Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hood To Coast Relay Race Report with Team Runners World - Part 3

If you missed them,
Part 1 - Arriving in Portland and Grocery Shopping with my new teammates
Part 2 - Race Start and Running my first leg (Leg 1)

Now onto Part 3: between the relay legs with my teammates, and my 2nd and 3rd relay legs to run.

Fun Teammates
In my van was Claire and Kristen from New Balance and Bart, Jeff, and Molly from Runner's World. They are all much faster than me. Jeff is so fast that he passed about 150 people in his 3 relay legs... and the only person who passed him during his legs was the person on the team that won the entire relay last year! But all were great runners, and even better, genuinely nice people to be thrown together for 30 hours in a Nissan Quest.

The introductions, in alphabetical order...

Bart Yasso, a goodhearted guy goofing off pre-race

Claire, rolling on her IT Band in her downtime. Silly and fun but serious about her running!

Jeff, so fast his feet don't touch the ground. ;-) Says he doesn't like people, but got along well wth everyone!

Kristen, very smart girl - she brought an eye mask and ear plugs for the
night naptime. And she loves her some crunchy peanut butter.

Molly with her great spirit, shown here in her first relay leg. Even at our most tired, driving
at midnight down a dark quiet Oregon country highway, she had me giggling.
My Second Leg - Explaining the Adrenaline of an Endurance Relay
I'm the first runner in our van, so the adrenaline would hit me the worse before I started the 2nd and 3rd legs. For the second leg, about 7 pm Friday, we get to the relay exchange site, and I'm out of the van and ready for Taylor to come in and hand me the baton. Ring Warren in the other van? Oh, they missed the last exchange so were delayed 20 minutes. Adrenaline spike over - back in the van. Call my husband, hang out, okay, it has to be nearing time, back out of the van. Head over to the handoff area, hang with Bart, wait wait wait. The other van doesn't really know what time Taylor started, or what her pace would be. Wait wait wait.

This is a hard part of these relays. The adrenaline surges, then wait, then anticipation, then RUN - GO GO GO! So you have planned your naps, your food, your potty break around a potential time your runner may or may not come in. And then it can all get skewed from there. So about 45 minutes of craning my neck, listening to them yell team numbers for incoming runners, and - oh, it's my turn!!!

Taylor finishes strong!
Take the baton from Taylor, and I'm off. Too fast. Rein it in, girl. You still have 4.2 miles, and for Portland, it's HOT. No shade, no clouds, and high 80s with humidity.

Start of my second leg (Leg 13)
A beautiful leg early on, I cross a big bridge over the river and run right along it through a nice promenade. Then into a more industrial area, although still along the river.

My split paces: 11:08, 12:29, 12:30, 12:23, 10:57 (last 0.2). Too fast up front but then consistent (something I constantly strive for), and a nice kick at the end. I feel good.

Third Leg - "CARLO"
At midnight, our van goes "on break" for a few hours. Molly drives the van, I sit up front to navigate and keep her company, and everyone else sleeps while we make the 45 minute drive to the spot for Leg 25 where we will pick back up our running. We get there, no cell service, and it's a very busy exchange. We park, lots of bustle, van headlights, and we all try to get some sleep in our van chairs.

2 hours of not very peaceful sleep. Because we all keep hearing "CARLO" being yelled. OVer. and OVER. AND OVER again. Turns out Jeff and Molly both were very close to jumping out of the car and screaming, "Obviously, Carlo isn't here", but they didn't want all the lights in the van to go ahead and disturb everyone else's sleep, not realizing it was disturbing all of our sleeps. Except Kristin, who hearing about our freakout right after waking up asks "Who's Carlo?" Guess who brought ear plugs.

It's cold and a little foggy/misty. We don't know when to expect the other van to come in with no cell service from them for 4 hours. So I put on a jacket and wrap a blanket around my legs and Bart waits out at the side of the road in the chaos of teams coming and going with me. Teammates snooze a little and come and go as we wait. Molly got this great nighttime pic.

Waiting for Taylor to come in for my turn to run my last leg (Leg 25)
It's 3 am, and as runners come in, they stand on one side of the highway. And occasionally shout out their team number. The next leg of folks are crowded on the other side, trying to hear or see signs of their runner. With no cell service, no one knows when to expect their runner. A couple people who have come in are waiting a good 30+ minutes. Imagine running a hard nighttime leg, and you finish and can't potty, you don't have any water, any food, shivering in the cold, waiting for your team to come collect you. As a race director, I definitely had a moment of "this could be improved upon". This race does much right, but as a MAJOR van change spot with no cell reception, I imagine this scene has looked the same for years here, and there's much better ways to do this.

Taylor comes in, we spot her right away, I throw off my jacket and blanket, take the baton, start my Garmin, turn on my headlamp, and I'm off. Yeah, that's a lot to accomplish in 20 seconds, and your adrenaline spikes through the roof at that moment too.

I go out too fast, again, and slow it down. Beautiful quiet, rolling hills, twisty turny highway, enough mist to make my headlamp reflect the light back at me at times to where I can only see the white line of the shoulder of the highway on the ground. It's hard at times in this dark dark dark to see where the tall pine trees end and the sky begins, but the stars help answer that question.

At my pace, I get passed left and right until about 2 miles in. You are tired, your legs are tired. It's not that you have run a lot of miles, it's the conditions you have existed in all day. I watch my Garmin constantly to verify pace as I can't trust the signals my legs send. Still groggy from the 2 hour nap, but coupled with being hopped up waiting 45 minutes in anticipation for the baton handoff. A guy passes me who I realize isn't going that much faster, so I tuck in 3-4 feet behind him, illuminating his path with my headlamp, and just hang on. He keeps turning his head slightly to the side, and I'm thinking "Dude, just enjoy the extra light in this very very dark location. I am not going to pass you. It's gonna have to be your job if you want to speed up, or just say something." After a few minutes, he quits the glancing and just runs. We both seem stronger for it. I just have to stay a handful of feet behind him and it makes running easier without having to push myself.

In the last 0.2 miles of this shorter 3.75 mile middle-of-the-night relay leg, I decide to repay the favor because I'm at the end of my total running in this race and feeling strong. On a big curve in the highway, and an uphill during the rolling hills, I make my move and pass him, and hope he will follow me to take us strong into the finish. But no, I lose him quickly after that. I pass a person or two coming into the finish with a hard final kick, well, hard for my pace and for all my body and mind have been through for an endurance relay. And for me that's a 9:30-10:00 minute per mile pace during that final kick compared to my usual 12-ish minute per mile pace.

Split paces: 11:59, 12:46, 12:04, 11:15 (last 0.75 miles, normal pace first 0.55, and kick last 0.2 miles, averaged out)

Tomorrow I hope to finish the blog entry with the race finish, and yes, the question everyone asked me, "What's Bart like?" LOL.

1 comment:

  1. Love reading your perspective of the same legs I ran...but at totally different times of the day.

    Great job