(Read Part 1 HERE)
having never willingly run before in my life. All those promises my co-workers
made to help me become a runner? Yeah. That didn’t quite materialize. We were
supposed to do training runs together. Never happened. And I had no idea what I
was doing. I was getting shin splints when I ran, and aside from learning how
to stretch out my shin, had no idea how to prevent them. I knew nothing about
|The starting line at Timberline on Mt. Hood, Oregon.|
But, August came, and with it—the race. I was nervous as all
get-up. The 1200 teams had staggered starts, with the slowest teams starting
early in the morning. Just 5 or 6 teams started every ten minutes or so, with the
fastest teams starting in the evening, in the hopes that all 1200 teams would
finish up around the same time. Having the shortest three legs of the race
meant that I had the FIRST leg of the race—down Mt. Hood. It’s just about 5.5
miles. Downhill. I know, it sounds like a dream, gravity and all—but lemme tell
you it is HELL on your legs. H.E.L.L. About a quarter mile into it, I knew I
had made a HUGE mistake.
trotting, but going. I came up to the exchange and handed the slap-stick baton
to the next runner, and started to stretch. Whoah! No time for that! You see,
with a 12-man team you have two vans, with six runners and a dedicated driver
in each van. You drop off runner 1 (me) at the starting point, then you drive
to the exchange point. Once the exchange is complete, you pick up runner 1,
stuff them sweaty and worn out in the back of the van, and continue on to
exchange #2. No time to stretch out those over-worked muscles. Especially since
the other runners are MUCH faster than me. After runner 6 completes his leg, he
passes the baton to runner 7, who is in the other van. That gives our van a few
short hours to recoup.
spaghetti feast for us. We all took quick showers, changed into fresh running
clothes, and tried to take cat naps. And stretch. Because once we got the call
from Van #2 that they were getting close to their final exchange, we had to
pile back into the van.
|Mmm. It WAS NOT hard to find some pictures of
people’s road kill tallies on-line. WhatEVER.
My second leg of the race was my favorite—running through
downtown Portland, Oregon. The sun was just starting to set as I took the baton
and headed over a bridge, eventually jogging along the Portland riverfront.
There was some dodging of waiters and dog walkers as we went through the
restaurant district. But people cheered and clapped and gave you an “atta girl!”
between bites of pasta and salad. This was also the section where I most
frequently gave fellow runners “road kill” tallies. You’d see them on the vans
of the competitive teams. Anytime you pass another runner, that’s “road kill.”
There were a lot of tally marks on vans representing me.
race, except that there were pancakes at the exchange. Sweet manna from heaven. By then I was so sore. So excruciatingly sore, that my teammates debated
whether to even let me do my last leg. They stayed close. I walked a lot. But I did it.
the ocean. There was the finish line. Where on earth were my legs? Oh, I was in
so much pain I could barely walk. “You don’t have to go through the chute!” my
co-workers assured me. Are you kidding? I just about killed myself. You bet
your sweet Nikes I’m crossing that finish line!