Monday, August 31, 2009

Hood to Coast: a Good, Good Time

Call me loony tunes, but I believe my iPod sends me subliminal messages. As in, the first song it plays tells me something about my upcoming run.

Thus I took it as a very good omen when the first song rocking in my ears on my first leg of the Hood to Coast was the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling.” You know, that inane new ditty repeating over and over again, “I gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night.”

And indeed it was! This was my ninth Hood to Coast relay, my fourth with my kickin’ all-women’s team called See Jane Run. A creature of habit, I had chosen to run leg 7, maybe my 5th or even 6th time running that leg, which is the first one in van 2. (Since becoming a mom who breastfed her kiddos, I now find I’m hardwired to get up and be ready for action!) My first two legs are hilly, and I had prepped by doing a lot of hill training, especially in the last few weeks. Those training runs did their job strengthening my legs—and my mind. When the inclines started getting me down, I reminded myself of all the hills I’d cruised up recently. I ran the first leg, a 5.65-mile, hilly one, at an 8:14 pace, fine-tuning a balance between giving it my all and saving some for the rest of the race. (The photo, above, is me waving as I left the transition area. I'm the blur in teal lululemon shirt and black skirt.)

My second leg got off to a rocky start. Long story, but our van was 24 minutes late to the transition area. Guilt weighed me down as I ran off into the darkness at 4:44 a.m. Then part of my earbud got stuck in my ear (another long story). Rather than fight it the whole time, I asked a volunteer to shine his flashlight into my ear and fish it out. I lost about 30 seconds doing that, but I told myself I’d hit “reset” after that hiccup. And I did: While the hills still slowed me down, I set off with a new attitude. I ran the 5.89-mile leg, one of only five of the entire relay that earn the toughest label of “Very Hard,” in 52:24 (8:53/miles). Given that was my marathon pace on an Iowa-flat marathon course, I felt pretty good about that time.

Then I cranked on my final leg, a 4-miler that is flat to downhill until the final quarter-mile, when it takes an evil climb. Even on less than four hours of patchy sleep and almost 12 miles behind me, I cranked out 7:30s, outsprinting a much-younger runner at the finish. By then, it was almost 2:00 in the afternoon, but it still felt like part of a good, good night.

Even losing approximately 27 minutes to missed handoffs, my team finished 7th in the women’s submasters division in a time of 27 hours, 1 minute.


Jill said...

Wow, you did an amazing job at keeping a great pace! I am very impressed, congrats! I am doing my first relay next weekend in the CO mts and I know come my last leg, I'll be lucky to run 11 minute miles. btw, I was born and raised in Iowa, it ain't very flat :P. Congrats again!

Carolina John said...

sounds like a fun time! good job keeping up with it sarah.

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

Wow great work!! That is one sweet pace and a great finish considering the "hiccup."

Jackie said...

Way to go Sarah-Jane! Thought about you gals and cheered you on while watching it on the news. I am still resting my ACL surgery and healing well. Looking forward to reading more stories.

Monica Krueger said...

Nice job! I had a fun time this year too even though I did leg 1 and thrashed my legs! Did you see any silly people wearing mullet wigs? That was my team. I was about 10 min late to our 2nd transition too. :-(

Angela Keith said...

Way to outsprint the younger runner. Sometimes they need to be reminded to watch out for us older runners! Great job!

Rebekah said...

I'm a longtime reader of your blog (started reading when I was training for my first half--the Nike Women's in '07), and I'm actually putting together a relay team right now. We're going to try for HTC, but have a back-up race, another 12-man, 200-mile relay, in mind in case we don't make the registration cut. In any case, I would love to hear any suggestions you have about training for something like this! I've done a few half-marathons, but never anything like this, and I'm not sure what to start in terms of training recommendations for my team. If you have time one of these days, I'd love to see a post with any suggestions you might have! Thanks!