Until recently, I'd LOVED races--loved the camaraderie, the swag (t-shirts! medals! Jamba Juice!), the energy. I looked forward to them, and that anticipation made training somewhat fun. I would just go out there and give it my all.
After having done two marathons this year (Seattle Rock 'n' Roll and Eugene), I've been kind of burnt out on running. The stress of months of training and several VERY disappointing races had taken a lot of the fun out of it. I felt like my body and I were at odds with each other, and I became really critical of myself because I wasn't meeting any of my time goals. I decided after my last race (Lacamas Lake Half in July) that I was going to take a break from racing, and just run for fun. I wasn't going to worry about time or pace, just run when I felt like it, and spend more time doing other kinds of exercise.
The only kink in my plan was Hood to Coast--a 200 mile relay with 12 person teams. I'd committed to doing it a year ago, and couldn't back out on my team so close to the race. I dreaded the 200 mile relay for weeks, but didn't want to be a Debbie Downer for my team, and reminded myself that if I gave my best, my friends would be proud of me no matter what my pace was, and that we had decided to run H2C a second year because it was FUN--we weren't going to win any division, but we had a great time doing this crazy relay anyway.
My second leg (Leg 20) was at sunrise. The course was half paved, half gravel, and almost totally uphill (700 feet elevation gain over 5.75 miles). I knew it was going to be hard, so my only goal was to run the entire thing, without walking. It was hard and I was discouraged by how slow my pace was, but I reminded myself that my teammates wouldn't be disappointed by my pace since they knew it was a tough climb. But if they saw me walking, they'd probably give me a hard time! :) Fortunately, the last 3/4 mile was all downhill, and I decided to go full speed and try and make up as much time as possible. I really killed it, and my teammates were really impressed :P
Fortunately, on our way to one of the next few exchanges, there was a Dairy Queen! It's kind of a tradition for our van to stop and get some DQ during the race, and I was SUPER excited to have a mini Oreo Blizzard. I love that my teammates are serious about this race, but like to have fun too.