Nearly a year ago our fearless leader Elsa posted on Facebook asking if anyone was interested in running Hood to Coast. And, our team was born. Elsa sent in our application, with all of our fingers crossed to be picked in October. Just a few short days later everything changed. Our dear friend, and one of the members of our hopeful Hood to Coast team, Marisela, died in a cycling accident. After some discussion, Elsa emailed the people at Hood to Coast, told them our story, and asked if they would allow us to run in memory/honor of Mari. She got a response, very quickly, saying that they would happily give us a slot. And, so our team changed slightly, and a new purpose for this race was born.
Mari's initials M.E.
(This team name led to some interesting discussions with other teams...)
Elsa had asked me to co-captain the team with her (helping out for the other van since I have relay experience), and after planning for months (mostly Elsa) and talking about this race for nearly a year the weekend approached. We had changed our team name to "Its All About M.E.", and went in to the weekend with her on our minds. The entire team consisted of ironteamers from the previous couple of seasons. It was a pretty great group of people.
I flew in to Portland on Thursday morning, a little over half the team was there. We got lunch from food carts, wandered around, visited Voodoo Doughnuts and then headed back to the airport to pick up Van 2. (Van 1 was being driven down from Seattle by Liz.) Liz arrived in the late afternoon and we got dinner then Van 1 left to pick up one more teammate at the airport and head up to Mt. Hood. (Not gonna lie, a little sad that I didn't get to go up to Mt. Hood - but I will one day.)
Super stellar parking job on my part. Haha.
My first run was at about 4:30 pm. It was only 3 miles, but it was hot out. I pushed up my sleeves and momentarily considered taking off that shirt cause I was so hot. Luckily, for myself and all the people around me, I didn't and there was a nice family with an impromptu aid station set up. I doused myself with water and kept going. Thirty minutes later and I handed off to Raul for Van 1 to take over again. Van 1 drove me to the next exchange because the traffic at the major exchange was so awful. It took forever to get there, and I think Raul arrived at the exchange about 5 minutes before the van pulled in (and he had to run 7 miles in the heat).
We went and got dinner at Widmer Brothers Brewery - they had a gluten free menu (yay!) that was super easy to order from. Everything looked delicious, and it was. Then we headed to St. Helen's, got gas, checked in to the hotel room Elsa had booked for a midway refresh, showered, chatted and then headed to the next major exchange. We really had no time for sleep, and at this point, it was still quite early in the evening. I think we started running again before 11pm.
And, we were off, on our middle of the night legs. We were glow-tastic for our overnight legs. We had glow shirts, glow necklaces, bracelets, and best of all glow vests. Marvin and I had both received our Noxgear vests from the Kickstarter we supported earlier this year, and with two of them in our van everyone was able to wear the fiber optic vests and be extra visible (we did the Tracer 360 with a reflective vest underneath). Everyone on the course loved them, such a good investment!
Fiber optic vests. Fun and super visible from the road!
Glowing head wear
The weather was really nice at this point, it had cooled off. But, by the time runner 10 (Luke) started it was starting to drizzle. Runner 11 (Holly) wound up in a full on downpour for her night run. I took off at about 3:40am for about a 5 mile run (just under maybe?). It was still raining when I started, but not pouring. The rain got lighter and lighter as I went along. It was so calm and peaceful. I love the overnight runs in a relay, they are always my favorite. I was running down the highway and occasionally would hear a noise in the trees on the side of the road and wonder if it was a wild animal. Which, in turn would make me run faster.
As I was approaching the exchange I could see lots of vans backed up trying to get in (starting about 3/4 of a mile out). I was hoping to see my van and tell them not to pull in to the exchange, especially if I ran past them, I'd just come back and find them. I noticed a familiar van about a half mile from the exchange. Oh, that's van 1, not there yet. I looked over, said hi and continued on, wondering if I would have to wait. Just before I got to the exchange they went to call out my number and I heard a voice from behind me, Raul, saying, not to worry, the other runner was right there. Haha. He got in to the exchange, I passed off the slap bracelet to him and waited on the road, with the fiber optic vest on (making me easily spotted) for someone from my van to find me. While I was waiting, just under 10 minutes later van 1 drove by. Then Luke found me and we took off for the next major exchange.
I was pretty cold from the rain and sort of drifting in and out of consciousness as we drove, thank goodness for Monica driving. We got to the exchange around 5:30 or 6 I think. There was a house there that was selling food, none of which I could eat, it was all bread, eggs (all things I can't eat thanks to my new diet and my body not cooperating with my old eat anything I feel like diet). I realized we were running out of water, and there was a tent set up with sport top water bottles, I went to grab a few and the guy gave me a case, as well as a few foil blankets. I went back to the van, changed in to dry clothes, covered up with a foil blanket (those things keep you surprisingly warm!) and slept for about 45 minutes. As I returned from a bathroom trip I realized we had already switched runners with the other van and we were back on. Thankfully there wasn't too much traffic. We had started again around 9 am I think.
And we kept switching, Marvin to Monica to Adam to Luke to Holly to me. The day was lovely but as we got closer to the coast and the hours went by it started to warm up. It was pretty warm by the time I started my final run, around 1:20 pm. I was ready to go and bring it in for the team. This last run was an interesting one for me. It was only just about 5 miles, the first mile uphill, then a couple of miles down hill, then flat to the finish. I thought a lot about what had brought us to this point. I thought about the last year. I thought a lot about this crazy weekend, the amazing people I was with, so much. I was so grateful to have shared this experience with them.
I am SO glad we did this race. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience, and if you ever get the chance you should definitely do it. I had so much fun with my teammates, and especially van 2. We were silly, and laughing and having so much fun the whole way. I can't even begin to explain the silly things that happened. It wouldn't do them justice, at all. I didn't mind driving the van most of the way, it was actually kind of fun. We go to the exchanges successfully and happily. We all ran hard and best of all enjoyed ourselves. We weren't trying to win it, but we did finish about an hour and a half faster than we had predicted, so that's always fun.
The next day a few of us headed down to Cannon Beach for breakfast and to see Haystack Rock. Then we drove up to Astoria to visit the Goonies house and then back to Portland for another trip to Voodoo followed by dinner with most of the team. The next day we explored Portland more, and I had to make a visit to Powells City of Books. Then it was time to head home.
I have some thoughts on Hood to Coast vs Ragnar. And some tips for how to have a successful Hood to Coast weekend, but I'll save that for another post.
Will do. I loved Oregon. I'll definitely be back!
198 miles. 36 legs. 12 runners + 1 cheerleader. 1 team.
1 amazing reason to run. 30:59:11. This slap bracelet went
through it all.