Monday, September 2, 2013

Hood to Coast Mini Report

Before the race report, a couple of quick notes:
* The IAU World 100k has been canceled, again.  It's sad, but it's the best decision that could be made at this point.  I'll announce my fall racing schedule soon.
* After Hood to Coast, I spent a week in Seattle for work.  I had one day off so I drove out to Mt Rainier to run around the Mowich Lake area.  Check the bottom of this post for a few pics.
* This past Saturday (August 31) I closed out the 7th year of my daily running streak with a 30 mile run.  It was a tough run after being out of town for over a week, but it allowed me to hit the 30,000 mile mark over the past 7 years.  The 476 miles I logged in August is my 2nd highest month ever.  I'm tired now, but taking a much-deserved down week.

Hood to Coast Mini Race Report
I originally didn’t plan to run the Hood to Coast Relay this year.  I’ve run the 198 mile, 12 person relay, 3 times before and didn’t really want the training interruption during a really big mileage month.  Plus, my work schedule had me heading out to Seattle in early August.  But, as luck would have it, my trip to Seattle kept getting delayed until finally I didn’t need to be there until the Monday following Hood to Coast.  This meant I would only have to make one trip to the Pacific Northwest and I could kill two birds with one stone.  So I found my way back on to GE Runner’s corporate mixed team.

Big mistake, giving a Hood to Coast team a brand new SUV.

Another bit of good fortune had the team picking up our two rental team SUVs in Seattle.  So I flew straight there from Cincinnati with my buddy, training partner, and team captain – Max.  We easily found our other driver there at the Seattle airport, picked up our vehicles, and were off to Portland with no problems.  We had dinner and a quick team meeting Thursday night, but headed to bed relatively early knowing that we’d need a good night’s sleep to get us through the next 48 hours.

There are 1050 teams that were entered to run the relay.  This requires teams to start in small waves every 15 minutes throughout the day on Friday.  Usually the best teams start later in the day so everyone reaches the finish in Seaside, OR about the same time on Saturday.  For some reason, HTC had our team starting at 11:15AM – much earlier than competitive GE team usually starts.  We were on our way to the start quite early to allow time for check-in and warm-ups.

The start. I was beat for about 100 meters.

I volunteered to run Leg 1 this year.  Leg 1 is notoriously difficult because it drops from 6000ft at Timberline Lodge down to 4000ft in just 5.65 miles.  It’s great fun running downhill fast, but it’s brutal on the quads when you have to come back and run 2 more times in the next 15 hours.  I quite enjoyed taking the lead of our wave start with a 4:33 first mile.  I quickly realized that I had a lot farther to go and that was probably unsustainable.  So I eased back and tried take a little pressure off the quads by shortening my stride and quickening my turnover.  The quads get all of the attention, but I could feel it in my calves too – it’s just a very different stress from the usual.  I was well out in front of my wave and actually caught about 15 people in the wave that started 15 minutes before ours.  I handed off to our second runner, Liz, having averaged 4:40 pace.  My legs were tired, but not immediately blasted.

Liz is ran in the US 10k Olympic Trials last  So there was no time for me to cool down.  I had to hop in our Yukon and get to the next exchange quickly.  It only took us about 10 minutes to get to the 2nd exchange, but as soon as I stepped out of the van, I realized how destroyed my quads were.  While waiting for Liz to arrive, I managed to run a 2 mile cool down very gingerly.  I was seriously questioning my ability to run sub-6 minute pace for my next two legs based on the condition of my legs at this point.

We eventually cycled through all six runners in “Van 1” and handed the race over to Van 2 to continue pushing the charge.  I can’t say much about what happened during the Van 2 legs, because I wasn’t there.  My van headed back to a hotel room in Portland for an hour-long break.  It was a quick stop though, as we had to allow plenty of time to make it through Portland rush hour traffic to make it to the next van exchange point where I was scheduled to run again.  The van exchange point was a mess, but my crew dumped me out in plenty of time to receive the handoff our 12th runner.

When my second run of the day began, it was still quite sunny and warm.  Even so, I was decked out in a reflective vest, flashlight, and two red flasher since the rules require these items after 6PM.  I tried my best to warmup, but the quads were definitely protesting and did not want to stretch out.  After splitting a 5:35 first mile, I was feeling quite tired.  Knowing I had a long 7.3 mile leg to do, I decided to back off and try to settle in a little more.  I slowed a few seconds per mile, but continued to pass tons of runners.  I stopped counting around 30 “kills,” but I must have finished with well over 50.  Eventually, I guess I got completely warmed up again and the pace started coming back to me.  I was running along the riverfront near downtown Portland and all of the people, whether involved with the race or not, were motivating to me.  I made my way into an industrial area and started to recognize the upcoming exchange zone.  Liz took the handoff from me again and I was pleased to see my Suunto report an average pace of 5:34.

Repeat the process.  Get in the van.  Drive to the next exchange.  Get out and cool down.  Now I’m extremely sore.  My one mile cooldown was around 9 min pace.  I had forgotten the pain by the next exchange zone because the world record holder in the decathlon, Ashton Eaton, was there with Team World Vision and I got to talk to him a bit.  A little farther down the road, I decided to run into a McDonald’s and get a sweet tea and some French fries.  Don't judge, it's what the body was craving.

Me, Ashton Eaton, and my buddy Max. One of the highlights from the trip.

My third and final leg was scheduled to start around 2AM.  At midnight, we pulled our van into a big grass field and we all tried to get a quick nap.  I got a little sleep, but I didn't want to get too comfortable because I was going to have to wake up and warm up again to run well.  It started raining, but after two warmish runs, I was a little happy to have some cooling assistance.  I took the handoff and started off down the pitch black country road.  The 3.75 mile leg felt almost like a sprint, but I was happy to get it over with quickly.  Another set of low 5:30 splits was all I could manage.

Our girls ran awesome this year!

Maybe the hardest part of the event for me is dealing with the lack of sleep.  After my final run, we still have 11 more legs to finish the race.  I just felt miserable there for a couple of hours.  I finally got a some sleep just as the sun was coming up and our team was heading toward the finish.  After celebrating our finish, my body finally agreed to wake up and we all left the beach in Seaside to enjoy a big breakfast.

The GE Meatballs team ended up finishing 11th overall out of over 1000 teams with a time of 20:44:14.  We were 2nd in our corporate mixed division only 13 minutes behind a team from Nike.  I think we'll take that.  I'm really proud of everyone who ran this year.  It was a great team.

I love the reflection in this shot.

And here are a few shots from my run in Mt Rainier National Park:

1 comment:

  1. Very nice photos, David. And good running, too. We'll get Nike next year.