Monday, August 29, 2016

199 Miles

Invitation to the Hood to Coast Relay
Who? 12 runners 
What? Run 199 miles 
When? August 26-27, 2016
Where?  From Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood to Seaside
Why?  Because who wouldn't want to spend 2 days and 1 night running 199 miles?
Fun Fact: The 2016 event included 12,600 runners and 3,600 volunteers
On your mark, get set, run . . .
Thursday morning, I realized I had not run many miles in the sunshine to prepare for the Hood to Coast relay.  I'd either run early in the morning before the sun came up or during the day with cloud cover.  So . . . Thursday morning, the day before Hood to Coast, I ran 10 miles in the sun.  Not my most brilliant idea.  The sun completely drained me, and when I started climbing the last hill up 152nd, my calf "snapped," and I had to limp home.  I diagnosed myself with the help of Google; it was a Grade 2 calf strain.  Sounds professional, right?!  Google recommended the following treatment plan: ice, heat, ultrasound, taping, massage, strength exercises, and rest. Ain't nobody got time for that, so I made up my own treatment plan:  I purchased another roll of KT tape and some snacks, a Cheetah "robe" from The Salvation Army, packed my bags for Hood to Coast, got a good 4 1/2 hours of sleep, and headed to Kerry's house the next morning to load up the van for the ultimate relay experience.
Our van of 6 "Happy Valley" women arrived at Timberline with time to spare.  Our team's start time was 7:30 am. It was sunny and breezy.  We used a bathroom with flushable toilets, signed in, took pictures with Mr. Sasquatch, and got ready to cheer Ashley on at the starting line.  She took off like a flash!  
Ashley = Runner #1
Elizabeth = Runner #2
Jennifer = Runner #3
Christina = Runner #4
These girls are seriously the most positive, strong, supportive women.  They smiled and laughed while running through the heat and standing with me in line for the porta potties.  While Christina was running her first leg, the rest of us got to make a quick pit stop and hang out with some of the firemen from the Gladstone Fire Department.  Fireman Kirk was nice enough to pose with us for some photos.  He should definitely win "Fireman of the Year"! We appreciate how hard these men work to serve the community.
I was super nervous to take off my Cheetah costume and run my first leg.  I ate a peanut butter waffle, taped up my calf, took a pill to "freeze" my colon, ate a GU, disrobed, and looked down the road for my teammate, Christina, to arrive.  I was both excited and nervous when I saw her running towards me.  She slapped the bracelet on my wrist, and I was off.

My calf ached while I was running, but I tried to smile and enjoy each step.  The side of the road was covered with volunteers giving directions, other teams cheering runners on, and an occasional person holding a pump meant for bug spray asking if we'd like to be misted.  I just hoped and prayed that those bug sprayers were filled with water and not pesticides!  Luckily, my colon stayed "frozen" during the run, I survived the uphill, I didn't catch a disease from whatever was misted on me from the bug sprayers, and Run Number ONE Was Done! 

Vanessa=Runner #5
Kerry=Runner #6
We had just a moment to breathe before we drove to the next exchange where Kerry, the last runner from our van, passed off the bracelet to Van #2, our partners in crime:  Heidi, Linda, Laurie, Maggie, Jonathan, and Lisa. Five people from Van #2 flew in from California to run the relay with us.  We were so happy to see the six of them at the exchange because 1) they are amazing and fun and 2) that meant the people in Van #1 got to take a break and go back to Kerry's house to shower and eat spaghetti and meatballs!
These are the amazing runners from Van #2!

The shower, rest, and food at Kerry's house was just what we needed to gear up for our next run.

Unfortunately, my colon "unfroze" at some point while we were waiting to start Leg #2, so back to the Honey Buckets I went.
Note:  My iPhone should probably be fumigated after Hood to Coast.

We were all still pretty drained from running in the heat during Leg #1, but we charged ourselves back up for Leg #2 with a flying leap under the starting line for a different relay race!
Then, we watched for Lisa from Van #2 to run in,
she slapped the bracelet on Ashley, and Ashley
was off like a rocket!
Elizabeth is ready to go!

Jennifer can't wait to get running!

Christina is ready to rock!

I'm just going to be perfectly honest, it was about 10 or 10:30 pm when it was time for me to run again, and I didn't know if I could do it.  I sprayed BioFreeze on my leg, taped it up, took more Aleve, strapped on the headlamp, and tried to smile, but inside I was cringing. When I started to run, each and every step hurt.  I was running along the highway in the dark with no music telling myself I just needed to finish 7.7 miles, and then I could rest and ice my leg.  I ran past a bar where some drunk men cheered me on.  I ran past a dead animal on the road.  I ran past a girl who looked like she was loving life almost as much as me.  I ran and I ran and I ran until . . . I found Kerry!  I have never been more excited to see someone!  Run Number TWO Was THROUGH!

Kerry did amazing on her run, (unfortunately, I was doing poorly at picture taking at this point, so I don't have a photo of her), she turned the rest of the night runs over to Van #2,  and we all headed to the next exchange point to sleep.  A HUGE THANK YOU to Jennifer for driving at this point and to Christina for navigating.  I was completely incapacitated.  

When we arrived at our next exchange point, three of us tried to sleep in the van and three of us tried to sleep on the grass.  Sleep was difficult to come by because it sounded like the volunteers were screaming team numbers into their megaphones right beside the van.  I must've dozed off because the next thing I knew, Ashley, Christina and Jennifer were back at the van getting ready for the next run. It was time for the FINAL LEG!!

Christina before Leg #3.  She ran right before me, so I was starting to get butterflies.
I had heard that my last leg was the most difficult.  Basically, I was going to run up a mountain and then back down the other side.  I was scared to death.  It actually ended up being my favorite run ever!  I pretended I was back in Utah running up Hobble Creek Canyon.  I ran past some guys.  I was feeling pretty strong.  When I started nearing the top of the hill, I heard the lyrics to the R Kelly song, "I believe I can fly.  I believe I can touch the sky." I know it's totally corny, but I held my arms out like airplane wings as I sang along to the tune.  My kids were so embarrassed when I told them I did that!  Then, as I neared the top of the mountain, I saw two runners holding a roll of toilet paper stretched out like a finish line.  I ran towards it and busted through that TP.  Best feeling ever!  Next, I got to run about 2 1/2 miles downhill.  It felt amazing.  I ignored my leg and just enjoyed the experience. Run Number THREE, Yippee!!!

After Kerry finished her 3rd leg, she found a bag of ice for my leg (she is an angel), and we headed off to enjoy a hot meal while Van #2 finished the journey for our team.   
We ate at the Bridgewater Bistro in Astoria.  Food has never tasted so good!  We got cleaned up, brushed our teeth and changed our clothes in their bathroom.  Don't worry.  We left a great tip!  Next stop was Seaside . . . the finish line of Hood to Coast.
We found our names on the list of participants for this year's Hood to Coast Relay.
We found Mr. Sasquatch again!  I'm pretty sure he felt a little less fresh at the finish line as well!
We waited for the rest of our team.
We crossed the finish line with our team!
We had a special moment,
and then our team celebrated the awesomeness of Hood to Coast 2016.
Thanks to the MISSFITS for including me in this awesome journey.  199 miles with 11 amazing people I am lucky to have as friends.

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