Hood to Coast – Leg 36

I took that picture right after we dropped off Daryl at his last Leg. I don’t know if you can tell how exhausted and sore I feel from that picture, but trust me–I was. It was COLD at the last Exchange zone. When we had dropped James off at the Exchange before mine, it was hot and I was sweating from the sun. I was applying  sunscreen like mad, and I was worried that the two water bottles I had on my hydration belt would not be enough water. I was considering taking a small bottle of Gatorade and just carrying it while I ran. That’s how hot it was.

So I was completely surprised when we drove 7 miles to my last Leg and I was freezing! I wasn’t sure what to do. I figured I’d warm up when I started running. However, I was worried about the possibility of the beach being cold. I did not want a repeat of the hypothermia I had at Reach the Beach.

I used the bathroom twice while we waited for James. He thought his last Leg (about 7 miles) would be done in 60 minutes or so. I decided to quickly change to the damp clothes I wore for my second Leg since they were warmer. It felt gross and clammy, but I was freezing. Who has two thumbs up and is ready to kick ass? This girl!

I was worried about my running ability. I tried not to think about it. I tried to tell myself to just relax. It was hard.

I waited with Janell and Allen at the Exchange. James showed up ahead of his estimated time.

James arrived! By this time my legs strangely felt loose. I guess I was excited.

So Leg 36 was a little longer than my last, and had some elevation in it.

Once James tagged me, I took off. My legs felt okay and I surprised even myself!

The first part of my Leg was on an old logging road through a forest that had been clear-cut. The picture below was all I could find when I did a Google search. I wasn’t able to take many photos while running.

The old road was part gravel with lots of uneven ground and rocks. It was also uphill. And brutal. My ankle was was really hurting me and I was glad that I had wrapped it with an Ace bandage before I ran. I knew I’d need all the support I could get. I tried not to focus on the pains in my body and just run. I took a few photos once the trail ended and I got to the road. None of them turned out very well, but this is where I was running:

Once the log trail ended, I was on the road again and it was all downhill. My legs were hurting but I was running pretty fast downhill. I was also really hot. The temperature on Leg 36 changed 4 times. It started freezing, then was blazing hot, then comfortable, then cold. I had to take off my jacket as I was running because I was so uncomfortable. That took quite some skill: removing race bib, removing jacket, re-pinning race bib, trying to run while hold jacket. Annoying! But necessary.

My legs were okay as I was running downhill. I saw a professional photographer and tried to smile and not look totally retarded. 🙂 I was still going downhill.

Then the treeline cleared. I was out of the forest and running down the hill into Seaside. Seaside!!! I was almost to this spot, I knew it:

But I wasn’t yet.

I tried to inhale and smell the ocean but I couldn’t smell it yet. I kept running. The ground was finally fairly flat and I noticed that my thighs were locking up as I continued to run. My ankle hurt. My knee ached. I knew I was in bad shape. I ran passed miles of cars and vans stuck in traffic. I ran through the winding route through Seaside. I passed a parking lot full of vans and thought, “I must be close!” But I wasn’t. The route kept going.

Earlier in the day Michael had texted me saying he saw the bridge I’d run over to get to Seaside. I’d asked him how flat it was. He said it wasn’t. I had not expected to see this crazy pedestrian bridge! It was an upside-down “U” shape. Meaning straight up one side and then straight down the other. When I turned the corner and saw that bridge I almost started crying. I couldn’t believe it. I was so close and my running was resembling limping more than anything. I felt like I was dragging my dead leg behind me. Pull it together! DON’T CRY!

I glanced at my heart rate monitor to see how long I’d been running and was so disappointed…I knew I was running slow. I stopped the negative whining in my head, even as people passed me left and right, and told myself that at least I was running.

I kept thinking “I can do this. I am almost done. I am almost there. I’m almost to the finish. One more mile.”

I was so emotionally distraught.

I kept running.

I was NOT going to melt down and give up when there were only 2 miles left! I’d come so far! I can’t give up now. I can’t. I won’t.

The volunteers were all really supportive and nice, telling me “Good job” and “You’re almost there!” Complete strangers walking or sitting on the sidewalks in town cheered for me and told me to keep going. I could do this! Dammit!

I started to see sand on the ground in places. That meant was getting close. I saw the horizon and a clearing up ahead. I kept running/limping. And then I could see the boardwalk. The last MILE of Leg 36, running along the beach on the Seaside Boardwalk! I could see it!! I was almost there!

Hood to Coast: Hurry Up and Wait

After we drove through the fog in the Coastal range, we arrived at the next Exchange point. Van #1 was currently running their last Legs. We had about 4 or 5 hours before we had to meet Van #1 to start our last Legs. We pulled into the Exchange area and were told by volunteers all three parking areas were full. It was frustrating. We were all tired and cranky and sore. I was starving because I hadn’t been able to grab anything to eat or drink after my last Leg.

We circled the parking lots a few times. A few of the volunteer Race Officials were downright rude and unpleasant. That was disappointing. If they didn’t want to volunteer, or they get frustrated and grumpy easily–they shouldn’t have volunteered for Hood to Coast. It’s a test in endurance–for runners and non runners alike. I will say almost all of the volunteers were really nice and helpful on this journey. Many were encouraging and cheered on runners. I know that helped keep me going many, many times.

Since this was a sleeping area, I saw sleeping bags every where. In designated zones and just on the side of the road in people’s front lawns.

I was cold and tired and my legs were locking up. I had to pee really bad. I was so ready to get out of the van and take care of those needs. I suggested we go drive down to the next Exchange (5 miles away or so) and rest there, then double back to the Exchange we had to be at to meet Van #1. Daryl agreed and we drove about a mile and then found a spot to park on the side of the road. There was a port-a-potty there thankfully. I used it a LOT. I mentioned before that some of my teammates had the nervous “runner’s stomach.” They were having gastro-intestinal issues a LOT. I was lucky that I didn’t suffer from that at all. The only thing I do suffer from is the tiny bladder. When nervous or excited, I will have to pee every 5 minutes. No matter what.

The locals that lived in the area were selling some food, coffee and tea. They were also fixing biscuits and gravy for breakfast. It was about 7:30 am at this point. I had been eating my bagels and bananas at steady intervals since Hood to Coast started. I ate protein bars and GUs. I was drinking water, LOTS of Gatorade, and I drank my chocolate milk once we stopped at this Exchange. It was great. I hadn’t realized how starving I was.

I was seriously doubting whether or not I could run my last leg. My legs had officially locked up. I was so stiff and sore I could barely walk. I had tried to move around as much as I could, slowly walking around to stay lose. I tried to stretch but that didn’t help. My ankle was really hurting me and I feared the worst: something was seriously wrong with my ankle. I did not want to be seriously injured. Not just because of the obvious reasons, but I wanted to complete Hood to Coast as a runner. I was NOT giving up. No matter what.

I was able to find a pocket of cell service and even though my battery was low, I called Michael. It was so good to hear his voice. I was exhausted. I’d been up for 26 hours so far and I’d run a total of 11.29 miles so far–the most I’ve ever run in one day. I was sleep deprived, anxious, worried about the last leg, anxious about whether or not Michael could make it to the finish line. I was hungry, grouchy, and 100% an emotional wreck. Not only that, I did not know anyone in my van. I was friends with Leslie–in Van #1–but everyone in my van was a stranger and not someone I could talk to about how I was feeling and what I was thinking. That was hard. I felt VERY alone. And sad. And like I said, I was an emotional wreck. Talking to Michael helped a lot, but it also made me cry.

I knew I’d be emotional during Hood to Coast, but I thought it would be at the end when I crossed the line triumphantly. I had no idea the abuse my body would take during Hood to Coast. Unless you experience it, you can’t imagine it. Even watching videos or seeing pictures. NOTHING can prepare you for Hood to Coast. I felt very unprepared–even though I had tried to imagine every scenario. One example? I did not bring finger nail clippers. Sounds like a no brainer. Especially since runners suffer from things like toe nails breaking or falling off. But did I bring clippers? Nope. Did I need them? Yep.

I needed to save my phone battery so Michael and I ended the call. I walked around to try and loosen up a bit. Some guy was trying to sell a product similar to a Tiger Tail. He was letting runners test them out. I used it on my legs to try and work out some of the lactic acid. It felt really good–until I used it on my IT band. OUCH.

It was painful just touching the outside of my thighs. That explained my knee pain when running. I kept walking around and then went back to the van to sleep for a few hours. I slept a bit and ate some more, then walked around.

There were lots of runners in costumes. That was pretty funny. So this part of the adventure was a lot of “sitting around and waiting” time. I tried to walk around and loosen up as much as I could. I also tried to rest and sleep when I could–which was good and felt great to sleep but then I’d get up and try to walk and I’d be locked up again. 🙁

It was almost time to meet Van #1 to start our last legs. Heather got dressed and ready to go. Her knee was hurting her a lot. She said she had surgery on her ACL. I didn’t see the Exchange with Heather and Bruce. I had started walking back to the van to get food.

Once Janell got to the van we took off to meet her. We were back to the Running Part….