Training For A Relay Race–Hood to Coast

Hey! I forgot to tell you I’m running a relay race. And this is not just any relay race – this is the mother of all relays… Hood to Coast!!

I was asked to join the Runner’s World Hood to Coast (HTC) team months ago and kind of forgot about it until recently when we got an email with our leg assignments. Crap. Ish just got real.

run drive sleep repeat

If you have been reading RER for a few years you might remember that I completely freaked the F out during the night run of my first relay. I did Reach the Beach in MA with a blogger team. In my defense, it was crazy – pitch black with forest on either side of me, no other runners in sight and my van couldn’t stay with me (per rules).

Reach the Beach leg 2 < – where I freak out

Reach the Beach leg 3 <- gross blister in that one.

monica at night

I hesitated to do another relay until my SoCal girls conned me into doing one with them. I did Ragnar SoCal last year and had a blast.

ragnar relay

I swore ‘never again’ after that one though because night running just isn’t my jam. But I could not turn this down – when someone from Runner’s World calls – you drop your phone and then pick it up and answer.

So now I find myself about two weeks out from the relay… sounds like just the right time to start training, right? (Note: These are all exaggerations, as with 84% of the content on RER. I do enough miles that I’m fine for the race, but two-a-days every now and then would be ideal.)

How a Monican Trains for Hood to Coast Relay Race:

1. Look up my legs – I got the one I requested so I’m excited about that! But it’s considered the 3rd hardest of the whole deal! The 3rd leg is the hardest.

Over the course of the relay I will be running 17.52 miles. I scoped them out. One thing done.

help me[3]

2. Get some positive mantras going on for the night leg.

This is always my biggest concern so I want to be equipped with some positive thoughts. This might involve me calling someone to talk to the whole time I’m running OR making a whole ‘light up’ suit so you can spot me from the moon…  I don’t know.

have faith

3. Watch the Hood to Coast Movie. I saw this in the theater years ago – before I had ever run a relay race – and was so inspired! This is a great running movie!

Post where I saw the movie in 2011(!!!) I can’t believe it was that long ago…

Bringing the Hood to Hood to Coast.

4. Pack snacks.

monica and tapatio

Question: Have you seen the HTC Movie?!

Have you done a relay?

Can I call you when I run my night leg?


  1. says

    Get knuckle lights, plus the head lamp and you will be fine. I’m running my third relay Spokane to Sandpoint next weekend. The last two, Ragnar Northwest Passage I ran on an ultra team. This will be my first on a 12 person team. Have a great time.

  2. Ida says

    fun! i’m running htc for the 2nd time this year. the course is really well maned and there are volunteers at each turn. i didnt find the night leg scary at all.

  3. says

    I love Hood to Coast!!! I live in Portland so this is totally my backyard race. I’ve done it 4 times and then was pregnant last year and am breastfeeding this year so I’ll be very excited to do it next year. My husband is running it for the 11th year in row and he’s run 10 different legs. So if you have the 3rd hardest then you probably have leg 2? Just be careful of your 1st leg because it will still be steep coming off Mt. Hood. Also make sure to pack lots of layers. Cold at Mt. Hood, hot going through downtown Portland, misty/raining in Mist/St. Helens and then who knows at the beach. And you can’t have music which sucks! Seriously if you have any questions my husband has an email with tips he sends to anyone new to Hood to Coast. It really is the mother of all relays :) Good Luck.

    • says

      Whitney! I didn’t even think to pack anything warm since it’s summer (even though I was talking to someone in San Fran earlier about how it’s always randomly cold there – should have occurred to me).

      Can you please ask your husband to send me the email? RunEatRepeat at gmail

      Thank you!

  4. Alison says

    I’m training for a Ragnar right now; Great River anyone? My night leg is around 3 am, and I’m not really sure what my mind will be doing then. Probably a lot of protesting. But I can’t wait.

  5. says

    I’ve never run a relay but they sound like a lot of fun! I’d be freaked out about running at night by myself, too. You can definitely call me during the middle of the night! Or could you set it up to receive tweets or some other messages on your night leg? I’m sure your blog readers would all support you and send you encouragement!

  6. Elena says

    I’ve done Market to Market Iowa twice but it’s not overnight. I JUST moved to Atlanta and found a Ragnar Trail Relay here so am aiming for that in April! Relays are SO fun!

  7. says

    I did a night time run in the mountains in Steamboat in the middle of a national forest. I was slightly worried I would trip going up the rocky slopes with nothing more than a headlamp, but I really clenched when we got to the top of the mountain and all I could think about was getting eaten by a mountain lion. Every rustle of a tree or leaves became certain imminent death in my head, and I have never run on a trail so fast in my life!

    So, compared to that- your night run should be a breeze! The headlamp is key, if you don’t already have one it is a great investment for the run. Also, I hear glow in the dark body paint is a great way to accessorize for, you know, a rave or a night time relay!

    Good luck, I bet you’ll have a blast!

  8. says

    AHHHHHHH! That is so exciting! I have never heard of long-term relays until about a month ago, and they seem like so much fun! AND WORK! Good luck to you as your run the third leg! I will be watching for posts and updates!

  9. says

    I did the Texas Independence Relay this past year and had a blast. The lack of sleep is no good but I enjoyed the time with everyone. Night running isn’t for me either and I had a 1 am leg that really sucked. I actually tripped over some roadkill which was scary and funny at the same time. Enjoy it! I want to HTC one day. I don’t know enough people around there to get a team together though.

  10. says

    I’m ashamed to say that it took me a really long time to figure out what you meant by “Look up my legs”. I thought you were trying to make a joke about getting new legs for the relay or something. I guess I shouldn’t read stuff until I’ve had my coffee in the morning.

  11. Tiffany S says

    I’m running HTC this year too! It will be my first relay race, so I’m starting to freak out about two-a-days, running in the dark ( I NEVER run in the dark!), and running on no sleep…eek! Maybe I’ll see you out there!

  12. says

    AH I’M DOING HOOD TO COAST TOO. I’m running with one of the Nuun teams and it’ll be my first 24 hour relay! I hope to get to meet you again and snag a photo like I did at Fitbloggin’. Send any advice you have this way!

  13. Molly says

    Fun! Gotta say, I’m a little jealous! I walked Portland to Coast last year (my first relay) and had so. much. fun. The most fun I’ve ever had stuck in a car with a bunch of people I barely knew for 24 hours :) I was really hoping to find a spot on a HTC team this year, but it was not meant to be.
    Also, to add to a comment above, it’ll probably be cold in Seaside, too. And windy.

    Good luck! Can’t wait to hear about your experience!

  14. Kara says

    Sweet! I’m doing Hood to Coast too! We also just did the Ragnar – Northwest Passage last month so I’m hoping that mean’s I don’t need much more training right? :)

  15. Sarah says

    I do NOT recommend talking to someone on the phone during your night run, it will make you more of a target because you won’t be paying as much attention to your surroundings.

    I think you should get yourself a shotgun and run with that instead. You’re an expert with them now since your Groupon experience right?! 😉

  16. Renee says

    YAY! This will be my third year doing the walking portion of the relay – Portland to Coast. Such a fun event. I’ll be keeping an eye out for you!

  17. Christopher says

    Ran the Ragnar in 2009 and 2010 met some really nice people. I ran with a team made up mostly of young ladies and sweet Jesus they were fast. I enjoy running at night but totally understand why it wouldn’t be high on a female runners list of things to do. You’ll rock it Monica like you always do:)

  18. Teresa says

    Awesome! I’ve ran HTC twice doing the same legs both times, 1, 13 & 25. Loved every aching minute of it! Running through Mist in the dark is creepy, but there was enough car traffic from the passing team vans that I kept calm. Get a good headlamp & the knuckle lights are a good idea. Enjoy the whole experience! Until you have actually run it it is hard to explain how incredible it really is!

  19. Krystin C says

    Hey There, I am running H2C and live in Portland. Bring a hoodie with long pants for night time and wipes for sure! Its super fun, this will be my 6th time running it! What time do you all start?? Would love to cheer you on, I am also in van 1 so the chances are high unless of course you are starting WAY after me! We are team Running from the Kids! Have fun! Its awesome!

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