After Kelly started the race for Team Noon, my excitement skyrocketed. This was really happening and I was completely stoked. But I had somewhere between three and four HOURS before I could start my run. With each relay exchange I witnessed, I became increasingly amped and literally thought I was going to jump out of my skin before my turn rolled around. Kelly handed off to Golf Laura who handed off to Greatist Laura, then Jocelyn had her go-round, then next in line was Sarah. I remember slamming some peanut butter filled pretzels and guzzled more and more strawberry lemonade Nuun when Greatist Laura took off on her leg. I thought it was a smart move because I always have peanut butter before races and long runs and pretzels are essentially their own food group in my life. I decided to stop eating before Jocelyn started her leg, I figured it was plenty of time for my stomach to settle but I was seriously starving, it was my dinner time!
I was able to scream my face off for each of my van mates and it was, so, so, SO very awesome. When Sarah took off my excitement turned into a bit of anxiety. I wouldn’t say I am fully Type-A, but whatever Type-A tendencies I do have completely come out pre-race. I need to get to the start line unnecessarily early with plenty of time to pee, stretch, tie and re-tie my shoelaces, etc. While lathering up with Body Glide and then changing into a fresh pair of socks it dawned on me that even though the sun was still shining, due to my leg being run during the 6:00pm hour, I needed to be fully outfitted in reflective gear according to race rules. Once driver extraordinaire Casey got us to the vicinity of the exchange zone and parked I started to freak. Due to the location of the exchange zone, the vans had to park on the side of the road, and there was a long line of vans in front of us. I wasn’t exactly sure how far away the exchange zone was, and I had to hoof it to my spot on foot. Awesome. Also not really knowing how fast Sarah was running only added to my growing stress. I had heard and read about Sarah’s horror story of rollin’ through one of her exchange zones in her first big relay only to find her teammate was not ready for her and it completely destroyed her ‘I just ran so amazingly fast buzz’. I did NOT want to be that buzzkill. And I had to effin pee.
Casey, God love him, is a very chill guy, and was taking his saweeeeeet time hooking me up with my reflective gear, I needed to wear a vest and a blinking light on the front and back of me and either have a headlamp or a flashlight. I chose to go with the knucklelight on my hand. Finally after what seemed like eternity I had all of my blinkers on and working, and it was time to leave the van and team and head off on my own. With all of the adrenaline coursing through my veins, pre-race jitters and my bladder at full capacity, I was just a few minutes away from a total freak out, but I took a few yoga-breaths and reeled myself in a bit. I hoofed it and made it to the exchange zone with a few minutes to do my biz in the honey buckets, stretch, and tie my shoes. Then I met up with my twin Nicole in our matching blue tanks and green Team Sparkle Skirts – not planned, we are just that awesome.
The one by one other members of our vans were able to join us, which happily distracted me and calmed my nerves a bit. Then before we knew it, we spotted both Caitlin and Sarah charging up the hill to hand off the slap bracelets!!!
Once I grabbed the slap bracelet, it was full-speed ahead. I took off like a bat out of hell, and immediately started hearing a million little beeps. I looked down and realized that my Go Sport ID was bouncing around and smacking into my watch. I wore my regular running watch and it has a touch screen to record laps, so in the first thirty seconds or so of my run I had hit the lap button at least fifteen times. I was not going to be able to endure just shy of seven miles with that most obnoxious beeping so I shoved my knuckle light in my sports bra, and mid stride ripped off the Go Sport ID and put it on my right wrist, and retrieved the knuckle light and was on my way. Then the next thing I had to deal with was the most blinding sun ever. I was running straight into the sun, on the shoulder of a busy highway. Why the heck did I not wear a hat? A visor? Sunglasses? Stupid, stupid choice. So I had no other choice but to look at the ground. Even with mostly looking at the ground and a few feet in front of me, it was still a bit scary running along a multi-lane highway with semi-trucks zooming by me. I tried not to think about it and focused straight ahead on the matter at hand. After the initial rush of my ambitious start, I began wondering if I had started out a bit too fast. Then I started to burp. Repeatedly. And it tasted eerily similar to those peanut butter pretzels. For a second I thought I was going to hurl. But the feeling passed as quickly as it came. Then my mouth and back of my throat all of a sudden was completely dry. What the heck? I thought I was completely screwed. I wallowed in this negativity for a few moments then I gave myself a much-needed pep talk.
I kept saying over and over to myself: ‘Don’t Give Up, Don’t. Ever. Give. Up.’ – the mantra inscribed on my Go Sport ID, and with each time I said it to myself and out loud, I dug a little deeper. I was thinking this was the only time in my entire life I would ever run my first leg of Hood to Coast, hell I may never get to run this race ever again, I needed to live in the moment and give it all I had. So whenever I was tempted to back off the pace I told myself to suck it up, this run was going to be over before I knew it.
I remember passing some people here and there, but that really didn’t matter to me, I know some people count their road kills, but I was distracted by other things. For chunks of time I thought of absolutely nothing and I locked into the sounds of the rhythmic slapping of my Nikes on the pavement and the inhales and exhales of my lungs. I would then start thinking about ‘oh shit, you have TWO more legs to run, you totally just screwed yourself…but who cares THIS IS HOOD TO COAST!!! Get crazy! Act stupid!’ At times I literally couldn’t believe I was there, I was chosen for this amazing opportunity, and shit, I was RUNNING HOOD TO COAST!!!!!!!!!!!! The entire thought process going on in my head was a bit manic, I admit. But it was so, so, SO very amazing.
Before I knew it I began to see signs of civilization: restaurants, gas stations, stop lights, etc. and not knowing what pace I was running as I wasn’t wearing my Garmin and there weren’t mile markers, I felt like I was running sub 7:00 pace but I just didn’t know how much faster than that. I had a rough estimation of my finish time and I just kept telling myself to hold onto that pace.
I remember a crowd dining al fresco at some bar shout that they liked my skirt and I shouted thank you back to them. That made me laugh a bit. Then I saw a stop light in the distance, and it was on red and there were wearing reflective vests standing at the light waiting for it to turn green. Aw, hell no I thought, there is NO way I am stopping when I’m rolling through what should be my last mile. Miraculously the light turned green when I was just a few strides away and I was able to chick a few of the poor guys who had to wait at the light, I used that momentum to pass a few more individuals ahead of me, and that’s when I heard it. The cheers. I had to be approaching an exchange zone, I just had to. As I grew closer and I could focus a bit as the sun wasn’t quite as harsh as when I began this trek, I saw the crowds of relay participants. I gave it every last bit of effort I had, one final kick, and rolled through the zone to the cheers of all of my Nuun teammates and handed off to Tonia. After finishing my leg, I couldn’t stop smiling, I quickly found some of my teammates, gave lots of sweaty high-fives and then Sarah and Jocelyn took me to get some more hydration.
I remember feeling completely exhilarated and shouting that ‘That was the most fun I have ever had!!!!!’…It was seriously, SERIOUSLY amazing.
Total mileage: 6.71 miles
Total time: 44:23
Average pace per mile: 6:36