Normally I would not do separate parts to posts but since this trip was five days long and covered more than 200 miles with 36 wonderful women, I deem it necessary to split the fun into three separate posts. This is the third and final installment of my Nuun Hood to Coast Relay recaps.
Part 3 has been reserved for Leg 3. Wow, where do I start? I was so excited about this leg since it was my last one and I would be the one to finish on the beach in Seaside. We made it to the exchange fairly early and I was able to stretch, take advantage of a strangely and unusually clean portapotty, and hang out for a bit. I had taken the liberty of writing down precise measurements for elevation change and mileage on my hand since I didn’t take my Garmin and I like to know where I am when I’m out there.
Megan came into the exchange and I swear my heart rate went up at least 80 bpm. But I was off and the fact that there were so many other runners on this leg made me excited to finally run with some people. The first mile or so completely followed the elevation chart as I had written it on my arm and before too long I was out there alone.
I came to a fork in the trail and it wasn’t marked so I just took the path that looked like it belonged on the course. The elevation and everything was still going like it should have been. I was descending down the mountain a considerable amount and when I looked to my left I could see the ocean and hear the finish line. But something just didn’t feel right. I came to a dead end on the trail and my heart sank. Not only had I picked the wrong trail but I had just descended downhill for over 20 minutes which meant I had to trek back uphill. Too say I was discouraged was an understatement but more importantly I felt like I had let my team down since I would put us over the projected pace time.
I turned around and slowly trudged back up the mountain and headed down the path that I formerly had not taken. About five minutes in and a few more turns I came to the realization that I was lost. No clear path, no runners in sight, and no way of knowing where I was or any way of telling my team that I was lost. Between the sun, the fatigue, and the panic, I broke down and had a good cry. I genuinely did not know what to do.
After a couple minutes of watching my Timex watch tick past the time I was supposed to be at the finish line, I heard lots and lots of footsteps. A group of people stopped and asked if I was lost too. I would venture to guess there was about 32 of us out there who had missed the turn and gotten lost. So in our little pack we decided to go back to the original exchange point to ask for help. By the time we made it there we had run a total of 8 miles. 8 miles when we were supposed to have only run 5 and 8 miles when we were back to where we started.
I spotted a Nuun van from the morning team and the little Japanese lady I had ran back with flagged them down and asked for a ride. She didn’t realize that these people were my Nuun teammates. When I got in the van, the tears poured down again and I felt cheated. Not only was I not running the final leg like I was supposed to, I was in danger of disqualifying my team for both getting a ride and for going over the time limit. The van dropped me off at the chip system about 1.5 miles from the finish. That sweet Japanese lady was such a trooper and stayed with me the entire way. Once we saw the finish line we picked up our pace and before I knew it I was high fiving my Team Night ladies with sand beneath our feet.
I went through the unofficial finish line to turn in my chip then met in the group chute with my team so we could all cross the finish line together. I kept apologizing profusely but they all assured me that they had heard what happened and were more worried about me than angry with me. So many emotions came flooding in at that moment and I think that this photo is a true representation of team spirit and emotion.
Post race we shuffled over to our condos and changed into some warm clothes and headed back to the beach. We were so fortunate in the fact that we were cordially invited to the Nike VIP tent where we were treated to pint glasses and endless BBQ. It was delicious. I was also able to meet up with the man who puts on our local Knoxville Marathon and watch the fireworks on the beach.
After a long and eventful day I took the longest shower of my life, scrubbed in places I have never scrubbed, and attempted to remove the Nuun tattoos that graffitied my body. I laid down on the couch to chat with the sweet Marjorie and while she was taking a shower I drifted into a sleep that could very well have been the best sleep of my life. I woke up the next morning feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to conquer the world since that is basically what me and my team had just done.
A group of us headed to downtown Seaside for a local restaurant seeking to refuel our seemingly famished bodies. Random tidbit: did you know that Oregon does not have sales tax and that every gas station is required to pump gas for you? That amazed me. Anyway, we soaked up what little time we had left and on the way back Harmony and I made the long mad dash to the beach so that I could at least say I have stuck my feet in the Pacific Ocean. Kinda a big deal for a small town Tennessee girl. Thanks Harmony for sharing in that experience with me.
Thus began the long van ride back to Seattle. I will admit that this van ride was probably my favorite ride of the trip. I got to speak with some of the gals that I didn’t get much of a chance to bond with over the weekend and they made me feel very comfortable. I really appreciated that. Some of the girls and myself had red eye flights back to our respective homes that night so the ever wonderful Mason (a.k.a President of Nuun) invited us over to his gorgeous house for a BBQ. The hospitality was incredibly appreciated and I don’t think him or his wife realized just how grateful we were. They prepared a feast for us.
After a huge meal and a few goodbyes from some of the gals, I tried my hand at team pool. Believe it or not I did get one ball in thanks to Mason’s help but other than that I didn’t stand a chance. Pinball was more my style.
Unfortunately the call came that our cab was there and our time in Seattle was over. We loaded up our bags and headed for the airport, a fun filled week just a distant memory in the rearview mirror. The reality that I was leaving this much anticipated trip hit hard but I had bigger fish to fry…like trying to make ALL my stuff fit into two carryons. Mission accomplished.
I am incredibly proud of both myself and my teammates for finishing Hood to Coast and representing Nuun in such a big way. This trip will not be soon forgotten and I am so blessed and thankful to have been a part of this. Run fast and take chances. And hydrate.