It’s Pacer Dave – remember him? – his team’s van had broken down, they were desperate to get their runner to the next exchange, and had parked right by our (can’t-miss-the-paint-job) vans. Noon’s Van2 was able to take their stowaway to Exch 19 while they got fixed up.
Running karma, people. All those pacing credits Dave had been accruing paid off in a pretty opportune time. Run-friend van-share happy ending!
getting ready to pace SR’s night leg at Ragnar SoCal
And then they won their division.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
My final leg was the one I’d been most worried about.
Hood to Coast leg 29. aka WTF is this mountain doing here??
Even in my HTC infancy, I’d heard about the notoriety of the final Runner 5 hill. Emily (sweaty did you never write an HTC part 2?) and Margot both ran it last year, and to hear two seriously badass impressive runners admit to the challenges this leg poses, I was scared shitless.
To say the least.
Emily (credit), Margot - Shanna, Me, Caitlin
Immediately after finishing my second run, I started stressing about what was coming up. Did I have enough left? Was I even capable in the first place? Was the timing going to add “blazing hot sun-in-your-face” as a suck factor? Would my body be sent to CA or OH if I die??
We slowly navigated our way through traffic to the next van exchange, and miraculously I dozed for an hour or so. But by the time we arrived the sun was peeking over the trees and my bladder woke up in an urgent LET’S GO RIGHT NOW kind of way so that was the end of the sleeping.
(need to take a moment to sincerely thank Casey (our driver) and all the other Nuun employees who got us all safely and efficiently from spot-to-spot. I said it at Ragnar and I’ll say it again – driving might be the HARDEST job of relaying)
* If you haven’t run a relay, the exchanges are probably the strangest part to get a grasp of. The morning major exchanges are like an airport super early combined with the first arrivals at a tailgate lot. There’s a level of pent-up excitement and nerves masked by “why-the-fuck-did-we-get-here-so-early?” That was Exchange 24.
Maybe you noticed we hit a bed of radio silence at this point – not a single bar of service regardless of provider – for legs 19-27(?). Once we got over the withdrawals it was nice to be unplugged and spend quality time with our teammates and soaking in the experience without the “OMG MUST TELL TWITTER! OH LOOK AT THAT, HAVE TO INSTAGRAM IT!” mentality.
Plus tweeting under the no-sleep influence is pretty much the same as drunk dialing an ex-bf.
So you’re welcome for that.
Team Brunch has spirit and a case of the slap happies
Kelly to Laura. Laura to Laura.
Is this what death row feels like?
It was starting to get warm out – the exchanges were stifling. Like we were in a sweat-caked, bengay-infused, dusty, breeze-less stale bubble.
Less than pleasant.
Laura to Jocelyn.
I hid from the sun in the van and busied myself Tiger Tail’ing, sunscreen’ing, and counting down my final minutes. I drafted an “I love you, Goodbye forever” text to Brian and my parents, hoping if I died somebody would send it once we regained service.
JUST SAY YOU’LL DO IT, LAURA. And give all my running shoes to some worthy size 8.5 brooks-lover
And then, ready or not, Jocelyn came flying in with the slap bracelet held high, a huge smile on her face. Everyone’s energy in the final legs was contagious. I gave one last look to Golf Laura and said,
“Welp, here we go!”
I stayed purposely naïve to any specifics about the leg. All I knew was that I had a little over 3.5 miles of climbing and 2ish of downhill. That was all I needed for my goal of getting to the top in one piece, hopefully with all bodily fluids still inside me.
As I ran, going up and up at some unknown grade, I remembered Margot’s claims that “it’s so f’ing beautiful – the scenery makes that climb worth it”. So I picked up my head, took off my blinders, and enjoyed the views…
I shook the crusty, third-run-no-sleep feeling right when we leveled off – you could have told me we were running downhill and I would have believed you – and got a huge boost. My pace wasn’t really impressive, but that little bit of life left in my legs was just the pick-up I needed to go from “OMG how am I going to do this?!” to “HOLY SHIT IM GONNA DO IT!”
Bring on the rest of the hill.
I heard our van coming up behind me – I’d told them to bypass any mid-hill cheer stops for fear of what kind of angry, gaspy, pained SaGrah they’d encounter during the climb – and just meet me at the top with some lemon lime.
I could almost feel the hesitation as they passed me – should they honk? yell? hang out with window with cameras like we had for everyone else? Or would some mean nasty hill-hating sparkle bear attack them?
I gave a big wave and thumbs up – my way of saying “you don’t have to fight over who has to give me my water bottle, I won’t throw you off the cliff!” – and they drove off honking and cheering.
Have I said lately how much I love relays?
So here’s the rest of the run, because you can see already it was full of un-OUaL-like giddiness and this recap is way too long :
- The last mile of climbing was windy and steep, leaving you wondering “is this the end? what about now??” around every corner. I can see how this could be maddening but I liked NOT seeing how much was left to tackle.
- Not only was my team at the top, but so was another team with a toilet paper “finishing tape” that I got to break through. No doubt this was intended for the girl I passed half way up the hill, but they let me go through anyway :)
- 3 miles of fast, forest-shaded, hidden-waterfalls, BEAUTIFUL downhill running to the finish. Begged and pleaded for it never to end, realizing my final Hood to Coast steps were dwindling.
- Handing off to Molly (who spent her entire leg shouting “this is the BEST RUN EVER!”) was the saddest moment of the whole weekend. I hated being done and wanted to kidnap my team and make them run all the way to SoCal with me.
- Spend rest of time wondering where I left angry hill-fearing Sarah and if I really have to take her back or not.
Leg 29, Run #3 – DONE.
one last group photo of the Lunch Fam
Lucky for Van 1s we got to stop at the condos in Seaside to clean up a bit before heading down to the beach for the finish. We caught up with our long-separated friends from Teams Morning and Night over the last of the Oregon sunshine, and before long it was time to watch the finishing chute.
Noon Van 2 killed it and Lindsay came cruising in right on schedule (ahead of schedule? I don’t remember) and we all celebrated like run-drunk, sleepless, but well-hydrated fools.
Hood to Coast #1, IN. THE. BOOKS.
* Another sincere, over-the-top, more than my limited vocabulary and emotional-handicapped heart can express, THANK YOU to everyone at Nuun. From Caitlin our fearless leader, to the nuun employee drivers and runners, to Mason and all of HQ – I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m truly grateful for the unforgettable experience, the memories, and most importantly the incredible people I had the honor of sharing them with.
Group hug. Let’s do it again.
… real soon.