I hate running!

OK, nice little headline grabber to get your attention. Although, I am working on a post on that very subject. Yes, I do in fact hate running.

Seems like it has been forever since I’ve posted. This is just short update to give you a glimpse of the last few weeks and some things I’m working on. Think of this as my headline ticker of things to come.

Why am I on stage with Bart Yasso???

Medal with Bart

Recap of the Vancouver USA Half Marathon (and the Freedom 5K that I decided to do at the last minute the day before).

2014 Vancouver Half Marathon Finish

Why do I love Pro Compression even more????

Pro Compression Logo

Want some free goodies from Pro Compression? Stay tuned for that as well!!

And I need to update everyone on my training and mileage. Remember how I was struggling for so long to break 40 miles? Take out my cut back week and I’ve passed 40 miles for three straight weeks!

All that, and more, coming soon to the blog. With 15 events (so far) over 17 weeks, finding time to sit down and type is a challenge so bear with me.

Happy Running
Lonnie

Give My Regards to Broad Street

I spent the first weekend in May in Philadelphia attending the Broad Street 10 Miler as well as taking in the sites and meeting new friends. I love to travel, especially to the East Coast. So much history back there. So when Andy from Running My Ass Off asked me to run with his team it was a no brainer. Speaking of Andy, say hi Andy…

Andy Aubin

On Friday, since it was the first time getting to meet Andy, the day was spent spending time together and getting to know each other a little more. Of course, the first thing we needed to do was go for a run.

Andy and Lonnie Run

After getting settled and cleaned up we went took in the Phillies vs Nationals game.

Phillies vs Nationals

For several months Andy had been preaching to me and anyone that would listen about the virtues of The Schmitter.

Schmitter

This is probably the best sandwich on the face of the Earth…when you’re drunk. Greasy, decent size and lots of bread. But when sober it’s meh. Was really disappointed in the flavor…there really wasn’t any. No offense Philly nation.

I had planned to get to bed at a decent hour Friday. I had traveled over night on Thursday and wanted to take advantage of the night before the night before night of sleep. I also wanted to get up at a decent hour Saturday to get in a run. But, since I’m a Blazer fan and they were playing Houston in game 6, I stayed up a little later than planned. If I hadn’t, I would have missed this…

Damian Lilliard

On Saturday, Andy had some family things to attend to, so when I finally dragged my ass out of bed I found my way to the treadmill at the hotel and put in six very hot, sweaty miles. Then the real fun began. We were meeting up with our teammates for lunch at Reading Market. This place was AWESOME!! All different kinds of food from so many different cultures. It’s obviously a popular place as it was packed shoulder to shoulder. But it paled in comparison to these awesome people!

Team Low and Slow

Then I had to take advantage of the opportunity to eat some of the local fare…

Reading Market

Philly Goodies

Once we were done eating we found out way to the expo for the race. Maybe it’s me, but I’m always expecting so much more from race expos than what I end up seeing. This expo was nice but like usual, I felt like something was missing. It did give me a chance to do a little shopping. Any booth that had something that caught my eye (neon) I stopped to look. At one point one of the guys said “It’s like a moth to a flame!”

Broad Street Expo Shopping

After the expo a handful of us decided to do a little site seeing and find a place to “hydrate”.

Philly Church

Philly Museum

Rocky Statue

Philly Statue

Then we got this great picture at the Love statue.  This was quite a humorous moment as I had to take the picture twice and had to have help the second time.  I obviously suck at taking selfies.

Sub 30 Love

Sunday. Race day! Now, I may or may not have had one or five too many drinks the night before. And the lack of sleep was catching up to me. I made the decision to run with my friends rather than trying to “race” the race. Best decision I made all weekend. I had such a great time running, talking and taking in the sites. Here are some pics we got pre, mid and post race.

Broad Street Pre Race

Broad Street Mid Race

Team Low and Slow Post Race

Philly Post Race Food

Broad Street Bling

This was the most fun I’ve had during event.  Great people, great experience!  I’ve already told Andy that Mrs Team Neon and I are both in for next year. Looking forward to it for sure!

Happy Running
Lonnie

Blooms to Brews Half Marathon Recap

Today I ran the 2014 Blooms to Brews Half Marathon in Woodland, WA. This was the second running of this event. At last year’s event I set a 23 minute half marathon PR. I had no such illusions for this year!

I’ve really only been back to full time training for about a month. And my goal race for this year is still 14 weeks away. My target time coming into this race was 1:45. With my current weight and the status of my training I felt an 8:00 mile pace would be a good goal. I finished in 1:46:28 for an 8:07 pace. For those that know me, yes, that 7 seconds per mile bugged me!

Right now I’m trying to focus on the positives of my races. The first 8+ miles I ran this exactly how I wanted. At mile 8 I was 36 seconds ahead of target time (translation: I should have been at 1:04:00 and was at 1:03:24. Yes, I did the math in my head. Something that dates back to when I swam long distance in high school…helps pass the time). I had also been gradually speeding up the previous few miles.

Mile 1: 8:22
Mile 2: 7:54
Mile 3: 7:54
Mile 4: 8:01
Mile 5: 8:05
Mile 6: 7:41
Mile 7: 7:49
Mile 8: 8:04

Don’t try to do the math from these splits. I took these from my Nike, which it seems NEVER matches up to the mile markers of races.

But then I ran into two variables that I was not prepared for, nor had any control over…a head wind that lasted for almost 4 miles and a stretch of dike road that was much rockier than last year.

Mile 9: 8:22
Mile 10: 8:28
Mile 11: 8:30
Mile 12: 8:35
Mile 13: 8:32

I talked to one of the race organizers I’m friends with who ran the course yesterday and she said the exact same thing happened to her over that same stretch. And to be honest, after looking at my actual splits, they weren’t as bad as I thought they were when I was checking them mid race.

Here I am coming into the final stretch. You can tell by the background what kind of course this was. Sunny, bright, lots of green and water.

2014 Blooms to Brews race

One thing that was within my control that I totally failed at was dressing appropriately. ALWAYS DRESS FOR THE END OF THE RACE NOT THE BEGINNING! At the start it was hovering around 40* with a little wind. I always bring options for clothing as you never know what the microclimate is going to be at the race location. I decided to go with my Headsweats Toaster Beanie as I was concerned my Hi-Vis Visor was going to leave me feeling too cool. Rookie mistake and I know better. Temp climbed almost 20 degrees during the race. I was dying by mile 5. I decided to take off my beanie and tuck it into my belt. Headsweats would not have been pleased with me today. But better than over heating.

Here I am post race in dry clothes getting ready to enjoy my banana and protein shake while sporting my medal.  Also a close up of the finishers medal.

2014 Blooms to Brews Medal 2014 Blooms to Brews post race

Overall I’m pleased with this race. I nailed my paces to start while also increasing pace where I wanted. This is a really good event if you’re looking for something in NW Oregon/SW Washington. This is definitely a PR friendly course. Flat and fast! It’s basically one big loop through the country where you spend about 75% of the time running along the Columbia and Lewis Rivers. Did I mention it was flat and fast?

Happy Running
Lonnie

2014 Resolution Run 5K Review

Today I ran with a heavy heart.  Before going to bed last night I found out that my aunt was in the hospital and was not doing well.  Shortly after leaving the house for my race this morning I found out that she had passed.  It made for a long, quiet ride in the car.  But along the way I took this picture of the sunrise above Mt Hood and posted it to my Facebook with this message:

An awesome sunrise to remind us that every day we are given a new chance to live life to our fullest potential. Give it everything you have. Live life to the fullest with no regrets.

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The sunrise seemed to calm me and center me.

I had zero expectations coming into this event.  I’ve had three runs for whopping 16 miles in the last 29 days.  The smart thing to do would be to enjoy the run on a very cold, but beautiful day.  Yeah, I’ve never been very smart.

After last month’s 5k, where I was rushed for time before the start, I made sure I had plenty of time for my pre-race routine.  I even had a few extra minutes to stand around the starting line and freeze my butt off…did I mention it was cold?  But it did give me time to say hi to the race director, Elba Benzler, a very nice guy who I have never seen NOT smiling.  When he saw me by the starting line he came over and gave me a big hug and said he loved my attire!

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My “plan” for today was to target a 7:30 overall pace.  I wanted to go 8:00-7:30-7:00.  Just gradually speed up each mile.  But guess my legs had other plans.  The gun went off and away we went.  The nice thing about an extended lay off is your muscles are nice and fresh.  The bad thing about an extended lay off is your brain forgets how much running fast hurts.  A quarter mile in and I knew I was WAY ahead of pace, but I felt good (man it seems like I say that a lot in my recaps).  Half mile in I still felt good but I was quickly noticing my breathing was starting to change.  Oh yes, I remember this part…not the part where you settle into a nice pace for a half marathon and cruise, but the part where you push you body to the limits for a 3 mile sprint.  But, I kept checking myself and I felt good, for the most part.  Mile 1…6:24.  Yeah, that’s not 8:00.  I haven’t downloaded the data yet, but given my next two splits and how I felt, I’m guessing that first mile was more like 5:30 pace for the first half mile and then 7:30 for the second half mile.

After the first mile I felt like I had settled into a nice rhythm and just tried to focus on my breathing, which was definitely labored.  The 3 mile sprint pain memory was quickly coming back to me.  At one point I did get stuck behind a guy who had recently passed me.  Normally, when someone passes you, they just keep on trucking and no big deal.  But this guy was like the annoying car on the freeway who tailgates you until they can finally pass and then just sits in front of you not going any faster.  Not a huge deal, but we were running on no shoulder/sidewalk streets in the suburbs.  Lots of potholes that I had trouble seeing until the last minute.  I finally backed off just a hair and let him pull away a little.  Mile 2…7:30 (hey, I nailed my mile 2 goal!)

They did make a change to the race this year.  Due to safety issues they had us run the exact same course…backwards.  I’m not exactly sure why running the exact same course, but backwards, was safer, but whatever.  This did create a slight change to the course.  There is one section that is a gradual, not overly long, incline/decline depending on which way you are running.  The decline just before mile 1 last year was pretty cool.  The incline at about mile 2.25…not so much.  This is also about the time that you can see the general location of the finish line…and realize it is still 10 minutes away.  I’ve come to realize I really hate this.  My brain is saying “You can do it, the finish line is right there!”  My body replies “Screw you, you come down hear and push this fat ass around for 3 miles!!” I had noticed after mile 2 that I had a shot at a PR.  I’m sorry, WHAT?!  Yeah, couldn’t believe it.  So I started doing that little dance I do where I start “PR watching”, where I constantly go back and forth between the road and my watch with my eyes.  One of these days I’m going to bight it right in the middle of the road.  I got about a half mile from the finish line and knew I was not running a sub 6:00 pace, so the PR was out.  But I was still running a solid time. I made the last 90 degree turn and saw that there was someone closing in on me with 100 meters to go.  I will be the first to admit that I CRUISE into the finish line.  It is something I’m aware of and do not like about my racing.  But not today!  I gave it all I had and held them off…yay, me!  Mile 3…7:35.  Final time 21:49.  Here’s me coming into the finish line.  My form doesn’t look half bad in this picture.

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I ran this race in 21:15 last year and my PR is 21:05.  Remember that part about no real training the last month?  Yeah, I’m VERY happy with this race.  This was also a huge mental boost for me.  After all the distance training I did the last 9 months, I was wondering if I was going to be able to “run fast” again.  I know it’s mental, but it was gnawing at me.  If my foot holds up, I’m feeling very good about my training moving forward.  And a double bonus, I placed in my age group!  I took 2nd, finishing 11th overall.  I took the opportunity to get a picture with the Get Bold Babes after getting my medal.Image

Get Bold is still relatively new to the race management scene.  They put on a handful of events a year and I run most of them.  Great people who do really work hard to put on a great event.  Each one gets better.  My first half marathon this year is one of theirs, Blooms to Brews in April.  Looking forward to it!

Happy Running

Lonnie

Portland Marathon Review

I wanted to give myself a week before trying to write this review.  I wanted to let the emotion of the event fully leave my system.  There was laughter.  There was pain.  There were tears.  And there were several “WTF am I doing” moments.  As I said shortly after I finished, the Portland Marathon was the most painful and humbling experiences I have ever put myself through.  And now that a week has past, when I’m asked whether I would do it again, I can honestly say yes, without a second of hesitation.

The event itself is fantastic.   I’ve done a lot of small events where the focus is on making sure runners have the basic needs of the event.  I’ve also done a few bigger events where it was more about the glitz and glam rather than substance.  The Portland Marathon impressed me with what seemed to be the right combination of both.  I think the community deserves a big chunk of that recognition.  Aside from a few sections of the race where spectators were not allowed for safety reasons, there was not a stretch of the course where there wasn’t a good cheering section.  At some points people were lined up 3-4 deep along the road.  The neighborhoods really seem to embrace the chaos of race day, something I’m sure all the other runners appreciated as much as I did.  There was one house that really stood out to me.  They probably had 20-30 people outside of their house in what can only be described as a huge tailgate party.  The finish line was as close to my fantasy finish line as I could imagine it could be in reality.  Thousands of people lined the streets of the final stretch, all of them screaming their lungs out, willing you on to the finish. I made those last two turns and all the pain just went away. I got a huge adrenaline rush from the crowd.  It was just amazing to experience.

As for the race itself, I did not hit the time goal(s) I had for myself.  Sure, I’m bummed about that.  But something I’ve worked on the last few months is learning how to adapt my race during the race based on the conditions that I’m presented with.  Whether those are weather or course issues, or if it is something wrong with me.  I started out the race nice and easy, at least for me.  I still have the bad habit of going out too fast, but luckily the start was EXTREMELY crowded and I didn’t have a choice.  I thought for sure we were running about a 10:00 mile but when I checked my pace at mile one we were sub 8:30, which is right where I needed to be.  It took a good 4-5 miles for the pack to really thin out before I could really think about making any kind of move.  After that I settled into a good pace and felt like things were going well.

Through mile 10 I was right no pace.  Mile 11 things started going a little sideways.  I felt much more tired than I should have for what my perceived effort was. Pace check at mile 11 showed that I had slowed down.  By mile 14 I knew something wasn’t right.  Was really started to drag ass even though mentally I knew I shouldn’t be. I did a quick assessment of my fuel and fluids and did note that I was a little behind on my plan but still within my normal consumption for runs.  I just figured it was going to be one of those days.

Mile 17 is when you come to the only real hill on the course. You climb up and cross over the St. John’s Bridge.  I made it less than 1/3 of the way up and realized that at the pace I’m “running” I could walk up the hill just as fast and save some energy.  So I took the opportunity to catch my wind, hydrate and fuel up.  Ran into one of my TnT coaches at this point and he said I made the right call, so didn’t get too down on myself.  Once I got up the hill I picked the pace back up and felt much better.  I got a solid couple of miles in getting me close to the infamous mile 20.  It was about this time where I noticed a major problem. I had essentially stopped sweating. I’m not a doctor, but even I know this is not good. I had already picked up my hydrating pace before this but after noticing the sweating issue I knew that I needed to be drinking every chance I get. My goal times went out the window at this point and the main goal was to finish the race standing up. From there on out I walked each aid station, grabbing two full cups of water. And these weren’t your itsy bitsy 2oz cups of water that most races give out. These were full 8oz cups. So each stating I was drinking almost 16oz of water while taking a decent walk break. I ran as much as I could between stations but still had to walk from time to time as my body just was not happy with me.

My trainer, Charles, met me about mile 22 at the aid station.  Gave me some encouraging words, “Suck it up and push, I will fix whatever is broken later!”  Gave me a nice little boost.  Found out later that day he had sent a text to my wife say “He doesn’t look so good”.  Good thing he didn’t me that!

Once you get to about mile 24.5 it becomes really hard to walk even if you want to. You know you are getting so close and the crowds are urging you on. It’s almost like you are running for them at this point.  About mile 25.5 I got a nice surprise when my wife met me on the course and gave me a high five. I’ll be honest; I pretty much lost it at that moment.   It’s really hard to run and cry at the same time!

As I mentioned above, the finish is just amazing. You start feeding off the energy of the crowd. All the pain just disappears and you feel like you could run another 10 miles.  The finish line was the most amazing sight.  My time was 4:07:18.  Not what I had planned but given the problems I ran into during the race I am quite pleased with that.

What does one look like when they are coming to the finish of their first marathon and they aren’t feeling so good?  This picture pretty much sums it up!

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Happy running

Lonnie

Gateway to the Gorge Review

Recap from the inaugural running of Gateway to the Gorge Half Marathon.

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First off, as a first time event, it had its usual bumps. The biggest of which were unclear routes (they sent out two different maps) and a t-shirt I will never wear…a white, cotton t-shirt plastered with sponsors front and back. Yeah, um, no!

As I mentioned when I signed up for this event, this is essentially my long running route in my neighborhood, just in reverse. There are two big hills on this route. Given where the starting/finish was located it moved one the hills to the start of the course and made the other one a downhill. My goal was to run that first mile, which included the hill, at 9:00 pace…I did it in 8:12. Felt good so just kept going.

Here I am about mile 2.5 where my wife surprised me on the course!

Gateway to the Gorge

I was really looking forward to about mile 5. The tough part of the course would be done and I could start picking up the pace. But about this time I started getting some stomach cramping. This is definitely not something I normally experience during races. It wasn’t GI issues, felt more like I’d done way too many sit ups. Hurt so much I was having trouble getting a deep breath. So over the 3-4 mile span of the course where I was looking to make some really good time (including a mile long downhill) I had to back off my pace. I figure this cost me a good 3-5 minutes off my time. After I passed the 8 mile marker I started figuring out what was wrong with me. Let out a couple small burps and got some instant relief. Over the next mile my body rewarded me with some additional relief in a couple different forms. Amazing how much better I felt.

Good thing I was feeling better because I was coming to a part of the course that I was not familiar with. We had to run about 1-1.5 miles within a park along the river. I was thinking by looking at the map that we would just be running around the parking lot for the most part. I was sadly mistaken. Narrow, uneven, dramatically up and down path through the woods. Let me put it this way, at one point I said a very bad word that starts with “F”, very loudly, as I tried to climb one of the short hills.

When I came out of the park I actually felt pretty good. Using completely different muscles for a couple of miles can bring you some relief and help re-energize you a little. At this point I had about 3.5 miles left. Time to put the pedal down. Think I ran that last part in sub 27:00. Given how the first part of the race went I was very pleased with this.

Official time was 1:44:45. I was targeting 1:42:30. With the issues that I encountered during the race I was very pleased with this number.

We are within 4 weeks of the Portland Marathon.  Major things on the calendar are my last 20 miler this Saturday on the actual course and then the Steve Prefontaine 10K Memorial Run in my home town on the 21st.   Then it’s show time!

Happy Running

Lonnie

Hood to Coast Review

34:06:15…36 legs…12 runners…2 vehicles…one epic adventure that I will never forget.

Hood to Coast.  The mother of all relays.  This may have been my first relay but for another event to top this would take one hell of an event.  This experience immediately went to the top of my list of kick ass things I’ve done in my life.

I met up with my teammates at 4:45am on Friday in the little town of Sandy, OR.  The tone of the weekend was set within 5 minutes of us meeting up.  It was at this point that I was informed that I was going to be the mature one of the group.  For those of you that know me at all, you immediately realize how hilarious this was.  Should have seen the eye roll from my wife.  Before we were even all the way in the car we had two “That’s what she said” jokes thrown out.

After a quick stop at Starbucks for those coffee drinkers, we made our way up the mountain to Timberline Lodge.  We weren’t scheduled to start until 7:30 but our captain wanted us up there early.  Even though we were so early I really enjoyed the opportunity to let the vibe of the event soak in since I had heard so much about it and it was my first time.  It gave me time to get my race swag purchased without having to worry about it at the finish line.  Plus I was able to get some pretty cool pictures of sunrise at 6000 feet on Mt. Hood.

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I also took this picture of the first runner heading out for the 2013 Hood to Coast Relay.

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After the start we had about an hour before it was our turn.  So we ventured over to the lodge to get warm and use the facilities.  As we were running for the American Cancer Society, it also gave us a chance to add names to our Honor/Memory board that was going on our van.  I put my grandfather Hewey St John and my wife’s grandfather Alfred Mitchell on the board.  As you’ve probably read in my posts about Team in Training, we lost both of them to forms of Leukemia.  I also added Blake to the board later in the day at the request of one of my running friends.  He is currently battling cancer and fighting like a boss.

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At 7:30am sharp we were off.  The first stage is one of the most talked about stages of Hood to Coast.  It’s a 2000 foot descent over 5+ miles.  This is essentially a quad killer.  It has tamed many runners and ruined the rest of their weekend.  The announcer always asks each wave “You missed the team meeting, didn’t you?!”  Our runner, Micki, actually volunteered for it.

It didn’t take long for the hilarity and chaos to start.  Micki was projected to come in about 7:44 at the earliest.  About 7:20 I decided to start walking towards the starting chute.  I wanted a chance to get settled, calm my nerves and make sure I was ready to go.  Since I figured I had plenty of time I thought I would jog back to the van to check the course map real quick as well as get the blood flowing a little before I ran.  I got about 10 strides into my jog and I hear “725” (our team number) and Micki scream “LONNIE!!”  I immediately turned, saying a few choice words, and sprinted to the chute.  I met Micki right at the end of the chute, grabbed the wrist band, and took off on my leg.  Micki had come in 20 minutes early!!  Here I am before starting my run.

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My leg, number 2, is a milder version of leg 1.  A 1500 foot descent over 5.6 miles.  Everything I had read and heard was to not run too hard.  So I made a conscious effort to keep a nice, steady, easy pace.  I monitored my pace on my watch but ran mostly on feel.  I was shooting for a 7:30 pace, but ended up running that leg at a 6:50 pace.  I felt great so didn’t worry too much about it being too fast.  I handed off to Robyn and found my way to our van.  Did a little stretching and we were off to the next exchange.  Once there I did a little more stretching and walked around to get a little better cool down.  This is definitely one of the more difficult things to do in a relay event.  You really don’t have time to get in a good warm up and cool down.  And really, do you want to add more miles to what you are going to be running?

Once you’re done running it’s all about cheering on your teammates and interacting with the other teams.  There are just some amazing people running in this event and being a recluse will rob you of meeting them and detract from the experience.  I think a sense of humor is a requirement for this event.  Exhibit A:

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After we finished running our six legs it was time to hand off to the other van.  Once that was done we had about 5 hours before we had to be at our next leg.  One of my teammate’s parents’s lived in the area so we went there to eat, shower and relax.  After a hot shower we had spaghetti, garlic bread and caprese salad.

After eating an amount of food that my body told me during my next run was way too much, we made our way to the next van to van exchange.  This was a new exchange point this year due to construction.  This year it was at Oaks Amusement Park.  On a good day this neighborhood can be a challenge to drive through.  Throw in a few hundred extra vehicles and a couple thousand people and you can imagine the chaos.  We actually had some concern about making it to the next exchange in time for me to run.  One of the advantages of being local is that we knew the quickest way to get where we needed…which was not the way suggested by the map.  So we ended up making it in plenty of time.

My next leg was 14.  Coming into the event I was really looking forward to this leg.  It was basically a flat, straight 10K.  Even though this was pretty much the case, this was by far my worst run of the weekend.  Poor Micki took a lot longer to finish her leg than we expected.  I really felt for her.  She had a 7+ mile run that, although along the Willamette River for quite a ways, is not a very forgiving route at that time of the day.  It was sunny, quite warm and she was running directly into the sun.  Plus most of the route is on old, hard, and uneven at times concrete.  By the time she got to me she looked like she was ready to pass out.  I had been standing around for about 20 minutes waiting for the hand off.  I was definitely feeling tired at this point and was a little stiff.  But…SIUP!  My wife was able to join me at this exchange to say hi and wish me luck.

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I took the handoff and headed out.  As I was starting to get my stride just short of a mile, the race came to an abrupt halt.  At first I thought we were just waiting for the light to change as we had to cross the street.  Then I quickly realized that wasn’t the case.  No one knew why we were stopped but within a minute or so we had heard that there had been a pretty bad accident on HWY 30, just over the hill from us.  A fuel truck was turning left onto HWY 30 from the road we were getting ready to run on.  A VW sedan decided to not stop and T-boned the truck.  Luckily no one was injured.  It definitely did not look good once we were able to run by.  We ended up being stopped for about 20 minutes.  From this point forward I was mentally toast.  Any adrenaline I built up at the start of that leg was gone by the time we were able to get running again after the delay.  I covered the 6.08 miles in about 50 minutes.  It was hard to get an official time on this leg as I forgot to start my watch when I first took off and the official time had to include the untimed delay.  Between being a little dehydrated, too much spaghetti in my stomach and the heat I had a strong urge to puke for most of the last two miles.  I didn’t, but I think I would have felt better if I had.  I must have looked like crap because Lauren, who met me at my finishes usually, kept checking on me to see if I was ok as she walked me back to the van.  I spent most the next couple of hours drinking as much water as I could.  Couple hours later I was feeling much better.

After your second leg is when the real adventure begins.  By this time you are approaching being up 24 hours.  You are tired from not sleeping as well as putting in a couple brutal runs.  By now I really wanted something hot to eat.  We had a stop in St Helens while Lauren, our number 5 runner, was finishing up her leg.  We hit Safeway for some supplies.  It’s amazing how good a corn dog can taste when you are craving something hot to eat at midnight and nothing is open.  I’m still amazed McDonald’s closed their dining room at 11:00pm…on a Friday night…with several thousand Hood to Coast people in their parking lot!  WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!?!

At this point we were just hoping that things went smooth enough that we could make it to our next exchange fast enough to get as much as 4 hours sleep.  Yeah, wishful thinking.  By the time we got to exchange 24, where we would start our runs again, it was pushing 3:00am.  Since we were only going to get about 2 to 2.5 hours of sleep, and even though we knew we had a tent available to us with cots, most of us decided to just sleep in the van to save time.  I actually slept pretty well considering.  But the alarm still went off at 5:30.  And we were off again.

My final leg was 26.  Considering I was running on 2 hours of sleep I felt pretty good.  I saw Micki coming down the road and got in the chute.  Right as I did I hear someone from the crowd yell “GO LONNIE!”  I saw the person but had no clue who they were.  I spent the next 5.77 miles trying to figure it out.  But I had nothing.  The route was really nice.  Old, narrow country road.  Was the first time the description of “gentle, rolling country roads” really was just that.  It had one half mile hill before a half mile down hill into the finish.  I was only 2 seconds slower on pace for this run as I was the night before and this was a much hillier route.  It felt amazing to hit that finish line knowing this was my last run and my part, at least for running, of Hood to Coast was done.

It was at this point where I was shown just how mentally wasted I was.  The person who yelled at me at the start of my leg tracked me down after I was done.  It was Sherri from our Facebook Sub 30 running group.  I had to have her explain to me THREE times who she was.  Even after that I just said ok, like I knew who she was.  Mentally I knew that I should know her, but it wasn’t clicking.  It took about another hour for it all to sink in and make sense.  Here is Sherri and I after my third leg.  That isn’t a mile of joy; that is delirium!

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At this point of the event, I’m in full on spectator mode.  I’m talking to everyone we pass.  Other runners, vans, volunteers…I was like the drunk, annoying guy who won’t stop talking.  At one point I looked at a volunteer who was directing traffic with a flashlight and said “You really light up my life.”  Eric, Micki’s husband and the other male in our van, just busted up and said “You make friends everywhere!”  The volunteer got a kick out of it also.

A couple stops later I got a cool surprise.  I was just hanging out at the van waiting for our runner to come in.  I see this van pull in and recognize it as the Nuun Hydration team van.  I knew Meg Hetzel and Hannah McGoldrick from Runner’s World were running with them, each one if a different van.  Since the team was made up of female bloggers they had their Twitter handles written on the windows of the van and I quickly noticed Meg’s.  Being the stalker that I am, I followed the van to where it parked a few spots down from us.  I saw Meg get out of the van and called out to her.  She immediately got that “who is this stalker” look on her face.  I said who I was and she got a big smile on her face and said “Oh my God, how did we run into each other in the middle of all this?!”  Considering we started HOURS apart and were in opposite vans, it was pretty amazing we did run into each other.  Definitely one of the highlights of the weekend for me.

At our final van to van exchange I had the exact opposite thing happen to me.  We had just parked and I was sitting there when I saw a guy walk towards the van.  He goes “Lonnie?” and I immediately recognized him.  It was Wes, from Run with Wes on Twitter.  We had talked about meeting up with each other on the beach after the event but was cool to see each other on the course.  This actually worked out, since we didn’t connect on the beach after all.  Although I didn’t get to give him his beer that I had my wife bring over for him.  I’ll keep it cold for you, Wes!

After we did the final exchange, we headed for the coast.  A few miles from Astoria, Eric asked “Who wants Dairy Queen?”  Almost in unison, we all said “I DO!”  So we made a pit stop at DQ and each of us proceeded to eat WAY TOO MUCH!  From there it was to the hotel at the finish line.  Because the team had raised so much money for ACS, the team got a room almost right next to the finish line.  This allowed our van to get there early to shower and get clean clothes on.  What an amazing feeling!  Baby wipes only do so much!  It also gave us some time to relax before the other van finished.

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Once the other van came in it was just a matter of waiting for our team captain, Joe, to make it to the finish line.  I was amazed at how easy it was for us to get to him when he came into the finish chute for us to cross together as a team.  It’s a pretty incredible feeling crossing that finish line together.

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From there we just relaxed on the beach and talked about the experience.  And of course, ate some more.  We got this incredible team picture.  In the middle sitting down is Will.  Our team name is Will Power.  Will has cancer and is currently kicking its ass!  He did Hood to Coast last year but was unable to this year as you can see from the brace on his leg.  He is hoping to be healed enough so that he can participate next year.  He’s a great kid with a strong spirit and incredible support system.  I know he will do it.

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As I said, this is easily the greatest thing I have personally done.  Such a feeling of accomplishment.  I hope running my first marathon feels this good.  Because the team raised enough money, they have an exemption for next year’s race, so they are automatically in.  Joe wants to keep the team together so hoping I will get to run again next year.  I’m definitely in if given the chance.  Starting in 2015 I will be trying to get my own team together for the event.  Going to do this as much as I can since it was such an experience and so close to home.  And maybe next time I will smile when I take a selfie with my medal…

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Happy Running

Lonnie