Since 12:30 p.m. Friday, August 26, 2011, Nuun Platuun ... along with 1200+ other teams... had been on a mission.
Objective: Seaside, Oregon. Finish line. As fast as possible.
Mission to include (but not limited to) severe downhill portions, brutal uphill segments, intense heat, bright sun, darkness of night, mist, sleep deprivation, no food... as well as mutual admiration for teammates and other competitors, laughing so hard no sound comes out, deep connection with strangers.... and plenty of Nuun love!
By late afternoon Saturday, thirty-five legs had been run...it was now my turn to bring it home. I was nervous. My hip had been cooperating really well... surprisingly well, in fact. This might have had something to do with the fact that I was grinding that Stick on my butt and legs constantly. I also had popped a couple of ibuprofen before each of my legs... something I don't normally do. Anyway, I was nervous. Mostly about not being fast enough or tough enough or worthy of this incredible, unforgettable experience.
I developed a race plan. HA! I got really specific with it in an attempt to squash my nerves. If I had something super specific to think about, everything would be perfect... right? Right? Again... HA!
The final hand-off location was not as I had imagined. I had read that my last leg would start off on an old logging road. I didn't know what that meant, so I assumed it would be a shady area. Logs = trees = shade. Well, logs are trees that have been chopped down. And chopped down trees are not able to shade you... unless you are lying on the ground under the prostrate branches. It was very exposed. Sunny and windy because it was very near the beach. I made sure I had water for this run.
I readied myself for Sgt. Style's arrival. I took the slappy strap and off I went.
But where in the #%*@ was I going!
I didn't realize I was supposed to be making a wide u-turn and started heading off the wrong way! The volunteers straightened me out :)
The route started off on very chunky gravel on very rutted dirt...and lots of little ups and downs and twisty-turns. It was tough getting a rhythm going, but I managed. I glanced at my Garmin, and it showed me way faster than I had specified in my scientific race plan. I knew I had a big hill coming, and I wanted something for it and after. I fought my pace all the way to the paved road where the hill began.
Yeah... it was a big hill.
As I chugchugchugalugged to the top, I passed a few people and was passed by 2. We were all nice to each other... encouraging and jovial :) I set my sights on the top of the hill and swore to myself by all that was holy to keep my pace around 10:30. Did it.
Up and over the top. The plan was to hold 8:00 min/mile pace coming down the hill... that's where I just said, "SCREW IT!" and put the pedal to the metal. I averaged 7:20 coming down the hill... almost 2 miles long. Wowie for me :P Then the flat came. About 100 yards into the flat I started crying. I shook it off for about a half-mile, at which point all of my old demons came out. Not fast enough, not tough enough, not worthy.
Then I found my dad.
For those of you who don't know it, go here for a little of the backstory, but briefly, my dad lived in Seaside before he died in 1993.
Focusing on him got me through. It is a long way from the bottom of that hill to the beach... and it feels even longer than it really is. The little footbridge they erect over the highway nearly did me in :P
I made it to the Promenade and the people... the cheering, screaming, enthusiastic people! I was able to feed off of that energy and pick it up a little and smile. Gathering and giving energy...high-fives all around... it was AWESOME!
Then I hit the sand...
I like that it's kind of blurry...
that way you can't see that my shirt is tucked up exposing my soft, white underbelly.
But Cupcake got the money shot...
and filming while screaming and shrieking the whole time,
encouraging me to find the will and grace to finish strong...what can I say?
The demands of celebrity were too great...
I had to turn my back on the paparazzi and autograph hounds.
People were just doggin' me... you can't tell here, but everyone wanted a piece o' me.
Remember, I was the closer running the Glamour Leg, and don't you forget it ;-)
Actually, I think I was about to vomit. I know I was about to fall over. Everything hurt...
but I felt victorious.
The beach scene was total chaos.
The sand is super fine and soft and very, very dusty with lots and lots of people walking around.
Us Nuuners who were present headed to the Beer Garden to await the arrival of Megan, AfterNuun Delight's twelfth runner, and both teams' Van 2 runners.
When we got word that Megan was close, we headed back over to finish area. I wish I had gotten pictures of myself at that point... I believe this was where I was walking around with a huge ice bag stuffed down the backside of my shorts... a big, lumpy butt. Almost as sweet as my thigh-highs ;-)
When Megan came down the chute, she was all smiles... and the woman has a beautiful smile :) But once off the course, her pain found her and it was a different story... and I knew exactly how she felt.
And I knew exactly what she needed...
I love it that Emily got these pics :)
And Team Nuun in its entirety had achieved its objective...
Mission: Hood to Coast complete!
The faces of the victorious racers...
Old and slow on the left vs. young and fast on the right...
I love this bunny runner... me and Margs, The Faster Bunny (Capt. Underpants).
Live from New York...
I always think of that bit of dialogue in the kids' movie Monsters vs. Aliens...
I can't believe you don't know what I'm referring to.
I was either talking exhuberantly or about to sneeze... it was all a blur and I don't remember.
But since both Cupcake and Nightingale are still talking to me like nothing happened, it must be the former :)
And so are Cupcake and I :)
I kind of wanted a beer but I also didn't. I knew that drinking anything other than water was potentially disastrous, given the state of my innards. I wanted mashed potatoes but none were available. Isn't that a weird thing to crave post-race? I settled for a hamburger. Alex was the absolute sweetheart who fetched one for me... and I rewarded the poor guy by peeling off the bun and handing it to him,
"here... can you hold that?"
*peel other side off*
He was anticipating that I would condiment the meat and then put the bread back on...imagine his surprise as I left him there, holding soggy bun pieces, as I dipped my hockey-puck-like patty into the ketchup and mustard on my little plate. It must've looked good because vegan Cupcake thought it was a cookie and wanted a bite...
"oooohhh! I wonder if those are vegan? probably not, right?"
After driving us to victory... and the finish...
no sleep and no real food...
running part of the hardest leg of the race...
smiling and jovial the whole dang time...
Casey not only earned and deserved those two...
but many more that night, I am sure :)
Lucky for Jess...
our Blonde Ponytail found her RoadKilt fan!
Dude spent some serious time applying her temporary tattoo the day before...
and he loved every minute of it :P
And lucky for the Speedo guys...
they made it to the finish intact... I think.
I tried not to look that closely.
I was bummed to miss this part,
but I was feelin' a might peaked and had already gone to lie down.
We are goofballs...
But we can straighten up and run fast and look pretty good on command :)
Shortly after these team pictures were taken, I realized I was going down... for real and hard. I am so grateful to Kim for rescuing me and walking me back to the hotel... I probably would have wandered off into a seedy part of town...if Seaside has a seedy section.
Above is the party scene I was leaving that, fortunately, Kim returned to about an hour later.
Everyone had a blast.
Below is my chip...the team's chip. And my tired legs.
I guess it's pretty obvious from the 'artistic' bent of this photo that I was mentally toast.
As I lay on the bed in the hotel, I read tweets from my teammates and made very confused phone calls to my husband... leaving strange-sounding messages because he was at his own beach party. Everyone was partying at a beach somewhere... except for me. I was so bummed that I felt like shit, but I knew that was the price I had to pay for greatness :)
And don't for one second think I'm done talking about this race...
I'll be back.
Point of interest (to some anyway): my hip did great through this ordeal. Two days later, it hurt like all get out. I think sitting on my duffel bag in the back of a van with my thigh-high, sexy maternity compression stockinged legs in the air for two days, grinding The Stick on everything from my bottom rib to my ankle really helped. And I think my screamy, whiny, clingy, missing-mama kids rebuilt the dispersed tension literally overnight. I think I might need to run away and join a perpetual relay team... or something.
I need to thank all members of the Nuun teams...the blogs are listed in my sidebar :)...
I used the photos of many of them to create my miniseries. They were awesome at documenting much of this memorable experience!
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