Hood to Coast this weekend? Fantastic. Let me share with you some final thoughts to help you get through this 197-mile relay. Now, granted, I have never run Hood to Coast. But I watched the movie, so that’s good enough to give you advice, right?
Kidding. I have not only run a 200 mile-ish relay with some great friends and the awesome name of Postfontaine (7 years ago?!) but have also done the relay thing solo. So I know what it is like to be up and moving for long extended periods of time. And since I will be a last minute addition to a team of runners taking on this iconic race, I thought I would share what I have learned about relays to get you through.
1. Start training for this months ago
That was all kinds of helpful wasn’t it? But seriously, while running three times in less than 24 hours is taxing, most can do it with aplomb if they have put in the miles. If you haven’t, well, you can still do it, even if it might hurt a bit. Just don’t let anyone see you walk the next day. Luckily, the Pacific is cold and you can jump in after to wake up your sore muscles.
2. Take care of yourself when you are NOT running
This includes eating properly, remembering to relube your body (I recommend Body Glide) and resting. There is no shame in a catnap here and there and it won’t detract from the fun you are having along the way. In fact, a little sleep here and there will make you much more fun to be around and your runs will go much better. Also, while it is good to have some quick hits of PowerBar or Gel blasts along the way, it will behoove you and your team to actually grab a real meal somewhere during the day. Trust me on this one. Having 6 hangry (so hungry you are angry) runners in van will make no one a happy runner.
Bring comfy clothes to change into when you are not running. You do not want to be in your sweaty running gear for an entire day. Also think about some compression of some sort. I will be bringing my SKINS socks for my weary legs and it will make them feel so fresh when I start the next run.
Have fun and don’t stress too much. Unless you are the Nike elite team, you are probably not going to win this thing. You are also all but guaranteed not to be last. So when you are not running, treat it like the awesome vacation it is. That said, don’t lollygag and mess up your team’s vibe. The last thing you want to do is NOT be at an exchange when a runner comes in. No friends will be made there, believe me.
3. Take care of yourself when you ARE running
Remember to bring a visor or a hat and some sunglasses (I recommend Julbo.) The weather for this race is almost always bright and sunny so a hat will help keep the sun out of your eyes. Obviously, sunglasses will also protect your eyes from the sun. In addition, since you are running on roads not closed to traffic, the possibility of debris getting kicked up into your peepers is greater than other races.
Drink. (Not alcohol.) It might only be a 45 minute run but don’t try to be a hero when it comes to hydration. Take a small handheld with you (such as the CamelBak Arc Grip) and if it gets a tad warm, you won’t be dying when you finally get to your exchange.
Change at least your socks, and possibly your shoes, for each run. You might only need two pairs to alternate but you will be surprised how wet that first pair will still be when the second leg starts. And don’t even think about wearing the same socks twice. Smelly, disgusting and rife with blisters opportunities they will be. You can push through any quad pain but chafing and blisters will knock you down immediately.
4. Bring more gear than you think you need – within reason
Don’t bring things you absolutely know you will not need. But having a second reflective vest or another SPIbelt for a teammate who happened to forget theirs is always nice. You can also make a brand new friend from another team. Running is about camaraderie and helping others out. Here’s your chance.
Also, while the weather will start out warm through Portland, it will drop as much as 20 degrees once you head through the mountains and onto the coast. Having run the entire 350 miles of the coast myself, I know how much chillier it can be just 90 miles from Portland. So bring clothing which will allow you to be comfortable running in differing weather conditions.
5. Familiarize yourself with your legs - thoroughly
Nothing is worse than making a wrong turn in the middle of the night in an area where you are a stranger and other people are not only looking for you but waiting for you. Also, knowing what is ahead of you will make each turn on the road that much better.
6. Get to know your teammates
Many teammates will be meeting for the first time. Try to get to know what they are like, where they are from and what brought them to running. We all have our stories and we want to share them but there is plenty of time. Knowing that Steve likes to share and Mary is quiet will help you in the long run when you eventually regale everyone with your amazing PR stories. These people are going to be your lifeline for the next day and
There are only about 8 million other things I could tell you but I think these few last minute tips will make people want to have you in their van again for the next relay.
If not, well, you can alienate a whole new bunch of runners next time.