This journey to Hood To Coast all started here.
Quick intro about the team – The team name is Pure Michigan, because all the members of the team (except for Chris and I) have ties to Michigan.
I flew into Portland early Thursday morning the day before Hood To Coast. I was to meet my teammates for the very first time in person. The only person I have met prior was fellow San Francisco Marathon Ambassador, Chris. I met a few of my teammates then it was off to pickup the rental van.
We piled into the van and we’re off to Mount Hood! We made a quick pit stop at Safeway for some food and snacks for the next few days.
We stopped off at a condo in Government Camp (6 miles from Mount Hood) where other teammates were staying. It was nice to meet more teammates! We were only there for about 10 minutes before we were off to the Timberline Lodge where the rest of the team was staying, including me.
That night all the team met up for a late dinner and team meeting. It was decided that we all meet at 10:30am the next morning to decorate the vans.
On Friday morning I woke up at 7:30am, visited the start line to watch teams start and bought a Hood To Coast hoodie. I never buy any merchandise from a race unless the race is really special to me. This was definitely one of those races!
At 10:30am we met in front of the Timbeline Lodge to decorate the vans. After the vans were looking pretty awesome we headed to start line to wait for our start.
The first runner took off at 1:15pm. Hood To Coast started for Pure Michigan! We hopped into van #2 and drove to the first major exchange which was the parking lot at a Safeway. Everyone bought some lunch and waited a few hours for runner 6 to arrive.
Our first runner took off at 6pm. We drove to the next exchange and waited for the runner. While we waited I finally met another fellow San Francisco Marathon Ambassador, Holly. Nice to finally meet her! We exchanged runners, drove to next exchange.
I couldn’t believe this was really finally happening! And I couldn’t stop saying that out loud.
I was a bit skeptical about how my legs would perform during HTC. My IT band wasn’t 100% and my calves were pretty sore the week prior.
It was finally time to start my first leg – 5.12 miles! I was really nervous, but excited to run. It was pretty dark at this point, so I was wearing a headlamp and a reflective with LEDs. Both were required. I stood at the exchange with the rest of the team anxiously awaiting runner 9. I heard the volunteer yell out our team number. I saw our runner get closer. He handed off the slap bracelet. I was off and running! So much emotion happening at this point. THIS was finally happening, I was running Hood To Coast!
My first leg was very interesting. For awhile it was just me, the darkness, and the weird creature noises coming from the bushes. No other runners anywhere to be seen. FINALLY I heard a runner coming up quickly from behind. He started to pass and exclaimed “What a great night for a run! Have a great run!”. Now I really didn’t think the runners would be very talkative. Boy I was wrong! From there on out I pretty much talked to every runner that I ran by. Even if they ran past me, which they usually did, I said “Nice pace!”. I always thanked the volunteers and spectators when I ran by them. Even gave one of the volunteers a high five! One of the spectators yelled “You’re second!”. I yelled back, “Yeah! Second to last!”. I could hear them laughing as I ran away.
About halfway through my run I heard something on my right. I looked and saw two green eyes. Holy *&^%! I had no idea what it was, but I ran FASTER! I heard gun shots, which I think was from a gun range and also heard some guys arguing in a backyard.
I really took everything in. I had to keep telling myself “This isn’t a race. Enjoy yourself and surroundings!”.
Overall it was an AMAZING run. Probably the best night run I have ever ran. As I approached the end of my run I could see the exchange. I yelled my number out to the volunteer and they yelled it out to the exchange. I handed off the slap bracelet to runner 11. I felt AWESOME!
Runner 11 ran, finish her run and passed off to runner 12. After runner 12 finished we decided that we needed food before we fell asleep at the next major exchange. We drove all over St. Helens, Oregon looking for some food. EVERYTHING was closed! We finally found a 24 hour Mexican restaurant (Muchas Gracias) thanks to a billboard. I can honestly say that I don’t remember how the food tasted. At this point I just wanted to fall asleep. Everyone ate, hopped back into the minivan and made our way to the next major exchange.
We arrived around 1am at the exchange. Me and two other teammates found a nice spot in the field with other fellow runner zombies. I initially fell asleep, but kept waking up every 15mins or so. I had to use the restroom really bad. I didn’t want to leave my comfy sleeping bag. Plus I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find my way back. Around 2am (I think) it started to rain! I covered my head with the sleeping bag and kept on sleeping. I woke up around 3:40am, rolled up the sleeping bag and made my way to the minivan. All of my teammates were standing there ready to send off the next runner. I decided to finally use the Honey Bucket. I was in a groggy daze at this point. It still seemed like a dream!
We did more of the same that morning: Drive to the exchange, drop off runner, pick up runner. Repeat!
Is it my turn to run again?! Out of the three legs this is the leg that I was not looking forward to running. It was about 1.75 miles uphill and 5.06 miles all downhill for a total of 6.81 miles. I wasn’t sure how my IT band would handle the uphill.
We drove up the exchange and the first thing we all noticed was this steep hill all the runners were running up. Do I have to run up that?! Wasn’t expecting that! I quickly hopped out of the van, because I had to use the Honey Bucket and runner 9 was going to be at the exchange very soon! I used the restroom and waited for the runner. Before I knew it, there he was! I was almost caught off guard. I grabbed the slap bracket and made my way up the steep hill from hell.
The steep hill wasn’t too bad. I was glad that was the only steep part of this run. I made it to the top of the hill, which was about 1.50 – 2 miles of uphill to climb. My IT band was screaming at me the entire way up. It seemed like it took forever. I was so excited to be at the top of the hill. It really took a lot out of me. I knew from here it was all downhill. I FLEW down the 5 miles of hill. I talked to every runner that I ran by on the way down. Everyone I talked to was in good spirits. My team drove by and yelled. I was so happy to see them! Luckily they caught me on the way down the hill and not on the way up. I looked pretty terrible on the way up!
I handed off the slap bracelet to runner 11 at the exchange. The leg that I wasn’t looking forward to actually was a pretty good run!
We decided just to head straight to the exchange to eat and rest up. We arrived at exchange about 3-4 hours early. A teammate and I immediately headed to the food stand to order some burgers. I’m pretty sure we ate those burgers in under 3 mins.
As I walked back to the food area to buy some waters I noticed Lonnie’s (who I know from twitter) team van! It was great to finally meet him!
Everyone pretty much lounged around until it was time for runner 7 to run again.
My last leg and shortest of my legs at 3.36 miles. It looked like an entirely flat leg. Right! I waited at the exchange for runner 9. He was flying along his leg. I knew he was going to be there very soon. Before I knew it, there he was. SLAP! And off I go!
My leg started off pretty flat. Then some hills appeared. What the? Flat course? Nope! I really wasn’t mentally prepared for the hills. I was prepared for a nice flat leg! I was pretty fatigued and hot, but I powered through the hills. I talked to the runners along the way. They also were wondering where this flat course was!
I was about 2 miles in when I noticed two girls on the side of the road. They had a wheelchair with a bin on top filled with water and apples. One of the girls asked if I wanted to cool off. I splashed my face with the water. I had no idea what other grimy hands or faces had used the water previously. I was so hot that I really didn’t care!
I could see the exchange! I was almost there! I used the last of my energy the last .36 miles. I handed off the slap bracelet to runner 11. I WAS DONE! Words can’t even describe how I felt as this point. I just ran Hood To Coast!
Seaside here we come!
It was finally time for our runner 12 to run the home stretch to the finish line at Seaside! The entire team waited in the holding chute at the finish line waiting for our last running. There she was! As soon as we saw here running toward us the entire team cheered! We all walked through the start line, which was pretty congested. We got our medals and took the official finish line team picture.
We celebrated with beers on the beach! Some even dipped themselves and their medals into the Pacific.
Needless to say, I had an AMAZING time during Hood To Coast. It was the most challenging and fun races that I have ever ran. I was lucky enough to have the nicest, most amazing teammates a runner could ever have!