This is most likely not the race recap you are used to seeing from others. This was a bucket list race for me and I was blessed to have been asked to join a friends team and lucky our team was chosen in the lottery to run this year. Once I heard we were chosen, nerves and excitement set in. Lots of questions swirled in my head-how do I train? What should I expect? I googled Hood to Coast Race recaps. I googled about the legs I was assigned to. I googled everything possible. I'm not sure if it was wise to do so much googling as all it did was give me anxiety. Not sure if I just found the bad experience recaps or what, but I was thinking this was going to be the worst experience ever....
As the race relay weekend approached, I was dealing with left knee issues that at times left me feeling like I couldn't do the relay. I was worried something would happen and I would let my team down. I also had anxiety over running the Dumbo Double Dare just a week after Hood to Coast. Lots of prayers were being said. Sadly, I made the decision to pull out of DDD this year. It was a tough decision but not sure how I would be with the knee, I figured it would be best to not run DDD and risk any further injury/damage. Looking back, I made the right choice. But sad that I didn't run DDD or go to Disneyland which you know for me was very very hard.
As H2C was approaching, I was gathering items I would need and items that I realized later didn't need but better to be safe than sorry. Not knowing exactly the times I would be running or the weather, I packed multiple running outfits to make sure I was covered for heat and cold which I experienced both including rain.
Race day was here and once again, no sleep the night before. I had been up since Thursday morning at 4:30am! This weekend was not going to go well energy wise I could tell....I was excited and nervous. My team van met at my house while our other van started the relay at Mt. Hood. We would meet up with them later where our van would start their legs.
My first leg was Friday night. I ran in high 90's where I ran out of water, had no on course support due to location of course and the knee was screaming. I thought about quitting a few times during this leg. What saved me was seeing my husband and girls twice during the course. They were able to find spots to see me and cheer me on. They were my boost I needed...I was hot and sweaty and so so thirsty. My team did meet me at the exchange with my water bottle of cold water!!!
Over the course of the next almost 30 hours, there would be trying to find some food that sounded good but not upset our bellies, attempt to clean up the sweat and stink from our bodies, try to sleep on a hard ground with runners excitement all around us. Tip: trying to sleep at a major can exchange in my opinion is bad. Try to find a quiet location of possible, a friend or family member that may live in the area and try to sleep in their yard. I literally layed there looking at the stars, listening to others talk and wishing I had phone service to call my husband who I knew would be asleep but I so needed to talk to him. We ran in the dark, the cold and for me, the rain in the mountain range of the coast.
My last leg was all mental. It was getting dark. It was cold and the rain began to fall. We were up in elevation and I was glad to have chosen my 32' long sleeve top and capris. I was still cold but the shirt helped some. Most of the leg, I was alone. I tried to listen to music on my phone but without headphones as they aren't allowed, it was hard to hear since it was in the pocket of my reflective vest. Plus, there were times where I was on a trail in woods that in my head, some creepers were lurking in there waiting to jump out at me. I think I ran the fastest ever in those woods. Once I was out and on the highway, I felt better but it was still a bit scary being alone. Little traffic, all downhill and one wrong step and I would be down the side of the mountain lost forever. I said this was all mental..lol
Running downhill can be fun but in the rain and it being slippery and with a bum knee, it wasn't fun but no matter how I tried, I couldn't slow myself down. I wasn't used to this pace especially going downhill and combining it with the cold, my lungs were on fire!! Once I reached the bottom and it leveled out and I was approaching the town, I had to slow down to catch my breath and check my knee out. I'm not sure if it was the cold or what, but it was a slight throb pain and felt ok....for about 10 minutes than it decided to let me know how unhappy it was with me. It was this time, I realized I had my knee strap on and not my knee brace. I was wearing the strap in between when I ran and in the chaos that happened to meet the runner before me, I forgot to put it on, BIG MISTAKE!!!
My approach to the finish line was and still is a blur. I remember hitting the sand, getting my medal, hearing voices and getting a team picture taken. Than we were on the streets of Seaside looking for food. Once we made it to the van and started heading home, it all just overwhelmed me. The ride home was filled with a million thoughts.... My feelings of not being ready, not being fast enough and letting my team down. My knee pain and did I damage my knee more than it was? Realizing I was exhausted on many levels. I didn't eat much at all for whatever reason but did drink lots of water. I made mistakes-forgot to use the knee brace at the end, never swapped out my running shoes which resulted in bruised toenails. I have had no sleep since Thursday...I was done. Stick a fork in me as this gal was over cooked!!!
Once home, I was beyond happy to see my family who greeted me with hugs and flowers. I showered, took some pain with PM meds and tried to sleep. The next week was filled with pain, soreness, hunger like crazy and feeling like a failure. I don't know why I felt this way but I know that I had to let it work itself through me. It is something that I have been told every runner experiences. I didn't like it but it was what it was. It was a growing experience for me. The fact that I was part of a 199 mile relay on little sleep and food and an injury-I did it! My body proved that it could do this and whatever else I set out to do. It isn't about being the best, but about setting out to complete a challenge and that I did.
Will I do this relay again? I would LOVE to! Stay tuned to see if I'm in for 2017!