Hood to Coast – Part 2 – KAHUNA NATION!

Friday morning was the start of a LONG weekend. I was prepared as usual to spend the next 50 hours plus awake and ready for anything Big Kahuna team related. We all got good sleep as two of the Kahuna teams that had slower seed times needed to be up and out by 6am! Once they left, the Kahuna main team got up and gathered for a nice 20-40 minute jog. It was a good way for everyone to start a long day and get our minds on racing. The weather was forecast for a great one again – no rain, overcast mix in the 55-80 range for the weekend. Each of us did our own thing to pack and get ready, but we did have some time. We were the last wave to start which was at 6:45 pm!
Coach opted not to race with us this year due to several reasons, and chose to root for us from the beach house. It was sure to not be the same intensity wise without him, but I made sure to race hard for him anyway.
In my van was G-Dog, Braveheart, Seahawks, and rookies D-Murda along with Flea. It made for a very quiet, humble, but intellectual bunch, but we grew into a fun, determined, and motivated crew as the race developed. I never seen anyone btw who could drink som many cans of diet dew and still run well.

I savored my last few cups of java and prepared for the long drive to the start. We had a good 4 hours worth of pre-race stuff to do including picking up main man Money who lives in Portland, do the necessary ration shopping for our van (ice, water, bars, bananas), and decorate the vans. Once that was done, we drove up, way up to Mt. Hood for the start. A beautiful sight of nature for sure. I was able to send some last minute texts to Gina and speak to her, while sharing some photos. I missed her much, and was going to run with her and Holmes in my heart as well. We took some photos and with 45 full minutes since the last wave, and a full 9.5 HOURS after the first wave went off, we started out Hood to Coast race.
I was on Leg 9. I was use to this one once before, liked the layout, and its 21 miles worth, but the first run wouldn’t be until 11 pm! I drove to the first van exchange center and there we waited. It’s tough. No one other than the 5 other teams we started with were on the road. Which is nice, BUT…
We got updates that the first few of us were flying. A great start. By the time 10pm rolled around our van had the clipboard and it was go time. Everyone chips in- driving, timing, directions, hence the reason to be alert and not sleep. Then you get out when your turn comes up. I loosen up as much as I can, start up my RC3, and turn on my headlamp. Thanks to D-Murda, a Mizuno rep, he gave us all gloves and armwarmers to stay warm. I take the wristband from D-Murda and off I go into the darkness. Coach tries to beat this team called the Nature Boys, and they had a 3 min lead. Seeing my breath illuminated by my headlamp, under the starts, while trying to maintain sub 6min pace is exhilarating. Sure enough with a mile to go, I catch the dude and pass. In 47 minutes, I complete my first 7.8 mile run.
Jog a bit, head back to the van, put on warm clothes, compression socks, and head on. You get to really stretch out whenever time permits between relays. So HOW you recover is crucial. I ate mostly my vitamins, sports drink, and a few bars. No chance messing with anything else. That’s how you roll in a relay.
The volunteers here for this event are THE key to pulling it off without much issues. They are SUPERB. This event does wonders for the economies of each town along the route and raises almost a million dollars for cancer organizations.

Once you relay back to the first van ( which had Gasman, Sandman, Viper, Chad, and Money), you drive to the next exchange and wait 3-4 hours. Here is when it gets rough physically. Now it’s overnight. It’s chillier, so stay warm, you want to sleep, but you cannot, so you hydrate with a little non-java caffeine. Fortunately by the time our second run came along, it was 6am and the sunrise began! Now for sure ain’t no sleeping – and I was thrilled to have 2 runs in daylight. My second run was a mostly gravel road downhill for 5 miles. Bang boom hit it done (and caught the Nature Boys again) in less than 29 minutes. Slowly we also start to rejoin and pass the slower groups. This means traffic and if its one thing this event needs is better traffic control. The main road is a 2 lane one towards the end and the last van exchange points make it difficult to get to the next stage before our runner gets there. It’s a total disadvantage to the faster teams. But that just means more road kill! Another disadvantage is that for the final third of the race, you do not get any cellphone service!!

Sure enough, having been through such messes, the Big Kahunas are well prepared and it doesn’t effect us much. Once the final exchange was made and we had our last run ahead of us, we had the task of making up a 6 minute deficit on the NB’s. Braveheart and D-Murda cut half of that off and I now had a good 7.8 mile stretch to catch and get us ahead. I ran with a fury. I caught him at 2 miles and never looked back. Never do. I tried to put as much time on them over the next 5 miles without blowing up as there was a good headwind, and with it being 2 pm, was getting warmer. I finished in under 48 minutes. I yelled at Seahawk to continue our lead. And he did. And so did the remaining crew! We did it!
Not only did we finish in 21:56, covering the 200 miles, but we placed 3rd in our age division (earning requalification), but also top 25 out of some 1000 teams! Best yet, we beat the Nature Boys by 90 seconds!
By the time our van got back to the house, it was almost 5. We went for the team ceremonial finish and pictures at the beach ( which is a huge festival all weekend), then it was back to the house for some serious stretching, a long, hot shower, and one huge bagel/banana/pb sandwich. And a diet Mountain Dew. Cleaned up the vans, recapped with the other 2 teams, then shared some leftovers with others talking and chilling out some more. The wine and beer was flowing in celebration but I like to sometimes just sit outside, decompress, body check, and just relax. Once the sun goes down, the comfort of the futon is calling. As I write this, it’s almost 10pm so I made it. My job out here was accomplished, no injuries, team efforts, and I have a full day still tomorrow to attend awards ceremony, eat, eat some more (and these Kahunas can put it away), get in another bike ride, and finish with a final team dinner, though some will be leaving early. More importantly, just recharge the mind and reflect some more, walk, have some team fun.

http://results.bazumedia.com/event/results/event/event-5152

I now have 2 weeks to begin my taper for the World Championships 70.3 in Vegas. I will get checked out by Jessica Marriott at Sports MT next week and try to reshape my focus towards this event once I land back in Charlotte. Heck maybe start ON the flight. I will say that I have been always apprehensive about HTC races but each time, each success, brings a stronger mental facet to the game you cannot learn elsewhere, not on this scale. It is a huge advantage and such a rewarding team building experience- and team networking, which broadens my “family”. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform but I am thankful for the opportunity that Coach and Sandman offer me to come out and compete as Hammer for the Big Kahunas.

I fly back Monday morning and look forward to a mini celebration of sangria with Gina. Heck did i mention that she got plenty of tomatoes, basil, AND canteloupe in the garden now? Yum yo! i am lycopened out. Thanks to Polar, AAACarolinas, PocketFuel, Aquaphor, and Article Spray for this go around. One more big one!

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