Hood to Coast Relay 2014

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This group of amazing, lovely people just shared a fantastic experience.

Where do I even begin? Honestly, there is no possible way I can remember every noteworthy quote, event or laugh from this weekend. I simply must write down what I can though, so more of it isn’t forgotten, this was the kind of weekend you never want to forget.

Wednesday, August 20th 2014
Started shenanigans early by crashing at my friends apt after run group the night before flying out, to make carpooling easier. Pre-travel excitement and talking meant a 2AM bedtime and only a couple hours of sleep (precursor of things to come!)

Thursday, August 21st
Another awesome run group friend brought three of us to the airport for 7AM flights out west. My flight was supposed to be a double layover in Salt Lake and LA, but Delta found room on a direct to LA, saving me some hassle. Continental flight passed without note, uncomfortable and long as always. Layover in LA was quick and I found some delicious burrito fuel in the terminal. Had my first LA celebrity spotting on the flight to Portland (Craig T Nelson) and arrived at the Budget rental car outfit with two hours to kill before the rest of the team started arriving. I stowed my luggage in the back due to the kindness of the people working there and went for a nice 9 miler after some good dynamic stretches. It felt so good to be out running in the dry western air after traveling all day and I ended up running at a quicker pace than most easy runs. Once the team arrived I succumbed to a quick bee (or was that wasp… maybe yellowjacket?) sting and we were on our way to Hood River for the night. We made a quick stop at Multnomah Falls before arriving at the cleanest and nicest 2 star hotel I’ve ever seen. The second van with the rest of our team met up with us at the hotel and we set out to find a great dinner spot. Hood River was simply too cool and thus every restaurant was packed, so we took the bridge over to Washington and drove up a bluff to find a perfect little brew pub with great food. Of special note: the best sweet potato fries in the world. Exhaustion quickly set in and we hit the bunk as soon as we got back to the hotel.

Friday, August 22nd (Hood to Coast Day 1)
With a 2PM start time we were given the luxury of sleeping in, a rarity when racing! Up by 8AM anyway a couple of us wandered into town and found some hip breakfast spots. We then rendezvoused with some teammates to stock up on food and supplies at the Safeway across from our hotel. Van number 2 had an interesting collection of snacks as the two self proclaimed selective eaters of the van ended up doing the shopping. Makena and myself came away with some real home runs though as it turned out. I also bought myself some sweet “Ironman” sunglasses to wear having left mine at home. We loaded the vans and departed for Mount Hood around 11AM, only one LED laden sword was left at a gas station on the way and Van 1 reclaimed it in time for check in at the Timberline lodge and van decoration on the mountain (I’ll include some pictures of our epic vans once they are posted) We got groovy to the start line music and explored the mountain a little before the start time was upon us and the real insanity had begun.

Run group besties, Makena and Trish. These girls came all the way to Oregon to race with a bunch of strangers! Love them! haha

Run group besties, Makena and Trish. These girls came all the way to Oregon to race with a bunch of strangers! Love them!

Friday, August 22nd Cont. The Race Has Begun!
Our fabulous team captain, Emily started us off as runner number one. The first legs was a quad busting huge elevation drop over a few miles down the mountain, but the elevation shouldn’t have affected the Denver resident at least! We quickly distanced ourselves from the trials of running down Mt. Hood as we proceeded to the first van exchange point at the end of leg 6. Tim came up with the great idea to start tagging other vans with paint pens after what someone else had done at our last relay together. He and I went around writing R DUB ( for The Road Warriors) on the windows of every decorated van we could hit without getting caught, it was quite good fun! After getting in a good 3 mile shakeout run and walking around we started to prep for actual racing and Tim got warmed up for his first leg as runner number 7, we screamed as Brian wrapped up Van 1’s first leg and passed the baton to Tim. Arriving at the transition, Makena was rearing to get started, Tim came through covered in sweat as the sun was just then starting to descend a bit. We pitied the 80’s van 1 had to run in, but we were ready to bring in the gorgeous Oregon sunset as we looked forward to running into Portland. I was so excited to run again that I didn’t even spot where my leg started from and ended up throwing in a loop through a parking lot when the baton was passed to me. I was planning on running a tempo for the first leg and after a mile on the roadside I started to really move on a nice paved bike trail. I don’t remember how that first leg ended, but for the feeling of euphoria and endorphin high that accompany every hard run and relay run. Ariel and Steve continued down the same path I had been running on, through mostly blase scenery as the night fully set in, but Trish was lucky enough to run on the trail as it wound into Portland, passing animals, strange people and general Portland oddities. Thus concluded leg 1 for The Road Warriors!

Saturday, August 23rd
We drove on ahead to the next van exchange and we starting to feel the affects of it and looking forward to 3 hour naps… Or more accurately, awkward movements and the constant shout of, “Coming or Going?” from the man directing traffic next to our van. Near 3AM we started prepping for leg 2. Some of us shoveled down some hot food at the relay, most of us had some coffee and before we knew it, Tim was standing in the transition zone being hugged by Brian and handed the glowing sword. Tim began the ascent of his leg o’ hills and we drove ahead, hoping to beat him to the transition. Makena was ready with a few minutes to spare and also accepted the sword as she continued up what we believe to be the hardest single leg of the relay ANY RELAY, It was 5 miles up the side of a mountain on the dustiest gravel road. With warm food and coffee in my stomach, I was totally ready to tackle leg two when the sword came into view. The road of dust continued, mercifully flat on my leg, but still just as dusty. The transition zones from here until the end became giant clusters, and runners and vans were rarely at the same place at the same time. I did manage to find Ariel and hop back in the van dazed and covered head to toe in dust. Running with that sword was epic and the dust made it all the more surreal, though I’m convinced I can still feel it lining my throat. Ariel had a rather hilly leg and we were able to find the transition in time for Steve to take over. Steve brought it in strong on leg 2, but little did we know that was the end of smooth roads for the vans as we sat in traffic for the next 4-6 hours. After being passed by Steve, Trish wisely hopped out to walk on ahead and eventually run some extra miles to meet Steve at the transition. We did find Steve again, but poor Trish had to wait forever at the van relay as we spent our first hour+ in traffic to make it the few miles to her. After grabbing Trish we had a van full again and spent the time between van one’s leg three and our’s in a long line of vans, blasting music and having fun. We passed Mike as he was on his leg and were FINALLY able to make it to our relay point before starting the final push to the beach! The sun was back with an intense heat by midday and we decided to leave Tim standing in it as we forged on ahead. We wanted to actually get ahead of the traffic, transition area, organizational disaster that was the second half of the race. Things did not improve too much, but we did beat Tim there. Makena took the baton and stuck it to some guys on her leg, including an epic sprint up a huge hill to hand off to me just ahead of another team. I was pumped to start the final leg, and the first one with scents of salt water, the end was getting close! I really started to feel the heat, but pushed on ahead and soon it was Ariel out there in the thick of it! She held on like a trooper and passed off to Steve, who was more than ready to go on leg three. After swapping out a dry runner for a sweaty one for the last time, we drove into Seaside and awaited the arrival of Trish! Okay, that’s not entirely what happened, we drove on ahead as Trish finished the epic relay by herself while we were stuck in traffic again and team one was on the beach already. We all hugged it out on the sand and tossed medals over our necks and then jumped in the ocean! Well, Tim and Matt jumped in and some of us waded around a bit, it was freezing! The desire for a hot shower and soft bed were just too great and the struggle was so real at that point. We loaded back into the vans and set ourselves towards Vancouver, Washington and a La Quinta. The drive took 72 days approximately, and the hotel had only given us three beds… but we hardly cared, time to sleep! Or rather keep the party going long into the night, after all, “Life is hard” was the quote of the weekend.

Sunday, August 24th
Up just in time for hotel breakfast, than cab to the airport to stow our luggage before wandering into Portland to explore and eat! The group was down to Tim, Brian, Makena, Trish and myself at that point, the others had earlier flights. We had an absolute blast in Portland and I just made my connection to LA before hopping on the flight back to Boston overnight. No sleep on the plane, but new friends were made. What a trip…

Monday August 25th
Is this even a real day? What is a sleep cycle? Where am I? Life is so stinking hard! I hardly remember getting my car and driving home, but I know I owe Brian big time for the ride from the airport. I had great intentions to only take a brief nap, post shower today, but six hours of sleep later and I barely had time to get a run in before sunset. So here I sit as my body now thinks that it doesn’t need sleep before going to work in 7 hours. Most fun race yet, can’t wait for the next one. The Road Warriors were the best, great people and great runners. This was a very condensed version of the weekend in a story format and I left out most of the funny, memorable and quotable bits to protect the parties involved. 😀 I’m sure reading it will prompt me to remember all of the great parts in between that made it so special and that’s what writing it down is for in my mind. I could never tell the full story of such a ridiculous trip, but I will update with more pictures and shenanigans as they come to me.

One thought on “Hood to Coast Relay 2014

  1. Pingback: Year In Review – 2014 Edition | My Running Life at Speed

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