Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Night Shift: Leg 13: Hood to Coast 2012

So where was I....

I had just finished my first leg..(you can read about it here.)

For the next few hours I cheered for my teammates and took a LOT of pictures of them every chance I got.  I am so happy I decided to bring my "good" camera. 

Here's a few shots of Team Night van 1 runners on leg 2-3-4-5.


We headed to the first VAN Exchange where van 2 would take over the running duties.   At those Van exchanges we had a chance to see the other AFTERNUUN DELIGHT teams.

This is me with Marjorie...(she wrote about 345 posts on HTC and you can find them all here.)

HTC2012 Caroline

Once our runner 6, The truth teller par excellence also known as Robyn, was done we had some free time until I would have to run again.  During van exchanges teams usually choose to eat or sleep.  My next leg would be around 11 pm so we went looking for a place to eat.  I knew I would probably not be able to eat anything where we would end up going and that is OK..all I really needed and wanted was a coffee....1 to stay alert and 2 well..because I was dealing with a bad case of constipation and I was a little concerned about cramping during my next leg...and because I need to eat and/or have coffee about 3 hours before running or else I am in trouble.  I had decided to wait and see what kind of restaurant we would end up at to see if maybe I would get lucky with chicken soup or salad...Mason, who was our driver, was always nice to ask the next runner what they needed and I  just asked for coffee.  I had brought some of my own food in case I did not find anything to eat during the relay.  While we were driving around town looking for a place to eat I realized that we were already 3 hrs before my leg..I decided to eat some nuts-cranberries and a couple of waffle stingers and not wait any longer.  We got to a pizza place and while my teammates grab some food I decided to use the "real" restrooms to get ready for my second leg and brush my teeth!  I was still hoping to get some coffee before running.  We left the restaurant to go find a Starbucks...and guess what....They were out of plain regular coffee!!!!!!!!! I am not kidding.  They could make espresso drinks but no reg coffee so we waited for them to make some!  By then it was too late for me to drink some without getting in trouble later so I only had a couple sips.

We drove to the next exchange to wait for Team Night runner 12 (Kelsey).  I was ready with my reflecting vest and 1 knuckle light.  I bought a Road Noise vest for HTC.  Those come with speakers and that is allowed during HTC so I plugged the music on for this leg only.

This is me while I was waiting (with a cameo from Robyn).


So I was a little nervous about running in the dark. It would be a first for me.  I lined up at the exchange and waited for Kelsey.  Leg 13 is in the class EASY for the Relay.  It is about 4.25 miles long.  It is in Portland.  The first 0.5 mile is nice.  We crossed Willamette River on Hawthorne Bridge. Plenty of lights and I thought this is going to be great!


Well it did not last.... coming off the bridge one volunteer said "stay on the side walk" I thanked him and did just that but it did not take long for me to see that I was going the wrong way..Luckily I saw some flashlights on another path right below some stairs near where I was.  Runners!  So I went down the stairs and followed the others.  It was not that  dark there, we were still close to the bridge.  I passed several homeless people who were sitting or laying down on the path and I could smell their pot.   By then I was alone on the course.  Nobody to pass ahead of me and nobody was passing me either. 

I tried not to think about that too much. I do remember thinking that it would be so easy for someone to attack a runner there.

Then I saw a group of people walking ahead of me.  There were maybe 8 or 9 of them walking next to each other leaving no space for me to pass.  Hmmm....I got worried for a minute...they appeared to be drunk and they were loud...but when I reached them...one must have heard my music and he turned around and....they made a power arch for me!   I thought that was pretty cool and I was happy that I worried for nothing.  Not long after, I saw lights in the pitch dark, it was a volunteer who looked like he was sleeping standing up.   He pointed the direction to take with a light and said nothing. 

There, the course goes in a kind of creepy part of town: old industrial areas, train tracks, and scary warehouses on the edge of Portland.  Very dark.  Bushes. No house. Nobody.  I think I passed some oil company at some point.  I don't remember.  I know I was not liking being there alone.  I remember turning around many times to see if I could see other runners coming.  Instead of seeing the runners I was hoping to see....I saw 2 men coming out of the bushes.  Homeless guys...they were very dirty and smelling so bad...pot-alcohol-body odor smell.   The worst smell...I can still remember it.  They were both high and very drunk.  I could see it in their eyes...one of them had turquoise blue eyes and they were really red.  They put themselves in the path and prevented me from passing.  I tried to step to the right, they moved to the right...did the same thing to the left and they moved again.  This was not going well. I was freaking out inside.  I could feel my heartbeat going up.  I did not know what to do.  I did not scream because I was afraid of what they would do.  I said "Please let me pass".  Nothing.  For once in the relay I was hoping for a road kill.  They had not touch me and I needed to get the hell out of there.  They were not talking just making weird noises and breathing really loud.  They were disgusting.  Again I begged them to let me pass "Please I have 2 kids...just let me pass".  Again Nothing.  I almost said something like "You better let me pass others are right behind me" but then I thought they WILL grab me and take me out of the path.  I was carrying my handheld bottle and I remembered I always keep a few dollars in the small pocket.  I took the money I had out.  Two $5.  Thank God American dollars all look the same.  In the dark like that it was impossible to tell if I had a $5 or a $20 dollars bill.  I said "If I give you this will you let me pass" ?  The one with the blue eyes snatched the money out of my hands and they went off the path back towards the bushes. 

I don't know how I remembered I had the money.  I cannot say I was calm during all this.  I was NOT calm.  I was very scared.  Maybe someone was watching over me...I don't know.  I am just happy I did not take the $ out before leaving for Hood to Coast.  I don't want to think about the "what if" too much.  I already did that plenty.  It is not good to do that.  I am fine.  Nothing happened to me.  

So I had to continue running after that.  Yeah.....can I tell you I had shaky legs...my heart rate was still pretty high also.   (It is a miracle that I did not puke during that leg.)   I got out of the worst part of this course and saw a runner walking in front of me.  I caught up to her.  First runner I was seeing since the bridge.  I had no clue how long I still had to go...I had lost the signal of my Garmin while I was stopped by those guys.  I saw some van passing.  I was hoping to see my van pass but I never saw them.  I assumed they just drove straight to the next exchange to allow Lauren to use the porta potty and get ready for her leg.
When I got close to the last train track and I heard the train...I did not want to have to stop for it so I tried to pick up the pace to get there in time and I did.  There I saw a HTC person.  I stopped to let him know what had happened to me and finished this leg from hell.

I gave the stick to Lauren.  It was finally OVER.  What a nightmare.  I almost lost it right there but I didn't.  I told Mason and the girls that were there what happened.  I was not feeling well at all, super shaky legs, I was light headed.  I thought I would pass out.  Robyn asked if I wanted to call the police.  I said no.  I did not really see what good that would do, those guys were probably gone, I had already told 2 HTC people hoping they would send some volunteers in that area to prevent this happening to another runner. We needed to get to the next exchange (I really wanted to sit down) so we got in the van and we left.  Then I lost it a little.  I had the ugly cry.  Did not last long but I could not hold that crap in any longer.  I wish I did not do that in the van.  Robyn was super nice...she sat next to me.  She put her hand on my back.  She was there.  Thank you Robyn.  I said a few words...I don't remember what...that it was scary...that I thought of my kids...something like that I probably was not making much sense...I don't know.  They let me get this out.  And that was it for the sharing with teammates and putting a downer on the team part. (At least I hope so for them)

Lauren was running and had no idea that my leg went bad.  Vanessa was next.  Mason offered to run with her but she decided she was OK and off she went like a champ.  We followed her and she killed her leg.   Then it was Shanna's turn.   She had not been feeling really well since her first leg but she decided to go out and run her leg anyway.  Mason put his running shoes on and went with her and Lauren got behind the wheel.  We stopped to get them water and as they passed Mason told Robyn (who was next to run) "Put the vest on and meet me in 2 miles"  We went ahead and I got out with Robyn to wait for them.  Shanna gave all she had.  She was not well at all.  Robyn just went with this and never complained.  Mason also ran the next leg with her.  Poor Shanna was curled up on the seat.  She finally fell asleep.   After Robyn and Mason finished their leg we had another van exchange.  The next leg for us would be my 3rd and final leg around 9 am on Saturday morning.

Most of us tried to catch some sleep  (Mason was still on duty and driving..)  I tried but got very little sleep.  I kept going back to what happened during my leg and could not shake their faces out of my head.  I was thinking about what I would say to Bill.   I did not want him to worry for no reason.  I thought it would be best to not say anything...(he does know now).  I was sharing a seat with Shanna and I also did not want to wake her up.  She needed to sleep more than me; she was not well and her next leg was the hardest one.   I ate a granola bar and some WASA toast.  We got to the exchange and had plenty of time before my leg.  It was cooler and humid.  I was tired and emotionally drained but I was looking forward to my last leg.  I knew nothing bad would happen and I wanted to end this fantastic experience on a high note!

So about leg 13.....
I am sure that running this one in the daylight is OK.  At night, it is creepy.  (Tricia, was also running this one at night and a rat scared the crap out of her and she fell and hurt her hip.)  I had time to think about what happened and I now think that I should have been smarter and run the OTHER way....towards people running behind me.  They were blocking the way AHEAD of me but I could have gone back to where I came from until I find someone.  Do I wish I would have seen my van during that leg? Yep.  But it would probably have not change anything.  Maybe I would have made them stop and not complete my leg.  In the end, I think it is best that I did finish it.  I am not the only one who had issues on the night shift.  Running at night is not what most of us are used to do, others got a little scared on their leg and one made a wrong turn.

If you ever run that leg at night, bring pepper spray and a phone.  Maybe a friend also.  That's what I would do next time.   Wait.  What...next time....?  Well you know what they say...Face your fearGet back on the horse.  I hope I will have a chance to do just that

I LOVED being a part of the AfterNUUN Delight team and I LOVED running Hood to Coast. I want to do it again and I would want to be runner 1 again.
It is by far the highlight of my short running life and one of the best experience of my whole life.

I was dreading writing this post. 
Revisiting this. 
What good would it do... but this is part of my Hood to Coast story and I cannot pretend it did not happen so there you have it. 
Stuff happens even in Paradise at Hood to Coast....

Thank you for reading...
Be safe on the road.

Coming up next my last leg and the Power Arch festival.

*** You can find all previous post on Hood to Coast under the tab Hood to Coast 2012.


 

40 comments:

Teamarcia said...

Whoa. I was coming here to congratulate you and share in your epic adventure but this is not what I'd hoped to read. C that is terrifying. I hope the HTC people can do something (not sure what) coursewise to make this safer. I'm so sorry you went thru that. But GRATEFUL it turned out ok. Hugs!

Jill said...

Omgosh, Caroline - that is horrific! I have run those type of relays a few times and alone at night and scared out of my wits...I hope the HTC people can alter the course so at night a van can always run along side or something. Our track team just did a relay and at night, the female runners can have another runner with them....this was a huge relief. Anyway, I'm glad you had some spare change and the creepers went for it!!
(big hugs)

Black Knight said...

Scary adventure. Glad you made the right thing and you are safe now.
It is always dangerous for a woman to run alone and more dangerous to run alone in the dark.

Megan said...

A horrific adventure, but I appreciate you taking the time to write it. It's not just about the thrill of doing a relay, let alone HTC, but making people aware, ALWAYS!

Thank you for sharing, and thank you for having the courage to do so, with having to revisit it all!

Michelle H. said...

Oh Caroline, I'm so sorry you experienced that!!! How terrifying. You handled yourself so well. I hope that Nuun contacts race organizers and maybe they can beef up the volunteer/security presence in that area once the sun sets.

Happy the rest of your experience was a good one. I can see why writing about this leg was so tough. ((hug-eh?)) that's a Canadian hug if you can't tell. :)

Giorgio said...

What a dangerous adventure! Thank God you carried a few dollars while you were running: you gave them the money and that was the right choice. Anyway, nothing happened to you: all is well that ends well!
Thanks for sharing your running report. My two daughters will read it soon ... so I can show them how dangerous is the world!
Thanks again!

Canuck Mom said...

Great post!! I have that same Canada tee!! Target rocks!!

Jocelyn said...

So sorry that this happened to you!

giraffy said...

holy cow, that's terrifying. Good tips, too, on that leg, hopefully future runners will find this recap and read it.

My night leg was similar - alone, for miles, in a very industrial area, no van support. Good call on the pepper spray, I'll have to remember for next time!

Cathryn said...

This is a horrible story, I'm so glad you were okay. Every runner girls' nightmare. I really hope the organizers change the route for 2013...no-one would want to do this leg.

Darlene said...

Your post gave me goose bumps. I would have been terrfied to run at night.

Jessica (Pace of Me) said...

Caroline, you are beautiful and brave and strong and I admire you for so many reasons. I am so grateful you are okay, and so proud of you for telling your story. Sending you so much love today and always!!!!

Kate said...

Wow, Caroline, super scary. I'm glad you told the HTC people about this because it definitely sounds like some steps need to be taken to make that a safer leg. Glad you came through it ok!

Linda W. said...

I'm so sorry for your bad experience on the second leg. Yes, this part of Portland is not so nice. The runner on our team came across the Hawthorne Bridge about 8 pm, and witnessed the cops hauling away a heroin overdose victim. You should let the H2C mgmt team know about this encounter - They need to provide more security on this leg, particularily in the late night hours.

Elizabeth said...

i’m so glad you decided to share your story too. it just may save someones life. i hate that you went through it-but you were so smart and thought quickly. so brave and strong! really proud of you.

Holly from Leaps of Faith said...

Wow!!! I hate that you had to go through this and am SO thankful it all ended up ok...and thanks for sharing your story with us! Something we can all learn from, including race directors for the relays!

Megan said...

That so SO scary Caroline! Ah! I'm so happy that nothing worse happened to you and that you thought quickly of the money you had. Stay safe! xoxo

Kerrie T. said...

I'm just so glad you are okay. Smart lady, you are, to think about the money.

Carla said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing your story. I was emotional just reading it. You are smart and brave! It never occurred to me that legs of a relay might be through bad areas. I always think of the night legs as being in the countryside. Very scary! And you know, it sounds like incidents like that could have happened at multiple points along that leg.

Terzah said...

Wow, my friend, I am SO sorry this happened to you. I don't think having relay legs through urban spots like that is a good idea at all. My relays were in the mountains and I never had fear like that (animals are much less worrisome than creepy people). I hope they address this next year. It isn't fun and it isn't necessary. I'm so glad you are OK.

Shannon said...

I just teared up while reading your post. And then I got angry! How dare people make other people feel scared on purpose! It makes me so mad when people are like that!

Glad you are ok!

Shannon
http://www.irunreadteach.wordpress.com

XLMIC said...

I am beyond glad that you are okay and that you had the wherewithall to remember your money and that it worked to get rid of them. (((hugs))) I do hope you have the opportunity to face your fear :)

dreambigrunner.com said...

OMG, that is scary! I'm so impressed how you handled this situation! I would have freaked out!!! I think the race organizers should really check the areas or at least have police parole certain streets. I'm glad you are ok!!!

Celia said...

OMG that is really scary!! Glad you are ok!!

Gracie said...

Scary stuff, there. I am so glad the money came to mind. Smart move. Thank God you're safe and sound! This could have ended very badly!

Boston Bound Brunette said...

OMG! I am sorry that you had to go through that. That is super scary and dangerous. If you did not have the money with you, what would have happened?? You did a great job at staying calm and I am so glad that nothing happened to you. I hope that Nuun addresses the issue and perhaps puts someone out in that area to prevent this from happening to someone else.

Robyn said...

You are one of the bravest, quick thinking women I've ever met! It was such a privileged to share a van with you. Thank you for telling your story, I have no doubt it will help others! xoxx

Tricia said...

Wow, that definitely must have been scary. I'm impressed with how you handled the situation and thank goodness you had money on you and thank goodness you remembered to give it to them. I definitely hope HTC can figure a way to make that leg a little safer.

NY Wolve said...

Whoa is right! I ave started carrying my phone and 5 bucks with me too, but not for that reason. I wonder if the race could organize it so that there are race tandems in those legs. Good thinking, and I hope the good times linger while the bad ones pass.

Lisa J said...

Thank goodness for quick thinking on your part. i think you handled yourself pretty well in the situation. glad everything worked out!

Pam said...

That is just downright SCARY. I'm so glad you were quick-thinking and remembered your cash!

Worthless pieces of flesh...

MR DETERMINED said...

Wow that is scarey. I've run in the evening before when it gets dark and I'm always aware of my surroundings. But deep down I always worry. I have my phone on me at all times because of it. I'm so glad you were able to remember you had money and that they let you pass. In stressful situations sometimes things just come to you. *hugs* I'm glad you're okay.

Nelly said...

When I visited Portland, my favorite bridge was the Hawthorne bridge, because as a car you could pick multiple options for lanes to drive over the brige on lol. I'm somewhat familiar with that area you were in, there is not much there. Your situation sounded super scary - wow. Thank God they didn't try anything, besides getting in your way. The money probably helped them to get out of your way. Hopefully HTC makes it a rule that people have to run with pepper spray or something while at night for just these type of situations. Glad you made it out of there, but really scary stuff.

Corey said...

When I heard this happened to you (after my leg which was right after you) I couldnt believe it. I was so confused. I am so sorry this happened but so glad you thought quickly and were safe. You and your kids should be very proud of yourself for being so brave!

Raina said...

OM goodness! Iknow RIGHT where you got off course! Burnside- next to the mission. SO scary! It is the worst part of Portland. Not all of Portland is like that. You got in a rough stretch for sure. I wouldn't be down there at night alone. Poor thing! You then were near Amtrak station. Oh boy. This would be so so scary. I am glad you were OK after the encounter. What a memory that will be.

Raina said...

Maybe I read wrong? The course actually is supposed to go through there? By the Mission? OK. I think H2C needs to put in some security precautions. That is unbelievable.

lindsay said...

whoa. how did i miss this post?! totally scary, but i am glad you made it through ok. hopefully they were just bums who were drugged up and didn't mean to be doing anything bad/scary... just needed some money. (that doesn't make it better or right, it just helps me to try to assume they did not want to cause harm)

i am so glad you are ok and how sweet of nuun to send flowers! go for a run at night with bill to break the 'bad spell'.

(Just) Trying is for Little Girls said...

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness! Caro how did I miss this post earlier? I'm so sorry this happened to you.

Jamie said...

WOW. I'm sorry this had to happen to you! Good thing you told the HTC organizers to get some people out there.

Average Woman Runner said...

Oh no! That is just crazy. It would be nice if HTC could have volunteer cyclists cruising those sketchy areas to ensure safety of runners or re-route. Glad it all ended well. Way to think on your feet. Literally.