Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Mother of All Relays

Running a weekend long relay race can be a lot of things as I recently learned, exhausting and a lot of fun are two of them. Bonnie and I ran the infamous Hood to Coast relay race a few weekends ago. We had a great time with the team we joined up with, and our Captain Ed was simply put, "the man." He has done H2C a few times and knew all the ropes. Our ride was a Ford Expedition, but for blog purposes, I will be referring to our ride as the "van" bc that's what the rides are called, whether they're actual vans or not. And seeing as no one in our "van" was driving around with a clown's mask and a bag full of candy in a school zone, it was for sure not a real van for us either.

There are 1,000 teams that participate in this event every year, includingh teams from all over the world. Each team has 2 vans of 6 people in each van, and Bonnie & I hardly knew anyone in our van, except for our one friend Amy. We were excited to do this with strangers though. And what better way to meet someone than to be thrown into a van with them, about to be made completely smelly by all of us, and be part of competition with them. We ate together, we slept together, and we ran and competed together.

12:30 pm The First Exchange

This is where van 1 passes off to us. I am so frigging psyched to be doing this, my adrenaline is pumping for sure. We are at the Fred Myers supermarket, and that's actually who's sponsoring our team. I love all the unknowns that go along with this whole event. This huge parking lot is filled and some of the vans are hilarious. One just drove by and it's the "Top Gun" van and they're all dressed up in the pilot gear, and there's big plastic wings atop the van and the movie soundtrack is blasting. I also just saw a van called " The Cougars" drive by, pretty sure they were all boozing, and one of them actually dove in the back seat window while they were driving. I have that pit in my stomach, like before you are about to play in a big game or something.

5:15pm First Leg Down

I just ran my first leg and it went pretty well. It was a 6.89 mile leg and it went fine, nothing to difficult. I learned that there is a game played by everyone that does this event. It's called Road Kill. And you get one of these by passing another runner, and the teams track how many roadkills they get on the outside of the vans with the car chalk. Well on that one leg I just ran, I was pretty much every one's road kill. It was kind of depressing actually, especially as you get back to the van and you have to let your team know how many you had, shit. Telling the team "none" just does not seem like an acceptable answer to me, so my goal is I just want at least one roadkill on each run. I did get one, thank God. So everyone is blowing by me throughout the run, and then I see this one girl walking, towards the end. I come up on her at right at the end and I know this is my only chance to get a roadkill. So just as I go to pass her, she starts running, I was so pissed. She had no clue I was coming or that I had no raodkills, but she probably would have run even harder if she did know. So I did pass her and roadkilled her ass! Oh and Bonnie absolutely krushed her first leg, her "pregg legs" as I like to call them. She ran her first 5 miler at 8:53, goddamn Bon! That's my girl.

Our second leg was pure insanity, and pure dirt and dust. This leg is the late night run in the woods, and I mean the woods. It is dark as hell. Our van started at this leg at like 1am, and this is in the middle of the woods, running on gravel. But wait, it gets better, the gravel is covered in dirt, and as you are running, all these other vans are constantly driving by you leaving to go to the next spot. And as they all drive by you for almost the entire run, you get to breathe in all of the dust and dirt. This was a 5 miler for me, felt like 10, I could never get in a rhythm. I cannot wait to be done with this late night leg I was so excited to run.

We pull into our final exchange for the night. It's siesta time, if you can. Lots of people say they never sleep a wink when they do this, which is funny to me. I have no clue how people do this with no recharge on the batteries. And the fact that I could sleep on a bed of broken glass helps me for sure.

9am Final Leg/Day
Bonnie & I woke up around 8:30am and our first set of team legs starts in about a 1/2 hr, so off we go. It's gorgeous out by the way, sunny warm and breezy. I am suddenly just excited to run, and not anxious about how my legs will hold up on my final run. It gets you pumped knowing you are about to do your final leg, and it really is perfect weather. My final leg is my longest, and it's 7.8 miles, and it is all rolling hills. This was the one leg I was most worried about, seeing as it's my last and my longest one.

Bonnie's final leg right before mine was a hilly 4 miler, and she krushed it. She ran it at 8:50 min. mile, so impressive too bc it was her 3rd and final run. So she hands me the bracelet and I am off. I wasn't going to let the rumored difficulty of this leg get to me. The first mile was rough, it was hard getting into a rhythm. But by mile 2 I was in the zone baby. I felt so damn good, and my legs felt fresh as ever, I couldn't believe it. I was running up these hills at the same speed I was running the flat parts. And on my downhills I decided to push and run faster to make up time. I suddenly wanted to beat my first leg time of 9:53. I remember feeling bad for van 1 knowing that they would miss running on this amazing day.

So I had this last hill to go up at mile 7, and I noticed I could pick up a road kill or two on my final mile, and I had no one at this point. I still felt really strong, so I pushed up the hill, let's go I thought. I passed one fool walking and then I came up over the hill and I see the exchange spot, which for me is my official finish line. I always sprint at the end of any of my runs, and I look and see this one dude ahead of me, but I think I can push to roadkill his ass. He is running pretty fast but I convince myself I can catch him. I was gonna haul at the end anyways, why not full on sprint. He appears a few years older than me as I get closer, but he has no shirt on and the dude looks yoked. I know I have to pass this guy to finish. So I start sprinting earlier than normal, and I am about 50 feet away from the finish. And this guy is running pretty fast as well. So I come flying up from the rear and the crowd all sees what I am doing, and there's a bunch of people there. They start cheering, and I think the guy just thought they were cheering him in, so he has no idea I am coming, hard. I think he thought they just loved his form. All of a sudden I come barrelling up on him and he sees me over his shoulder and I know he is thinking "no frigging way I am his roadkill at the very end of our last run." He starts sprinting and we are neck and neck, but one person always wants it a little more than the other, and at that moment, that person was me. I beat him and it was such a sick way for me to finish. And I ran a 10 minute flat mile for my final leg, which I was stoked about.

All in all it was so much fun and thanks for reading whoever finished this long post, cheers!