Monday, August 8, 2016

Cascade Lakes Relay 2016

Super Team Dwayne had another awesome time at Cascade Lakes Relay.

This was the fifth year of doing this relay for six of us on the twelve person team.  That's pretty cool.  To commemorate this milestone we all received a special shirt from CLR.  I have a friend that already has one and I was really excited to get my own.

I was going into the relay with only a week since I did my Olympic Triathlon.  I figured I was either going to do better than I ever had before or I was going to suck it up because I was too wiped out from the race I had done last week.

I have never had what I would call a good CLR.  I always have fun.  But I never run well.  Early on it was because I was just learning to run and I was SLOW!  Heat, elevation and hills did not help my speed at all.  Figuring out how to fuel myself throughout the two days was also a challenge.  One year I got a massive migraine and spent most of my night leg throwing up.  Tends to not help one run faster.  Last year I was hoping it would be the year that I could feel like I really rocked my runs.  Then I got a massive tooth abscess at the beginning of July which made my face look like I had been hit by a baseball bat.  Made it really hard to get my training done and so I ended up not as prepared as I could have been.  And really, I still didn't do well with heat, elevation and hills.  lol  For some reason they don't take that out of the CLR route.

Now it's 2016 and I've spent the last seven months training for an Olympic Triathlon.  I have done lots of Wednesday evening runs and interval workouts with my coach in the heat.  Lots of hills while hiking and biking.  I'm in better shape then I have been in since I started running.  I have learned a lot about nutrition and what I what works for me to refuel and not make myself sick during the relay.  I was really hoping that it would all come together and I would have a kick ass relay.

For those of you who have never done a relay it works like this.  You form a team with 12 exceptionally crazy, fun people.  Then divide the team into two vans, Van 1 and Van 2.  Van 1 starts the relay and everyone in the van runs one section of the course.  Then Van 2 takes over and runs six sections of the course while Van 1 gets some rest.  We keep switching until every person on the team has run three legs of the race ending with the last runner in Van 2.  The Cascade Lakes Relay starts at Diamond Lake, Oregon and works it's way north to finish, 216.6 miles later, in Bend, Oregon.

Decorating the vans is an important part of the relay race.  Remember, what happens at CLR stays at CLR.  Unless it ends up in a blog.  :-)

Van 2 window paint:
Van 1 window paint:
I make magnets every year to tag other vans.  More & more teams are doing the same thing. :-)
The first two years we did this relay I was in Van 2, the last two years I was in Van 1.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages.  We swapped back to being in Van 2 for this year.  The biggest disadvantage for Van 2 is that two of the three legs are in the afternoon which generally means hot.  This year was no exception.

I was the first runner for our van at the first major exchange.  This means we got to the exchange point and waited for the last runner from Van 1 to arrive and hand off the baton (actually, in this case it's a slap bracelet) to me.

It was warm and I was nervous.  Joe and I made a plan for making sure I had plenty of water and Gatorade.  We both have handheld water bottles for running.  I would start out with one and then every mile they would check on me and he would have the other handheld bottle ready and we would swap.  We also had neck coolers and a sprayer to cool off the runners.  One of the things that I love about this relay is the ability to be able to support the runners a lot.  There are some legs that you can't because they are on a trail or the vans can't be on that road.  But most of the roads have wide shoulders or places that it's easy to pull out and park for a bit.  Then people in the van can hop out and support their runner.

Van 1 showed up at the major exchange and I got my bib number and got all set to get started.  It wasn't long before I saw Steve coming down the cinder road with his trucker hat, plaid shirt and shorts on.   He slapped the bracelet on my arm and I took off.
Van 2 Ready to get this party started!
I was careful to not go out to fast.  It was over 95 degrees when I started and I had 5.5 miles to run.  I had done this leg before when we were Van 2 but it used to be 3.8.  When I did it before I ended up walking most of it because it was just too hot and I couldn't breath.  I didn't want to have that again!

I did really well for the first four miles.  I was running and then taking a one minute walk break.  The van was checking on me every mile or so and I was swapping out the handheld just like we planned.  It was a good plan because almost every time I had drank almost the entire thing.  At home I can go three or four miles and still have water left.  It was HOT!  The neck coolers and getting sprayed also helped a great deal.  My legs were so hot from the heat coming off the pavement, I felt like the backs of my legs were getting sunburned from the ground.

After the first four miles I started struggling so I shortened up the run time and did some longer walks.  I didn't want to end up hurting myself or making myself sick by pushing too hard on my first leg and then have nothing left for my last two legs.  There was still a lot of CLR to go.

I finished up my leg with an average pace of 13:53.  While not as fast as runs I have been doing lately it was really a good run for me in the heat, elevation and hills.  I had to go back in my Nike info and find the other two times I ran this leg for comparison.  Here's what I found.
  • 2011: 4.09 miles, 15'11" average pace.
  • 2012: 4 miles, 14'58" average pace.
  • 2016: 5.52, 13'53" average pace.
See why I was happy even though I had to slow down at the end?  Same leg, a mile and a half longer than it had been before and I was a minute a mile faster than the last time I ran it.  And it was WAY hotter, which is scary because I thought it was ridiculously hot the first two times I ran this leg.  :-)

Overall, considering how hot it was I felt like my first leg was a solid effort for me and I was pretty happy about it.  Poor Joe had a seven mile run after me and it was the hottest leg of the day, about 100 degrees.  He cranked it out as well.  All of the legs for our first turn as Van 2 were over 90 degrees so everyone had to deal with it.  But we had plenty of water, Gatorade and used our sprayer to cool off our teammates and anyone who happened to run by while we were waiting.  It felt good to get that first leg done.  The weather forecast called for slightly cooler temperatures for Saturday so I was hoping that the worst of the heat was behind us.
Ross & Brandi waiting for Brandi's first leg to start.
Amazing sunset as we waited at the turnout to the infamous (in our van anyway) water tower
Ross cheering for Brandi as she zips by. 
The sky was amazing at Silver Lake!
Jac waiting for Brandi to arrive so Van 1 can start their second turn.
We headed back to the house we use as base camp.  Thanks to one couple on our team we have a place to stay near La Pine and it is great to head back to the house to shower, get on clean clothes and catch a teeny bit of sleep.  I think we got about one hour of shut eye this time.  All too soon it was time to head out to meet up with Van 1 again.  Joe had the first leg this time.  He started at about 2:00 a.m.  I was going to be next up.

When we originally planned what legs we would run I was supposed to do a run that was 3.5 miles.  They made some changes to the course this year and to the length of some of the legs.  My 3.5 mile night run turned into a 6.9 mile night run.  But I figured that I would rather to a longer run during the night than during the day when it would be hot.  Plus the leg trended downhill most of the run.
Party at the 2nd major exchange.  Lots of people, lots of moths!  
I started at 4:00 a.m.  Joe had the leg before me and handed off to me after a great 7 mile leg.  I took off and found a good/comfortable pace and just tried to keep it steady.  I ran 10 minutes and walked 1 minute.  I did that the entire 6.9 miles.  I loved how cold it was!  I was wearing capri running pants, a t-shirt and a long sleeved shirt and it was perfect!  I loved how I felt just as solid for the last mile of my run as I did for my first mile.  The van checked on me regularly but I usually waved them off and kept right on trucking.  I swapped out my water bottle once.  With two miles left I told them to go to the exchange, I was fine!  What a great feeling that was!
  • 2011: 3.1 miles, 12'29" average pace.
  • 2012: 3.06 miles, 13'16" average pace.
  • 2016: 6.9 miles, 12'02" average pace.  (This started as the same three miles as 2012 with more tacked on.  And I still rocked it.  :-)  Happy dance!)
I could see the exchange up ahead and a line of cars.  Evidently there wasn't much parking for an exchange and they were a bit backed up (a little Hood to Coast like).  I passed the van in the line of cars.  They told me Wendie was waiting for me and they would pick me up on the other side.  I was able to pick up the pace a little, which was fun since it was at the end of a fairly long run.  I handed off to Wendie and then literally ran to jump into the van.

The second round of legs, no matter which van you are in, is usually at night.  This is where we are all tired.  I am lucky that instead of being people that get cranky, we are people that get really silly.  Everything is way funnier in the middle of the night.  It's absolutely hysterical in the middle of the night at a relay race!

For the first time in running CLR I had two really solid runs for me!!  I was really excited and super proud of myself.  Two down, one to go.

It wasn't long before we were at the second major exchange getting ready to hand off to Van 1 again.  Major exchanges are always fun because there a ton of people and we get to see our teammates and check in, share stories and see how everyone is feeling.

Once more we headed back to the house.  This time it wasn't a long drive so we got a longer nap.  Not long enough but better than the one we got after the first exchange.  I took a shower and laid down in bed.  Good thing I set my alarm because I was out like a light!!

The last exchange before the finish line was on Mt. Bachelor.  The drive up there is always beautiful! We got up there around 1:00 p.m on Saturday afternoon.  Our team had decided to Van Leap.  Which means that we got started on our final legs before Van 1 arrived at the exchange.  Basically we got a head start and had two runners on the course at the same time for awhile.  We couldn't start until 2:00 p.m. and I think we only really got a 30 minute head start but it was nice to have a little bit of a buffer to make sure we didn't finish super late in the evening.
My awesome teammates!  Go Van 2!!
A very nice lady from another team took this picture with all of us.  One leg left to go!
Mt. Bachelor.  Believe it or not, way more snow then last year!
Josh and Joe decided to run their legs together so they took off.  It was already getting pretty warm.  Not quite as warm as the day before, it was only 90 degrees instead of over 96 degrees.  Plus there was a nice breeze.  That breeze made a huge difference!  After the guys went then Wendie had her longest leg.  She totally rocked it!  Then it was my turn.  All I had was a 2.5 mile run.  Short and sweet, mostly downhill.  I was so nervous!
Van 2 with Mt. Bachelor in the background.  Watching for Josh & Joe.
Brandi & Ross watching for the guys.
Josh & Joe looking awesome!
Wendi waiting for her last leg to start.  Love that smile!  :-)
Coming into the exchange.
Sounds silly to be nervous when I had done so well for my first two legs.  Here's why I was nervous:
  1. In the four years we have done CLR previously I have had a good run here or there but I have never had what I felt was a solid CLR from start to finish.  I was one run away from changing that.
  2. It was hot already and I've had short legs at the end of CLR before and been too hot and too tired to make it work.  I was worried that would happen again.
  3. I didn't want to be this close to having a solid CLR and blow it with only a 2.4 mile run!
So I had butterfly's in my stomach setting off for my last leg.  Josh had decided to run it with me.  I high-fived Wendie and took off while Josh told Wendie what he was up to and then caught up.  I found a really good pace that actually seemed maintainable.  It helped that I was running downhill.  My first mile was under 11 minutes!!!  What?!  We came to a small incline and I did a walk break and we took off again.  There was a young lady in front of us that was struggling a bit.  I could tell she was having a difficult time, it looked like she had a stitch in her side.  I passed her once when she was walking but then she started running and passed me when I was walking.  I caught up with her again after the incline and a couple of times she heard me coming and would start running again.  I finally passed her again because at this point I was determined to beat her to the exchange.  lol  I was going to take another minute walk break but Josh told me she was closing in again and I needed to get moving so I took off again and ran the rest of the way to the exchange.  Turns out she was more than a quarter mile behind me but Josh wanted me to run the rest of the way so he made it sound like she was closer.  I didn't check for myself or I would have known she was farther back.  Stinker.  But I can't be too mad at him keeping me going since I my average pace was 11'09!!!!  Holy moly!  I don't think I have ever run that fast in the heat.  Probably didn't hurt that it was downhill but still.  :-)
My most awesome running buddy, Joshy!  He's so awesome he shines.  :-)  
Done with all three legs!  The smile says it all.  
My first two years in Van 2 I had a bee up my butt that I needed to do a very hard leg so that everyone else wasn't having to do all hard runs.  I did the 4 mile, 1000 foot elevation gain leg in the heat of the day.  It wasn't pretty.  I walked it both times.  The only good thing about it was that I got it done.  lol  I had no problem taking an easy, short run and loved that I did it really well.  

Suddenly I'm done!  I've done all three of my legs.  I have run 14.8 miles over 36 hours.  I have finally had a really great CLR.  I had my best run in the heat and uphills.  I had my fastest run night run.  Then I beat that and had an even faster run for my last leg.  I was a happy camper!
The fabulous Super Team Dwayne aka STD.  
Showing our goofy side.
Was I still slower than everyone else on the entire team?  Yep.

Do I care at all?  Nope!  

All I need to know is that I did the absolute best I could for each leg and I was proud of myself each time I got done.  

I had so much fun!  

I loved looking at what I had done and feeling proud of myself instead of wishing I had done better.  

Could I do better next time?  Probably. 

Will I keep working at becoming better and stronger?  Absolutely!
BFF and I in our hard earned Five year shirts!
Six of us on the team have been on the team every year that Super Team Dwayne has participated.  This year was our fifth year and we got a special shirt to commemorate this.  I am exceptionally proud of being on this team and for earning this shirt!
This year for the first time I ordered a women's shirt for my race shirt.  I usually order a mens shirt so that it will fit and I can actually wear it.  This year I took the leap and ordered a women's XL.  It may not seem like a big deal but I'm really proud of being able to get a shirt this size.  :-)  Sometimes it's the little things that help motivate.
Between my Olympic Triathlon and Cascade Lakes Relay I have taken a big leap in appreciating where I am as an athlete and being proud of myself instead of comparing myself to others and where they are as athletes.  

Their story is different then my story.
My body is different then their body.
My journey is different then their journey.  

My fabulous team got to the finish line and ran in together.  Then we headed back to the house for showers and pizza.  So much fun to sit around and compare stories and laughter.  One of the reasons that I love doing this race is the people that I get to do it with.  The team goal is to have a good time and make memories.  Mission accomplished!!

Sunday is our fun day!  The reward for all the hard work is a float on the Deshuttes River.  We float, laugh, talk, give each other a hard time and just unwind as we drift along.  I was supposed to do a 1000 yard swim on Sunday.  That didn't happen.  That water was just too cold to try and swim in for a sustained time.  Plus fighting the current was an issue.  So I turned on my Garmin when we started the float.  I'm sure that it was some form of exercise.  :-)  Funny though, my coach deleted that activity off of Training Peaks.  He must not have agreed with me.  lol
Faylene & Andrea
My awesome hubby
Hey, I'm in a picture I didn't take!  :-)
Brandi & Dwayne
Ross on the paddle board. 
Jac & Andrea
I could get very used to this. 
Jac & Ross

Getting geared up to head back to work in a few weeks.  Not ready to have summer be over but I am ready to see my students again and get back into a regular routine.

I signed up for another Olympic Triathlon next month.  :-)  I had so much fun with the first one I figured I should do it again.  This one is in Sweet Home next month.  I can't wait!  :-)  

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