When I left off, I had just completed my first leg of Hood to Coast. That completed the first round for Van 1.
I wasn’t feeling super hungry yet, but I knew that I needed to eat. I was actually feeling really hungry just before running my leg. I am sure that contributed to how crappy I felt at the end of it. Luckily, everyone else was ready for some real food. Our choices were to try to sleep (but it was still light and only around 6 p.m.), so we all decided to eat.
We went to a local brewpub in Gresham called 4th Street Brewing Company. That was perfect. They had burgers and sandwiches and really good french fries. I am bummed that nobody thought to get a group shot at dinner. I think we were all more interested in devouring french fries and burgers. Kerrie exclaimed that it was “the best burger she had ever had.” I ordered a beer. I was the only one, so I figured I was the “lush” of the group (I found out at the beach that it was not the case). I knew I didn’t run until after 2 a.m. and I really wanted to sleep, so I thought that a beer (a yummy local craft brew) would help me be able to nap in the van. I was so tired that I only drank about 1/3 of the beer. I was afraid that it would go straight to my head. It was a good call to waste that beer as my tummy did NOT like me after that.
After a nice, relaxing dinner we headed to downtown Portland to the next major van exchange. I have no idea where the time went, to be honest. I think we had five hours to kill before Tricia had to take the bracelet from XLMIC but it seemed like it was no time at all. My nap? Nope. Not happening. Too much going on and I’m the kind of person who hates to miss anything.
I tried to locate my good friend, Angel* but the exchange area was pure chaos. She was running the same leg as Tricia. Instead I gave out a bunch of glow sticks and enjoyed the night. I knew that I would see Angel sometime during the weekend. We were, however, able to see some of our Nuun Platuun teammates from Van 2. Pictured below are Jess, Tonia and Susan.
Tricia met up with Julie, a blogger/fan who had cheered for some of the Van 2 ladies and now was going to run part of Leg 13 with Tricia. How cool is she to run with a virtual stranger in the middle of the night?
Tricia took the handoff from XLMIC and took off. Her leg took her over the Hawthorne Bridge which must have been amazing at night. We couldn’t really follow her on this leg as it took us a while to find a way onto the bridge and then runners ran along the waterfront while vans took city streets. A few minutes into the drive, traffic came to a stop due to a train. A LONG train. You can read about Tricia’s opinion of this train HERE.
While we were waiting for the train, I heard my name called. There was my friend Angel yelling at the van. “I was hoping this was the Nuun van you were in!” she said to me as she gave me a big hug. She was also caught behind the train (at this point we didn’t know where Tricia was). Angel and I chatted a bit and she continued on her run when the train passed.
Alyssa was ready for her night leg. She nailed it. She ran it strong and fast. In fact, she ran it almost 30 seconds a mile faster than the HTC prediction sheet.
Alyssa handed off to Caitlin. She read that her leg was a series of rolling hills. She wasn’t prepared for the actual hills.We all chuckled when Kerrie leaned out the window to ask Caitlin if she wanted some knuckle lights (the Tinkerbell headlamp I gave her wasn’t very bright). Instead of answering the question, Caitlin yelled, “what are these f#$%ing hills??!!” It was so unexpected to hear mild-mannered Caitlin reacting like that. Our lack of sleep made that extremely funny.
Along the way we saw members of AfterNuun Delight. They were easy to spot in their Sparkle Skirts. Their driver was Mason, the president of Nuun. He even got into the sparkle spirit! How cool is a company where the top guy dons a sparkly skirt to support his team? Very cool indeed.
Kerrie was next. Once again, she put in a strong performance, outrunning her prediction pace. Her leg was supposed to be flat but was slightly uphill the entire way.
Then Margot proved again that she is a Faster Bunny. She took off like a rocket and we didn’t see her again. Believe me, we tried. She had asked Alex to bring her water on the course. Although it was well after midnight, it was still hot.
Margot is not only a faster bunny, but a stealth bunny. We had a tough time finding her in the dark. We drove up and down the highway and couldn’t find her. At one point we parked to wait for her to run by. We thought for sure we saw her, but when we got out to hand her the water, she didn’t respond. Not her. It turned out it was her and she was so focused on running that she didn’t realize that there was someone calling her name with water.
I was starting to get antsy about getting to the exchange. Since my last leg, I had been hitting the Honey Buckets regularly and needed to go again. After such a tight exchange last time, I wanted to get there before Margot showed up. I was swigging Pepto Bismol and wasn’t even sure my tummy would hold up for this leg even if I made it to the Honey Bucket. Without the porta potty stop, it would have been a guaranteed bad situation. Alex was determined to keep his word to Margot. I think he was committed to offering support to us wherever he could. But at this point I was getting myself pretty worked up. Margot was fast and had the potential to run faster than her prediction. Remember, it was around 2 a.m. I had very little sleep and my tummy was not in a good place. As the clocked ticked, I was getting more frustrated.
They dropped me off at the Honey Bucket while they parked the van. Physically, I was feeling better, but mentally I was not in a very good place. As I got done, I heard them yell for me, “she’s coming!” I needed to run quickly to the van to grab my Garmin**. Once again, no time to get my thoughts together. It was rush, rush, rush. I sprinted to the exchange where Margot was waiting. I didn’t even know what direction to run. Volunteers showed me the way and I ran as fast as I could.
I was in a negative place again. I was frustrated that we didn’t get to the exchange on time. Then I got frustrated because my Hood to Coast experience wasn’t turning out to be the wondrous experience I had hoped for. Just then Lauren and Mason ran up. When they asked how I was, I started venting. Afterwards I realized that I had whined about my frustration to the president of Nuun!! Ooops. He was so supportive and understanding. He encouraged me to “shake it off.” I told him I would “run it off.” They both left me in the dust, but I felt like a weight had been lifted. I was RUNNING HOOD TO COAST with AWESOME people. The experience would be what I made it to be.
After that epiphany, the course turned off the main highway onto a pitch black road that rose steeply (how steeply, I am not sure because I couldn’t see it). Suddenly, I was overcome with peace. I am actually a bit teary remembering it. It was dark and quiet and all I was aware of was my breathing and the light on the road from my headlamp. I was in love with this run!!
One guy ran up behind me and suddenly exclaimed, “cool! I just saw a falling star!!” “I’ll have to take your word for it,” I replied, “if I look up, I might trip and fall.” We wished each other a great run as he ran past me. I had a huge smile on my face.
There were several turns on this leg. I was nervous about that, but there were volunteers in bright orange vests at every turn giving clear directions. The leg was mostly uphill, but all I could see were flashing red lights in the distance. I kept pushing up, up, up those hills. Toward the end of that leg, I started passing runners. I felt strong as I ran up the hills, especially at the end.
This leg was everything I had hoped it would be. I know I ran it faster than predicted, but I don’t know exactly how much faster. My Garmin shows that I rant the last 3.64 miles at an 8:20 pace. I am pretty sure that I ran the first couple miles faster than that (darn satellites!). My prediction was to run at an 8:50 pace.
More than my pace, this leg was awesome because I finally realized that it is in my power to have a positive experience. How I react to situations out of my control makes the difference between a good run and a bad run. More than that, how I react to situations out of my control make the difference in my attitude for life in general. I made a decision during that run to be more positive in my daily life.
Who knew a little run in the middle of the night could be life changing?
Stay tuned for Part 4—There are zombies in Mist, Oregon
Also, coming up—a great giveaway!! I will review one of the products I used for Hood to Coast (as well as my recent long runs) and give one away to a lucky reader!
*Angel and I were close friends in high school and lost touch after the first year of college. We reconnected through Facebook and have rekindled that friendship, not only through a shared history but both of our new-found love of running.
**I should have left the Garmin. I turned it on and it wouldn’t find a satellite! It took well over a mile to find a satellite, which added to my frustration. I couldn’t see it during the run anyway because it was so dark.