Sunday, August 24, 2008

We may be old... but we're not slowing down!

Hood to Coast Part 3:

In the wake of losing my job, I had time to run a little more, coach, and find a competitive team to run on. That was the last thing I wanted to try, run H2C on a competitive team. There was a group of 40 yr. old guys that lost a runner in the 11th hour and needed a 39 minute 10k runner to fill in the gap.

There's nothing like jumping into a van with 6 strangers for 24 hours with little to no sleep, running in the dark, trying to stay ahead of the congestion, trying to keep your intestines, well, flowing...

197 miles and a love for the Honey Bucket. The lines, the traffic, the running half asleep, the excitement of Fred Meyer in Sandy, the feeling of standing in the Pacific Ocean after a long, hard 24 hours. I love it. I hate it... or at least my body does today.

The excitement really sparked up when we found out that we were projected to finish second in the Masters Men division. Could we hold it together and finish second? How close and how possible would it be to win it all? Anything can and will happen on the Mother of all Relays...

First leg, our runner had bad calf cramps towards the end and lost a few minutes on his leg... this is NOT how to start off the H2C. Leg 1 is hell. It's been the death of many runners. This is an extreme downhill sprint. After the first van exchange we were down 10 minutes on our projected time.

Van 2 takes to the roads and we nail it. No time lost, and we dropped a few teams that we were trying to keep pace with (OK, so really we were a bunch of 40 year old men that didn't want to get passed by the girls...). I killed my first leg, a short 4.38 mile that I was supposed to run at 6:20 pace. I was less than 30 seconds over the time, which was awesome considering several of the intersections I had to cross.

Tragedy: A teenage girl in the P2C high school relay was hit on HWY 30. First accident in 27 years. She's alive, but will have a long road to recovery. I wish her well. I saw the emergency vehicles on the side of the road and knew something bad had happened. My heart goes out to her, her family, and her team today.

Little to no sleep for the wicked... we get 2 hours at St. Helen's HS and we're off again. Fortunately I get to snooze a little longer in the back of van. My second leg is around 4:30 in the morning heading into Jewel. A nice 4.1 mile roller through the early morning mist. At one point, my Nike+ registers a 5:28 mile pace. The projected pace for me was 6:05, ummm, yeah, OK. I was only 5 seconds off my time. Sweet! At the start of the third round of legs, we're still only about 10 minutes off our projected time. However, there are 3 legs to this relay (just as there are 3 phases to a race). You have to finish what you started. And finish it right. The good news was our first leg injury has proved to be cramps and he is still able to run (just slightly hobbled).

No rest for me at the second rest stop. Bathroom and food lines won over the sleep. That's the challenge of a competitive team. You don't get as much rest as you normally would. Plus I needed to try and get something in me. My intestines were not happy.

Last legs. Our top guy had a rough last leg. I've done leg 33 the previous 2 times and know how bad it is. The weather can make or break this leg. Even though it was only about 70, the exposure to the sun, the rolling hills , and the fact that you are beyond exhausted from lack of sleep and proper nutrition. He only lost a few minutes, but you could see the pained look on his face. I've lived it and know it... and knew that I might just be feeling the same thing soon.

Last leg. 7.2 miles on a trail. Sounds good right? Yeah, whatever. No shade, little breeze, and it was either flat or uphill the whole way (mixed pavement and gravel, which kills me). I went shirtless as I knew I'd just take it off in the first mile. I had water to pour on my head and drink as needed. But I was tired, my calves were lifeless from the previous 2 runs, and I had to average 6:40's. It was brutal, not overly bad, but not that great. I kept it going as strong as I could, hoping that the time lost wouldn't be the difference (the winning women's teams were seperated by 8 minutes). In the end, I lost a few, averaging 7:05's. It felt like it would never end...

In the end, it was worth it. I'm tired, but not too sore today. The Parkland Youth (PLU) Masters team took third in our division, 28th fastest overall team out of 1000. Not bad for a bunch of old farts!

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