So I’ve shared with you the warm-fuzziness of the relay. Now it’s time to describe the actual running portion. Nuun gave us the option of submitting our top 3 legs that we wanted to run, and they would do their best to accommodate everyone as best as they could to give us one leg we were hoping for. To be honest, my biggest criteria was wanting to be in van #1. I wanted to see both Mt. Hood and the Coast. Those in Van 2 can’t go up to the start are of the race due to vehicle congestion and logistics.
Additionally, I didn’t want to run leg #1 with the crazy downhill first leg. With my history of IT Band and hamstring issues, I didn’t want to run a leg that would potentially leave my legs trashed shortly after the start gun sounded. I have tendonitis in my right hamstring and when I run two consecutive hard days in a row, my hamstring screams at me. I had to listen to my body and be true to it and having no experience in this sort of race situation, I didn’t want to deal with the fear/anxiety of hamstring issues the rest of the weekend after handing off the slap-bracelet. I was also petrified of Leg #5 for essentially the same reason. I wanted longer runs and I wanted them to be challenging, but I didn’t have confidence that I would be the best suited for the hardest leg of the relay. So I threw my name in the hat for three of the other four legs and I actually came out with the one I wanted the most, spot number six.
If I were to go back in time and choose my first choice leg all over again, it would absolutely be leg one, six, seven or twelve because those are the major exchange zones, when both vans full of your teammates are there to cheer you on. When so much of the race is out in the middle of no where, your run is basically you and yourself, but once the exchange zone enters your frame of vision, you begin to hear the cheers, screams and cowbells. The atmosphere is like a mini version of the Wellesley Scream Tunnel, or let’s be honest, the ENTIRE NYC Marathon route – minus the Queensboro Bridge.
Team AfterNuun Delight was divided into three segments: Team Morning, Team Noon and Team Night. I was on Team Noon and our start time was 2:45pm on Friday. I was projected to start my first leg somewhere around 6:00pm. Typically during a race day I am eating breakfast around 5:00am. I was definitely up bright and early that day, packed and repacked my bags to make sure I had all the essentials and then went on a nice morning walk in search of the nectar of the gods with dear Jess. I scored a banana and a soy vanilla latte, that was really my only option other than oatmeal or a bagel and I knew we would be stopping for food at some point that morning after we got on the road. I was nervous, real nervous about this. It is no secret that I love me some coffee. But I never drink coffee before I run, it is something I drink after, always after. Lattes? Those are special treats AFTER a run, never before. This could turn out to be just fine, or really terrible, but whatever. This whole experience was about fun and building friendships, and spreading the Nuun love. I wasn’t trying to qualify for Boston or break a world record, so I went crazy and had a latte. Livin’ life on the edge.
After we loaded in the vans to head to Mt. Hood around 8:00am, it wasn’t long until we stopped at another Starbucks. I had already finished the first coffee of the day, I decided I should just get a black coffee and not another latte and scored another banana. And then on the ride to Mt. Hood I only drank half of my coffee as the other half landed on my shirt the first 5 minutes in the van. Yes, I’m the dirty kid. I slammed the second banana and a Smooth Caffeinator Picky Bar. With every calorie I shoved in my mouth I thought to myself ‘I seriously have no idea what the hell I am doing’.
A few hours into the ride we made a pit stop at a gas station that had a grocery store next door, I was craving something that didn’t come in bar form as I knew I would be eating my fair share of picky bars, Kind bars, etc. I bought some carrots and hummus. Carrots and hummus. An entire grocery store full of food and that’s what I chose. What the hell was I doing?
Then we stopped one more time for lunch at Subway. I ordered a six-inch veggie sub on wheat, extra pickles and water. I should also note that I was drinking plenty of water and Nuun. Slamming it actually, thank God we had as many options for pit stops as we did or I would have straight up peed myself. (I swear my all the deets of what I consumed will come into play later in the story).
We eventually wound our way up to a parking lot at the base of Mt. Hood. The air was cold and crisp, yet warm enough to rock shorts and tank-tops, or even a swishy little Team Sparkle Skirt.
After taking in the sights, posing for many group shots, it was time for Team Morning’s first runner Caroline to toe the start line and begin her journey.
I loved that Team Morning and Team Noon started only 15 minutes apart, it only added to the excitement of the event and the camaraderie of the team.
With Hood to Coast there is a rolling start, multiple teams start the relay in 15 minute increments. Nigel (I think that’s his name, but I may have made that up) is the MC of all MC’s and announces each and every team and entertained the crowd and made all of us feel awesome in his own special way. One random thought, how does Nigel make it to the beach in time to announce the finishing teams? I think it was a group consensus that he must take a helicopter ride. Nigel seems like a baller like that.
Shortly after Caroline took off and we said our goodbyes to Team Morning, it was time to get amped for Team Noon’s first runner, Kelly. Dance parties ensued.
When Kelly entered the starting corral I think it finally hit our team, we are at HOOD TO COAST and there was no turning back now. After we bid our good lucks to Kelly and she crossed the start line with gusto, it finally began to fully sink in that the fun had only just begun.