Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cascade Lakes Relay 2010 - Got Altimeter?

Picture, if you will, taking the Hood to Coast relay and adding ~20 miles, a few thousand feet of elevation, 15 or 20 degrees in both the maximum and minimum temperatures, and about a half-million hungry mosquitoes. Center the 216.6-mile northward route on La Pine Oregon, and you would have the Cascade Lakes Relay, an event I had the privilege to experience over the last couple of days.

In pure running terms, the story of this relay is told in terms of elevation and elevation profiles. We quickly realized that running in elevation is, well, difficult, and when combined with heat, bright sun, and very dry air, it is, well, more difficult. After the first set of legs, everyone on the team reported a tightness in the chest, a feeling of a cough that wanted to get out, but it was really (we think) an effect of our having to work harder than normal to get the air they need.

Here is my first leg, leg 9 (7.0 miles), which I finished in 54:59 (7:51 min/mile pace). This one began at around 7pm with the temperature still above 80, but fortunately, because the sun was getting lower on the horizon, there was a fair amount of shade along the way. I could have done without the gusty headwind on his one, and more than that,  I would have been pleased to do without the long, straight, shadeless stretch where I was moving due east, casting a long shadow and growing more and more convinced that the sun had drawn closer to the earth or that the Fahrenheit scale had been changed such that "80 degrees" was what we used to call "90 degrees."

Below is leg 21 (6.4 miles), which I finished in 44:04 (6:53 min/mile pace). I began this one at around 5:30am, with the thermometer showing 41 degrees. Sure enough, it's almost completely downhill -- albeit with what felt like considerably more uphill than this chart shows -- so if you're one of those runners who loves the downhill running, this is a good leg for you.  I am not one of those runners who favors downhill running -- running downhill at speed only makes me wonder how soon I am going to destroy my shins:

Lastly, here is leg 33 (5.5 miles), which I completed in 39:24 (7:10 min/mile pace) -- again, more downhill than uphill, but as little as I enjoyed downhill running in leg two at 5:30am, I enjoyed it even less in leg three at around 2pm when the temperature had climbed to around 75 and rising quickly. With that said, I did enjoy the last 3/4 mile, which shows on this as a steady decline, and in so-called reality, consists of a last turn in the road looking straight down to what I could see was the finish line. For that last stretch I ran as fast as I possibly could, knowing it would be the last running I would have to do for a while, and therefore knowing I wouldn't need my shins anyway:

So we finished in good health and good spirits, and it was a great challenge and a great event. As an organized event, I can't say enough about the volunteers and race officials we encountered all along the way. Everyone -- I mean every single person without exception -- I spoke with along the way was not just polite, but nice, patient, generous, and understanding. The volunteers for an event like this have duties that most people would run away from -- for example, stand at a particular intersection for four or six hours in the middle of the night to direct runners and vans around a corner, or stay at a leg exchange at a spot along a lonely country road to serve as traffic director, rules enforcer, and general-purpose herder of sweaty, confused people. Without the volunteers, an event like this would be unthinkable, and with merely average volunteers, it could easily become chaotic. These volunteers and organizers were excellent, and we participants owe them our sincerest thanks for making it such an enjoyable experience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

proud to call you brother! love