Due west part I: H2C 2006
This is going to have to be a tale of the past year has consisted of organizing a team for H2C. And to think...this all started in a very similar scenario...in the middle of RTB. I took this on because I decided it'd be cool...and oh it couldn't be that hard to herd 12
cats runners 3,000 miles away. Right? Ah the joys of being team captain!
So away I went...due waaaaaaaaaay west for the first time two Wednesdays ago (more on that vacation stuff later). Thursday Sempre Libera and I headed to PDX to pick up our
vans homes for Friday evening and the team to head up to our last place to stay in a horizontal state for a while (otherwise known as a hotel);) Roadbunner had text messaged me that her flight was delayed...she'd probably miss her connecting flight...and who knew when she'd get in to PDX? There's always one...and hence my suggestion of packing running gear in the carry-on luggage! She ended up having to go from NYC - Chicago - Denver - Portland....for a total of 11 hours of flying hell. In the meantime, I had met our two runners that had served in the Army...man were they surprised to see a 5'3" girl show up as team captain:-p As one of them said, "we expected to see someone a bit more intimidating after the way everything has been so structured and ordered so far." LOL! Don't worry guys...I'm used to this by now;-)
The rest of our team got in OK...and everyone stayed at the hotel I had booked with the exception of navigator KC (oh you will see!) and hardcore TC.
Friday morning we awoke to clear skies and *gorgeous* Oregon weather which would be the theme for my entire stay out west. Our start time was not until later so we watched the earlier teams run right down the mountain (our hotel happened to be across the street for a transition area!). I definitely started to get the adrenaline pumping as I realized a year of planning was about to come to fruition. We picked up a bunch of supplies (read: COOKIES...and the best cookies ever...chocolate chocolate chip cookies from Fred Meyer!) before heading up to Timberline Lodge for the start. I finally met one of the two remaining runners hardcore TC...and she's pictured in the photo in one of the three TRD shirts I brought (yes I was a TRD whore out west!). We also ran into one of the two NY Flyers teams out there (mostly runners from out west though). However, navigator KC was no where to be found! I had heard from her friend a bit earlier saying she left Seattle (closest out of any teammate!) and she'd be a little "late." Fortunately she was our 11th runner so she wouldn't be running for quite a while. The first van left as our first runner ventured the descent of Mount Hood.
My van of runners...van 2...waited..and waited. An hour went by. Not a word. Two hours. Nothing. I called over and over again...just voicemail. Really getting worried at this point. Worried to the point we were planning who would have to run a 4th leg! With this unnecessary stress, I was unable to enjoy the atmosphere of Mount Hood...but at least there are a couple photos:) And special thanks to SL for decorating the van...show our NYC TRD pride. Finally...a full 2 1/2 hours after the first van had left...we see a single girl in her 20s driving up the mountain. Sponge and I sprint over to the car and notice she is looking dazed and confused...we found her! I jump in the car with her (as my team would note later...there was uncertainty whether I'd be seen again!) and head to the first transition area by the Fred Meyer in Sandy..about a 45 minute drive. We get there with about 45 mins or so to spare before sending SL off for her first leg. I should also mentioned we found the best cookies for a relay at Fred Meyer...chocolate chocolate chunk cookies! Absolutely amazing....because we all know the secret to a good race. I finally could relax a bit and try to enjoy the experience! SL was followed by TC, AB, Sponge, and KC.
However, before things could go too smoothly, navigator KC showed us her skills (or rather lack there of). She volunteered to navigate as I drove. So we're driving and I notice a turn and ask her "are we supposed to turn?". Response: "No I don't think so." As we go by the turn, we see other vans turn....uh yeah. So needless to say, after her adventures of getting to the start and non navigating in the navigator's seat...she was banished to the back for the rest of the relay;)
Finally it was my turn - at 12:30AM!
My first leg was through the streets of Portland, OR. It may as well been nowheresville, USA as apparently Portland isn't the happening place at night. I passed a high school party in Hawthorne (which is where I had my first time sleeping in a tent!) but other than that not much to see. I just maintained a steady pace for the 5.9 mile leg and came in at an 8:24 pace. I didn't run too hard knowing the anchor leg was where I was going to let it all out. I exchanged the slap bracelet to the other van and it was our down time. This meant I got thrown in a van right away so we could find food and try to sleep.
Food was found at a joint called Burgerville but not before walking right through a sprinkler (not pleasant while wearing shorts and cold/tired!). I think anything at this point would have tasted good! We did end up with a free smoothie. The remainder of the time was spent sleeping....which also apparently meant having bags of cookies 2 inches from my face. I guess you had to be there...um yeah
SL took to the roads again around sunrise. What a gorgeous sunrise it was too....the crisp air and just pristine scenery that reminded you of the stuff you read in books, not experience. mmmm.... TC had the bear of all legs for Van 2 as her second leg took her to the trails and hills, hills, and did I mention...HILLS! She was a trooper and finished her leg. My second leg wasn't until close to 10:30-11?. It was a very flat leg along country roads. Nothing terribly exciting about this leg either except the scenery kept me occupied. I think I also thought about how awesome it was to be running 3000 miles from home and the fact that my next leg would take me to the Pacific Ocean for the first time! As I approached the finish, Sponge took some photos and I gave a very speedy beagle like smile to the camera:) Coming in a cool....8 minute pace.
Off Van 1 went for the final of our 3 legs. Things were going well and wow,...besides almost being down 11 at the start things were going all smoother than ever. Then the leg of all legs hit one of our runners. The course map resembled more of hiking up and down a mountain than a run! Naturally this was the runner that replaced our fastest runner at the last minute due to a medical emergency (and AB was happy because she was the winner of that leg originally!).I'm not sure what happened (still not sure?) but we lost a lot of time during van 1's last runs. While we waited at the major transition area, which happened to be on someone's FRONT lawn, SL took the time to rest up. Finally, SL was off and our quest to reach the coast was about to conclude - in a few hours.
Unfortunately due to rules, I had to wear the reflective vest which covered my TRD red for the anchor leg. I had my game face on for this one and I suppose my time shows that. The 5.8 mile leg was rolling and I kicked a$$. My team miscalculated how long it would take me so when I reached the finish (they put the mat before meeting your team so you wouldn't kill them!) so when I got there...no one was there! LOL! I ran 39:20 which comes to a 6:47 pace (it may have been a tad short but I'm pretty certain I ran under 7). So all that hoopla and I run sub 7 when you least expect it. The woman in the picture was helpful as she tried to keep up for a while. There was a serious downhill which was fine because who cares if you kill your quads...there's nothing left but vacation land after this:-) I was pretty zoned out for this leg and apparently pretty angry...I should try to do that more because apparently it worked:-p
About 5 minutes or so later, my team showed up and we did the celebratory finish together. Damn that felt good. A year of work to put this whole thing together and honestly I don't regret it one bit. I couldn't have asked for a better, hard working team. I made sure to congratulate each and every member, which included an unofficial medal ceremony and the official fireworks celebration at the beach! Sponge took over camera duty (thanks again!) which was great because otherwise I'd have NO photos from the finish. The fireworks were awesome and it just was an incredible feeling to know we had just completed a 200 mile relay. Unfortunately I was not able to dip my feet in the Pacific at this point but not to worry...I made it later in the week:)
My final pace came to 7:44 min/mile and our team total came to 29:21:12.
And just like that team TRD had completed H2C...the first team from TRD to travel out for H2C. How does this compare to RTB? In my opinion, the scenery was a lot better! I also enjoyed the changes...since you run not only in the country but a little bit of city. The volunteers are INCREDIBLE for this race. They are everywhere and super helpful. At every turn on the course there is at least one volunteer to guide you. The shirts were definitely subpar. It is just another cotton tee-shirt as opposed to the technical shirt at RTB...bah. Oh well it still holds value to me. And then there is something about the portapotties being called "Honeybuckets"
Oh and in case you are wondering...here's what was consumed in our van over the course of 24 hours:
*Double Chocolate Chunk cookies
*Peanut butter on whole wheat bread
*Other versions of cookies:-p
*bbq potato chips (family size)
"You can actually see the stars out here - it's amazing" - SL
"Hood to Pub" - PR referring to our Seaside hotel being across the street from a pub
"If I'm not done by my estimated time, PLEASE come look for me" -AB (trail run in the middle of the night!)
So that's the race...coming next...VACATION recap;)