Click HERE for Part I.
At 12:30 p.m. on August 26, the countdown ended and the horn sounded. Tricia (Endurance Isn’t Only Physical), from my van (Van 1 of Nuun Platuun), and Alanna (Running 42KM), from Van 1 After-NUUN-Delight, made their way with a pack of interesting runners, including one in a kilt, and one in a speedo and half a Storm Trooper costume.
|Tricia and Alanna get going!|
We all raced back to the van. We had no idea how long it would take us to get to the next exchange, and we wanted to see Tricia running. It wasn’t long before we spotted Tricia – a girl in camo with the other Nuun photographer riding his bike next to her and filming her.
We slowed traffic to roll alongside her for a bit, cheering and blasting music.
I was sort of jealous of Tricia’s leg since it was such a beautiful view all the way down the mountain. We weren’t allowed to stop on this leg, so we made our way to the first exchange and Alyssa (Diary of an Average Runner) got ready in her fave skirt from Lululemon.
We parked and I went to pee…again. Soon Tricia was there and handing the bracelet off to Alyssa. We weren’t allowed to stop for Alyssa either and so we slowed to cheer her on, but then went to the next exchange. We put Nuun tattoos and people and told them all about the awesome company while Caitlin (from Nuun) began to get ready.
|Lisa putting a Nuun tattoo on a member of Road Kilts.|
Alex, at some point, asked if we were excited – frenzied with excitement, I believe is what he asked. We agreed, though, that it was more like some sort of pre-frenzy stage.
|Caitlin – pre-frenzy.|
|Caitlin’s frenzied face.|
While we waited for Alyssa, I visited the Honey Buckets…again. Nervous much? Alyssa powered into the exchange and passed the bracelet to Caitlin.
|Alyssa coming into the exchange!|
Again, I do not believe we were allowed to stop along Leg 3, so we slowed to cheer and then made our way to the next exchange where I had to go to the Honey Buckets again. I got ready in the van and was nervous. I was trying to find all my pieces (Garmin, shoes, socks, etc.) in my bag and it was hard to find anything even though I packed everything by leg in Ziplocs.
We got to the exchange and hopped out of the van. It was so hot out. The inside of the port-a-potty was almost unbearable. I contemplated running in my sports bra. But I just wasn’t feeling that brave. I felt I’d be OK in my white, light Nike shirt and original-print camo skirt from RunningSkirts.
Each transition had a chute – yellow tape held up by waist-height orange rubber traffic poles. Volunteers manned the transition areas (as well as the parking areas). One volunteer stood up ahead of the chute to spot runners coming. That person usually had a megaphone (or a really loud voice) and yelled out the runner’s number so their teammate would know to get in the chute to get ready. It’s really low-tech, but very effective.
Pretty soon, I heard Nuun Platuun’s number.
“Nine! Eight! One!”
First Leg (Leg 4)
My time: 1:03:56
Avg pace: 8:53
|Elevation in green from my Garmin.|
My stomach lurched and I slipped into the chute. I don’t remember how I got the bracelet on. Caitlin probably put it on my arm. I had my handheld in my right hand. The bracelet was just above my Garmin on my left. My braids flapped behind me under my favorite white Nike hat as I hauled ass away from the exchange and down Highway 26.
I was running the Hood to Coast Relay. Finally.
And I think I was a little bit excited about it because I went out way too fast. I looked down and saw 7:40 or thereabouts several times. It was hard to stop myself, though. The course was downhill all the way. At least that’s what I thought. I remember a couple of uphills, though.
Even though it was downhill, it was also without shade. I’d say there was maybe 100 yards of shade TOTAL over more than 7 miles. And, yes, it was “only” 82 degrees, but I was running next to semi-trucks and cars stopped at stoplights on the blacktop, and I was HOT.
My handheld was filled with Nuun, but I was conserving it – just take a sip here, a sip there – because I didn’t want to run out.
I didn’t bring music with me, and I so wish I had. Hood to Coast runners aren’t allowed to wear headphones, but I could have looped my earbuds around my sports bra.
My route was straight and pretty boring, yet there was a lot to look at, including other runners and all the decorated vans speeding ahead to the next exchange. My favorite belonged to none other than Team Storm Troopers in Speedos. One window said:
I laughed about it for a good half-mile. (Star Wars fans will get it.)
But really, all I could think about was how hot I was. Some awesome spectators were sitting in their driveway spraying runners with their garden hose. “Thank you!” I huffed as I ran through the sprinkles. A group of firemen had an aid station and handed out cups of water. I took my hat off and dumped it on my head and down the back of my shirt.
I huffed and puffed in the heat, and I just ran as fast as I could. Suddenly, I saw someone running toward me with a bottle of water and I was like, “That person looks familiar.” Alyssa! She ran alongside me, dumping water on me at my request. She wanted to refill my Nuun bottle, but my sweaty, wet hands couldn’t get it open. “It’s okay,” I said and ran past the van leaving my team behind me.
|Brrr! That’s cold water, but it was so awesome!|
|Thank you, Alyssa!|
I passed a few runners here and there, and a few passed me. One young woman from Oregon Health and Sciences University slowed down and chatted with me for a bit. It was so nice, but I couldn’t talk much. I was pushing through the heat with everything I had. Remember, Seattle has only had a few days in the 80’s this summer. I was not used to the temperature at all.
But the little conversation had given me a boost and I ran on. Soon, my teammates were there again! This time, I opened my Nuun bottle first and refilled it before having Alyssa douse me with water.
|I love my awesome team: Alyssa, me, Margot and Lisa.
Thank you, Tricia, for capturing this. Also,
I look super tall in this picture. 😛
The most annoying thing about running along that hot highway, was the hay trucks. They zoomed by with their stacks of alfalfa. Pieces of hay would fly off and stick to me or hit me in the face, and the dry smell of it made me even hotter.
The entire run felt like I was back in high school, in California, running in 100+-degree heat (even though it was low 80’s – it’s all about what you are used to).
The last mile or so was really hard. I was overheating and running with my eyes closed, which I tend to do when I’m really pushing hard. I have to fight to keep them open. Why is that?
I focused on T Junior. How proud he would be of me. Mr. T emailed me a video of him earlier in the day. It was just T Junior saying “Hi, Mommy. Good wuck. I wove you.” But it was really touching and thoughtful, and it kept me going. I just pretended I would be able to get a hug from T Junior at the end of my leg.
And then I started singing one of his kid songs over and over and over, and I almost went nuts! “We really like peanut butter, we’d eat it all day if we could. It’s so very yummy and it fills up your tummy, and it’s so very wonderfully good.” Something like that. Over and over and over.
Thank goodness, I could finally see the exchange! I squinted trying to see Margot. Where is she? What is she wearing? I spotted her, took off the bracelet, held it out and she grabbed it and was gone.
Alex and my van were there with cold water immediately. I dumped it on myself and gasped, but it felt good! I was so happy to be done with that first leg. It was my hardest and it was a relief.
Mile 1: 8:16
Mile 2: 8:43
Mile 3: 8:31
Mile 4: 8:43
Mile 5: 9:07
Mile 6: 9:46
Mile 7: 8:58
.19: 1:48 (9:16 pace)
We slowly made our way back to the van, and headed out to chase down Margot (The Faster Bunny). She really is fast and we didn’t plan our stops correctly and almost missed her at the exchange.
Lisa (Discovering the Meaning of Stonehenge) only had about a minute to collect herself next to the chute before Margot was there!
|Margot hands off to Lisa.|
|Lisa powers through the heat.|
Lisa grabbed the bracelet and was off. We piled back in the van and headed for the first van exchange location, slowing down to cheer Lisa on the way. As we understood it, we were not allowed to stop along this portion of the race. It was so hot, though. I felt better, though, knowing she was wearing a fuel belt with two pods of Nuun.
At the van exchange (a Safeway parking lot) we found a parking spot and went to meet up with the other vans. It was fun to see everyone. I wish we would’ve had more time to spend together.
|Some of Nuun Platuun Vans 1 and 2.|
After a few photos, we went up to the exchange so Jess (Blonde Ponytail) could get the bracelet from Lisa. And Lisa was there shortly. She was so hot and her “war” makeup was melting off her face. We’d all forgotten to bring water up to the exchange, so I ran back to the van and Alex helped me get some really cold water for her. Teammate fail.
|Lisa hands off to Van 2 — Jess!|
But now we could relax a little. We had some time to kill before we needed to be at the next van exchange in downtown Portland for our night runs. We filed into the Safeway to cool off and change our clothes in their bathrooms. Thank you, Safeway! All the chocolate milk was sold out, so I got some Hershey’s chocolate shake thing and some bananas. It worked.
We decided to have dinner at the 4th Street Brewing Company in Gresham. Caitlin and I were showing our Washington State University pride and sporting our super-comfy Tommie Copper calf sleeves.
|Me and Caitlin in our Cougar gear and Tommie Copper calf sleeves.|
I loved the 4th Street Brewing Company in Gresham and totally destroyed a pile of fries, a pickle and a hamburger in seconds, “This is the best burger I’ve ever had!”