It was at the 5 mile mark that my knee was really started to twinge a lot. I slowed to a walk for only a second and then kept at it. When I saw the end, I sprinted to the finish...but couldn't find my teammate to hand off the baton. Finally, they saw me and we handed off. I did okay and had kept a high 8s average pace for this. The knee was only more of a bother at this point, so I figured if I iced and took some pain med it would be okay.
Leg 2 was the next morning at 7am. 4.92 miles, and the difficulty was easy
I had gotten sick in the middle of the night, so I was a little worried about that as well. The knee was only feeling worse at this point, despite popping lots of pain meds and trying to do some quick knee exercises. It didn't really help that I was crammed into a small van for all those hours after, rather than having room to stretch it and rest it properly.
I started off and it just hurt - a lot. I hobbled at a slow jog for the first half mile and then it started to feel better. That first mile really threw me off though and though it was so flat and felt pretty good after that initial shock, it made my pace in the higher 9s for this Leg. Again, I finished strong though and made sure I hauled booty to the finish. It was a scenic route for this one and I saw a lot more runners. I passed a few and some passed me, as well. If my knee felt 100%, this one would have been a piece of cake and I would have loved it. The scenery was pretty amazing.
This isn't from my leg, but near it:
so picturesque! The views of the mountain were even better. I didn't get a pic though.
Leg 3 was at about 4pm that day and was rated moderate in difficulty. I was so worried though because it was a lot of uphill/downhill and was also on gravel. I had felt okay leading up to it, so I thought the knee would hold up. The gravel was awful and I had to briskly walk/slow jog the first mile. Mile 2 and 3, I saw my van and van 2 of nuun platoon and I felt strong. This was downhill and my knee was responding well. I did 8:30ish miles at this point. Mile 4 was back to being tough. I slowed a bit and started to walk. That was a mistake. The knee wasn't responding well when I tried to start running again. I did it again, slowly. I made it at a turtle's pace running to the last little bit...an incline ramp onto an overpass that went over the road, then back down. That was not pretty. I was internally yelling at myself and telling myself to be strong. I made it to the home stretch and saw the videographer that Nuun had hired. He was on a skateboard, filming me. I was NOT about to be filmed looking weak. I mustered any strength I had and kicked it that last little bit, knee screaming the entire time. Because my pace was all over the place, I did an average of like 11:30 miles for this leg. But, I did it and that was the best feeling ever. Especially having my team waiting for me at the end. You can see why I was pretty emotional at the end right?
Overall, it was an amazing experience and even with getting sick and having immense knee pain, I want to do it again and again and again. (Though I'd prefer to leave those things out and be strong the entire time next time). What made it so amazing was the unity between all of us. My van became so close and it was hard to say goodbye to them.
van 2 girls after the race
The M's in the van - Megan, Mel , Melody
our van on the beach after the race.
Mel, Jen (from nuun), me, Ken (our driver, also from nuun), carrie , kelly
When you're stuck in a van with people for 48 hours, you better get comfy. We spent lots of time chatting about everything, playing the game "would you rather", dancing to music (our theme song was 'pumped up kicks' by foster the people...so addicting), and not sleeping a wink.
Everyone was so supportive of one another and we made a point to cheer everyone on, take care of each other while sick (huge thanks to Mel Tall Mom for being a surrogate mom to me), getting each other psyched up for the next leg, and so much more. I also owe a huge thanks to Kelly for being a kt tape pro and helping me before each leg so both knees would be okay.
Since the race was upped to 20,000 people this year, rather than 12,000, it was a little chaotic and we sat in standstill traffic often. It helped that we had an awesome driver who never got us lost, had immense patience, and took good care of us. Ken, you are pretty awesome! Plus, he was a good sport and even wore the sparkle skirt for a few pics: He definitely deserves a medal for putting up with all of our shenanigans this weekend!
So, here's my final thoughts on HTC - do it! No, seriously, you should. It's worth the lack of sleep or food. You'll see amazing landscapes, become close (or closer) to your vanmates, and the afterparty is nothing to scoff at. Complete with booze, a band, and fireworks:
So, have I sold you on it yet?
-What aspects of a race make it 'amazing' for you?
-Have you ever had an experience during a race that was pretty awful but felt worth it at the end?
-Tell me some exciting things in your life right now!
-Anyone have big plans for the weekend?