Monday, September 5, 2011

Hood to Coast Race Report Part 2—the highs and lows of the first legs

For the events leading up to the race check out Part 1. This recap ended up being really long. I hope the others are more concise (although I doubt it). The details are for me, but I hope you enjoy them.

Tricia started off the Nuun Platuun on a crazy downhill leg. That first leg was enough to scare me out of running in the first position. She lost 2000 feet of elevation in 5.64 miles—rated “very hard.”  Honestly, other than the knee-jarring, toenail-smashing downhill grade, her legs were some of the most scenic of the entire 200 miles.

And she rocked it.  Her form looked great and she had a big smile on her face.  You can read about her experience here.

While we were waiting for her at the first transition, we spread the Nuun love with single serve samples and some temporary tattoos.




And then Tricia was there handing off to Alyssa!


Alyssa ran another “severe downhill” leg.  Hers lost 1500 feet in elevation over 5.67 miles. There is a lot of talk about Leg 1’s brutal downhill, but Leg 2 is no walk in the park. Of course, she rocked it. You can read her HTC account HERE.

After Alyssa, it was Caitlin’s turn.  Caitlin is a Nuun staffer with a ton of energy. Did I mention that every Nuun employee was AMAZING? She kept telling us she wasn’t a runner, but then kept killing her legs (not the ones attached to her body). She was our “secret weapon!”  In addition to rocking her runs, Caitlin helped out our driver, Alex, with timing and navigating.  She is awesome.


And look how CUTE she is!


Up next was Kerrie. You can read her perspective HERE. By this time, the heat was beginning to be noticeable. We were hot just waiting around for our runners. I was getting nervous about running in it. But I still had a long time to wait.


Kerrie is with Jocelyn from Van 1 of AfterNuun Delight.  We actually saw these ladies more than we saw our own team in Van 2.

It was now officially HOT. We stopped along the route a couple of times to give Kerrie more water and pour some on her head. 


Up next was Margot.  She was the speedy one of our van. She ran without a Garmin, without a watch, without water.  She just ran. When you watch her run you see focus and speed. You can read about her experience HERE. We stopped a couple of times to give her water as well.


I was starting to get nervous. I had been waiting ALL day and my time was finally coming. I was practically giddy (and scared at the same time).

When we got to the exchange, we realized the logistics were tricky.  Thus far, there has been ample parking at each exchange.  Here, we had to park along the highway and the exchange was where a country road met up with the highway. I knew that Margot would be coming soon, so I hopped out of the van while everyone else got situated.  I jogged toward the transition area. 

I immediately saw Margot coming up the hill.  “Nine-Eight-One,” the volunteer called. Crap!  No time to mentally prepare.  Oops…my shoes are not double tied.  I bent down, tied my shoes and heard my name.  I turned around to see my Dad!!! OMG…that was AWESOME to see.  I gave him a quick hug and turned around to see Margot running into the chute.  And then…I was off!lisa and margot exchange 5

I definitely had an adrenaline spike. That minute was definitely an emotional high—finally running Hood to Coast, my dad there to cheer me on. I was SO happy. I took off like a bat out of hell. At one point I looked at my Garmin and saw a 6 as the first number.  Ummm…that is a bit too fast, I think. The first two miles were 7:31 and 7:43.  That probably wasn’t the smartest way to start a 6.75 mile run in 85-90 degree heat. And after those first two miles, when my excitement wore off a little, I started to feel the heat. Oh…the unrelenting heat.Leg 6

It was getting toward 90 degrees.  I was ready for my team to dump water on my head. I knew that I would go through everything I was carrying to drink as well (I had two 8 ounce bottles of Nuun on my iFitness Hydration Belt). I saw one of the teams we had met at a previous exchange.  They offered me water. “No,” I foolishly said, “my team will be right up ahead.”  Then I saw the AfterNuun Delight team.  They high-fived me as I ran by. I didn’t ask them for water because I assumed my team would be just around the next bend. Never assume.lisa leg 6a

It was somewhere in those later miles, when I realized that my team wasn’t going to be there. The negative talk in my head became loud and difficult to ignore. I started feeling sorry for myself. I started doubting myself. I was hurt. Logically, I knew they had a very good reason for not stopping. I found out later that they read that vans weren’t allowed to stop.  But at the time, I didn’t know that. I had studied that first leg and never saw that in the description.* I started to spiral into a very low place. I was so disappointed that after months of anticipation for HTC, my first leg wasn’t “magical.” Would the weekend be a let down? I was dizzy and felt like I was going to throw up. I was unsteady on my feet and I actually thought that I made a mistake by not running with my phone—how long before they came back to get me if I couldn’t finish?  I wanted to walk, but  I didn’t want to be the weak link of the team who walked during her first leg. I knew that my team would have been more than understanding, but I couldn’t face that in my negative state. But more than that, I wanted it to end.  I kept pushing.

When Lauren, from AfterNuun Delight, passed me and asked me how I was, I said something (probably in a not-so-friendly tone) to the effect that I wanted to throw up. I wish, in retrospect, that I would have been more positive and chatty.  I wish she would have passed me in the first two miles. I wish I could have seen the bright side that I WAS RUNNING HOOD TO COAST.  Instead, I was a ball of negativity.**

To add insult to injury, somehow when I turned on my Garmin, there was a half mile on it from some other random run and I failed to reset it or realize it. As my Garmin mileage approached the 6.75 length of the leg, I saw no exchange.  That last half mile was pure torture.  Where was the exchange??  Am I lost?? Why have I run over 7 miles already?? Why is it so freaking HOT in Oregon??***

When I finally saw the exchange, I was filled with pure relief. The best thing I saw all afternoon was Jess, looking so fresh and pretty in her blue sports bra and camo running skirt. I handed her the snap bracelet (I have no idea how I got it to her) and she said something nice and was off.298998_2388250423830_1177904356_33083582_5246692_n

Kerrie was there with cold water for me to drink as well as to dump on my head.  I can honestly say that I have never been so out of it after a run. I know I gave it everything I had.

Those moments after my run are a bit fuzzy.  I remember being unsteady on my feet and nauseous. I specifically remember Harmony (one of my teammates in Van 2) being there telling me to lean on her as I walked away from the exchange. She was so sweet and helpful. I mean, really…it is a very good person to put her arm around a sweaty runner she barely knows.


My dad was there (darn…we never posed for a proper picture)  The above picture is of our team captain Kim with my dad and I  when I was starting to feel a bit more human. My dad was so supportive. He reassured me that I did great. It really helped to have him there.  He left so I could get to my van and head off to dinner. My negativity was starting to evaporate (I think the chocolate milk helped with that as well).

Looking back, I see that I ran a very strong leg. I ran relatively close to my predicted time in higher than predicted temperatures. I did my job as a teammate and I am proud of myself. I learned a lot about negative self-talk and how negative situations are really only temporary and that negativity doesn’t help anything (more on that in Part 3). I think when faced with a difficult run in the future, I will be able to be more effective at talking myself out of that negative place.  The more time has passed the more I believe that the Hood to Coast experience wouldn’t have been quite as memorable without the ups and the downs, especially since there were more ups than downs.

Don’t worry…it gets better.  I promise.

Leg 6—6.75 miles rated “HARD”—   time-56:39 (about a minute slower than my prediction) pace-8:22

Stay tuned for Part 3—Night Warriors****

*I re-read the leg description when I was putting my thoughts together, I saw that it said, “no stopping on left side of highway to water runners (don’t stop at Porter’s Nursery).”  After 12 hours in a van, who can blame anyone for missing that one word-left.

**Upon reflection with a clear head, I think my negativity was compounded by lack of sleep (I had been up since 5 a.m. after very little sleep after a week of very little sleep), lack of nutrition (I had not eaten anything other than a Luna Bar since a Starbucks breakfast sandwich around 6:30 a.m.) and the heat.

***Having grown up in Oregon, I know that it can get hot in August.  I also know that it usually stays in the low 80’s.

****Blog post title stolen from Jess.  It had such a good ring to it, I had to use it.  Sorry, Jess. Hopefully my Night Warrior post will be as good as yours.


H Love said...

great recap...can we all just go back?? you did a amazing job on this run!!

Linda W. said...

Hi, I ran the same leg as you about 3:30 that afternoon. I had the same experience you did - it was so freakin' hot! When I got done, I went into Safeway, opened up one of the frozen foods coolers, and just stood there. I enjoy reading your recap and look forward to your take on the other two legs!


XLMIC said...

You did great, Lisa! Both the race and the recap :) And you look so strong in every picture! I know allllll about waiting all day ;-) And I know a little about not having the van meet up with me, too. (But in my case it was logistically and physically impossible) But we did it and we did it WELL!!! I sure hope we get to do it again!

L.B. said...

Lots of obstacles and you came through it well. I know how mentally tough it can be when awaiting something to be there - in this case your teammates - and then feeling a crushing defeat when they aren't there. But you kept moving your legs and kept pushing through to the end. Having your dad there must have been so awesome for you and really an extra perk of all of this experience.

In my one and only relay experience, we also hit some lows but like you said that made us appreciate the whole thing even more because the lows were vastly outnumbered by the highs.

Jamie said...

You did AWESOME! Great job! When I ran Ragnar Relay, my first leg was far from magical. I wore too many clothes and compression socks (it was really cold in the morning) but then it started to heat up. And it was an 8 mile uphill leg. Horrible. I know how you feel. It sounds like you rocked it though!

Alyssa said...

Ughhh, it was so hot and it was so sucky that we weren't able to stop for you -- You seriously killed your first leg though, despite all the circumstances!

Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

You looked fabulous handing off to me!! I had no idea you were in pain. It was tough out there!!!

I'm anxious to read your Night Warriors post!


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