Monday, August 28, 2006

Hood to Coast Relay 2006

Hood to Coast Relay, 2006. Just the facts for now.
Team:   Nike Dairy Airs
   12 males, ages 17-47
Distance:   197 miles
Start Time:   7:30:00 PM, Friday 25, 2006
Finish Time:   5:40:09 PM, Saturday 26, 2006
Time:   22:10:09 (6:45 average pace)
Overall Place:   42nd out of 1032
Division Place:   5th of 127 (Men's Corporate)
My legs:
LegStarted   Miles   Time   Pace
12   2:35 AM   5.97   39:14   6:34
24   10:35 AM   5.03   30:35   6:05
36   5:08 PM   5.22   32:45   6:16
Totals   —   16.22   1:42:34   6:19


I love this freaking race. What a time was had by all. Got to run the final leg. Stressful but glorious — I got to FINISH! Everyone else is done but me, worry worry worry in the way back of the van while everyone else starts in on the beer. But what a dramatic ending.

So here's the deal. My brother-in-law, team captain, doing this for 15+ years, I'm here for my 2nd year, he's got a bet with his boss at Nike who has his own team — they start 5.5 hours earlier (at 2:00pm) than our team (at 7:30pm). The bet is that our team will overtake and beat the boss's team with a 5.5 hour lead. Bet was for a dollar for all I know or care, bragging rights are the important thing.

Doesn't look good for us until near the end; we're in touch with the boss via cell. Comes down to the last leg. We met up with him at the exchange for the last leg, we're both waiting for our next-to-last-leg runner; their's come's in first, the boss is off and running (he's in his 50's, 8-9 minute miler). We wait. Our guy finally comes in about 10 minutes later, my turn, no pressure, my brother-in-law just tells me I NEED to catch his boss, no pressure, but I NEED to catch him, with a 10 minute lead on the 5.22 mile final leg (not 5.8 btw as advertised.) Quick arithmetic tells us it's possible but not likely.

Our runner hurridly slaps the blaclet on me, he's spent. I'm off like a bullet, pumped up on a dozen Red Bulls, snickers, and adrenaline. Ran into a mile uphill on roads after a half on nice trails, but thankfully, that's it (the map show's nearly 2 miles uphill), then downhill, for about 2 miles, wow, that's a new one on me. Flying! 5:40 mile or something, letting gravity do its work, thrashing my leg, I know I'll be hurting tomorrow but who cares.

Keeping it strong into the flats toward the Pacific, continuing to pick off runners like flies, though no sign of the boss. With 2 miles to go (I'm wearing the Garmin for this leg only to track distance/pace) I'm really starting to tire though — legs are toast from two previous races/legs on the same day, no sleep, and 2 miles of intense downhill running.

I was told that this 5.8 mile leg was somewhat short, I'm hoping so, I ask a volunteer how far to the end — half mile he says! Sweet! Way short! I pick it up. Spring over the springy wooden foot bridge toward the ocean. Really starting to tire, I ask another volunteer how far — "Oooh, less that mile" — Crap! Not another mile! Demoralized, I pull the pace back (low 6:00s to mid/high 6:00s), I'm fading.

Then, after banging a left onto the boardwalk along the ocean, I see some of my teammates strolling casually up ahead toward the finish. Adrenaline surge, I pick it up again, gotta look good for the team :-) Too little energy to verbally acknowledge them, I blow on past them. "David's on the boardwalk! David's on the boardwalk!" I hear them yell in excitement. They obviously didn't expect me so soon.

My brother-in-law yells to me about his boss — "David, he's just up ahead, three lamp posts, you can catch him!" (I later learn that he had just congratulated his boss on winning the bet as he ran by, assuming I wasn't coming.) He yells to one of our faster teammates — "Brian, run up and pace David!"

I'm dying but have been forced to accept the fact that I'm going to have to suck it up, this is too public, everyone's counting on me. This bet is like some kind of big deal with my brother-in-law and all his Nike buddies, not just our team but other Nike teams, lots of trash talking, emails, teasing, etc. I can't let him down.

Adrenaline takes over, I pick it up big time. The boss is just up ahead, 30 yards or so and going pretty slow, but I'm not sure where the finish is, he could make it there first, so I'm really pushing hard, sub-6:00. Brian is pacing me by running up ahead, encouraging me, really helps, I know I can do it now.

I reel in the boss and before I know it I fly past him, elated, no stopping me now, the finish is just yards away, right onto the sand, past some crowds and through the finish! I'm done! Dying, hands on knees, nearly collapsing, spitting, coughing, drooling, but I'm so happy! A peak moment. 22:10:09, a new Dairy Air record.

It was like a goddamn movie ending. 197 miles and it came down to 32 seconds. If any runners were just a little slower we wouldn't have done it. We have a great team because, besides getting along well, we're so competitive, not outwardly really, but when someone finishes their leg 4 minutes faster than projected, then next runner is resolved to beat their projected time as well.



My other legs, though less exciting in the end, were pretty good. The first leg was around 2:30am through downtown Portland. Surprising number of people out and about, including a few homeless. It was mostly flat, cool, not cold, ran shirtless.

My only disappointment was that I was sure I was running sub-6:30 pace, but ended up with 6:34 pace for the 5.97 miles (I'm using the distance from htcmaps.com, btw, different from and I think more accurate than the official distances). In fact I came up 30 seconds short on my projected time which made me very anxious to get going and make it up on my second leg. Everyone else, in both vans, had beat their projected times.

My second leg was down a country road, totally flat, around 10:30am. I was determined to run it fast, ended with a very respectable 6:05 pace (PR actually.) Early enough that heat wasn't too much of an issue for the 5.03 miles.

Everyone else did great too, really pushing themselves. This is my kind of team. I see lots of other runners taking it easy, talking/chatting while running, man, that's not for me, this is a race.

One very slightly disappointing thing was that, of all the people I passed (kills - I didn't even keep track this year, must have been at least a hundred - collectively the team must have passed many hundreds since our starting time was so late), not one runner challenged me, I was hoping to barely catch someone and then race them, push each other, I think I might have run a bit faster, at least for my first two legs. And no one passed me at all.

H2C was everything it was last year   a lot of fun. A running road trip. And beautiful Oregon weather. I love it out there, the air seems cleaner, clearer, crisper. (And the Honey Buckets smelled great! Not like the porta-potties back east, which just smell like, well, shit.) It was hot, but not oppressively so, no humidity like back east. Beautiful clear black starry sky at the fairground before our second legs, tall trees swaying gently in the peaceful wind. And, lots of great looking women to admire ;-) Something about being in a van with six sweaty guys for a day of running really brings out adolescent locker room talk and behavior :-)

My memory of last year's Hood to Coast must have faded some as I told my wife on the way out that I probably wouldn't do it next year, twice was enough, but no way, I'm there in '07 everything permitting. Now, next stop, Reach the Beach in three weeks.

9 Comments:

At 3:15 PM, Blogger D said...

Great race report...awesome finish!

 
At 5:16 PM, Blogger Annette said...

Awesome job on that last leg! Especially since it was the last leg. Your team did great!

I saw a guy in a red shirt that said Dairy Airs on it at the last major exchange. I didn't get a chance to talk to him in all the chaos - but I assume he was your teammate.

I'm impressed with your times and your ability to turn it on at the end! What an adventure, huh?

 
At 7:58 PM, Anonymous DREW said...

I have a growing desire to run HtoC and your race definately fanned that flame. Excellent, hard-earned victory over the boss. The painful quads are temporary. Your brother-in-laws respect is forever (at least until next year).

 
At 12:36 PM, Blogger Annette said...

No, we aren't a Nike team. We merely wish we could find a sponsor. :) Our team did horribly this year - oh well, that's what next time is for.

 
At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Audrey said...

THIS WAS SO EXCITING TO READ!!! Congratulations to your whole team!!!! Amazing finish!

 
At 7:27 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Really enjoyed your post, it sounds like the race was a blast. Isn't is so much more rewarding to have it all come down to the last moment? Well done.

 
At 1:34 PM, Blogger elf said...

Great report! Funny--our final runner had a very similar story about being misinformed about the distance to the finish by a well-meaning volunteer. He thought he only had 1/2 mile to go as well, but after running for a few minutes, realized it was going to be much longer than that...

I'm there next year as well.

-Erin

 
At 2:01 AM, Blogger Suzie Petunia said...

I love the part about your last leg. Inspirational!

I noticed how nice the potties smelled, too. What a bonus! Though by the end I couldn't remember what a regular bathroom looked like :)

I love that you come all the way from MA to run this. (I lived in MA and raced CC and track in HS there.) Looking over your blogs... looks like you race A LOT! Holy smokes! I would love to do that! Glad you enjoyed our fine Oregon weather... I'll look for you in 2007!

 
At 8:38 PM, Blogger Uptown Girl said...

Awesome race report. And holy smokes to your time.

That last leg was interesting...I had no idea how much was left..but hey it adds to that whole adventure:) I'm still working on my race report as I have been out west vacationing after H2C!

 

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