Running for Robin - Cascade Lakes Relay 2015

by Jodi
THIS ^^^ is why I run.

Cascade Lakes Relay 2015 was AH-MAZ-ING! 

I can't really explain why anyone would choose to do this. It sounds ridiculous. Run continuously for a day and a half with people you may or may not know very well. Eat poorly. Don't sleep. Shower only if you can find one. And PAY a ton of money to do it all. On paper it makes no sense. But experientially, it's the bomb. I look forward to it all year long.

starting our journey
Team No Expectations took 33 hours 27 minutes and 42 seconds to cover 216.6 miles of jaw-dropping beauty, running up and over mountains through incredible forest and plains, along rivers and through small towns. We dealt with extreme temperatures (highs over 100 degrees and lows in the 40's) and very little sleep. 

Old friendships developed more and new friendships formed in the confines of our 15 passenger rental van. 
We all crash at Dawson House Lodge in Chemult, Oregon, cramming as many people as possible into each hotel room.  The lack of sleep starts Thursday night and continues through the finish! You are forced into intimacy and while it can be initially uncomfortable, it's also really bonding.  

The entire race is run at elevation, making a tough course even harder, but people of all ages and fitness levels tacked the course, receiving encouragement not just from their team but from all the teams out on the course. 

Curt offering cowbell and water.
It truly is an experience you can't describe. My husband Curt joined our team this year.  He really doesn't like running but has stayed at it, consistently running at least once or twice a week all year to stay in good enough shape to be able to run this relay.  His run time comes at the expense of sleep, often getting him out of bed before 5 a.m. to get a run in, go to work, and then tackle his full time doctorate student homework.  He is a machine.  He likes to tell people he's not a runner, but he did so good on each of his legs, running steady and strong for each leg, and coming in faster than his goal pace for each leg. He loved everything about the relay, "except the running." But he's already committed to running again next year so it couldn't have been that bad.

This is Curt's "I'm dying" running face.  He makes it a lot.

Our teammate Robin turned 50 the weekend of Cascade Lakes Relay. This was supposed to be her big birthday gift to herself, but she got devastating news days before we were to leave. Breast Cancer. NOT what she was expecting. So she's beginning her survivor journey. It is so, so lame, but she is a fighter. We had her swing by before we left for the relay and surprised her with a Running for Robin banner.  Our van windows also made note of the fact that she is a fighter and is going to beat this disease.  Robin was never far from our hearts, thoughts and prayers while we ran. I can't wait to deck myself out in all pink next year to run with her on this adventure.  

Curt and I ran in Van 2 with Dawn (our hotel Roomie) and the Otto family: Silas and Stacy and their son Nick.  We had a really great time.  Stacy brought portable cabinets for the back of the van and we each got a drawer to put our gear in.  It totally spoke to my value for orderliness.  Thank you Stacy!

Van 1 started the race on Friday morning at 8:40.  While they slaved away on the run, Van 2 slept in, went out to breakfast, and took a short hike at Crater Lake.  It's a rough life.

We started running late in the afternoon, around 4:30.  Our first set of legs took us from the late afternoon extreme heat into total darkness.  It was really fun to run through that transition.  Last year the heat, elevation and lack of sleep totally humbled me and kicked my butt.  This year I was more prepared and had realistic time goals for each leg.  But I'm also in better shape than last year so I decided to really race each of my legs.  It was worth it to me to suffer a bit to see what kind of times I could put on the board. 

My first leg was rated Very Hard - 8.75 miles of rolling hills.  I started running around 6:40 p.m. It was still really hot and I was hungry, but it cooled off as I ran and thankfully I grabbed a gel that sustained me through my run.  The route was hard, but the  incredible views fed my soul and I ran faster than I expected, averaging around a 7:40 pace overall.

We "rested" in LaPine.  Most of our team showered and then tried to find a place to put our sleeping bags to rest. Curt and I found a spot in a wooded area by the parking lot and made a little camp under the stars.  Neither of us really slept, but it was fun.

full moon

exchanges in the night

could Layla be any cuter?
Van 2's second set of legs started around 3:30 in the morning. We started in the pitch dark and ran through the sunrise into the morning light.  AWESOME!  My second leg was only 3.25 miles and it was flat.  It had an easy rating and I wanted to test out my legs to see how fast I could run. I couldn't believe it, but I finished with a 6:51 average pace - the first time in my life I've run sub 7's for 3 miles.  It was exciting.  And I got to run through the sunrise into the early morning light.  Again - it was just so beautiful!

Our second resting area was at Elk Lake, a stunning mountain lake surrounded on all sides by volcanic peaks.  We were so tired that I didn't even take a single picture.  We pitched umbrellas on the shore for shade and collapsed on the beach,  but it was so hot already that none of us really slept.  We jumped in the lake instead, ate lunch and waited to start our final set of legs.

By the time Van 1 tagged off to us, it was over 100 degrees.  Wicked hot with a blazing sun.  Thankfully the sun went behind some cloud cover right as we started running and stayed behind the cloud cover for most of the next several hours.  Our van had the most scenic part of the course - the Cascade Lakes Highway up the backside of Mt. Bachelor and down the other side into Bend.  Our first two runners did nothing but climb.  The last four got to run mostly downhill, with a few short, steep climbs thrown in just to mess with our heads!

I got to run the final leg into the finish.  The first 1.2 miles were downhill on the Cascade Lakes Highway and then I got routed off the highway onto Bend's incredible trail system.  The last five miles were all trails leading into Bend, meandering down to and over the Deschutes River.  It was a little slice of heaven, minus all the short and steep down and up's the trail took.  I passed twenty people on this leg, most of them walking.  This race takes it straight out of you on every level.

Team No Expectations ran with me into the finish where we posed for photos, ate, and enjoyed Bend's craft beer before dispersing and heading home. Thank you team for another memory-making weekend.  I am already looking forward to next year.  Robin - you better be there!  We're running for you Girl!

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