You know how you can never repeat something that was magical? You can try, but it normal ends in a fizzle of disappointment. The first time I ran Hood To Coast with Nuun Hydration, it was this crazy awesome experience. I’ve been hoping to do it again ever since. This year I got the chance.
Two weeks ago, when my husband and I got the opportunity to join a team for HTC15, I kept telling him how awesome it was going to be. I promised the start on top of Mt Hood would be so cool and the finish on the beach would be epic. But this year, the glories of Hood To Coast kept themselves hidden from us; the top of Mt Hood shrouded herself in clouds and the finish line party got shut down long before we arrived.
Yes, we knew it was going to rain at some point. We didn’t know that the trees were going to throw branches at us or that the wind was going to blow away our finish line. This year, it was more about perseverance than anything. We got to the finish line and safely, but this was definitely not the Hood To Coast I had bragged about.
So yes, I was disappointed, but there were many positives about the relay itself. Let’s touch on those.
I loved my legs!
My relay legs were great. I felt good and did myself proud. I was lucky to get VERY normal running times for all my legs.
Leg #5 – 6.05 Miles – Very Hard
I hit my first leg at about 9:45 AM coming down Mt Hood Hwy. Overall, I averaged a 10:16 pace and was super happy with that considering the long, steady incline for the last 3 miles. Most teams put their strongest runners on this position, so I got passed like I was standing still. Oh well.
This leg has huge trucks speeding by you on the highway and when the gust of wind hits you, it’s sobering. All that extra wind also dries your mouth out. The last two miles or so take you off the highway and on to a beautiful, quiet, uphill road. Loved that part.
Leg #16 – 3.78 Miles – Easy
I ended up running leg #16 instead of #17 (which saved me about 4 miles) and I’m pretty glad for that! I started running about 8PM Friday night and averaged a 9:26 pace. Go me. I passed about 7 runners. We’d been expecting that it would rain for this leg but the storm hadn’t reached us yet. This leg wasn’t very scenic (it was also dark) but I did see some tiny gravestones off the highway. Random and creepy.
Leg #29 – 5.97 Miles – Very Hard
After “sleeping” under a tarp in the rain…I got to hit one of the toughest legs of the relay at 7:40 AM. I saw tree branches falling from the extreme windy conditions above (most of which I was protected from at ground level, thanks to the forest) and got smacked in the face with a bunch of leaves, but it was a beautiful run.
I averaged a 10:21 overall. I was able to keep sub 9 minute miles on the downhill stretch with several sub 8 sections and boy, did that feel good! The challenge for me was keeping my breathing in check and my core activated. This whole leg is the epitome of the mind over matter battle. As I neared the exchange, there was a teeny tiny incline that required some mental work to push through. It helped that there was a line of teams backed up and cheering/watching as we ran in for about a half mile. I couldn’t show signs of slowing down at that point!
I loved my team!
J and I got to run for FREE with Team Widmer Brothers Brewing. You can’t beat free. Plus free with beers. Plus real showers. Plus meals! Seriously, this was the fanciest relay ever.
The greatest perks of all, though, were really good vanmates. I suppose it’s no surprise that people who work for a craft brewing company are pretty cool. I still fully believe that running a long distance relay with complete strangers is so much better than running it with close friends. And the by the end of it, you have brand new friends!
I did not sleep.
Zero surprise here. I rarely do on these relays. However, we’d brought our tarp and sleeping bags and ear plugs and intended to do our best to rest. J and I lucked out and got set up on the “Sleeping Fields” before it started to really rain.
But in our delirium, we forgot to bring our ear plugs. We laid there listening to the pitter patter of rain on the tarp just above our noses. That was all well and fine. Until the super self-absorbed team set up their tents right next to us and spent an hour talking, laughing, and farting around. I asked them to keep it down but they ignored me. So I laid there day-dreaming up ways to sabotage them. Jerks.
The finish was a major let down.
Can’t fight the weather. I mean, what do you do when 70 mph winds destroy the finish line party? You just don’t get a party. No finish line music, food, beer. No great team photo crossing under the banner. Just cold, wet, misery.
Kudos to the race organizers for keeping some kind of finish line up and running. I can’t imagine the chaos they had to deal with. Unfortunately, the make-shift finish line on the promenade was crowded and impossible to celebrate. Can you even see where finish chute is in this photo?
When our last runner came in, I had to yell at a guy to get his attention so he would GET OUT OF HER WAY. He was just standing there, oblivious, and she could not get around him. I might have elbowed him if I had been her. I was that frustrated with the crowds. So we finished. We grabbed this one team shot on the crowded streets. Smiling because it was over.
Not my favorite relay.
I’m happy with how I ran. I’m grateful for my team. But the weather this year really stole the magic of the event. It sucks to accomplish such a great team race and not be able to properly celebrate it. So, in order to get the Hood To Coast experience I really want, I guess I’ll just have to do it again.