Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hood to Coast - Round 3

I woke up to find the van almost to the next super exchange.  I had been fighting tummy troubles since my first leg and my second run was more of the same.  I ate enough to feel good during leg 22 but immediately afterwards I was nauseous with hunger again.  Thankfully, the farm house at exchange 30 runs a grill so I knew real food was waiting for me.


Catching some z's

Sleeping area

I'm surprised I was able to sleep for as long and as well as I did this HTC (the hour in the van ride brought my total up to about 5 hours in two days).  I didn't even bring a sleeping bag or pillow because I knew the vans are too uncomfortable and the resting areas are too loud.  For example, the one pictured above was right in front of the actual exchange and next to the lines for food and Honey Buckets.  Teams cheering, volunteers on bullhorns, vans honking, the commotion of the lines, baristas pulling espresso shots - basically nothing that equals a peaceful rest.

Layer of dust from legs 20-21

Darrin's final start

Nerves hit me hard after we dropped off Darren for his last leg.  Afraid that leg 34 was going to be another slow roast in the afternoon sun and worried about how much my quads had left, I was dreading the run. I even told Erin, "This is going to hurt."  (Yes, our van had Darren, Darrin, and Erin.)  I told myself that this was a short run - only 3.36 miles - do the damn thing and let's go home.

I was hoping for 30 minutes but thought that 35 or even 40 was probably a better estimate.

The leg started off with a decent hill, which my legs did not appreciate.  After that intial climb, the road was to true to the rolling hills advertised in the guide book.  The other two hills were very manageable climbs and the heat wasn't as awful as I feared.  There was little shade on the course but the thoughts of frosty adult beverages in Seaside helped ease the pain.  As I gunned it for the next exchange, I was able to reel in two more roadkill, doubling my total to 10.  I handed off to Erin and hoped that leg 35 would be good to her.

Back in the van, I checked my time:  31:43, a 9:26 min/mile average.  Negative splits!

It was done - I had finished my third Hood to Coast and I managed to end faster than I began.  I wanted to break down and cry thinking about everything it took to get me here.  Fighting postpartum depression/anxiety, moving to the other side of the planet, juggling two boys while training, not giving up when my weight plateaued and fitness refused to improve, leaving Isaac overnight for the first time, pumping in a van full of people, and literally the effort to physically get the boys and myself to Oregon.

Jaime taking us home on leg 36

Seaside - we made it!

Mulkey sisters - woot!

Already wondering what leg to sign up for next time...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hood to Coast - Round 2

Sun setting over Portland

Moon between overpasses

Nothing like a relaxing weekend at the Blue Room Spa

Exchange 12
The Hawthorne Bridge

Jaime bringing it home for van 2

With our first round of legs over, we were able to get some dinner (Subway never tasted so good!) and freshen up at a teammate's apartment in Portland.  Most of my vanmates were able to get at least a little shut eye but, just like every Hood to Coast, I couldn't relax enough to sleep.

At 11:30pm, we loaded up the van and headed out to Scappoose.

This section of the race is terrible for traffic.  We had the same problem in 2007: traffic coming into the exchange get so backed up, the previous runner passes the van making the next runner and time-keeper race to make the hand-off.

Runners in the night

The thick dust clouds on legs 20 and 21

My turn to run came around 4:30am.   Leg 22 starts with over 1.5 miles up hill.  I took comfort knowing that once I finished the climb, the hardest part was over and everything was literally downhill from there.

The temps had plummeted from the mid-70s in Portland to the low 40s.   The run was very peaceful; watching my breath in the headlamp's glow, shooting stars and Milky Way peaking out from between the trees, the sound and smell of a creek or river to my left.  One of those wonderful moments during Hood to Coast that you realize just how unique of an experience this is.

I was generally alone, overtaking a few runners and occasionally becoming the road kill.  Vans zipping down to the exchange and a handful of on coming cars would momentarily light the way.  A couple stretches of road I got a little paranoid.  I could not see a runner in front or behind me.  The white fog line was tripping out my sleep-deprived brain.  And of course my mind goes straight to the "if an ax murder pulled you off the road, there'd be no one to hear you scream" type of thoughts.

Soon, the glowing red lights of the exchange traffic jam could be seen.  Even with some walking on the up hill, I finished in 1:08 - dropping my pace down to about 10 min/mile.

Sunrise in Mist
My body finally crashed and I was able to sleep for about an hour while we drove to the last super exchange.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hood to Coast - Round 1

Hood to Coast began bright and early at Mt Hood's Timberline Lodge on Friday morning.  Our team, Vancouver USA Marathon, started the race at 9am.  Thankfully, I was leg 10 in van 2 this year and got to sleep in (well, that was the plan anyway. The boys decided 5am would be a great time for a party, so I only got about 4 hours of sleep Friday morning.)

Around 10am we headed up to Sandy to get the van ready to rumble.

Decorating the van

The leg 6 runner didn't arrive until almost 2pm, giving us plenty of time to relax.  The opposite happened to our van 1.  They got a late start out of Portland, ran into traffic and barely made the start with 20 minutes to spare.  There's enough nerves at the start of a race, I'd hate to add stressing out over being late too!

The start of leg 7 in Sandy

Exchange 6

Van 2 is off!

Leg 7
Mt Hood in the distance

Leg 8
Our van had a smooth start.  The first three runners and exchanges went quickly.  My first leg was next.

Silly me: when I was planning my food strategy, for some reason I thought I should stop eating around noon to have everything settled by 2.  Not good because my leg didn't kick off until closer to 5pm.  From exchange 8 to exchange 9 (the start of my first leg), our van took a small detour (and I was driving, another bad idea).  I didn't have time to prepare and in the rush I forgot my race belt with Gu's in the van.

Looking for my teammate at exchange 9

We made the exchange with only few minutes before Darren's arrival.  I started off at an easy pace knowing I needed to conserve energy for my next two legs.  I realized the nutrition mistake almost instantly when my stomach started cramping up.  Leg 10 runs just over 5 miles on Portland's Springwater trail, giving no opportunity for support from my van (although a nice family was handing out bottles of water).  There was very little shade and the afternoon sun was unrelenting.  I took plenty of walk breaks and finished in 56:16, almost an 11 min/mile pace.

Coming into exchange 10

The hand off to Erin, my SIL

Happy to be done

Johnson Creek

Exchange 11
At exchange 11 in Johnson Creek, our last runner was off and the rest of the van headed down to the Willamette River.  Round 1 was almost complete...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Yellow Submarine at Bagdad

One of my absolute favorite things to do in Portland is watch a movie at the Bagdad Theater.  Cheap tickets,  awesome atmosphere, adult beverages, good pizza, and great bus system to take me home - doesn't get much better than that.

When I saw ads for an all ages show of Yellow Submarine on the big screen, I decided the boys must go!  I think everyone should have a funky Yellow Sub story to tell; I watched it for the first time in school with my hippie 6th grade teacher, Mr Weed (I shit you not).

I forgot my camera and the pictures from my iPhone didn't turn out, so here's some pictures from various sources:

Exterior (Wikipedia)
Foyer (Bad Blogger
Glass of microbrew in the theater (Portland Ground)
We only made it through about an hour of the movie before the boys had enough.  Oh well, hopefully we can try another movie again soon.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Portland's Ira Keller fountains

The heat wave continued as we returned to Portland.  A trip to a downtown fountain was in order! Portland has an extensive list of playful fountains (here's one collection) and we choose the Ira Keller fountain.


I spent some great afternoons in high school playing in this fountain.  And a scene from Jackass was filmed here too (I think it was an urban kayaking scene in the first movie.  Sorry, no luck finding the clip online).

We stayed in the shallow section, away from the waterfalls (too noisy for Owen) and didn't go to the pools on top (too many crazy guys).

Concert in Pioneer Courthouse Square

Too short for the bubblers

Roses at city hall

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cooling down in Corvallis

After our vacation at the coast, the boys and I headed down to Corvallis - just in time for a heat wave!  One afternoon, we packed up the cousins and headed to the fountains in downtown.

Uncle Jason and Owen

Isaac having fun
Definitely a fun way to chill out!