Leg 3: 5.02 Miles, Rated “Extremely Difficult”
This leg of the relay is rated as “extremely difficult,” which is daunting, especially when the description tells you there is a climb of over 800 feet with a 6.5% grade and that it’s the most challenging leg of the race. I tried my best to prepare with as much hill training as I could manage on a busy schedule, but I knew I’d be no match for that 2.5 mile climb (out of 5.02 miles total) on race day. This leg is very deceptive, because the first half of it is not hilly at all. Just when I was starting to wonder (“who rated this leg anyway?”) I started the climb. And then, more climb. Around that next corner …You guessed it, more climb. It just kept getting longer and steeper with every step I took. There were several times that I wanted to yell out loud, “Seriously?” (Or actually, something else that would maybe not be appropriate here.)
The run itself is very scenic. The weather was beautiful, though cold, and I alternated between feeling like I needed a jacket and didn’t. Most of the first half of the leg was in shade, and I started to feel a little chilly. However, as the hills came, the shade seemed to disappear and suddenly I was running in the sunshine and getting pretty warm. However, those hills likely had something to do with me sweating profusely and working pretty hard to survive by that point. There was snow on the ground in places, and some little slippery bits of road too. Luckily, there were some gorgeous views of Netarts Bay to help distract me. When the exchange finally came, I was grateful to pass more hill off to my teammate and I felt like my legs were on fire. I loved every second of it.
How I prepared:
I’ve been running for over a decade but I still get nervous before races and forget what to pack, especially if it’s going to be a bit of an all day event, like a relay. I knew this relay would be a cold one at the coast in February, so I definitely wasn’t packing for summer weather. I dressed in warm clothes and brought some extras in case I wanted access to something dry to wear after some definite sweat and the possibility of getting rained on. I like options, so I brought both a lightweight and heavyweight pair of gloves, a running hat with a brim as well as a hat that covered my ears, and extra socks.
I went to bed early the night before, knowing we had to get an early start and I had all my stuff packed and laid out since I didn’t want to forget anything due to nerves and early morning fuzziness. I also prepared some food for the road since I knew we’d be out there awhile, which I promptly forgot in the refrigerator, so I grabbed a granola bar, some fruit, and a wrap at Starbucks on my way with my coffee.
I looked at the course map and description when I decided to do the relay and I was even the blogger who wrote a description of each leg here awhile back, but I didn’t review it again beforehand. I’m the type of runner who would rather be surprised than know what’s coming around each corner. All I remembered was it was going to be a very steep elevation climb and that was enough for me. After I ran it, I went back and reviewed the description and I felt it was very accurate for what I experienced. It was easy to follow directionally, which is great for someone who gets lost in her own neighborhood. If I were to advise anyone about anything in regards to this leg, it would be this … Get some hill training in before you run this. It starts out really nice, but trust me, the hills are no joke.
Exchange Notes for before Leg 3:
Driving to the second exchange seemed easy, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t the race director or the logistics that made it so – it was the fact that the four of us in the car second guessed how far we had to drive, based on other vans getting confused. After having to ask a runner on the course which leg they were running to determine if we were at the right spot, we quickly realized we had to drive a bit farther. The sign to the fish hatchery was clearly marked and a lot of other vans were waiting for their runners. The parking lot was already full, making it difficult to find a space. A lot of vans double and triple parked, making up their own spaces. Lines for the portta potties were long at this exchange and a few people snuck off into the trees to relieve themselves. Luckily, our group only had to wait 15 minutes. Maybe next year a better meeting spot with more parking could arranged so that vans can stay off the side of 101 and make space for runners, but that may not be possible; so just plan ahead and be courteous of the other vans when parking. Runner safety is always a million times more important than finding a close parking spot.
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