Race Recap: Hood to Coast 2013

Has it really been weeks since Hood to Coast 2013 occurred? I know, I’m really procrastinating at updating this blog. Luckily, all the happenings of this epic relay are still clear in my head.

I started off a couple of nights before stocking up on all the necessary food stuff for the van. If you’d like to see a detailed list for how to pack for a relay, check out my Ragnar blog post here.

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In preparation of the legs that I was to run for HTC, I picked up the following Original Buff. It was recommended by HTC that I prepare myself with some sort of bandana, headwear, etc. as leg #2 for me was in a very gravely/dusty road. Having this Buff would hopefully reduce the inhalation of dust kicked up. For me, I was just super excited to look like a running ninja.

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For additional snacky provisions, I made Healthy Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Flax Chia Muffins. Interested in the recipe? I based it on this one from AllRecipes and made the following modifications:

  • Added 1/2 cup walnut bits
  • Added 1/3 cup raisins
  • Replace skim milk with almond milk
  • Added 2 tablespoons of flaxseed
  • Added 1 tablespoon of chia seeds

So good!

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While packing, I decided to show a bit of artsy flair to my essential fuels including Picky Bars, Nuun Hydration, and Honeystinger Chews, and Hammer Gels (try the Apple Cinnamon – truly tasted like apple pie!)

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Here were my essential electronics. New addition to the lineup included Knuckle Lights which I intended on using during my nighttime leg and for others to use. More on that later.

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My love for Oiselle Roga Shorts is really out of control in a good way. These are seriously my go-to shorts. If you haven’t yet tried them out, go ahead, I promise they’ll work for you.

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Displaying the Picky love:

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As mentioned in my other how to pack blog post, it’s really essential to have your relay leg clothes and accessories packed in a very organized fashion. It makes transport and clothes changing a breeze!

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Pre-relay packing and planning aside, the day before HTC, we picked up our super large GMC Yukon from Enterprise. Thanks to Ryan for hooking us up with this. Now that I’ve driven a 15-passenger van during Ragnar NWP, driving the Yukon was no big deal.

By 5pm, my local vanmates Sarah, Jackson, and Franky loaded up and hit the road down to Portland to spend the night at our team captain Molly’s parents’ house.

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Lucky for us, Molly’s family has a winery down in the Portland area. If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, you can locate a place to buy the wine here or email to request a quote if you’re out of the area.

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Really love me some pasta carbo-loading the night before a race. It’s my favorite.

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HTC Food
credit: Molly’s Instagram

I was getting really excited to run HTC especially when Molly broke out a team picture from 2008. My husband Joe did it and now it was my turn.

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After getting a good night’s sleep, I woke up around 9am as my van, Van 2, didn’t need to be at the first major exchange until early afternoon. Van 1 started earlier at 9:30am and needed to leave bright and early.

First up, some legs up the wall chair a la Jasyoga, of course, in my Oiselle Diamond Roga Shorts. Afterwards, went downstairs, had a cup of coffee and two slices of toasted topped with PB/banana and PB/jelly.

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I failed to mention earlier that our HTC team name was The E-llama-nators. Why? Because the winery has pet llamas. Yes, that’s right, those animals that spit. A lot. Here’s Jackson making friends with the team mascot.

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As furry friendly as they look, I was quite nervous to be that close.

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Our van decorated with some llama decor – my favorite “SPIT HAPPENS.”

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Once we made it to the first major exchange to anticipate the handoff between Van 1 and Van 2, I spotted the Nuun tank and proceeded to fill up on electrolytes. They were super nice and offered me the special HTC bottle. Now I have a Ragnar and a HTC one. The best.

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Here’s Sarah, Becky, and I as Sarah was anticipating a handoff from Molly’s dad, Ron, who was runner #6.

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As we were waiting, tutu guy came flying through. Love how some teams totally get into the spirit of dressing up in a theme.

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Even though I was runner 9 and had a while till my first run, figured I’d break into my first Picky Bars of the trip.

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Most of Van 1 + Van 2 at the first major exchange. Go Team!

HTC 1st exchange

CREDIT: MOLLY’S INSTAGRAM

Before we get all into the nitty gritty of the rest of the relay, here’s a breakout of relay legs, mileage, and relative difficulties.

Hood to Coast Legs

Here’s Ron coming through the handoff area!

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Off Sarah went (somehow I failed to capture a photo) and below is handoff from Sarah to Becky, runner 8.

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Becky looking super fierce and determined to dominate her first leg.

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So many roadkills for Sarah. She’s a beast and super, super speedy.

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With butterflies in my stomach and sweat already forming on me from the heat, I saw Becky flying down the road and finally it was my turn and runner 9 to dominate my first leg, Leg 9, which consisted of 7.7 miles.

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Even though I experienced bad shin splints from miles 2-4 (I really don’t know why I only get shin splints during race situations – can anyone offer suggestions or remedies aside from compression and icing?), I finished my first leg with a smile!

Mileage: 7.7 miles
Time: 1:02:14
Pace: 8:04 min/mile

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This was a pretty badass photo of my handoff to runner 10 Wes. This was his first relay and he was a last-minute replacement, brother of another teammate, for my husband who couldn’t end up joining us for HTC. Super pumped up!

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Here’s speedy Jackson, he’s REALLY fast – sub-6 min/runner – and was still super speedy despite recuperating for the past few months from an achilles injury, handing off to Franky. This was also Franky’s first relay of any kind.

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As we were approaching the next major exchange, we had a minor mishap with transportation. The road into Oaks Park where the major exchange was located was backed up significantly on Oaks Park Way. Therefore, rather than driving into the entrance of the park, we decided to stay outside of it. However, we had no way to reach our runner 12, Franky, but luckily he figured out to make his way out of the backup to us. Unfortunately for van 2, once their runner 1 took off to the next exchange, they were stuck for more than 30 minutes trying to get out of the mess and over to their next exchange. They thought of potentially having runner 2 hop into another van to get over. The logistics of that area could be improved the next time around.

Next up for Van 2: we hit the road to make it to the next major exchange to relax. We stopped at a Safeway to stock up on some random provisions, but while we were there, my stomach started feeling upset and I ended up throwing up in the bathroom. Not a good feeling. Took some Pepto, ate some fresh fruit and a turkey wrap from the deli, drank some chocolate milk and felt a bit better.

Here we are at the next exchange where I proceeded to try to relax and do some van yoga. Not familiar with van yoga? Check out these poses from Jasyoga’s guest post on the Oiselle blog.

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Once we (Van 2) started back up running some time after 11pm, everything was somewhat fine and dandy. Sarah took off and ran leg 19. Unfortunately, van traffic was so backed up to the next exchange – we were literally at a standstill – she ended up surpassing us and had to wait a few minutes at the next exchange. Poor Becky, even though she had to pee so badly, didn’t get a chance to hit up the porta potty before her Very Hard 5.75 hilly miles. But, being the trooper that she is, she did it like a champ.

Becky handed off to me and I was ready to go for Leg 21, dressed in my Buff with the addition of my running sunglasses with clean lenses popped in. My contact lenses are highly sensitive to dust and since my leg had the following recommendation, I decided not to chance it.

“**A bandana or scarf is recommended to ease breathing due to dust on gravel road. (Very dark during night run).”

Since it was so pitch black, I was glad to have brought my Knuckle Lights. However, I do have to say that the straps kept loosening, never staying tightened, and in the end it was frustrating to hold them. I would recommend them only if you can figure out how to keep the straps in place. The light shining from it really helped since I was running on a very dark path with plenty of large rocks among the gravel.

I was very happy to finish this leg unscathed albeit inhalation of dust. I had to pull the Buff down around my neck since breathing with it across my face fogged up my clear lenses.

Mileage: 5 miles
Time: 41:15
Pace: 8:15 min/mile

Now, onto the part of the relay that was incredibly horrible, stressful, and sketchy.

Once Wes handed back off to Jackson, runner 11, to run Leg 23, Sarah drove out of the exchange and hit a highway road – I’m guessing Highway 47? Suddenly, we heard a lot POP and had to immediately stop the vehicle along the shoulder. Shit, our front right passengerside tire had completely just blown out on this huge Yukon vehicle in the middle of nowhere. It was 3:45am.

Stranded on the side of the road with no cell reception, we attempted to drop down the spare tire from underneath the vehicle. This involved emptying all our trunk space in the rain, taking out the tools, only to find out the spare tire was locked! There was no way to drop down the spare tire with the tools we had. A few people stopped to try to help but they couldn’t help either stating that the rental car company locked our tire to prevent tire theft. A race official stopped and tried to help and then had to radio back to command center. He came by and checked on us multiple times, thankfully.

Soon, minutes became 4 hours sitting in the van with our flashers on. We even devised a safety triangle in the dark with glow sticks. It really sucked being on the side of a highway with flashers on. Many teams probably thought that we were purposely blocking the road to wait for a runner to come by, but this was definitely not the case.

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During this 4 hour time period, two of our runners (Jackson and Franky) had run ahead when the tire blew and we had lost them not knowing if they were sitting at the exchange for hours or had hopped into other vans ahead. This was certainly very stressful. With no reception, we had no way to contact any outside sources including our Van 2.

Here’s probably at around hour 3 – the faces of very, very sad and depressed runners.

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At around 7am or so, out of the blue, a superhero van suddenly showed up and said “we have your runner.” What??? They had Jackson! Through social media, I was able to track down the team. Since Jackson had finished his easy speedy miles many hours earlier, he was shivering and cold and opted to wear a trash bag that he had obtained. The superhero van had stopped initially to heckle him – the sight of a runner in a trashbag sitting on the side of the road is definitely an odd sight to see. When he told them that his van was stranded, they indeed acted like superheros and rescued him. Thankful!

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Finally, at around 7:45am, a tow truck finally came after 4 hours and informed us that we could have used our car key to unlock the tire! WHAT?! The Chazzer changed our tire and we were back on the road. This was VERY infuriating as nowhere in the car manual nor various other people who tried to help knew of this requirement, nor did Enterprise. Lesson: if you ever need to drop a tire from under a Yukon or Suburban, know that you use a car key to unlock to drop!

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Once we were back on the road, we crossed our fingers and found our other missing runner, Franky, who had been waiting at the exchange for all these hours.

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By a miracle, van 2 found van 1 whose runner 6 had been waiting for 30+ minutes at the major exchange. We were so relieved. During the hiatus, our van was so stressed out. Would Van 1 have to wait hours? Would we need to tow backwards to a previous city? Would Van 1 have to run all of Van 2’s miles? These thoughts flooded our minds. Luckily, all team members of Van 2 were able to run their legs.

Even though I had eaten very little, had no sleep, and was completely stressed and exhausted, I am happy to report that I was able to finish my final leg, Leg 33, another Hard 7.73 miles, like a champ.

During one part of the leg, a shirtless speedy runner ran up and exclaimed “you’re holding a fast pace!” Then, of course, he sped off. Nonetheless, was super happy to hear this in the middle of the hot, middle-of-the-day sweaty run. I was happy to finish and felt like I had more in me to continue. Weird, right?

Mileage: 7.73 miles
Time: 1:02:19
Pace: 8:03 min/mile

Here’s the rest of our van bringing it home.

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Once we took a shuttle to the finish line, we made it with a couple minutes to spare until we saw Franky come running through the finish chute. As a team, Van 1 + Van 2, we ran in together with Franky leading the way. It was such an exhilarating feeling to finish, finally!

Here’s a shot of Van 1 enjoy some ice cold brew at the finish line waiting for us to finish:

HTC Van 1

CREDIT: MOLLY’S INSTAGRAM

Team E-llama-nators @ HTC 2013!

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The finish line festival was pretty awesome. Set on the sandy beaches of Seaside, Oregon, music playing, sun shining, runners buzzing. It was pretty cool.

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What was even more cool was meeting up with the Oiselle/Every Mother Counts (EMC) team! Check out these two blog posts for an introduction to the team and efforts: Hood to Coast with Every Mother Counts (H2C + EMC) and Sarah Lesko’s A Love Letter to Hood to Coast. Rock on, ladies!

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Becky and I with the amazing, fabulous Christy Turlington Burns, the founder of Every Mother Counts (organization benefiting maternal health) and supermodel. Such a nice, sweet lady!

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The two Sarahs of Van 2:

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Ran into my fantastic local running buddy and Nuunie, Lauren!

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Me and also fellow Oiselle teammate and Nuun employee, Megan:

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I love you, Becky!

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After hanging out at the finish line festival for a while, our team said goodbye to Becky who was heading back to Portland and hit the road to Long Beach, WA.

Delicious salmon mac and cheese from the Lost Roo. Unpictured: they had fantastic tots!

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We stayed the night at Sarah’s family’s cabin in Long Beach and I decided to get some rest while everyone else went over to Molly’s cabin for delicious wine.

The next morning, we hit up a local dinner for some breakfast. So good. I had to order the biscuits and gravy on the side and split with Jackson.

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What better way to end the weekend than the kite festival?

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Oh, and of course some coconut ice cream!

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This was a mostly fantastic weekend and I can’t wait to do another HTC in the future.

One lesson in parting: make sure you do not bring 30 bananas like our van did. So unnecessary.

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And….. really very pleased that I was able to run 20.48 miles during the course of HTC at 8:05 min/mi average. Fantastic pace for me considering this long distance. Now if only I could perform this pay during Chicago.

5 thoughts on “Race Recap: Hood to Coast 2013

  1. Have been reading your blogs and waiting for the HTC report. Fantastic. Love the combination of food reports too. Also your hometime of Seattle looks amazing! Keep it going. As a new runner this year, blogs like these give me the urge to go running..Although wish i lived in America.

    • Anil, thank you so much for the nice comment. It’s nice to know that someone is reading this. I hope you get the opportunity to visit America, run Hood to Coast or some other races, and visit the beautiful city of Seattle. Wishing you the best as a new runner. Keep on running and you’ll find yourself meeting so many milestones that you never before thought could be achieved.

  2. Wow, that is so frustrating about the tire! I wouldn’t have known that you could use your key to unlock the spare either.

    You really rocked your legs. Congratulations to you and your team on an amazing HTC! I’m also starting to understand the Roga love. Shorts have *not* worked on me in the past but those Diamond Rogas are something else!

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