Cascade Lakes Relay

I’ve had numerous success with my hundred mile runs.  They are becoming a little too easy.  When I spotted this one last year, I said it was a must do.  I still hold that to truth.

We started late on Thursday, with my official clock stating 9:27 pm.  I had my Trance Around the World podcast going.  My legs felt amazing!  I decided to run ridiculously easy, and keep the 9 minute pace for as long as I could.  As we ran through the night, thoughts turned inward.  We had both been awake all day, and were feeling the effects.  I would have him meet me every 5-6 miles so he could sleep.  As we headed east toward Silver Lake, then north, the moonlight lit the landscape brilliantly.  It was very peaceful.  It was almost like being in a dream.

We got to Fort Rock at about 4:30 AM.  The sun was just barely making its entrance into the world.  I was at about 45 miles when it started to peek up over the landscape.  We were just making our way back into forest again, which timed out perfectly.  My left foot was starting to ache, quite possibly due to the camber of the road in the early miles. 

The road returned to a soft dirt texture (the 1st section was between Silver Lake and Fort Rock) around 45 miles, and stayed this way for about 10 miles.  At this point I was not feeling so hot.  All of the food in my stomach hurt, and my energy was waning.  When I got to the 50 mile mark, I was in good spirits, but I hit a really nasty low after that.  I hit the 50 mile mark in about 9:45 (7:15 AM).  After that, I quit running.  I felt horrible.  The food I was eating just didn’t work.  I walked the next 10 miles.  I thought I was not going to make it.  I felt really crummy.  OK, if I can’t run, and I feel like I’ve already run 80 miles, and I have over 100 to go, can I make it? I didn’t think the finish was in sight.

Fred Willet, my crew, tried to get me out of my funk.  He mentioned that I try to run at the top of the hill, even if it was only for one step.  Eventually, I might be able to run for long periods of time again.  So I tried.  I ran for a tiny bit.  Then I ran for a little longer.  Then I got my mojo back.  I hit the 100K mark in 13:45.  All of a sudden, I was a runner again.  I could run uphill.  It was great! I decided to try and run about 90 more miles and then call it a day.  That’s pretty much what I did.

The next section of the course was on road, which is pretty much the way it stayed until the end of the race.  After the race course turned west again, I had a bit of climb, then a long, long descent to La Pine.  Luckily, I got out of my funk before the downhill.  I made good time here.  I averaged about 5 miles an hour on the descent to La Pine.  I remember I passed Fred at one stop, and when he wasn’t looking, I gave him a solid good game and continued to fly down the hill.  He reminded me that payback would suck.  So we were in very good spirits again.  I got to the next relay checkpoint only to find that the portajohns had “out of order” signs sitting on top of the toilets.  Amusing what the Wildman would do for a laugh.  I think he was going to try and block me in one of them with my car, but I made post haste of the toilet and continued my effort in the run.

I had a goal to get to La Pine before 3 PM (17:30).  I made it to Hwy 97 at about 2:52.  I had munchies like crazy.  I figure, if you do the math, I burned about 20,000 to 25,000 calories during the course of the run.  The 2nd half of the race, I was reminded of this.  Food became essential the whole time.  I sat down at 80 miles, had a few cheeseburgers, and continued on.  Boy, it was difficult getting moving.  The legs would try and cramp up after I had sit for a while.  It would take me about 10 minutes to get to moving decently again.  But considering the mileage, I figured it would hurt continuously until the finish.  My girlfriend and Karen Kaupp (who is one of my soldiers) were expected around 4-6 PM.  They showed up when I was at about 85 miles.  It was great to see them!  When you’ve run 80+ miles, and your buddies show up, it’s like seeing them for the 1st time in 5 years.  I was so elated!  Fred had been awake with me since the start.  I sent him back to his hotel room so he could get to sleep.  Reports say that he slept for 14 hours after that.

I was pushing to get to 100 miles before dark and before 9 PM.  I succeeded in both.  However, we were so early in getting to the runner/walker split at Crane Prairie, we got lost in finding the course.  It took us some time to figure out where we were at.  We ended up taking the walker’s course and continuing on until we could rejoin the rest of the race route (there are two divisions-the walking division course, and the runner division course.  Both are pretty much the same route from here). 

After the sun set, I had a feeling things would get hairy.  I was correct!  All of a sudden, there was this giant road construction sign in the middle of the road.  I was feeling tough, so I decided to run it down.  It disappeared in a puff of smoke.  Then a 100 ft skateboard ramp appeared next to me.  It disappeared after a while too.  The plan earlier was to run until midnight and sleep for a while.  At 10 PM, I made the call to stop and rest before my brain started to get really crazy with me.  We set an alarm for 2 AM, and I slept for about 3 hours in between.  I was 101.4 miles.

I got going again after getting some good food and water down.  A little ways down the road, I saw a semi parked on the shoulder AND halfway in the road.  I said to myself, “Are you really that lazy?” and then the semi disappeared.  Go figure.  At least I didn’t have to worry about anybody getting into a bad accident with it.  I continued on.  It was another unbelievably beautiful night out again.  No extra light was required to see.  As I continued on, I started to see more and more vehicles.  The relay was catching up!  This helped fuel my fire to keep them behind me as long as possible.  Uphill, downhill, flat, I was running all of it.  My appetite was voracious. I had a piece of pizza every mile for about 20 miles.  Then I almost was caught up.

After I had slept, I decided to put my ZensahTM calf sleeves on.  For much of the run, my legs were not doing so great, even when I had a good running pace going.  I figured they would cause a lot more blood to flow to the legs, making at least one part of my body happy.  They did the trick.  My left foot was hurting more and more.  After I slept the 2nd night, I made a goal to hit the 130 mile mark by 10 AM Saturday.  This could help me finish realistically in between 3:30-4:30 PM.  I made a point not to stop at the vehicle at all unless it was for a prolonged break.  I was sitting down for a couple minutes every 10 miles.  It’s amazing what a little break can do to help you recover.  After the sun came up for the last time, I was feeling really strong.  I was pushing hard to get to the finish at a good time.  It was all hard effort from here on out.

From 120 miles on, the course was gradually uphill to the highway pass next to Mt. Bachelor.  I continued to run most of the hills, doing my best to keep up with the speedy walking teams that had caught up to me.  It’s amazing how much you slow down in these events.  An 11 minute mile becomes pretty good.  I took on the pain that I was feeling and built on it.  The nice thing about the mileage is the fact that all uphills, downhills, and flats feel the same, running or walking.  So, you run as much as you can.  My good friend Linda Barton once told me “It’s better to be hurting faster than slower.”  She is so correct in this statement.  So I ran as much as possible, doing my best to keep my slightly faster than 4 miles an hour pace going.

I remember I hit the last climb of the race at 8:51 AM (35:24).  It is a nasty long uphill to the Mt. Bachelor Pass.  The top of that climb is the 131.1 mile mark.  I continued to run for a while, but ended up walking most of that climb.  I did well though, in hitting the top of the climb ahead of schedule (9:55 AM).  I took my shoes off.  My feet were swollen and I had blisters, albeit not very serious ones.  In inspecting my hurting left foot, I realized I had developed tendonitis on the top of the foot, where it had been hurting since about mile 40.    No good!  I got some Arnica from the checkpoint, smeared it on, and ran the happiest section of the race-the final descent into Bend, OR.  At this point, my feet hurt really bad.  I had aches all over the place.  I did my best to run easy down into the valley.  It started to get warm.  I started to fade in the heat, even though I was running downhill.  The friendliness of the other relay runners was a powerful tonic though.  People were screaming and honking and cheering me on.  The relay had arrived.  Costumed runners offered me beer, checkpoint personnel fed me, Co-RD Chris Douglass and his assistants sprayed me down with cool water, which got me in a great mood. 

I can remember at about mile 142 I was in a bit of an irritable mood when I arrived at a checkpoint.  I went to use a restroom and these kids were screaming outside.  I screamed at them from inside the portajohn to shut up.  I never heard them again.  I had a bit of a laugh down the road from that.  I don’t think I’ve ever been that irritated while doing these runs before.  I got in a better mood after that though.  I was now less than 10 miles from the finish!

Coming into the last checkpoint, Fred Willet showed up.  After sleeping for several thousands of years, he was back on the course and was going to run with me for the last 7 miles.  I had one goal-lose him.  I got my water bottle filled one last time with ice, Gatorade, and red bull, and got ready to pound the finish.  We left at 1:30.  Could I be done before 3?  It was quite a shot, but I thought I could make it. 

The last 7 miles were all dirt and trails.  I pressed into the hills, and gave the Wildman a run for his money.  He kept up for a while, but eventually, I lost him.  I was just running too fast!  The gal who I was keeping up with gave me the report that I was holding a flat 8 minute mile through that last section.  I was amazed that my destroyed legs were saying yes to my speed.  I figured it was the red bull I drank.  The race was going great, and I was definitely going to finish before 3.  The next paragraph should be skipped if you have a weak stomach.

I had to make a pit stop 1.5 miles from the finish.  It just hit me.  When I detoured off the last little bit of road before the finish, I was horrified to see that my stool had a lot of blood in it.  That really freaked me out.  I realized I had run too hard for my own good.  But the damage was done.  Time to blast to the finish!

After my stop, Wildman caught up.  We raced hard.  I was running ridiculously fast.  I remembered the course.  All of it.  The amazing views, the serene nighttime portions, the relay runners, all was there at the end.  I was screaming and making a fool of myself at the finish line.  Everybody was cheering.  I felt like a superhero.  I crossed the finish line, and immediately sat down.  I was so exhausted.  I still can’t believe I made the whole distance. I ran the last 7.1 miles in 1:18.  Official finish time was 41 hours, 21 miles, which is just over 16 minutes a mile. 

I survived the last 13 hours on Gatorade and pizza.  I am amazed at how much food I ate.  In conclusion, the run was stupid.  After seeing the blood, I realized this.  There is a fine line between tough and crazy, and I definitely crossed it this time.  However, 152 miles is a very fulfilling distance.  The amount of mental discipline it took to get there is something I would relate with all of those Special Forces military types.  I am so happy I made it.  The previous month I had run over 350 miles trying to get my legs built up to the torture they would endure.  I am walking pretty well today.  I am recovering nicely.  All in all, it was a complete success.  My heat training, my mileage, and my will kept me in the game, which now has me pumped for my goal of making it into Badwater next year-and running all the way up Portal Road.

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