Sunday, September 2, 2012

Running down THE Mountain: Hood to Coast 2012

How I wish I could write this one in French. 
Obviously I could, but most of you would not understand most of it and well that is a problem.  It is already hard to find the words to bring justice to this experience, for me it is even harder to do this in another language.  You see even after 12 years of living in California and in "English",  I still think in French.

Hood to Coast the movie came out on 1-11-11.  That was my 42nd birthday that day.  I did not know much about the relay before seeing the movie but I was curious to see what this crazy event was.  After seeing it that night, I wanted to be there and run down the mountain.  I remember telling Bill I would love to do this thinking it was just a dream

If someone would have told this girl

that she would run Hood to Coast in a couple of years she would have said "Hmm I hate running and what Hood?"

Dreams come true people...they really do.
Look I got proof:

That would be me in all my pink glory at the start of Hood to Coast.  It truly was a "pinch me" moment for me.  I was VERY overwhelmed with good feelings and also nervous ones.

OK before going further the quick notes on HTC for those who don't know about it (what?  maybe someone doesn't, anything is possible) :
It is a 200 miles relay.
Teams have 2 vans of  6 runners.
Each runners run 3 legs.
Location: Paradise (or if you prefer the real name: Oregon)

I was on Team Night, in van 1 and I was Runner 1.
So I ran legs 1-13 and 25.

I said it in my previous posts but I'll say it again: I was so lucky to be in that van.
I really liked all my teammates.  They were all fantastic.  Hood to Coast is about much more than running.  It is an EXPERIENCE, a crazy adventure, the Running Woodstuck!  I made real friends during this race and went through a bunch of feelings; joy, fear, gratitude, nervousness, disappointment, pride, happiness.

 LEG 1

This leg is ranked as VERY HARD.    Starts at the top of Mt Hood and it is 5.85 miles of downhill.  Driving up to the start of the race I was able to see what leg 1 would be.  I got really nervous, really fast.  Leg 1 is no joke.  We had 2:15 pm start.  We left Seattle at 8 am and drove to Oregon.  We made a few mandatory pit stops ...including Starbucks of course.

On the way we started working on our music video debut...a real master piece of you ask me.  Go see for yourself here.

When we arrived in Sandy, we started seeing runners who were coming to the first van exchange and that is when it got REAL for me.

and not long after....

It is hard to describe how beautiful it is there.  You will have to just trust me on is breath taking. 

Finally we were there.  At the start of Hood to Coast! (Corey's pic)

All three van 1 were there and we took a van 1 group picture on "The Rock"

Then it was time to get ready for my first leg!

Vanessa must have felt how nervous I was and she stayed with me the whole time.  Thank you Vanessa!  She pinned the bib I made to remember Sherry Arnold and Sarah Hart on my back.

She took pictures of me at the starting line and she was just a wonderful friend.

We were 11 runners in my wave.  Each one was introduced by their team name and before we knew it we were off!

Here is a good place to discuss my outfit.  All 3  AfterNUUN Delight teams wore Team Sparkle skirts.  Thank you Team Sparkles!   We all got different colors.  Mine was pink.  I had never seen it before and looking on their website I thought it would be light pink and I packed tops with that in mind.  The girls on all 3 teams talked about being colorful and staying away from black tops and I wanted to be a good teammate and I went with colors.  So it turns out the skirt is more hot pink than light pink....and so for my first leg I was the hot pink giant!  About the skirt..I think for an event like this they are fun and perfect...we could see our runners from far on the road..we got a lot of compliments on them also.  My only problem was that mine was too big.   I got a medium and I needed a small.  So it was a little annoying to keep it in place as I was running.  I wore it for 2 of my 3 legs because of that.

Back to running leg 1.
It was hard and great.  The view is is PARADISE.  It is all steep downhill.  I got injured running downhill so that added to my nervous state.  Mason had advised me to just "let go" so I did that at first.  My pace was faster than I planned..(8:38 for mile 1) for a minute there I thought maybe I could stay there..I was so happy and grateful to be there!  I knew my van could not stop to cheer or give me water because for this leg it is not allowed, so I carried my handheld and many vans honked and cheered as they passed me and it was fantastic.  I felt the spirit of Hood to Coast right away!

Around mile 2 I noticed I was breathing heavy and I started having side ache.  I also started getting pain in my groin so I reverted to what my PT said to do for this leg.  Shorter steps and slower pace.  That made the pain go away.  My breathing was all over the place.  I think altitude was affecting me a little.  Around mile 3 the course takes a turn and opens to the most beautiful view.  I was smiling and I screamed "We are so lucky!!!!!"  I kept thinking "YOU are running Hood to Coast!  Take it all in".  Mile 4.....a bump in the road...I got sick... crap...even at Hood to Coast it happens... I was so mad...a really nice young guy stopped and asked if I was OK..I said yes and got back on the road as quickly as I could. 

There are a few race photographers on the course.  I think most runners get their picture taken once in all 3 legs.  This is mine and I bought it: First "mommy vacation ever",  first Relay, first Hood to Coast, running first leg with Mt Hood in the back....worth $12.50!!!

I got down the mountain to the first exchange to pass the stick to LAUREN!

I went in full dry heave mode right after that.

I walked a little...I could feel my quads cramping, I was dehydrated and my stomach was not great BUT I could not be happier to be there and be a part of this relay.  I changed in a dry bra and shirt and waited to the next exchange to change the rest because we needed to get moving!

I WAS pretty disappointed with how I did as far as my time goes.  I came in behind the time that was predicted for me (they had me running this leg at a pace that was faster than my fastest 5k pace).  All my teammates were superstars runners.  Really.  I think all but 1 have ran one (or more) marathon already.  They were all much faster than me.   These gals never made me feel like the "older slower one".  They were very supportive and I thank them with all my heart for that.  It meant so much to me.   I told myself that I would run hard for my 2nd leg to make up some of the time lost.  I can say with honesty that I gave everything I had for leg 1, I just wish I had more to give..! 

It was now time to put the cheerleader and photographer hat on for the next 5 legs!!!!

Two things were great to have between running legs.

1. Shower pills wipes.  They are large antibacterial body wipes that are individually packaged. 

2. The Tiger Tail: Tiger A rolling muscle massager we received in our swag bag.  I LOVE LOVE this thing.  It works.  I used it the whole time during the race.  It is so much better than the foam roller in my opinion.

Thank you Shower Pills and Tiger Tail!

Thank you NUUN.  (cannot say that often enough)

I know I wrote before that I would write the running part in 1 post..but I changed my mind. 

My leg 2 is coming up and it will need it's own post...

Thank you for reading this.


Kate Geisen said...

Enjoying the ride... :)

Michelle H. said...

Just found your blog from all the other Nuun posts so far. I'm so inspired by you. You did so fantastic and that would be a dream of mine too. I'm just getting back to running after an ankle injury and a significant weight gain. Reading all these recaps helps me keep me going.

That race shot is so great, I would have bought it too!!!

a runner said...

I think that by the time my group ran there were no more photographers :P I am glad you shortened up and spared your groin, but bummed that altitude biz got you. I had that same experience regarding such accepting and welcoming teammates! What a fab group we each had!!!! Love this recap :)

Boston Bound Brunette said...

You look great in pink! Sorry that your stomach was giving you trouble but I am sure you did a great job! I can't wait to hear about the rest!

robinbb said...

You looked great out there. I did a relay last year and was the slowest person in the van. I felt so much pressure to run faster that I ended up getting sick in the middle of the night because I was pushing my body beyond what it was used to. A good thing that came from it though is I am much more confident in pushing myself harder now.

Love all your pictures. Congrats on finishing your first HTC!

Susan DeBruin said...


Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner said...

You took on SUCH a challenging leg Caroline - I don't know if I could have done it! I'm glad you splurged on that picture, too, it's definitely worth the $12.50 to have that incredible photo with Mount Hood in the background.

I LOVE that you still have something about finding Susan a man in her little bio. Too funny!

Elizabeth said...

i splurged and bought the team pic. i didn’t buy the running pic because i don’t want to look at that dreaded ankle move any more than i have to :) hopefully next year, right?? love you recaps so far- i hate that you got sick but you did really well-and you were/are right. taking it all in-it’s HTC. what an experience! xo

Anonymous said...

Sorry you had a rough time with your first leg. Can't wait to read more!

Annet said...

Sounds amazing. I too had never heard of HTC before, now I'm all interested for another year perhaps...! Can't wait to read more!

kristen said...

At least you weren't all in green - they you would have been the Jolly Green Giant ;-)

I love the pink on you...

Unknown said...

This is just all sorts of friggen awesome. I'm so happy for you and loving reading this!!!!

Cathryn said...

This looks amazing, and you look very tall, very pink and VERY fantastic!!

Jocelyn said...

I love your photo-collage of your team!! I especially love the one for Susan. Ummm, I think I need a single girl post on your blog - Call me maybe?

You looked awesome coming down that mountain (bright pink!) and it was so cool to watch your handoff to Lauren!

Terzah said...

OK, now I am caught up with your last three posts! Those downhill legs are "very hard" for sure--you did great, really, given all you've been through recently.

On the earlier posts....the swag looks great! You deserve it! I'm so glad your first mommy vacation was to such a beautiful place and for such a big event.

Christy @ My Dirt Road Anthem: A Runner's Blog said...

I am with you this is a run that dreams are made of. Love you race photo, I didn't get any, boo. Love that you had such a great team and such a great time. I hope I get this relay again, so awesome!

I love the video you made, it got that song stuck in my head and I downloaded it from iTunes today. :)

Black Knight said...

....and as you can see sometimes the dreams come true!

Corey said...

I didn't know you got sick during the run?! You are a tough cookie for continuing on even after that...I can't even imagine. I hope you give yourself credit for how hard you ran. You ran SO HARD that you got sick during and AFTER your race. We watched you at the finish of this leg and it was very clear that you had given all you had for yourself, Nuun and your team. That is truly all that matters. We all support each other to give what we can give!! I am so happy for you that you got this experience and so glad to be able to share it with yoU :) Great post!