A couple weeks ago, I got a call from my sister who wanted to know if I'd be able to fill a last-minute spot on her Hood to Coast team. To say I jumped at the chance would be an understatement. I knew it would fit in to my Air Force Half Marathon training plan really well—that race is in 3-weeks so this would be an excellent mileage sub for my long-run day. Hood to Coast is a 198-mile relay from Mount Hood, Oregon to the coast at Seaside, Oregon that is made up of teams of 12-runners. Each runner has three legs that average between 5-7 miles per leg. It sounded spectacular—I accepted immediately and landed myself a spot on Barefoot Wine's company team "Foot Patrol: Running with Sole."
I flew out and joined the team Thursday evening—on my birthday—and we all got together for some delicious pre-race carb-loading at Almafi's in Portland, Oregon. I devoured an entire calzone and got totally spoiled with a big birthday cake and candles—as well as singing, of course—by this new group of people who I had never met before. They were all so nice! After dinner, we hit the sack early since we knew we had an early start and a long two days ahead of us.
Our team's first van began running the next morning at 8:00 am. I was in van 2, so our runners weren't set to begin for a couple hours. We enjoyed a leisurely morning and home-cooked breakfast at one of the team member's houses and departed with our six runners to our starting checkpoint in Sandy, Oregon.
By this time, we were about 30-minutes ahead of schedule. We joined up with van 1 and began our legs, sweating our buns off in the hot Oregon sun. I began running my first leg, leg 8, around 11:30 am. It was a warm afternoon and I'm so used to running at 5:00 am in the cool, crisp air, so this was very different for me! I ended up passing 40 teams (we call those "road kills!") and finished my leg with a 6:30/mile average.
After my leg, I munched on Clif bars and fought off nausea (I think I overdid my first leg) as we drove the rest of our van's legs. My sister rocked hers! After our runners finished, we had a couple hours to "rest" before departing for our next checkpoint. We took quick showers and tried to lay down, but we were all dreading our second legs (we knew it was going to begin raining soon) and weren't able to get any sleep. We headed off for our second legs around 7:30 pm—ready for the "fun" to begin again!
I began my second "very hard" leg, which was an uphill/gravel trek, around 11:30 pm. It was pouring rain at this point and the road was so dusty with all the cars driving past. I had expected a crazy-intense leg, but compared to my uphill leg at Sawtooth Relay, this one was nothing. I cruised through it with a pace of 7:30/mile and finished soaking wet, covered in dust, and on a huge runner's high. I don't ever get to run in conditions like that—it felt hardcore!
We all enjoyed our nighttime second legs and seemed to run super-fast, despite the pouring rain, and were able to get in a one-hour power nap at one of our team member's homes in Astoria, Oregon. We were lucky and so fortunate to be able to squeeze in that bit of rest! We woke up to hurricane-like winds and headed off to our third legs around 7:30 am. I was running again by about 9:00 am, running straight into 70 mile per hour winds over the course of five miles. A giant tree was blown over right in front of me, coming just inches from smashing down on a walker. She and I were so lucky we didn't get hurt (or killed!). I battled the drenching rain and wind for the duration of my leg and can't even believe I was able to come in with a 6:45/mile pace. There were so many times that I didn't even think I was moving forward because the wind was blowing so hard!
We all suffered through the torrential rain and tempest winds for the rest of the run, finishing in Seaside about an hour ahead of our predicted schedule. We were so glad it was over! All in all, we endured 29 hours of running, 40 hours of being awake (with a 1-hour nap in between!), and totaled 12 runners, 2 drivers and mini-vans, 3 running legs each, 15 miles ran (my total—each leg was different), 103 personal road kills, 8,000,000 drops of rain, 70 mile per hour winds, 50 Clif bars (I don't want any more bars... ever!), and finished 383rd place of 880. It was so worth every single minute.
There was supposed to be a rockin' tent city beach party afterward, but the wind literally blew it away. The beach was destroyed so we enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Shilo Inn (I had a seafood feast!) and Marnie and I crashed hard on our pillows at approximately 9:48 pm. We just couldn't make it one more minute.
The entire weekend went so fast, was so fun, and just was filled with hilarious and unforgettable stories. I'd honestly write more, but this post is long enough as it is! See some photos of the race below, with stories and little bits and pieces of the day with each!
Toasting to team Foot Patrol at Almafi's in Portland. This team went above and beyond, bringing me out a cake and singing to me on my birthday! They sure helped me celebrate turning 29!
The van was decorated and it was time to head to our first checkpoint!
Foot Patrol: Running with Sole. Van 2 was ready!
My sister and I were getting excited before my first leg!
Turning the corner to finish out my first leg. I was so hot, sweaty and ready to be finished!
Finishing up with my first leg, leg 8, averaging 6:30/mile.
Stoked to have gotten 40 road kills. I felt great and was ready for some food and relaxation before my next leg!
Handing off on my last leg. We missed a photo during my 2nd leg because it was, well, midnight.
I wish I could describe the true condition of the weather at this moment. It was 70 mile per hour wind, pounding rain, and hundreds of soaking wet runners! I finished my 3rd leg with a 6:45/mile average and couldn't have been happier to be completely done!
This has got to be one of the coolest bibs and medals I'll ever add to my collection.
Marn and I were all smiles post-race. We knew what was coming next—a hot shower and some much-needed grub (which took the form of a giant Tillamook double-scoop waffle cone, I might add)!
The "beach party" before the rain rolled in. I wish you could see the true state of the disaster. There were porta-potties strewn about the beach, SWAG and product everywhere, pieces of tents blowing around... it was a mess. However, all runners, despite weather conditions, seem to still know how to strike up a post-race party—and this day was no exception!
Barefoot's Team Foot Patrol: Running with Sole
Marnie and I had to get our finish line photo (the day after, of course) when we were finally allowed back on the beach!
And to my sister—gosh, I love you. We have never been able to do something like this together, and I hope this isn't the last time. What an experience! And trust me—you are a runner! I was so impressed with your drive and determination this weekend. You crushed it, sis!
We survived the Hood To Coast Wind Storm 2015! Yeah buddy!