It’s been over 10 days since I finished my first Hood to Coast (and only relay past 4 x 1 mile in distance) and I’m still not out of the woods for recovery! I took a down week and raced at my Alumni xc meet this past weekend with a new course record (2 miles in 11:01) at UW-La Crosse. Since then my body is still begging for rest after one of my most eventful running weekends in my life.
Thanks to Sara Slattery’s request I joined the Nuun Cherry Limeade Hood to Coast last minute with a shot to win the overall women’s division. In the end we had a “little” mishap that cost the team over an hour 20 (yes as you read that right), so we ended up 3rd in 22 hrs, 43 min, 29 seconds. (The winning team was about 45 min ahead). I was runner #5 who had the luxury of getting a 12 of 12 for difficulty ranking. Even though the team runs down from Mt Hood to the coast there are plenty of uphill legs and I happened to get 2 of them. In the end I ran my legs faster than I had expected and completed my 19.87 miles in a total of 2 hours and 55 seconds (6:05 pace average). If I could continue that pace for another 10K and didn’t get breaks I would have ran a marathon in 2:39 = that would be a nice debut for me! 🙂
That’s not really a fair comparison because no one gets to stop and eat meals in between your 10K splits, but its also doubtful I’d pick a marathon to run fast with a 1000 ft climb.
Honestly a marathon at this point in my life does not appeal to me. The only way I want to run one is if I really race one and am fully prepared for it. I suppose since I am a “runner” and now at the age of 30 I should probably plan one soon before I start the downward slope of my running potential, but that should give me another 5 years before I really feel the pressure. Maybe its just that I enjoy the shorter races so much I don’t feel I need to put a nearly 3 hour race effort out there when I can get the racing high from 3000 meters which is over in 10 minutes!
Back to the relay…
Since I am / was not in any shape or form to complete a race over 10K I am paying the price and weeks later still trying to regain my legs back to a normal functioning running ability. Note to self: if you are going to do a relay like this in the future do some long runs or maybe run a half as a tune up! And do not try to cram some semi-long runs in right after your break and come into the relay tired! I knew I was in a little bit of trouble when I was up the night before at 3am foam rolling my wrecked legs from running 13 miles with my high school boys team earlier that week. Thankfully I somehow survived and am now thankful that I got to have such a great experience!
I met up with the team on Friday afternoon on the side of the road off 84 enroute to Timberline Lodge – the start of Hood to Coast Relays. I was in Van 1 with what I’d say was a seriously awesome group of girls! I hadn’t seen my old friend Dorothy Beal since I had lived in Reston running the Fall into Winter 10K in 2009 and randomly we were here to run this together! Sara Slattery and I had plenty of relate to in that she just had her first baby Stevie 5 months ago. The other girls Robyn Hefner, Jenny Poore and Katie Edwards were super sweet and a ton of fun. Our van driver Mason Reay happened to be the CEO at Nuun but even cooler than that he was one of those people I could connect with from our first sentence. I had it made. A weekend running getaway from the kids with a great group. Readers who don’t know NUUN check it out here – -it’s an awesome electrolyte drink that doesn’t add sugar/calories when you’re trying to hydrate with more than water.
I was anxious mostly to see if my legs would respond once I got handed my slap bracelet. I was told to keep it at tempo effort, but with my recent break and lackluster legs I wasn’t sure what that meant. I was a little jealous as my teammates came flying down the mountain during their fast downhill legs when I knew what was coming shortly ahead.. a wake up call from chillaxing in the van to grinding up 26 near Sandy, OR.
LEG 5 -3:45 PM – 6.08 miles – “VH” (very hard) – prediction time of 37:10 (based on my outdated 10K PR).
Final split time – 37:08 (6:06 pace)
I tried to tell myself not to focus on pace and just feel. That didn’t really happen. I got off the line pretty fast and right away was not feeling the flow but just kept rolling. The first 2 miles were flat/down hill so I figured whatever I did couldn’t really hurt if I was in control.
I split 5:35, 5:37 then immediately regretted that I wasn’t closer to the 6 min range. The next mile pushed thru a 5:44 until I realized it was unsustainable if I wanted to have any fun the rest of the relay. About 400m into mile 4 I was not having fun and could not see that I was going to make it to the top of my leg without putting in a race effort. I stopped for 10 seconds and walked then regrouped mentally and physically to get into a normal rhythm and finished my splits with 6:22, 6:35 and 6:46 for the final uphill climb. Relief was how I felt once I handed off to Sara. I text my coach after and got the response “WORST HOOD TO COAST SPLITS EVER!” I was now feeling warmed up and got the first leg jitters out and ready to prove Coach Marcus wrong! My BAC teammate Jordan Welling was also doing leg 5 and I had seen him waiting to go just before I took off. I saw him at the next exchange and when I asked “How was your first leg” he responded with “Horrible!” I felt much better. Maybe this is how all leg 5 people feel . Its normal to run 1 minute per mile slower on your final miles. Jordan went from running 5:00 to 6:00, so at least I was in good company!
Sara took off like she was on a mission to prove she was no joke. With amazing form (aka looking way better than me) she flew by guys left and right. Unbelievable and inspiring I think she averaged 5:35 for her 6.75 mile leg – her first race back after having Stevie. One of the highlights was our van driving past our runners cheering then pulling up to a legit male runner a couple hundred meters down the road – Mason would say very nonchalantly “Just to let you know there is a girl in a red sparkle skirt who is about to pass you. Better start picking it up”. Our whole van ran beast mode and there was definitely talk about the girls in the sparkle skirts.
In between our next legs for Van 1 is where our team was literally lost for over an hour 20. Dorothy in Leg 13 was getting ready for action during my favorite part of the entire relay- running through downtown Portland – only to find out our 10th runner was MIA and leg 11 and 12 had not started. Thankfully we didn’t have to pack up and go home when they discovered the van had gone to the wrong exchange. We got to continue only now knowing our chances to win were likely gone. Just meant our team got to spend more time in the good old van together!
LEG 17 – 1:30 AM – 7.68 miles – “M” medium in difficulty (basically flat stretch with not too many turns) ; prediction time 46:00
Final split time – 45:03 (5:51 pace).
This leg was all about concentration in keeping the pace consistent, not out of control and proving Jon Marcus wrong. Our teammate Katie – a former la crosse player turned runner, had just come off her leg running 5:56 pace which was technically a 10K PR -during a relay at midnight, so all I could think about was “5:56, 5:56, you can do that!” I also knew no matter what I would likely start hurting because I had done 1 workout at tempo pace since my return to training in August and it definitely did not add up to 7.68 miles.
I had eaten a good meal of Café Yumm and an amazing almond butter and banana sandwich but likely had not drank enough water, but instead an excessive amount of Nuun. When I started the relay I felt a little sticky mouthed but wasn’t too worried because the Van would be there to hand off water midway. I got to midway keeping a consistent pace of 5:54-5:58 feeling ok.
It was fun to pass dozens of runners but I could have used someone to really race. I grabbed my water bottle as my van cheered me on only to drink a bunch of Nuun and create a choking on phlegm effect which was annoying but not nearly as annoying as when my GPS started reading 6:08 for mile 6, then the next ones even slower in the 6:30s. I knew I was getting tired but I really believed this was happening so to compensate I started hammering to get it back. Finally the last half mile I knew I was close and it occurred to me that the GPS might not be right. I finished with a time of 45:03 which meant I had definitely sped up as my average had dropped way down. That was a relief and the next few hours I had a nice running high driving through the night unable to sleep but just sorta zone out. My final leg was going to be tough but I was feeling good after getting my longest leg out of the way and finishing off a big bag of potato chips at 5am. I was just the right size to squeeze under the van seat partially in the aisle to lay completely flat. We talked until the sun started to come up and then I knew it was time to get this race behind me!
LEG 29 – 7:30 AM – – 6.11 miles – “VH” (roughest leg of the relay climbing over 600 ft over 3.5 miles) – prediction time of 38:05.
Final split time – 38:44 (6:20 pace) – slacking here but happy!
My biggest focus for this was not getting injured as my shin was a little sore from crashing down between aprons of a driveway and sidewalk
on my previous leg. I opted for my bulkier shoes I had packed and a promise to myself I wouldn’t go overboard. I also wanted to have fun! My van was extra nice by stopping a handful of times during the ascent to cheer me on. Mason and Dorothy even joined me during a portion of my final mile slog uphill. I started out much more conservative and found I didn’t have the urge to walk and was surprised how fast it went by. According to my GPS I split 6:53, 6:39, 7:04 then 6:30 on the mile which started to fly back down. My final miles I finally crept up to a guy who actually was competitive. As I started to pass him we started going together for a good half mile til he said “OK have a good one” and dropped back. I was feeling some pain in my hip flexors so I backed off slightly to just keep it going but not worry about crushing it. My last 2 miles averaged under 5:30 which is unimpressive since I was basically running completely down a mountain leading to Astoria on Highway 202.
LEG 37 (of 36): 11:30 AM- unknown distance ; “M” medium in difficulty due to sleep deprivation and a hyperactive kid who can’t walk on sand
Split time- about 10 hours 30 min
I was thrilled I got to meet Joanie and Alan at the finish! They had driven 90 minutes from our house to Seaside to meet up with our team. At the finish we caught up with Van 2 to get our finisher’s medals on the beach and after an amazing Big Bop burger and fries I was banking on Joanie passing out since Alan was busy with a Fantasy Football draft. Unfortunately she wasn’t too excited about sleeping in a new place so she refused to nap even though she seemed just as tired as I was. I wanted us to enjoy the night so I knew she needed a nap. So I headed out for a 45 minute walk while she slept in the stroller. Fortunately I snuck in a 45 minute nap before our party at the beach where I once again decided to carry the 18 pound bowling ball sized kid through the sand.
I had a great time and can’t thank Nuun enough for allowing me to be part of their team! Moral of the story if I ever do this again I will likely have some thought more than a few weeks out regarding my training and come up with some free time to nap. I was a little jealous when I found out Jordan had slept 17 hours straight after his leg 5 experience. I did get a solid 9 hours that next night but that did not make a dent in the damage I had done.
Thanks for reading! My next hope is to get the ball rolling in the training department and hopefully be ready with a fast team at Tufts 10K in October. Yikes! That’s coming.. better get out for my run.