Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hood to Coast - the Leg from Hell

Wednesday 8/20: The adventure began with a 90 minute drive to Denver International Airport - pretty typical drive up I-25 and E470. A short shuttle ride to the terminal and our first lessone learned on this trip... even though we booked the flight through American, since the flight was really on partner airline Alaska Air, we couldn't check in at the American counter. A little extra walking though DIA, but we had plenty of time as the flight was delayed. Tim and I arrived in Portland about a half-hour or so after our scheduled time. Serena and Eric were there to meet us, and some other teammates had also arrived. We swung by a grocery store to stock up for the next couple days, and then one group headed back to the airport for another pickup and the other to Parkdale, our base station until we left for the race. Sometime around 11pm about half the team and the support crew were settling in. Tim and I got our own room (benefit of being the only married couple, I suppose) and the rest were on beds, couches, and other such comfy places in Carie's parents house.

Thursday 8/21: Chowed down on one of the six or seven boxes of cereal we bought. Yup, 2 days of breakfast for 14ish people. Lesson 2: Runners like cereal (I'm not complaining). Tim heads off to Portland with some others to go pick up the rental vans and some more runners. Everyone else is just chill. It's raining so I still haven't seen Mt. Hood, which apparently is quite visible from the kitchen window. Rain stopped and Carie, Graylon and I took on a game of croquet and "pear baseball" (the house is on a pear orchard). Now we're 10/12 runners and the sun is out - time to decorate the vans! We take them for a test flight, hike a couple miles to the local lava flow, climb this thing and then return to carbo load with a huge spagehetti dinner and brownies. (mouth brownies!) Take in some of the "live" tape-delayed olympics and off to bed. Another lesson, katherine can do the hammer dance.

Friday 8/22: Race day. But since we don't need to be at the start until 6:30ish (start time 7:30) it's another chill day. Mt. Hood did appear today. The weather will be great for the race! Late afternoon we pose for a group photo, make sure that we have everything and off we go to Mt. Hood. Van 1 heads to Timberline lodge, while van 2 goes to exchange 1. We've got a lot of time, so we take in the scenery. Van 1 arrives, and Kelley (runner #2) starts to warm up. A bit after 8pm Carie (runner #1) hands off to Kelley and we're definitely in the relay.

Now to jump to my running legs. I was runner 12 so I ran 12,24,36.
Leg 12: By now it is around 3am. Everyone is doing well (as long as Jenn doesn't have an asthma attack!). I get the baton from Katherine on a trail and head out. It's dark. Running on a paved trail with nothing around is a little creepy. The light from my headlamp isn't super strong. The trail is marked with a red blinky light to indicate the right direction. I go over some railroad tracks as a train is passing - a sign of life! Now I head off the trail onto the roads some volunteers point me in the right direction. I'm on city sidewalk now, passing small shops and some homes. I'm supposed to stay on Milwaukie - at some point it veered left but there was no sign to veer left. So I keep going straight. After a few blocks I realize I am not in the right spot - I really should be on milwaukie. So I turn around to head back. But at 3:30am or whatever time it was, I didn't recognize where I came from. There's an overpass - I think I need to be up there but how do I get on it?

I stop to assess the situation. I'm on some street corner. There's a gas station and a rental car place, all closed of course! Do I flag a car down? Nope, that didn't seem like a good idea. Then some guy is riding on a bike towards me. I can take a guy on a bike - so I flag him down, ask him how to get to Milwaukie and ask to borrow his phone. A call to Tim to let him know I am lost - and he lets the volunteers know. They give me directions to milwaukie and the next set of turns. I give the guy his phone back so he can get to work and then head off. Ok, I'm back on course on 9th. but how far? I'm not confident that the course will be marked (the two turns from before weren't) so I'm a little (ok a lot) anxious. But now I'm in a neighborhood - no traffic. Whether it was divine intervention or just some really good luck, a family walks out of a house (off to the airport for an early flight) right in front of me. Once again I ask to use a phone (lesson - when running in a city at night - have a phone!) and call Tim to let him know where I am. At that time the HTC officials or volunteers find me and ask me if I want a ride. Heck No! I just want to know where to run. They give me some directions to the pedestrian bridge ahead. So off I go. There are tons of volunteers near the bridge (ok 3 or 4) but where were they on the other part of the course?! Then I hit a T-intersection, of course with no markings! The van is shortly behind me and gets me to the exchange. Oh was I mad! It took me almost 1:20 to do that silly 6 mile leg. But the whole team is there, and in the spirit of the Olympic relay teams, we drop the "baton" on the exchange. Now we're all motivated to run even faster, as we're probably close to 30 minutes behind the next to last runner.
It was another mini-adventure trying to find hwy 30 to drive to exchange 18 in St. Helen for some sleep, but I won't go into that. We made it there, van 2 got some sleep, I saw a beautiful sunrise, and when runner #6 showed up, we were only a couple minutes behind the last runner.

Leg 24: Now this was more like it. It's noon, I haven't slept much (dozed a little) since getting up on Friday, and I'm rarin' to go. It's a 4.9 mile leg and no turns involved! We've caught up to several other teams so no more trying to beat the exchange clean up truck or the porta-potty truck. The sun is pretty strong, but I head out giving it my best. I pass 2 runners (3 if you count the one getting medical assistance...not good - firetrucks and ambulances to help her out.) At the exchange I try to find some more water, drink my recovery drink and we're off to exchange 30 for rest.

Leg 36: This is it! Started at a Weyerheuser facility. We've made up quite a bit of time and there are many teams waiting to run. This leg starts off on a gravel road and uphill. I get passed by a guy who started right behind me, but now it is my turn to pass people. Miles 2-3 were all downhill. No need to save the quads, after this is 2 miles of flat. Pound the pavement and just go as fast as I can under the circumstances. I passed 5 people on that leg! This leg had a lot of turns but was very well marked. I'm coming down the home stretch - on the promenade in Seaside. Many people are walking and encouraging me. I'm hauling (if a 7:30 pace is hauling!) almost jump over a kid in my way, but I make it to the beach. Cross the timing mat at 24:41:55, at 8:11pm, "well" before the 9pm cutoff. Phew! Now I need to find the team so we can run across the sand together. Took a minute but they found me and hurrah! we did it! Girls Heart Rockets 2 rocked Hood to Coast and came in 7th in the open women's division. Avg team pace: 7:31! Yeah! Now my calves are free to sieze up.

That's the update for tonight. Tomorrow I'll go into more about my post HTC adventure driving through OR and CA.


Terry Odell said...

Quite the adventure, girl.

Nicole said...

yeah, it certainly was!