Friday, August 30, 2013

Puke & Rally 2013 (Hood to Coast Race Report)

Ever since I joined the team Puke & Rally in 2009, the weekend before Labor Day has been spent running from Mt. Hood to the Oregon coast. Every year it’s a combination of fast miles, fun competition, very little sleep, and tons of laughs. When I call it the “weekend of the year” I’m not really joking. Hood to Coast is an absolute blast and the pukers and rally-ers of PnR keep me coming back year after year.

2013 Puke & Rally: Peder, Ben, Dave, Joe, Nic, Aaron
Joy, CK, Sydnie, Meghan, Kara, Julie
But before I launch into this year’s race report, here’s a quick recap of the other years:
2009 – my newbie year: I was introduced to guys who ran marathons in the 2:30s and half marathons under 70 minutes. All the girls pretty much ran in college or at least had enough talent that they could have. I ran leg #4 that year and held my own to feel like I belonged on the team. We finished in 20:57 that year for 4th in Mixed Open.

2010 – I stepped up to captain that year and put together Puke & Rally’s fastest team. We finished in 20:24, but unfortunately lost to our rival team – the New York Bad Apples – by 2 minutes. We were 3rd for Mixed Open and 14th overall. I ran leg #11 that year. It’s an unwritten tradition that the captains have a meltdown at some point during the race. I almost lost it when we had to turn in our timing sheet and I was worried they were going to “audit” it and the times weren’t written down precisely to the second. Oh man, I'm such an accountant sometimes...

2011 – a very weird year. We started at 10:30 and got caught in Portland traffic for some of our exchanges, which made us lose about 30 minutes. Still, we finished 21:22 and 5th place for Mixed Open. I ran leg 3 and probably had my best HTC splits (5:39, 6:41, and 6:36 paces that year). I was also team captain.

2012 – Our closest finish with our rivals. It came down to the last leg against the New York Bad Apples and I was runner #12. I passed their girl at the start of the leg, but with one mile to go she was right on my shoulder. I went for it, didn’t look back, and ended up putting 19 seconds into her in the last mile. It’s probably one of my happiest memories in sports. We finished 21:06:31, 3rd place Mixed Open, and 19th overall. We also ran with 5 guys that year, instead of 6, so 3 of our guys had to step up and run 4 legs.

Top Left to Right: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 Puke & Rally teams
Which brings us to 2013…I must say I’m still on the Hood to Coast high, yet missing my 11 goofy teammates and all our inside jokes.  From one teammate confusing the lyrics of The Lonely Island’s “Like a Boss” and asking “Who’s Michael Bausch?” to making chip sandwiches, post-race pizza and beers and funny heel click pictures by Honey Buckets, this year certainly did not disappoint.
Beach running, Nic and his Swedish fish, Syd & CK at the beach, post- "act funny" team pic
This is the 7th year Puke & Rally has run HTC, so we have put together a well-oiled machine that operates with good leadership from the captain (whoever steps up) year after year. The team has roots from the Midwest and half the team was from Minnesota this year, so we were really good at being nice as well as passive-aggressive. Half the team flew into Portland or drove down on Thursday night and the other half drove from Seattle on Friday morning. We all met in Portland Friday morning, split up the food, assigned vans, and made our way up to Mt. Hood to start the relay.
I can’t say I ran my absolute best, but I certainly took enough beating throughout the relay. I had legs 1, 13, and 25. Leg 1 was 5.64 miles and 2000 feet of elevation loss. I took it out “easy” and ran the first mile in 5:27. Needless to say, legs 13 (7.31 miles) and 25 (3.75 miles) were turd sandwiches. I held on as best I could, but Leg 13 was probably the hardest. I’ve never wanted to walk or cry during Hood to Coast. And if it wasn’t for my Puke & Rally teammates, there probably would have been a combination of both. Luckily, I have fast and nice teammates who didn’t care that I came in off my expected pace and were just thankful I stepped up to take the “sacrificial lamb” slot that is leg 1.

Running 2000 feet downhill on leg 1 - one week later and my quads are almost normal
Our team had one snafu when runner #8 got hit by a car. It wasn’t her fault, though the old man who hit her did say something like, “I thought you were going faster.” She recovered like a champ and finished her second and third legs. The whole issue probably cost us 10 minutes, as she had to wait at the scene of the accident for a chunk of time and then was in a lot of pain for her other legs. She also helped contribute to our team name “Puke & Rally” by barfing after her other legs because of the stress on her body. This teammate won the badass/rally award for the year!

Everyone ran well and had fun. We had an earlier start time this year (1:30PM compared to 6:30PM, like past years), so the traffic was a lot smoother and we got to enjoy more time in Seaside. We stayed ahead of our rivals, the NY Bad Apples, and finished in 21:07, which was good enough for 3rd place mixed open and 12th OA. After we finished the race, the team was able to enjoy real food for lunch, cold beers, and bloody Mary’s. There was a lot of beach time on Saturday afternoon spent chilling out and laughing. Sunday we went for an easy jog on the beach (I couldn’t run because my quads hurt so badly…this is the first time in HTC history) followed by coffee and donuts before saying our goodbyes.
Team "act funny" pic
Ben and I met Lopez Lomong! nbd
Wow! My hair looks amazing.
Nic's annual hostel parking lot stretches
Pro-tip: 3 of our fastest guys recommend post-race heel clicks
Sunday beach run (I had to walk...Julie walked with me,
but she was the one hit by a car...)
Every year there’s a moment or two with all the planning, packing, and lack of sleep when I ask myself why the heck I do this race, but it’s so fun and the team is so great. It’s different than any other type of event I do throughout the year and nice to spice up the racing season. Besides, how could I miss the weekend of the year? I haven’t fully committed to PnR 2014, but chances are pretty good I’ll be snuggling up in the back of the van for another Hood to Coast next year.

Puke & Rally!
The beach at Seaside is a sight for very sore and tired legs eyes and legs. The website advertised a new finish line set-up for 2013. I was hoping that meant a breakfast buffet and bloody mary bar. Sadly, it was just a new lay out of the finish line and beer garden. Luckily, my teammates and I found other ways to laugh and cope and celebrate.   


  1. Awesome post, awesome race and awesome team. There are no words that can truly describe this race and these people.

  2. That looks like a lot of fun (minus the whole "getting hit by a car" part). Maybe I'll bucket list a run team relay one of these years.

    1. You definitely should! I like HTC more than RAGNAR, but both are fun. And RAGNAR is easier to get into. A lot of teams need girls at the last minute, so if you keep HTC or RAGNAR NW Passage weekends open one of these years, it'll probably be easy to get on a team that is already organized. Try to avoid captaining a team on your first go. There's a lot of organizational work that is nice to have someone else worry about for your first relay.

  3. Oh hey you were runner 1 too! Glad to hear I wasn't the only one whose quads weren't quite normal until more than a week after that downhill monster! Nice seeing you at yoga last night :).

    1. Oh man! I was a wreck post-relay. I knew leg 1 would hurt, but having that 7-miler for leg 2 really made the relay tough. Nice seeing you at the outdoor yoga studio!

  4. Hood to Coast is on my bucket list! If you ever need a sub runner… though I don't think I can quite run your pace :) Also, way to represent Minnesota! Love the Mill City Running tees!

    1. Definitely add it to the list! HTC is awesome and a great way to visit parts of Oregon. You and the BF should try and get on a team together for a little race-cation. You could also see if Nuun organizes a team of bloggers next year. I bet you'd be a good candidate! Also, it's not GREAT timing with IMWI, but I made it work the two years I did that race, as well as the two years I raced Kona.