Hood to Coast 2013 Recap

Mt. Hood SummitFor the past week (and the entire plane ride home from the Pacific Northwest) I’ve been trying to brainstorm the perfect lead for my Hood to Coast recap… to no avail. Seriously guys, I’m a writer, I’m supposed to be good at this whole wordsmithing thing but words are failing me right now.

I’ve had plenty of chances to explain to friends, family, coworkers, and random passersby, just how amazing my experience running Hood to Coast with Nuun was since returning to the East coast.

“How was Hood to Coast?” they’ll ask. Or, “How was that relay you did last week?” Or, “Didn’t you run 200 miles or something last week?”

To which I have responded, “It was absolutely, incredibly awesome!” And that’s pretty much the most concise way I can sum up Hood to Coast. Absolutely. Incredibly. Awesome.

I think my mom was the only one willing to hear my minute-by-minute recap of Hood to Coast, because, well, she’s my mom and doesn’t really have a choice. So, instead of boring you here with an infinitely long, rambling train-of-thought recap, I thought, instead I’d write about what I actually learned at Hood to Coast during my three legs as runner four.

Kara handing off to me during our first leg.

Kara handing off to me during our first leg.

Runner Four

When we were asked which leg we wanted to run back in April, I told Megan at Nuun that I was probably a much slower, less experienced runner than most of the women I’d be running with. I told Megan, “I’m fine with long distance but when it comes to speed, I may not be your girl.” I checked out the legs but really didn’t know what I was looking at so I gave her my three choices, runner four being one of them. Runner four runs a total of 15.16 miles with two runs classified as “easy” and one as “medium” – compared to the other legs, runner four has it “relatively” easy.

We also provided our 10K PRs which would be used to predict our finishing times for each leg. Having run only one 10K in my life, not racing at all (I had to run 18 miles the next day), my PR was less than fantastic. I knew I could run faster than the times HTC predicted for me but that’s when my self-doubt set in. Instead, I decided to take a back seat and see what happened when I got out on the course.

Leg 1- 7.18 miles – HTC Predicted Finishing Time: 1:10:44 (9:51/mile)

Actual Finishing Time: 57:12 (7:57/mile)

Well this was a surprise. When Kara handed off to me at exchange four I was full of energy but I was nervous. I knew I’d run faster than 9:51/mile with a slightly gradual downhill, but I never would have imagined I’d run this fast. It’s very rare that I ever see a mile split with a “7” in the front, let along 7 miles with 7’s in the front. I remember looking down at my Garmin after the first mile and seeing 7:45/mile and being completely shocked, scared almost. But I remembered the advice Dorothy Beal gave me ahead of time, “Don’t be afraid of the pace. You are that fast.” So I decided to take her word for it and settle in for the ride. My next mile was 7:36/mile- ok, getting faster I thought, but I blamed it on the slight downhill. After half-way through the leg the road flattened out a bit and when I maintained my sub-8:00 pace on the flat ground, I realized I REALLY WAS RUNNING THAT FAST! I felt incredible as I went zooming down the road literally flying past other runners (I had 15 roadkills on that run alone). Before I knew it my first leg was done and I came racing into the exchange schute a full 13 minutes faster than predicted! Oh yeah, and I snagged a new 10K PR on this run!

After my first leg- all sweaty, all smiles.

After my first leg- all sweaty, all smiles.

Leg 2- 3.78 miles – HTC Predicted Finishing Time: 38:36 (10:13/mile)

Actual Finishing Time: 31:00 (8:12/mile)

I was still riding the high from my first leg when it was soon time for me to run again. My second leg would be pancake flat but in the middle of the night, 1:00 a.m. to be exact. I had never run at night, or in the dark, before so I was pretty nervous going into the run. But I sucked it up, put on the reflective vest and waited for Kara to come into the exchange. It was so dark on the majority of this run that I had a tough time seeing, but I sure felt like I was going fast. The entire run was one the shoulder of a highway and there weren’t many runners around me during the majority of the run. One runner came up behind me though and he seemed to be going at a pretty decently fast pace. He passed me with ease but I decided to keep him in sight. I couldn’t see my watch so I wasn’t sure how fast I was actually going but at one point I thought I saw some kind of animal in a field so I really picked it up. Before I knew it I could see the exchange out ahead of me, and the guy who passed me was still in sight- well within passing range- so I decided to kick it in to the shute to pass him. With about 200 yards to go I managed to pass him wearing my sparkly skirt! There is nothing better than passing a dude in a singlet while you’re wearing a sparkly skirt. It felt so exhilarating!

Check off

Leg 3 – 4.2 miles – HTC Predicted Finishing Time: 43:47 (10:25/mile)

Actual Finishing Time: 36:00 (8:32/mile)

I knew by the time my third leg rolled around my legs would be zonked. I was expecting to be much closer to my predicted finishing time on the third leg, especially since this one would be in broad daylight with the sun beating down, uphill, and with a cruel camber in the road for the last half. Going into this run I wasn’t feeling great. A few of us had a not-so-great dinner the night before that led to a few code browns throughout the night and morning. I was nervous it was going to happen to me because my stomach wasn’t agreeing with me. I thought, it’s my final leg, if I just give it all I have left, which will be enough. Plus, I was really excited to be running my last leg, I didn’t want it to be painful!

But it started out pretty painful. I got the slap bracelet at the handoff from Kara and leaped out of the exchange with as much energy as I had during my first and second legs. I got about 1 mile before my stomach put the breaks on my zealous approach. But just then, just when I thought, “Maybe I should just walk a little bit… Maybe I’ll feel better if I did that…” I hear a van coming up behind me. Van 2 of Team Watermelon came to my rescue blasting Taylor Swift and pulling up just in time to give me a power arch! This was absolutely incredible and it was just the kick I needed to kick myself into gear and get running.

I started passing people like it was my freakin’ job! There was traffic leading up to the exchange and I kept passing this one van, the Lightning Mullets, basically a van-full of guys my age cheering me on. But when I got less than a half-mile out from the exchange, they pulled up again, opened the van door and said, “We’ve got actual Mardi Gras beads for you! Catch them in 1…2…3!” And I caught them, through them around my neck and came racing into the final exchange. It was so epic!

Throwing up a power arch for Sarah on her last leg!

Throwing up a power arch for Sarah on her last leg!

Takeaways

Like Dorothy told me before the race even began, don’t be afraid of the paces on your watch- if you’re running that fast, you are that fast. I tend to doubt myself often, especially when it comes to running. I still feel so new to running and I know I have so much more to learn so I tend to doubt my abilities. But if HTC taught me anything it’s that I am that fast and I don’t need to doubt myself anymore.

I also learned at HTC that it is much easier to believe in yourself when you are surrounded by people who believe in you. My HTC team was absolutely amazing and so incredibly supportive. We gave each other support from beginning to end, through code browns to tattoo applications, on hills and downhills. We were there for each other and the connection we made was one of true friendship and support.

We made it to Seaside!

We made it to Seaside!

From this I’ve got to segway into the incredible amount of girl power I felt throughout the entire journey of Hood to Coast. There were 36 of us ladies running for Nuun and from our Sparkly Skirts to our kickass paces, there was no shortage of team spirit. And seriously, what is better than passing guys when you’re wearing a sparkly skirt? Nothing!

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Nuun Hood to Coast in Photos

Post-Hood to Coast mortem is unlike any post-race depression I’ve felt before. It’s a strange concept, post-race depression. You’d think after working so hard over many months for a race, you’d actually be happy for it to be over. This is not the case with Hood to Coast. And this is especially not the case when you’re running with Team Nuun. I spent five days with 36 women (and six fearless men who drove us around) and I never wanted it to end.

The friendships I made over the five days in the PNW will for sure last a lifetime. At the risk of being cliché and sounding like a college student who just got back from studying abroad, I know the memories we made along the nearly 200 miles of the Hood to Coast course reignited not only my passion for running but my faith in the strength of the running community.

While I’m still deep in the throws of my Hood to Coast hangover, I wanted to do a very quick post to thank Nuun for the incredibly life-changing experience I had this past weekend. Thank you to Mason, CEO and President of Nuun, for creating such an incredible experience for all of us and teaching us more about Nuun and your company’s dedication to all runners. Thank you to Megan for organizing all of us and making sure we still had fun along the way! Thank you to all of our van drivers, especially Jeantel, for putting up with our stink and getting us where we needed to be.

And a special thank you to my Team Watermelon Van 1 teammates- Sarah, Mallory, Kara, Catey, and Megan– you all truly made this experience memorable and if I don’t take anything else away from this experience I’ll always have: What would Ke$ha do? :)

I will have a full race report to come very soon this week but to start, here is a photo recap of the week!

Arrival

We arrived (slightly disheveled) to the PNW, notice the flipped over backpack strap. (Photo credit: Megan from megrunnergirl.com)

Pikes Place

We explored Seattle, namely Pike’s Place Market and the original Starbuck (cha-ching!) because runners love coffee.

Bowling

We bowled, a.k.a. cross-trained.

Oiselle visit

We visited Oiselle, and flew. (Photo credit: Sally Bergesen from Oiselle)

Duck Boats

We quacked our way through Seattle on Duck Boats. Quack, quack! (Photo credit: Jesica from runladylike.com)

Van Decoration 2

We decorated our vans with highly appropriate sayings like “Spit Don’t Swallow” with Team Watermelon. (Photo credit: Megan Fay)

Van departure

We woke up very early, packed, and embarked on our journey to Timberline Lodge at the summit of Mt. Hood. (Photo credit: Lindsay from twistedrunning.com)

Mt. Hood Summit

We reached the top of Mt. Hood. So beautiful!

Tattoos

We got (Nuun) tat, tat, tatted up in our highly efficient tattoo train line. (Photo credit: Megan Fay)

Start Line

We began our 198-mile journey…

Check back for a full recap later on this week when I’ve finally processed the entire experience!

Hood to Coast Van Pump Up Playlist

logoWith Hood to Coast now less than a week away I thought, what better way to get excited for “the mother of all relays” than to make a mother of all relay vans pump up playlist? Am I right?

Why am I making a van playlist instead of a regular running playlist? The answer is multi-faceted.

  1. While I do really love running with music (as much as my coworkers may make fun of me) running with headphones during Hood to Coast is prohibited and will result in an automatic DQ for the entire team. No bueno.
  2. When it comes down to it, we’re going to be spending the majority of our time in that crazy van. Might as well keep ourselves entertained with some good tunes.
  3. Raise team morale!

This playlist is a little eclectic beginning with some of my hippie mountain music, moving into some hardcore EDM and finishing with a little beachy country. But it’s all part of the plan! We’ll begin our journey up on Mt. Hood (mountain music), then we’ll be running down the mountain and onto the roads in the middle of the night (EDM pump up, bass dropping music) and then we hit the beach for a party (country!). It makes sense in my head at least. Enjoy!

Hood to Coast Van Playlist

The Mountain– Trevor Hall

Fallin’– Braddigan

Drive All Night– NEEDTOBREATHE

Backwoods Company– The Wild Feathers

The Night Out– Martin Solveig

Tongue Tied– GROUPLOVE

Wake Me Up– Avicii

Midnight City– M83

Pursuit of Happiness– Kid Cuddi ft. MGMT

C’mon– Tiesto

Safe and Sound– Capital Cities

Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites– Skrillex

Sweet Nothing– Calvin Harris ft. Florence Welch

We Can’t Stop– Miley Cyrus

Memories– David Guetta

Daylight– Matt & Kim

Shore Thing– Luke Bryan (This one is super random but I love this song)

Any other song suggestions? Let me know below!

Hood to Coast in T-Minus Two Weeks

We be running around the mountain, here Nuun comes! (source: Wikipedia)

We be running around the mountain, here Nuun comes! (source: Wikipedia)

Holy jeez, in two weeks I’m going to be running (stumbling? falling?) down Mt. Hood in Oregon with a team of 24 ladies, on a quest for the ultimate beach party that awaits us in Seaside, OR. That’s the point of Hood to Coast, right, the beach party?

Just kidding! But seriously I can’t believe Hood to Coast is almost upon us. It feels like yesterday when I got the news that I was picked to run on Nuun’s team but alas, the summer has flown by at the speed of light, and race day is nearly upon us.

I’ve been so focused on training for the Marine Corps Marathon this summer, and documenting it on this here bloggy, that I’ve neglected to talk about HTC. For shame! Well, this week I finally had the opportunity to assess where I am with my operation-get-speedy and examine my legs of the “mother of all relays.”

Operation-Get-Speedy

First, operation-get-speedy is moving along and I am, in fact, getting quite speedy (in my book). Throughout the summer I’ve focused on staying consistent with speed workouts- mostly track workouts, tempos, and progression runs- as well as upping my mileage quite a bit from what I was doing for Big Sur. I’m five weeks into MCM training and I’ve already hit 37 miles/week which was my second highest mileage week for Big Sur. So, there’s that.

I’ve also noticed significant improvements in my interval splits (mostly 400s and 800s) simply because I’ve been doing them more often. My progression runs, a personal favorite, have been very good too with each mile decreasing evenly to come to a negative split for the total run.

But what’s even more amazing is my “easy/comfortable” pace is getting much faster. Last week I did a 3-mile shakeout run the day after my 13-mile (hilly) long run and my paces were incredible:

Mile 1- 8:46/mile

Mile 2- 8:13/mile

Mile 3- 7:45/mile

I think the true goal of my whole operation-get-speedy plan was to improve my overall fitness and lower my paces for regular, everyday runs. And to get faster for Team Watermelon!

HTC Leg Four Whoop Whoop!

Which brings my to my Hood to Coast leg: I will be runner four on Nuun’s Team Watermelon running a total of 15.16 miles out of our 198 mile run. I’ll admit, I have one of the “easier” legs but many of the women on my team have been running for much longer than I have so I’m fine being the token beginner.

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The first portion of my leg is the longest mileage run coming in at 7.18 miles and it is completely downhill. I’m still not sure what time of day I’ll be running it either but that will definitely play into the difficulty.

Leg four will be my first leg.

Leg four will be my first leg.

My second leg is shorter, just 3.78 miles and it’s relatively flat and described to be on gently rolling terrain on the should of Highway 30.

Leg 16, easy peasy

Leg 16, easy peasy

My final leg is also another short one totaling 4.20 miles and is described as a gradual uphill climb on paved road.

Leg 28 and I'm done!

Leg 28 and I’m done!

After those legs (and in between) you can be sure I’ll by cowbelling my little heart out for my teammates while chugging Nuun and pounding Picky Bars like there’s no tomorrow. Oh, and resting, I’ll try to do some of that too.

This will be my very first relay and I’m excited/scared/stoked to find out what lies ahead in the 198 miles from Mt. Hood to the Pacific Ocean. I know one thing for sure, it ends with a party and beer, so I’m in!

Have you ever run Hood to Coast or another relay? If so, what do I need to know?

I’m Running Hood to Coast with Nuun!

The past few weeks have been such a whirlwind with work, Big Sur and all the traveling in between that I never got the chance to properly announce that I’m running Hood to Coast this August with Nuun! (Jumps up and down screaming yayyy!!)

htc_300x300

Hold up a second, you don’t know what Hood to Coast is? Well let me fill you in. As Nuun writes on their own blog, Hood to Coast is the “mother of all relays.” This 200-mile long relay has runners start at the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood and then, over the course of 36 different legs (each runner runs three legs) you finish on the sandy shores of the Pacific in Seaside, Oregon. Pretty epic, no doubt.

The best part of running Hood to Coast is the team aspect, or so I hear. And, according to friends who ran Hood to Coast with Nuun last year, the Nuun team is by far the best one out on the course (I’m not biased at all….). But seriously, I, along with 20 other women runners, will make up the Nuun team and take on Mt. Hood and have a lot of fun along the way.

Many thanks to Nuun for picking me to join their team, I couldn’t be more excited to run hydrated for an absurd amount of miles with these lovely ladies! Check out the rest of the team!

  • Kimberly – Healthy Strides
  • Jolene – Journey of a Canuck Mom on the Run
  • Megan – Meg Runner Girl
  • Lisa – Run Wiki
  • Mallory – Run Eat Run Eat
  • Leslie – Triathlete Treats
  • Holly – Leaps of Faith
  • Kara – Welcome to Karadise
  • Jesica – runladylike
  • Catey – Random Thoughts from the Zoo
  • Lisa – Lisa Runs for Cupcakes
  • Kristen – Defy Your Limitations
  • Sarah – Run Far Girl
  • Meghan – Shoe Stories
  • Devon – Dev on Running
  • Karen – Reason to Play
  • Andrea – the MF Dre
  • Jenny – We Wander and Ponder
  • Lindsay – Twisted Running

Have you ever run a relay? Any words of wisdom for Team Nuun?