31 August 2012

The Don't Run, Run Faster Training Plan (alternate title: Hood To Coast – Round One)

We all know that I am an elliptical whiz. I dominate that beast in every distance from 5K to 20 miles. But how does running less than 10 miles a week combined with elliptical training translate into 200-mile-relay-race-running-readiness? We're about to find out...

In the days leading up to the start of Hood to Coast, I vacillated between feeling super calm and unstressed and freaking OUT about the fact that I would be cramming double my weekly running mileage into less than a 24-hour window of time. Ummm...yeah. Can we say 'feeling a little undertrained'? Just a weensy bit. Kinda, sorta.

Whenever I would go to that scary place, I would remind myself of the hours on the elliptical, the effectiveness of heart rate training and reassure myself with the memory of having physically run on the ground for 7 miles the week before the race to prove to my legs that, in fact, they could go the distance...of at least that first leg :P

Flashing on my enjoyable mile and a half run the morning of my flight up to Nuun in Seattle assuaged my fears...somewhat. And once in Seattle, I knew better than to try and 'fit in' with the real runners...going on a 'shakeout' run that was longer in distance than my training runs and more than half my normal weekly mileage would have been a mistake. Babying my hip was of tantamount importance. I wanted to at least start the race feeling tip-top.

So the babying was helping things feel not painful, but I could tell that my legs (and mind) were stagnating. Not good. Needing a little leggy wake-up call, I scurried off to the hotel exercise room for 5 speedy minutes on the elliptical before bed on Thursday night. It not only helped get my blood pumping and my muscles moving, it was a great way to discharge some stressful b.s. from my personal life that had been worming its way into my outstanding Nuun Hood to Coast Experience. B.S. must be BANISHED!

When I awoke Friday morning as Caroline was preparing to depart with the Van 1 runners, I started getting antsy all over again. A call from home didn't help. I tried to blog to get my mind back on matters immediately at hand. Ehhhhh....sort of worked. Then Harmony got up and went for breakfast. I ate in the room and pretended to repack my exploded duffel bag. When she returned, I realized how close it was to 'GO' time. Sh*t! I wasn't ready. I started panicking.

Four minutes on the Machine of Pleasure (yes, I am referring to the elliptical) and I was lucid, placid, ready...and a leeetle bit late for the 11 a.m. departure. Sorry, ladies! Believe me...you're super glad I was late and didn't bring the entirety of that emotional mess into the van!

Grounded and centered and laden with plenty of fueling items that would work with my imperfect digestive system, I climbed aboard the vessel...

I don't know who I stole this from...and it isn't even Van 2, it's Van 1. But they were almost exactly the same. So we're going with it.

...and off we went...next stop... Panera about 20 minutes away for lunch :P  so anticlimactic!

And then...Sandy – the first major van exchange in the Hood to Coast Relay!

As we were en route to Sandy where our first runner (#7 – Erin...our awesome Nuun employee teammate) would take the hand-off from Van 1's last runner (#6 – Nicole) at around 7 o'clock in the evening, this is what the Van 1 runners were doing...

Yeah, pretty spectacular. 
Kind of way more spectacular than a Safeway parking lot!

Team Breakfast 
(aka Team Morning Van 1...our predecessors)
Corey (#2), Nicole (#6), Jess (#4), Tricia (#1), Stephanie (#3), Caitlin from Nuun (#5)

As they were enjoying the high mountain air and kicking off the running for us, we were driving...and tweeting...and texting...
I was super lucky and sat in the back again. 
And they were all so gracious (or intimidated) and let me be there. 
I am so appreciative of this...and so apologetic if it is because they felt intimidated :(

...calming pre-race jitters....

"Does Washington have an open-container law?
Shhhhh...it's just #lemontea..."

...rolling out stiff muscles...

Double-teaming with the Tiger Tail...
Take that, QL! And THAT, gastrocnemius!

...alleviating some tension and attempting to speed up slow-moving 'systems'...

Take THAT, constipation!
The Tiger Tail does it all!

We finally rolled into the glorious Sandy Safeway parking lot late in the afternoon and parked next to a delightful stand of Honey Buckets (portable toilets) whereupon we commenced chatting up Nuun to other competitors and applying Nuun temporary tattoos...

photo by megan
The tat train...
Emily not watching, Elizabeth, me half-undressed, Erin, and Amanda on her knees.

Then we needed to start getting ready to actually run. We'd been on the road and waiting for hours, starting at 11 a.m. and now it was approaching 6 p.m. I still had 5 hours before I would run, but we needed to get Erin ready. With the nighttime safety rules going into effect at 6 o'clock, we needed a reflective vest with front AND back flashers and either a handheld light or a headlamp. We couldn't find any of this stuff in our van. Go, us! Oh, and we still didn't have our race bibs! Where o where are you, Van 1?

Finally, we located some vests. Then Erin pulled out her keychain...it had an LED flasher on it! I reached into my god-awfully humongous bag and pulled out...

a sewing kit!
because of course one would take a sewing kit on a distance running relay. 
you might need to, you know, sew something along the way!
don't anyone ever give me sh*t about my big bag again...
and now you know another reason why almost-50-year old ladies can be good to have on your team!

I stitched that keychain on the vest, we scrounged another flasher, Van 1 showed up with our bibs, and Erin sped off! Her leg was pretty grueling with a never-ending series of rolling hills. We whooped and hollered. We let her know she was the boss of those hills!

We even power-arched her!

She handed off to Elizabeth, who took off so fast that she looked as if she had blurry roadrunner legs like from the cartoon...
Go, speedy girl! 

And then it was dark and you couldn't really see any of us. Unless you were a car with headlights that reflected off the safety vests.

Elizabeth handed off to Katie who did an amazing job on a long, dark road while encountering some unsavory types. She was followed by Amanda who set herself a blistering pace...and then hurt her leg :( It was debatable whether she would be okay ... and it's kind of tough to pamper someone in a van with no light and limited pampering supplies. We all felt super badly for her and tried to comfort her as best we could and hoped that 9 hours would heal the wound. I felt kind of like an ass because I was pretty distracted since Amanda had just handed off to Jennifer (the runner immediately before me in the rotation) who runs crazy fast. Her predicted finish time for that 4- or 5-mile leg was something like 5 minutes. I knew it would take us at least that long to just get out of the parking lot.

We got Amanda into the van and somewhat comfortable and headed to where I would begin my first stint. Upon parking, I realized that not only did I have to relieve myself but that the exchange set up was different from last year and very far from parking to hand-off. I didn't wait for anyone to come with me...I don't think I even waited for the van to stop moving. I jumped out and took off running the approximately 0.437 miles to the hand-off zone. Thankfully, there was a lone Honey Bucket right there...which I used. I had just stepped out and asked Random Runner Girl next to me if my flashers were on when Jennifer handed me the slappy strap and I was running Leg 12. Woo Hoooooo!!!!!!

I looked like this...
...possessed eyeballs and all lit up... 
but in a sparkly purple skirt and neon yellow sports bra.

And this year I wore my Buzz Lightyear Garmin wrist protector...
to infinity and beyond!

And something happened.

All my anxiety melted away.

Running by heart rate...I aimed to keep it between 145 and 150 for the body of the run and then bump it up a little in the last mile. 146 to 148...right on the money the whole way. I felt like I was floating. I knew I wasn't running fast because I got passed by people who were running fast, but when I peeked at the lap pace screen on my watch I was a little freaked by what I saw...but heart rate was in the zone so I just went with it and enjoyed :) I was alone for most of the run...similar to last year. I ran faster than last year with less running under my belt. My hip didn't hurt. I fell madly in love with running all over again.

I came into the exchange chute several minutes ahead of schedule...and quickly found a not-quite-ready Tricia, handed her the bracelet and I was done... for the next 9 hours.

But where was Lindsay? Another Nuun runner had taken a wrong turn somewhere back there. Fortunately, she found her way without too much of a detour, but that is exactly why I wrote such detailed course reports last year...to help prevent that from happening to future Leg 12 runners! It pays to read my blog ;-)

So glad she was safe!

Able to relax once Lindsay showed up, I walked a little and then ate in the van and cleaned myself up while my vanmates went out to a midnight dinner and enjoyed a couple of beers. We drove to the next major van exchange and tried to get some sleep.

About 2 and a half hours of sleep.


Stats for my first leg...Leg 12:

finish time ... 53:17

the official course gives it 6.37 miles (which computes to 8:22 avg pace)
my infallible Garmin showed 6.21 miles (yielding a slightly more realistic 8:34 avg pace)

Way faster than I imagined and faster even than last year when I was actually running in training...albeit consistently injured.

I must start with a huge apology... (alternate title: Nuun – Improving on Perfection)

...but the apology has nothing to do with the number or length of the forthcoming onslaught of Team Nuun Hood to Coast posts that I will be launching over the next several days. Heck no. I have a reputation to uphold. Last year I did eight parts...this is the fourth part for 2012 and I haven't even gotten to the race yet.

My apology is extended to all the good people at Nuun who worked so hard and so diligently and so generously to make this event again unforgettable ... a powerful experience ... and, yes, life-changing. (I'll get to why it was all that in a later post...and it isn't all for reasons you ...or I... might expect).

You may ask why I am apologizing.

I'm not so sure there will be a question about that once you see the photos I've used to illustrate this post :D

But while I'm apologizing, I want to express my deepest, most heartfelt gratitude. I needed this event. Needed. Like you cannot know. Well, some of you know...but most of you don't know how badly I truly needed this event.

Thank you, Nuun.

Thank you, EVERYONE at Nuun who worked so hard to create/implement/support/manage this amazing event.

I wasn't going to even apply this year. Things were so almost-perfect last year...how could that ever be topped or even matched? Add to that a whole mess o' health and personal issues that kept me awake at night, crashed out during the day, and just upside down and inside out no matter which way you sliced it...a creative application was not on my radar. Besides...how could I ever top The Nun?

However...I am so glad I found inspiration and desire for long enough to make my 'sexy' creeper video and even more glad that the Nuun panel deemed it worthy of selection.

So I arrived in Seattle on Wednesday and was met by...


...who told me I looked fantastic! Or was it amazing? Then she told me how very glad she was that I was there. With a big hug. Major warm fuzzies.

Kim is solid. In every way. She seems to always be able to say just the thing you really need to hear right when you need to hear it. And she has a beautiful outlook. More than just a Nuun contact person, I am so fortunate to be able to count her among my friends.

At the baseball game I was delightedly greeted by Mason Reay, head of Nuun, who gave me a hug and told me more than once "I am so glad you are here." This was closely followed by a similarly hearty welcome from Casey Otley, Nuun CFO (and van driver for the awesome Nuun Platuun Van 2 of 2011). In Seattle for a mere hour and already feeling significant and wanted. What a great feeling!

This continued through the day and on into the night. Nice dinners for everyone. Kind words. Good conversation. Mason even joined some of the participants on a shakeout run Thursday morning...

baseball hat, in the middle
"Sorry, Shanna...you have to be Runner #5..."
anyway I think that's Shanna... 

We each were treated to a gorgeous team jacket and a nice-fitting graphic technical team tee...among other things. And our fabulously fun and very organized team coordinator (what a detail-oriented, ball-buster of a job that would be) Caitlin had also put together some really fun stuff for us to do...like the Nuun-mazing Race I wrote about a few days ago.


I can only imagine all of what she had to oversee...from what has previously been mentioned to that night's dinner catering to all manner of dietary restrictions to procuring super comfy 12-passenger vans and supplies to successfully complete a 200-mile running relay for three 12-person teams and having well-appointed condos awaiting us at the end. Caitlin, you deserve your own special 'thank you' post! Your efforts did, indeed, improve upon the perfection of last year's Team Nuun experience for this participant :)

And then there were the drivers... these guys went above and beyond in so many instances. First, there was Mason behind the wheel of Team Night's Van 1. The driver for their Van 2 was...

...who drove my van back to Seattle when the race was over.

The incomparable
driving for Team Noon
How is it this guy is always smiling? 
For real.

Team Noon's other driver...
...who sparkled and ate Chobani yogurt like the rest of us...
but maybe not as happily as...

...who donned a sparkly skirt (and presumably nothing else) and assisted Caitlin by running with her!
Runner #5 has it really rough. Really.

I'm thinking the skirt makes you smile more.

He also kept Stephanie safe during her night leg.
Again, with a huge smile across his face.
Like Casey, this guy is always smiling.

Tyler (left) and Jay (now unrecognizable on the right)
formed the Van Driver Force for Team Morning...
the team I was running with.
You know we felt secure with these two behind the wheel, right?

Not only is 
an excellent driver and a supermodel...

But he and Alex also were great at taking direction when it came to performing simple-yet-very-scary chiropractic maneuvers...

Yes, Elizabeth in the background is very scared.
I almost let them pop my hip...but I was a little too nervous to let it go all the way.

Okay, I'm gushing and rambling. Not such an attractive combo, but I really cannot thank Nuun enough for putting together such a wonderful experience. Spreading hydration elation :) It is with pride and pleasure that I consider myself part of the Nuun family.

*further apologies are extended to improperly credited or uncredited photos used in this post. I was a lame photographer this year :( and additional apologies to those Nuun employees who went unmentioned or whose roles appear to have been minimized. I was rather overwhelmed and can't remember all the names and all the hats everyone wears! Except for ERIN!!!! 

27 August 2012

Don't Be A Hater (alternate title: stepping outside one's comfort zone)

Taking It On.

That's the title.

If you think I roll over and succumb to peer pressure, you don't know me very well. 

What would be the most uncomfortable thing for me to do?

goofing on the sparkle...big time.

What's that expression?

Do something every day that scares you.


So I sparkled.

l. to r.: erin, jennifer, elizabeth, amanda, katie, me, tall tyler smith

quintessential cheesy cheerleader jump mandatory.
(l. to r.: amanda, me, jennifer, katie, elizabeth)

Elizabeth was the only natural sparkler in our van.

But I got the bitch on. And I ran.

And I ran well.

And when the running was over, I was glad to have sparkled.

Oooooo....look at me! I'm sooooo pretty!
And if you really think that's what I got out of the sparkle,
you missed the whole point of this post.

Many thanks to Nuun for another unforgettable Hood to Coast Relay experience!

I'll be back at the end of the week after a little family vacation to recap it for you all....
when you're all super sick of all the recaps... 

BOOM!... mine will show up. 

Lucky you :)

24 August 2012

Clueless in Seattle...Day #2

After spending Wednesday afternoon wearing my brand-new hat and groping one of my closest blogging friends ...and getting dehydrated (no one brought the Nuun)... at the baseball game, followed by watching several bloggers get hammered over the course of the evening (though some probably had that situation well underway at the ball game...or before...), I experienced a fitful sleep. I awoke with a little, teeny headache that I had to banish quickly because Thursday was going to be a very full day.

I wanted to feel my best when I reunited with Nuun Platuun Van 2...my team from last year :)

Left to right: Tonia (Racing with Babes), me, Susan (Nurse on the Run), Kim (Nuun), Jess (Blonde Ponytail), Harmony (Keep On Keeping On) and Casey (Nunn driver extraordinaire)

I did not need to be feeling my best for a run that morning...

Psycho running bloggers who can't get enough...

I planned on heading up the ass-sitting mimosa-drinkers...but we were too early for brunch so Starbucks had to do... turns out a lot of us were not so psycho...

Left to right:  Tricia (Tricia Minnick), me, Lindsay (Lindsay on the Go), and
Amanda (Runninghood)...

Katie (KatieRUNSThis), Kelsey (Go Girl), I can't remember, Tonia, and
Caroline (that Canadian woman).

The reward for ass-sitting...or running (some even swam in the lake!)... was a trip to running apparel company Oiselle's headquarters where we were gifted a sweet tee! Thanks so much, Oiselle :)

Then Jennifer from The Fit Fork got us all hooked up with Jamba Juice smoothies for breakfast...

...after which several of us headed to Whole Foods courtesy of chauffeur Robyn (Run Pretty Run Fast) where I purchased a whole chicken...among other things. Yes, I really did. But I ate it all and there are no pictures.

Then we returned to Nuun HQ where we were given a bag full of amazing goodies!

GNC nutrition, Thorlo socks, GoSportID, Endorphin Warrior bracelet (Believe is my code word), team t-shirt and hat and jacket...what am I forgetting?



A purple sparkly skirt.

Then we were off on a scavenger hunt...the Nuun-mazing Race.

My team, Clueless in Seattle, was comprised of Vanessa (Gourmet Runner), Nicole (RicoleRuns), Tonia, Harmony, and me.

So many items on the list were here...and Tonia even caught and kissed a fish...
Here they all are at Pike Place Market after finding the bronze pig...
I am not pictured because I am spending some quality time in the bathroom.

We needed to find as many pigs as we could...apparently Seattle is famous for pigs.

I asked these gentlemen where we might find some pigs, 
the bald one demanded to know why I thought they would have any idea...
thinking, of course, that I had been referring to them!
Which was,  of course, brilliant :)
Seattle's finest helping out the Nuun ladies.

On to the waterfront...

Ferris wheel and Space Needle...
Very difficult to get both of these attractions in one photo...but we are magic.

We needed to give away all of our tattoos...

He was giggling.
He actually started to drop his shorts so we could tat his butt :P

We helped inanimate creatures stay hydrated...

force-feeding the otter (yes, otter) Nuun.

Of course Team Clueless in Seattle won. 

Then again we did have special help....

Time to cram all my stuff back into my ginormous duffel again...vans leave in 45 minutes!

Woo Hoo!  Hood to Coast here we come!!!!


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