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.

RAAAAAAAGE.

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!

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