Monday, August 31, 2009

Hood to Coast Relay (part 1)

We did it! Two urbanMamas teams successfully completed the Hood to Coast Relay this past weekend. This was my first H2C experience and I LOVED it. 
Quick primer for the uninitiated, each H2C team is made up of 12 individuals and two vans. The race consists of 36 legs, anywhere from about 3.5 miles to 7.5 miles in length and of varying difficulty. This year there were 1,000 teams and if I do the math correctly, that's a whole lot of runners, vans and volunteers. Speaking of math, each team is responsible for keeping their own time and charting it on a bright yellow paper to be turned in at race completion. Very quickly, it was determined who was most comfortable with this awesome responsibility (not me!) and who best keep far, far away. 
Here are my van-mates. I'm on the far left and the other ladies are Jaime, Merry, Kirsten, Nancy and Arabeth. Our start time was 7:15AM in the morning which had us meeting up in NE Portland at 5:00AM to load up, eat bagels and run over last minute details. Below is Kirsten, our official time keeper for a good portion of the relay. 
Nancy was our first runner and while she barrelled down the mountain, we decorated our Freightliner Sprinter. Don't they all look spry and chipper and ready to conquer the road? That'd be because none of us had run yet! Just you wait until the second installment when we'd been running, sweating and not much else for several hours . . . 
I've been sitting with this entry for awhile, wondering how to best sum up this experience. If I use any more caps or explanations marks, I'm in danger of sounding like a hyped up cheerleader in high school. I've talked recently about flow activities and for me, running and competing in one form or another is a grounding, centering experience. Working as a team with strong, inspiring women is phenomenal. Since high school and college, any competitive sport I've engaged in has been individual . . . which is fine, but I need and look for community and connection. Nothing like 6 women in a van for 30 hours for quickly becoming comfortable with one another! Laughing like school girls at jokes that if repeated here, wouldn't be funny. You just had to be there -- or perhaps equally sleep-deprived and dehydrated! Cheering out open windows, poking fun at the "officals" (many of the "official" shirts were misprinted), passing around bags of cookies and water bottles -- that's good stuff, folks! 

I'd been worried about my calves for a few months -- stretching, ice baths, chiropractor, new shoes, etc. Nothing seemed to make the problem magically disappear so I met up with my team mates a little afraid that I'd either bonk out because my training hadn't been up to snuff, catering to my aching legs, or that I wouldn't be able to finish because of an injury. But lo and behold, I ran faster than I thought I could for all three legs and felt strong. It was the energy of the team and other runners -- there is a synergistic energy in events like this. Each runner's success is the sum of the team's optimism and support. Well done, mamas. Let's do it again!

More pics to come . . . 

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