I am tired. So exhausted. Bags under the eyes. Tight legs. Sore stomach. In a bit of a haze. And I can hardly wait until next year to feel like this all over again.
Friday my team, The Chafe Busters, started off once again in the Hood to Coast relay and had 28 hours of non-stop fun and adventure. This year I was in Van 2 but still the first runner out to hit the road in my group. This made me runner #7 and my three assigned legs went something like this: Hard, Very Hard, Moderate. Or in other words, Ouch, Holy Mother of Cheese, Oh My Goodness.
My Van 2 mates and I met at the Ronler Acres campus in Hillsboro (they all work there) and headed out to grab some noodle-y Thai food before heading up to Sandy for the first van exchange point. I tend to get pre-race jitters pretty darn good and when my race time was late in the afternoon instead of first thing in the morning like it is for all of my other races, my stomach wouldn’t let me eat too much. Plus, it’s THAI. The spice? Not so much my friend. I asked for it as bland as bland could be.
After the three bites of noodles I had (with my team looking at me and asking, “Aren’t you hungry? You hardly ate anything!”), we piled back into Jason’s Yukon to head on out. My team in Van 2 consisted of me, Mike and Jason that I ran with last time, and three new people: Laura, Rick, and John.
We’re chatting, having a grand old time making the hour drive to Sandy when we get a phone call from Van 1. “We just sent out our last runner.” Rrrrrh! Music stops. “What did Kate just say?” I ask. Mike looks at me and says, “Holy s—, they just sent out their last runner!” And we were about 20 minutes away from where we needed to be. Those doggone son of a guns in Van 1 decided to kick out 7:15 pace times (the average age in that van was 23) which meant that our carefully plotted spreadsheet was way out of whack. And I started to get nervous.
“Ang, are you ready to go?” asked Jason, who started weaving in and out of traffic quite precariously.
“Umm, I really need to use the Honeybucket…like, a lot” I say nervously. Honeybucket lines are notoriously long and my first leg was just about 6 miles. And I had been drinking like crazy to hydrate.
Thanks to some back roads manuevering by Jason, navigated by Laura, we got there with a few minutes to spare where I literally jumped in line for the Honeybucket, jumped out with Mike, headed up to the exchange and voila! There was Summer kicking her 16 year old legs hard into the chute. Slap! went the bright green bracelet on my wrist and whoosh! away I went.
I was pumped for this first leg. I was ready to take no prisoners and kick out a good pace. I figured I would be tired for my second leg which would take place sometime in the middle of the night, and then hopefully with some sleep I could hammer out another really good pace for my short 4 miler leg in the a.m. hours. Almost 3 miles into my run, my team came roaring up beside me with Jason yelling, “Whoo! Go, Angie baby, go! You’re on a 8:05 pace!” I pumped my right fist and thought “YES!” in my head. I was feeling good. But this exhileration was to be short lived. Halfway into my leg 7 route, the skies opened up and down came the rain. It felt good – for the first 5 minutes. And then it became a hazard. Cars were not slowing down so much and a couple of them splashed me. My leg consisted of several rolling hills and when coming up one hill, a car came blasting over the top much too close to the runners side of the road. I moved left quickly to avoid any potential mishap and then felt my footing slip.Yank! went my left leg off the side of the rolled asphalt and ouch! went my hamstring as I tried to adjust quickly and not roll my ankle. CRAP.
Thankfully, I was only about a mile away from the finish so I just pushed on through, although my gait was a bit encumbered by my freaking hammie. Luckly, Katie had provided me with some of her BioFreeze that became my saving grace. I kept spraying and stretching and rubbing that sucker out all night long and by the time it came to running my second leg, I was good to go.
After Van 2 finished our first legs, we headed over to Bridgeport in downtown Portland to eat. Oh my goodness, EAT THERE! It was so tasty yummy and I’m not just saying that because I was a starving runner at that point. We took showers back at Ronler Acres which was so nice because it wasn’t crowded! And you had your own separate stall. The benefits of being an Intel employee. 🙂
We started to make our way from RA up to Van Exchange #2, thinking that we would maybe have about an hour or hour and a half to sleep before Van 1 would get there. Yeah, no such luck. Dang kiddies ran their guts out again. Basically, I had time to stretch my legs a little, grab some quality Honeybucket time, and get to the exchange chute before here came Summer. Slap! The bracelet was on and I was off again.
Leg #19 is considered Very Hard. And when you are running it at 1:00 a.m. in the morning, and it’s misty, and freaky, and no lights, and hardly any people at all, and it goes UPHILL for most of the time, you are glad just to survive. It started lightly snowing on me at one point, but with the halo glow of the headlamp I had on my head, it made it look like little white bugs. And I thought I was inhaling them. I started gagging and spitting before I realized, ‘wait a minute – this is snow!’ You have to remember it was about 1:30 a.m. and I was running 6 miles again. My brain was in la-la-land. Oh, and my ipod died with about 2 miles to go. The HARDEST 2 miles of the whole dang leg – all uphill and winding. Sigh…so I sung to myself in my head and tried not to pay attention to the creepy noises in the woods all around me. Of course, that faint banjo music that started to grow louder did make me go faster…
After Van 2 was done with our second legs, we headed down to the final exchange. Until I told Jason to stop. Because apparently for the first time in my life I was suddenly car sick. Like, violently car sick. I jumped out of his Yukon so fast and started high tailing it down a little path to get away from the side of the road because I didn’t want the silhouette of my bent over body puking my guts out to be illuminated for all to see. I came around a slight corner, saw a lady who had tried to hide and go the bathroom in private, quickly spat out a “I’m sorry—” and then blah! Goodbye any nutrients that had been in my stomach. That totally sucked. And I’m pretty sure that lady won’t forget it either. Ah well…
One of the memorable events in any HTC race is the group shower. Yes, you read that right, the GROUP shower. I’m not talking boys and girls here, I’m talking a high school shower situation where there are no stalls, a round of faucets stream out of the middle of a room, and you go and stand there with 5 other people closely around you trying to shower and not really look anybody in the eye. I don’t know how it is in the guy side but in the lady’s quarters, we had a major backup at the Jewell High School. I got in line right as 5 women grabbed the open shower heads and started to get clean. Within 2 minutes, 23 women were right behind me waiting their turn to shower as well. When a shower came open, you just had to walk right in, set down your toiletries, and have it—with roughly 23 pairs of eyes staring at you. Sheesh, like that wasn’t disconcerting at all! But it feels so good to be clean so it’s a necessity.
At Exchange #3 between Van 1 & Van 2, there was major traffic. As in backed up so far that runners were having to get out and run up another mile just to be able to be there when their exchange partner was coming in the chute. It was a MESS. Our Van #1 had a runner go down with a knee issue so they were delayed by over an hour in getting to us. Which meant that I was standing at the exchange point, shivering my ever living guts out, and waiting and waiting and waiting. They forgot to call and tell us that they would be slow. And during my one hour stint at the start of Leg #31, the skies decided to open up AGAIN which meant that I was completely soaked through by the time Summer got there. Did I
mention I was shivering? And my stomach was upset? And everyone in my van said I was as white as a sheet? Screw it. I was running and finishing up my legs NO MATTER WHAT. And I did. And I threw up by Superman as he came flying by me on this last leg. He gave me a high five and said, “Nice job!” because apparently he thought I was throwing up due to the fact that I was pushing myself so hard. Ha! Hardly, Man of Steel. Something in my stomach just wasn’t sitting right…
As I came around my last bend, I saw the exchange point where Mike was ready to take off and I just went into a full
out sprint. Forget that my stomach was screaming no, forget that my legs were crying no, I was finishing hard and strong and that was it. I gave him the bracelet, stopped running, and started to smile. Yes! I was DONE! Jason asked, “Did you hurl?” I nodded and said, “Oh yeah” and he exclaimed “Nice! Give me a high five!” Such a great team mate. 🙂
We finished in 28:06:59 which put us at 434th out of 1004 teams. Sweet! And all I could think when I got on the plane to fly home? ‘I can’t wait to do this again next year!’