Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Portage Lakes Sprint Triathlon

Portage Lakes Sprint Triathlon Race Report
I have raced at Portage Lakes three times before this year: two sprints and one olympic. I have only ever placed in the Olympic and almost always find myself in the toughest age group in the race despite being in a different age group since the last time I have raced. It is the only local sprint that I have done where I had never placed been in the top 3 of my age group.
For some reason, I really wanted to do this race this year despite being completely undertrained for it. I have swam a total of about 5 miles the ENTIRE summer. Yes, there was a single day in January when I swam more than I did in the months of June, July, August and so far September combined.
I had trained for the run for HTC, but I had done a total of 2 speed workouts, and I just forgot to run the week before this race. I could have run on Friday, but I didn’t want my legs to be tired. Any running right now leads to some soreness.
Enough of the background and the excuses…
It was freakin’ cold. When I went to go get body marked, the guy laughed at me because I had on so many layers of clothes. Considering it was about 50 degrees, I didn’t think 4 layers of clothes was excessive.  I was happy that I got there a little early as the body marking line got really long about a half hour later. I later heard that they stopped marking people’s calves because the line was so long.
I had no problem setting up my transition area. I had convinced Mentor to come out and race, and by the time I got there, he already had his transition setup. I milled around for a while chatting with teammates. One had pre-ridden the course before the race, and he mentioned a turn where you need to make sure you are in the little ring. I made a mental note of it and continued to chat with folks. Little did I know that they had changed the course since the three times I had raced it.
I talked to Tattoo Mike, who lent me his trislide spray to make it easier to get in my wetsuit and to prevent chafing. Apparently, he isn’t the biggest fan of being cold, so he switched from the tri to the duathlon and had no need for his swimming supplies. It worked great, and I was very appreciative!
After Wisconsin last year, I was really paranoid about putting on my wetsuit too early for fear of calf cramps crippling my swim. With about 20 minutes to go, I finally put on the wetsuit and headed to the bathoom one last time. I think it was in that line that I had my biggest moment of panic as I had dropped my goggles. Fortunately, they were only about 10 yards away from the line so it wasn’t that big a deal. I had another pair, but I had done this swim before and not wearing tinted goggles would have been a big problem.
I got down to the beach, and I noticed that the swim looked longer than expected. I guess I am used to these sprints where you basically get your feet wet and the swim is over, forgot that some sprints actually make you swim. Standing on the beach was absolutely torture in my sleeveless wetsuit. I was freezing and then standing on the cold wet sand was unbearable. I quickly wised up and stood in the water that was 72 degrees rather than on the 50 degree sand.
I stood there with Mentor, and I told him a bad joke, kind of a habit of mine to try to break the tension. He laughed, but then he reminded me of my all-time favorite story of what he saw while waiting for IM Lake Placid to start in 2009, and I started laughing hysterically. I needed to be relaxed, and it definitely helped. I don’t think I can tell the story in my blog, but if you know him, ask him about it. Regardless, I haven’t felt that calm before a race in a very long time.
The women were in the 4th wave so I got near the front and took off running when the gun went off. The course was a beach start, running in the water to a buoy then making a right turn to do a loop around the buoys. The first stretch of the loop was by far the hardest as it was almost due east, and with the sun, it was pretty much impossible to spot the buoy. Heck, I couldn’t even spot it on the shore before the race. After reaching that buoy, I got much more comfortable and fell into a rhythm. I didn’t think I was having a great swim, but I didn’t think I was slow as I feared. I knew I had caught up with a few guys in the waves ahead of mine, but not as many as I usually do. I do miss the days of colored swim caps. It was always a fun little game as to how many different colors could I catch on a swim. Oh well.  I made a wide turn around the final buoy but kept swimming until I hit sand, then stood up and ran to transition.
Swim: 14:39 (15th out of 107)
I ran up the hill and the long way to my transition rack. I stepped on my wetsuit to get it off my feet. I had my socks rolled down so they would be easy to slip on my wet feet. I put on my shoes, sunglasses, helmet, and I was off.
Time: 1:32 (not bad considering it took some time to get the wetsuit off)
Bike: I don’t have a mount for my Garmin on my tri bike so I carried it until I got on the bike, then put it on my wrist while exiting the park. I would say that I probably passed about 10 people before I even got out of the park. I realized just how bad a swim I had because I don’t ever recall passing that many women on the bike course, at least not in short course.
This race was the first time I had raced in an aero helmet, and HOLY COW, I almost think they should be illegal! My Garmin beeps every mile, and I honestly thought something was wrong with it because it didn’t seem like I could be ticking off miles that quickly. I just didn’t feel like I was working hard enough to be maintaining the speed it was telling me I was going. I kept looking down at my computer, and even when I wasn’t pushing, I was going 20-21 mph. Granted, there were few instances when I wasn’t pushing.
Before the race, Mentor told me to be nice out there, and I said I would try, except that I see myself coming off as a complete B**** on the bike. When you are a strong female cyclist starting after three waves of men, you are going to be passing LOTS of people on the bike. Some of these people know how and where to ride on the road, others do not. My throat was slightly sore from yelling at people to get over. I would say that I passed at least 50 people on the bike, and that’s probably a pretty low estimate.

As soon as we turned right out of the park, I realized it was a different course than the one I had done previously. I knew that the old course was considered pretty hilly so I figured, it would probably be similar, and I think that is pretty much the case. There weren’t as many rollers, but there were some slightly longer uphills, still too short to be called climbs, but still a challenging course.
I recall getting to one turn, and I saw a steep uphill and realized that it was the hill that my teammate mentioned, and I quickly dropped to the little ring. I was grateful for the heads up because I might have tried to climb it in the big ring, then dropped my chain when I tried to go into the little ring.
Any experienced triathlete should look at a Sprint triathlon as a z5 sufferfest, basically a time trial of all three disciplines. I can’t say that I was going as hard as I would in a TT, but I noticed that on a few of the climbs, my breathing was pretty labored. I think that the presence of slightly longer uphills made it necessary to take some recovery on the downhill. Even if I didn’t dwell on it, I knew I was running when I got off the bike, and I didn’t want to burn too many matches.
I did notice that I did better on cornering on my tri bike. I don’t think a time trial bike handles as well as a road bike, and I have struggled adapting my handling skills to my Kestrel. I didn’t take the turns as sharply as I would on my Cannondale, but I definitely took more speed than I would have a year ago.
The bike course was a little long as I heard my watch beep for a 13 and 14 mile, no problem for me, give me a long bike course anyday! I was hoping for the best female bike split, and that’s what I got. As I made my way back to transition, I saw Tattoo Mike on the 2nd run for the duathlon. He looked a little surprised to see me already, and I took that to be a sign that I was doing well. 
Bike: 40:18 (averaged 21.1 mph with about 950 feet of elevation gain in 14 miles 1st out of 107 by 1:40)
As I approached transition, I told myself I could do it, so I reached down and unvelcroed my shoes and managed to get both of my feet out of my shoes before heading to the dismount line. I had never even practiced a flying dismount so I was really excited by the success I had on my first attempt. It definitely made for a faster transition as running in my socks was faster than trying to clop along in my cycling shoes. I got to transition, took off my helmet, stuffed my feet in my pre-laced shoes, grabbed my water bottle and visor and took off.
Side note: Read Eric’s blog ( if you want to read a good description of how to do a transition properly. I do believe I have read every race report he has ever written, and he is very methodical, and I tried to emulate him. What Would Eric Do? Apparently, Eric would also yell at you if you never practiced a skill and tried it in a race.
T2: 0:45

I felt like I needed to pee when I started running, and I contemplated ducking behind the same building I ducked behind in 2007, but I just told myself it wasn’t that bad. The run course was different than it had been in years’ past, and I think it was confusing, short, and probably plagued by people cutting the course. The course turned right onto a down and back into a parking area on a little peninsula on the lake. The course then headed in the direction of transition but turned right on the road heading out of the park. The course had a turn around on that road, and then headed back to the first down and back before turning left across the parking lot to the finish line.
I got passed by a woman coming right out of transition, and I don’t recall any other woman passing me, which is huge, I tend to bleed places on the run. There were two women ahead of me that I could see. The one woman wasn’t making much ground on me, but I wasn’t catching up either.
The first down and back is a bit of an up and down so I was prepared for a slight rise at the beginning, then enjoyed the little descent. As I made my way out to the second down and back, I spent a lot of time paying attention to who was coming in the other direction. I didn’t see many women at all so I figured I was in 3rd or 4th place overall.
It was in that second down and back where I started to wonder why I was going so slowly, and that’s when I realized that it was a nice false flat. I was happy when I saw the turn around, but it also seemed short at that point, that heading straight back to transition wasn’t going to be close to a 5k.
I enjoyed the run back towards transition as it was a gentle decline, and I was able to assess how much space I had on the women behind me. I think the closest woman behind me was about four or five minutes, and I felt confident that I would maintain my position in the race baring a cramp or falling or something stupid on my part.

When we got back towards the transition area, we were informed that we had to do the first down and back again, which I thought was kind of weird, but expected as the run would have been really short otherwise. I think there was lots of confusion at this point, and it also made it difficult because I could no longer just follow the guy ahead of me, I had to know where to go.
While I did pass a few people on this last down and pack (people I am assuming who were just starting on the run), I could tell my run was starting to get very forced. My pace went from an 8:08 to an 8:25 (mind you most of this was a false flat) to about an 8:30. I was getting very stiff, and I never really payed attention to keeping my arms loose.
On the last turn around, I could see that there were no women chasing me down so I kind of put it on cruise control to the finish.
Run: 23:29 28th out of 107 (yes, I am pretty sure it was still short)
I am not going to lie, the results make no sense to me. I don’t recall seeing four women ahead of me on the run, not to mention duathlon women on the course, and there were enough down and backs that I should have seen them. I recall seeing two. I am not going to say it’s intentional as it was very easy to do, even unintentionally, but I am pretty sure there was some course cutting taking place. Regardless, 5th overall out of over 100 women is a good result. I was 3 minutes back from the winner, and I did manage to place in the sprint at this race, FINALLY.
Total Time: 1:20:46 3rd in the 30-34 age group, 5th overall.
End Notes:

I can't think of anything that went wrong in this race.  I got my watch on while riding just fine.  I had no problem working the multi-sport function on my watch.  I had gum ready for the run.  I didn't drop my chapstick.  I honestly don't think I have ever had a race go so smoothly.
The top 3 women in the 30-34 age group all did better than the 1st place finisher for the men’s 30-34 age group.

Mentor came up to me after the race and poured an ice cold cup of water over my head. He was so excited for me, he said he heard them announcing my name as he was in T2. He kept saying, “you crushed it!” For him to say that, it’s a compliment. It’s rare for him to do or say anything that might inflate my ego.
I was wondering why HFP decided to change the run course, and my best guess is because they lacked the volunteer support to man a 3rd aid station on the run course. Maybe not, but I hope they change it back to a closer to a 5k run (even though I don’t really complain about short run courses), but I think there was plenty of course cutting going on at this race. In almost every activity, I am starting to get this realization that volunteers are really underappreciated. So, the next time you are racing, say thank you to the volunteers and consider volunteering for a race yourself.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rev3: Volunteer Report

Rev3 is a half and full triathlon hosted at Cedar Point.  I had lots of friends competing in either the half or the full, and I just thought it would be a fun weekend to go out and support them.  If I am going out to cheer, I might as well volunteer!

On a whim, I reached out to someone with whom I went to high school, and she offered to let me stay with her on Saturday before the race.  I thought she was doing the full, but she was just doing the half, feeling a bit burnt out after rocking out Ironman Lake Placid in July.  My friend John was doing the half and staying Sunday night, and he said I could stay with him that evening. 

I wish I could say that Saturday was a smooth day, but it was anything but.  Everything took a little longer than it should, and what I thought was plenty of time to get everything done, ended up not being enough.  End that with some personal frustrations with people and forgetting toothpaste, and I ended up unloading on a friend who was in the wrong hotel lobby at the wrong time, and I appreciate his willingness to listen to me despite facing a big race the next morning.

It was cool catching up with Chantell.  She was a senior when I was a freshman, so we didn’t know each other that well, but we threw together, although she was a very strong shot putter, and I was a pretty good discus thrower so there was no sense of rivalry.  She also knew way more about was going on in high school, and it just reaffirmed what a naïve twit I was back then.

I woke up Sunday morning at 5:30 to go for a run before volunteering.  I was hoping for 10 miles, but the more I ran, the more I thought about how much of the day was going to be on my feet and how anything over 6 would probably be good.  I had to stop to go to the bathroom, but for once, my stomach wasn’t having many problems with the idea of running.  I opted to run from our hotel to Cedar Point via the Causeway and then around Perimeter Road to Hotel Breakers.  I thought that with all the traffic it would be rather safe…ahh, not the case.  Let’s say that my ankle is still a little sore from the multiple jumps out of a speeding car’s way.  I guess some people don’t do mornings.  The last two miles back on the causeway were nice as the course was already closed off, and I was free from the near death experiences that plagued the last 4ish miles of my run.  I did stop and take some photos of the sunrise, realizing it was going to be a beautiful day!

I got back to the hotel right around 7 and gave a mental well-wish to my friends starting the full length triathlon (same as an Ironman, just a different name).  I had my breakfast, watched some television, packed a mini-supply bag and headed up to my volunteer post a bit early.

I was excited to see some CTC people as I walked towards transition!  Janet and Tiffany both looked ready to rock the bike course!

I was scheduled to work in transition from 9:30 to 2:30, but I ended up working from 9 to 2:17ish.  At first, I helped in the changing tent, and I also helped re-rack people’s bike bags.  After that job was basically finished, I helped to keep unauthorized people out of transition and making sure people didn’t randomly walk in front of the athletes heading into the transition area.  It was during this time that I saw a lady trying to get to peel banana, but as she finished peeling it, it slipped out of her hands.  Thinking about how crucial the potassium is in a banana, I ran to the aid station table, grabbed a banana and ran after her to give it to her.  She appreciated it, and I felt like I had done my good deed for the day.

After about 10:15, we closed down the “swim in” chute and rolled up the carpet and pulled it to the side.  In case you were wondering, a long carpet soaked in water and wet sand is shockingly heavy. 

I did have some kid ask me if I had ever done a full.  I told him that yes, I had done two, so like any kid, he asked, “so why aren’t you doing this one?”  “Ahhh…I didn’t want to” was all I could muster.

After about 10:30, I spent the next four hours at the dismount line.  My job was to point at the line and tell the incoming cyclists to dismount their bikes before reaching that line.  I probably had a half hour before the job really started, and I enjoyed talking to a CTC newbie Krystal and fellow CTC member Tim (who was one of the guys in charge of the volunteers in transition). 

I would say that this spot was pretty exciting.  It was very cool watching all the experienced triathletes do their flying dismounts, talk about impressive.  By the time they got to me, they had their feet out of their shoes, and their body on one side of their bikes.  Krystal was awesome as she kept me company, and we also enjoyed talking to a couple of older ladies.  At one point, I overheard one of these ladies say something, “oh that was nice.”  I looked over and asked, “are you two enjoying the view?”  To which one of them responded, “Oh yes!  We may be old, but we’re not dead!”  How awesome!  Looking at some very good looking men is definitely one of the perks of triathlon.

Aside from Krystal, there were several people from team Spin/Second Sole, and it was cool talking to them for a little bit.  It was during that time, that I looked down the road, and about 20 feet away, a little girl had meandered in front of some oncoming cyclists.  Good thing I wore my running shoes!  I ran down and swooped the girl out of the oncoming cyclists’ path.  As I came back to man my dismount line, I had all the spectators start to applaud me…it was a little embarrassing.  The older ladies kept telling people that “I had saved that little girl’s life.”  I don’t think that is as much, but I might have prevented a cyclist from crashing and potentially hitting the little girl.

The other good thing about working the dismount line was that I got to see pretty much everyone I knew doing the half.  Some were really excited to see me, others (Eric Gibb) were so focused that there could have been half naked stripers, and he wouldn’t have noticed =)

At one point, Krystal and some other CTC people went and got food and offered to bring back some food.  I was hungry, but I had food waiting for me in my bag so declined the offer.  I did ask for Diet Pepsi, which they brought, and which did help.  Krystal did buy herself some sweet potato fries and was unable to eat them all.  Every one and a while I took a fry as she just had them hanging in front of me.  After a little while, they were all gone, thanks Krystal!

Around 1pm, it was starting to get slow.  Most of the people doing the half were either running or finished, and the full racers were not quite finished with the bike course.  I had several friends doing the full, and I expected to see about four of them before I finished volunteering.  The first person I expected to see was Ken, who had told me he expected to be back to transition at 1:30.  Sure enough, at 1:28, there he was!  After Ken, I got to see Eddie, Janet and Brandon. 

Around 2pm, I was exhausted and wanted some real food!  I also wanted to meet up with Durno and go cheer for people on the run course.  Krystal and I walked over to the finish line just in time to hear them announce my friend Mack’s name.  I saw Gibb and Brad and talked to them about what awesome races they both had, but was really on the hunt for Durno.  After about 20 minutes, I found him, and we made our way to the watering hole on the run course. 

On our way, we animatedly cheered for all the people we saw on the run course.  When we got there, Tim had drinks waiting for us (although he had to leave by the time we got there), thanks Tim!

After a very odd conversation with a man at the bar in a Harley shirt, I remember very little, but here are the highlights:

-They had a medal fence around the patio without a door.  I kept climbing up and over that fence eveytime I saw someone I knew.  I would have to say that the tally reached double digits.  I managed to sit on the one ince top for quite some time.  My balance was apparently steller that day!

-I had dropped my chapstick pretty early in the afternoon, and anyone who knows me knows that I am likely freaking out about that…fortunately, Eddie gave me one he found in his stuff.

-Janet came off the bike in 2nd about 6ish minutes back from the 1st overall female.  Slowly but surely, she made up that time and won the overall women’s amateur race.  I always thought that Janet was just naturally gifted until I did a workout with her last year.  Not only is she talented, but She works REALLY hard!  I have nothing but props for this awesome accomplishment!

-At one point, I looked in my bag and found 2 Rev3 visors, no clue, absolutely no recollection of receiving them.

-I recall seeing Ken at mile 19, and he had on his game face.  Despite some very drunken antics, he would not be broken!  Great race Ken, it was awesome see you rock this course!  When we saw him in the parking lot later, he looked more human, but still a little low on energy.

-I do recall winning a pair of running shoes.  I have no clue if they are any good, but they were free!

-Eric tried to get the announcers to play our HTC theme song (Das Racist anyone?), but I don’t think they had it.  To be fair, even iTunes doesn’t have it!

-I ate a ton of pizza and Eddie’s cookies at the finish line, but I wasn’t hung over in the morning so maybe that is the perfect meal!

-Oh, near the end, someone slapped me in the face.  It was black out kind of pain, but Joe (Janet’s husband) assured me that my nose wasn’t broken.  Four days later, it still hurts!
            -According to J. Mack, I reached a level of intoxication he didn’t know possible for me. 
Having seen me get smashed in ’09 after losing a bet at the Columbus Marathon, he thought he had seen me at my drunkest.  He said that it wasn’t even close.

-CTC had an impressive day at Rev3

-I will probably not drink again anytime soon.  The only time in my life do I recall honestly drinking more than I did at this race was the infamous party bus in Santo Domingo back in 2003. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

HTC: Part 3

Van 2 piled into the van, and, in vain, attempted to find a place for breakfast. As a general rule, I do not eat anything at least 90 minutes before I run, and after my 5 mile run, I was hungry. As mentioned, we didn’t exactly have the healthiest selection of foods, so I opted for a diet coke and to wait until we found a restaurant to eat…
We were stuck in traffic, and we were slowly but surely getting passed by LOTS of runners. At this point, I had several thoughts:
1. Surely, we will turn off the HTC course and be able to find a place to eat
2. If we are stuck in traffic, what is our van who is actually running right now doing to get to exchanges?
3. Yes, those oreos look good, but I want real food…okay, maybe just one.
I recall Bill saying somewhat confidently that even if it’s a McDonalds, we were going to get breakfast. (Side  note: not the first time someone promised to take me to McDonalds and failed to find one)  Well, with every passing exchange zone, even the hope of McDonalds vanished. What was one oreo became three, maybe four. I was sad, dejected and crying behind my Smith shades. We were stuck in that traffic for about 2.5 hours, and like everyone else, went to the next major exchange and ate at the concession stand set up there.
The only good thing about this time in the van was getting to check out some of the runners. There was one guy with an amazing body wearing animal print tights, and I couldn’t help but roll down the window, stick out my head and scream, “NICE!!!!” I believe he nodded in appreciation.
The last major exchange was definitely the most interesting of the trip. I made a B-line to the concession stand. At the concession stand, they had a grill guy, and they wrote up a slip with your order and you handed it to the grill master. Now, if there is one thing I have learned from my mother, it is the ability to be completely comfortable starting a conversation with a total stranger while waiting in line. This stranger just happened to be tall and handsome and felt perfectly comfortable joining the rest of my group as we sat and ate our coveted food. One of the first things this guy asked me was if the two vans got along with each other. In a kind of, are you kidding, we looked at him and said, “we all get along great!” Apparently, he was in a van with five other women and the other van also had one guy and five women.
Okay, stop right there. I am female, and if you tried to put me on a team with nine other women, I would probably walk away before you finished the sentence. But, more power to this guy, more power to him for carrying on a conversation with yet another woman. They had some problems with exchanges, at one point, one of their runners had to wait an hour for the other van. I guess that hour long wait created some bad blood that was kind of ruining the rest of the trip. For fear of having more delays, he had to leave, but he asked for my number before he did.

I might have bragged about getting some hot guy's digits after running about 11.5 miles with no shower and less than 2 hours of sleep, now that’s game! (Oh, he does live in Michigan so it is entirely possible that I will see him again). I have a feeling it will be much like the guy I met at a bar in Houston, Texas who let me crash at his place 3 years later to run my first marathon.
Back to the race...

Per usual, Josh came in running like a cheetah, and we managed to get Robin up there in time for the exchange. Because their van hadn’t quite made it through the traffic, I walked with Josh back to our van and gave him some powerade. We waited there until Katie came running up with the clipboard. We were once again unable to hang out with the other van as we were fearful of traffic. It was around this time that the inability of my, or my teammates’ brains, to function completely started becoming apparent. I recall getting the clipboard and Josh’s finishing time and couldn’t figure out his segment’s time. I sat there for a few minutes before I sucked it up and used the calculator on my phone to do the math.
Throughout the race, we were constantly predicting people’s finishing times to make sure that we would be at the exchanges when they got there. When multiplying pace times number of miles becomes difficult, you know you are no longer operating at full capacity. Conversations also became more deliberate. At one point, I recall talking to Bill about something that seemed important. He looked at me and apologized that he hadn’t been able to register what I was saying. I then looked at him and said, “oh, I don’t know what I said either.” With little sleep, little nutrition, and some significant physical exertion, I was breaking down physically, mentally, and somewhat emotionally.
The next exchange had one of the more memorable moments for me on the trip. As we stood there waiting for Bill, some guy finished running, and he, in all of his soaked sweatiness, brushed up against my back. “UGGGG!” I recall yelling. There are worse things in life, but for someone who 1) doesn’t like smells and 2) other people’s body heat, this brush of bad luck left me retching.
Now, John’s last leg looked nasty! It was almost 8 miles, and there just wasn’t any shade. While it was my job to continue to give John as hard a time as possible, even I had to relent after he finished that leg. He didn’t look good (or worse than normal, JUST KIDDING). It was during that leg that I was driving, and I nearly fell asleep at the wheel. It became clear to me that it was time to hand the keys over to someone else, even if I was still quite capable of some impressive maneuvering in the parking lot. I did do a bulk of the driving, but that’s because I have a strong propensity to get carsick. There are few people, my ex being one of them, who have never made me carsick from his driving.
This exchange was also difficult to navigate. The volunteers were being quite strict about not letting people past a particular line, and well, I was having a hard time 1) hearing the person announcing the numbers coming in and 2) seeing the people as they came in as well. Consequently, I had to stand in front of the turn so I could see Jen as she approached and ran forward to get to the exchange line.
When I got the snap bracelet, I was definitely in this “get this thing done” mode. It started with a mile climb on a gravel trail. Even though I only run trails usually a handful of times a year, my focus on cadence and the general momentum of the race that faster teams start later and catch up to the slower teams, I was just picking people off on this hill. I hit double digits on the number of kills I had on this trail. After the trail, it was another quarter-half mile of climbing. There was a runner right ahead of me, and his van came up and asked him if he needed anything, to which he responded, “yeah some tunes.” They fulfilled his request and started blaring “Ice Ice Baby!” The combination of cheesiness and preference for any music rather than silence made it an enjoyable few minutes of music.
Once we reached that little summit, it was a nice downhill for about a mile and a half, and that is when my side cramps, and my stomach let me know that these last few miles weren’t going to be easy. I got to the flat section after passing a few people on the decent, and I just kept trying to count down the number of minutes until I should be finished.
I still had a couple of miles to go, and I saw my team walking to the beach from the parking lot. They weren’t cheering for me so much as yelling at me that I needed to stop. While driving to the finish, they realized that they had forgotten to give me the timing chip (only required for the last runner on her last leg). As soon as they realized I needed this chip and wondered how they were going to find me to get it to me, I turned the corner, and John was able to attach it to my shoe.
I wish I could say that the rest of the run was uneventful, but it was anything but. First, we had to run over a land bridge that was about 30-40 feet in the air with a significant grade and with hand rails that only went up to about my waist. Like many people, I am scared of heights, but unlike most people, I also know that I am clumsy enough to trip over an imaginary line and fall to a horrific death. I maintained relative control over the freaking out and made it over it safely.
After that, some guy who had passed me started to slow up. He was wearing an Ironman Coeur d’Alene hat and opted to slow down and ask if that was an Mdot tattoo on my neck.  At this point, we had about a mile to go, and I was honestly scared I was going to crap my pants. I tried to talk to him, but I couldn’t muster much more than what races I had done. I felt bad, but it was at this moment that I spotted a public restroom and excused myself to relieve myself and my fears of being truly embarrassed at the finish line.
My pace had slowed down, and I took only a couple of minutes in the bathroom, but I still had about a mile to go. With my body completely rebelling from the concept of running and having at least half of my team waiting for me at the finish line, I pushed myself through the physical pain to get to the finish line. With about a quarter of a mile left, I heard them announce our team name and that I was finishing! I heard my teammates cheer, and I pushed to get to the finish line. The finish line was pretty poorly marked, and there was a woman walking through the finishing chute. I never know what to do, do I run past her, or do I let her have her moment. Having been faced with this decision a couple of times, I have decided that I just pass them if they are walking.
Final leg had a 9:50 pace including the bathroom break, pretty pathetic, but would have been about 9:30 otherwise for my 5.2 mile run.
Post Race:
So, van 2 (my van) struggled to get to the finish line. In fact, they weren’t there when I finished and probably took another 30-40 minutes to get there after I finished, which I kind of expected when I saw them with a couple of miles left.

Standing there, van 1 was asking me questions like, so how was your second leg today? I looked at them and stared blankly. I honestly couldn’t remember. After a few cues and several minutes later, the run started to come back to me. Man, that run was less than 12 hours earlier in the day, and I honestly couldn’t remember it.
I asked them about their 3rd legs, and they talked about having to run to get to the exchanges so the incoming runner didn’t have to wait. We stood around and waited until the Van 2 people finally made it there.
It was kind of a cluster at the finish, and your team has to get called by the announcer to go through the chute and collect the medals. The team recommended that I try to get the announcers attention because I am female and well apparently pretty good at getting guys’ attention, but I had no flirt left in my tank so we sent the next choice: our team Clydesdale Steve Thompson who got our number called basically immediately! (Look back at my Part 1 and you will see Steve modeling his compression socks, he knows how to get someone’s attention). He later admitted he told the announcer we had flights to catch.
I had to go through with someone with the clipboard, and I received our teams’ medals, which I got to give out to everyone. After a few team photos, we opted to skip the finish line party and head out to get some dinner on the drive back to Portland. I was a little disappointed as tall and handsome guy had invited us to a party, but no one (myself included) was really up for it.
The last final bit of the saga was the death march back to the car. I hadn’t eaten for about 2 hours before my run. I ran for about 50 minutes, and then I waited for Van 2 for about 30 minutes, then another 20 minutes of photo taking and plan making.  So that is over four hours of not eating at all after about a day of barely eating. I was crashing and had to walk about 2 miles to the van. For the second time that day, I started crying behind my Smiths because I was so hungry. I recall Kate comforting me, telling me I would be okay. I think she prevented me from breaking down completely on the side of the road. When we got back to the car, I downed a diet coke and some Nutty Bars that held me over until dinner.
By the time we got to dinner, we were all in good spirits. We had good food, good conversations and shared the various stories from the different vans. It was at this dinner that I heard the most annoying but ironically funniest song I think I have ever heard (Das Racist: Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell) that has made me laugh ever since.
Some Post Scripts:
HTC has a rule trying to make sure people don’t sand bag their times, that if you finish within 30 minutes of your predicted time, that you receive an automatic registration for the following year. Well, we were 50 minutes ahead of schedule, and no one was sad that we wouldn’t be getting that auto registration.
Everyone, new members and old, had a good time and are excited for the opportunity to do another relay in 2013. I am grateful for Joe who sent out that email back in 2008 starting the ball rolling on this relay.
Being the last runner was really hard, and I give James and Josh props for having done it in the past. I had a longer time with minimal nutrition and little rest, it was difficult.
I do not like racing feeling this under-trained. While I am grateful that my team cares more about having fun than being competitive, I re-affirmed that I do not like racing under-trained. I can get away with it on a bike, but when it comes to running, I am just not strong enough to get away with it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

HTC: Part 2

After finishing up our first legs and dropping off JC's and Bill's wives who were enjoying the shopping available in Portland, we headed towards our next major exchange location.

We had a hotel reservation in St. Helens, but because of a fire at a tire store, there was ample traffic preventing a quick entrance, and we probably spent at least an hour trying to get to the hotel that could have been spent either showering or sleeping. I had contemplated showering, but by the time we got checked in, we were looking at less than 2 hours of sleep. Now, I am not a great sleeper, but I was asleep by the time my head hit the couch. We had a 2:30 am wake up to get Robin to the next major exchange, so I didn’t sacrifice that measly 90 minutes of sleep for a shower. I did, however, take the time to brush my teeth.
When we got to the exchange, we had our one and only encounter with a not-so-chipper volunteer. Because we were coming from a hotel, we were coming to the exchange zone in the opposite direction of everyone else. The volunteer tried to tell us we were at the wrong exchange. We started making our way to the next exchange, but the description of Robin’s leg and the roads we were on just made J. Mack uncomfortable. We called the other van and sure enough, we had been directed away from the correct exchange. With about 30 seconds to spare, we got Robin to the exchange, but we didn’t really get to see our pals in the other van, but we did get them the keys to the hotel room. Now, it was 3:15am, but even in that darkness, Robin’s leg looked nasty, mostly uphill and not fun at all.
I kind of took over the responsibility over the clip board so when we got to the next exchange, I was out with Bill waiting for Robin, and that had to be my favorite exchange. We were at some farm, and the sky was as clear and brilliant, it just couldn't be ignored.  There was a very energized dog who was playing fetch with whoever was in the front of the Honey Bucket line.  And then there was a moment when I heard someone say, look how good she looks, especially in that jacket.  When I looked more closely, it was a gray jacket with "United States of America" on the back.  It definitely looked like one of the American olympic athletes wore on the medal stand.  Of course, I didn't think to look for a number or anything like that, but I like to think that the only stars weren't in the sky at that transition.

When Robin came back to the van, he was completely energized. He said he had a realization while on that brutal leg. Some guy said to him, “we are almost to the end” meaning of the brutal leg, when Robin said to him, “When you get to be my age, you don’t want to focus on the end, you really have to enjoy the journey.”

Now, if I felt bad for Robin because of the difficulty of his leg, I couldn’t believe Bill’s leg. At our very first relay, American Odyssey, Bill had the single hardest leg of the race, with something like a 15% grade climb after 2 miles of false flat. To this day, when I climb, I think of Bill “Billy Goat” Everett. Not only was it all uphill, but it was on a very dirt road. The dirt covered his glasses and between the dirt and the steam, he literally struggled to see, but he rocked it out regardless.

It was around this time that we were literally in “the middle of nowhere.” There was no GPS coverage, no cell coverage, I mean, they gave longitude and latitude coordinates for directions to the next exchange. After dropping off John and collecting Bill, we did have someone come by asking for “toe clips.” Talk about a time and place you don’t want to be stuck in a ditch. Now, I let John know that his “I am just going to take it easy lies” were not appreciated on his previous leg. Well, it took us a while to navigate through the vehicles on the side of the road (the parking lot for this exchange was literally the road). When we passed John, he was nearly finished, maybe a mile left of a 5 mile leg. I yelled out the window to him something like, “I see we are taking it easy, huh????”

Because of John’s speed, Kate, our next runner, was in quite a hurry and when she got up to the exchange she realized she was wearing two different shoes, one was hers and one was Jen’s. In a mad rush, we got her the right shoe in time for her not to make John wait again. Now, both John’s and Bill’s legs were on a horribly dusty dirt road. See photos of our “white” van after these legs. Now, John was a little fussy over the state of the vehicle, and when he saw the dirt, he thought it was chipped paint and nearly flipped out. After calming him down, we got moving to the next exchange.

I was kind of grateful with the timing of things, slowly but surely, the sun was starting to rise, and I was confident that both Jen and I would be free of having to wear the vest again. I don’t mind the safety vest, but by this stage of the race, they start to smell, and well, I don’t do smells.

After picking up Kate and dropping off Jen, we headed to my leg. We pulled in and were somehow picked out from the crowd of vehicles to try to give a jump to a vehicle that had died. Man, talk about some bad luck, one vehicle stuck in a ditch, another vehicle refusing to start. Despite trying to give them a jump, the vehicle wouldn’t start. I had to give over the driver seat to someone else to prepare for my leg. Now, it was about 7:15 when I would start running so I opted not to wear a visor and go for sunglasses and headband. I have to be honest, I bought these really cool orange Smith shades, and I was itching to wear them! Before the run, I got some great motivation from my team, Bill said to me, “what stands between me and 3 eggs over easy is your run, the faster you go, the faster I get my eggs.” Little did Bill know…

As Jen approached, there was a runner right ahead of her, and I kind of willed Jen not to pass her… the next runner, ahh, let’s just say didn’t have the body of a runner, and I was confident I could pass her. Now, this leg was just a shade under 5 miles, and it was in the 50’s temperature wise. I would have been cold had I not worn long sleeves, but I was a little warm in my neon Green Akron half marathon tech shirt.
Sure enough, I passed several people on this leg, and I was feeling great. There was a guy in green who passed me, but then he stopped pulling away so I spent most of the run trying to match his pace.  The cant in the road was pretty round so I was having a hard time picking somewhere to run, but I was making good time. After about a mile, my van passed me, which is always fun to hear your teammates hooting and hollering. Because we had been in the Middle-of-nowhere, Oregon for several hours, there was some concern as to whether our other van would be there on time. Sure enough, about 3 miles into my run, I was treated by another van of teammates cheering for me. I am still curious how I am so easy to spot from behind amongst lots of other runners, but the cheers were definitely a pick-me-up, especially since I was suffering from side cramps. (I almost never get side stitches when I run, it was a very odd experience for me).
The other obstacle of this run was that I was running through a cloud. My shades were fogging up like crazy. I was definitely kicking myself for not going with the visor, but that’s what I get for putting fashion over comfort, a blind run!
I believe I was still positive in the “road kill” game for the first 4.5 miles, and then it’s like the flood gates opened, and I got passed by about 6 people. I would have been upset, but one of the guys who passed me was in tight black running clothes, pretty ripped, and well, provided an excellent view! I almost said thank you, but I thought I had seen a wedding ring as he passed.

Once again, I was happy to see James ready to go and passed on the snap bracelet. I did suffer through Eric taking photos of the dew on my face, but once again, Van 1 didn’t have lot to chit-chat as they had to get back to trying to collect James after his last short run.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hood to Coast: Part 1

Explanation of this race:
Hood to Coast is a relay race starting from Mt. Hood ending in Seaside, OR on the Pacific coast. There is a pre-determined route with 36 separate legs. Each person has what we call their number on the team from 1 to 12. This year, I was the 12th runner, which means I was responsible for running the 12th, 24th, and 36th legs. For these relays, you typically split the team into two groups: van 1 has runners 1-6, van 2 runners 7-12. Consequently, most of the race is spent with your 5 van-mates, while seeing the people in the other van about 5 times at “major exchanges” before the finish. Every leg is a unique distance and difficulty, both are measured and ranked. My leg was considered the 9th most difficult with about 16.5 miles. I believe Eric, who had the most difficult leg, ran closer to 21.5. James, who had the easiest, ran about 13.6. The disparity enables people of all abilities to be on a team. The relay covers about 200 miles and can take as little as 17 hours (yes, those people are complete freaks) and to up to 36 hours (people who are really enjoying the scenery or doing a really bad job of making it to the exchanges on time). Our team finished in 27 hours and 10 minutes, which was about 50 minutes faster than the predicted finish and with an 8:11 pace average. But, with averages, you have people way above that and others significantly below that…I think you can guess on what side of that average I was. We were 167th out of 1068 teams who finished. Yeah, the Burning River Runners rocked!
Some general thoughts on the race:

This race had more volunteers and port-o-pots than any race I have ever done and both were very greatly appreciated. I was going to title this blog post, Hood-to-Coast: My Weekend of Honey Buckets, but the honey buckets (as the POP’s were officially named) were definitely not the highlight of the trip.

The major, and I mean major, problem with this race was the traffic. We had been warned plenty of times by plenty of people, but the congestion towards the end of the race was unreal. In fact, the more speedy Van 1 people even got out and ran (sometimes up to 2 extra miles) to their exchange points because the van was stuck in traffic. Van 2, however, lost any potential for real food or significant sleep because of traffic. Some was just a fluke because of a fire, but some of it was really bad and quite frustrating. I have been told that there just isn’t anything out there, but there has to be some way to get the Van 2 vans off the course for the 3rd legs for van 1.


I don’t know what I was thinking, but I booked a 6:15 am flight for both legs of this trip. I slept through my first alarm for my 4am wakeup call.  Wow, I am glad that I set another alarm! I don’t usually set 2 alarms, I usually set a 2nd alarm to remind myself of something I am likely to forget. In this case, I just forgot to wake up after the 1st alarm.

On the 6:15 flight, we had the flight attendant who had obviously been doing the job for a while. During her safety instructions, she made such comments as, “we have provided you with complimentary oxygen masks” and “ask Sara, she’s new to the job and still cares.”

After nearly the entire team got to the hotel, we congregated in the hotel lobby and opened up a few cases of local brews. Shortly after, we got kicked out of the hotel (lobby)! Apparently, some hotels prefer that you and a few friends don’t smash a couple of cases of beer in their lobby, but we were welcome to their gazebo outside. I was definitely in a good mood by the time we left for dinner, not just from the beverages but because I just feel lucky to be part of this group. I feel like I just stumbled in on this truly great group of people, and I am truly grateful for it every time we get together to race.

In 2010, this same basic group did a similar relay called the Bourbon Chase, which started in Lexington then went to most of the Bourbon distilleries in Kentucky. While doing some research, we discovered there was a Mellow Mushroom in Lexington. Mellow Mushroom is a somewhat national pizza chain, but’s it’s pretty cool with awesome food. J. Mack discovered that the only one on the west coast was in Portland…it was an easy decision for the team to go there.

I recall eating way more than I should have, but at least I only had one more glass of wine with dinner. We went to the brewery across the street, and instead of women’s and men’s their restrooms were “Barley and Hops.” I have no clue, even now while sober, how someone is supposed to figure out which one to use.

Do you know what happens when a bunch of drunk people go grocery shopping for a weekend of running, this:

Nutty bars, pop-tarts, double-stuffed Oreos, one bag plain M&M’s, 2 big bags of peanut M&M’s, jolly ranchers, and then the more reasonable bananas, bagels, peanut butter, and granola bars. And that was just van 2. I do recall making the comment that going grocery shopping while drunk might not be the greatest idea, but going beforehand just didn’t happen.

I woke up Friday morning and felt anything but fresh. I opted to use the elliptical in the hotel gym rather than go for a run because it wasn’t that warm out, and I needed to sweat out the alcohol and because of gym’s proximity to a bathroom. As I posted on facebook, I equated this as “pulling a Durno” except I am not even half the runner Durno is.

Leg 1:

I had the 12th leg, which meant that I was the very last person to start and finish running. Having come into the race feeling under-trained and knowing that everyone from the team would be at the finish of all three of my legs gave me some added pressure to at least look like I was still running at the end of each leg.

There were a couple funny stories. At the first major exchange, we got to see some of the more crazy vehicles. Now, our team name was the “The Burning River Runners,” an accurate description and homage to the great Cuyahoga. Well, let’s say that some team names were rated NC-17 and some had decorations that made me a little, well, let’s just say uncomfortable.

I would say that the some funny stories included me trying to convince Bill to moo at people while he passed them, for nothing other than the hope that I would walk by a van and overhear someone say, “some guy mooed at me!” Seriously, how funny would that be?

At what was our worst exchange we were parked in a baseball field at a local park. Now, HTC has strict rules about no drinking as drinking, driving, sleep deprivation, and thousands of runners on the road are not conducive to safety. HTC relies on other teams to enforce such rules. At the 10th exchange, a cargo van a couple of vehicles down opened up their back doors and a bunch of beer cans fell out. While a few of them tried to distract attention by ensuring the crowd, “nothing to see here”, a few others kept trying to shovel the cans back in their vehicle, and they kept falling back out. Ahh… oops! I think we were so distracted by the scene that we might not have been in a big enough hurry to get to the exchange area. As we walked over there, we heard a “team 471, your runner has been here a long time!” “OH MAN!!!!!”

Now, J. Mack is fast, and I always give him props, but he said he was taking it easy. Well, he ran a 7 min/mile pace and that is not an easy pace for 7 miles!!!! I blame him entirely for getting to the exchange before we did! I don’t really blame him (completely), but he has managed to have to wait at the exchange zone at all three relays we have done. I felt horrible even if it wasn’t really my fault, except I should have been hurrying the next runner along to the exchange zone.

Getting to my first leg was stressful to say the least. Jen P, who is pretty fast, had a short little 4 mile run, and while it was 4 miles in the race, it took us a good 20 minutes to get to the exchange point. I had enough time to hit a honey bucket (pretty sure someone smoked something other than a cigarette in that one) and make the 6 minute walk to the exchange zone. I literally got there about 3 minutes before she did, thank goodness. She gave me a few words of encouragement, and I was off!

Now, it was about 9:30PM when I started so yeah, completely dark. After I think 6pm and until 7am, all runners are required to wear a headlamp plus at least a reflective vest. I was wearing a headlamp and a reflective vest with flashing red lights. Most of this run was on a paved running path, and I was fortunate enough to have had someone start about 20 seconds before me so I could see his bobbing light off in the distance. It felt a little sketchy running on this path thinking of all the potential scary people who could be out there just waiting for some naïve twit, but was comforted by the volunteers cruising on bikes in the opposite direction every few minutes. I did have a volunteer make a suggestive comment about liking my red lights, but I am assuming he was just being funny.

The other van had a pretty fierce competition going for how many people they passed or as it was dubbed “road kill.” I was pretty confident that “keeping track of the people who I passed” wasn’t going to take nearly as much effort as “keeping track of the number of people who passed me.” At first, I was averaging getting passed by a person a mile, which became about two people a mile by the end. I told everyone who passed me, “great job” and was happy that most people responded with a compliment.

This leg had a few hills on it, but for the most part, it wasn’t very difficult, other than being my longest leg, a little over a 10k. I tried to focus on keeping my arms loose and down, trying to increase my cadence climbing those hills, and staying comfortable. I will admit that I went out too fast, but I had been waiting for hours to run, and when I finally got the snap bracelet, well, it was my turn and the adrenaline took over for a little bit.

Being at night and there not being that many runners around, the only sound I heard was that of my Garmin beeping every half mile. Headphones were strictly prohibited (and people followed this rule), so I really just tried to focus on running. The only distractions were the frequent volunteers, the occasional quick conversation with a passing runner, and the presence of a 20+ mph headwind.  I think I have said it before, but I think I have come to peace with the headwind, just acknowledging it will always be there.

After about 3.5 miles, someone passed me and said, “good job, we are almost there.” Although I had quickly thought that maybe they had shortened the leg, I knew that wasn’t the case so I responded, “well, if by almost done you mean we still have 3 more miles, then sure, we are almost finished.” I think he responded back, “oh, thanks for letting me know.” I couldn’t stop thinking about that…was I the only person out there that actually knew how long I was supposed to be running, I mean, are there people who don’t care how long they are running, they can just keep going forever? Or, for some people (not including while doing a marathon, HIM, or IM) that 3 more miles is "almost finished"?

About fifteen minutes later, I came upon an epiphany: peanut M&M’s are a HORRIBLE pre-run food. While it was a controlled anger, my stomach was oh so not happy with that particular choice. I was able to keep everything in, but I was grateful that I was approaching the finish. The exchange seemed to be in a club area of Portland, and with about a half mile to go, there were a few drunk women who thought it would be funny to race me to the finish line. I didn’t find it particularly funny, but I think they thought the finish line (or exchange zone) was much closer than it was so they petered out (thankfully), and I was able to pass them before giving the snap bracelet to James.

The vans were quite a hike away from the exchange so only two of the guys from Van 1, Josh and Eric, were there to walk me back to vans. I averaged 9:25 min/mile pace, not exactly speedy, but much better than pretty much any run I had done in the month I prepared for this race. One of the really bad parts about being the final runner was that I didn’t get to hang out very long with the people from the other van. Because James, the 1st runner, had the easiest overall assignment, as soon as we got back, they were always in a hurry because he only had to run 4 miles.

Oh, I was happy to have my first and longest leg in the bag.  Just a little over 10 more miles to run!  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My car

While I have taken the opportunity to tell this story to many people, I feel it is necessary to share it with the rest of you folks who I haven’t seen in the last few weeks.
On a whim, I decided to go up and volunteer at the 2nd Rev3 preview day. It was a week before Hood to Coast [post(s)] will come, and I thought it would be a nice easy long ride if I were to lead the “C” ride. Let’s just say that my original plan for this ride didn’t work out, and I was grateful that I thought ahead and rushed to the aid station to make sure that the Spin/Second Sole guys didn’t leave before we got there. (As I got there, they were packing up, it was taking that LONG). On the drive home, my car started to act up and with about 4 miles to go, all the dials on my dash dropped to zero, but my car was still working so I kept going. Like an idiot, I got to the exit ramp and didn’t let my car idle, but turned it off to see if it would restart. No was the answer to that question. Now, the problem was that NOTHING on my car was working: no hazard lights, no locks, nothing. I get honked out by more than a few people, and I got out of my car screaming at a few of them. It was not a fun evening!
I opted to have it towed to my apartment because my brother, a bus driver mechanic, yes I have a brother, assured me it was the alternator and was relatively confident he could replace it. Well, when he got to my apartment on Sunday afternoon, he discovered that my alternator is below the engine, in a not so convenient place. After taking off the shield on the bottom of the car, he realized, he just couldn’t get to it. So, we watched some Shark Week and let the battery charge enough to get me the mile down the road to the dealership. We made it down there without much trouble, and my brother gave me a ride to my parents’ house where I would pick up my mother’s car and drive it until my car was fixed… or at least that was the plan.
Around 9 am, I got a call from the dealership rattling off a list of items on my car that merited some significant attention. This particular phone conversation left me in tears as the money I was thinking of spending to go to South Africa would now be enabling my 8 year old car to function. With that said, the car does have nearly 150,000 miles on it, and it really hasn’t been that big a pain. But, here is what bothered me: If it was going to cost so much to repair, mostly in labor, how would it only take less than a day to complete? Questions without answers…
Then, around 4:15pm of the same day, I get another call from the dealership….
Car guy: “Miss Rote, it’s Montrose Ford. We have some bad news.”
Me: “No, you had bad news at 9am this morning.”

Car guy: “Well, we had a tech take your car out for a test drive to make sure everything was working on your car. Shortly into the drive, he heard a squeak and decided to pull into a parking lot to investigate.”

Me: “Okay…”
Car guy: “He got out of the car, leaving the door open and as he looked under the hood, someone hit your car.”

Me: “Huh?”
Car guy: “We are very sorry, but it was other guy’s fault. We are going to need you to come and pick up a rental as it is going to take some time to get the door and panel ordered and on your vehicle.”

Me: “Ok, I will be in at lunch tomorrow.”
When I went to pick up said rental, the rental company tried to give me a compact. For you fellow cyclists, if you ever want a free upgrade, talk about putting your pick and your greasy chain in the back seat, and those guys become much more accommodating about giving you a bigger vehicle…and a bigger vehicle I was given, the ulimate soccer-mom-mobile: a Chrysler Town & Country. The Enterprise guy even put the seats down for me. While the car was definitely well-accommodating for my bike, it was huge, easily 1-2 feet wider and longer than my beloved Escape. I am not going to lie, I did not enjoy this vehicle. I also didn’t like things like, “do you want to pay $20 a day for incident insurance.” “NO! ARE YOU F****** KIDDING ME??!?! I AM NOT PAYING A PENNY FOR A RENTAL THAT I ONLY NEED BECAUSE THEY HAPPENED TO GET MY CAR HIT IN A PARKING LOT!”
On Wednesday, I called the dealership to ask about my car and to inform them that I would be going out of town and to contact my mother if they had any questions. When I called, they informed me that they were still waiting to receive authorization from the insurance company, and that once they get the parts, it’s a 3 day repair. For those of you would have not worked in insurance, let’s break this down for you. The big problem is that the authorization was/is contingent on the guy who hit my vehicle calling his insurance company and starting the claim process. According to the actuaries at my previous place of employment, the likelihood of someone filing a claim reduces almost exponentially with every passing day. To hear that it was now Wednesday and no claim had been filed left me wonder if Spot was destined to be forgotten in the back room of the Montrose Ford body shop(yes, my car’s name is Spot). But, it didn’t bother me too much as I would be in Portland driving a stripped-down version of the soccer-mom-mobile so my car would be sitting regardless of whether I had possession of it or not.
Now, on Friday while in Portland, I received a phone call in the middle of the night, or 5 am Portland time. I was making my way to the elliptical machine in the hotel gym to sweat out some of the beverages I had consumed the night/morning before, and I decided to call them as I warmed up the machine. Once again, a little public service announcement, if you are hit by someone with State Farm insurance, just start banging your head against the wall! I knew this fact a long time ago, but they are infamous for nickel and diming people, and they will drag things out for as long as possible. Here is just a little tid bit of the conversation I had with the agent.
State Farm Agent: “Miss Rote, could you tell how the accident took place?”
Me: “No.”
SF Agent: “It was your Ford Escape that was hit in the Home Depot parking lot on Cleveland-Massillon Road, right”
Me: “Apparently.”
SF Agent: “Ok, were you driving your vehicle when the accident took place?”
Me: “No.”
SF Agent: “Oh, was this Montrose Ford tech Christopher driving your vehicle then?”

Me: “Apparently.”
The questions continued…

SF Agent: “Do you know what garage you would like to have take care of your vehicle?”
Me: “I don’t know, where it is at currently.”
SF Agent: “Oh, okay, they are a preferred garage so that will work.”
Side note: This statement is approaching steering, which is illegal. I have the right to take my car anywhere I please to have it fixed, whether it’s a preferred garage or not.
SF Agent: “Do you need a rental?”
Me: “I have a rental.”
SF Agent: “Oh, your car was still driveable so we are not covering the rental until the car is actually in the garage for repairs.”
Me: “It’s currently sitting in the garage waiting for repairs.”
SF Agent: “Oh, well, we aren’t covering that until it’s authorized then.”

Me: “I am hanging up now.”
I then received a call from my mother who informed me that Montrose Ford had called, asked her for approval to make the body shop repairs. They also said that the guy who hit my car was trying to fight it, trying to deny responsibility for the accident. Of course he is! Thankfully, police reports have been invented, and Montrose Ford was making sure this guy didn’t shirk his responsibilities.

Fast Forward to Tuesday:
On Tuesday, I received a call that my car was ready to go. Because of the Westlake Crit, I didn’t have time to go after work, so I went before work on Wednesday.
After moving half of my stuff, I noticed that the liner my brother took off while trying to fix the car was still in the back of my vehicle. I asked them if it was possible to put it back on, and they said sure, but that they didn’t have a tech in until 8am. I said that it’s fine, I will come back at lunch.

At lunch, I went back to the dealership. I put all of my stuff in my car (including my bike, pump, bike bag), then took a look at my new driver-side door and realized that the keypad was no longer on my vehicle. I don’t know why 1) I didn’t look for it in the morning or 2) I didn’t look at it before moving my stuff, but alas, I hauled all of my stuff back to my soccer-mom-mobile and off I went.
Since I had a group ride that evening, I told them I would come back Thursday morning and pick my Escape up before work.
I picked up my vehicle, and everything seemed to be okay…the keypad was on the car, the liner was on the car. Finally, my car was back in my possession, and I was rid of the soccer-mom-mobile! As I drove to work, I started to notice that the radio didn’t sound quite right. After a little investigation, I realized that the speaker in my driver-side door was not working?!?!? Seriously!!! At lunch, I once again took my vehicle back to the dealership. They had already processed my rental, so I once again got a new rental—this time a Ford Fusion. No, I don’t want the insurance, no, I am not happy, but at least this car fit into the parking spaces at work.
Finally, without drama and hoopla, my car was finally finished Thursday evening. No free oil change, no coupon, no discount on future service, just a “sorry about the whole accident thing.”
In total, my car received nearly $4,500 worth of repairs. It’s a 2005 Ford Escape with nearly 150,000 miles. I can honestly say that I believe that more money was spent on it than it was actually worth, but I am hoping that I can keep it running for another 75,000 miles.