Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hood To Coast 2014 recap: Confessions of a first time relayer and first time team captain

A friend refered to me on facebook as "inspiring and intimidating" on facebook.... inspiring for how far I've come (losing 80 lbs and being able to go from a slow walk to a slow run) but intimidating because I am able to do a half marathon within a few weeks of each other and then go run "The Mother of All Relays" or "The World's Largest Relay" (full of people, not the world's longest relay).

I was surprised.  I didn't think of my athleticism as intimidating.  I don't do speed work.  I just started hill work.  I don't stretch before or after I run.  I'm lazy and don't see myself as serious.  Who the heck runs a mile warm up and then a mile cool down before and after 13.1 miles?!  The intimidating people do.  ;)  I'm just lazy.  Seriously.  If you are running 2 extra miles when you are doing a half marathon, you need an extra medal.  Those are serious people.   

And... maybe a bit of that lazy nature was how I approached Hood To Coast.  

After a death in the family, a note from our landlord to look for another place to live and then a friend going through a tragic stressful time... I sorta stopped running.  I hadn't done more than 6 miles since early July.  A team mate pulled me aside and was worried about me continuing to do Hood To Coast.  

I did it anyway.   And I lived to tell the tale.

I had no idea what I was doing as a team captain... and I was very lucky to be well connected in my little running community with lots of people who had run it before.  I still felt a little out of touch, but before long my friends who really are athletically intimidating volunteered to take the "hard legs" and I was given the easiest legs.

That isn't a bad thing.  I got to start the race off at the starting line, run through downtown Portland and then finish outside of Mist... the area is like running through a cold cloud.  

The race had lots of criticism and a couple blunders with traffic and safety that has left several people angry and frustrated (rightly so).  However, I'd like this recap to focus not on the unmoving traffic on exchange 24 and the runners left in the cold for several hours while neither of their team mate's vans had arrived or the scary gorilla jumping out to scare runners between exchanges 19 and 20... but I'm going to focus on my experience as a team captain and how my team did in this event (despite my leadership or the lack thereof.  Certainly a lack of experience.)  

Some of my favorite Hood To Coast moments:

Seeing the start line and THE mountain for the first time.  We watched the very first wave of runners start the relay.  Seeing the setting sun put Portland's skyline to a silhouette.  The relief of seeing the finish chute.  The exhilarating feeling of running my first leg down that steep mountain.  Meeting the friendly...mime at exchange 12.  My team mates crossing the finish together and one enthusiastically doing a cartwheel across the finish.  My sign on the windshield to remind us all that the van was our home for the next 36+ hours... not just home, but a "sweet" home?  Perhaps.  Seeing the Panda at the finish line party!  I saw him at exchange 24 waiting for his runner to come in.  I wanted to ask him for a bear hug to keep me warm.  I asked Bob Foote for a hug at the start line.  Hanging out in Seaside and reflecting on the event while my team mates journeyed home.  And sitting on the balcony of a hotel 4 stories up above the party below with my finisher's medal. 

Page 13 of the handbook states that when registering your team is making a commitment to average as a whole no slower than 9:45 minute mile pace or 32 1/2 hrs in total time.  We averaged a 10:31 min./mile pace and finished in 34 hours and 50 minutes.

Here are a few tips when you are a captain to a relay team:

* Get ready for surprises and don't get stressed by them.  Team members will quit, at the last minute.  Even if they don't want to.  Have back up runners available up to the day of the event.  Volunteers will quit.  Have back ups of those too.  

*  Reward your volunteers well.  Hood to Coast has them standing out there for 5 hours (on average) with little to no supplies.  Show them some love.

*  Reserve a hotel or beach house.  Everyone just ran a relay!!  I don't care how close y'all live and how much y'all want to sleep in your own beds, kick back with each other for one last bonding session, smooth out any wrinkles, enjoy a beer and chat about each other's personal experiences.  

*  Have a plan of when and where to go get food together.  Van 2 is going to be exhausted and need replenishment after the finish line festivities.  As soon as the "hangry" (hungry/angry) episodes can be avoided, the better.  

*  Relax.  Take it all in.  Enjoy it.  

I'm sure there are lots of other great tips out there, but it all boils down to just have fun.  Just because all your teammates are your friends and like you, doesn't mean they will all like each other.  Make sure personalities are going to mesh and people can be at peace instead of at odds with each other.  

One other thing, pack comfort foods.  Even though I ran less than my long run distances, my gastrointestinal tract was not happy with it. I loved my chocolate milk, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (Thanks Dave's Killer Bread!) and salt and vinegar chips.  That was all I ate.  And Orange ricotta pancakes.   Take what you know, what you've trained with and under no circumstances should you try something new.  Even if your next run is in 6+ hours.  You can't always get to a bathroom when you need one. 
Eating my third PB&J with Dave's Killer Bread

Have you ran a relay?  What advice would you give a new team captain?

1 comment:

  1. That is one of my bucket list items! Thanks for the recap!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.