Epic Relays

Friday and Saturday I had the chance to be run in the Epic relay series – Oregon race.  We started in Beaverton, OR and finished in Eugene, OR.  I ran with a team of friends from Washington.  This is our 6th year of running together.  It was a great time.  It was fun to realize I enjoy the races again.  Last summer, I ran with this team in Spokane and thought many times during the race – why am I still doing these.  I’m not sure what the difference was this race, but I loved my time this race.  I signed up again because I had loved my previous races and really enjoy the group that we run with and wanted to know if I was really done – nope not yet, even with all that happened on this race.

Here is the team at the starting line.

This relay was different  from the others that I have run in many ways.  It was smaller by far than any other race.  Hood to Coast has 1000 teams,  most Ragnars have 200 teams, Spokane had 120 or so, but this race had 39 that raced.  I was  a bit skeptical that we’d ever see anyone else on the course.  It was a pleasant surprise that we did.  There weren’t lots of teams, but it wasn’t complete solo team running.  We would usually have 1 or teams per transition during the first leg – 3 or 4 during the second leg and 4 or 5 during the third leg.   Good thing there weren’t more because the transition area’s weren’t big enough for many more.

We picked this relay because on of original runners is heading off to med school in this fall and this relay worked with his summer timeline, hence our team name was Pre Med.

Of our 12 person team we have 6 which have run with the team for all 6 years, 2 have run for 5 years, 1 for 3 years, 2 for 2 years and one first timer.  We see each other once, maybe twice (for a running film during the year – Hood to Coast Movie this year) a year but it is amazing how after spending a race/24 hrs + with other runners you have created a great bond/friendship.  We have lots of fun together.  It is a team of amazing runners who are accepting and happy for you for however fast or slow you run.  They are just cheering you on to be your best.

Van 1:

Van #2:

We ended up getting 5th overall and 2nd in our division.  The amazing this is we were only behind the 4th/1st place time in our division by 7 seconds.  I call that a tie – over 23:55:59 only being 7 seconds off – crazy!  Really crazy (esp knowing that one of our runners ran a 1/2 mile off the course and another runner had to walk for 1/2 a mile (trying to find a bathroom/port a potty).)  Oh well we had a great time and ran well.

I was worried how my race would go, knowing that I had not run during my vacation.  I have run everyday (except for Sunday of course) the week we got back, but missed Monday and Tuesday of the week of the race and my left glut was sore for some reason.  I didn’t have long legs and I had given realistic times (on the hopeful side, but on the do able side).

I was runner number 7 of 12.  There are 2 vans with 6 runners each.  I was the first runner in our van (with Owen being our driver – best ever).  I started my first run of 4 miles at 4:30 in the afternoon on a sunny 80 degree afternoon. 

Check out the marquee with the time and temp.

I have done all my runs in the morning in 50 degree weather.  Needless to say that it was really really hot (for a girl who loves living in WA), with very little shade on the course.  On top of that my legs were mostly flat.  That is good and bad. I didn’t mind the flat it was the fast the you could see a mile ahead that was a bit tough.  It seemed like you were running looking at the same spot for so long and it never seemed to get closer to you.  You could see the exchange (your stopping point) a mile or so off in the distance. You keep running and running, but it didn’t seem to be making much progress.  I was happy that given the heat, I was able to finish my run in just under my predicted time.

We run in lots and lots of farming communities.  It was beautiful.  I loved the greenhouse/nurseries all over who had beautiful flowers.  The farm houses were beautiful and the barns sitting the fields were such a nice change of scenery.

After everyone in our van finished our assigned legs, around 8:30 we headed to the hotel to shower.  Some teams don’t shower during the race, some teams sleep on the ground during the race.  Our team is not like that.  We shower after every leg (except for our last leg) which allows for some sleeping time in the hotel also.  We shower in order of race position.  I loved that I could be the first one in the shower and then be able to lie down and rest while everyone else shower.  We headed to a Jamba Juice prior to the start of our second legs.  I have found a new favorite pre race food.  I had their smoothie with granola and a banana on top.  Perfect!!!!

My second leg began around 11:30 at night.  I enjoy running the night-time legs, usually cooler and quiet time to run.  Much to my surprise and enjoyment I could always see the red flashing of a person ahead of me for the majority of the race.  I had a steep hill (like 228th) during the first two miles.  Sometimes not remembering your route is a good thing.  I thought the hill climbing ended at 2 1/2 miles, I was so happy when it turned out to be at 2 miles (happy bonus), unlike the hill at the end I had forgetten about.  I was on the downhill side of the hill.  My team had just stopped to offer support and cheer me on.  I was running and saw an 18 wheeler coming towards me.  I kept thinking, there is a runner 200 yards a head so he will see her first and be aware that I am on the road and at least the team will see me if something happens.  Some drivers are very nice at night, some don’t see you or worry about you.  Turns out when this truck came by I literally had 1 foot of shoulder at that point.  The truck wasn’t moving over at all.  I had slowed down a bit and hoped for the best.  The truck passed by so close that by the time the back of the truck was to me the wind gust hit me and pushed me off the road and I went down into the gravel ditch along the side of the road.  It was a totally weird feeling.  My right hand had hit the road and my right knee landed on the gravel.  I got back up on the road as fast as I could and continued to run.  My team passed by in the van 20 seconds later never realizing what had happened.  I had two more trucks pass me during my 6 mile run and my new plan was to stop, have both feet on the ground and brace myself for the wind gust/blast.  I didn’t get pushed off anymore – but I did have much more of shoulder to move over on when the other two trucks came by and one of the trucks actually move over – THANK YOU!!!  

Lesson learn/talk prepared on this leg – when you have two feet firmly on the ground (your standards) the winds (temptations which come and they will) can not push you over, but if your feet aren’t firmly planted on the ground the winds can push you to and fro.  Have your standards and stick to them no matter the temptation.  Don’t only do it 1/2 way.  

It wasn’t until when I could talk to Owen about it alone in the van Saturday after the race and again last night when I woke up in the middle of the night that it truly hit me how protected I had been.   So grateful for that protection.  My leg is okay and my the lower part of my right hand is bruised.  My biggest injury is that I have had to change how I clap (which you do a lot for your runners and all the other runners around you).  I now have to do a lame clap where my right fingers clap into my left hand – so not loud at all.  Given all that could have happened, I’ll take that.

My 3rd leg was 2.21 miles – loved it.  Learned that eggs before are okay, but an english muffin really isn’t what I want before running.  Came in well below my projected time.   It was 50’s and rainy.  Looks like we had just about every time of weather on this race.

Here is a picture of the team at the finish line – tired, wet and we had a great time!

It was a great race with great people.  Looking forward to next year with them and to my Ragnar Team in July.

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