Monday, August 29, 2011

Don't mess with my Hood to Coast!

I love the Hood to Coast relay, in case you haven't noticed.  But I'm in a very large fan club.  So large that it's about to burst out of its own skin.  And maybe it already has, considering what happened this year.

We hear that they added 250 more running teams to make a total of 1700 running, walking, and high school teams.  These numbers aren't verified, just mostly word of mouth.  250 means 500 additional vans and 3000 more runners funneling through those tight roads to the coast.  And we all paid the price.  The traffic was endlessly backed up at every exchange (where runners trade off) and what used to be a rare occurrence, of when your next runner wasn't there in time to start his "leg", became the norm.  It was faster to run to each exchange, than to drive it.  This meant endless hours in the van stalled in traffic and no time to sleep because we couldn't get to the sleeping areas, which were full anyway.  Add to that, teams couldn't get into Seaside before their last runner got there.  Not good.

But, that said, I'm going to focus on the MANY good parts of this year's HTC.  First of all, Team Van Hailin' was beyond FABULOUS and each member is imbedded deeply into this team captain's heart.

Here are the highlights:  Lightening and thunder woke me up much too early Friday morning, and I listened to the radio broadcasting severe storm warnings for east Clackamas county.  Half of our team was heading into the thick of it.  The skies unleashed on them at Timberline, and (studly) Dave ... (shown here in a later shot) ...
was literally pelted by the hail as he ran down the steep hill of leg 1 at 5:15 a.m.  (Our team name may have been prophetic, although we had a completely different definition of hail in mind.)

The storm passed and the heat followed.  It got close to 90 degrees by that afternoon. 

Chery, suited up, waits to run leg 2.  Anne B. is revving up for leg 3.  It's a psyched-up moment when your leg is about to start. 
 Anne B. hands off to Jeff.  (Judging by Jeff's face, the wrist thingy must not have been sweaty this year.)
Jeff breaks Mark's cardinal rule.  "No hands on knees, Jeff."  
Anne M. aka The Road Runner (She's DANG fast!)  brings it in to Steve.
Then Steve, finishes his leg in Sandy, where we all meet up.  

Van 2 is ready to go.  Van 1, (nicknamed the vAnne or the Anne Van) heads off for a rest. 

Ben covers leg 7. 
Followed by Mark.  Then Johnny.
Followed by Laura.
Then Justin hands it to me.
This pattern continued for the next 24-30 hours.  

Some of my favorite pictures:
Lindsay's team passed through at the same time.  She's just finishing one long HOT, sparsely shaded leg.
Van time.  

Dave takes off on his 2nd leg, and I'm blubbering about how I got lost and added an extra mile onto my already long leg.  (Friend Lori commented something about my "warrior yell".)
Driver Bill.  The MASTER of fun and food!
Van 1

Van 2, in dire need of a bath.
Don't ya love it!

                                                                                                       We almost killed Justin with the longest leg of 8 miles.

Then there were the ever popular  porta -potties.

We were all trying to stay hydrated, due to the heat, and as a result, couldn't wander far from a toilet.
To appease  Anne B. for including that last picture, here's this:
T'was at the Hawthorne Bridge in downtown Portland where the trouble began.   This is the starting point for the Portland to Beach walkers and the high school teams.  Lots and lots and LOTS of merging.  
More favorites:

Chery.  Next year she wants the dreaded leg 5.  Then she wants legs 1, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12, in other words EVERY leg.  
The two Annes and Chery.
Laura and me, the frizz-monster.  Did you know we're 4th cousins?

In spite of my vows to NEVER do the HTC again(!), within 24 hours, I was already planning our next year.  There's something about this relay.  It gets into your blood.   And THIS is why:

 HTC 2011 Team Van Hailin' 
(L-R) Chery, Johnny, Jeff, Mark, Ben, Anne B., Steve, Dave, Justin, Bryce, Anne M., Brenda, Bill, Laura

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The tightrope over the pre-HTC abyss

As a tool that I'm going to need in a few weeks, or even in a few days, when I'm coming down off my Hood To Coast high and I am again tempted to don the captain's hat, I'd like to document how I'm feeling on the eve of this annual event.

My thoughts/fears at this moment:

1.  The phone will ring and one of our runners will cancel.
2.  One or more of our runners in either of our vans, will come away HATING their van-mates, or the whole relay, or life in general.
3.  One or more of us will succumb to any one of several heat-related crises -- yes the forecast says hot.
4.  I will not be able to sleep tonight - ONE of the few nights in the entire year when, on a 1 - 10 scale, its importance hovers somewhere around 17.
5.  I will forget to pack something SO important that my eternal salvation will plunge into jeopardy.
6.  Some other disastrous thing that hasn't occurred to me yet.

Let me put it this way:  I am walking on an imaginary tight rope, suspended above an abyss.  The last two years I skittered across triumphantly with cheers and joy on the other side.  But I'm back up on that tight rope again, with NO guarantees I'll be able to pull off another successful crossing.
And in the past, AFTER I have made it across, I ALWAYS forget how deep and threatening that abyss was.  I just remember the cheers and joy.  Hence this post.

I have my list.  I'm packed.  I survived a last minute, potentially epic problem that was solved via a few phone calls and some dependable friends.  There are a few issues with one of our van's AC, but I'm trying to not think about it because it's in capable hands ....

Husband, who is one of our drivers, is swamped at work.   It always happens just before we go out of town.  I should be used to it by now.  He will be up late tonight and I will worry about him getting enough sleep.  Again, all normal.  Once we get rolling, I will be fine ... as long as all glitches remain small and pocket-sized.

Beloved Daughter and a few assorted friends flew through here a few hours ago on their way to spend the night with their team near the starting line.   Their excitement alone could have fueled their car.  So if the stress doesn't kill me, the adrenaline might.  I'm vulnerable on several fronts ..... and along with the Van Halen hit, "Jump",  that's playing in my head right now, I think I can also hear the opening strains of the theme from "Jaws".....

   da-da ...... da-da ...... DA-DA ...... DA-DA

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...

.... AKA "The Highs and Lows of being a Hood to Coast Team Captain".

I was thinking about my two previous years in the world-famous "Mother of All Relays", as covered in this and this post.  Which year was the BEST?  

Now typically, you can't duplicate your "first time" with anything.  The "first time" sets the expectation level, and often that level is at a point that defies repetition.  An exception to this would be my honeymoon which was so disastrous that we've been making up for it ever since.   (Another post.)

My first year in the HTC left me giddy for weeks afterwards.  I went into it with no expectations and no responsibilities other than to run when told.  THAT I cannot duplicate.  It was that giddiness that drove me to blithely volunteer to be captain of our next team.  Having experienced the magic, I was now on a mission to share it with the world.

I blended old and new runners into a team, strapped on my pompoms and began cheerleading.  "Run!!  You can do it!!"  The year was a bit stressful, because I was determined to my bones, that everyone was going to have the good experience that I had had.  The thought of an unhappy teammate would send me into despair.  They will LOVE it too, or I will die!  

As the days wound down and the date got closer, my stress began to rise.  Being the Detail Person that I am, my brain launched into warp speed.  Make lists, send another email, collect money, check on vans, gather supplies, study the website & the route, arrange for rest spots, think, think, think --- did I remember everything?  Better buy a tarp; find someone to unlock the church where we plan to nap; do we have safety pins for the bib numbers?  OH, and make another copy of the handbook for the other van.  And WHERE did I put the window paints for decorating???  

One doesn't expect glitches specifically, other than that there WILL be some.  One of our vans wasn't registered -- pay the fee for that.  Start time assignment -- 6:30 a.m. -- are you kidding me???  (The previous year it was noon!)  Head speakers are no longer allowed on runners???  I can't run with my music??!  NO!!!!!  Breathe.... breathe....  One of our three mandatory volunteers is in the hospital!  Quick, gotta get a sub.  OH NO, we lost that volunteer's assigned spot and have been reassigned a new spot in the remote mountains near Astoria at 2 a.m.  Who can I talk into doing that!!??   Breathe ..... breathe .....   Yikes!  Forgot one of my own bags - call Favorite Third Son - It's the red & white bag on my bathroom counter!  Get it to Van 2 before they leave home!

All in all, however, it was awesome.   The weather was great.  The vans worked.  We had fun!  Real honest-to-goodness feel-the-joy FUN.  Lives changed as teammates did what they didn't know they could actually do.  We met the challenge with gusto.  Every pre-race crisis slipped off into distant memory.   

So in nine days, we're heading off for my 3rd HTC.  Being captain was decidedly easier this year, as I initially agreed to do it only with help.  Yes, we've had some glitches, but they're being handled.  Last minute volunteer sub again.  (Feeling GREAT appreciation for our dependable volunteers Leon and Alan who happily step up each year.)  Some last minute runner subs, one due to ill-timed appendicitis.   ("Walk it off", teammate Ben says, "walk it off!")  Watching the weather -- so far so good.  Gotta collect more money which I HATE doing, and again I don't remember where the window paints are.  And we got an even worse start time --  5:15 a.m.!!!  

But I'm excited.  This MAY be my last year as a team runner.  This WILL be my last year as a captain.  And it WILL BE FUN.   How will it compare with years One and Two?  Who knows, but one thing is for sure .... 

We're already feeling giddy.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How to pull off (organize) a 10K and/or age prematurely.

With the second annual Run, Run, Ye Saints successfully completed, I am prepared to share my expertise:

1.  Ask for NO help.  Intend to do everything yourself.  In case there may be some things that you absolutely CANNOT do, plan to have married a wonderful, supportive spouse.  (This will take substantial forethought.)  Inform him/her that he/she has an assignment.  Follow up with much love and appreciation.
2.  Keep the route simple.  The fewer the turns, the better.  Runners run.  They don't necessarily think.  I can say this because I am one of them.
3.  Make your chalked arrows BIG and have one at every intersection.  Even if there is no turn intended, mark it anyway.  If you make maps, highlight the route by hand on each copy, and do it VERY late the night before.
4.  Advertise.  Make posters.  Turn into a nag on facebook.  Pester the people who print up the weekly announcements at church.  Again remember - Do this all yourself!  No delegating if you can help it.  That way the stress level can really build.
5.  Hope for good weather.  Prepare for a serious guilt trip if it's too hot.
6.  Buy food.  You CAN TRY to guess how many you will be feeding and if so, good luck with that.  Spend $5 in gas driving all the way to the next town to the store where it SHOULD have been cheaper, to save a whopping 8 cents on four gallons of chocolate milk.  Thank your lucky stars for the nearby dollar store because they sell the cups, cookies and helium balloons.
7.  Also thank those same lucky stars for RoadID and their free bib numbers.
8.  Give birth many years prior, to a talented son who can write a computer program with which to time all the participants.   Then step back and let him and Husband do it.  Don't try to simplify their plan.  Don't suggest that their plan is a bit over-kill.  Just worry about the weather and the price of chocolate milk.
9.  Give birth even more years prior, to a cheerful daughter who has a key for the church building where we were based.  Ask her to arrive early and be grateful when she does, and also when she stays after to help clean up.
10.  Give birth, also many years prior, to another helpful son who willingly drove all the way to Portland to pick up stuff for the Hood to Coast that is happening in three weeks.  Make a mental note to NOT ALWAYS schedule your 10K on the same morning as the annual HTC team-captain-meeting-and-stuff-pickup.
11.  Most of all, LOVE all the people who actually showed up (84 total!) and obediently ran/walked your route through the flat little town of Dayton without getting lost!  Then challenge them ALL to do a little more next year!
12.  Resolve to NOT volunteer again next year, knowing full well that you will.

Eager runners and walkers gather to sign up.   Husband Dear is at the keyboard.
Waiting for the signal to go.
They're all heading in the right direction!
Helpful spotters Jo and Dorothy keep them on course.
1st one in. 
FRP and ..... friend?
Talented Son finishes his 1st official 5K.   Can you say Future Marathoner? 
10K runners.  "Sue made me run the whole *#%^* thing!"
Note about my previous post: If I'd really been on the ball, I would have taken a photo of the little garage sale sign sitting quietly nearby.  But I didn't.  It even had balloons.  Don't be alarmed though, because this year ... no garage sale monster in sight!  I heard from alert witnesses that the monster was busy ravaging the same neighborhood of last year's run.  (hehehehehe)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How the garage sale monster ate my 10K

Last year Favorite Daughter and I came up with the nifty idea of a church-sponsored running event.  I submitted the idea to the Powers That Be.  With an enthusiastic response/approval, and as a reward for said nifty idea, I was asked to be in charge.   I pulled together a talented little committee of Favorite Daughter and awesome-friend/fellow-runner Kyndra.  We titled the event, "Run, Run, Ye Saints".  If you are not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you might not understand this title.  So let me explain:

One of our best-known "Mormon" hymns was written in 1846 by William Clayton.   Its lyrics are full of encouragement and comfort for the early pioneers as they traveled across the plains, via covered wagons and handcarts, to the Salt Lake valley.  The title?  "Come, Come, Ye Saints".

Back to the run.  We based the event at one of our chapels in McMinnville, OR.  I plotted a 5K (3.1 miles) route that wound from the church through a quiet, friendly, harmless-looking neighborhood and back to the church.  I was careful to avoid crossing busy streets and THOUGHT we had marked it well with chalked arrows and signs.  10K runners would run the route twice.  Favorite Daughter handled publicity and Awesome Friend made prizes for the winners.  I also recruited Brilliant-Techie-Guy Chris to handle the timing via his computer set-up, and a few others to cover the smaller jobs.  And as always Husband Dear was there in full support.  Everyone came through like champs.

We had a great turnout, numbering close to 80 running or walking participants.  We even had stroller-pushers.  The elite recovery drink--chocolate milk, and cookies were all set out for the finish.  It all went smoothly until the run actually started.

There is no way we could have anticipated the MONSTER-sized neighborhood GARAGE SALE that roared to life in the harmless-looking neighborhood that same morning.  It snuck in like a stealth bomber, completely hidden from our radar screen.  Bargain shoppers and their cars flooded onto our route, covering the arrows and blocking the signs.  It was a windy (long i) route anyway, and with muddled directions, runners & walkers were criss-crossing everywhere.  Some even stopped to browse through the merchandise and haggle a few deals.  Nevertheless, everyone seemed to have a good time.  I'll never know if our prize-winners REALLY were the fastest, or just missed a turn and lopped off a bit of distance.  Oh well ... at least it was a free event.

Run, Run, Ye Saints, 2011, is happening this weekend and yes, I am in charge again.  We moved it to nearby Dayton, OR, in hopes of avoiding the monster.  For added insurance/weaponry, I made maps.  Hopefully I'll remember to take pictures this time.  And if the monster rears its head in Dayton, I'll get photos of it also.  And maybe I'll check out a few sales.