Three years ago I had a dream. "Wouldn't it be great to do one of these relay things with a team full of Loopsters?" Well, it took 3 tries, but we finally got through the Hood to Coast lottery, and I assembled a team of awesomeness. After months of anticipation, and a few substitutions, it was finally time to make it happen.
Wednesday night I flew to Portland and was met by two ladystuds who had each finished a 100-miler in the last two months.
we added another 100-mile veteran, JennyRae, and we were off for the
first stop of the weekend; Taco Bell. Because those new Quesaritos are a
pretty damn good way to start a party weekend!
kicked off with a fun "Portlandy" breakfast at Slappy Cakes, where you
cook your own pancakes at your table. Fun and delicious! Unless you get a
mimosa in your lap anyway. I added a side of chicken-fried bacon with
caramel sauce, because, well, chicken-fried bacon in caramel sauce!!!
More of the team had gathered by now, and we did a little hiking to see two of the area's beautiful waterfalls.
Then the whole team assembled for happy hour, and it was typical Loopfest party time!
I remember how my first few loopfests felt. marshall 2010 and Philly
2011. It was incredible to meet all these people that I knew from
online, that I kind of treated like a celebrity, and find out that we
could be like best buddies on first meeting. It was mind-blowing and so
fun. Now, I have hung out with a lot of these people multiple times and
known them for years, so it's different. It's more just like getting
together with old friends. Because that's what it is. The fact that we
met online is not really relevant any more. What is relevant is that we
all share the same passion, and we understand each other a little more
Of my 11 teammates, only one was a new
meeting for me. Stacy fit right in of course, as loopsters always do. I
was in my happy place all weekend, just looking around at all my "best
friends". Of course it was just an accident that they were all loopette
Wait, how did he get in here...
We had a few drinks. Some people didn't even need a glass.
An unfortunate hair snag took hours to untangle...
Good times. Really good. And the race wasn't until the next day. Here's your team.
On the way out, we had to stop at this nearby location.
what? Well, I googled my name and this place came up. I promise it is
not named after me. (It is a home for women survivors of domestic
violence) But I still needed this photo.
I totally should have stolen that sign. They had a bunch...
(and yes, I am embarrassed to be that semi-drunk guy smiling and laughing in front of this place. Sorry)
Anyway, on to race day!
to Coast is about 200 miles from near the top of Mt. Hood to the
Pacific ocean. 1,050 teams of 12 leave the mountain in waves of about 30
every 15 minutes for about ten hours. Our start was relatively late, at
1:45PM. We got up there early and had time to decorate the van and
absorb the scene. It was maybe 50 degrees. There were people
snowboarding on the nearby slopes! It was a beautiful area.
Jenster got reacquainted with her favorite bear.
The Timberline lodge there was the hotel used for the movie of The Shining - the "Overlook Hotel".
Maranda seemed pretty good for someone who had been puking all morning...
Jenster kept us grounded.
The announcer introduced each team, and counted us down until..."Get out of here!".. and Maranda started our 27 hour journey.
rest of us hopped in the van and headed toward the first exchange.
After every exchange we would drive by our runner and scream out the
window. And that Jenster has some lungs, I can tell you...
Some of the legs we stopped midway for even more encouragement. It was a blast.
got to sit shotgun and calculate all the timing, because I like that
stuff. So we would estimate when we needed to be at the next exchange.
Each one had it's own little challenges for parking, peeing, etc. It was
JennyRae and LadyRunsALot flew down the next two downhill legs at sub-7 pace!
Then Jenster ran and handed the wrist strap to me for my leg.
had almost 20 miles over 3 legs, and I hadn't thought too much about
strategy. I figured I'd go out at tempo pace. Half marathon pace. But
have fun and not stress. Well, while waiting to start, the familiar race
nervousness still kicked in. And just after starting, some guy passed
me, and I was in race mode. Kind of. I was running about 7:30-7:45 pace.
Working pretty hard, but having fun running along a beautiful forested
highway. Another guy passed me in mile 2 and I stuck behind him for a
couple miles, partly to draft, partly just to pace me. Then we passed my
last 2 miles were uphill and I went by this guy, and two others. It was
a rough long hill, but I maintained a decent pace and finished strong
to hand off to Quadracool. Unfortunately I somehow deleted my garmin
data. But it averaged about 8 minute pace for 6.2 miles after the uphill
Back in the van the endorphins kicked in and I
was feeling pretty euphoric as we cheered for QC. Getting that first run
in got rid of the nerves, and I felt relaxed, and happy and energized.
So much fun!
Then we were off to exchange 6 to meet up with van 2. These guys.
We had maybe 15 minutes to socialize but then Quadracool handed off to YouMightDieTryin, and van 2 hit the road.
Van 2 did some great work, although I wasn't there to see it, but here are some pics.
we drove into Portland, and caught some more local flavor by having
dinner at one of Portland's many food cart collectives. I figured I
earned my bacon cheeseburger, and would have 6 hours to digest it before
having to run again.
Night was falling, and we drove down
to the river and downtown for the next major exchange. We had a few
hours, and some people napped. Too early for me. It was a beautiful
spot, under the freeway.
were still in touch with van 2 by cell phone, so we knew when to expect
them. It was great being able to communicate, send pictures, post to
Loopville. But soon enough we would be thrust back into a 20th century
world without contact, and had to rely on our wits.
handed off to Maranda, and off we went! Over the bridge and skirting
downtown Portland along the river. We were worried about M, since she
had been so sick so far, but she was game, and came through despite more
mid-run puking. Then Jenny also had food cart regrets, barely finishing
her leg before dashing off to the Honey Bucket. Thankfully the rest of
us stayed gastronomically healthy.
My 2nd leg started at
2AM. 7.5 miles along a 4-lane highway with no street lights. Plenty of
room though, and most cars and trucks were in the middle lane. We saw
team Google go by us here, on their way to 2nd place and a sub-6 minute
average. Most of the run I was by myself. Three fast guys zoomed by. And
I caught 4 people. But mostly just a nice progression tempo along the
highway. Perfect temp, nice breeze, dark, clean air. I was having so
much fun. Comfortably hard. I knew our time was meaningless, but you
just can't help and race, especially when there are people to catch.
my leg and QC's, we had some more time, so we headed to the local high
school for a $2 shower, and a $6 breakfast of pancakes, eggs and sausage
at 4AM. My first group shower in decades! It felt so good to be clean
and put on clean clothes! Kudos to the 3,000 volunteers who stayed up
all night! Amazing.
We then headed toward exchange 24, but just before 23 we hit the traffic and stopped. F-O-R-E-V-E-R!
many vans and not enough organization or space caused a major league
bottleneck. I think it was over 3 hours for the last 6 miles or
something. It was ridiculous, but I'm not going to get into that. But it
cost us our hoped for nap time of 2-3 hours. No sleep for us!
were also in the cell phone dead zone now, so had no idea when Laura
would arrive to hand off. I had to estimate all 6 of their leg times and
guess. Turns out they arrived about 15 minutes before I guessed. We had
only just arrived ourselves and were returning from the pee-pee line
when they announced our number! Maranda had to dash off without any
prep. Laura had been waiting a few minutes. But away we went. It was
just after dawn.
Maranda had a puke-free 3rd leg thank
goodness and the other ladies were running great. Traffic was still a
mess the rest of the race however, so the runners would get to the
exchange before the van. The next runner had to jump out early and run
the other runner in to the next exchange. Then the first runner had to
double back and find the van. And no rest time for the drivers or
passengers. Oh well. It was still fun!
For my 3rd leg, I
had a 3 mile uphill of about 600 feet and then a 3 mile downhill of
similar drop. It was about Noon and getting warm, but I did have some
shade. I had to add 1.3 miles running Jenster in, and then up the hill I
It was tough. Pace stayed over 9:30 for the first
two miles. Climb, climb, climb. And I got chicked. I carried a water
bottle, and after 1 mile I took a short walk break for a drink. And of
course that is when our van goes by. Whatever. Mile 3 was the worst.
Steeper, and no shade. I stopped to walk about 4 times and had about
10:30 pace for that mile. But I knew I had a prize at the top.
HTC tradition is to do a fake finish line at the top of this hill. My
teammates did it to perfection. I could hear their screaming for minutes
as I trudged up the last 1/4 mile. I was laughing and crying..and
really looking forward to being done with this hill! So I threw in a BP
as I broke the tape and got a shower as they screamed. It was awesome.
then I stopped to walk. Had a drink, crested the hill, and started
down. And it was steep. And I was flying. The joy returned. Some fast
chick went by me, and I thought, oh no, no one passes me on a downhill,
and I chased her for a mile. Also because she had a nice booty. And then
I passed her. Because I was flying. I love the downhills. But then I
saw the vans backed up. And then there was QC. A full mile and a half
before the exchange.
said, "Let's go! Try to keep up!" because I wasn't going to slow down! I
kind of forgot that she is faster than me. Sometimes. So she had to go
from standing to sub-7 downhill sprinting. But she was fine. I'm the one
who had to slow down eventually as the 20+ miles and 30 hours without
sleep started to get to me. I cut it back a bit, because, you know, it's
not really a race. And finished a little less crazy fast.
But then booty girl went by me, so I had to pass her again just before the finish. Men.
headed off for her leg, and I turned back to walk up the hill to the
van. I just want to note here that many of the other vans would cheer
for me as we went by. Lots of cheering going on between teams. Good
times, despite the frustration with the traffic.
got QC, our van parked for a break and it felt great to be done. We ate,
we peed, we changed. Then we made our way to the Finish. I finally got a
The finish area was another mess, but we
had a VIP suite, so we got away from the masses. It was good to be done
and relax, get a beer, and stick our legs in the cold ocean.
Van 1 (above) happy! Below, van 1 on left and van 2, still grumpy for good reason, on right.
once they settled in and ate and drank, it was all good. There was a
bonfire, and beer, and bratwursts, and spouses, and beer. The mythical
Loopville exists. Where it is 50's and overcast - perfect running
weather - and all your best buddies are there. With beer.
I think I'll enter the lottery for next year.