The View from Runner 5 (Hood to Coast Recap)

Since the actual kind of reason for the trip was the relay, I’m going to recap that before all the fun shit we did in Seattle beforehand. Screw chronology for a minute, let’s get straight to the main event.

Hood to Coast 2012 – AfterNUUN Delight

* Quick overview : Nuun sponsored three teams of 12 running bloggers (36 total) through a contest they held back in April (my entry) to run Hood to Coast. We were placed on a team – Morning, Noon, or Night – and assigned a leg based on preference/ability/magic/other factors. *

* They hosted teams last year as well, and I still consider not applying one of the dumbest mistakes I’ve ever made. *

  • The Voyage to Mt Hood

Morning, Noon, and Night Van 1s left early Friday AM from Nuun HQ in Seattle to Mt Hood, OR. We made way too many pit stops (coffee, gas, lunch, hello-18-women-pee-a lot, etc) but finally made it to the start, just in time for a few photo opps before start time.

Team Noon Van 1 –  jocelyn, molly, kelly, laura, laura, me

Start times were staggered so we cheered off each Runner 1 – Caroline from Night and Tricia from Morning – and said our farewells to the other vans, not sure if we’d see them again until the finish.  (how’s that for drama?)

((spoiler – we saw a whole LOT of some of them))

Night – 2:15pm | Morning – 2:30pm | Noon – 2:45pm

Kelly had leadoff for Team Noon, and right at 2:45 she barreled down the start shoot, kicking off our journey.

Sparkles, Nuun foam finger, battle cry and all.

  • The Next 200 Miles

The early exchanges were fun because all three Nuun teams were around, jumping around as runners came in and yelling out the vans as they sped to the next exchange.

As Runner #5 I had time to get wrapped up in the excitement before having to think about running.  I kept an eye on the pace predictions and timed my prep around that – I didn’t want to miss any action but didn’t want to be scrambling before my leg.

(Hood to Coast has a magical formula that predicts each runner’s times for each leg based on their 10k pace and adjusts it for the difficulty of the leg)

Laura to Laura (exch 2) & Laura to Jocelyn (exch 3)

Once Jocelyn took off I grabbed a Picky Bar and started getting suited up. Bib, body glide, sunscreen, shoes tied, porta potty’d, garmin satellited… and had just enough time for one last look at the elevation chart.

[cue reignited panic and fear]

Joc came into sight and I gave my team one last warning while I stepped into the shoot –

“Don’t be alarmed unless it gets to like a 20 min/mile pace – then maybe come find me…”

And then I took off.

The first few miles were flat/downhill, and I promised myself I would ENJOY every step. I wasn’t going to let the fear of a 3 mile climb fun-suck the good part.

Even though we were on the shoulder of a highway, exhaust clouding and sun blazing in my eyes, it was exhilarating. I couldn’t even get pissed at the dudes throwing patronizing “good job!” consolatories as they flew passed me.

Adrenaline was high and I felt great.

So great I lept for the photog.

Ugh I swore I’d never do that.

Blaming altitude and sparkle skirt.

Suddenly, in this place of run-bliss and impending-hill-doom, it hit me :

THIS IS HOOD TO COAST. The legendary “Mother of all Relays.” I’m here.

At that moment – perfectly timed at the base of the climb- it didn’t matter if I’d “only” gotten in a few hill workouts during training. I stopped worrying about my flatland legs and my lungs combusting mid-run. The mental images of me walking up a hill, head down in defeat, while runners breezed by, disappeared.

(yes, if you’re wondering, I AM that much of a headcase and WAS that scared. maybe we’ll discuss it some other time.)

And I just ran.

We ducked onto a shaded side street – trees all around and air so still I could hear runners approaching half a mile away (yes I was still being passed) – such a stunning silence compared to the heavy traffic of the highway.

The hills had started, and at each plateau I threw a little party regained my breath and looked forward to tackling the next incline.  I kept thinking,

the tough one’s coming. keep it up. it’s got to be the next one.

The noise of the exchange came into earshot and I about peed myself.

I kept climbing and climbing – certain they’d be “just around this corner” – determined to hand off to Molly with a smile.

And eventually, half a mile later, I did.

Run 1 – DONE.

Caitlin (Team Morning’s #5) was there too, and we captured the feelings beautifully on film…


photo cred – Corey

I don’t know if it was the adrenaline of the first run, the months of pent-up NuunHTC excitement, or just that I’d psyched myself out so badly for all these hills that anything less than dying felt like a major victory, but I loved this run.

We walked back to the van to meet Molly at the next exchange (and to tag in Van 2) and I felt a huge sense of relief and newfound confidence wash over me.

Maybe Runner 5 would be about more than just survival, after all…

… to be continued  *  Legs 2, 3 & the finish line party up next

[part 2]

Sarah OUaL


38 thoughts on “The View from Runner 5 (Hood to Coast Recap)

  1. Ok, who are you, and what have you done with SarahOUAL?

    Nice recap, and so early! You’re about 2 weeks ahead of schedule for your normal post-race recaps :P

    I so wish we had awesome relays in Aus. Maybe I can find a sponsor to fly my all the over for HTC next year? Anyone??


  2. 1.) Love the title 2.) love the pictures 3.) Freaking awesome experience!!!! Totes jealous. 4.) More jealous that you hung out with my girl Molly. Miss her. She left Cleveland for Columbus. SInner!!!! 5.) I am sad this is so short. I expected a long post. But I guess it is true OUAL fashion to leave me in suspense!


    • I felt I lost the over-the-top, hugely-wordy, many-part liberty since there will be 30 other bloggers recapping the same trip. And it took me like 3 days just to write that, sooo…


  3. and, i am totally stealing your pic of you jumping (linking to you of course) to explain my injury… still such a dumbass. is it bad i am more excited to read about the next leg because I barely heard anything about it? LOVED meeting you in person and hope to see you again soon.


  4. LOVE this post! Seriously, you did such an awesome job capturing it all without 1,000,000 words…I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to do that. You kicked ass on this leg and it was so much fun cheering you and Caitlin in together! Looking forward to reading the recap of run #2…despite knowing how it ends :)


  5. Just curious…why did you say you’d never do a jumping photo? Is it dangerous? Are you in serious-runner mode? I always make an effort to click my heels whenever I see a photog, no matter how tired I am….granted you are WAY faster than me :) They’ve only managed to capture it once though!

    Great job, can’t wait to read the next recaps!


  6. Holy cow! I didn’t realize how HARD that leg was. You freakin killed it! It sucks that we didn’t get to cheer you guys on as much being in the other van but I know you had tons of support. Nice recap. Very entertaining!


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