HOOD TO COAST – PART 2

One thing about the weather there is it being slight overcast and very comfortable. The kind of air that is extremely crisp and easy to go hard in with very little sweating. In the 50-70 range all weekend long, it also was a pleasure to have not even a threat of rain. Everyone was prepared to run fast. So here we are in the car zooming to transition one and getting ready to record times and then see our number 2 go. It was all starting to feel like race time. I was leg 5, 17, and 29.  I helped in getting our teammate in and comfortable and then heading into the next transition zone. It all happenes in a flash and nothing but admiration for the thousands of volunteers on the course. They directed the caravans into the parking/waiting areas, made sure runners were safe and knew the turns, and always were cheering. They do indeed make this race organized and manageable. It was soon to be my turn as our 4th runner went off and it got real dark fast. We got to the area, I took off my Sugoi gear to reveal my race gear for the race and warmed up. You also have to be on alert since once you hear the runner coming in, you have to be in the exchange shoot to grab the wrist band from your teammate and off you go. It was pitch black and 8:30pm and I had – by rule – a blink light in front and back of my Brooks Night Vest and I brought my mega bolt mini NEBO flashlight. Here comes BlackJack and off I got as I grabbed the band. It is on!!!!

I simply race as hard as I could and quite honestly, couldn’t tell you ANYTHING about the course I ran. Seriously, I didn’t know when I was going up or down. I just saw blink lights of other runners and as Coach had instructed – “christmas presents” and knock’em down (term “kill” is used for a passed runner and I had 11 in this leg). But I was like, “what the….” and made sure I shined the light at my footsteps. Then a bright light appeared and Moony was awaiting my exchange. I let it rip and off he went into the dark. I hit the 6.1 miles in 5:46 pace. Whoa, this thing is cool. I had all of 2 minutes to jog around and find the crew and back in the van I went. I quickly took sips of my drink to hydrate as now you can see your sweat but I got my compression socks on and once we got to the next point I made sure to get out and jog around for 5-10 minutes. Once Moony finished, he handed to number 7 and then Van 2 which held our 7-12 guys were off. We now had a few moments to cool down and take our time, since we jaunt out to leg 13 for our next rotation. It was exciting as all the teams are in force and the night never sleeps along the route. Cheers, noise, it’s awesome! You start to loose track of time. All of us hit Team pr’s for those legs and we were off to breaking a team record.

As we parked at the exchange area, some caught a few winks, but now we operated on alert since we were on the verge of overtaking the Kahuna 2 team already. Van 2 for us did a great job keeping the pace as sure enough round 2 began for us. We passed our second team on this leg and now it was getting a bit chillier, but still comfortable since all you needed was a hat and maybe 2 layers on top and a good pair of sweatpants. With that, standing around, helping out, and the occasional dynamic stretching helped keep you warm. My next round was at 3;30am!!!!!! Yes, I kid you not, and I donned some gloves for this next round and still raced in my tri top and tights. BOOM! Off I go and heck, start picking more people off. I had some lighting this time as I ran along some streets but then it was back onto the highway shoulder and pitch darkness. But now it was the norm and I just focused on my christmas presents ahead. I couldn’t even tell most of the time how long I was running and there were no mile markers, so I relied on my Polar for feedback on heartrate checked the file after each run. I passed 22 people this time (never was passed either the entire race) and entered the exchange point for the quick replay. YES!!!!!! Leg 17 done – 5.69 miles at 5:43 pace.

I HAD to now at least squeeze a few extra minutes since my inner tight was a bit sore. I stretched a bit in the van since with one less runner there was some room, but now I rubbed BioFreeze on my entire legs. I followed the same recovery routine – hydrate, snack on bars, a few sips of Monster. Got out and once Moony finished, we knew we were on team record pace still. We had time now and took the easy ride to our final meeting place. By the time we got there, the sun was up and slowly warming the sky. Traffic was backing up since now, closer to the end, we are overtaking alot of teams before us and this is usually the case. Many camp out at these van exchange points and some smart Girl Scouts were selling coffee, donuts, snack, and burgers. Yes Burgers (Moody even ate one). Have to give a shout out to the Muscle Milk crew as they were over the course handing out drinks which was a nice recovery option during the trip. Now it was almost over. I didn’t even think that I had already been up for 24 full hours now. AND I felt great. The air was nice, I jogged around and checked in the sights. I was on the lookout for Coach who was handing off to our #1 Road Warrior. Here he comes and off we go for our final rotation. We can taste a PR now.

It got really nice and warm now as my exchange was set for 10:30 by our estimates. The HoneyBuckets (NOT port-o-johns, trust, they look like them, but legendary out here for there sweet smell and comfortable john you will ever use at an event) were plentiful and I used one for a quick relief before each run. My final leg 29 was the toughest – a 6.1 m jaunt with 3 miles of it slowly climbing up and up. I switched sneakers for some added cushion and for screaming the downhill. I finally was able to put on my Swiss Eyes and was ready to rip. All out now, this is it. I grabbed the wrist strap for one last time.

Up I went and the crew passed me yelling some final cheers. I focused on my breathing, arm swing, and tangents. Go, go, go. You know you are climbing but you never see when it ends. I just kept going. I heard some music and knew the top was near. They had a small water stop at the top and I threw a cup of water on my head and took the downhill right away. I rolled and rolled. Make up speed, keep going. I passed a total of 49 people on this leg. I just let it all out and once I saw Moony, yelled “take it!!” and off he went. WHOOOOOOOOOOOOHH!!!!!!!!!!!! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I knocked the 6.1 in a 6:05 pace, breaking all Kahuna records for my 3 legs. I did it! I had to cool down some more but really didn’t have much time. Traffic was really getting bad and we had to go. We had the clipboard and needed to beat Moody down and get it to Van 2 for thir final rotation. I hydrated a bit and sipped half a Gu and we saw Moody but got hit in a stalled traffic jam not long after. We were a good 2 miles from the exchange and looking at  the timers, weren’t going to make it. I volunteered to go and take the clipboard running it to the crew. It wasn’t 1 minute a jogging – trust I had to jog at that point – before Moony yells – “better run faster than that.”

Holy Shhhh, I just jetted and  ran my butt off regardless of how much it may have hurt, all the while trying to make sure I didn’t knock the stopwatch off the board or lose the pen. I dodged the stalled traffic, almost knocked a few people down, and just ran. I actually felt good but it was indeed 2 more miles before I found them. I got them the board and missed Moony by 10 seconds. Good enough and off Van 2 was sound and ready. Our race part was done. I met up with Moony and we walked another 15 minutes before Van 1 came in sight. (of which Moony promptly did what his nicknamed entailed). It was a great cool-down and we all cheered in the van. If they held pace we were on tap to break the Kahunas record by over an hour and get the time Coach wanted. We did our part and were now off to the finish line. Exhilarating and now on 36 hours of no sleep.

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