EMPOWERED: Hood to Coast 2016

by Jodi

EMPOWERED.  This is my Hood to Coast 2016 experience in one word.

When Paula Harkin invited me to be on Portland Running Company’s all women’s team, I was 100% intimidated.  And of course had a ton of questions, because apparently asking questions is a trademark of mine.  In my mind, there was no way on earth I was fast enough to run on a sponsored team. But Paula wasn’t requiring a certain pace per mile.  She asked three things of every woman on her team.

1. Train hard.
2. Be a team player.
3. Run your guts out.

I knew I could do that.  Why bother racing if you’re not going to leave it all on the course?  It was a huge honor to don the Portland Running Company uniform and run with this team.

You guys… THIS is not supposed to be part of my story.  Nine years ago I was overweight, out of shape and exhausted.  Four babies in four years kicked my butt. My hubby and I knew something had to change so we started running slow and short three times a week. 

A few months later, my aunt challenged me to run a half marathon with very little training.  She believed I could do it.  My brother said it was impossible.  Crossing the finish line of that race changed my life.

And that’s the beauty of empowerment.  In that tension of attempting the impossible because someone else thinks you can, we come alive.

My Hood to Coast teammates are empowering.  All eleven of them are smart, funny, fit, strong, fast women impacting the world around them with their talents, grit, and determination.
Just missing Brittney and Karlee
We each brought our strengths.  We each brought our insecurities.  And in that tension of strength and insecurity, we came together, empowered each other, and ran our guts out.

Van 2 Runners: Ashley, Jami, Karlee, Dawn, Jodi, Aubree
Karlee is an elite runner who qualified for the USA National Championships a few years ago. Karlee’s running is poetry in motion.  Solid muscle with huge, beautiful blue eyes and sick tattoos, Karlee flies down the road like she has wings.  People all along the course stopped in awe to watch. Her “non trained” average pace per mile was a 6:11!  Thank you for sharing your talents with our team. #empowered
Ashley doesn’t say a lot, but when she jumps into a conversation it’s almost always witty, a little sarcastic and wise.  She has a gift of encouragement and that girl listens with purpose.  She’s 100% adorable and super fast. This momma of two destroyed every leg, averaging a 6:46 pace over the course of her 16 miles.  Seriously.   She came in from one of her hardest legs and said, “I just told myself, ‘You’re not out here to have fun.  You’re out here to kick ass, so do it’” and she did. #empowered
Jami had twin daughters one year ago.  You would never know she’s ever been pregnant though because she is one mass of solid muscle.  She lives her life with intensity and passion and that transfers to her running.  Before each leg, Jami would tell us what pace she was going to run.  She came flying into each exchange at the exact time she predicted. Jami knows what her body is capable of and she pushes it to the max.  Average pace? 6:27. #empowered
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve run in just a sports bra and shorts.  It’s not about modesty, but 100% about vanity.  My stomach has been the source of crippling insecurity for a huge chunk of my life.  While I feel mostly free from that burden now, I still have no desire to show the world my lack of a six pack.

It was 95 degrees when I was about to run my first leg.  My teammates told me it was too hot to run in my jersey.  When I protested they reminded me, “Strength is beautiful.  You are beautiful.  I chose believe them over the lies in my head, and ran that leg in just my sports bra. I ran a 6:53 pace for that leg.  It’s only the third time in my life that I’ve averaged a sub seven pace in a race.  I may have been running fast to get my shirt back, but whatevs.  My 7:02 average pace is the fastest I’ve ever run in this kind of race before. #empowered
Dawn has been inspiring me for two years.  She is steady and consistent.  Dawn knows what her body can accomplish and how to achieve the pace she sets out to run.  Dawn was forced to stop at lights eight times in 5.6 miles on her first leg.  It added 30 seconds per mile to her average pace, but she didn’t complain.  Dawn does  not want attention or accolades in spite of her running prowess.  Her quiet strength and humility are what I aspire to.  7:08 average pace overall #empowered 
And then there’s Aubree.  Full time physical therapist.  Wife. Mom to her darling son Owen.  HILARIOUS!  Oh my gosh is Aubree funny. Before Aubree had Owen, running was a major part of her life and she was super fast.  But motherhood has shifted Aubree’s priorities.  She bravely gave up running the paces she used to hit easily so she can spend time with her husband and her son. And can I just say that Aubree’s “slow” is still super fast?  I think she averaged right at an 8:00 pace. #empowered
Aubree passing off to Amanda
And this is just my van.  Paula got heat stroke on her first leg.  She was a dry heaving hot mess, but in spite of all that suffering, she came to the first transition with a smile on her face.  Paula cautioned our van to adjust our pace to accommodate for the weather.  Being safe is more important than speed,” says the woman who invested her time, finances and heart into our team.  Who does that?  #empowered

Marni ran the hardest leg in Van 1 with a hamstring injury.  She could have quit and had us adjust to run her legs, but she gutted it out.  #empowered

Amanda sacrificed her quads for the team and sprinted down 1,884 vertical feet over 5.44 miles in record time. #empowered

Brittney, Nikki and Larisa destroyed their legs with their speed and grit.  I would have loved to see them racing down the road.  Brittney even broke into the 5 minute range on her first leg.  For real.  These women are legit. They all averaged a sub 7 pace for their overall mileage.  #empowered
Van 1

Water for Larisa 
My teammates took care of each other before, during and after each leg.  In the process, acquaintances morphed into friendship. #empowered

Dave and Paula are so cute
When you leave it all on the course, you just might fall sound asleep during the finishers party.


Just a tad dusty in Van 2. 
In the end, team Portland Running Company crossed the finish line in 23 hours, 35 minutes, 52 seconds – an average pace of 7:07 for 199 miles.  We won our division and took 30th place overall.  Thank you Dave and Paula for sponsoring our team and inviting us to represent Portland Running Company.  It was a huge honor.

One of my teammates said, “Empowered women empower women” and nothing could be truer for our team.

Twelve women.

199 miles to run our guts out. 
Brittney had to jet off to a wedding, but this is our team at the finish line.
And we did.


No comments:

Post a Comment