Here’s my recap from my 2nd year running Hood to Coast. The whole division thing sounds lame, but basically my team – Willamette Dental – was the fastest team that included some girls. 6th overall out of 1050 teams- only 5 teams (all men)- beat us. We beat all the corporate teams (aka Nike).. and other studly teams which included beefcakes Alex Lohr, Derek Scott, Carrie Dimoff and teams lead by Olympians such as Lopez Lomong. After last year’s physical beat down that Hood to Coast left me with, I swore I wouldn’t do it again (at least for 2014). Yet somehow I responded with the words “I’m in” 3 days prior to race day- as a late addition to replace an opening on Willamette Dental (runner up by 3 minutes to Hood Rats in 2013).
1 BTC Men’s 17:32:17 ave pace 5:18 division- corporate men
2 Google1 19:13:01 ave pace 5:48 corp men
3 BLACK FLAG 20:00:03 6:02 master’s men
4 Univ of Portland 20:01:34 6:03 open men
5 Extra Virgins 20:02:50 6:03 master’s men*
6 Willamette Dental 20:03:38 6:03 mixed open
7 Hood Rats Jr 20:11:44 6:06 mixed open
8 Equipe Sauvage 20:17:02 6:07 open men
9 Bullseye Running 20:23:54 6:10 open men
10 Nike Tarahumara 20:38:33 6:14 corp mixed open
*I know for a fact most of these guys were NOT 40! Either way they were dudes and they almost got chicked
I am confident participating this year was a good decision and I will definitely take credit for executing my race strategy perfectly (by not going out in 5:30 pace) – and holding off til leg 3 to get the best of myself. My pathetic #1 goal going forward is to prove that I have something left for the months ahead and have a successful cross country season. This is unlike last year- which I came into the 2013 relay with trashed legs from my “crash course training for Hood to Coast” in 1 week post-run break, sleep deprived and untrained for true endurance. That paired with a far too competitive mindset in the toughest leg Hood to Coast had to offer (Leg 5) ended in a terrible fall/winter with a long string of illnesses that didn’t clear up til early spring… Which lead to my crappy finish to my short lived track season in 2014 and no big PRs which I should have easily attained (I still have yet to run faster than a 16:45 – 5K in my entire life!- and only 17:22 in 2014!!!!)
This year’s catch was – I had Leg 10 – ranked 9th of 12 for difficulty (see chart above). Only 2 miles of climbing ending with a 5K. The other appeal – I had fresh wisdom from my recent mistakes and nothing to prove. I had put in 4 runs over 12 miles the last 4 weeks and have been feeling great. Van 2 didn’t meet til 6pm – which meant I had all day to rest up. It was also stocked with awesome people – it included my coach Jon Marcus, 2 of my BTC teammates and close friends Kristen Rohde and Anna Connor, former teammate at Run Portland Carre Heineck and team leader Dan Bartosz (husband of Erin Skourtes- another former teammate in Van 1). I knew this team was experienced and knew how to get the job done (aka – people came in trained, willing to sacrifice pain through minor injuries – and wouldn’t blow it on logistics of getting the van in the right place). It was also fun knowing we had a shot to win, but we wouldn’t be so serious that I had to go all out at any point. My coach in the van would not allow that! (He was so supportive in that- he even came out to meet me with a K to go in my first leg to ensure I would not be “racing”).
I also had my mother in law Kathy visiting – amazing with Joanie, supporting me while I was away, and doing the extra mom work while I took naps in the days leading to my 3 legs of hard running and 36 hours without sleep. I didn’t even bring a sleeping bag or blanket, because I knew in a competitive team, that stuff doesn’t exist! As soon as my husband Alan said yes- which meant him sacrificing his normally structured morning of training – working around a trip to the beach on Saturday – I was in. (Yes he still got his training in… he also got to meet up with his World Team Vision team post-race which was pretty sweet).
So here’s how my experience went down –
Leg 10 – 5.12 miles – difficulty “Medium*” – 10:30pm Friday -along Springwater Corridor from Gresham heading toward downtown PDX, perfect 60’s Oregon early night temps
*medium? If you consider running 5 miles a challenge? This was as easy as it could get. Why I gladly picked this leg!
I felt like a science experiment hooked up to LED lights, headlamped, reflective vested, GPS signaled and heart rate monitored (the GPS/heart rate were unnecessary but since I was borrowing Alan’s for the first time ever I figured why not check out some interesting data)! I was jacked up on almost 3 shots of espresso, completely overcaffeinated for my tempo effort. I definitely ate too much and stomach pain would be my greatest complaint for this leg. I kept glancing at the GPS every so often to make sure it would not go under high 5:40s. I stopped around mile 2 for a hug from super-fan of the night leg-nanny Jan (who lives along the course). Jon suspected I’d be going all out- so he came to meet me 1K to go- proving him wrong with the pace on lock down being completely spoiled with a slight net downhill, smooth surface and no turns. Since we were the last of the teams to start, I only passed 6 runners, offering encouragement, giving them fair warning that I wasn’t one of the non-LED lit hobos they had passed earlier …
Result - 5.12 miles – 30:08 – ave 5:51 pace (heart rate ave 170- I attribute this to high intake of caffeine and carrying 5 lbs of equipment) ;) my first “workout/race” of that duration in a LONG time.
Leg 22 – 6.81 miles – difficulty “Hard” -5:00am – middle of nowhere heading toward Mist and a large traffic jam – cool; 50’s – could have used a shirt but trusted my reflective vest would provide adequate warmth
This leg reminded me of a mini version of the Portland Shamrock 15K.. and I pretty much averaged the exact same time as my March ’14 race result. I didn’t need any caffeine before this leg to get me jacked up.. I was fearing some intense pain and lack of training hitting me hard but also worried I would go too out too hard and be fizzled before the long downhill. Once I got the slap bracelet, I relaxed and used the dozens of people I was passing to energize me and 1.8 miles came sooner that I thought. I used my old lady maturity to forget my times up the hill and run by feel. Cresting the top, I felt like flying but I kept it in control since I had 5 miles. Like Shamrock, it was not breathing here that limits you, but your muscles. I had some hip pain and other random aches, but it was really enjoyable and not steep enough to slow me down at all. I love running downhill, so NO real complaints!
Result – 6.81 miles – 40:34 (ave 5:57 pace) – splits- 6:48‘s first 2 miles; 5:35‘s last 5 miles . GPS/heart rate monitor fail! I saw a few mile marks on the road
I saw my van zoom by with a few miles to go – just as they were slowed to a stop a mile out from the next exchange. Carre made it just before I arrived- only by running fairly hard almost a mile. The 5:30pm start time ended up screwing everyone who was really competing, and our Van 2 (like most top teams) ended up moving a total of .25 miles in over an hour.. no breaks – 3.5 hours of continuous drive time to make it to the final exchange from Van 1 final legs to ours. Thanks to van jumping and extra running by my teammates- our leg 6 guy only had to wait 25 minutes (it could have been worse)! Poor Dan had retrace his entire 4.5 mile leg just to get in the van. This essentially cost Willamette Dental a shot at their PR (19:29- this team’s been around since the late 90s).
Leg 34 – 3.36 miles – “Gift from God” … still “Very Hard” at this point - 12pm Saturday – Astoria heading to Seaside, sunny, 80’s, no shade
I had slept 0, but my stomach was feeling great, and I had energy to burn. I was able to eat normal meals after both my legs and the noon starting time is (in Alan’s words) my jam. I could not be anything but excited knowing I had the shortest leg in the entire relay and it happened to be the last I needed to run! The rolling hills were perfect to mix it up and the pressure of knowing our fellow ‘Rats (7th overall) were chasing us gave me plenty of incentive to get after it. Going into the final bout from Van 2, we heard we had 3 minutes on them. When traffic stopped they went an alternative super long route and it paid off – gaining almost 10 minutes on our previous lead.
I took off in my red sparkle skirt along hwy 202 in the blazing heat, with my goal to say something of encouragement to every single person I passed. At this point, the roads were pretty thick, which was also great to try to pick people off. About 400m in I spotted my first “fast looking dude”. I came up next to him, and found he was looking to hit 6:30s. My next victim was a UP alum who took a while to catch. I was deep in true race pain and yelled at him to stick with me and get after the next guy about 50 m ahead. That guy (Mike from the 5th place team Extra Virgins) glanced back and basically said “It’s on”. He wouldn’t give an inch when I got within a few seconds. UP guy was far behind and I was kicking hard the final mile to match his pace. He finished a few seconds ahead, but I outran him with his head start. The catch: he was on his 4th leg to help a teammate out and had already done all of Leg 5 – the really tough one mentioned earlier. Still, it was great to finish so strong, with my last mile in the 5:20s. I almost threw up in the car ride to the next exchange (mostly due to heat and being in a van way too long) but we pulled over in time for the nausea to subside. (I was a little disappointed)
Result – 3.36 miles – 19:29 (ave 5:46 pace)- splits 2.4 miles – 14:06, last .96 – 5:12; heart rate monitor in the van
Total Relay – 15.29 miles – 90:13 (ave 5:54 pace) in flats. I am sore.
Within an hour of my finish I was at the beach in Seaside meeting up with my family. Bonus highlight – Joanie finally got to meet Ashton Eaton (team captain for Team World Vision). She vaguely remembered him when she watched him win Gold during the 2012 Olympics. Mostly because she must have somehow remembered some crazy parents making her (at 6 weeks) do her “practices” …Video here: http://youtu.be/R1t3KJOH6OY