Wednesday, September 25, 2013

An Overdue HTC Finale!!!

Oh my gosh it's been a whole month since HTC ended. It DESERVES a good final re-cap and my mind is already starting to get fuzzy. When I think of HTC I think first and foremost of my second leg (which I've already re-capped) and then the finish line party. But I have to at least touch on the in between happenings. My final leg was the shortest of all three (it's a good way to end a relay by the way!), and again I was running under the hot sun. You would think that I'd be energized by the thought of this being the final leg but I wasn't, I was exhausted. It's also bittersweet; so while it's a breath of fresh air to pass off to the next runner it's sad to know that the experience is wrapping up.

Before Dorothy took off for the FINAL leg of HTC 2013
HTC threw a finish line party like I had never seen before. Rock N Roll probably comes in as a second, but it's had to compete with the beauty of a party on the beach of Seaside, Oregon. If I ever run HTC again I will make sure to change out of my running shoes before crossing the finish line- they got sooo much sand in them and I was jealous of the team mates in sandals.

I'm all the way on the left- Crossing the finish line together.

Proud HTC finisher

HTC was an amazing experience. One any runner should have on their bucket list. I don't know if I will ever have the opportunity to run it again, the stars seemed to just align this year, and I am so glad that they did :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tri Turtle Voluteering

Note: I'm having difficulites editing my blog so text may be a little messed up...I'll fix it once blogger cooperates!! I still owe at HTC wrap up! I know this…I’ve fallen behind on blogging. Life has been crazy busy (as always) and I’ve been EXHAUSTED lately! I don’t know if it has to do with the changing weather or what but I just can’t seem to get enough sleep. Ok this is just a quick update on the last week. The most exciting thing I did was volunteer for Tri Turtle, a local triathlon. I think I’m going to dive in next year and become a triathlete so volunteering at this even was the best way I could think of to get a firsthand account of what a triathlon looks like. I worked along the bike course where a residential street met the main road. My main job was to keep vehicles from running over the cyclist as they whizzed by. I did a damn good job- didn’t lose a single one! HAHA. There were about 300 athletes at this event so it’s nice and small but there is a vast level of experience in the race. I saw people of all shapes, sizes, and age fly be me. Some were on Mt. Bikes, some on basic road bikes, and some on bicycles that had to cost thousands of dollars! The woman who runs this event actual holds a program called “Tribabes” and each summer she trains somewhere around 100 women to complete the event. I kind of wish I had witnessed the swim portion since that is what I am most nervous about but with enough training I already know anything is possible! Went on 2? Short runs this week. Suppose to run 11 miles with some friends tonight. We’ll see how that turns out. I haven’t run more than 6 miles at one time in MONTHS so I’m a little nervous. Ooooo…and I signed up for Eugene Marathon 2014! Use code EMSUMMER14 for $10 off through 9/15! I plan to cut 11+ minutes off of last years’ time 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

HTC recap, Part 2!!

Dorothy, our final runner for the first series of legs finished well after dark. One surprise I had was that the staff didn't stress reflective gear for anyone but the runners during night time hours. For Ragnar anytime you are out of your van during night time hours you are required to wear your reflective vest and I found myself keep falling back into that habit. Not a bad thing, the safer the
Team Photo (I'm in the reflective vest!)
better, but I just thought it was a difference worth noting. Anyway on to the more interesting stuff ;) We had a 2 hour drive from where we finished to the next location. We finished near some of amusement park in Portland and spent some time catching up with van, getting our free muscle milk samples and swapping our war stories from the previous legs. LaRee and Tabatha were syncing their phones because several of the HTC legs did not have cell phone service so van 1's app didn't record any of your times. It's really only a big deal for the last two runners just so the opposite van has an idea of when to prepare for their next legs. We left the exchange nearly an hour after arriving and I was tired and ready to attempt to catch some zzzs' so we headed to the next major exchange...or so we thought.

The "CELEBRITY" is in the middle (googled image hehe)
We got to an exchange around midnight and had to be up at around 2:30 to start preparing for our second round of legs. I decided it would be smartest to make a sandwich right away, use the bathroom, change into some clean clothes and then use the remaining time to sleep so I didn't have to worry about taking care of those things in a mad frenzy right before take-off. So after eating Dorothy and I got in line for the port-a-potties and who did we see?!!! The Heart and Soul lady from the HTC
video who DIED on the course in 2008!! Yes, she DIED on the course. She collapsed on her third leg and stopped breathing. We told her she is an inspiration and I told her that I didn't like her Dr.! In the movie her Dr. tells her that she can not run the first leg (she does so anyway) and it made her look so sad- like he broke her heart! I say let her go out doing what she loves. In the movie she said she wanted to run a marathon in every state so I inquired on her progress; she has 3 states left. Dorothy said it felt like we met a celebrity! I wish I had a picture with her but we were in line for the port-a-potty at 1 in the morning, it seemed like a weird time to try and rush back to the van. If she was as exhausted as I was she probably just wanted to be left alone. She was actually very sweet though and it was a privilege to meet her.

Back at the van Troy made himself comfortable between our van and the one parked next to us. This wasn't an outdoor sleeping location so we could have got a strike for it but I didn't want to be the one constantly throwing the rule book at people.I had already been the one to break the news that we needed to wear two LED blinking lights during our night time runs. So I grabbed my pillow and kind of curled up sideways against the window. Dorothy and Edie were in back, Doug had the drivers seat and Tabatha was in the passengers seat so I had a little room to spread out...a little. I started to doze off and then saw lights shining towards us. Turns out the van "next door" had moved and a new van was pulling in. I felt like I was going to have a heart attack. I thought I was going to watch Troy get run over. I started sitting up and readying to jump out when they shut off the engine and had stopped short of where he lie on the ground in a black sleeping back! I breathed a sigh of relief and started slipping back into a light sleep. Suddenly the same situation repeated itself and I saw a new van pulling in next to us. I sat up and woke up Doug. "Doug, Doug, you have to tell Troy to move. He's going to get run over!" I kept watching vans pull in and it was only a matter of time until some tired driver didn't see him and our race would be cut short by a trip to the ER. Troy moved behind the vehicle and I was able to catch a good solid 20 minutes!

I don't remember if we all woke up because of our alarm of if van 1 called us but shortly after just falling asleep the whole van was awake and trying to find van 1. We told them we were in front of the port-a-potties, apparently they were too but we weren't finding each other. I wasn't on the phone but as I understand it they saw a circus tent, we saw a barn and then realization hit...we were at the wrong exchange! Apparently we went 2 exchanges past where we were suppose to be so it was a mad rush to get back to the other exchange as we knew LaRee was only a mere minutes away from finishing. Unfortunately for us the road back to the previous exchange was tiny, with no shoulder so we almost literally road killed some runners, whoops. I think only one person actually flipped us off though. We tried to turn towards the exchange and the volunteers told it was an out only. Troy asked if it'd be faster if he were to just run to the exchange and they said yes so he got bonus mileage. LaRee had been waiting 25 minutes for us to get there. Now that the race is done we talk about how fast we really were when you take away all the little whoopsies- we did pretty darn good time wise!

This second leg was the one I was most nervous for because I was going to be running up a freaking mountain.  I took off around 4 am I believe. It was still pitch black and for 75% of this run I had no one around me. There were a couple times I would look around and see something reflect in the bushes and wonder if it was an animal only to find out that it was a power box with reflective tape or something innocent like that. Another interesting observation I made while vans were pulling over to wait for their runners was that only during a relay can you see a chester the molestor van on the side of the road at 4 am and feel comforted instead of completely scared out of your mind! Right off the bat I felt pretty tired. I wished I had music to keep me moving but since HTC doesn't allow

headphones I was out of luck since I didn't invest in speakers. Thinking about it now though it might have been a little spooky to have that sense taken away. It was already so hard to see since it was pitch black and if I looked up to where my light was shining I only saw bugs- or dust, I'm not quite sure which. There were no driveways off that road either. It was several miles of a paved road up and freaking mountain with no other runners, houses, buildings, anything. I knew I had two downhills so I was just trudging along until I hit those. The first came a little quicker than expected and lasted longer than it looked on paper. I loved it. When I hit the second hill those the paved road turned to gravel and it suddenly because much harder. I walked quite a bit and other runners started catching up to me and passing me. I did have 2 road kills myself but they were earlier in the leg. On that soft gravel I wasn't passing anyone. Once I hit the final downhill I got a second wind and let my legs open up. I was doing around a 9 minute mile, the only thing has sort of saved my overall pace. I wanted to go faster but I was still on gravel and had to be careful with my foot placement. As I came into the exchange I saw Tabatha waiting for me. One of the first things she said was, "that looked rough. I'm glad you're still smiling!" My van mates shared her sentiment. They said as they were driving they kept thinking "poor Marissa."

I had an average pace of 11:38 for that second leg and I was ecstatic. I don't think I've ever been so excited to be so slow in my life! LOL. It was a tough leg and when I started I told myself anything under a 13 minute mile would be a success. I knew I would finish but I didn't want to totally quit on myself and walk more than I needed to. I feel that my pace reflects that I gave it a good effort. I'm so glad I ran that leg in the dark though. I could only focus on the next step and I think sometimes that is what we need to conquer the thing we fear.

Leg 3 and the Finish Line Recap will come tomorrow. Good night everyone!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Better late than never....HTC recap, Part 1!!

What an amazing experience! I feel completely honored and lucky to have been invited to run HTC this year with an amazing group of my running buddies. For those who aren't familiar with HTC it is considered the mother of all relays- it was the original long distance relay race (created back in the 80's) and is what inspired Ragnar and other similar events. This isn't a series though, it's one mega event. I browsed the list of teams attending beforehand and teams were coming from Amsterdam, Prauge, Italy, China etc. It's a well known event in the running community. You actually have to get picked from a lottery type system to even get into the race, twice as many people apply as they can support. 1,050 teams of 12 run each year =  12,600 runners. Sure some road races accommodate 25,000+ runners at one time but this is on an open course! No roads are closed down, and waves start early in the morning (3 am?) and go all the way until 6 pm!

HTC tattoos!
Friday morning, the 23rd, my group didn't have to meet until 9 am to leave for Sandy, Oregon- the point of the first major exchange between vans. Van 1 went down to Oregon the night before to stay the nights and prep for the start at Mt. Hood. I have to say I am SUPER jealous that I didn't get to see Mt. Hood. It looks freaking beautiful in every picture I've seen so if I ever get to do HTC again I want to be in van 1 only to get that experience. Melanie, one of our van 1 runners told me she literally got to run through some clouds! How many people get to say that?! My guess is not many. So on the way to Tabatha's house my GPS started freaking out and I had to call for directions. I was hoping that wasn't an omen of things to come. I'm glad my phone worked when it did because the night before my family all went to the county fair and clumsy me dropped the cell phone into the toilet. Ugh. The water actually didn't seem to affect it, however over a week later we've realized that the impact messed up the power button so we have to try to keep the phone from shutting off because it's a trial and error process to turn it back on. I started to learn this while at HTC- the whole second half of the race my phone was off and I couldn't get it back on so I had to borrow a phone to touch base with home.

The trip down to Oregon was pretty uneventful. I knew Tabatha from running a few times together and being FB buddies, I had run with Dorothy once or twice but didn't know her that well, and other than that all my van mates were new to me. Doug, Edie and I had brief exchanges at the team meetings, but I met Troy for the first time as we left for the race. We stopped at a Subway for lunch and us girls applied our glitter tattoos.
My Van before our first legs

On the way to our first major exchange we contacted van 1 and decided to try and meet up to get the sticker decorations for our van and our t-shirts. We drove down to exchange 5 thinking that van 1 would be coming along shortly but I guess there was a communication error and they were already past the point where we were waiting for them so after about 15 minute we decided to just drive down to exchange 6 where the hand off would occur. This miscommunication would be the first of a few, or at least the first of a few times we would have our location incorrect. We found the Safeway where Troy would be taking off from and had some time to hang out and wait for LaRee (runner #6) to come in. I was very impressed that the lines at the Safeway bathrooms weren't longer, so I hit those up a few times since Troy was handing off to me and I didn't want to have to pee while running- it hurts to hold it in and pound the pavement! We saw the Dead Jocks in a Box while waiting at the exchange. I wanted a picture with them but they were waiting for their runner and it didn't feel like an appropriate time to ask so instead I kept trying to convince Doug to take a picture of them standing there, but he didn't. Boooo. In their own words they are "irrelevant HTC royalty." Some of them have run it every year since inception!
LaRee arrived and Troy took off. We headed back to our van to apply our stickers and get our t-shirts. I was a little nervous that we weren't going to leave on time because Troy was pretty fast and only had a little over a 4 mile leg if memory serves me correctly. We did make it on time though. I had enough time to tie my shoes, use the port-a-potty, re-tie my shoes, watch about 20 runners exchange and then I saw Troy approaching and wouldn't you know a van pulled up to the stop sign right in front of me blocking my path to cross the street to the chute. It created this awkward side by side exchange on the run (no pun intended):
My first leg (leg 8) was a little more difficult than expected. It wasn't necessarily hard but the elevation graph showed pretty much a 4.73 mile downhill run and in reality I got rolling hills. The sun was out and it was warm so the last 2 miles I was quite parched. It was about 1.5 miles out from the exchange and I saw a group of bikers up ahead spectating with beers in hand. There were at least 10 of them, maybe more. In my sights ahead of me was another runner, a girl I had slowly been gaining on since I first spotted her about half a mile into the leg. The bikers yelled out to us as we came closer, "this is a no passing zone!" I couldn't help myself, I kicked the gear up a few notches and passed the girl right in front of all the bikers and they erupted in cheers. I know I had a HUGE grin on my face but inside honestly felt a little bad that I had pretty much rubbed her face in the dirt. The bikers encouraged her on telling her she might pass me later. Trying to be a good sport I yelled back to her, "you probably will!" I kept going and didn't see her again. About half a mile later a van rolled up to me. "You like Avril Lavigne?" they asked. "Today I do," was all I could think to reply. They turned up whatever song was on their radio and paced me for 10-15 seconds then drove off. Though slightly awkward to have people you don't know driving alongside you while you run it is also extremely funny and a good memory.
The finish of this leg was downhill THANK GOODNESS. The guy in the picture above me tried to roadkill me down this hill. I heard him coming up from behind me but I wasn't letting it happen. In all fairness yes I had the lead but he was much faster so I really had to step on the gas to keep him from adding another tally mark on his teams van!
Proof I didn't get roadkilled before passing off to Doug :)
More HTC re-cap to come....