Sunday, August 30, 2009

Portland to Coast 2009

It's just before 5am and I'm pounding down a back country road. It's so dark that all I can see is the five feet in front of me lit by the beam of my head lamp. My ipod ran out of battery life about a mile into this leg and its quiet. More quiet than anytime I can remember in recent memory. Its just me, my breathing and my feet pounding on the pavement. There are stretches on this winding road where I can't see anyone ahead of me and I'm too focused on finishing to check to see if anyone is behind me. At one point I wonder if I'm still on the right track and wish I had brought that whistle with me. Just in case. Its cold and my breath creates little puffs of fog before my eyes, but I'm sweating because I'm working so hard. I've GOT TO beat my time. I pass a woman, working just as hard as I, but still, I pass her. One roadkill down. I can't wait do get back and tell my teammates. By the end of my leg, I've passed 11 other walkers and its these small little goals that help me finish my leg in (personal) record time. Finally, I crest a small hill and scan the crowd gathered at this exchange point for me teammates. The sudden brightness after miles of still darkness disorients me and its not until I hear my name called that I see Clair and pass the bracelet off to her. My teammates tell me they are surprised to see me because they didn't see the person in front of me that they had seen a few miles ago. I passed her-I think she was my 9th roadkill on this leg. I'm exhausted but I'm done and I'm so exhilarated that I want to keep walking. I DID IT! I participated in the 2009 Portland to Coast. Along with 11 other women, we walked 127 miles from downtown Portland to Seaside, OR along highways, mountain roads, gravel logging roads and forest pathways.

Before I started my first leg I was nervous although I couldn't pinpoint why. Lindsay reminded me that I had survived childbirth and I could survive this too. But this was different. Childbirth was my body powering me ahead and my brain had no choice but to follow. But this, this was my mind, my willpower, my stamina. I forced my legs to move when they wanted to stop. I forced myself to go forward-faster, harder, more. At any point I could have stopped and someone would have picked me up. But I didn't. I went on and on and on and ON and I didn't stop. It was awesome and I've never felt so good about myself. I feel powerful, like I could take on the world.

Part of the fun of the Portland to Coast is seeing all the van decorations and runner/walker costumes.

pool floaties are used

LOTS of window paint


Five members of the team Dozen Disco Divas. They did not walk in these outfits but danced as often as they could!

The Divas ride. Some pretty creepy dolls on top.

The Sweaty Betties. cute.

The start where Jenn began our journey. Then Van 2 had to go kill about 7 hours in a field in St. Helens. We had to amuse ourselves.

Taneha trying out her 'sleeping mask'.
Me trying out my sleeping mask. It smelled like lavendar!

Van 2 before we walked our first leg.

Mary, the first walker in van 2, waiting for the handoff from Kristen, the last walker in Van 1.
Kristen, finishing her first leg.

The hand off! Mary is off and walking!

Sisters. Tara (right) has finished her first leg. Lindsay is still fresh.

Clair getting some water from Kelly during her first leg.

Taneha, mid-walk

Taneha, finishing her first leg and approaching the exchange point.

Lindsay, preparing for her first leg.

Kelly handing off the bracelet to Lindsay.

The night exchange. This is about 3:30 in the morning. Kristen, as the last walker in Van 1, has finished her second and final leg. Mary will take the bracelet from her and Van 2 will begin our second legs. We'll be finished about 11:15 am Saturday morning.

Traffic is pretty crazy on these little mountain roads. Walkers and runners walking on the left side of the road and the support vans can follow along on the right side of the road. Its pretty straight forward during daylight hours but when night falls, it can get pretty tricky. Each team supplies 3 volunteers for a total of 3600 volunteers directing cars one way and walkers/runners another.
Taneha hands off the bracelet to Kelly after her final leg.

Van 2. Not as pretty as before, but still smiling!

Kelly finishes her final leg and hands off to Lindsay. Lindsay is the final walker on our team and will cross the finish line for us.

Finally! After 31 hours together, we've completed the Portland to Coast. We're tired, stinky, sweaty, hungry and cranky. It was the best weekend ever! And one final word...SHORTS!

Special thanks to those who supported me and the American Cancer Society with their generous donations. I raised over $200 for ACS. WOOT WOOT!

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