I walked away with many things from Hood to Coast with Nuun, but the one thing in
particular seems to have carried over into my daily life back here in SoCal, and that is to BELIEVE. If you have a strong desire, dream, hope or goal, you can have it if you deeply believe. Believe in yourself and in your dream, and go after it.
After the worst running summer of my life, I went to HTC and ran much better than I had anticipated, met some very inspiring women, reevaluated what’s important to me, and wrote down a few things I want to accomplish in my future. There was a time in my recent past that I thought of quitting running, I really teetered on the edge of giving all of this up, I felt pretty hopeless. Then I ran Hood to Coast and things turned around. It was not the relay that did this, it was some of the people I met, in conjunction with feeling proud about the way my untrained body ran, and I did it free of a tremendous amount of pain. I was in the dark, and I crawled out of that place stronger, more focused, and with more appreciation for my health, body, and spirit. I am sincerely grateful that I was doubting, because it has propelled me to a much better place. I rode the wave of pain and now here I am.
It started on a Wednesday afternoon. I flew from LAX to Seattle and landed only to be greeted by three women who, unbeknownst to them, began this cycle of hope and belief. Megan, who works for Nuun and coordinated this entire event flawlessly, worked tirelessly to put together three teams of female runners, picked Kara, Tere and I up at the airport. The conversation with Kara, was effortless, she is one of those women who immediately puts you at ease, and delights you with her stories of her fearlessness for life. Tere was the same, an Olympic level athlete that would never say it out loud, but makes you think she is one of you. Her mental strength was, and continues to be, a source of inspiration for me.
We drove downtown and met the rest of the group at a bowling alley. We bowled, ate, drank and got to know one another. We headed back to our hotel, where I was able to meet my roomates for the next two days. Jenny is someone you would think could very easily be self centered, she is drop dead gorgeous, runs a 3:14 marathon, young, and very successful in her life, but nothing could be further from the truth. She walks into a room and her smile and warm heart are contagious. She is one of the nicest, fun and most interesting people I’ve ever met. Our conversations were always reciprocal, love that girl, and can’t wait to see her again this April in Boston.
Then Lisa came in. I have followed her blog from day one and it was as if we already knew each other. She had to put up with my drooling and snoring.. #Saint. I walked to coffee with her the next morning. We chatted and I was amazed at how much we had in common. Lisa is genuine, kind, and will make you laugh several times a day. It was difficult to see her off on Friday morning. I could easily run a relay with her in the future.
My third room mate Megan, was adorable! She is kind, funny and had us all smiling with her stories about Texas, her College days and her interesting life working at Runner’s World. I had the fortune to have her in my van as well. Megan may be sweet, but when she ran her legs, she was fierce, fast and a force to be reckoned with.
The next day, we headed off to meet the Oiselle team and go for a run around Green Lake. As many of you know, I run for Oiselle, so meeting these ladies was very special to me. They also provided our HTC team shirts and jackets. This company is organized by women who run and love our sport. Their office is very close to Nuun headquarters, two great companies side by side. The run was spectacular and meeting my fellow birdies face to face extremely special to me.
Lunch was on our own, so I headed out with a few girls to the brewery across the street from our hotel. One of the girls with us was Jolene, someone I have always been very connected with via her blog and social media, and that connection was even stronger face to face. Jolene is a very special person, very intuitive, gentle, kind and deep. I feel like we see the world through the same lenses. I don’t often connect with others the way she and I did, I feel like I have a friend for life. As we were eating lunch, something very frightening happened, it’s Jolene’s story… I highly encourage you to read about it. All I can say is Jolene was meant to be there that day. I am sure you will agree.. read here story HERE.
After the run, we went on a Duck tour of Seattle. I always thought these tours looked goofy, but I may never visit a city without going on one again. We laughed until our bellies hurt and acted like complete crazies out there. SO much fun!! In fact for me personally this was the funnest part of the trip. As a mother of three small children, I don’t get to act crazy and immature all that often, it felt great!
That night we decorated our vans, and then headed to bed and my roomies and I chatted, but we were also aware of our early wake up call, or least for Cherry Limeade, and Van 1 for Team Watermelon and Lemonade, so we retired and dreamt of the excitement of what was to come.
Friday morning we awoke, packed and got ready for our big trek up to My Hood. Since I was in Van 2 we didn’t need to leave until later that morning… Our first exchange was Leg 7 mid way down the mountain. If you are in van 2 you don’t start at the top, we met up with van 1 in Sandy, OR.
Van 2 Team Watermelon was took off and were on our way down the Interstate 5, when I got a call from my Dad who lives along I5 near Portland. He asked if we were going to pass through his town and if we could stop. I asked our driver Casey if we could take a pee break there and he was game. I was nervous, I hadn’t seen my Dad in quite some time, and for reasons too personal to write about, this was a big deal for me. Vans 2 for both Watermelon and Lemonade stopped and I was able to give my Dad a big hug. My beautiful friend Holly, who knows me very well, took the time to personally introduce herself to him. The whole experience was one of the major highlights to my trip, and again reinforced the “if you believe”… all things are possible!
We made it to exchange 7 in time to see some of the other vans and snap a group picture, taken by one of Holly’s friends, and then Shoe Nerd (the other Meghan) was off and running.
I started my first leg at around 8:00pm, it was warm and balmy with a little breeze. It was all along a paved bike path. As I headed out on my first run, I knew I wanted to do my best. I tried not to get caught up in the excitement and go out too fast, so I held back and picked it up at mile 2. The sun was going down and by the time I finished it was pitch black out. I just remember seeing black rabbits along the path.. so strange, like Alice in Wonderland. I thought “I can’t possibly be hallucinating yet!” I have no idea where they came from, but they were a good distraction.
First leg 5.18 miles in 42.01 an 8:02 pace
Not bad for me, considering I hadn’t run all summer. It might not seem like much to some, but if you knew what I’ve been through since Boston with health issues, you would be proud too.
My next leg started at 4 in the morning. The first few miles were a steep climb in the dark, later it leveled out and then a gradual downhill. I pushed it up those hills, knowing that the last 4 miles were downhill. This section was beautiful, I could make out the trees in the darkness and hear the sound of a river beside me. It was quiet. I was, for the most part, alone and in a wonderful state of mind. Just as I was finishing, the sun was coming up over the horizon. A near perfect run.
Second Leg 6.89 miles in 58.57 an 8:33 pace
My last leg started at 3 in the afternoon. I do not do well in heat and exposure, so I wasn’t expecting a great run. By this time the traffic at the exchanges was thick and we were having a tough time getting our runners to the exchanges before the next runner would come in. I had to run to the start of the exchange because our next runner was coming in and we weren’t going to make it. I had to pee really bad, waited in line for a Honey Bucket, and when I came out, Laura was there waiting for me. I took off… it was painful, but I got it done.
Third Leg 3.35 miles in 28:55 an 8:37 pace
After this, we made our way to the finish line where we waited for Devon to come in. Casey dropped us off at the beach in Seaside, we pushed our way through the sea people, and arrived just in time to see Devon cross the finish line.
200 sweaty, sleepless miles later, we had made it. Though it felt like it was over in a instant, it was a moment in time that I will savor forever. The feeling of accomplishment and team spirit was overwhelming.
That night we celebrated and told stories of all of the Van one liners and team spirit. I loved hearing all of the stories of how the team had a unique way of supporting and cheering their team on, and how the vans had bonded during their time together. Running HTC with Nuun was a dream come true! Thank you so much to all of the wonderful employees of Nuun. A very special thanks to Casey Team Watermelon Van 2’s Driver, Laura who represented Nuun in our van, one of the most authentic people I’ve ever met, and finally, Megan, Mason and Zoe.
And finally, all of the sponsors, who so generously donated items that were not just useful during the relay, but are products I continue to use today.