Wednesday’s Weakest Link

Hood to Coast Finish Line by Jean James

199 miles through the Oregon countryside…check!  Consider this Hood to Coast cherry popped!  Would I do it again?  Hell yeah!  Hood to Coast is one of the largest relay races in the country with 1087 teams entered this year.  Each team consists of twelve runners, two vans, and a crazy theme that defines who you are, where you come from, and how you got there.  There was no shortage of creativity.  I saw men running in kilts and Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader outfits, and women running in tutu’s and sparkle skirts.  I ran past wigs, and makeup, crazy socks and superhero capes, and a whole lotta chutzpah!  Who knew runners could be so much fun?

With only two months to train, and no clue what I was in for, I’m happy to report I managed to run all three of my legs within my estimated time.  My teammates were amazing.  With only three hours of sleep, this band of brothers (and sista’s) ate, slept and ran together in perfect harmony.  As a newcomer to my running group, I was greeted warmly, and treated like an old friend.  Many thanks to my awesome teammates for making me feel like one of the gang.

Oregon is a beautiful place to run, that is when you’re not running at night, solo, on a lonely trail, blind to anything but your flashlight beam.  But at early morning light, as the sun glimmers through the forest trees, and the sound of the stream running down the mountain greets you like your first cup of coffee, and the steam from your hot breath on the crisp mountain air sparkles like a vaporous memory, you’re reminded of what feeling alive is like without the static of modern-day life, and for that brief 6.8 miles of road it’s just you (and maybe a few people passing you if you’re a bit slow like me) and that is what I would describe as runners bliss.

To everyone who ran the Hood to Coast relay my sincere congratulations.  This was no easy feat no matter how great a runner you consider yourself to be.  If anyone out there is considering running this race I would highly recommend it.  This was truly a combination of fun and hard work; a test of endurance and patience, and a balance of nutrition and digestion while on the run.  FYI, if you’re too shy to poop in the port-a-potty known as the Honey Pot, then this race is definitely not for you!

I had a lot of fun with the Wednesday’s Weakest Link posts, and I’m not feeling so weak anymore, but it’s time to sign off on this one for good (or at least until next year).  Thanks for taking the time to read my posts.

Happy Running!

Wednesday’s Weakest Link

Weak Link by Jean James

Weak Link by Jean James

Attention all runners, I need help!!  I was invited to join a relay race team to run in the 31st annual Hood to Coast relay race in Oregon at the end of August.  The Hood to Coast relay race is the largest relay race in the world.  The course is 199 miles long with 1050 teams of 12 runners.  The first race started in 1982, and its popularity has grown exponentially.  I guess that’s how I’m now somehow involved.

I like to consider myself a social exerciser.  I don’t compete, and my only real challenge is getting out of bed to make it to the gym.  I’ve never run a race in my life, okay except for field day, but that really shouldn’t count.  I’m the last person to join the team, as they were down a man, and my friend interjected on my behalf.  From what I can gather, I’m sure I’m the weakest link.

I’ll be running with a lot of overachievers.  The team captain will be competing in the NYC Ironman just prior to this race, so you can imagine what I’m up against.  I only have 38 days left to race time and I have to be able to comfortably run up to seven miles.  However, I don’t find anything comfortable about the term seven miles.

So, it’s training time, and this is where I need your help.  I’m fortunate to live in a place with a great outdoor trail.  The problem is, it’s 100 degrees everyday, I have no clue what to eat before I run, and with three young kids I’m already bordering on exhaustion.

I feel like it’s me against the trail and the trail is winning.  I head out determined to run five miles without stopping, but that trail’s a siren calling me in from the shadeless pavement, with her benches and rest areas.  Just a quick break I tell myself, a few sips of water, then feet to the street.  I know there’s no stopping in the real race.  I know this, yet I’m lured in any way.

It doesn’t help that I’m both hungry and tired all the time.  I’m hoping it’s anemia, at least there’s a cure for that, but I’m still waiting on my blood results.   So I need a plan to boost my energy, improve my diet, and help me with tips on how to run farther without running out of steam.

I’m pleading to the runners, nutritionists, health nuts, and anyone else out there with advice to offer.  I don’t want to let my team down.  I don’t want to be the weakest link.

I plan on keeping this Wednesday journal from now until I finish the race, keeping you updated on my progress and hopefully having you update me on what it takes to run a successful race.

This week I cheated on my trail with the gym.  I ran three miles on the indoor track (without stopping) and did 1.6 miles on the Stairmaster (I’m sure this doesn’t count).  I’m PMS, cranky and tired this week.  It makes running extremely difficult when you can’t breathe, your boobs hurt and you really don’t give a shit about any upcoming race.  My only objective this week is to restock my fridge with extra dark Lindt chocolate bars or I might rip someone’s face off.

See, I told you I need help!