Monday, August 31, 2015

Hood to Coast 2015: Running Legs 10, 22, 34

Hood to Coast is a relay of 12 runners, 2 vans, and 198 miles, from Mt. Hood to the Oregon coast. I had the opportunity to run with a team sponsored by my work this year and last year. This year I was in van 2 again, but this time runner 10.

(See last year's HTC running recap when I was runner 8 here. Separate post to come about the experience/non-running aspects.)

My goal going in was to run all the legs at around a high 11:00s pace - i.e., basically treat it all as parts of my tempo run for the week. I thought I was probably capable of doing it all a smidge faster, but (1) I wanted to have something left by the third leg (I didn't so much last year), and (2) I thought it'd be good to take advantage of a race setting to work on maintaining my marathon goal pace. That goal pace should be fairly easy over shorter distances, but it wasn't all easy terrain, so it'd be a good challenge to keep it going over all of that - same pace would be very different effort in the different legs and on tired legs!

Leg 10

Expected time of day: 2:00 pm
Expected temperature: 74°, 30% chance of rain - "a few showers"
Expected pace: 11:55
Expected elevation:

Actual time of day: 12:50 pm
Actual temperature: 79°, slightly overcast, no rain 
Actual pace: 11:40
Actual elevation: 

Mile splits: 11:45, 11:54, 11:49, 11:50, 11:39, 10:31
Passing: Passed by 25, passed 1

This leg was fully on the Springwater trail. It was flat-ish - you can see both the official and my garmin elevation charts show just a slight constant downhill. It honestly felt like an ever so slight uphill throughout while I was running it, but I think it just felt harder due to being a bit warmer than anticipated and quite muggy (I almost wanted it to start raining, just to cut through the mugginess). I was also going a tad faster than my goal pace - I wanted to hold back to conserve energy for the rest of the race, but it wasn't too hard to go under 12:00. 

I forgot to check before if music was allowed (it was - nowhere on the course are headphones allowed, but you can use your phone or speakers to play on most, but not all legs), so I definitely was getting bored. I kept my mind occupied by counting my reverse "kills" (kills = people you pass; I mostly got passed).

Leg 22

Expected time of day: 1:30 am
Expected temperature: 58°, 50% chance of rain - "showers"
Expected pace: 11:55
Expected elevation: 

Actual time of day: 12:25 am
Actual temperature: 64°, light rain off and on
Actual pace: 11:57
Actual elevation: 

Mile splits: 12:59, 11:59, 11:37, 11:45, 11:36, 11:41, 12:00
Passing: Passed by 30, passed 3

This was my night leg, and my hardest and longest run of the race. I checked before to make sure music was indeed allowed, and kept some upbeat Pink playing on my phone (carried in my SPI belt, just loud enough for me to hear). This is at the end of a section of a few legs on a gravel road - but this one is just on gravel as you're leaving the exchange, but very quickly turn onto a more main road that is paved, so fortunately (unlike the leg 20 I did last year) you're not running more than a tenth of a mile on the gravel.

I seriously swear that the elevation recorded was not accurate! I knew the first mile and a half or so would be uphill (and it was fairly steep), so I knew I just had to get through that, then enjoy the downhill. It was downhill, for maybe a mile, then I swear it all turned to a steady slight uphill for a couple miles! And then more downhill finally at the end. I don't know what it was that made it feel like it was not the downhill, I can see some slight variations and up and down on the elevation, but it still was not what it seemed like in the dark! In addition to the unexpected uphill, it was long - it's officially 6.7 miles, but somehow in my head I was sure it was 6.4. I saw a "1 mile to go" sign around 5.7, so first I was confused because I thought I only had 2/3s of a mile left at that point, and then even a mile after the sign, there was still an extra quarter mile left! I was really ridiculously glad to be done with this leg. 

I didn't have quite the same exhilaration from this as I did on my night leg last year, but I also didn't dislike anything about it due to being at night/in the dark, it was fine for the challenges of the hilliness.

Unlike the first leg in which the van is obviously not driving on the route itself, in this case the vans drive past the runners on the way to the exchange, but they didn't see me! I saw them pass, but it's tough to spot your runner in the dark (unless you have really distinctive lights of some sort). 

Leg 34

Expected time of day: 12:30 pm
Expected temperature: 65°, 55% chance of rain - "showers/wind"
Expected pace: 11:55
Expected elevation: 

Actual time of day: 11:03 am
Actual temperature: 63°, some rain and wind throughout, showers and wind gusts occasionally
Actual pace: 11:14
Actual elevation: 

Mile splits: 11:47, 11:10, 11:06, 10:28
Passing: Passed by 15, passed 13 (mostly walkers - but at least one runner!)

I wasn't sure how it would go going into this leg - I still felt tired (from only 2 hours of broken sleep), and my legs felt fatigued. But once I got going, I was able to gradually pick up the pace and felt pretty good! This one I finally feel the elevation chart is completely representative of the actual run. :) Rolling hills, but nothing too steep either way. 

The weather was pretty ridiculous. It was rainy and windy, but to varying degrees. At times there was rain so hard it could only be described as pelting my face, and wind gusts so hard I literally felt like I was running in place trying to run against it. But the extremes tended to only last a few minutes at a time, it just felt like the weather was constantly changing throughout this run. 

This was the only leg in which the team was almost late to meeting me at the end! They cheered me on when they passed on the way to the exchange (and took my hat, which had been blowing off from the wind and so totally useless to keep the rain off my glasses). Then with the location of the parking relative to the exchange chute, they were walking up a little side street to the exchange while the runners came up the other direction and onto that same side street for the final bit. I was confused by the volunteer's directions (as it was hard to tell who was walking from the van versus the runners on that leg), looking all around trying to spot the actual exchange, when I saw most of my van teammates! This was a short leg to get through the traffic, park, and walk over the exchange, so they just barely made in time. Fortunately, the runner exchanging with me had gone ahead just in case I was early (I was, by a few minutes) (while the rest were dealing with finding stuff in the van or whatnot which we do on the breaks after parking when there's time), I handed off to her, then my teammates just turned around to walk back to the van with me. 


  1. OMG, the thought of running that kind of elevation at 1:30 a.m. makes me tired! You did great, you negative splits at the end look great :) You still had some energy left int tank which is good news for marathon training! You did awesome to brave the weather :)

    1. Thanks!

      This year I definitely did a better job of pacing myself (harder, I think, than in one single event - have to account for running energy plus other energy spent and lack of sleep, etc. that will also impact) than I did the prior year.


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