I was privileged to get to participate in an amazing adventure!! If you read my last post (or click here to go read it) you know the back story about how Hylands came to have a relay team for the best road relay around! For a few of us members of the Hylands’ Boston Marathon Teacher Team.… we had a great opportunity for a reunion!
Thursday I headed down to Burbank to catch my flight. I was waiting in the line at the counter and right in front of me, checking in was team mate Jackie Baker… a teacher from Simi Valley. We got checked in and started chatting for our flight… almost missed it as we were not listening to the announcements. We were the last to board!
A short flight later we were in Portland. We got our bags and called Mitch. He was a Hylands driver for the weekend and was on his way. We met up with another team mate – Natalie from Delaware. Mitch drove us to Mt Hood, but not before Hylands treated us to lunch! At Mt Hood we had a cabin for the evening.
As the evening arrived, other team mates did as well. We had a great time just chatting, eating and getting acquainted or reacquainted with each other. In Boston, there were a few opportunities to mix and get to know each other, but the group was so much larger that I personally really got to know a few… Now I was getting to know a few more!
In the morning, before breakfast, I looked out from the balcony and noticed that there were runners running by. I and a few others headed down to the road and then uphill a couple hundred meters to find the first exchange of the relay.
The race is organized so that the slower teams start first and the fastest start last. Each runner on each team has to submit results from a previous race and they use those time to estimate how long it will take each team to finish. The earliest start time was 5 am. We were scheduled for noon…. the fastest for 2:45 pm. So, after breakfast we took our time getting ready. The 6 runners in Van 1 eventually boarded their van and headed up to the start line.
We Van 2 runners hung around a bit longer then went out for lunch in town…
After lunch we walked back up the road to await our team’s arrival at the first exchange. We happened upon a friendly Sasquatch along the way. The first leg was a steep downhill and Mirna did her fastest ever 5 miler on it! We had a spreadsheet with predictions for each runner for each leg so that we could be sure to get to the exchanges on time. Mirna had already gotten us ahead of schedule! The first 6 runners ran their first legs and got us further ahead of schedule while we awaited for them. We were not allowed to the number 6 exchange too early so we hung out along a random sidewalk in Sandy Oregon cheering on the runners as they ran by. When the time was right we headed to the leg 6 exhange to get ready for our part of the relay.
Eventually we got to our exchange and left our first guy Walter there to begin leg 7. We drove ahead and had plenty of time to wait for him. Walter is VERY quick. I got a video of him speeding in and handing off to Brian who ran next.
We got in the van and headed to the next exchange. We got there in plenty of time to park and get a picture of the exchange from Brian to Jessica.
At this point we were blissfully unaware of any need for speed on the part of the van getting from exchange to exchange…. we took our time and headed out for the next exchange. Jessica had made a right turn at that exchange heading out onto the bike path you see behind her. The van had to take a longer route. We back tracked a while, waited at lots of lights and made our way towards the exchange.
I was looking at the estimate spreadsheet, and my watch, and thinking that if Jessica, like most everyone else so far went faster than predicted we were cutting it to close. We pulled into the lot and I had them let me out before parking. I jogged toward the exchange and sure enough I heard them calling our team number 53. I ran up and got there precisely when she did. We made the exchange and the race had finally begun – for me.
I was excited… too excited perhaps… I took off down the path like I was doing a 5k… The problem being that my leg was 5.2 miles long. I noted a 7:02 first mile and backed off just a tad. I felt great and the path was ever so slightly downhill. I had started at 6:25 pm, the weather was nice and cool, with just a bit of a headwind.
As I ran I counted road kills. At Hood to Coast some runners count the runners that they pass, calling them road kill. Since the slower teams start first and the faster ones start last there is always someone out there to catch and someone out there trying to catch you. I am sure I was the most interested in counting road kill… I am kind of competitive by nature… I was sure, however, not to do so out loud as I went by…. On this segment the other runners were quite spaced out. I was passed right away by 1 and then I caught 15 of the 16 that I ever saw ahead of me. There was one more whom I almost caught but she kicked when she saw the finish. I kicked to, but kicking… is not my forte.
- The stats for my first leg… leg 10: 5.24 miles in 38:23 for a 7:19 pace on a net 95ft elevation loss! Net 14 roadkills 🙂
- On Strava, each leg is a Strava segment… I stand at 2nd in my age group!
I handed off to Natalie and she ran leg 11. Natalie passed of to Katherine who headed off for leg 12. The van got to leg 12 in plenty of time to greet Katherine when she arrived. Leg 12 was in downtown Portland along the river.
By the time we left the river it was probably 10 pm, we talked about going out to eat but we ended up just driving to the next exchange. It took an hour or so to get there. We munched on the snacks Hylands had provided for us in the van and tried to get some sleep. Some of us were successful.. I was not.
Walter was due to go at around 1. He woke up and got ready and headed to the start with not much time to spare. The other van had just arrived and we had a couple of things to hand off to them so we did not head out right away. When we did there was congestion in the parking lot and it took awhile to get out. When we got on the road, it was backed up for a half mile or so. The vans had to cross the path of the runners so the vans had to stop and wait for a break… we waited a long time to get around this corner. We were stopped again by a backup at the exchange zone. We got out and ran up to it… Walter had been there 10-15 minutes…
We had a quick bathroom break as Brian got started on his leg. The van headed out and we were relieved to pass Brian on the road. But then the vans backed up again. At each exchange the vans had to cross the path of the runners to get into park. The runners have the right away and the vans had to wait. The teams were getting much closer to each other now, so the van line could get long. Brian ran by and yelled something. Jessica jumped out and got an early start to her 7 mile leg. The same happened at the end of the next leg. Jessica ran by, I jumped out and ran behind her maybe a quarter mile to the finish of her leg as I started my second leg – leg 22.
My next leg started with a 2 mile 400 foot climb…. and then it went down almost 600 for a net loss of almost 200. I began the run at 3:21 am. The road was a mountain road so there were no lights… there were lots of trees, so although there was a full moon, it was quite dark. I had a reflective vest with flashers on it (provided by Hylands) and my own headlamp to light my steps. I thought this was GREAT fun! There was NO traffic coming my way so I ran right down the middle of the lane facing the non-existent traffic. Quite often, of course a van would go by in my direction and illuminate things better.
On the uphill I began catching people right away. And I was caught, first by a young woman and then by a young man… Going down the other side I concentrated on keeping a forward lean and letting gravity do its work. I steadily caught and passed others. With one mile to go (there was a sign) I was already at the end of the van line… I though uh, oh… But when I passed our van they yelled that Natalie had already walked ahead. She was there smiling, waiting for me at the exchange…. It took a good 10 minutes for the van to get there….
- The stats for my second leg… leg 22: 7.05 miles in 54:11 for a 7:41 pace on a 400+ elevation gain and 600 – elevation loss! Net 51 roadkills 🙂
- 1st place age group on the Strava segment!
We managed to get to the next exchange in time for Natalie and then we headed for exchange 24, the van exchange. We were quite a bit behind where we were expected to be, and we were in a dead cell phone area so the other van had no idea. We parked and I walked over to the exchange area looking for team mates. I wandered by for awhile not finding Catherine (our runner) or anyone on the other van… finally Coach Mike was standing right beside me with Myrna. I explained what happened and Myra got ready. Mike headed off for his van to get going and I waited for Catherine. She got there and we headed back to the van.
We were off for awhile. Catherine got changed and we decided to get moving… but we could not move. It was like the Dodgers parking lot, in close to the stadium after a sellout. We could not even back up…. After a long time the van next to us was able to move by just heading to its left and then we followed it. It was well over an hour before we were out of that parking lot! We headed down the road… I tried again to sleep and may have dozed for awhile. Me made it through several exchange zones still behind the Van 1 runners. We finally passed Jennifer who was our number 4 runner, but then she got ahead at the exchange. We caught and got ahead of Doug, our number 5 and caught up with the other van.
With that we were able to get ahead leaving Walter for number 30. We got to get out and stretch and exchange number 31. I took this video there:
Other than the cars, of course, it was a beautiful setting…
Brian started his run, and we took off. We made it in time for Jessica to begin hers and then for me to begin mine. I headed off for my shortest run – about 4 miles. The terrain was rolling with some pretty good ups and then some downs. It began with an up and ended with an up… so the net was uphill. I was feeling fatigued from the running and lack of sleep but i held steady. The other runners… and now walkers… were closer than ever. 1 person passed me and I caught plenty!
Unfortunately when I kicked and used up everything i had left going into the transition… my team mate was not there… she got there about 2 or 3 minutes later 😦
- The stats for my third leg… leg 34: 4.09 miles in 31:28 for a 7:41 pace on a 192+ elevation gain and 136- elevation loss… net uphill Net 41 roadkills 🙂
- 1st place age group on the Strava Segment
- TOTAL Road kills = +106…. Walter, Brian and Jessica all had even more!
We made it on time for the last exchange.
I made sure we were ready to get out of there quickly so we could get to the finish. We drove to Seaside… The Hyland people had a spot set aside for us at one of our hotels. We parked and walked a few blocks to the beach. We made our way down into the finish prep area with about 3 minutes to spare. They announced number 3 and we all ran through the finish line together!! We got our medals and posed for this pic …
We headed to the VIP area for a BBQ buffet and drinks and lots of time to relax and enjoy the incredible feeling of what we had accomplished….
Now, going in I had not even thought of our team as being competitive in such a big event… but as it turned out our time of 26:12:40 was fast enough for 9th place out of 299 teams in the mixed open category. We were 82nd overall out of 1148 finishing teams… (wow, I read before hand that there were 1050… looks like it was 1150.) I believe that if we eliminate the time lost at van exchanges we would have been 8th or maybe even 7th!
The winning team was Toyo University Ekiden Team with a time of 16:52:49, average pace 5:06…. We saw them fly by right before our exchange from Brian to Jessica… We also saw the number to Team… Team Bowerman who also passed us during Brian’s leg..
We finished our evening with some fun and photos down at the beach:
Thanks again to Hylands and all the people there who made this awesome adventure possible… I am hoping this will not be my last adventure with them….