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Hood to Coast Highlights: it’s about more than just the running

I know you are all getting bombarded with Nuun Hood to Coast recaps this week, but I hope you aren’t sick of them yet. Last year I wrote 4 different posts about the relay (I know, I know…I just had so much to say!) and while everything that I said in both my Power of a Relay and 10 Things I Learned from Hood to Coast posts still hold true this time around, I promise to be a lot more concise.

But that still doesn’t mean that I’m able to condense an almost week-long west coast extravaganza into one little post. So while I try to reflect on the actual Hood to Coast relay and how it has impacted me as a runner, here are some of the non-running highlights.

Mt Hood

But first – in case you are just catching up, Nuun sponsored a team of 30 bloggers to run the 31st Annual Hood to Coast Relay. These bloggers were divided into three AfterNuun Delight teams: Team Morning, Team Noon, and Team Night. Each team was made up of 12 people divided into two vans (10 bloggers + 2 Nuun staffers) who handed off to each other over the course of the relay. We all ran 3 different legs of varying distances, survived mainly on trail mix and peanut butter pretzels, and got about zero hours of sleep. Got it? Good…

The Pre-Race Festivities

I arrived in the PNW late Tuesday night for a little slumber party fun with Jocelyn, Susan, Laura, and Steph. It was a great way to ease into the craziness and social overload that came from 30 excited bloggers descending onto Nuun.

One of the major downsides of the whole experience last year was that most of us didn’t get a chance to hang out before the relay, so the only people we spent any significant time with were those in our van. This year, Nuun was determined to change all that. We were encouraged to fly into Seattle on Wednesday for a few days of pre-relay fun.

Team 2l2qTeam 2L2Q – Corey, me, Molly, Zoe, and Jennifer

There was a baseball game, group runs, team dinners, a scavenger hunt around Seattle, a trip to Oiselle….from the moment we arrived in Seattle to the moment I boarded the plane home, life felt jam-packed.

IMG 1130

Everyone that I met was incredibly nice and seemed genuinely excited to be a part of Team Nuun. It was fun getting to know people outside their blogs and to learn more about them than what they choose to share on the internet. As much as I loved my van, I was glad for the time that I had to interact with other people.

But in the end I have to admit – 30 bloggers is a lot. Although I met everyone, it’s hard to spend a lot of time actually connecting with 29 new people, especially if you’re an introvert like myself.

Group run

I joked with a few people that I was from Vermont now, and so I wasn’t in the practice of talking to people. (Which is sort of sad but true.) Even though I was technically a “Nuun veteran” and knew several individuals coming into all this, that didn’t prevent me from feeling slightly overwhelmed in the larger groups. Unfortunately in these situations, my initial reaction is to be a quiet observer instead of an active participant. After those first few days of team bonding time, I found myself hoping that I didn’t come off as unfriendly instead of just nervous. And was more excited than ever to join my little group of 6 in the team van.

It probably didn’t help that I came in a little distracted. I was basically glued to my phone all day on Wednesday, hanging on each and every update that I got from my sister’s long and difficult labor and anxiously waiting for the moment that I could see this beautiful little face.

Leah GraceWelcome to the world, Leah Grace. You are so very loved.

But can you really blame me? The first baby in the family, born to my {not-so-very}little sister is a pretty exciting event. As much as I loved Hood to Coast, there was a big part of me that wished I was down in Florida with the little nugget.

In the end, as crazy and exhausting as the whole social aspect of the relay was, I found myself wishing for more time. Relays have this magical power to connect you with your teammates in a way that no other race can, and I felt like some of those connections were just getting started as the relay ended.

The Skirts

It’s sort of funny to me that these little skirts have been the center of so much controversy. I get it, not everyone likes them. Some of you think they’re ridiculous. And that’s fine. To each their own. But really —  this is a relay. And part of the point is wearing crazy/bright/matching team outfits. Especially when you’re racing said relay for fun (I mean…we tried to give Bowerman AC a run for their money but in the end we just couldn’t keep up…so close!).

IMG 0115

So while I’m not about to go out and don the sparkles for my next marathon (if you are, more power to you), I honestly loved wearing my Team Sparkle Skirt during Hood to Coast. And here’s why:

  • Looking like your team is part of the fun. Not only was it always easy to spot your teammates, but our sparkles literally took over the course. Multiple runners joked about how they thought they had passed us only to get to the next leg and find one of our runners ahead of them again.
  • Having a team uniform that easily goes over your regular running clothes means that I didn’t have to wear the same nasty, stinky shirt/shorts for every leg. I’d change my outfit, slip the skirt back on, and be (almost) as good as new. Everybody wins.
  • You really don’t notice them. Sure, I may have mooned several runners/drivers as big gusts of wind or trucks blew past, but other than the cool breeze I felt as my skirt went up, I hardly even noticed it was there. They are light and didn’t feel constricting at all.
  • Passing people in a skirt is always fun. On my first leg, some woman commented to another runner, “I’m not going to destroy my knees for that girl” as if a skirt-clad runner isn’t serious enough to chase down. Ummm okay – good for you. But that’s not going to stop me from passing you.
  • And of course I have to mention…once again, it matched my shoes perfectly. So there’s that.

The Runners

What I loved about our Hood to Coast team was that it brought people together from all different backgrounds and from all over the country. We were all running different speeds and were at different places in our training, but we came together with a common goal. No matter what – people gave it their all. Even though we weren’t in it to win it, it was clear that everyone was so motivated to run the best race that they possible could. People were coming back from injury, dealing with sickness, or running through aches and pains. But it didn’t hold anyone back. And best of all – everyone was so incredibly supportive. This group of people that had essentially been strangers before the relay spent the entire weekend looking out for each other. We cheered our runners through the night, comforted each other when we were feeling sick or discouraged because of injury, and were all genuinely happy for one another when someone ran well. Not only was it an awesome feeling, but it was also inspiring. To see everyone out there running the best they could under the circumstances pushed me to run hard, even during those times when I felt like I had nothing left to give.

Runner2sCorey, my fellow Runner #2, and I both rocking the Team Watermelon

The Sponsors

It’s pretty well known by this point that we were a very well-supported team. From Nuun providing the opportunity to run the relay (and keeping us hydrated!) to companies like GoSportID and Endorphin Warrior who gave us words to run by, Tiger Tail who kept my legs feeling fresh despite some crazy hills, Team Sparkle and Sparkly Soul who helped us (what else?) sparkle, and of course Saucony who literally kept me running all weekend, there were so many amazing companies that I felt honored to represent.

words to run by

We were very spoiled — a fact that I felt a little guilty about at times, and something for which I will never really be able to say “thank you!” enough.

In the end…

There is so much more that I could say about this experience. Despite many days of reflecting and the two days it took me to write this post, I still don’t really feel as though my words are doing it justice. Hood to Coast is a race like no other, and I encourage any runner who is considering the race to just do it. You will not be let down.

Next time, I will recap my actual legs. But the short and sweet version: I ran fast(er than I expected) and my knee didn’t hurt. And that, my friends, was enough to make me feel like I was on top of the world!

16 Responses to Hood to Coast Highlights: it’s about more than just the running

  1. First of all, as soon as I saw your post pop up in my google reader I got so excited! I always love your posts – but I think I have told you that before. #stalkerstuff

    Even though we were in the same van last year, I feel like I really got to know you well this year – which was awesome for me (might not be awesome for you!) – and I’m so glad I did. I see more running events/life events in our future – especially with my super stalking skills.

    Also you most certainly did not come off as unfriendly this weekend – VERY much the opposite.

    Skirts – 100% agree with you!

  2. Hi you. Oh, how I wish I would have had at least 3 more days with just the people like you that I barely talked to. I’m not entirely an introvert and this weekend was rough on me. Maybe I’m more introverted than I think. And you fit right in with the “glued to your phone” part…we were all glued to our phones! For all we knew, you were tweeting, twittering…whatever.. ;) So hard to put a weekend like this into words. I hope I get another chance to try it again and dig deeper with those that I barely skimmed the surface with. So glad to read this…beautiful Lauren! Oh, and yes, the sparkle was fun for the relay.

    Hope to keep up with you on your adventures…newly married, breaking 3hours in the marathon, etc. :) And congrats to your sister.

  3. Sounds like you had a ton of fun LC and got to meet a lot of new people. Not quite sure I believe you are introverted… at least not the Lauren I know! Distracted maybe- with good reason. Glad you had fun with new people- now I’m off to read the blogs you linked to! Can’t wait to read the running recaps.
    Lizzy´s last post ..Random Thursday Things

  4. Tear :’)

    This is great. I’m SO glad we got to hang out from the get-go, and not once did I think you were anything but super friendly, goofy, and a bit sarcastic :) LOVE YOU ILL COME VISIT SOON

  5. Love this! Great post. Best part was your end note! Go legs go!
    Kristin Miller´s last post ..So, a runner goes to the chiropractor Part II

  6. Wow that baby is beautiful. Who wouldn’t be glued to their phone, waiting for an update about that delicious little nugget??!?
    Christina´s last post ..Life

  7. Love this! I have never been a part a relay (besides high school and college) but I really hope I can someday. Reading all the HTC recaps makes me want to run in one soon.

    Your new little niece is precious too. I hope you get to snuggle her in your arms real soon!
    Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom´s last post ..Halfway There, Training Tidbits and Half Marathon Goals! And a lot of rambling….

  8. Loved reading your recap . . . I didn’t know about your sister and the little nugget — how precious the baby is! Good times during #2L2Q although my tweeting skills were subpar (that’s why I was always falling behind – lol)

  9. i totally forgot to check on your sis after Wednesday-terrible me. How precious is that little one though! I know you can’t wait to get to FL. It was so great meeting you-you were kind, friendly, and funny and that I could tell from what little time we actually got to hang out. VT in the spring is looking very, very positive! :)
    elizabeth´s last post ..#NUUNHTC Day 2

  10. You make me really want to run HTC next year…it looks amazing! But more importantly, congratulations on becoming an aunt…babies are incredible. Hope you get to see her soon.
    Cathryn@My Heart’s Content´s last post ..Weekday Workouts

  11. Leah Grace is lovely! Best wishes to the new mommy :) I can imagine that waiting for her birth was exciting and nerve-wracking knowing that things were going a bit rough for your sister. I am so glad that all worked out well :)

    This may sound creeper-ish but here goes…when you came to the door Saturday night I was really struck by something….you are such a luminous, natural beauty. Just WOW. Whatever glorious thing inside you gives us such thoughtful, fun, intelligent posts here on your blog was really shining forth in that moment. Your husband is a lucky, lucky man.
    XLMIC´s last post ..Don’t Be A Hater (alternate title: stepping outside one’s comfort zone)

  12. ah Lauren…LB….superstar singer and dancer and megastar runner & teammate of the bestvanever…just sayin….I am so lucky I was in this van..no seriously I am. Me, this very average runner with little experience and older gal, must have a running fairy godmother somewhere out there (maybe it’s Mason?! so fairy godfather!) who put me in that team in THAT van. I am so happy I got to share my first mommy vacation and best running experience with you. You are such a lovely nice gal. I hope our paths will cross again…at the top of that mountain or anywhere else. Thank you for accepting me with my less than superstar running skills and all my pinkness (I swear I dont wear pink usually)
    caroline´s last post ..Call us Maybe?

  13. LOVED the recap!! So glad that you were able to run pain-free!! I so wish that I was able to apply this year – would have loved to have spent time with all you amazing ladies!!!

    And congrats to your sis!! Hope they are both doing great! Your niece is adorable! =)
    Michele @ Nycrunningmama´s last post ..Hospital Packing List

  14. Looks like it was so much fun! Glad you ran pain-free, too! BTW if you need anything for NYCM, let me know! Can’t wait to hear about the running!

    Niece is precious, too! Love the name.
    Meggie´s last post ..Bits and Pieces

  15. Hi Lauren! Even if you don’t think so, your words really do a fantastic job of expressing your feelings about the experience and your appreciation of it all! You are one of the people that I was really hoping to get to know coming into the weekend. I have read your blog for a long time and I was excited to meet you in person. And I feel so lucky for the time that we got to spend together…especially on Sunday, when it was a small group and we were all relaxed and could start to really be ourselves (or was that just me?!). I cannot wait to hang out with you more in November!

    A couple of other things: 1. I really like your comments on the skirts. I 100% feel the exact same way and couldn’t agree more. 2. You did not come across as unfriendly, ever. You were nothing but sweet and funny the whole weekend :) 3. Finally, absolutely it is hard to get to know 30 people in such a short time, but I really hope that some of the connections that I made are just the start of real friendships that will last for a long time :)
    Corey´s last post ..Weekly Recap: The Aftermath

  16. I had mixed opinions going into the relay about the skirts, but they really were fun to run in! Not that I’ll do any “serious” races in mine anytime soon, but they’re perfect for relays.

    I realized that the runs in Seattle were the first (and second) times we’ve actually run together! (Right?) We’ve done relays, but that’s about it…

    Agreed with the comments on the giant group of bloggers…I felt much better once we got into our van with the group of six (including Mason!). Thirty bloggers can definitely be overwhelming no matter how nice/awesome everyone is, and I felt way more at ease with the small group.
    Susan´s last post ..2012 HOOD TO COAST, we run the night

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