It has been exactly one month since the week I left for Seattle to begin the Hood to Coast adventure with Nuun. I have had a lot of time (almost 30 days!) to reflect on the trip, to read everyone else’s posts and to process all of the events. Before I move on for good, I want to summarize a few final thoughts on it all…
In an effort to organize my own thoughts, I broke them down into categories:
- I still cannot believe that Nuun picked me for this opportunity. I have said it over & over, but I was completely shocked that I made the team. I worked very hard on my video and I loved what I submitted, but I truly never thought Nuun would notice me and my little blog with a silly name. I felt (and still do feel) so grateful for the experience. Going into this, I really wanted to be a good teammate and a good ambassador for Nuun and to make new friends. I wanted to be true to myself and just be me. Of course, the judgment on some of those things is best left to others, but I can honestly say that I felt comfortable in my own skin and definitely walked away with friendships that I hope to hold onto for a very long time.
- Getting to know 30+ women in 5 days is tough. I read so many comments from my teammates when we returned about how overwhelming it was to meet so many new people and how they felt like they couldn’t be themselves or open up. At first, I thought, “hmmm…I don’t think that affected/bothered me at all”, but then I thought back to how much more relaxed and myself I felt when I was hanging with just Elizabeth in our room or in the van at 3 a.m. or on Sunday afternoon when it was just a small group hanging out, and I think I was a little more affected by the number of people than I thought. The one thing I definitely know (and maybe this helped me?) is that I realized going in that I probably wouldn’t make really deep connections with everyone there. I hoped that if I clicked with some of the girls, then we would have a great beginning of a friendship that we could build on. With that being said, there are also several people that I didn’t get to spend much time with that I really, really wish I would have. I hope I get a chance to change that sometime in the future.
- Being constantly “connected” didn’t bother me. I also have read many comments from my teammates that they were a little turned off by the constant Tweeting, Blogging, Facebooking and Social Media-ing by others during the trip. I am a little ashamed to admit it, but it didn’t bother me at all. But because of that, it makes me wonder if I was one of the people that was causing others to feel uncomfortable. I sort of felt like it was just “acceptable” because we were all bloggers and (most of us) social media addicts, so I didn’t realize that it really bothered some people. I can definitely understand why it would, and absolutely sympathize with it, but I wasn’t sensitive to it at the time. It just seemed like kind of the way things were, especially since part of the reason we were there was to spread the Nuun-love, in real life and virtually.
- Likely & unlikely friendships. I read at least half of the blogs of my teammates well before the teams were even announced, so I felt like I already “knew” many of the girls. After the teams were announced, I did my best to try to get to know as many of the other blogs as I could. I am (kind of) a stalker like that…but also I genuinely wanted to know all about the women that I would meet (well at least what they share on-line). Going into the weekend, there were people that I knew I would “click” with and some that I wasn’t sure if we would have much more in common than running & blogging. While I was right in some ways, I was very wrong in others…there were a few ladies that I adore and connected with that I might not have connected with, if in any other situation. I love that we all had different backgrounds, locations, ages, family situations, etc. but were brought together by this amazing experience and had the opportunity to form friendships.
- I laughed. Alot. We ran, we sparkled, we cheered and we laughed. I am a happy person and I am surrounded by good friends in my life, but I cannot remember the last time I laughed and smiled for 5 days straight like I did during this trip. I still can’t help but smile thinking about it. It was just so.much.fun.
- I am inspired and motivated. I returned from Hood to Coast even more in love with running than I was when I left. I have been loving running all summer, but I came back with a new fire to achieve BIG goals. Even more importantly, I came back knowing that, if I worked hard, that I CAN achieve those goals. Hearing how Molly chased her first her BQ and a 3:40 marathon 7 times and is now a 3:24 marathoner is just one example of stories that gave me confidence that I CAN break 3:40 (have tried twice!) and that maybe, just maybe, I can be even faster than I ever thought I could.
- I am very fortunate to have been in Van 1. Not only did we get to go all the way up to Mt. Hood at the start, but as hard as it was to wait to start running until 2:30, I can’t imagine having to wait to well into the evening hours to get my first run in. Also, since we were finished earlier we got to shower before heading to the post race party. Huge bonus.
- Starting later probably played a factor in our experience. We had a late start time. I can’t speak from prior relay or Hood to Coast experience, because I don’t have any, but I think this affected our experience for the race. The good: outside of one exchange, we didn’t experience any traffic. The bad: Team Morning was one of the last times on the course. Literally. They were closing exchanges less than 30 minutes after we passed through. So I don’t think that we experienced as much of the HTC craziness with costumes, antics, van decorations as we would have if we would have started earlier.
- Runner #2 is the bomb. I loved being runner #2. When I was asked my leg preferences, I picked it as my #1 because it had a good variety of flat, rolling, downhill running and because it was among the longer legs of the 12. (Also, thank you to Nuun for giving me my first preference…I feel very lucky for that.) I would do it again in a second, if given the opportunity and would recommend it to anyone who asked. With that being said if I have the chance to run HTC again, I also wouldn’t mind giving up a coveted spot in Van 1 to check out the other half of the course that I didn’t get to see.
- Not sleeping was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. All of the adrenaline and the excitement of the race just sort of took over and the lack of sleep didn’t really make me feel like I thought it would. Sure I was tired, but I feel like I just ignored it and focused on enjoying every moment of the race.
- I loved my Team Sparkle Skirt. I wouldn’t call myself a girly girl. I don’t own and have never run in a “regular” running skirt. BUT I like sparkly things and I like to look cute even when I am sweaty. (I used to wear bows when I played softball). I know not everyone loved the sparkle skirts, but I did. Not only was it fun to wear, but they made us stand out and gave us our own unique identity on the course. No matter what everyone thought about the skirts going in…there wasn’t a single Nuun runner that didn’t look amazing rocking their skirt. I will definitely wear mine again, but most likely in a shorter race like a 5k or 10k. (And I will also be doing a giveaway SOON, so be on the lookout!)
- I am very happy with how I ran. We weren’t there to win and there was no pressure to run “fast”. I certainly wasn’t anywhere close to being the fastest runner on our team or any of the teams, but I really wanted to give the race everything I had and see how it turned out. I felt like I dug deep, battled a mentally challenging night run and ran faster over those 17+ miles than I ever have in such a short period of time. It makes me want to race some shorter distance this fall and see how things go!
- It was about so much more than the running. I have seen this theme from many of my teammates and I couldn’t agree more. Yes, running was the centerpiece of our trip, but our primary goal was to represent Nuun and spread the word about the the Hood to Coast hydration sponsor during the relay. We talked to, tattooed and passed out samples to many fellow racers during the 28+ hours we were on the course and spread the Nuun love to anyone that would listen. I can only hope that we achieved the goals that Nuun set out for this event and lived up to their expectations as ambassadors of their company. Outside of competing in athletics, I have never seen a group of women more passionate about coming together for one goal like this. It was pretty amazing.
- There really are not enough Thank You’s that I can say or the right words to express how grateful I am to everyone at Nuun for this experience. The people at Nuun are truly passionate about what they do and the product that they sell. I am 100% convinced that the reason that Mason and his team are so amazing is because they LOVE what they do. They are genuine people that love their work and it shows in everything that they touch.
I am working on a separate Hood to Coast page for the blog where I will include some brief reviews of the amazing products we got to try. As always, I would never give any opinion but my own, so if I say I like something. TRUST ME…it is worth checking out!