Monday, September 1, 2008

Portland to Coast 2008

Trekking Tekkies at the finish

The Trekking Tekkies did even better than last year! Mike and Tatyana suckered me into training earlier this year (early June instead of late July), and before I knew what was happening, I was doing 10 mile relatively flat walks "not fast" (yeah, not fast for THEM) and 7 miles hilly walks. I'd have to walk the other days with the fitness walkers just to recover :-)

But the high points:
We completed the event in 23:21:58, with an average pace of 10:59
We came in 5th OVERALL (400 teams)
We came in 1st in Corporate Open Walking by about 2:40 over the next fastest team.

All this from a group of 12 relatively ordinary cubicle-dwellers. Well, okay, perhaps one of them is a few sandwiches short of a picnic in terms of her view on endurance events.

I would say our improved performance comes from two places - whenever we have to replace a teammate, we upgrade. And we are getting a bit more serious about training. Heart rate monitors have been purchased. Some folks walk half marathons. More are walking year-round. No one says "I went out dancing the night after we finished the race."

Plus our van decorations get fancier every year. :-)

Van 2 at the fairgrounds

Van 2 (mine, and my VAN as well) planned on a 1:30 meet-up and pack, to meet Van 1 at the Columbia County Fairgrounds. Van 1 reported they were 10 minutes ahead of projections.

(If, for one minute, you think this is pulled off without a lot of logistics, planning, and a slick spreadsheet, you should have another thought)

Mike, Ian, and Tony at the fairgrounds

We found them easily - in previous years teams started in waves every 15 minutes until 10am. This year, we had a 10am start (fastest teams start last), but there were no starts after 7am. A three-hour gap. We walked the first 12 legs without really seeing any other teams than the 24 we started with. I passed a couple of slow walkers on my leg (I'm #11), but that was it.

Our first 6 legs were fun. We'd pull ahead of the walker and wait, standing around, talking pictures, knitting a bit (me), then, as our walker came into view, cheering wildly, misting them with spray bottles, and handing over some water.

Tony walking

Doesn't every race van have baguettes and bruschetta?

Tatyana giving Mike some water

My leg comes as the sun sets, walking just over 4 miles, ending at the Natal Grange. Van 1 passed and waved, on their way to the big exchange. I passed one walker ("you aren't passing me!" "Fraid so"), then as I approached the exchange, I heard footsteps. Fast ones, right behind me. No way was that walker going to pass. And that walker did not pass - I handed off to Deb, and wobbled off to the van.

We then headed off to the next big exchange - Mike drove, and I got changed. Found Van 1, and a few of us walked to the exchange area - it was starting to get very crowded. Collected Deb, did the data handoff (clipboard, stopwatches, USB stick with the updated spreadsheet), and headed off to the next big van exchange/sleeping area. At this point we were driving through many more groups of walkers, so it took longer to get there - less time to sleep :-( Last year, we were ahead of all the walkers, and it was a pretty quick drive.

The roadkill banners on our vans were starting to fill up. By the time we finished, we had passed most of the walking teams.

No tents allowed this year, so sleeping bags and tarps all around. It was chilly and damp, but I was plenty warm, and fell asleep right away. At least until the group next to us decided to have a loud conversation, but we were getting up in 15 minutes anyway.

Van 1 found us - all communication at this point is by walkie-talkie; no cell phone service. We walked to the exchange to get Ian started, then headed off. The first three exchanges were very, very crowded (roadkill-rich zone) - we'd drop the walker and timekeeper off and they'd walk down to the exchange, and we'd do a pickup after. Then it was Tatyana walking, so I got someone else to drive, and changed into my walking gear, and put my contact lenses back in. It was still chilly, but I figured it would warm up. Tatyana zipped along her leg, turning in the fastest pace on any leg for our team.

Got my waterbottle and iPod ready - the second to last leg has no van support, and it is 7.28 miles long. Peaceful, though! But still chilly - my hands were very cold for the first 30 minutes. I started picking off walkers pretty soon. One woman kept pulling even with me, then dropping back, then pulling even. Her form was a bit suspect... Then we started the gradual, yet everlasting climb, and she fell off. {gloat} I saw a guy with a striped shirt a long ways ahead, and set myself to catch him. I never did, but I caught all 16 of the walkers between him and me. The route is a Weyerhauser private road, mostly not paved, through a forested area and then a big clearcut, then another forested area. Once the last forested area is traversed, we pop back onto a road leading to a log scaling station (and the exchange). The surface is smooth and paved, so I could go faster. It goes on for not quite half a mile. Eventually I could see Ian cheering, and found the exchange. You'd think it would be more obvious, but I might be not as observant after 7.28 miles. Found Deb, handed over, and... wobbled back to the van. No coffee truck at this exchange :-( I really wanted some coffee.

Note: a towel draped over the two middle seats makes an excellent privacy screen for changing in the way back.

Leapfrogged Deb into Seaside, and called Van 1. They were on the beach, eating free snacks and drinking coffee. We got great street parking down the road from the Pig and Pancake, and walked to the beach to find everyone. Did a lot of standing around. The announcers somehow did not announce that OUR walker was coming; luckily someone saw her and we all got there in time to finish with her.

Finisher medals, team picture, bought some very bad coffee, waited a bit on the results, then hiked back to Pig and Pancake for breakfast. They got us in relatively quickly. Yummy breakfast, then the drive back.

The coffee was terrible but I liked the delivery system

Tatyana refueling after the race

I made it as far as Camp 18, then someone else had to take over. Tony kindly drove the rest of the way back.

Aftermath: the van is still not washed. We took our team pictures for the company website, with our nifty FIRST PLACE CORPORATE OPEN WALKING plaques. :-) And I went for my first run in 2.5 months, and felt it for the next two days.

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