Bucket-list Hood to Coast Relay 2015

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Ironically, I started my blog three + years ago with the hopes of one day being selected for a sponsored  Hood to Coast Team.  Living on the East Coast, I felt my chances of rallying a team and running the epic Mother of all Relays was merely a pipe dream.  Little did I know that my blog would assisted me in being selected for the AnotherMotherRunner.com 2014 SanFran to Napa Ragnar Relay Team.  This epic adventure ultimately lead me, via #BRF Melissa,  to my 2015 Hood to Coast Team!  Many thanks to Melissa for extending me an invitation to join her team.  There was not a moment of hesitation upon the invite.  It was am immediate YES, HELL YES! BUCKET-LIST Baby!  I was ecstatic!

Arrival to Portland! Pittock Mansion. Hazy skies from the wild fires

Arrival to Portland! Pittock Mansion. Hazy skies from the wild fires

No trip to Portland would be complete without a visit with fellow BAMR, Sarah Bowen Shea!  After all, she and Dimity are the only reason Melissa and I know each other.

Sarah, Jennifer, Melissa!

Sarah, Jennifer, Melissa! Rooftop Eastlund Hotel…ok this pic is in the bathroom:)

Weeks leading up to the relay there were significant concerns the wild fires might have a negative impact on the race.  Fortunately, they winds shifted  days before the start and the fires were not going to be an issue.  The next issue was rain, which Oregon desperately needed.  Rain or no Rain, nothing was going to dampen my spirits.

Van #2 We like our "Middle Leg" Hard (horrible name:) but GREAT Team!

Van #2 We like our “Middle Leg” Hard (horrible name:) but GREAT Team!

Ready to go! Warm but not rain! We headed off to the first major exchange Sandy, OR.

Mt. Hood in the distance. I was giddy with excitement each time caught a glimpse.

Mt. Hood in the distance. I was giddy with excitement each time I caught a glimpse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roadside Cheering  and cowbell for Manda

Roadside Cheering and cowbell for Manda

Leg 9, 5.38 Moderate, was me! While it was a warm 81 degrees it was nothing like NC 81 degrees.  It felt great and I laid down the best pace I had run in months!

Boaring, OR...Ready for my first leg with teammates Amy and Melissa.

Boaring, OR…Ready for my first leg with teammates Amy and Melissa. Small world as Amy  use to live in Raleigh and was the cross country coach at my daughters high school and her husband and I worked for the same company.

Leg 9- Springwater Trail

Leg 9- Springwater Trail

Each run got us closer to Portland.  Oddly enough exactly where we started earlier in the day.  Amy ran leg 12 into the next major exchange on the waterfront downtown Portland.  What a treat to see the city at night.

Hawthorne Bridge, Portland, OR

Hawthorne Bridge, Willamette River, Portland, OR.

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Keep Portland WEIRD!  Runners certainly did their share.  This was too good not to capture. He was rock’in those booty VEGAN shorts! I sure hope he was fast.

Benson Bubblers! Historic bronze bubblers in downtown Portland!

Benson Bubblers! Historic bronze bubblers in downtown Portland!  Note relay fashion- Injinji toe socks and Chacos…nice! Anything goes!

Van 1 was off again and we ( Van #2) had our first break. Oddly enough, we were back where we started in Portland.  The perk of running with native Portlanders is we were able to rest at team mates Jenny and Melissa’s houses.  Conveniently, they are neighbors!  It really could not have gotten any easier.  Melissa’s husband ( Sean) had a fabulous meal and beverages ready for us!

The late night spread!

The late night spread! Homemade Spaghetti Sauce he cooked all day!

YUMMY!

YUMMY!

 

Sean...West Coast Hubs!

Sean…West Coast Hubs!

This was posh relay running! Real food, hot shower, and a bed for a few hours.  I almost felt like I was cheating.  It was fabulous!  Certainly a “treat” I did not experience on my previous two relays.  I embraced it! 12:45am we were off to St. Helens, OR to meet up with Van 1 for our next big exhange.

RAIN, RAIN, RAIN!

RAIN, RAIN, RAIN!

The weather took a drastic turn. Rain, high winds, and hail.

Paul's awesome idea for exchanges was an umbrella with lights!

Paul’s awesome idea for exchanges was an umbrella with lights!

Ready for night leg!

Ready for night leg!

3:30am, I was off on my 2nd leg 21, 5.06 Moderate.  The sky absolutely opened up.  It rained so hard I had a hard time seeing in front of me.  The thunder and lightning absolutely freaked me out.  All I could think about was that I had on Melissa’s bib with her emergency contact.  I was going to be dead from a lightning strike and they were going to call her hubs ( Sean) instead of mine.  I prayed and ran as fast as I possibly could in the pitch black.  Despite being slightly rattled, the run was great and I enjoyed it.  I lived to tell! I was completely drenched head to toe when I was done.

Last major exchange Astoria, OR at dawm

Last major exchange Astoria, OR at dawn

Chilly and breezy, the rain ceased and the skys started to clear.  We headed to our next exchange so we could get some sleep.

SUN!

SUN!

Downed trees, limbs, leaves. The roads showed the aftermath of the wind and rain.

Downed trees, limbs, leaves. The roads showed the aftermath of the wind and rain.

The van lots were a muddy mess so we moved to plan b and slept in the van.  While not ideal we all caught some z’s.  We got another round of wind and rain.  I was so scared a tree was going to fall on our van as we slept.  It was insane!  It was so windy the “Honey Buckets” aka Porta Potties on the east coast BLEW OVER!

Blown over Honey Buckets! Melissa anchored down the one on the far right. She felt it rocking! Lucky girl!

Blown over Honey Buckets! Melissa anchored down the one on the far right. She felt it rocking! Lucky girl!

We all caught some zzz's. I slept in the drivers seat!

We all caught some zzz’s. I slept in the drivers seat!

Blue skies!

Blue skies!

We had gotten word that the finish line had to be moved off the beach in Seaside due to gail force winds.  We were just happy the we were able to still run given the crazy hurricane like weather.

Van mates! Manda was running!

Van mates! Manda was running!

We were off on our final legs and our journey to Seaside.  The sun came out and temps rose into the low 60’s.  Perfect running temps! WINDY!

 

Ready for leg 33!

Cold weather clothes shed…..Ready for leg 33!

My last leg 33, 7.72 hard, was beautiful.  I enjoyed every minute of it and just took in the beautiful Oregon country side. image

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My wonderful team mates, who for the first time were able to support me during my leg.  I could hear them way  before I saw them!  They were so great!

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Loved the bicycle fence.

Loved the bicycle fence.

So excited when the Dead Jocks in a Box, featured in the Hood to Coast Documentary, passed me.

So excited when the Dead Jocks in a Box, featured in the Hood to Coast Documentary, passed me.

 

 

I was obsessed with the birch trees. Melissa, collected me some birch twigs while I ran! hehe

I was obsessed with the birch trees. Melissa, collected me some birch twigs while I ran! hehe Post run, cool temps were back!

Exchange 35-36, we found food and set Amy off on the final leg into Seaside, OR.

YUMMY!

YUMMY! Burger and Craft Beer!

Chilly and so happy to be almost done!

Chilly and so happy to be almost done!

Melissa's Vuvuzela performance made the H2C news coverage!

Melissa’s Vuvuzela performance made the H2C news coverage! Beer, Cowbell, and vuvuzela…this girl has talent!

 

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4:00pm ish Seaside here we come!  The finish line was moved to the boardwalk. The beach finish line area looked like a war zone.  The wind was still whipping.

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waiting for AMY!

DONE!

DONE!

Cheers!

Cheers!

Van 2 Celebration!

Van 2 Celebration! Phones in hand!

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Hood 2 Coast Relay DONE! Bucket list checkoff! You don’t do it for the medal!

Sunday am storm aftermath.

Sunday am storm aftermath. I can honestly say I experienced all weather that Oregon has to offer!

H2C did not disappoint.  I had an absolute blast!  Fabulous experience!  Thanks Melissa for making this happen!  I cannot wait for round 2!

Despite the finish line being closed on Saturday we got our official picture on Sunday am!

Despite the finish line being closed on Saturday we got our official picture on Sunday am!

 

 

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Down and Dirty… Tough Mudder, Charlotte, NC Recap

I can honestly say I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I registered for the Charlotte, NC Tough Mudder as part of deal with my buddy Kathryn.

KMac & JMart Save the Light Half Marathon 2013 Folly Beach, SC

KMac & JMart Save the Light Half Marathon 2013 Folly Beach, SC

She agreed to run the Twin Cities Marathon with me if I would do Tough Mudder.  DEAL! I registered and then read and watched the obstacle videos! Artic enemia, electric eel, electric shock therapy… what had I gotten myself into? I did not fret to long as I was excited about a new challenge and a running buddy for my fall marathon.

Team #BAMR Bad Ass MUDA Runners was officially formed and the recruiting for additional team members began. We recruited 12 team members but lost 3 prior to the event.  We were 9 members strong on race day!

Team #BAMR

Team #BAMR

crossfitHaving never participated in a mud run I had no idea what I was getting myself into or how to train.  The running was a no brainer for me it was the sheer lack of muscular strength that was of concern.   Luckily Kathryn had that figured out for us and talked me into a trying out Raleigh Crossfit. I had heard of Crossfit, seen numerous tweets about it but honestly had no idea what it was.  I went into my trial class not knowing what to expect (or what to wear) and left KNOWING I would schedule my foundations training ( to learn the 9 fundamental Crossfit movements) and add Crossfit to my weekly training routine.  I was hooked from day 1. I maintained my marathon training and incorporated in 3 Crossfit training days.  I love CF so much I have actually dropped a running day ( 3 post CF marathons completed and no regrets). The addition of CF to my training regimen has been  very beneficial to me.              ( perhaps a future post)

Obstacle recap, of the ones I can remember, from the Charlotte, NC event. Weather was overcast, chilly upper 40’s.

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  • To get to the starting line you must scale a small wall.  Don’t let the size fool you! I had a friend fall, crack a rib, and tear her intercostal muscle on this very wall. In complete BEAST mode she completed the course with the help of her team.  You go Sarah S! The day of our race, the medics were tending to a fellow mudder whom had injured themselves attempting the wall.  Be careful!
  • Running- the running between the  obstacles was similar to single track trail running.  Uneven surfaces, roots, rocks, holes, you name it.  Luckily, I had spent many miles on the trails during training. Tip: Leave the asphalt when you can and train on single track trail
  • Kiss of Mud– surprisingly I was able to  to do on my hands and knees based on height of the wire

    Mama Bean loving Mud Mile!

    Mama Bean loving Mud Mile!

  • Glory Blades– no issues with a foot boost, from team mate,  to pull myself to the top and and slide down the other side.
  • Arctic Enema– mentally and physically HORRIBLE! The freezing water completely stunned me, I could not catch my breath.  I pulled myself together, went under the wooden plank only to be welcomed by huge ice cubes on the other side. When I made it out I had an full body ice cream headache.  Torture! Thankfully they had Mylar sheets to help warm you up.  All I could think about was those poor people on the Titanic. Tip: close your mouth,  jump out far, to get to as close to the plank wall as possible.  
  • Cliffhanger– must have been a none event.  I don’t even remember it.
  • Warrior Carry– no problem, got practice with this in crossfit. I proudly carried Kayla whom is 2 inches taller than me! Tip: have team wait to distribute carry based on size and weight.
  • Balls to the Wall– no problem, due to notches in the wall for foot placement.  I was actually surprised they were there.  Would be much harder without.
  • Hold you Wood– no problem, the name of this obstacle brought many laughs and crude comments from our co-ed team with only 2 male members.  
  • Mud Mile– FAVORITE!  I found slugging through, and sliding into  the cold mud fun.  There were plenty of fellow mudders available to pull you up the dirt mound as needed.  
  • Berlin Walls– this one takes team work to hoist team mates up high enough to pull themselves over the wall. The drop from the top to the other side can be intimidating thankfully the landing is softened by a think layer of mulch.  Tip: don’t rush your drop from top of the wall.  Attempt to execute a safe landing.
  • Boa Constrictor– no issues other than being in a confined space. The pipe was so small I could not crawl on my forearms.  I had to side crawl.
  • Just the Tip– I did not make it past the first section and dropped into the cold green water.  Possibly easier without gloves.  Our 1 team mate who made it the entire way was glove free! Way to go LIZARD!

    Lizard!

    Lizard!

  • Electric Eel- UGG! Dive in FAST, low,crawl, shimmy, whatever it takes as low and fast as you can to get out.  It sucked! It was worse for some than others.  It was not as bad as I thought. I feel like having on two shirts help insulate me from the shocks. Tip: wear two shirts, keep you mouth closed and head down. 
  • King of the Mountain– Fun! team work is needed to boost each other up some of the bales.  Tip: use the twine to help pull yourself up.
  • Cage Crawl- I am very comfortable in the water so I had no issues with this obstacle.  Due to my layers of clothing I felt like I was floating.  For those not comfortable being on their back in water this could be tough.
  • Walk the Plank– Close your mouth, exhale from you nose ( or hold it) and JUMP! I forgot to exhale and got muddy water up my nose YUK! No fear of moderate heights no issues.  
  • Unknown Cargo Net Obstacle- Jump across water to a cargo net. If you miss you go in the water.  I caught the cargo net but lost my grip and fell into the water.  My left shoulder has hurt ever since:(   Way to go Sundrop and J-Wow for mastering this one!
  • Funky Monkey– HARD! After teammate slipped off first rung and fell onto her back on the metal platform (Thankfully she was fine) I decided it was not worth the risk.  I jumped into the cold water and swam across. The bars are slick and placed 1.5 feet apart. Way to go J-Wow who effortlessly tackled this obstacle!
  • Everest– I made it on 1st attempt! Thankful for the strong volunteers at the top who caught me and pulled me up.  Tip: seek out the group of volunteers that look strong enough to hoist you up. 
  • Electroshock TherapySUPER HORRIBLE! I swear they “juiced” up the shock on this one.  They hurt!  To make it worse the ground was thick, slick mud.  I kept falling and had trouble getting up (envision the person in the horror movie running away and they keep falling…that was me) . To increase the fun they placed  a huge hay bale, that had to be scaled right in the middle of the shock torture.  Scaling a hay bale while getting shocked non stop was ridiculous.  I finally make it over the bale only to face plant into thick mud. At this point, I was laughing out of fear I would never make it out.  Finally, I made it.  We were all so disoriented, we did not realize Mama Bean was stuck not able to get over the bale.  Fortunately, she decided to go around.  Sorry Mama Bean:( Tip: attempt to go as fast as you can.  Find mental strength in knowing this is the last obstacle
DONE!

DONE!

Enjoying the warmth of the finishers tent

Enjoying the warmth of the finishers tent

My random tips:

  • My only injury...random

    My only injury…random

    CLOTHES-Wear old clothes and shoes they will be NASTY! I wore long sleeve compression shirt under my team shirt.  It kept me warm and was a great barrier against the mud and shocks.  Capri pants and high socks! Its not the best look going but it provided a great protective barrier from scrapes and scratches.  We had BadAss Socks 🙂

  • GLOVES- I wore them and was glad I had them.  Half the team had them half did not.  Really no advantage just preference.
  • HAIR-If you hair it long wear it up or braided.  If you hair is short like mine…brace yourself for a seriously bad,muddy, hair day.
  • SHOES-We did not duck tape shoes.  Just tie tight and double knot.  Nobody lost their shoes.  The trails were littered with duck tape that fell of peoples shoes.
  • DROP BAG- Bring flip flops to wear after you toss your shoes, towel to dry off with after the COLD rinse down, change of clothes. Qtips to get a jump on your ear cleaning. $ if you want more beer or food. Phone so you can take post race photos ( we did not take on course..too risky)

    @Dunkyourkicks for pediatric cancer!  Great cause!

    @Dunkyourkicks for pediatric cancer! Great cause!

Overall thoughts– For me Tough Mudder is a “One and Done”.  It was fun, a good experience, new challenge,  but I did not finish with a strong desire to do another one.  It was a great team effort and I am most grateful for the friendships I enhanced and developed with my awesome team mates. I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard in my life. Tough Mudder is truly is a TEAM event.  Recruit as many “like minded” people as you can and stick together!  No team? No problem, there are plenty of volunteers and mudders at the obstacles helping each other out. The support is amazing!

Was it the toughest most physically and mentally demanding thing I have ever done? For me no. Ultra/marathon running and some Crossfit WODs(work out of the day) are far more physically and mentally challenging…FOR ME. The experience is so personal based on an individuals physical condition, experiences, and fears. For someone with fear or heights or water I think Tough Mudder would be mental torture.

Tough Mudder is a a quality event that will not disappoint! Give it a try! Getty Muddy! You really don’t know what you are capable of until you give it a try.

Thanks Tay Tay for the great collage!

Thanks Tay Tay for the great collage!

J-Wow (advid Mudder) surprised Southern B by showing up the the morning of the event...

J-Wow (advid Mudder) surprised Southern B by showing up the the morning of the event…

 

The SURPRISE got even better as J-WOW revealed he was not only their to support her on her 1st TM but he was part of the TEAM!

The SURPRISE got even better as J-WOW revealed he was not only there to support her on her 1st TM but he was part of the TEAM! We were so glad to have him! Especially SunDrop whom was the lone male team mate!