relay race

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: The Home Stretch

After spending several hours doing not much of anything, we were ready when it was finally time for our van to start running again. Heather started running her last leg and the van left to go to the next spot. It was a quick Exchange. Heather was fast–despite her knee pain–and her last leg was short.

Janell’s last leg was pretty long AND it was all uphill. We drove the van to a spot we could park and waited towards the top of the hill. The boys were in good spirits. I, on the other hand, had to pee every 5 minutes. Thankfully I wasn’t having the stomach issues a lot of other runners seemed to be having…but really, how much can one person pee?? At this point I was just finding a shady spot in the bushes where no one could see me. 😉

We waited for Janell and watched a lot of runners lumber up that brutal hill. Most seemed to be struggling–but there were a handful that zipped up that hill like it was nothing. I was really impressed! Finally we saw her. Allen ran up to give her water and some fruit snacks.

The hills in this last part of the race would succeed in hurting all of us I think. Except for Daryl–he was a champ and did seem too bothered by much! We went to the next stop and Janell and Allen switched places. The temperature had increased quite a bit by this time. It was in the afternoon on Saturday and it was hot out. Especially for the runners–there was no shade on the road we were on. Allen’s last leg was all up hill AND it was like 8 miles. We stopped at 2.5 miles and again at 5 miles to give him water and snacks and encouragement.

We left Allen after that and went to the top of a hill where the Exchange was. I was getting ready for my last run  and when I turned around I saw him limping badly toward the van. He was in really bad shape. He said it was his hamstring. He thought he pulled it really bad. I felt awful for him. Since we were short on time we all had to just pile back in the van and head to the next spot, too. Poor guy!

The entire time we were in the Van, I never knew where we were. We were always on weird back roads, in the middle of nowhere, with no recognizable landmarks. I know the different routes to the beach pretty well but I was always feeling lost. We did go through some really gorgeous scenery though.

The rest of the time went really fast. My last run was approaching and I was getting more and more nervous about my ankle.

My teammates tried to catch some zzzz’s while we waited for our runners to finish.

I was able to call Michael one last time and he gave me a good pep-talk. I was all nerves and anxious energy. I was exhausted, dazed and hungry. I tried to eat some more food but was sick of Gatorade and bagels at this point.

It was almost my turn to run.