So... I participate in Portland to Coast this past August. That's right - four months ago I walked 12-ish miles over two legs, in the middle of nowhere, with a group of amazing friends, and I'm just now getting round to telling you all about it. I'm also participating in 2015. Maybe you'll hear about it sometime the year after that.
So, a relay race. Fun, right? I had this vision of having a torch handed off to me that I had to run around with but it wasn't quite so ancient Greece. It was a slap bracelet though! Remember those? I had oodles of fun with them when I was wee and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the nostalgia of it during PTC.
My first leg of the race was the second leg of our group through St. Helens around Germantown Rd. Immediately I realised I hadn't trained quite enough. I had exacerbated an old ankle injury the month before the race and didn't get enough training or exercise and my pace and lung capacity were both pretty miserable. I averaged about 17 mph on that first leg though; not as good as I wanted, but not too slow either. Our team was mostly interested in the fun of it so pace wasn't the most important thing to us.
After each walker takes off, the rest of the team piles into the team vehicle and they drive to the next hand-off point. Along the way, they stop and draw encouraging messages on the sidewalk, honk and wave and shout as they drive past their walker, and generally make you feel awesome.
About half-way through my first leg, I was plodding along walking slightly uphill with my eyes glued to the ground so I could make sure to avoid any obstacles that would send me sprawling; I was winded, my ankle hurt, I was cold-but-sweaty, and sort of feeling miserable about myself when I saw the message my team had written for me on the sidewalk. I don't even remember what it said. I saw my name and something encouraging and immediately my eyes teared up, completely blurring my vision and obscuring the message my teammates had written. I was overcome with a sense of fellowship; I had this go-team-rah-rah feeling that I didn't expect. I did not participate in team sports, or anything else team-oriented for that matter, when I was young. No committees, no groups, and nothing that gave me any sense of team spirit. But when I saw that message from my friends I felt like belonged to part of a team, and it was really nice.
That's probably my favourite part of the experience. The exercise was awesome. I was sore, cold, tired, hungry, and generally physically uncomfortable for the day-and-a-half I was out but it felt really good.
There's so much I would share about this, except it's been ages and it's sort of a blur in my head. There was a massage and some food and free stuff, and goofing around at the beach with friends at the end of it though, and those are always the parts that stick the most.