That is Mount Hood. And the sudden dread of realization that I would be driving to *near* the top of this mountain and then proceed to run about 200 miles to the coast of Oregon set in. And I had a slight panic attack on the plane. Perhaps I could just phone it in and pretend I missed my flight?
Luckily, the 'grow a pair' voice in my head turned on and I got off the plane. One of the coolest things about this race, and there were many, was the immediate bond that I felt with these women--many of whom I was just meeting for the first time--as we all shared a common goal and destination. This bond proved important as there were many moments that we needed to come through for each other...
...Like helping each other get our van un-wedged from a curb.
...Multiple conversations about bathroom duties--or lack thereof--and the ability to hop out of the car and use whatever is available outside. (can you spot our runner?) By the way I didn't poop all weekend. I was the only one on our entire team that got to run with an entire intestine full. If you are a runner, you understand my lament. If not, you just think I'm gross. And I'm fine with that.
...like cheering for each other to bring it in each leg and to get back out there on the next one..
...and probably most importantly keeping everyone's spirits up when you haven't slept for two days and are sitting in traffic for 3 hours behind these nimrods..In general we were incredibly respectful racers. Thanking volunteers. Minding traffic rules. Race rules. But we unleashed a whole string of swearing and venom on the souls in this van because they sucked at driving, and because we had all slept approximately 20 minutes the night before.
This is what Becca and I looked like at 2AM on Saturday Morning after being up since 6AM:
But even with the extreme sleep deprivation, our team dominated. Everyone raced their hearts out and left it all out there. Our team Captain was truly an inspiration as a bunch of runners got misdirected on the FINAL leg of the race, and instead of 5.5 miles, ran THIRTEEN. Nevermind the previous two legs she had already run. But she stayed out there and ran it in. That was the kind of team I was on. And we all got to run her across the finish line.
I will never forget the awe of my 2nd leg--5AM--climbing 2 miles of hills and then cruising downhill for 5 miles. First in the complete and utter dark, surrounded by the tallest trees I have ever seen...just me, my headlamp and the still dark of the night and the stars in the sky. And then, mile by mile....daylight slowly creeping in to the picture...lighting up my run and exposing the beauty that I had been running in.
I was so fortunate to get to be a part of this team, this experience and to do all of this with my sister.