After flying up to Portland Thursday afternoon, I spent the evening with my friends Karl and Brandi, who were the organizers of our Hood to Coast team. We sorted out t-shirts, did some last-minute planning, and basically tried to keep Brandi from stressing too much.
The next morning, Karl and I were picked up by Inessa and Keith, whose van we would be riding in. Inessa would be running, and Keith would be our driver. We then picked up two more team members, Max and Jenn, and met our sixth, Eric, at a good rendezvous point. Here at Meghan's house, we packed up the van and got organized.
We also did a bit of Monkey Butter Express van decorating:
Now it was time to head up the hill to the start, at Timberline Lodge. I had hopped in the far back seat of the van and was trying to get some reading done - forgetting lessons learned in grade school about the bumpy qualities of the back seat. But I survived, and we made it to the start with plenty of time to wander around, check out some sponsor booths, and take silly pictures in front of the start line.
It was finally time for our wave to start:
And we were off! Eric ran the first, brutally downhill leg from Timberline to Government Camp, then handed off to Max:
Who took it downhill some more and passed it to Inessa:
Inessa handed off to Karl (which I didn't get a good picture of, and Karl set off on his long leg - seven miles. Still smiling here -
The rest of us spectated:
Oops, but I was up next - Leg 5. Better get ready -
To take the handoff from Karl:
Thanks to Max for snapping a few pictures of me along my leg -
Before I handed off to Jenn. She had a good leg along the highway towards Gresham -
Where she handed off to Brandi, the first runner for Van 2.
So now Van 1 had a while to ourselves. We did a little shopping and headed back into Portland to make some dinner. A good runner's meal of pasta, veggies and garlic bread. Some of us tried to catch a few minutes of sleep, others figured it just wasn't gonna happed and stayed up chatting. Before we knew it, it was time to head to our next van exchange point.
Now, I don't have very many good nighttime pictures. Most ended up looking like this, of the van exchange point:
Or this, of Inessa running:
But at any rate, we all cranked out our night time legs, and handed off to Van 2 somewhere northwest of Portland. After some confusion driving to our next exchange point, we found a parking place and huddled up either in the van or in sleeping bags on the grass, to wait for dawn:
It was around this point that it was hard to know when Van 2 was going to be showing up. There was very little cell phone coverage in the area, and while we had two-way radios, they only worked within a certain range. So we did a bunch of standing around here:
Until the fine folks from Van 2 showed up!
Our last legs started out a bit chilly:
But did warm up as the morning progressed.
This was about the time that my camera decided to have a lens retracting issue, and became unusable for the rest of the race. But it was OK - I got out and did my last leg, up and over the last big hill.
Now, one thing about this type of relay - they generally start the slower teams in the morning, and the faster teams later on in the afternoon - so everyone ends up finishing within the same range of time. A side effect of this is that the roads get crowded toward the end of the race. And some of these roads are barely wide enough for two cars, let alone runners as well. So, especially coming into the last big van exchange, there were traffic jams.
After we gave our last runner, Jenn, a water break about halfway through her 6-mile run, we hadn't gone very far before traffic stopped. A couple of us got out to walk, thinking that if the van started going faster than us, it could pick us up again. Well, it didn't - s I ended up jog/walking about a mile and a half down to the next exchange with the race clipboard, so we could hand it off to Van 2. Apparently I just made it in time, because the by the time I had a chance to look around, Jenn had already handed off to Brandi. Closer call then I had thought!
So Van 1 was now done. We drove on into Seaside, found a parking place, and walked down to the beach. And the beer garden. Wow - sponsored by Widmer, and those beers went down very nicely. We had a few hours to wait until Van 2 came across the finish line, and we made good use of them -
Van 2 showed up, we lined up and ran across the finish with them. Then back into more lines for team photos, then back to the vans for more driving - to Astoria, where we would spend the night at a wonderful place owned my Keith and Inessa's family. Pizza, beer, games - lots of fun.
The next morning we divided up depending on who needed to go where when, and headed back into Portland. I ended up in the back seat of a Suburban, trying to do a little more reading. I was near the bottles of water, though, and when someone asked me to grab one, I did a weird reach-behind, gave a tug, and felt my neck, shoulder and back pop. It's been sore since; finally it's recovering about a week later. Silly to do a big run like that and hurt yourself reaching for a water bottle.
After breakfast with Karl and Brandi, and a lazy afternoon, I flew back down to Reno late Sunday - just in time to get a little sleep before shuffling the kids off to the first day of school.
My thanks to my whole team - it was good to see those of you that I hadn't in awhile, and it was great to meet those of you who are new friends. I can't imagine a better bunch of people to spend two days in a van with. Extra thanks to Keith, whose driving expertise and calm assurance got us through the relay smoothly.