We were so alone...the exchanges felt so empty...it really seemed like we were running our own private relay race, fully staffed with volunteers and well-marked hand-offs and Honey Buckets... all professional-like, but very solitary, very private. It was a huge departure from the downtown-Manhattan-at-rush-hour feeling of last year.
I remarked on this solitary feeling multiple times, and when I overheard the news that the final runner on the course had just passed through Exchange 29 while we were waiting at Exchange 31 for Erin to complete her final leg and hand off to Elizabeth, I exclaimed...
Hey, you guys! I just realized...
We could conceivably be the last people to physically cross the finish line!
How cool is that?!!
The volunteers thought it was hilarious. My vanmates did not share our enthusiasm.
In fact, Elizabeth, who was preparing to run her final leg, actually glared at me.
"No! Not cool at all!" were her words to me.
Then our driver Tyler started going on about how he wanted to see each of us sprinting into the exchanges ...and he made herky-jerky, karate-chop motions with his arms.
I said...Ohhhhh! All Terminator-like!
He nodded and then further embellished the description.
Perhaps it was all this distraction that led to the following Elizabethan incident...
Cheerleader-y jump-for-joy (left) leading to rolled ankle (middle) crippling runner (right) :(
You can read her first-hand tale here.
Elizabeth went down for the count about midway through her final leg...and she was crushing it. She continued to 'run' until we found her. We put her in the van, got ice on the ankle, elevated it, and Tyler jumped out of the van, grabbed the slappy bracelet and started running...in bermuda shorts and a gigantic belt buckle...I think he might even have been wearing Vans.
He got us to the next exchange (I did not see his Terminator impersonation sprint) where a paramedic guy came to examine our latest injury. Luckily, he agreed that all an ER would do would be exactly what we were already doing...R.I.C.E. and drugs for inflammation and pain (we had that covered, too). Extra luckily, Elizabeth noticed neither the plethora of food stains on his large t-shirted belly nor the fact that he had neglected to fully zip up his battered and dusty camouflage cargo pants, otherwise she might have really freaked out. (I always seem to notice these sorts of things). She wanted to stay with the team...of course....who wouldn't? So she did :)
Meanwhile, back at the exchange chute...
No one official noticed anything amiss regarding which runner for Nuun Team Morning was handing the strap to Katie, who booked out on her last and probably most challenging leg...nearly 8 miles of rolling (read: mostly up) hills in the middle of the day with the hot sun high in the sky...fun! fun!
Now you can be happy for realz, Katie...
you are almost donnnnnnne!!!!!!!
Amanda flew out of the exchange once Katie handed off to her. She had wrapped and iced that wounded leg and was ready to rip through her final leg...beautiful, fast and strong in her neon yellow sports bra, matching knee socks and ubiquitous sparkly skirt.
Super speedy pretty lady on a pretty day...warrants a double thumbs-up!
Up next? Jennifer. The fittest fork of them all. This lovely athlete was a veritable machine as she handled over 7 miles of steady uphill mostly on gravel in faster than 7-minute mile average pace. And she was the only member of the squad to follow driver's orders on the sprint...probably because she was the only one besides me to hear them and the only one of us two who could handle the directive...because she IS a cyborg...
Can you see that she is laughing? She is.
She really did sprint out the end like no human ever could...
with karate-chop hands.
Instead of grappling me with giant hooks like in the movie, she handed me that bracelet one last time...and I ran with it. And lucky for me, this year I did not head off in the wrong direction! Of the three legs I ran last year and this, it was this third and final that I recalled the most vividly and exactly. As I wound around on the chunky, rocky, dirt road, I could see several people within roadkilling range. And knowing that I would probably be brought to tears once the road flattened out again about 3 miles into the piece, I decided to go for it while I had it in me. They were super easy to catch up with...and we exchanged pleasantries...and I learned why they were so easy to 'kill'...they had taken a bad turn and gotten lost in the wilderness for 8 miles!
Exiting the dirt road and heading up the big paved hill, I held a steady sub-10-min/mile pace (thank you, Moeser training!) and passed a bunch more people...who had also gotten lost! One was wearing a Charlie Brown t-shirt. He's a clownnnnnn....that Charlie Browwwwwnnnnnn! I sang as I approached him. He laughed and said, "yeah, and like Charlie Brown I seem to do everything wrong" and he told me about getting lost. Right then I had an 'a-ha!' moment. You see, I, too, had done something wrong...
Yeah, I said. Well, at least you probably put your finish timing chip on your shoe!
Something that I hadn't done :(
He laughed. "You're right! Got ya there!"
So I mercilessly (but good-naturedly) dusted him.
My van happened to see me as I headed down the big hill. They gave me a sip of water, and I alerted them to our timing chip issue. I told them where to find it in my backpack and to meet me just before the finish line and I would hand-carry it over. Whew! Disaster averted...especially since they actually were able to find it and then find me just before the finish line!
Here I am looking elated that we've solved the chip problem...
...yes, that is my look of elation when I'm in 'the Zone.'
Thinking I might want to lower my shoulders and bring the elbows in a little.
And maybe get in better shape so I don't look so much like I might puke.
And what is up with my hair?
I remember smiling almost excessively on this leg. I thanked every volunteer. As people offered high-fives along the finishing Promenade, I took full advantage of each opportunity to soak up the crowd's energy and excitement.
"JUICE ME! Yeah!!!!!"
I got to the turn onto the sand and was able to grab that chip and dip a little to make sure my crossing registered as I grunted my way through the sand and across the line...
Finishing a race should be gritty...not pretty ;-)
Whip it...whip it good...
again I ask...
what is UP with my hair?
Awesome-quality pirated photo...
I'm the knobby-kneed one on the far right.
And I'm still not done recapping. I still need to tell you all about that night's rockin' (or not) party and the next day. I want to tell you all about how I fueled for this thing given all my weird food intolerance issues. I hope to process all the thoughts and feelings and write about that aspect as well.
The parting words on this post will be... look at the smiles on those faces! Even the drivers are smiling. Nuun gave us a fantastic, unforgettable, deep, and moving experience for which I know I will remain very, very grateful. The synergy of the people they pulled together for both Hood to Coast 2011 and 2012 has truly felt magical.
Stats for my final leg... Leg 36...
Finish time... 48:00
Finally, the Garmin and reality agree on distance... 5.23 miles (9:10 avg pace).
Faster again than last year, on less running. I'm telling ya...the Don't Run, Run Faster Plan is a winner ;-)
Team Morning finished 6th in the Women's Corporate division in 28:46 (or something like that), finishing time was sandwiched in between the two other Nuun teams...Noon and Night...who were both in the Open Women's division.
Other Hood to Coast 2012 posts:
Gratitude...Nuun, you are awesome :)
Clueless in Seattle
Don't Be A Hater
The Don't Run, Run Faster Training Plan