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....

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