PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — So, I finally did the thing that I had been anticipating — read: dreading — for the past three months. Through the last weekend of August, I participated in the 41st annual Hood to Coast and learned a little about myself and a lot about the types of people who look forward to such an event.
First and foremost, it’s called “the Mother of All Relays” for a reason. I’m not particularly well-versed in the relay-race world, but I’m going to assume most of them don’t require people to run in the pitch black at 3 a.m.
With that being said, I could’ve avoided that if I were more strategic about my top-choice legs for the race. As the 10th runner on my team, I had a 5.54-mile run during a 90-degree day in Portland, a 6.7-mile run in the middle of the night in Vernonia, and a 4.12-mile run during an Astoria afternoon.
And to my surprise, the long run in Vernonia was the easiest. Sure, I had to wear a headlamp and try not to think about our recent stories on Oregon cougar sightings, but at least it was cool outside.
Another thing I learned? Running veterans have this way of being supportive and condescending at the same time. Whenever someone running an 8-minute mile would inevitably pass me up, I’d get a well-meaning, “Good job!” or “You’re doing great!” or “Almost there!”
Hint: we were not “almost there.” But my annoyance probably stems from my own aversion toward the sport that I’d chosen to do, rather than the people trying (maybe) to be encouraging.
The people who actually were encouraging were my teammates, including some co-workers, some ex-coworkers and other people who were naive enough to join us.
The team had a mixed of experienced runners and beginners like myself, but it turns out nothing makes people feel more connected than the joint experience of sleeping in a sweaty van and using inappropriately-warm Honey Buckets.
I also realized that, if I were somehow convinced to ever do this race again, I would start training much earlier. After a while of yoga and indoor cycling being my go-to types of exercise, I was incredibly humbled by my three months of training leading up to the race.
That was just enough time to be able to run — and walk — more than 16 miles in two days, but realistically, I would’ve needed six months of training to build the stamina that’s needed for such an intense race.
But from here on out, I won’t tell people how I should’ve prepared for the race. I’ll just tell them that I did it — and those bragging rights were honestly the biggest motivator to begin with.
However, one factor that’s almost more important than how you prepare for the relay is how you recover. Thanks to my mother, I was able to take full advantage of a Knot Springs gift card.
The day after the race, I had a hot stone massage booked and was able to use the tepidarium (fancy word for hot tub) and the caldarium (fancier word for hotter tub) followed by a trip to the cold plunge tub.
But if you’re like me — and most people — and can’t afford a membership to the swanky spa, I’d recommend investing in a massage gun, continuing to hydrate, and loading up on carbs — lots of them.