Archive for August, 2009

Hood to Coast: The Mother of All Relays

I recently participated in Hood to Coast and had a blast!

Our first runners started at the base of Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood at 7:45 a.m. on Friday morning, and all twelve of us ran the final 30 feet to the finish line at Seaside, Oregon, on the beach at around 1:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.

I’m in Van #2, which meant that my team of 6 started a little later on Friday.  My first leg was at around 2:30 p.m. and it was nearly 7 miles through a section of the Springwater Corridor.  It was quite flat with a slight downhill, which I found easy to traverse.

My team mates and I in Van #2 finished our first legs at around 6:00 p.m., and we headed to our van captain’s parents’ house in Council Crest where her parents opened up their home to us.  We enjoyed hot showers, amazing hosts, and a leisurely dinner before getting/attempting to get some shuteye before the next round.  We had to leave by 9:30 p.m. in order to make it to the next van exchange in St. Helens, Oregon.

My second run was at around midnight on Saturday morning.  It was 5 miles on a gravel road in pitch darkness, with only the occasional car passing by and a small headlamp providing much-needed illumination of the road ahead.  I had to fight off imagined scenes from the Blair Witch Project during my run.

We had a bit of a hiccup at the next van exchange near Mist, Oregon (a.k.a. “the middle of nowhere”) when Van #1 failed to show up at the designated time.  (We blame poor cell reception, an absence of two-way walkie-talkies, and Van #1 oversleeping.)  I had the distinct pleasure of giving the last runner of our van the bad news that his replacement runner was not there yet.  “Shit,” was all he said after running his own dark 5-miler.  Thankfully, the first runner of Van #1 appeared at the runners’ exchange chute within 5 minutes.  She apologized and was clearly disoriented when she started to run in the opposite direction!  “Sorry,” she muttered, “I’m not awake yet.”  This gave us in Van #2 something to chuckle about for a while.

While our cohorts in the other van were running their legs, we drove to the final van exchange outside of Astoria, Oregon (a.k.a. “the middle of nowhere: part 2”) for another shot at respite. Sleeping under the stars turned into a feeling of being constantly spritzed in the face, as three of us slept/attempted to doze in sleeping bags in the lingering mist.  The ground was hard and lumpy and it was all I could do to find a comfortable position.  (The other three were lucky/unlucky enough to have to sleep inside the van.)  An hour-and-a-half was all I could muster while sleeping on a (petrified) cloud.

This is why I don’t enjoy camping.

I woke up with a definite concern. It might have been a combination of not sleeping correctly or the strain of the first two legs, but my right ankle hurt badly. I tried icing it down and taking some Ibuprofen before running my final leg– a nearly 8-miler on rolling hills.  Another runner in our van offered to exchange legs with me– his was just a little over 4 miles– but I refused.  I told my van mates that I was going to run last leg no matter what but to check on me after the first three miles.

The first few minutes of my final leg were brutal and I was nearly fast-walking instead of running.  I kept thinking how foolish it was to allow my pride to take me over, refusing the offer of having someone else run my leg.  But, as I got into the run– and adrenaline (and possibly the Ibuprofen) kicked in– I barely noticed the painful ankle and started running at my normal 7½-to-8-minute-mile pace.  Seeing my team mates at the three-mile mark– and their gifts of bottled water and a Shot Blok— was a sight for sore, um, ankles, and gave me a much-needed energy boost.  Seeing them again (unexpectedly) at the six-mile mark was also a welcome reprieve.  I finished my leg– under time– and gladly handed the wristband (a.k.a. “the baton”) over to the next runner.

I was done!  I’d run Hood-to-Coast 2009!  Now, it was up to the remaining three runners to get us to the beach!

I remember saying after my first HTC experience that I will never do it again.  This marked my fifth time doing the “Mother of All Relays,” and I’m looking forward to the next!

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Animal Collective “My Girls”

Is it much that I feel I need
A solid soul and the blood I bleed
With a little girl, and by my spouse
I only want a proper house

I don’t care for fancy things
Or to take part in a precious race
And children cry for the one who has
A real big heart and a father’s grace

I don’t mean to seem like I care about material things like a social status
I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girls

Cool!

Public Displays of Disaffection

I don’t understand why some couples– or any coupling– find it necessary to fight in public. Most times, it’s as if they’d tuned out the rest of the world, and don’t realize that other people can hear everything they’re saying to/yelling at each other.

The worst kinds are those that do it in public transportation vehicles like buses and commuter trains. I once witnessed what I assumed to be husband-and-wife, verbally accosting each other. When the husband walked away from his wife, the wife proceeded to follow him, yelling at him the entire time, while hapless fellow passengers did their best to ignore them. In that particular instance, another passenger– a female toting a young girl– implored the woman to lower her voice, and the woman temporarily turned her anger on the female, telling her to ‘shut’ her ‘trap,’ and that this was between her and her husband. The problem was, it stopped being between just the two of them when they decided to make their quarrel public.

What are these people trying to prove? Is it a ‘power play’ sort of thing, see who yells the loudest? Are they trying to rally support from the people around them– whether consciously or subconsciously?

I swear, sometimes I just want to walk up to these people and do the Vulcan grip on them. Sadly, I don’t know how to do the Vulcan grip, and must quietly seethe instead.

Road Runners Etiquette

I’m a runner.

There, I said it.

It’s taken me a while to be able to say that phrase again. Primarily because it was quite some time between phases when I considered running seriously. The last time was in my early twenties. It’s amazing that this second phase appeared in my *gulp* late thirties when not all my physiology is as reliable as from before. For instance, I don’t recall ever feeling exceptionally sore after each run during my twenties. Nowadays, I would feel strange if I didn’t experience soreness after a run. Oh, well. I’ll chalk this up to *gulp* old age.

I appreciate the solitude of a run, whether I am running by myself or at a race. It is seriously a time when I can listen deeply to my thoughts.  But as much as it is a solitary sport, running also has its social aspects.  And because of this, road runners etiquette exists.  Here are some of the few tidbits that I follow:

  • If running on a sidewalk and you approach someone walking, slow down to ensure that you can pass the person safely and courteously.  If the person has his/her back to you, express where you’re going to pass them, like, “Passing on the left (or right).”  This gives the person an opportunity to step aside.  If the person is facing you as you approach him/her, run on the right side of the side walk.  If the person is walking a dog or has children, either slow down or temporarily run on the side of the street, if safe, to pass them.
  • If running on the street, run on the side of the street facing oncoming traffic.  This allows approaching vehicles to see you so that both you and the driver can respond appropriately as you pass each other.  Stay as close as possible to the curb.  Wear reflective gear, especially at night or when visibility might be low.  Remember that not all drivers are courteous; stay alert and don’t feel like you’ve got the right of way.  If you can, run on the sidewalk instead.
  • Avoid running on bike paths.  If you must do so temporarily, stay alert.  Obviously, cyclists are traveling at a faster speed than you and may not be able to respond quickly.
  • Give a courteous wave, thumbs up, smile, nod, or courteous greeting to other runners as you either pass them or each other in opposite directions.  Positive reinforcement goes a long way.
  • If you listen to music while running, keep the volume at a safe level so that you can hear the music while still being able to hear what’s going on around you.  Again, remember that not all drivers or cyclists or other people may be as alert as you.

Here’s a list of other runners do’s and don’ts.

Whatever the reason you decide to hit the road running, do so safely.  It will be more fun for you and others.

Lucky to be Diggin’ on this Song