Spring Training

A story in pictures. Spring in the PNW is incredibly refreshing.

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Wildwood

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Finally, I can run in a t-shirt!

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Some aftermath of a wind storm in Forest Park

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Beautiful singletrack  – Wildwood

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An early trillium in Forest Park

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Marquam Trail = hill training

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Banks-Vernonia Trail

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An old trestle bridge

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Banks-Vernonia Trail

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The view from below


Hawthorne and Hood

Tom Dick & Harry Mountain – 1/7/17

More fun in the snow. More adventures with friends. More crazy weather. One particularly questionable day, we were invited on a snowshoe adventure with a friend and a others up Tom Dick & Harry Mountain. It’s an easy enough trail and we opted to bring RileyDog with us this time, too.

In the winter, the main trailhead is blocked by the massive snowbank the plows create along the highway, so hikers must park at the ski hill and walk along the road nearly a mile. Riley insisted on relieving himself several times before we even began the roadside walk, so several trips back to the car were in order, but finally, we could take off.

We strapped on our snowshoes at the trailhead and entered the woods. The trail features a couple of wooden bridges and then climbs up the mountain with plenty of switchbacks. We reached Mirror Lake in no time and decided to keep heading up to the summit.

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After traversing an exposed part of the mountain through the wind and blinding snow, Jesse and two others decided to trudge on ahead to the summit, while I and another turned back toward the lake, knowing they wouldn’t make it too much farther anyway. Here’s where the adventure began: my group got lost. With the wind and snow, our tracks were quickly covered, even in the forest. We knew where the lake was, and where the intersection of the loop trail was, but we didn’t know where exactly we were. So we went left. Then went back and went right. Then went back and went down the hill. Then turned around and went straight. And finally, the literal sign we had been searching for! Also, a few run-ins with other dogs and a lost bootie (Riley’s, not mine) added to the stress of the day.

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We stood at the intersection, chatting away, after 20 minutes or so, the others showed up. We headed back down the hill, working up the courage to trudge up the highway to the car; the thought of pizza motivating our quick descent.

Poor RileyDog struggled on the last mile. His poor paws (well, 3 of the 4) became ice packed and he was desperate to lie down on the trail to gnaw at them. It took some coaxing to finish the trek and once he was in the car, he was neither seen nor heard from again. There’s “dog park” tired and then there’s “hiking” tired. Dogs are on their best behavior after the latter.

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I hope to return to this trail in the summer for the lake views and a proper summit adventure. Until then, I’ll enjoy this frosty selfie:

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Portland – A Winter Wonderland

“As I turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat,
this wind is blowing my mind.”

A little Michael Jackson to kick off this post. While MJ wasn’t actually talking about the weather in this song, it seemed a fitting quote for the way this Portland winter has been treating us.

We had a few days of incredible wind (including tonight)! We had several consecutive days of ice storms and freezing rain. And the snow…how it was so lovely, so calming, and so MUCH! Snowing ~13″ overnight was a first for so many people here. And it stayed for a solid week.

Now, as a girl who grew up in Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Idaho, I’ve seen my fair share of snow. When I was super little, my mom had to drive my sister to school on a snowmobile. A day off from school was rare; a day off of work due to snow was unheard of. A late start maybe. But seriously, kids in school got more days off for harvest and hunting season than they did for bad weather. In Portland, the city is halted. Cars are abandoned on the highways. Signs are lit up across the roadways requiring chains or traction tires. Facebook photos feature nothing but friends in PJs with cups of tea, kids on sleds, and neighborhood snowmen/women.

Me? I went about business as usual, taking advantage of the sunny days. One day I did 9 snowy miles on Mt. Tabor, post-holing all the way. Another was spent navigating icy trails in Forest Park. Lots of days included walking Riley Dog in my snow boots. And yes, sometimes even *gasp* driving to work (after I unearthed my car). I had a lot of days off, but I made the most of them…and have truly enjoyed having a proper winter in this silly city.

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Mt. Hood 50k – 7/10/16

As you know, I like to do races in far away places. It’s so much fun to explore new areas by doing an event but this time, I chose one close to home. Sadly, a “close” trail run still means 1.5 hours away, but at least it didn’t involve significant travel beforehand.

Per usual, the weeks leading up to the event were filled with training runs, rest days, cross-training, and lots of food. Jesse didn’t run this one so I was training alone. My long runs were sometimes wonderful and sometimes lonely but then I got lucky and found a fabulous new running buddy to make the miles go by faster. Her first 50k was the weekend after Mt. Hood so it was easy to coordinate training days. I am grateful for her company and willingness to adventure! I didn’t know how I was going to run so far without her at this point!

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Jesse drove me to the start line to see me off (he then spent the morning on his mountain bike nearby). I have become so fond of the Go Beyond Racing events and this was no exception. The course skirted Timothy Lake, went out on the Pacific Crest Trail for 7 miles, then turned around and circled the other side of the lake to the finish. With 6 aid stations and only about 2,500 feet of elevation gain, it was a relatively “easy” run. Even more so given that it was gray and drizzly…the ideal running weather. Sadly it meant no view of Mt. Hood, though.

I started strong (arguably too strong) and felt great. I had to stop to pee around mile 2.5 and lost my place in the pack, but easily fit back into my groove and kept going. The miles ticked off so quickly, the aid stations coming and going and I barely felt the need to stop. As always, the aid stations were excellent and the watermelon was an incredible treat! I grabbed some Oreos for the road and carried on.

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I know better than to power up the hills during an event. My heart rate is invariably high already and I’m still learning how my body reacts to “pushing it” in a race. So I hiked (as did everyone else around me, so it felt like a legitimate decision). My heart rate would recover and I’d run again, still feeling strong. I sprinted into the turnaround aid station at mile 13 and heard someone yell my name.

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I was certain Jesse wasn’t going to meet me there and I didn’t know of anyone else running it, so my confusion was justified. Soon my friend Shane emerged with a clipboard; he was volunteering at that far aid station! We hugged it out, recapped the first half of the race, and off I went. It’s always a nice burst of support and encouragement to see a familiar face.

The way back to the lake was a beautiful descent and I ran along with a guy who was doing the 50/50 (the 50 mile version on Saturday and the 50k on Sunday). I was in awe of him and he was rocking it. We chatted for a while and then I felt strong enough to pick up the pace, leaving him behind.

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I entered the “stiff leg” phase coming into the aid station at mile 17. I crouched down, stretching my hips out. Internally and emotionally I felt amazing. It was only some fatigue in my legs slowing me down at that point. When I left the aid station, I was alone for long periods of time and I felt happy. I enjoyed the trail, the moody grayness of the day, and the sound of my heart propelling myself forward (in every sense). Those are the moments I run for.

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I came into the mile 21 aid station and had some oranges and chatted with the volunteers for a few minutes, grateful for their high spirits. When I took off, I could feel something…off…in my left knee and I was pissed. After a few more minutes, with every centimeter of incline the pain screamed under the outer side of my knee cap and I was left walking the hills.

I kept leap-frogging with two guys who had given up on running completely. One guy was from Texas and it was his first 50k, but he was happy to leisurely finish. I didn’t find the peace and solidarity from these two one might hope for and I could only focus on how my leg was failing me. Eventually, after some stops to stretch, some lakeside cursing, and enough walking to screw up my goal time, I ran into the last aid station, leaving them behind, and sat down. I was pleasantly surprised that there were only 4.7 miles left and not 6.5 as I’d thought, and the sweet volunteer checked in on my health when I stood up quite uneasily. I shook it off and got to going.

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I don’t remember how I got through those last 5 miles. They took days, I’m sure of it. I ran and walked and hiked and ran, none for very long. I worked on returning to my positive state of mind with every pain-free step, reminding myself that I’d only run this distance once before. It was reasonable that my body was mad at me!

I started to recognize the trail again from having passed over it that morning, hearing the faint sound of cowbells and cheering. The course markings became closer together, the campsites more frequent. The trail ended with a slight downhill and I “sprinted” over the finish line: 6:35. There was Jesse, caked in mud, waiting in the mist. I ran into his arms and then doubled over out of breath, the tears of a proud runner filling my eyes.

The race director gave me a pint glass and a congratulations and then I bee-lined it to a camp chair. After a recap of the race and Jesse’s mountain bike adventure, we shared a burger and he took me home. Race days are the best.

(You can see the official race photos of me here and here.)

(P.S. My knee is fine. I don’t know what it was that day; if it’s a problem in the future I’ll deal with it. Until then, I am chalking it up to “Well something had to go wrong that day…it couldn’t have all been perfect!”)

Mt. Bailey – 5/28/16

(To the the tune of Hank Williams’ ‘On Top of Old Smokey’ – sing along!)

On top of Mt. Bailey, all covered with scree

To find some adventure, I went with Jesse

To summit Mt. Bailey, we stomped through the snow

We skirted the crater, and swatted mosquitoes

We followed blue blazes, and made our way to the top

“We’re nearly there” he’d say, and I tried not to stop

The day was so pleasant, warm with blue skies

I’d gaze east to Mt. Thielsen, with awe in my eyes

We traversed a few snow fields, Jesse cut us a path

I was nervous at first, “I’ll do what with this axe!?”

We had snacks at the summit, and took in the view

“I love this”, I told him, “adventuring with you”.

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Hot Springs Trail Run – 4/16/16

Chilly in the morning, hot in the afternoon. Central Oregon, you make running complicated!

On Friday evening, Jesse & I packed up running for multiple weather scenarios, our swimming gear, some food, and the dog and drove to The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, OR.

We were staying at the Belknap Hot Springs in a cabin in the woods for the weekend to run the 18-miler with our friends from Cascade Lakes.

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Riley, Clyde, & Bell – lazy mutts

We were able to sleep in a little bit; the race didn’t start until 9 AM. But it was still a cool 39 F at the starting line and we huddled up in the sunshine, bouncing from race day jitters, early morning coffee, and the brisk morning air.

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My new pink pack pals!

“You’ll be running in snow by the waterfalls this morning…you’re welcome!” exclaimed one of the race directors. I guess it was still mid-April, but snow was unexpected. How high were we? Would I have trouble breathing? The answer was about 3,000 ft at Carmen Reservoir and while it was still a rolling course, we had a gradual downhill over the 18 miles. There was snow and ice on some of the bridges but the trail was mostly clear of snow.

We began immediately on single-track, creating a big bottle neck of all 125 runners. We walked the better part of a mile before we were able to spread out enough to get our jogging on. The best part about this slow paced start was that all of us from the Fatty Asses Ultra team were together, chatting away and catching up.

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The waterfalls were raging, the Blue Pool was incredible, and the lava rocks were a fun technical aspect I hadn’t experienced much in an event before. At one point I stepped awkwardly on…who knows what…twisting my ankle pretty good. I turned to John and said “we’ll see if that comes back to haunt me today” and indeed it did.

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I shed my jacket two hours in as the sun moved overhead and started roasting us all. Miles of beautiful mud, lush forest, bridges, and the McKenzie River passed by and I was happy as a clam. Eventually Jesse et al. were able to break away from the herd and our group split up. I was running alone for much of the time after that.

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Later, at mile 13 or so just before an aid station, my knee turned angry. A stop-and-pay-attention-to-me kind of angry. I stretched it, flexed it, bent it, sat down, did some lunges, anything to feel relief. I walked a quarter mile or so and it felt better so I carried on…now I had to catch everyone I had passed before!

Around mile 15 the pain returned so I gave in and walked. I stopped on a log to stretch and had a nice chat with a lady mountain biker. Other runners passed by me, all asking if I needed anything. Trail runners are the best, truly.

At the final aid station at mile 17 I stopped and talked with a volunteer and she so sweetly offered me her car! It was tempting and I was grateful for the laughter! I hung out for a few minutes and then ran the rest of the way in to the finish line pain-free. Who knows what went on in those last miles, but I knew that twisted ankle would present somewhere. I had a strong finish, though with a slower time than I anticipated. But you know what? Who even cares? It was a fantastic run!

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Jesse, Matt, & Lee

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Afterwards, we all sat by the river and recapped the run and our lives. We made our way to the hot springs and then headed out for dinner (where I enjoyed a truly epic burger with ham, bacon, eggs, cheese…the whole farm).

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We (*ahem* John, Jesse, and Lee) built a fire and we had s’mores. In the morning we drank coffee, set up the slackline, and were generally lazy. It was the perfect weekend getaway.

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Table Mountain – 9/13/15

Holy moly, our hike to Table Mountain was almost two months ago already!? Seriously, where did September and October go? Ugh.

In any case, it was a big adventure and I highly recommend it for excellent views of the Gorge and surrounding mountains!

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Our plan was to meet Jesse’s colleague and his hiking buddies somewhere on the trail since they were doing the shorter version and started a little later than we did. We began at the Bonneville Trailhead and ran past Gillette Lake along the Pacific Crest Trail and took the west trail up to the summit. (I couldn’t get enough of the PCT. So, so pretty!)

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Someone needed to find their way back, I guess

It was a beautiful (almost) fall day and the views at the top were spectacular, albeit slightly windy. We found a secluded spot to eat our “lunch” (Nutella and Cookie Butter sandwiches, mandarins, applesauce, and granola bars) and enjoyed our rest while we waited for the others.

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Yup, gotta get all the way up there!

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Mt. Hood, Bonneville Dam, and the Bridge of the Gods in the distance…

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Might be hard to see, but Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Saint Helens made appearances in this view.

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The others made it to the top about an hour later and we chatted while they had THEIR lunches and then we all began the descent together. Our hike ended up being a lollipop and we had a good time sliding with the scree on the way down.

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When we reached the fork where we parted ways, it was getting pretty late in the day and Jesse and I were losing daylight. We had about 7 miles left to go and so we ran.

Eventually we pulled out our headlamps and were reaching the end of our energy levels (and Jesse’s headlamp was reaching the end of its battery life) so we slowed to a brisk walk. We were about 3/4 of a mile from the car and encountered a hiker setting up his sleeping spot. He had “skipped town” and was “headed to Canada” he told us. He made me nervous.

Back at the car after a 10 hour day, I was stretching my legs out and I noticed glowing eyes in the bushes watching me. I was on edge already and was certain it was a mountain lion so I jumped in the car and and we sped away toward the city lights.

Brown’s Camp Loop – 9/27/15

I’m busy working on our Table Mountain adventure post (I am having some technical difficulties), but in the meantime, enjoy a recap from our Brown’s Camp Loop run/mountain bike from a few weekends ago.

I was the runner this day and Jesse was on his bike. The route was a figure 8 shape, totaling just under 17 miles in the beautiful Tillamook State Forest.

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Starting at Rogers Camp following the light green, yellow loop, then dark green.

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We went our separate ways and planned to meet at the car after a few hours. The trail began with a steady incline and after a few minutes I ended up catching up to Jesse!

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I had logged quite a few miles throughout the week and was feeling, well, weak. Around mile 5 I took a detour to have some snacks, rest, and see University Falls…

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Rockin’ the Princess Anna braids (I hated them the whole run)

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…and around mile 7 I gave up completely and returned to the car, making it an 8 mile day. Some runs are just plain lousy. At least it was a scenic walk back!

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Jesse, of course, had the car keys so I lounged on some big rocks, rehydrated, and enjoyed the sunshine (as much as I could over the roar of the dirtbikes and ATVs racing about). Jesse showed up just about the time I started getting cold – perfect timing!

Hood to Coast Relay – 8/28-8/29/15

“The Mother of All Relays” is what it is apparently called.

195 miles from the top of Mt. Hood the beach in Seaside. This time I was sans-husband and on a 12-person team (Joggers for Lagers!) and it wasn’t blistering hot like in Cascade Lakes (CLR). But it was still 30+ hours of teamwork, running, minimal sleep, cramped quarters, and other relay mischief.

Our team’s pre-race dinner was filled with prior Hood to Coast memories, carb-loading, and the usual jitters and anxiety that often presents itself the day before an event. Even though I was the newbie to the team, I was no longer a newbie to relays and was feeling relatively calm.

I was in Van #1 and our start time was 8:45 AM. This, for the record, is a late start. This is, also for the record, not good. Our team was not going to make it to the beach before the race closed down (similar to CLR) and Hood to Coast was unwilling to give us an earlier start time so our van was already nervous about our finish time before the event even began. To add insult to injury, we ended up start a half hour later due to some morning mishaps. But…so it goes. Off we went!

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A very bare Mt. Hood.

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Our team captain, starting things off!

The first few legs go down down down Mt. Hood. I love downhill running. Some runners despise it (Jesse being one of them) but I could run downhill for days. Sadly, I was awarded leg #5, which is the toughest of the whole event because not only does it boast the most miles, but because it also boasts the most climbing. Since I was pretty much the only one with hill training in me, I was it. Luckily, I was ready and I dominated those hills!

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I’m not even sure what’s going on in this photo!

My first leg was long and hilly, as expected. Once it turned off the highway, it went up through a beautiful forest part of the mountain and a sprint finish after all the climbing left me doubled over, out of breath, and feeling quite sick.

(I will say, however, it was clear EVERY TEAM puts their strongest runner on this leg. I was passed by many an elite runner, which can be spirit-crushing. But I had my own race to run. There was nothing I could do about it except accept their “good jobs” and “keep it ups” and “HOOD TO COAST 2015!!” cheers with a smile.)

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(Almost) our whole team, including Van #2

After our van finished our first set of legs, it was burrito and rest time for a few hours. We ended up at our place because we live on the east side and have 2 showers and I’ll admit, it was nice to be home. My team was beat from the early morning, the heat of the runs, and the runs themselves but I was bursting with energy! I was secretly sad everyone was napping! But…fair enough.

After a few hours, we headed to downtown Portland to exchange with van two and start our second set of legs. It was night time by then but the exchange point under the Hawthorne Bridge was a huge party! I loved the energy and the glow from the city. I loved the runners and the costumes and the teamwork. This was one of the highlights of the event for me.

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Jessi exchanges to Will!

My second leg was about 7 miles of flat pavement; complete with a thunder and lightning show. We knew the weather would turn gray and gloomy, but the storm turned worse than expected. It got windy and it got rainy. Not just a little Portland rain but a massive downpour with gale force winds (it got up to 90 mph on the coast). In short? The perfect running weather. Standing at the exchange point waiting for my runner, I was shivering. I had just spilled a few, um, liters of water on my pants trying to fill up a water bottle in the van and the wind was chill-ay! I had my favorite pink running jacket on to help cut the wind out and when I was finally able to run, I took off at a sprint to try to generate heat. About two blocks down, naturally, I was overheating. I stopped at the bar and asked the woman drinking and smoking to help me peel my jacket off. She told me to sit down and have a beer! “I’d puke!” I laughed, so she kindly invited me back the next day for one. Thanks, but no thanks!

This run was lonely for me. It was pitch black and pretty boring (besides the storm in the distance). I passed a few people, a few MORE people passed me, and the 7 miles went by so slowly. I was running strong, but still was pretty much over it. I met my partner at the exchange and headed to the van where everyone was snoozing. It was around 1 AM at this point.

After runner 6 was done, we found the sleeping field and were able to catch a few hours of sleep. Usually the runners will lay down tarps on the grass and bring sleeping bags – but this year it was raining so much that it wasn’t really possible to sleep outside. Two of my team members slept in a hay shed and the rest of us curled up in the car. Not ideal, but it seemed to do the trick. We woke up around 6:30 AM and were off again!

One funny thing about the whole event was that from our very first exchange up on Mt. Hood, our timing was exactly aligned with the Honey Bucket maintenance guys at every stop. We were often grateful to see them because having fresh Porta-Potties becomes something to look forward to during an event like this, but it came at a smelly, smelly cost!

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A stormy exchange point

In between runner 3 and 4 we were waiting at the exchange point, fighting the rain and wind in the food tents. It was brilliant; they had breakfast for us! With coffee, hot chocolate, biscuits and gravy, oatmeal, chili dogs, muffins…this became crucial to my success in my last leg I believe. But while we were waiting there, a fire broke out near the course and a crisis ensued as fire trucks raced in the direction of our runner! This event was because more and more stressful by the minute! Luckily everyone was safe, but it was awfully dramatic!

My third leg was glorious. It is one of the prettiest road runs I’ve ever done in my life. There was a hill (my teammates made a make-shift “finish line” out of toilet paper for me at the top) and then there was miles of downhill. My favorite. I snapped a selfie (which I was later poked fun at by a guy who passed me), snapped a few shaky photos of the scenery, and just enjoyed myself. It was raining like mad and I was so happy! That’s the thing about the rain – the anticipation of being in it is dreadful. But…it can only get you wet once!

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Van traffic = the worst

I could have run for hours on that leg. I was sad it was over.

And just like that, Hood to Coast WAS over. Our van decided that since the beach was closed due to the wind and the finish line was moved to a hotel, they didn’t want to wait around for van 2 to finish and so we had some lunch to recap and headed back to Portland.

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The next day, Jesse and I did a recovery bike ride in Forest Park; 22 muddy miles. I was slow and a bit tired, but was enjoying the fall weather!

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Cascade Lakes Relay – 7/31-8/1/2015

For the past two years, Jesse has run in the Cascade Lakes Relay on the ultra team and for 2015 I was ready to join. We signed up way back when from Australia and put it out of our minds, knowing it was going to be two grueling, miserable, Type II fun days of running, driving, supporting, rinse and repeat. But I wanted the experience and, well, I got what I wanted.

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The way relays work is a team of runners (usually 12) have two vans and alternate running legs of the race. Cascade Lakes begins at Diamond Lake and ends in Bend for a total of 216 miles. Our ultra team had only 6 runners and 1 van, so each of us ran between 33-40 miles in total.

Somehow the event snuck up on us, as race days do. It was a crazy busy week for me, having a mid-term and two quizzes due, two full-day meetings on Mt. Hood for work, and needing to drive the 4.5 hours to the starting line the night before, it was full-on starting that Monday!

We camped with friends on Thursday night and were at the starting line at 5:45 AM.

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Hello darkness, my old friend..

Diamond Lake is pretty at sunrise..and also chilly! We were all shivering but were saving our complaints for the heat that would come later in the day. Jesse was runner #5 and I was runner #6 so we weren’t going to be running for hours. In our downtime we would support our teammate who was on the course, support other runners who needed a hose down, water, ice, and general encouragement, or we were driving or eating. I thought it would be pretty slow paced during the non-running times, but we actually stayed quite busy!

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Abe exchanges to Matt...

Abe exchanges to Matt…

My first leg was terrible. It was along a gravel road in the heat of the day and the team vans would drive by, stirring up dust, making it difficult to both see and breathe. I was relatively slow and felt exhausted already. There were some course mixups about where vans were parked and where the runners would exchange, making for a confusing delay with my teammate, but it was quickly sorted and he took off. At the exchange between me, runner 6, and Lee, runner 1, were also the major exchange points for teams with 12 runners / 2 vans so it was always chaos at my exchange.

Team photo in the van!

Team photo in the van while Lee runs!

John exchanges to Jesse after a miserable leg with no water...

John exchanges to Jesse after a miserable leg with no water…

My second leg was my best performance of the relay. It was in the early evening along the highway and I felt strong. A young guy passed me early in the leg and paced me the rest of the way – though I almost caught him, as he stopped to walk several times! I became grateful for him and his team; I was never far behind him and they would wait to support me with a spraydown and encouragement before moving on to their next pit stop point. I had a beautiful sprint finish to a giant crowd of runners resting in a tiny southern Oregon town at sunset – that always feels good!

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A couple hours later, I was dozing in the back of the van. We had to run all through the night and I knew staying awake for 30+ hours straight was not going to be possible for me. I think I caught about an hour and a half total. But, oddly, it seemed to be enough. Where I was mostly lacking was in nutrition. It was too hot to eat, or I felt too sick. My body engaged survival mode and that’s pretty much what carried me through…

Leg 3 for me was around 3 AM. It was pitch black and chilly. It was hilly. It was spooky. It was beautiful. Every now and then I’d see a bobbing headlamp in the distance but for the most part I was running alone. Again, I felt strong (which my stats later told me I was freaking slow, but at least I felt good!). This was the leg I was most afraid of and it turned out to be one of my better ones. I got lucky with this leg because my other team members had to run along gravel, fighting dust and insects. I was on pavement and was grateful.

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Matt exchanges to John early morning…

Leg 4 was brutal. The leg itself was fairly easy – I should have rocked it. I was just in a bad spot, physically. We had just stopped for gas and some McDonald’s breakfast and my sides hurt from my orange juice. It was only 8 AM and it was already hot outside. Although the sweet ladies at the church let us use a flushing toilet and running water, my spirits were down. My toes were blistered. This leg was rolling and I was being passed left and right. I had my team stop about every mile and half just for some encouragement. Near the end of my leg I could see them just ahead, Jesse was waiting for me with water at the top of a hill. As I reached him, I said “This is what’s f**ked up about this sport. I’m hating it right now, I’m miserable. But registration for the Silver Falls Half in November just opened – take my phone and sign us up before it gets full!” And just like that, mid-race, we entered another. Masochism.

I finished leg 4 with a sprint, in race mode with a guy coming up behind me quickly. We’ll say it was a tie.

In between leg 4 and leg 5, we were waiting for Matt to come along and were able to dip our feet (and heads!) in a beautiful creek. I could have sat in that water for hours – it was chilly, refreshing, and just what we needed. Some guys who were there wanting to fish were confused about why we would run 200+ miles with no sleep and we were all too exhausted to explain it to him so we just smiled weakly saying “We know, crazy right?”. Except…I think at the end of the day, with no exhaustion as an excuse, that’s still the truth.

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We were tired. Do we look tired?

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Matt deserves some ice water!

Matt deserves some ice water!

Leg 5 was a beast. It was my shortest leg, but the hottest. Depending on the information source, it was somewhere between 96-106 degrees out. I was running up Mt. Bachelor along the highway and felt like I was melting. I had switched over to my trail shoes to help with the blisters but it really came down to heat exhaustion. Our van would stop every mile and dump ice water on my head and I got ice from another kind van a few times to just hold in my mouth. The whole race needed to be over at that point. It was almost dangerous for all the runners to endure that heat. At that exchange for me, Lee took off running and we were told we were behind schedule and weren’t going to make the race cutoff so we were going to have to put more than one runner on the course at a time. We all kicked into overdrive and the adventure began.

John exchanges to Jesse for the

John exchanges to Jesse for the “costume leg”! (Hence the horse…)

After leg 5 - soaked and looking forward to this Dr. Pepper!

After leg 5 – soaked and looking forward to this Dr. Pepper!

We drove past Lee and dropped off Abe for her final leg. We drove ahead and dropped off Matt for his final leg. We went back and picked up Lee (poor Lee had no one to cheer for him as he finished his race!), passed Abe and gave her support, passed Matt and gave him support, then dropped off John for his final leg. We then backtracked to pick up Abe (she freaking rocked her time trial up the hill! That girl is seriously strong!) then picked up Matt. We drove ahead and dropped me off, then the van dropped Jesse off and picked up John. They then picked up Jesse and drove to meet me at the finish line. Whew!

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Go Abe! (With a beautiful, yet bare, Mt. Bachelor in the background)

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Matt finishes his portion of CLR 2015. Our rockstar team captain.

This is where I got sad. I was finishing off the relay, it was mostly downhill coming into town. A quick 10K. Should take just over an hour, right? As luck would have it, I got lost and added a mile to my run! A van was parked in front of the sign for runners to turn and I missed it, continuing down a gravel road by myself. It was not usual to be running alone so I didn’t think much of it until a van approached me and said I was going the wrong way! Upset, tired, and confused, I hopped in their van and they drove me back. A woman I passed earlier was part of the walking team and I walked with her for a while. She became my strength in that leg. Inspirational, funny, and generally casual, I enjoyed my time with her while I calmed my nerves and my body.

An adorable family had strung a hose from their house to the course to spray off runners and they hade Gatorade and water available. Everyone was so grateful at the support from the community – runners and non-runners were incredible. Runs like this one just aren’t possible without them. After seeing them, I said good bye to my friend and took off running for the end.

I reached the finish line at long last and my team crossed it with me. I wanted to cry for being lost, for being late, for being slow, for sleeping that hour and a half, for being strong, for being brave, for being tired…but mostly for being done. It was hard. And it was over.

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After some laying around in the grass, some team photos, and cleaning out the van, Jesse and I started driving home. This was not a good idea, we both knew. We made it about an hour and a half…just until dark…and pulled over somewhere on Mt. Hood for a nap. That nap took 4 hours. We drove the last hour and a half home, arriving around 4 AM. After runs like that, showers last at least 30 minutes and sleeping trumps eating every time.

Until the next day – then no food is safe!

Jesse claims he is done with relays. I have Hood to Coast coming up the end of August (on a 12 person team this time) and it’ll be interesting to compare the two. It’s social and it’s about the teamwork, but I also like an event that’s just my own. I guess that’s what Silver Falls in November will be, right!? ;]