So be sure when you step. You step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hood to Coast

Hood to Coast was everything I was expecting - gorgeous scenery, great people, and an overall epic experience.  The race start was staggered in 15-minute intervals.  The slower teams began at 7am and the faster teams began at 7pm.  We started at 3:30pm.

Because of our later start, we were able to enjoy our morning in Portland.  The Embassy Suites provided a really good complimentary breakfast.   I had an omelette (made to order), a pancake, a yogurt, potatoes, orange juice and coffee.  I don't get to eat a breakfast like that very often, if ever, because I usually do not stay in an Embassy Suites.

Anyway, the race started on Mount Hood.  It was lovely up there.  The air was so thin that it made our bag of Doritos inflate and my ears crack.  We started with six other teams.  Our first runner was real fast, and passed them all.  This is what people call a "kill."

I was the second runner.  People warned me that my leg was a steep downhill, but they also assured me that it was nowhere as bad as Leg 1.  I knew that it was important for me to lean forward during this downhill to avoid burning out my quads.

Mind you, I have only ran a few times in the past month.  None of them fast.  Few of them over 6 miles.  So, while my legs were able to turn over at a 6 min mile pace, my cardiovascular system was not able to keep up.

At one point, I glanced down at my Garmin to note that it had only been nine minutes.  It's not a good sign if you are exhausted after only nine minutes.

I slowed down but at the expense of my legs.  I wore my Hokas in attempt to lessen the effect but my legs were toasted regardless.  I thought the scenery would serve as a distraction, but instead I barely noticed it.

We finished running down the Mountain and met our Van 2 in a large Safeway parking lot.  There were a lot of other vans there and I met people from all countries imaginable: Amsterdam, Italy, France - and everyone was so open and friendly and interesting.

Eventually we continued back to Portland and had dinner at Whole Foods.  It was the first fresh food since my breakfast feast.  It was also already 9pm, which is my bedtime, so needless to say, I felt tired.  After my soup, I slouched at the table and looked at my teammate standing up, rubbing his belly that was full of smoked salmon.  "Yeah," he said thoughtfully, "I really feel like I need to go for a run."

My second run was around 12:30am through the industrial district.  This stretch of the race is completely dark.  Despite getting crowned with a headlamp, I could not see anything but endless blackness.

I didn't even see other runners!  I "killed" four runners within the first mile, but after that, it was just a sea of black.  The first three miles were pretty good, probably around a 7:15 pace.  But then my legs became heavy with lactic acid.  The best thing you can do when this happens is to run as fast as you can so you that you can be done. So, that is what I did.

I was hoping for sleep before my last run but of course it did not happen.  That is what I dislike most about these relay races - sleep never happens!  Even if you get the chance, your body does not cooperate.

By the time of my last run, my legs were so sore.  I did tons of stretching (at one point, I even had an audience of those in awe of my flexibility.  But the last thing I wanted was to put on a show,  I just wanted my legs to stop aching!)  However, without rest is there is no recovery, body contortion and compression socks aside.

My third run was on rolling hills through the woods.  I would say that these 5.8 miles mimicked the pain of the last 5.8 miles of a marathon.  I hate that pain - that is why I don't run marathons!!

I focused on killing people and hit my expected pace.  And then....I was done!!!!

Despite the fatigue and the pain, I had a great time in Oregon.  I met many fabulous people, saw many fabulous sights and at the end of it all, I felt like I really accomplished something.  It was more of an adventure than a race.

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