One of the things we love doing throughout the year is reading about your experiences during the Cascade Lakes Relay. We only see a small part of the challenges, victories and stories you make from our vantage point, so when we find your stories, we are thrilled to share. Lisa V., who blogs at Running In Place…And Going Nowhere Fast, graciously agreed to let us share her story with you. 

Another Cascade Lakes Relay is done.  This was my third time participating in this race.  I had big goals for this one and I accomplished some and not others.

The Cascade Lakes Relay is a 216.6 mile relay race through Central Oregon.  It starts at Diamond Lake and works its way north to Bend.  Each team has 12 members, except for ultra teams that have 6.  We had 12.  🙂  Each member of the team runs three legs of the relay.  The total distance for each runner varies.  The legs are different lengths and different difficulty levels.

Last year we were Van #2 and I had a 3.9 mile-Easy, 3.1 mile-Easy and a 4 mile-Very Hard.  The first and last legs were in the afternoon and it was HOT!  The last leg had 1,000 feet of elevation gain.  I wasn’t in the best running shape because I was really struggling with the tired factor and motivation last summer.  My best leg was the night one in the middle because it was cold but even that run wasn’t great with an average pace of almost 14 minute miles.  My worst leg was the last one.  Between the hill, the elevation and the heat I just couldn’t run any of it.  The last two years I walked the entire thing.  It really sucked.

So I was really looking forward to this year and having some improvements.  I have been much better with my training this year and I have an inhaler which I was pretty sure was going to help me with my breathing in the higher altitude.

We switched vans this year.  Instead of being the second van to start we were going to be the first one to go.  I was excited about this because even though I would have longer legs the weather would be cooler when I ran.  I also had longer runs this year which I was excited about too.  I really wanted to feel like I was more of a contributor to the team.  This year I had a 7.5-Moderate, 5.3-Moderate, 2.09-Easy.  My goal was to run every step of all three legs and have an average pace that was 13’30” or less overall.

The first leg was long but all downhill.  I felt really good during the run.  Used my inhaler a couple of times and finished with an average pace of 12’46” which is excellent for me.  Especially for a run that long.  I was SO stoked!  I am still the slowest person on the team but this one run was better than any other leg that I have ever done in any other Cascade Lakes Relay.  What a great way to start off my 2013 relay.

Not all negative splits but a good result overall.  🙂

We finished up our first session in the van and headed back to the house to clean up and get a short (and I mean short) nap.  I showered and laid down on the bed but just couldn’t sleep.  My head was hurting a little so I took some Advil and tried to rest.  It wasn’t long before it was time to head back to the van exchange.  I was the last one to go for our van for the second leg.  All five of the legs before me were on dusty gravel roads.  The van bounced and jiggled for hours straight.  It pretty much sucked.  As bad it was in the van it was worse for the runners.  Dust from the vans going by the runners was terrible and it was just a miserable leg for everyone.  I was the only one who got to run on pavement.  My leg was shorter than the first but was a moderate run because it had elevation gain.  By this time the slight headache I had when we were at the house had turned into a raging headache that was making my stomach upset.  It was actually a relief to get out of the van and get fresh air while waiting for my turn to start running.  I had taken more Advil and some Tums while the others were running hoping to get things settled down before my turn but it didn’t work.

I started out my second leg slower than leg one.  I knew I had elevation gains on this run and I didn’t want to start out too fast and with my head hurting and stomach upset.  The first mile wasn’t too bad but as the hill went up my head hurt more and my stomach felt worse.  I ended up getting sick three times on that run.  And since I hadn’t eaten anything other than Tums since we were back at the house there wasn’t much to come up.  I didn’t say anything to my van when they checked in on me.  I didn’t want my husband to try and talk me out of finishing my leg.  I had to walk a lot of the last two miles.  Every time I would try and run my head felt like it wanted to fall off it hurt so bad.  I finished with an average pace of 15’00”.  I was so disappointed.  My great first leg made me think I was finally going to having an awesome CLR all the way through and now I was back to sucking it up.  It was really hard for me.  Once again, I felt like I let everyone down, just like when I walked up the big hill the last two years.

Running with a headache and upset stomach sucks!
 We headed back to the house to shower and sleep.  I got chilled on the drive to the house.  Usually when we get back to the house we clean out the van of all the trash and empty water bottles.  I walked in the house, got to my room, took off my running clothes, put on my sweatpants and t-shirt, crawled into bed and fell asleep.  Two hours later my husband woke me up to head out for our last leg.  The hardest thing about CLR for me is the lack of sleep.  I kind of feel like I’m all ready working with a deficit in the sleep area going into the race because I’m always so tired.  It just gets ridiculous during something like this.  My headache and upset stomach weren’t completely gone but way better than they had been when I went to sleep.  I had a very short run for my last leg so I was sure I could do it, maybe not well, but I could get it done.

My last leg was just 2.09 miles but was really beautiful.  I could go as fast as I had the first leg and I had to walk once and get sick again.  Strangely enough I felt WAY better after that so I was able to finish up my run.  It wasn’t my best run but it wasn’t my worst either.  I wasn’t happy about it because it was so short I should have been able to run as fast a pace as I did the first leg.  It’s so hard for me to focus on the positive instead of the negative when stuff like this happens.  My average pace was 13’36” which really is a decent run for me.  Except that last week at the beach I had a two mile run with a pace of under 12 minute miles and the first leg of the relay was 7.5 miles long with a pace under 13 minute miles.  Hard not to get frustrated when I know I could have done better.  But my husband got his grumpy face on because I was down on myself and pointed out that I kicked last years CLR’s ass and to get over it.  lol Yes dear!

I have worked really hard at appreciating the things I see on my runs.  So even though I wasn’t having a spectacular run speed-wise and I still didn’t feel good I stopped to appreciate this amazing view.
Mt. Bachelor and Elk Lake along the Cascade Highway

After we finished up our last leg we went and cleaned up one more time and headed to the finish line.  This is the first time that we have been done and waited for the other van at the finish.  It was kind of fun.  It was beautiful out and they changed the course so that it ended in the Mill District on the Deshuttes River in Bend.

The past two CLR’s we participated we leap frogged.  This where your team does all the actual miles but you have more than one runner on the course at a time.  We did this so that we wouldn’t finish way late and could get through the finish line before the shut things down.  This year we were determined to finish with a straight run.  No leap frogging, no putting two people on the course at once, just relay person to relay person until the end. 
I am very proud to say that our team not only finished in straight time but we rocked it!  Our final time was 33:08:43!  Thirty three hours of hills, heat, sweat, sickness, fun, and lots and lots of laughter! Average team pace was 9’17”.  That tells you how fast everyone else on the team was.  🙂
I usually hate it at some point while I’m doing it but then I’m always ready to sign up and do it again next year.  🙂  Mostly because I know I accomplished something really, really difficult that a lot of people wouldn’t even consider doing.  Most of my running is done as an individual and focuses on improving myself.  I don’t usually even work out with anyone because all my friends and family that run are so much faster.  Being part of a team like this one is a great experience but also really hard for me because I’m so much slower.  I don’t want to let anyone down.  I know that they want me there and are fully aware of my abilities but it still is hard for me.  (I know, I have whined about this before).
But in the end, we are a team and we finish as a team.  That’s pretty cool.
Me and my Faylene at the end Cascade Lakes Relay!