping area in the daylight of morning...

And before we knew it, it was time for the final van exchange.  Getting ready to meet the team.
Notice the cluster of cars and people...yup, it was pretty much non-stop and I seriously loved every minute of it.

Leg 3: 4.10 miles labeled "moderate"

I was ready to roll.  Up until this point I had pretty much been "roadkill" which for those of you non-HTC'ers means people were passing me right and left (I did pass one person on my VERY HARD UP THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN LEG).  I was determined to pass someone on this leg.  The minute I hit the road, I passed someone!  Yeah! At that moment I was determined to pass someone else.  There was a slight uphill around mile 2 and I would have normally slowed but there was a girl in front of me who started walking...so...I PASSED her too.  2 down!  When I had, what I thought was a quarter mile left I HIT IT...and I passed another one, this time a DUDE!  However, it wasn't a quarter mile, it was more like half a mile...so when I hit the exchange point I was SPENT but that dude didn't pass me back.  I ended my last leg right on pace...12:02 per garmin.

And, just like that my HTC experience was over.

It was an amazing experience and I'm totally IN for next year if our team gets in again.  Unfortunately, since Mr. Pi was out of town, I was picked up after my last leg and didn't get to hit up the beach party--NEXT YEAR!

After I got home I strapped myself into my normatec's and crashed!  While I was home, I started thinking about the things you miss when you live in a van for 36 hours...

1. Running water
2. Real plumbing
3. Stretching your legs out...all the way
4. Fresh, non-sweat filled air
5. Hot food
6. Real coffee

I'm sure there are other things too but a few days removed that's what I can come up with.  HTC was great, if you have an opportunity to get on a team, DO IT!

Thanks to... 
-Powerbar for keeping our teams bellies happy, 
-Swiftwick & TriSlide for keeping my feet happy,
-NormaTec for aiding my recovery!