Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Run. Rest and recover. Repeat

I have an extreme example of this week's topic on Take it and run Thursday.
This last weekend, I finished my first Hood to Coast Relay. This was a true test of physical and mental endurance especially because I only had about 4 weeks of quality training. HTC is a 12 person relay from Mt. Hood 197 miles finishing on the beach at Seaside Oregon. It is an extreme example of run, rest, recover and repeat all within 24 hours. Each runner runs 3 legs staying in order. For example, runner 1 hands off to runner 2, who then hands off to runner 3 etc.. until the order begins again. The runner is then picked up by their team van while the other van transports the next runner up to the next exchange point. I was runner 10 who ran legs 10, 22 and 34 of 36 legs. The race began early Friday and started in waves of teams with similar projected finishing times. Our team started at 6:45 PM. I took the hand off at 12:03 am Saturday and ran in the dark on a rolling paved trail for 6.88 miles. I tried to hold my goal pace despite the feeling that I had to cut my stride as I was having a difficult time seeing the trail. Upon finishing this leg, I was very hungry and felt depleted. I would now have about 6 hours to rest, recover and race again! I decided to try a new energy replacement drink, chocolate milk. In this case it was organic soy chocolate milk. After chugging this I felt 100% better. I then ate some bagels and peanut butter. Later I drank water with a Nuun tablet. The resting part of this phase was difficult as I found it impossible to sleep in a van with 7 people. We were unable to take advantage of the designated sleeping areas as our very experienced team captain felt it was important to keep the vans traveling together from each exchange point. However, this would have allowed me to get 1-3 hours of important shut eye. Many will argue that sleep is not necessary in a racing scenario but for me I believe it would have helped me in the 3rd leg.

My second leg began at daybreak around 7am. This leg (22) started with a 1.5 mile uphill climb and the a long 5 mile downhill along a beautiful tree lined Oregon road and a creek. I ran fairly consistent despite now being awake for over 24 hours and having to be careful to avoid Hamstring and Quad spasms from the hills. I again drank the soy chocolate milk and almost instantaneously felt better.

In the final legs, the exchange points began to get congested as we were catching the slower teams. This made it difficult to stay loose as we had to get our next runner up the road before our current runner passed us. I had the most trouble on leg 3 as most of this 4.10 (34) was in direct sun and it was hot! I wasn't in road kill mode, but I did back off my goal pace. I was on the edge of a hamstring spasm again and I was in need of water. When I finished my legs and I were happy to be near the end of this journey through Oregon. Our team hit the beach 19th overall and 1st in our division, just about 2 minutes off our projected finish!

This truly is the mother of all relays and is an extreme example of run, rest, recover and repeat!
Now it is time for me to really get some REST! Good job everybody and thank you.

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