Sunday, September 15, 2013

#NUUNHTC: When Life Gives You Lemons...Run Faster!

When life gives you NUUN Lemonade, run faster; and that is just what I did.  There is something magical about running relays, especially Hood-To-Coast.  I absolutely love how relays make running {which is usually an individual sport} a team sport, while still including the individual focus and challenge which so many of us love about running! When you are in the van, it is all about being a team...the camaraderie, doing what is in the best interested of the team, cheering each other on, forming lasting friendships, and supporting one another to the finish.  When it is your turn to run, and only then, are you able to focus on yourself, and run YOUR race for those 3-8 miles.  For me personally, I run harder for my team, pushing myself just a tad bit further, knowing that all of the other 11 runners are giving their all for the sake of the team too! 

Leg 1: 10:something PM, 3.10 miles/8:21 avg

Yes, I wear my sunglasses at night! 

With a start time of 1pm, and being the LAST runner, I didn't run my first leg until after 10pm! The nighttime leg{s} is {usually} my favorite run of a relay...nothing compares to a star-moon-headlight-red flashing light lit run, rocking out to music on my RoadNoise vest.  Except when you are running into a dark hole, questioning whether or not you are going to see light again.  Ok, maybe a slight exaggerations, but I'll admit, I was a little nervous...

As I received the baton, I took off on a shrubbery lined bike bath through Portland, ending at Oaks Park.  The run was dark, no one in site, with a few potential turns {luckily I continued straight on the path}. After about 2 miles, the bike portion of the run ended, and I ran through a neighborhood the last mile or so.  As I approached the end of my run I saw cars backed up for what seemed like miles, and at that point I wasn't sure if my van would be at the finish by the time I got there {very tight exchanges for this first round of legs}, but as I kicked it in for the last 1/4 mile or so I saw sparkle skirts in the vanmates were making their way to the finish and van "driver of the year," Jeff, ran the rest of the way with me {much appreciated}.  After a few last minute road kills I handed off to Lauren and Van 1 was off again! 

Leg 2: 5 miles, 8:31/avg

After attempting to catch some zzzzzz's curled up in a ball {well more like a human pretzel-gone-bad position} on the end of the van bench....sidenote: it is quite a site to see 7 people attempting to sleep in a van; which we called a "cuddle puddle".... it was our turn to run again! When we met up with Van 1 at the exchange, there was a lot of talk about "Code Browns" {I'll let you figure that one out!}

While my leg was still during "night time hours," the sun had come up, which is a total game changer! {note to self: blog sooner, so you have a better recollection} What I do remember is that I felt strong the entire run and loved having my team cheer for me half way through {due to the fact that our first set of runs were on a trail, we weren't able to cheer people on while running}.  This was the second relay I ran with Lauren, and both times I handed off to her...making it extra special every time I came into the exchange.  

What I like to call my Rainbow Brite look...brought to you by Oiselle,  Sparkle Athletic,  and my favorite Lunatik compression socks

Leg 3: 5.1 miles 8:35 avg

H-squared getting ready for our final legs!

My final run started off with about a 1/2 mile run on a gravel path, followed by about another 1/4 mile climb and then a night descent.  I loved peaking the hill and cruising down, but the highlight of the run was running into {no pun intended} Kathy, of  Heart-N-Sole from the Hood-To-Coast documentary.  As I entered Seaside, I started getting emotional, as I was about to finish another relay, the mother of all relays, with NUUN.  An amazing opportunity and an even more amazing experience.  Running along the beach, having all of the other teams and spectators cheer for me, as I was all smiles, was pretty amazing! I would love to say that crossing the finish line and running in with my team was an epic moment, but unfortunately, that is not the case.  While I don't want to sound like I am complaining or focusing on the negative, the finish was definitely disappointing. As I crossed the finish I was brought to an immediate halt {talk about anticlimactic} as I waited for my team to make their way through the sea of teams to me.  Once they did, we waited in a line, and were {what felt like} herded like cattle through the finish.  It was pretty amazing, and an honor, to be able to present each of my teammates with their medals, because we couldn't of done it without the hard work of each and every one of them.  

Another relay complete, new friendships formed, unforgettable memories created, and a heart overflowing with joy and gratification! 

THANK YOU will never be sufficient for all NUUN has done for me! I will forever be grateful! 

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