6'0 tall, former athlete, mother of 3, struggling to keep up on the RUN of daily life.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tall Mom's thoughts on Hood to Coast Legs 9, 21 and 33

Hood to Coast 2011 with team Nuun was one of the best experiences of my Running Career. I can hardly find the words to describe the extreme highs and pukey lows, and how as a team we managed to laugh our way through all of it. This week will be dedicated to Hood to Coast, so bare with me. This first post is my personal experience with legs 9, 21 and 33.

Leg 9:
7.04 miles
Ranked Moderate
Time- 55:23
7:52 Average pace

Our team started at around 12:30PM, being the 9th runner there is a lot of WAITING. We spent hours in a parking lot in the HOT sun passing out Nuun samples, branding folks with nuun tattoos, and meeting some pretty crazy folks. By the time my leg started, just before 7pm I was already pretty DRAINED. I did get the KING to think about putting Nuun in his burger joints ;)Funny this leg is in Boring, Oregon which sorta describes the run. You will start on the side of a semi-busy road for about a mile, then turn onto Springwater trail which starts as gravel for about 2 miles and eventually merges to a paved trail. The Bummer about being on the trail is there is no van access, which means that for 7 miles you will be SOLO.

I passed 6 people, or as we call them in HTC "roadkills", including a guy with his name "Bob" in reflective tape on his back. My legs felt really heavy, I could have sworn that the trail was slightly uphill, but from the map it says it is downhill…I am still confused about that. My shoes would not grip the gravel, so I found myself running in the weeds to get any traction. At one point a Rooster crossed my path, this lead me to think up several "Why did the Chickecn cross the road?" jokes in my head. I could feel myself getting SLOWER and SLOWER.. But I knew I could hold it together. There were tiny water stops and families with squirt guns, I highly recommend carrying water through this section it was HOT this year and I needed every drip of my handheld.

I was pumped to see Melody 100 yards away, I kicked it hoping I would not do my T-Rex Arms and mouth wide open (T told me that I did just that, OOPS). I SPRINTED to the handoff. I had asked Megan HERE to bring me water and take some pictures, she did, THANKS MEGAN!! The team from Nuun Platuun was there and were AMAZING, their Coach Casey told me that I rocked it, although he had no idea what my time was those simple words made me feel really good, Thanks Casey!!
Happy to be done with leg #1, and off to the next handoff. I realized that my Nuun Tattoo was MELTING off my sweaty arm..
Looking TOUGH.. I had no idea what was ahead of me at this point...

*****Between my legs in the Portland area I was starting to feel VERY ILL. I tried and tried to throw up knowing it would help me feel better, with no luck. We went to a Safeway where I bought a Bagel and Sprite which took me forever to eat. My stellar teammate Melody HERE also offered me her Tums, by the time we made it to our sleeping area I was feeling a bit more human, but from then on stayed toward the front of the van. We were able to sleep under the stars for about 2 1/2 hours, which was fantastic.. I did not want to get up. I wanted to take lots of pictures, but picking up the camera made me want to puke.. UGH!!.

Leg 21:
5.00 miles
Ranked Moderate
Time- 39:19
7:51 Average Pace

This leg may haunt me for a while. I started running about 4:30AM, complete pitch black darkness. The entire 5 miles is on a gravel road in the mountains. I could not get my Garmin to find a signal. Running alone, in the dark, with dust so thick it was hard to breathe or see…WOW was that tough. I brought a bandanna to cover my mouth, but I only wore it for a short time because I was feeling claustrophobic. I passed about 8 people on this leg, it was a welcome site to come across other runners. I pushed the pace as hard as I could, I wanted to be DONE, my van drove past and asked how I was "My stomach is cramping bad, but I will make it," I replied. I didn't know if the cramps were from pushing my body or what, but it HURT..

I meant to change my shoes before this leg, instead I ruined my brand new pair of Brooks :( I loved my head lamp and knuckle lights HERE. On this leg it was nice to see cars because it lit up the path, but once they zoomed past the dust was thick. My eyes were irritated, I started to see black fuzz on the corners of my eyes almost as if I would pass out. Just then I hit a huge hole, thankfully I did not trip, instead jammed my whole body. From then on I kept a close eye on the road. BLESSING when the Nuun Platuun van passed and cheered for me, again the CFO Casey was GREAT throughout the race his positive words kept me going!! I could feel the LOVE from T HERE and Jess HERE, what a treat to have so many friends on all of the teams, I think I was at an advantage having met many ladies prior to HTC because it was difficult to have time to get to know people along the race, unless they were in our Van.

I would not recommend this set of legs to people who are sensitive to dust, not used to running in gravel or are fearful of the dark. I made it through, but I would not want to do this set of legs again, it is NOT FUN in my book :)

Leg 33:
7.76 miles
Ranked Hard
Time- 1:06:51
8:37 Average Pace

I was pretty intimidated by the length of this leg and being marked as Hard with "Rolling Hills." I knew it would be tough, with lack of sleep and food, hours in the van and over 12 miles on my legs. My Goal for this leg was to ENJOY IT!! I did not have a pace goal in mind, although I would have loved to keep the sub 8:00 streak going. This leg started just before 1:00PM on an 80' day with a strange strong headwind. The route was BEAUTIFUL! I loved the scenery, words cannot express. At one point along the way there was a yard with a fence made of old bicycles, the bikes baskets had colorful plants growing, just past the adorable bike fence was a dog playing in the yard, the owner would blow bubbles, the dog would jump to pop them. This made me SMILE.
My driver asked if I would need help along the way, I had my handheld so I thought I would be OK, they stopped around mile 2 and took some photos, but I did not see them again, with the traffic all morning we never knew how long it would take to get to the next transition. Special thanks to Carrie HERE for the action shots!! ADVICE, have your van stop for you 2-3 times along this leg for support, water, etc. Many other teams stopped multiple times along the route and traffic was fine. My handheld was DRY half way through, thankfully I found a Brownie troop selling water to raise money, I told them I had no money but they were happy to help me.. Filled my bottle and squirted be with a Bazooka Super Soaker Water gun. Just what I needed to be REFRESHED. I WILL find a way to get them some $$ to make up for this amazing support..

There was a guy in front of my for the first 3 miles, we had gone back and forth passing each other, he passed me during this quick stop. I hunted him down and passed him, never saw him again. I think I was messing with his walk/run plan and he seemed relieved when I passed. There was a "man" in a green tutu with a very unique prance, he passed me on Leg 9 and 33, internal chuckle and dimples shining, he was FANTASTIC. I could feel my quads and calves were about to cramp, so I slowed to avoid major issues. I did not want to let my team down, but I know my body and I was approaching FAILURE.

I CLIMBED a HILL the last half mile then slight downhill to the Finish. I was SOOOOO Happy to see Melody and to be done running. I truly truly enjoyed the last leg, it was PERFECT but my body was going to CRAMP and I had no time to stretch or run, Melody's leg was just 3 miles and she is FAST.. When I got in the car Jen, our Nuun runner, plopped 2 Strawberry Lemonade tabs in my bottle and told me to chug it.. I believe that this saved me from cramping. Thanks Nuun!!! The Mel's we ended up matching in Pink for a few legs because my Blue Team Sparkle Skirt was lost in the van. I had "known" Mel the longest in the virtual world, and what a TREAT to become friends and watch her SHINE throughout the race.

Special Thanks to my AWESOME team for their support, taking pictures and keeping the spirit light. Kelly HERE got some great pictures and taught me so much, I will talk more about the TEAM aspect of Hood to Coast in my next few posts.. for Now I need a little more of this...


Bethany + Ryan said...

Looks like SO much fun!!!!! Congrats!! It was fun to follow along on fb.

btw, i think i figured out which celebrity you look like...was watching a movie and kept thinking, "this person really reminds me of someone." Figured out later it was you. So..who do people say you look like??

Marathon Lar said...

Major bummer about the dust situation, but you still killed every leg and maintained a positive attitude through the whole thing. I've heard so much about the traffic jams at HTC...maybe you should suggest that Nuun sponsor a relay team at Ragnar next year...it's a little smaller but there aren't any traffic jams, no dirt roads, and and scenery can't be beat...that is my two sense :)

Stephanie said...

Oooo gosh, way tp power through. i don't know if i could have pushed how you did. absolutely amazing and inspiring. i am glad you were able to have an awesome time despite some hardship.rest up, can't wait to hear more!

Kathy said...

Great job on some super tough legs! I ran those legs last year, so I definitely know how hard they are. Sorry you were feeling so yucky for a chunk of the race - hope you are recovering well!

Nicole W. said...

Great Times Mel!!!! you really pushed through!!! way to go!!

KK @ Running Through Life said...

Wow! What an experience! Sounds super challenging but very rewarding! Way to go!

kimert said...

What an awesome awesome recap! I got chills, teary eyed and just super excited for you and the Nuun teams. I love Nuun, btw and now never run without it! True story.
Anyway, I am still loving the recaps! Hope you are resting well!!

Unknown said...

Great recap! Can't wait to read more!

Unknown said...

Wow, all that and you came away happy with HTC? You have the best attitude about running when you feel sick and in that dust.

Love the picture at the Seaside sign!

Congrats on a great relay.

Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

You always remember the BEST details Mel!! Hope you feel better. You certainly gave it your all!!

Marlene said...

Let the H2C post hurricane begin! :P

So fun to read about everyone's adventures.

Wow, did you ever get some hard legs! Way to tough it out. Sorry that you weren't feeling well, but I'm glad it did not put a damper on the whole experience for you. Awesome running!!!

Lisa said...

So sorry to hear the first two legs were so tough. Sounds pretty brutal but you soldiered through and with awesome times! Amazing!! Hope you're recovering well. Can't wait to read more.

Elizabeth said...

Great job on your legs! Even despite all the hardships, you still powered through. Woohoo! I love all the pictures, too!

Apparently, our local track club won Hood to Coast. I've seen some of the guys from the team running before and they are crazy fast! Kind of intimidating. Lol.

track coach and adorable wife said...

Wow you are such a trooper! Way to handle everything that came your way and finish with a smile! Can't wait to run with you all again soon!

The Jesse said...

what a great recap! i can't wait to read more!!! way to push through when the going got tough. you are such an inspiration! hope you are feeling better :)

Zenaida Arroyo said...

What a great recap! Thanks for sharing and CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Molly said...

how cute are you??!? Congrat's Mel!!!!

X-Country2 said...

What a wonderful event! You always look so damn happy. Can't wait to read teh rest of the report.

Renee said...

Love reading your blog! You are so inspiring!! Good work Mel!

Erica said...

Looks like SO much fun!!!!! Congrats!

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Anonymous said...

Great Job Mel!!! What was your time and pace for the last leg?? You rocked it!

Kris said...

Wow!! You did awesome running those legs, very impressive. Glad you had so much fun and hope you are feeling better now. Running when your stomach hurts is not enjoyable to say the least. I cant imagaine running over 19 miles at night feeling that way. Your a solider!! You totally Rock!!

Unknown said...

Wow! You're such a trooper! The dusty night leg sounds CRAZY!

Loving reading about your experience!

Winks & Smiles,

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