What do you think I’m going to write about?

I have a reminder set up to write in this blog every few weeks; an idea based out of too many unfinished diaries and journals in the past. For the past two weeks, the reminder has popped up each morning and every time I said “I know, I know. But I have homework tonight.”

Well I have homework today too, but I’ve read so many authentic leadership articles today and need to do something, anything else for a while.

And really I knew exactly what I wanted / needed to write about: Hood to Coast.

First up: context (aka, how did I get on a team). This story starts a few years ago when I watched Hood to Coast (the movie) downtown as part of my birthday celebration with Beth and Coralie. The relay race looked like an amazing adventure and one I wanted to sign up right away, which was difficult since I didn’t have a team and sign ups were in October. Oh, and this run is so popular that only about 50% of teams actually get in. Skip forward to this summer…I started using the stair master at the gym to get some variety in my workouts and hopefully kick-start those last 25 pounds (the official goal is June 12, 2014). I would watch an episode of Go On on my iPad, survive 24 minutes on the machine, then walk on the treadmill as my heart rate came back towards normal. I’d been following this routine for about a week when I started feeling some pain in my left leg; not bad pain, more like a pulled muscle that I was sure would recover if took it back a notch. That Sunday, during a normal 8 mile run with Portland Running Company, my leg pain forced me to start walking and eventually to start limping. Four days later I was still in pain, and actually at the doctor’s office to see if I had fractured something. Thanks to a very deep / bruise creating massage, lots of Advil, and break from running for a few weeks, I was slowly on the mend. It was in the midst of this injury and recovery that I traveled to California for my first two-week intensive at Asuza Pacific University. I was in the gorgeous California sunshine, and barely able to run 3 miles even with Advil running through my bloodstream. Not fun.

Okay, now I need to rewind just a bit to April. I was in training for the Newport Marathon (which is a whole other adventure I’ve already shared about). I was registered for the Race for the Roses 10K, but needed at least 15 miles that day per my training schedule, so I decided to switch to the half marathon so there would be more water stations and support during the majority of my mileage. I started off the run with the 2:30 pacer so I wouldn’t have to obsess over my watch, and because I was feeling a bit more extroverted than normal for that early in the morning, said hello to fellow-pace follower, Liz. After chatting off and on for 13.1 miles, Liz and I swapped names and became connected through Facebook.

Back to California…I’m recovering from injury, I’m poorly trained, and I’m starting a doctoral program that will be the focal point of all free time for the next 4+ years. As I’m working on homework one night, I spot a message from Liz about a potential opening on a Hood to Coast team. After about 10 seconds acknowledging the reasons I shouldn’t sign up, I write back. Pick me! Pick me! The opening on the other team fell through but an even better opportunity came up as someone from Liz’s van was injured.

After sending in my email confirmation, I asked what leg I would be running: Leg 6, which Portland Running Company nicknamed “Up is the New Down.” My three sections would end up 17.35 miles total, with the middle section starting around 11pm in a hilly neighborhood with lots of turns and no music(um…pretty sure I broke that rule).

My alarm went off at 2:30am on Friday, August 23rd, and I with just 2.5 hours of sleep, our van headed for Timberline Lodge and the beginning of an adventure. It’s hard to explain this relay event, so I would just encourage you to watch the documentary some time, or take me out for chai as I try to explain it with lots of hand motions. As Leg 6, each time I finished a section, our van got to have a longer break and sometimes a nap before any of us had to run again.

There are a few things that I learned during the run that stand out this afternoon. First: per Alli, if you need to cuss while you are running, make sure you cuss in front of children so its worth it. Before her final leg, which included a mountain, we updated the policy to cuss at children rather than simply in front of. Since there were no children during that section, she kept a huge smile on her face instead and just rocked that run. Second: I helped Richelle to “activate” an iPod before her second run. When a song titled Activate came on my own shuffle sequence later that day, I almost fell down laughing. Third: when you have run 17.35 miles and slept 6.5 hours in two days, sitting on a couch with pretzels and The Social Network is the greatest celebration ever. Most of my team headed home or stayed at the official celebration Saturday night, but I was so happy curled up on the couch and then slept for 9 hours on the floor. So tired but not too sore the next day.

Last but not least (at least for now): it was worth it. Hood to Coast was worth the exhaustion, the porta potties, the hills, the heat, the cost, the sore muscles, the homework stress, etc. My teammates were a wonderful eclectic group of women who cheered each other on each and every leg, and were highly organized to boot. This is one of the major reasons I love running: I would have never met Leanne, Liz, Richelle, Shelly, Alli, or Chris without Race for the Roses and Hood to Coast.

And Liz, if you’re reading this…I would totally run Leg 5. I want to conquer that mountain.

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