This weekend, I ran the Hood to Coast relay with 9 other women and two intrepid dudes. I only knew one of these people before we started, and she was in the other van. Does that sound nuts?
If you’re familiar with HTC (or Ragnar, its cousin), you already know it is nuts. For these kooky relays, a team of twelve runners cycles through to cover 200 miles. Six runners start off from one van, and leapfrog their runners down the course until all six have finished a leg. Then van 2 takes over, while van 1 rests (a little), eats, showers (maybe), and drives to the next exchange point. Rinse and repeat until each runner has run 3 legs. Legs average 5 or 6 miles, and each runner does 3. For HTC, the start point is on Mount Hood and the finish line is on the beach in Seaside. Teams all have goofy names, and the vans get decorated with all kinds of props and slogans. There are some fast runners out there— but mostly just runners who like to have fun. It has a friendly, upbeat, party atmosphere, kind of like adult summer camp.
The challenge, for most of us, isn’t so much the distance you cover running, but the fact that you’re doing it 3 times in a row, and the first thing you have to do after your run is jump in a cramped van and sit there while your team drives to the next exchange point. You don’t get much if any sleep. And you eat what you’ve got, what you can find on the road, or whatever happens to be for sale at the fundraisers schools and other groups put on at the exchange points. Sacrificing recovery practices might not be a big deal if you’re 20, but when you’re 36, it’s decidedly a big deal. Then, there’s the sheer logistics of communicating who’s supposed to be where, when, and traffic jams, and porta-potties, and pacing. . .
So, aside from thoroughly enjoying the antics, what did I take away from HTC this weekend? How did it go?
- Even though I am an introvert and can be shy also, I can and have had super fun times with groups of near-strangers, more than once. It’s actually pretty brave to decide to do this. This is a good thing to remind myself of!
- Oregon is absolutely gorgeous. Exploring more of it should be a high priority for me. We also had close to ideal weather this weekend. A+, 5/5, would move to again.
- I am in decent shape. I ran my first leg at a good clip (for me) and felt good. I have been running consistently and my times (esp. on my first leg) reflect it.
- I need to work on some things. I was not prepped for all the downhills I had to do and wound up with quad and knee issues after leg 2, so leg 3 was a struggle. It was disapointing to not run my best on that final leg because I was in pain. I know that can be fixed. I will work on it.
- I really need to be nice to my body. My heart rate shot up early on the uphill in leg 2 and I couldn’t get it under control. I blame the no sleep, adrenaline, and too much caffeine. It felt lousy to not be running my best and to focus on surviving instead of enjoying of of the most beautiful parts of the course. I should listen to the response of my body and prioritize health and balance.
- Running adventures are always fun, even when they sometimes don’t feel “fun” during every part of them. They are the kind of fun that fills you with awe and sticks with you forever.
So, there you have it: my adventure and my game plan for what to work on. Where will I take myself next? Maybe a trail race? Or a distance I haven’t tried before?