A Simple Running Log

August 29, 2014

Hood to Coast recap

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 11:48 am

It’s been almost a week since Megan, Stacy, Mark, Angie and I were trudging along the final two-mile stretch of the 197-mile Hood to Coast course. We’d parked our glass chalk- and dust-coated minivan in a lot where a shuttle would, in theory, pick us up and take us to the finish area in plenty of time to cross the line with our final runner, Laura, and our other six teammates who’d arrived in the first team van hours earlier. But a volunteer told us it would be at least 90 minutes to get through the line for said shuttle, appropriately continuing the aggravating theme of too many runners and not enough space that had plagued the last third of the race.

Walking would be a lot faster, even considering we’d all run between 14 and 20 miles on little food and even less sleep over the previous 28 hours. We draped our bags on our backs and started out, hoping to somehow beat Laura. Before we’d even made it to the edge of the lot, we saw her go flying by.

Megan called out to her. “Hey, walk in these last couple of miles with us!”

“No way!” Laura said. “I’m ready to be fucking finished!”

Not that any of us blamed her. We were all ready to be fucking finished.

Megan and I got ourselves worked up into a proper lather over the next 25 minutes or so, as we schlepped all our junk to the finish line. We bitched about the traffic back-ups that had kept us from getting any rest between our second and third legs and had caused runners to beat their own vans to the next exchange points. We bitched about the stupid shuttle that made it impossible for the team members in the second van to get to the finish area before the last runner. We really bitched about that stupid effing shuttle when Mark started getting calls and texts from his wife at the finish area, telling us the race organizers couldn’t “hold up the finish” any longer waiting for us to get there before they made our team cross the ceremonial line. IT’S YOUR FAULT WE’RE NOT THERE ALREADY, HOOD TO COAST ORGANIZERS!! We’re walking as fast as we fucking can!

Megan and I were all set to hunt down a couple officials and give them an earful as soon as this thing was finally over. Then we’d write a strongly-worded email! Maybe a whole series! Really flame this race. Who do they think they are, charging so damn much for what had devolved into such a massive shitshow?

The five of us were able to meet up with Laura, and then the rest of the team, just in time for the finish line announcer to say the wrong team name — because we’d been given the wrong team number when Megan had picked up all our stuff the day before the race.


Crossing the ceremonial finish line. Whatever.

Crossing the ceremonial finish line. Whatever.

The fires have cooled since then, and the hard edges of my frustration have been sanded down by wave after wave of delicious IPAs, pale ales, saisons, porters and hefewiezens. Vacation beers. Seriously, so many vacation beers. Now all that remains are the warm and fuzzy memories of that time I spent 28 hours in a minivan with five weirdos I met on the internet.

The lead-up

For most of my teammates, Hood to Coast was years in the making. This race is so popular, the organizers have to use a lottery system to pick who gets to run it. A group of Loop runners had unsuccessfully entered the lottery the previous two years. Then, last November, they found out the third time was the charm and they’d been picked for the 2014 race.

I, personally, wasn’t very interested in running Hood to Coast, or any long-distance relay for that matter. When the Loop team was picked last year, I told them I’d be a willing sub if needed, but didn’t expect anything to come of the offer.

It wasn’t until a couple months ago, when one of the runners found out his new job conflicted with race weekend, that I was asked to step in. It was kinda perfect, because Clark had gone to Seattle on business earlier this year and said he thought I’d love it. I posed to him the idea of a vacation in Portland and Seattle after the race. When he agreed to that, I agreed to join the Hood to Coast team.

After officially joining the team, I finally did some research into just what I had signed on for: Running three legs of a nearly 200-mile race course over an average of a 29-hour period, getting little sleep along the way, crammed in a minivan with five other progressively smelly and sleep-deprived people. Then I found out which legs I’d be running – the three with the second-highest total mileage (19.6 miles) and second-highest difficulty rating.

It honestly sounded like a lot of fun, unlike anything I’d ever done before. And I’d be in a place I’d never seen before. I Googled Hood to Coast race reports from previous years, particularly from runners who’d had the same legs as mine. The more I read about it, the more excited I got.

Thursday, Aug. 21

I flew to Portland by myself; Clark was to fly out Saturday and meet us at the finish line. Megan and Laura picked me up from the airport, gave me a huge hug and handed me a “coffee” that was really a local IPA in a Starbucks cup. They really know how to welcome someone!

We met the rest of the team at The Lucky Lab in Portland. More beer, and pizza!

The Loopville All Stars team: Front row, left to right: Angie L., Stacy, Brad, Laura and me; back row, left to right: Jen B., Megan, Angie H., Carissa, Maranda, Jen R. and Mark.

The Loopville All Stars team: Front row, left to right: Angie L., Stacy, Brad, Laura and me; back row, left to right: Jen B., Megan, Angie H., Carissa, Maranda, Jen R. and Mark.

Megan, me and Laura

Megan, me and Laura

By the time we made it to Megan’s apartment, where I was spending the night with her, Laura and Jen R., all those beers and the time zone difference had caught up with me. Luckily, Megan found it hilarious to listen to me crash around her one-bedroom apartment at 3 a.m., opening kitchen cupboards and searching in vain for the bathroom before I finally asked her, and Laura found it funny when I pretty much pushed her off the air mattress in the living room so I could take it over. I found it funny too when they told me about it the next morning, since I didn’t remember a damn thing.

Friday, Aug. 22 – Race day!

This was the strangest race morning. There were no 5 a.m alarm clocks or hurried breakfasts of cold bagels and peanut butter. Thanks to the stupid time difference, I didn’t sleep much past 4 a.m., which really ticked me off, considering it would be early evening at the earliest before I got to run my first of three legs. I had a lot of time to kill.

The entire team met around 10 a.m. in the parking lot of the hotel where a lot of our other runners had stayed. The runners in Van 1, including Jen R., loaded up and headed up to the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, where the race started in waves. Our team’s start time was 1:45 p.m.

The whole team just before Van 1 left for the start line: Stacy, me, Brad, Angie H. (with her daughter), Angie L. (kneeling), Jen R., Megan, Carissa, Jen B., Mark, Maranda and Laura.

The whole team just before Van 1 left for the start line: Stacy, me, Brad, Angie H. (with her daughter), Angie L. (kneeling), Jen R., Megan, Carissa, Jen B., Mark, Maranda and Laura.

Laura, Mark, Megan and I did some last-minute food shopping. I bought a couple coconut water coffee drinks, planning to drink one before each of my second two runs as a pick-me-up, and a turkey sub just in case I got hungry before our van hit one of the two breaks when we’d have time to get real food.

Laura, Megan and I went back to the apartment to take our last showers for who knew how long and to pack our bags. I packed a completely different change of running clothes for each leg in its own little plastic baggie. The baggie both made it easy to find everything in a dark van, and provided somewhere to cram the sweaty clothes after each run so they didn’t stink up the place. Someone else brought baby wipes, which we all used to towel off after each run.

We picked up sandwiches for lunch and met the rest of our van’s runners at the same hotel. All our junk easily fit in the van, and we were ready to go.

Van 2 about to roll out: Stacy, Mark, me, Megan, Laura and Angie L.

Van 2 about to roll out: Stacy, Mark, me, Megan, Laura and Angie L.

Well, almost. We made one more stop at a Walmart, to get glass chalk to decorate the van’s windows. We also got glow bracelets and a water bottle for Mark that said “It’s good to be king” haha.

Pretty soon, we got some updates from the first van at the start:

The view at the Timberline Lodge, where the race was starting.

The view at the Timberline Lodge, where the race was starting.

Maranda (in the white tank top) just after the start.

Maranda (in the white tank top) just after the start.

Van 2 arrived at the sixth exchange, at a high school, where our first runner would be taking the hand off from Van 1’s last runner for the first time. It was a party atmosphere. There were a ton of teams milling around, waiting for their incoming runners. We watched the exchange area. It was very well-run; volunteers called out the approaching runners’ bib numbers well in advance, so the waiting runners would know when their teammates were coming and step out into the exchange chute.

We got there in plenty of time to professionally decorate the van.

I did the side windows with the team name...

I did the side windows with the team name…

Megan wrote our real names on the back window...

Megan wrote our real names on the back window…

Stacy, Megan, me, Mark, Angie and Laura with the finished product.

Stacy, Megan, me, Mark, Angie and Laura with the finished product.

And then we waited some more!

And then we waited some more!

Finally, it was time for Stacy to suit up for the hand off. She’d be starting right after 6 p.m., so, even though the sun was still up and wouldn’t be going down before she’d finish her first leg, she had to wear a reflective vest with flashing lights on the front and back, and carry a headlamp or flashlight. Any runner who left that exchange after 6 p.m without any of that safety equipment would get their entire team disqualified.

The Van 1 runners had sent messages letting us know what their final runner was wearing and when to expect her. Soon enough, Carissa came flying down the hill to the exchange. She passed the slap bracelet to Stacy, who took off the other way out of the chute. Van 2 was under way!

Stacy taking the handoff from Carissa.

Stacy taking the handoff from Carissa.

The rest of us briefly chatted with our Van 1 teammates before dashing off to get the van and head to the next exchange. Van 1, meanwhile, went into Portland to get dinner and wait for us to finish our first legs.

Most of the van routes between exchanges just followed the same routes the runners were using. We passed Stacy between exchanges and cheered our heads off for her. It felt good to finally feel like a part of this race!

We got Megan to the next exchange in plenty of time for the hand off from Stacy:

Stacy handing off to Megan.

Stacy handing off to Megan.

Then it was a short drive to the next exchange – where I’d be taking my first hand off from Megan!

I was a ball of nerves when we got to the next exchange. I hit the port o potty (“honey buckets” in Oregon) one last time, then layered on all my safety equipment. It was still light out then, so I carried my headlamp in my right hand. I also took an Imodium. I felt fine then, but pooping anywhere other than a honey bucket was another infraction that could get a team disqualified, so obviously I was pretty concerned about that. I filled up my water bottle with plain water and ran up to the exchange to wait for Megan.

There were a lot of other waiting runners doing things like warm up jogging and drills. Like they were getting ready to race. Maybe if I’d been able to run more in the month leading up to this race, I’d have been more inclined to try to push it, but as it was, I was much more concerned about just being able to finish all my miles.

Before I knew it, Megan was flying into the exchange just after 7:30 p.m. She gave me the slap bracelet and Laura’s Garmin, which was much more advanced than mine and, I hoped, more inclined to actually hold a satellite signal when we got into the mountains. Since there were no mile markers, the Garmin was important.

I took off by myself down the side of the road. This was it, I was running Hood to Coast!

Megan coming in...

Megan coming in…

On my way! I felt like I had so much stuff in my hands and hanging off me.

On my way! I felt like I had so much stuff in my hands and hanging off me.

Not far into my first leg, I saw an Interstate Batteries sign on the side of the road, which I took as a good sign. Not far past that, another runner went flying past me. I was already roadkill!

“Roadkill” is what Hood to Coast runners call it when they pass another runner on the road. Some keep a tally on their van windows. I’m really glad my team wasn’t tracking roadkills, because I didn’t get a single one on that first leg. In fact, I lost count of how many people passed me instead! They were seriously booking. Even if I’d been pushing it, I’d have been passed by most of those people. I really hope a lot of teams put their best runners on Leg 9 or something, because otherwise, ouch.

The first mile and a quarter or so was on that highway (where I also passed a sign marking the town limit of Boring, Ore., haha.) Then the route got on a paved bike path completely separate from the road. The sun was setting by that point. It was a cool, calm, perfect evening for a run.

Except for one thing – me. I felt like garbage those first couple of miles! I was getting some bad side stitches, and while my foot wasn’t hurting me, everything felt clunky and out of sorts.

Finally, about 20 minutes in, I loosened up and felt better. Soon, it was dark enough I needed the headlamp. And then I could hear the cheering at the next exchange. I came around a corner and saw Mark waiting for the slap bracelet.

That was the end of my first leg! A hair under 7 miles in just under an hour, an 8:32/mile average. I felt awesome too. One down, two to go!

The rest of my teammates had met me at the exchange. We all rushed back to the van, where I quickly changed into the dry clothes I’d wear on my second leg and packed my sweaty clothes into their plastic baggie. I also downed a chocolate milk.

Mark, Angie and Laura’s first legs all went off without a hitch as well. We drove into downtown Portland to wait for Laura, where she would hand it back over to the Van 1 runners. We got to hang out with the rest of our teammates while we were waiting.

Downtown Portland.

Downtown Portland.

Me and Carissa talking about our first legs.

Me and Carissa talking about our first legs.

Glow bracelets!

Glow bracelets!

Maranda took the hand off from Laura a bit after 11 p.m., and Van 2 went in search of food. I had a pork meatball sandwich and a hefeweizen from a little sandwich shop called Lardo’s.

Saturday, Aug. 23

When we got back in the van, I was ready for a nap. As far as my body was concerned, it was almost 3 a.m by East Coast time. Way past my bedtime! I think there was a snafu here where we found out Oregon’s gas stations don’t leave their pumps on self-serve after closing, but we must have found gas eventually, because I woke up again at the 18th exchange, where Stacy would start our van’s second legs.

Around 3:30 a.m., we made our way to the exchange, where we got to see Van 1’s runners again. They had all taken showers at another exchange at a high school. Showers!

Stacy took the handoff and we were off again. Once again, the van’s route to the next exchange followed the same as the runners’. We cheered for her as we passed again. On the way, I drank one of my coconut water/coffee drinks to try to wake up and took two more Imodium.

This section got hillier, but was paved all the way to the next exchange. Megan took the handoff for her second leg, which got even hillier and, worse, went from pavement to a fine gravel that created a continuous dust cloud as the team vans rolled by on their way to the next exchange.

Our van got to the next exchange seemingly in plenty of time to park before I had to be at the chute waiting for Megan, but it turned out parking was a mess. To get in and out of the parking area, vans had to cross over where the runners were coming through, and the parking area itself was on a narrow side road.

The van was going nowhere fast, so I hopped out and made a break for the exchange area. It was pretty chilly at this point. I was wearing shorts and a short-sleeved T-shirt, which would be fine once I started running, but I was really cold waiting. Luckily, Stacy had brought a fleece blanket she let me wear to the exchange.

I didn’t have to wait long for Megan anyway. She gave me the slap bracelet, the Garmin and Laura’s super high output headlamp, as my little cheapo one didn’t seem like it’d be strong enough to cut through the dust. “It’s a real party out there,” she said as she plopped the headlamp on my head.

This leg was my shortest one, at only 5 miles, but a lot of other race reports I’d read had gone on about how awful it was because of the dust. Some people wore bandanas over their faces to cut down on the amount they were breathing.

It was about 5:20 a.m when I started this leg, and still pitch black. There was usually a van rolling by on its way to the next exchange, so the headlights were lighting up things. I also usually had another runner in sight (and I finally passed a couple myself!) In the rare moments when I was all alone, Laura’s headlamp was more than adequate. And the dust really didn’t bother me at all. It was hard to see right after a van passed, but it wasn’t making it hard to breathe.

This turned out to be my fastest leg. I finished 5 miles in about 41 minutes, an 8:12/mile average. Two down, one to go!

My team’s van had passed me when I was only about a mile and a quarter from the exchange, and it was only just making it to the exchange when I arrived. Mark had gotten out early and was waiting for me. I gave him the slap bracelet and jumped in the van. We took off for the next exchange. I changed clothes again and drank another chocolate milk.

The sun was pretty much up very shortly after Mark started that leg. With the night behind us, it felt like we were getting close to end. We still had a very long way to go though.

The next exchange, where Mark gave the bracelet to Angie, turned out to be the last one that wasn’t a total disaster in terms of traffic back ups. Angie’s second leg was only four miles long. Our van got stuck at a complete standstill about halfway to the next exchange. Angie went trotting by.

So Laura had no choice but to get out and follow her. It’s a good thing she did too, because it was a long time before the van made it to the next exchange. We picked up Angie, who’d walked back to find us, and inched our way along toward the next major exchange, where Laura would hand things over to Van 1 again.

Sometime in the first set of legs, when we’d still had cell reception, I’d wondered aloud how teams coordinated exchanges during this race back before everyone had cell phones. We soon found out, as we got into a remote country area with zero cell reception.

Laura arrived at the end of her second leg at 8:15 a.m., about 15 minutes earlier than Van 1 had expected, since we couldn’t contact them. Maranda took off running on her third leg, still wearing all her layers, since she’d had no time to get ready.

Meanwhile, Van 2 had yet to arrive to that exchange, as we were still creeping along in traffic. So Laura, who’d already run two extra miles with Angie before her 7-mile leg even started, had to walk back another mile and a half or so to find us.

Oh, but it got worse! With all six of us back in the van and Van 1 working on its final legs, this should have been our time to take a shortcut to the final major exchange, eat some breakfast and try to get some more rest. But — there was no shortcut! We had to creep through the same traffic jam all the way through Van 1’s final legs.

At first, we were worried about even beating Van 1 to the final major exchange. Eventually, we passed their third runner, Angie H., so we knew we would at least be ready when Van 1 was done.

Creeping along the race course.

Creeping along the race course.

It took freaking forever to get through that traffic. Any chance at sleeping or eating before we had to run again was gone.

The 30th exchange, where Stacy would take the handoff from Carissa for the third and final time, was another madhouse. Vans everywhere! The day had really warmed up, and the field where we all had to park was a dust bowl. The honey bucket lines were massive.

Still without cell reception, we had no idea when Carissa would be arriving. Since traffic was still a problem, we left Stacy there to wait, and the rest of us headed on to the next exchange, so Megan could be ready.

Stacy’s final leg was only 4 miles, but again, since we didn’t know when she’d start, we didn’t know when to expect her to finish. We wound up having plenty of time at the next exchange before she got there, which was a nice change from earlier, at least.

Stacy gave the bracelet to Megan, who also only had 4 miles to run on her final leg. The van took off for the next exchange, where I’d start my third and final leg.

This last leg was the one I was most nervous about. It was my longest — 7.7 miles — and by far my hilliest. It would also be about 2 p.m when I started running, and it was a hot, sunny day on a part of the course with little shade.

I drank my other coconut water/coffee drink and took two final Imodium. For this leg, I wore as little as possible, just shorts and a sports bra with my hat, of course. I put a mix of Gatorade and water in my water bottle. At least I didn’t have to wear the vest, flashing lights and headlamp!

Megan charged up her final hill and handed me the bracelet and Laura’s Garmin for the last time, and I took off uphill.

Surprisingly, my legs still felt pretty fresh. But there were a couple of gnarly uphills in the first couple of miles, so it wasn’t long before my legs weren’t feeling so fresh any longer. While it was hot, it wasn’t at all humid, so I really didn’t feel bad even though I was sweating like a pig.

I had to walk a couple of those uphill stretches. (Conveniently, the van passed me on its way to the next exchange when I was running haha.) I think a couple of those first few mile splits were in the mid-9’s. But after that, the hills became more “rolling,” and I couldn’t justify walking any more. I ran the rest of the way, and a couple mile splits were even well under 9:00.

When I looked around, I had to admit it really was gorgeous. The road was running along the rim of a hill looking down into a valley with a clear blue lake below. If it hadn’t been for the ridiculous traffic from exchange 21 on, I’d have probably spent even more time admiring the scenery.

There were four people spectating along this section of the course, spraying down passing runners. I let each of them completely soak me head to toe in ice cold hose water. It felt amazing! I made sure to thank them all profusely.

I also passed a lot of people on this leg. I got the last one right before the exchange, which was of course at the top of one last hill. I told him we had only three 10ths of a mile to go. He started running again. I heard him say, “Why’d they give the fat guy this leg, anyway? Did they just want to see me suffer?”

Mark was waiting at the exchange for our final handoff. He took off, and then Megan led me back to the van. I was DONE!! And we only had three more legs to finish before we all done for good!

I drank one last chocolate milk, and then went over my numbers. That last leg had taken me 1:10 to finish, a 9:05/mile average. I’d run a total of 19.6 miles in 2:50, an 8:40/mile overall average. And I’d had to shit in the woods exactly zero times! In fact, the only time I had to go to the bathroom in the woods was when we were stuck in traffic and I’d really had to pee. I didn’t feel bad about that.

I had one final outfit change, this time into a swimsuit, board shorts and the team tanks we’d had made. I couldn’t wait to get to the beach and cool off in the ocean!

Mark’s final leg was only a little over 3 miles, so it wasn’t long before our next-to-last runner, Angie, was off. Her final leg was on a trail not accessible to traffic, so we wound down through the mountain on another road to the final exchange.

When we got there, we had to wait through yet another traffic backup to get parked. Once parked, we opened the van door – to COLD AIR. The hell?? Where was this when I was running almost 8 hilly miles? And why is it here now, when I’m on my way to the freaking beach? Dammit!

Well, nothing could be done about that, obviously. Angie handed off to Laura, who would run us into the finish line, and the van headed into Seaside for the triumphant finish.

Only, not so much. As I wrote at the beginning, when we parked for the designated runner shuttle to the finish line, the shuttle was running so sporadically we were told it’d be a good 90 minutes before we’d get on it. We picked up all our stuff and started walking. That ticked us off. Laura went running by less than a minute later. There was no way we’d get to the finish before her, obviously, because of the piss poor organization. That made us even madder.

By that time, we’d finally gotten some spotty cell service again. We’d all seen pictures on Facebook, posted by Van 1 runners, of the beers they’d been drinking on the beach waiting for us to finish. That wasn’t helping our moods. Then Mark’s wife started calling and texting to let us know the race organizers were getting tired of waiting for us — because of their shitty shuttle service, of course — which is about when Megan and I really lost it.

Laura crossed the official line to stop our race clock, then walked back to lead the rest of Van 2 to the area where Van 1’s members were waiting for us, so we could all cross the ceremonial line together. We walked out to the area in front of the “finish line,” Laura held up her bib and the announcers called us across: “Congratulations… Team Earth Boys and Moon Girls!”

The Van 1 teammates are smiling because they were already half drunk haha. Van 2... not so much.

The Van 1 teammates are smiling because they were already half drunk haha. Van 2… not so much.

Van 2 finishing eff this

I’m only smiling here because it was all so ridiculous.

Things got better after that though. We got our finisher’s medals, and then went to the VIP area, where Brad had paid for our very own team lounge.

Carissa's nail art and finisher medal.

Carissa’s nail art and finisher medal.

There were fire pits, a beer tent and a big buffet. Clark had arrived long before us (he thought it was hilarious he’d gone Coast to Coast that day and beat us to the finish) and met me outside the VIP entrance. I hadn’t seen him since Monday, since he’d had to go away on business last week. I was so freaking happy to see him!

The only time all weekend anyone outperformed Megan in a photo!

The only time all weekend anyone outperformed Megan in a photo!

I never did get to take that dip in the ocean though. Stacy, who lives in Oregon, laughed her ass off at me when I mentioned I’d put on a swimsuit for the “beach.” Apparently there’s a huge difference between the beaches at home and those in the Pacific Northwest!

Maranda, Jen B., Jen R., Carissa and Angie H. on the beach in August, wearing sweatpants and wrapped up in blankets!

Maranda, Jen B., Jen R., Carissa and Angie H. on the beach in August, wearing sweatpants and wrapped up in blankets!

Clark (who thinks he was trying to get food out of his teeth), me, Laura and Megan.

Clark (who thinks he was trying to get food out of his teeth), me, Laura and Megan.

Our official team time was 27:39:17 — a mere 12 seconds difference from the predicted finish time based on previous race times all 12 of us had submitted! I can’t even get that close to predicting my own finish time for a 5K! We were 195th of 1,049 teams that finished, and 40th of 333 teams in our mixed division, not bad for, as Brad called us, a bunch of ladies and two old goats haha.

The whole team reunited at the finish: Brad, Laura, Jen B., Jen R., me, Mark, Angie H., Angie L., Megan, Carissa and Stacy.

The whole team reunited at the finish: Brad, Laura, Jen B., Jen R., me, Mark, Angie H., Angie L., Megan, Carissa and Stacy.

Megan giving me a beer willy, much to my dismay and Angie H's disbelief haha!

Megan giving me a beer willy, much to my dismay and Angie H’s disbelief haha!

So, now that I’ve had almost a week to think about it, some final impressions:

  • It’s amazing how well you can run on such little sleep and/or food — between 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday night, I got about two and a half hours of sleep, tops, and besides the pork meatball sandwich and some pita chips, I didn’t eat anything between lunch Friday and the finish line buffet Saturday evening. Must have been the adrenaline, and the caffeine jolt before each of my two later runs.
  • A change of dry clothes immediately after every leg was key. Baby wipes and a fresh layer of deodorant really helped too, as did having the plastic baggies to seal off my sweaty stinky clothes.
  • I hadn’t run more than 8 miles at a time in weeks, yet my legs never got sore in the roughly nine hours between each run. I think the chocolate milk immediately after each of my first two runs helped immensely.
  • Imodium was a freaking lifesaver. Zero Code Abbys in almost 20 miles in pretty much unheard of for me.
  • The six of us in Van 2 got along amazingly well, even as we were all feeling the effects of hardly any sleep and dealing with the traffic headaches. We never got pissed at each other, just at everyone else haha.
  • Apparently my accent is a great source of comic relief. I can’t tell you how many times Megan asked me to repeat something just so she could laugh at the way I pronounced it!

Clark and I drove back to Portland after the party broke up. Unfortunately, the hotel we’d reserved had overbooked, so we got diverted to some swanky downtown hotel. I was so tired by the time we finally got in a room, I just went to bed without showering haha.

The rest of our vacation was really good. Sunday, we hit up several breweries in Portland, including Hair of the Dog, Migration and Deschutes, and we got to hang out with Megan and Laura a little more at the Whiskey Soda Lounge, where we tried their “jelly beer,” created with some weird freezing/salting process activated by tapping the beer bottle on the ground just before uncapping it. That evening, Clark and I stood in line for Voodoo Doughnuts, which honestly didn’t seem much better than anything you could get at Dunkin. I mean, they were good — I had a lemon chiffon French cruller and a Mexican hot chocolate cake donut — but they didn’t quite live up to the hype.

Voodoo doughnut

On our way back to the hotel, both of our phones died, taking our GPS with them. It took almost an hour and a stop to buy a road map to find our way back! My second brush with “what the hell did we ever do without these damn smartphones?” of the weekend.

Monday, we left Portland and drove up to Seattle, stopping to see a waterfall along the way, since we don’t have any of those around home. It just so happened this particular waterfall was near a now-defunct brewery founded by one Leopold Schmidt! I sincerely doubt there’s any relation, however.

Tumwater Falls.

Tumwater Falls.

We spent the next three days in Seattle. We did a lot of drinking and eating and a ton of walking, and hit several touristy spots.

Pike Place Market, home of the original Starbucks. It's still there, and I got a coffee there.

Pike Place Market, home of the original Starbucks. It’s still there, and I got a coffee there.

Clark on the observation deck of the Space Needle.

Clark on the observation deck of the Space Needle.

And me on the same deck.

And me on the same deck.

Seattle from the Great Wheel on the pier.

Seattle from the Great Wheel on the pier.

The troll under the Fremont Bridge.

The troll under the Fremont Bridge.

Jimi Hendrix memorial across from where he grew up in Renton, just outside Seattle.

Jimi Hendrix memorial across from where he grew up in Renton, just outside Seattle.

Clark on a bike (rack.)

Clark on a bike (rack.)

It was a pretty relaxing vacation. I only ran once more; Clark and I did three miles along a waterfront bike path Wednesday morning. We flew back yesterday, and got home around 11:30 p.m.

Tonight, we’re going back to Baltimore for a baseball game, to celebrate Clark’s grandmother’s birthday. Tomorrow morning, I have that prediction 5K I do every year, that caps off the summer series. I’ve never been able to predict my time close enough to land in the awards. Then they’ll hand out the age group awards for the summer series. I’m pretty sure I won my age group again.

Sunday evening, my parents are having their Labor Day party, where we’ll celebrate my brother’s 30th birthday, which was last Friday, and he and my sister-in-law will do something to reveal the sex of their first kid, which they found out earlier this week.

And Monday is Labor Day, and a day off!

August 20, 2014

Training for 8/20/14

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 3:09 pm

Welp, this is it, my last post before Hood to Coast! I did some more strength training and one more 4.5-mile easy run this morning, and I’m all set. I’m pretty freaking excited about this, especially since I can actually run again!

After the relay, Clark and I are spending the next five days in Portland and Seattle, so I don’t expect to be posting here again until next Friday. 

August 19, 2014

Training for 8/19/14

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 7:31 pm

This morning, I got up, fed Pepper, and, much to his dismay, immediately got dressed in running clothes and went out the door. I did a lap around the 4.5-mile loop, which went pretty well. I didn’t have to wear my Garmin today because both of my new Timex watches showed up yesterday!

When I got home, I did some of the strength training I never bothered to do yesterday after my bike ride. Then I went to Assateague to spend the afternoon with my mom, sisters and youngest nephew, Jamie.

It was overcast in the morning, but the clouds started to break up not long after we got there, and it turned out to be a pretty nice beach day. We all found it hilarious when a seagull stole the Styrofoam container holding the leftovers from Jamie’s lunch, pried it open and took off with the half cheesesteak he was saving for later haha. It looked like that seagull had been planning the whole thing as soon as it saw him with that sandwich.

Well, almost everyone found it hilarious. Jamie was pissed, and ranted about it just about the whole time we were there. Even my mom, who’s usually pretty patient with him, finally told him to stop whining about it haha. I at least restrained myself from punching him in the shoulder this time.

August 18, 2014

Training for 8/18/14

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 2:32 pm

Saturday morning, I went out for a lap around the 8.2-mile loop.

I thought it was supposed to still be kinda on the cool side Saturday, so I wasn’t in a hurry to get started. When I finally went out, I found out I was wrong and it’d warmed up again. At least I’d thought to bring water with me.

The run didn’t go that great. I mean, nothing hurt, but it was hot and I’m out of shape after not being able to run for almost a month, so what do you expect? I made it about 4.5 miles before I had to take the first brief walk break. I’m not sure how many times I stopped to walk over the last 3.7 miles, but my average pace for the whole loop was 9:06/mile. The first four miles were all well under 9:00, while the last four and change were all well over.

Anyway, that afternoon, after they’d cleared two separate incidents on the westbound side of the Bay Bridge and on Route 50 in Queenstown that had completely shut down the highway, Clark and I went over to Pasadena for my friend Meredith’s rescheduled Fourth of July cookout. We had a pretty good time there, and then stopped at the Denton Pub on the way home. We had Pepper with us, so we sat outside the pub. As usual, Pepper was attracting all kinds of attention. Most people just wanted to pet him, tell him how handsome he was and then go on their way. Those people are great. But we also had not one, but two guys who sat down at least 10 minutes each and wanted to tell us all about their own dogs. The one guy said, “I love dogs! I could sit here all night and talk about them!” I really wish you wouldn’t! 

Yesterday, I really was thinking about working out. I’d thought about a short run, but my calves were really sore (I’d run in the Zeros the day before for the first time in weeks), so I thought I’d just ride the bike. Well, the morning slipped away, then the race came on, then Clark had to cut his grandmother’s grass, which left me home alone with Pepper, and then when Clark got back we wanted to go out to dinner. So there was nothing yesterday.

Guess what I wasted my morning on? Clark and I had been looking at YouTube videos. When he fell asleep, I got sucked into looking up the worst accidents in motor racing history. It all started with watching some NASCAR videos and noticing a “suggested video” on the right about the worst fatal accidents in NASCAR history. Obviously the most famous is Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s crash at the end of the 2001 Daytona 500, and I knew about Neil Bonnett dying after wrecking in a practice session for the 1994 Daytona 500, J.D. McDuffie’s fatal wreck at Watkins Glen in 1991 and Fireball Roberts dying in 1964, a month after his car crashed at Charlotte and was consumed by one of his namesake fireballs, but there were several in the video I’d never heard of. There were some pretty awful crashes, but then I read some of the comments, which mentioned far worse open wheel racing fatal accidents.

And down the rabbit hole I went! The morning was completely gone by the time I had thoroughly investigated all the very worst. If you’re curious, check out Gordon Smiley’s 1982 Indianapolis 500 qualifying accident, Tom Pryce’s accident at a 1977 F1 race in South Africa or the 1955 Le Mans disaster on YouTube — that’s what it’s actually called, “the Le Mans disaster,” because somewhere between 80 and 130 spectators died, plus the driver of the car that exploded into pieces, shot its hood and entire engine block, among other debris, into the tightly-packed crowd and then burst into flames. But be warned, the Pryce video is especially graphic only because the footage is so much clearer.

I turned on the Michigan race. After a couple hours of watching horrendous racing accident videos, I wanted to yell at the drivers “DON’T DO IT!! YOU’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!” They were all fine, of course.

Today, my calves are still pretty sore, so I think I’m going to do strength training upstairs followed by a bike ride out to the trail, where I’ll do a couple easy miles, and then bike back.

August 15, 2014

Training for 8/15/14

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 12:25 pm

Last night was awesome!

Clark and I went to the World of Outlaws Late Model Series race at Delaware International Speedway, a half-mile dirt track in Delmar. As many NASCAR races as I’ve been to over the past 20-plus years, I’d never been to a dirt track race, even living less than a half hour from Delmar.

It was pretty cool. We got there while they were qualifying. Then we watched all the 10-lap heats of eight or nine cars; the top four from each heat advanced to the 50-lap main event at the end. Those who didn’t finish well enough in their heats got another chance with a couple of B-main events, the top three of which also advanced, to complete the 24-car field for the main event.

In between all that, we saw a Little Lincoln Vintage race. Altogether, the whole evening’s events lasted until about 11 p.m.

It was a lot of fun. We took a cooler into the stands, just like at a NASCAR race, sat on rickety old wooden bleachers and held our hands over our beers to keep the dirt out while they were racing (though I’m pretty sure I ate a lot of dirt anyway.) Especially during the main event, when there were 24 cars on the track, there was a near-constant shower of fine dirt falling over the crowd, and it smelled like racing fuel and funnel cakes from the concession stand outside the bleachers.

Coming around Turn 4 for a restart during the main event.

Coming around Turn 4 for a restart during the main event.

I loved the crowd too. They were rednecks. There were a lot of jacked up pickups in the parking lot and a lot of Bud Light in the stands. (I drove my Civic and drank Budweiser. I’m sooo different!) While we were waiting for the main event, I could hear the conversation of two old guys behind me, talking in very thick Delmarva accents (like mine, but turned up to 11) about the race held there last Saturday night, when one car’s axle was ripped off and flew through the catch fence and into the stands, not far from where we were sitting, where the still-attached wheel struck a spectator. To make things worse, this spectator had “diabeetus” and had just “had his toe tooken off” haha. (They said he’s doing OK after the run-in with the axle, by the way.)

This morning, I wanted to go for another run, no walk breaks this time. Since it was such a perfect morning — cool temperatures and low humidity — I took Pepper with me. I knew he wouldn’t put up with any stupid walking.

We did a lap around the 4.5-mile loop. Since my Timex’s strap snapped yesterday, I wore the Garmin, which said we ran it in 37:something, an 8:22/mile average. I felt great the whole way through, and Pepper seemed to enjoy himself too, especially when we got back to the house and he got a treat.

This weekend, I want to do 8 miles tomorrow and another short run Sunday. I don’t think that’ll be pushing too much. I’ve had absolutely no pain in my foot all week. And anyway, I have to be ready to run three legs totaling almost 20 miles over a roughly 28-hour period next weekend.

Other than running, our only plans right now are to go to Meredith’s house tomorrow for her rescheduled Fourth of July cookout. They postponed it on the actual Fourth of July because that hurricane passed over.

There’s also a NASCAR race in Michigan on Sunday.

August 14, 2014

Training for 8/14/14

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 10:58 am

This morning, I had an early assignment, and we’ve got plans for immediately after work, so I got up early to get in my strength training first thing.

It was downright chilly in the attic that early in the morning today, as we got a bit of a cool front overnight. I didn’t even need to turn on the fan. I did ab exercises, push-ups, invisible chair-sitting and weights.

When I took off my Timex, the strap broke. It pisses me off because the watch itself works just fine, but the face is kind of built into the strap, so I can’t replace it. The whole thing is useless now.

I had a lot of Cashback dollars on my Discover card, which you can spend directly on Amazon, so I just ordered two more Timex watches. The first one is just like the one that broke, but a different color:

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 11.47.57 AMAnd I just liked the other one:

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 11.47.19 AM


And they should both be here before I leave for Hood to Coast — exactly one week from today!


August 13, 2014

Training for 8/13/14

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 2:43 pm

I ran again today! And it went well!

This morning, I was going to make Pepper run with me, since I was home by myself, but then I let it get too hot before I left the house, so he had to stay home again. Womp womp.

Anyway, I stretched out Monday’s 2 miles at 2 min running/1 min walking to 3 miles at 3 min running/30 seconds walking. I felt good the whole way, and got back home in 27 minutes on the dot, a 9:00/mile pace. Not bad at all for a run/walk pattern.

I got the bike out after and did a quick lap around the 4.5-mile loop.

There has been absolutely no pain in my foot either during or after running. Obviously, I’m pretty happy about it!

August 12, 2014

Training for 8/12/14

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 11:27 am

Finally, I think I’m really back this time!

Yesterday evening, I put on my 890s and went out for a couple of test miles. I decided to alternate two minutes of running and one minute of walking. I walked a minute to start and then sped up to a run for two minutes, waiting for the familiar sting on my left big toe.

But it never happened! Plenty of other things felt creaky after not running for almost two weeks, but nothing hurt. I stuck to the intervals plan for the whole two miles.

Of course, half a mile from home, I suddenly needed to use the bathroom. The only nearby fields were growing soybeans, which don’t get tall enough to conceal a crouching runner haha. There was a cornfield between me and home, but I didn’t think I had enough time to get there. So I ran into a grove of trees that was cut down a couple of years ago and has started to grow back. Unfortunately, at this point, it’s mostly just a thick tangle of briars. I didn’t have a choice though. I crashed through it until I’d gotten to a point tall enough to conceal me and took care of business. I caught a briar pretty deep on my left calf. But I don’t even care! I was just so happy my foot wasn’t bothering me again.

When I got back to the house, I took the bike out for a lap around the 4.5-mile loop. After that, I planned to do all my strength training, but it was getting close to time for Master Chef to start, so I just did the ab exercises, push-ups and invisible chair-sitting. This morning, I lifted weights before work.

Speaking of Master Chef, we’ve also started watching Hotel Hell, Gordon Ramsay’s new show, which comes on immediately following. I think I’ve seen five episodes, and I swear, that guy is doing that show as an excuse to get naked or very close to it on TV every week! He either puts on a tiny Speedo to try out the hotel pool, or, if it doesn’t have one, is shown trying out the shower or bath in his room, with the inappropriate parts either blurred out or strategically covered by suds in the bubble bath he’s drawn for himself haha. It makes me laugh every time!

August 11, 2014

Training for 8/11/14

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 1:11 pm

Pepper had a big weekend!

Saturday morning, I took him to the Run for the Paws 5K in Dewey, to do the 1-mile dog walk. Almost as soon as we got out of the car, we saw Fredman, the local newspaper photographer who volunteers to take high-quality photos at nearly every single Seashore Striders race, which he immediately posts to Facebook so they can be downloaded for free. He asked us to pose for a picture. I was telling Pepper to “Look!” but he didn’t care about the guy with the camera haha.

pepper and me before race

I walked to The Starboard to get my bib and event shirt, where we saw Alberto, another guy who takes tons of pictures for the Seashore Striders Facebook page. Once again, Pepper was not interested:

pepper and me before the race 2

We walked over to the start area and got all the way in the back of the nearly 400-strong crowd, which felt weird. There were a lot of dogs there. Most of them were checking each other out, sniffing butts and barking, and a couple even got in some little scuffles, but my snobby-ass dog completely ignored every single one of them haha. This inspired a lot of people to tell me what a well-behaved dog he is. If only they could see our utility room!

We got the start commands. Most of the field took off running ahead of us. I held Pepper to a walk. We moseyed on down to the turnaround half a mile from the start/finish line with all the other walkers and their dogs. There was a water bucket at the turnaround, which Pepper wanted all to himself. I had to drag him away from it to let the other dogs get a chance.

On the way back, Pepper copped a squat right in someone’s driveway and took a big steaming dump. Gah! I thought he’d taken care of that before we left the house in Fenwick, but apparently I was wrong. Fortunately, another woman had a bag with her, so I could clean it up. The 5K winner ran by while I was scooping up Pepper’s crap.

Here’s Pepper and me on our way back to the finish. I’m annoyed I had to clean up his mess, and he’s thrilled he got to watch me do it again:

pepper and me during race

What a jerk!

Pepper and I finished the mile in a blistering 21:35, slower than three of the five 5Ks I ran this summer. Other than the poop scooping, it was fun though!

We went over to The Starboard for the post-race party. As soon as we got there, Pepper found another bucket of ice water and sucked down half of it. I let him have as much as he wanted that time, since there were a ton of water buckets all over the place for all the dogs. When he’d had his fill, we took 10 steps farther, before I was confronted by an SPCA volunteer who pointed me in the direction of the water buckets, because my dog looked so desperately thirsty.

I resisted the urge to tell her she was a moron and instead politely informed her he’d just drank half a bucket. She looked completely shocked, but then told me to sprinkle water on his head to cool him off. I told her he hates getting wet and slipped away. I got some food for myself and a couple of dog treats for Pepper and found a spot to sit down — where she found us so she could again insist he totally needed water, and then throw some on his head anyway! Which he absolutely hated, of course!

I can only imagine what it’s like to try to be a parent out in public, as freaking judgy as people get about a dog who’s panting a little! I overheard another guy who had two dogs complaining about her trying to water his dogs for him too, so at least I wasn’t the only incompetent-looking pet owner there.

At 9 a.m., the bar opened and we could get one free drink each. The thing was, I couldn’t take Pepper to the bar area to wait in line with me, and I didn’t know anyone else there well enough to ask them to hold Pepper while I waited in (the very long) line, during which time he’d absolutely have a panic attack. I was tired of getting harassed by the SPCA lady and Pepper was tired of all the people who wanted to pet him anyway, so we just went back to the house in Fenwick.

When we got there, Clark decided that would be the day Pepper found out swimming wasn’t so terrifying after all. The canal was only a couple feet deep, so Clark got in and had me put Pepper in with him. We tried to just kind of shove him in, but Pepper wasn’t cooperating at all. Unfortunately for Pepper, at only 60 lbs., he’s too small to get his way, because when I couldn’t push him in, I just picked him up and lowered him in.

Predictably, he freaked out at first. But Clark held him, and he calmed down and started doggy paddling. He never enjoyed it though. As soon as Clark let him go, he made a bee-line for the dock:



Clark helping Pepper out of the water.

Clark helping Pepper out of the water.

We were hoping once he’d gotten used to the water, he’d fetch a tennis ball we threw in there. Nope! He did the same thing he always did — ran to the edge of the dock, peered over the side at the ball in the water, and then looked at us like, “Well, which one of you is getting that back, because I’m not!”

We also tried to get him back on the paddleboard, but he wasn’t having that either. He will never be a water dog. Oh well.

Clark and I spent the rest of the day at the beach house with his dad and my cousin Corey, who stopped by after my family cleared out of the rental condo. Clark and I left in the late afternoon, showered at home and then took Pepper to Glenn and Lauren’s house for a birthday party.

Pepper spent the whole evening trying to ignore or reluctantly playing with Glenn and Lauren’s huge Lab, Marley, and someone else’s 11-week-old Lab puppy, Drake. Clark and I, meanwhile, killed all comers at beer pong. OK, we only played two games, but we destroyed the other team both times!

Sunday morning, Clark got up to feed Pepper breakfast. When he came back to bed, he said Tony Stewart had killed someone with his car the night before. I said, “What, like he hit a pedestrian?” and he said no, he’d struck another driver with his race car at a dirt track. Clark sometimes makes up dumb stuff so he can laugh at me when I believe him, and I immediately thought this was another one of his jokes. So I told him he was making it up, and he said nope, I should go look at my phone. It was true, unfortunately. What an all-around crap situation.

I went back to sleep for a couple of hours, and then woke up in a near-panic at 9 a.m. because my friends were supposed to be at my house in three hours to celebrate Julie’s birthday, and I’d put off cleaning the entire house and buying the Coke I’d promised I’d have there for them to drink. Because I procrastinate at everything.

It was a hectic few hours, but we got all the cleaning done, I got the Coke and I was showered just before my friends started arriving. Pepper was in a huff nearly the whole time, with all these strange people in his house. We had a good few hours of hanging out. When they left, Clark and I watched the rest of the NASCAR race and then the end of the golf tournament. I laughed when one of the announcers said, near the end of the tournament, which apparently was relatively exciting for golf, “If you’re not enjoying this, you shouldn’t be watching golf!” I wanted to say “You’re right!” and change the channel, but Clark likes it, so I stuck out the whole thing for him.

So anyway, my foot! It feels pretty much normal! It no longer hurts at all where it did when I squeeze the first metatarsal. I’ve been catching up on work stuff today so far, so I haven’t done my workout yet, but after strength training later, I’m planning on a couple of miles of run-walk intervals, and then a short bike ride. Fingers crossed nothing hurts and I can run for real again pretty soon, especially considering Hood to Coast is now less than two weeks away.

August 8, 2014

Training for 8/8/14

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 2:11 pm

Good news! Finally. My dumb foot has made a ton of progress just over the past day. It feels completely normal to walk on, even to jump on, and when I press where it’s been sore the past couple of weeks, there’s barely anything there. Flip flop straps no longer bother it either. I’m feeling pretty optimistic I’ll be totally fine in plenty of time for Hood to Coast, which starts in exactly two weeks.

I’m still not running the 5K tomorrow though. I’ve since learned that neither is Kara. Her vacation at the beach the past week wore her out haha. I gave her a bit of a hard time — how many races have I shown up for even though I’m super hungover and/or sleep-deprived? — but she hadn’t paid to sign up yet, so I completely understand. Anyway, I’m still walking the dog mile with Pepper, and then getting my two free drinks at The Starboard. Clark’s going too, since he needs to get his motorcycle from the beach house anyway.

As far as training goes, last night, I rode the bike around the 12.2-mile loop, and today I did strength training upstairs first, including ab exercises, push-ups, invisible chair-sitting and weights, and then I did a lap of the 7.3-mile loop on the bike.

Maybe Sunday I’ll try a short run, just to see where I’m at. Other than maybe-running, weekend plans include going to a friend’s birthday party tomorrow evening, and then hosting all my friends at my house Sunday afternoon to celebrate a birthday. And of course, there’s a NASCAR race from Watkins Glen to watch.

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