A minivan packed with tired and smelly runners, bananas, laughs and moans, bananas, delicious sandwich, energy balls, more bananas–there were lots of them. These are just a few good memories I have from an awesome experience I had in the fall of 2015. I took a part in a fun relay race that was a little over 200 miles long, had 12 people on a team and lasted a little over 30 hours to complete. My three legs totaled to about 20 miles.
I have always been a recreational runner. I ran cross-country from elementary school all the way through college. I wasn’t good enough to run competitively but I enjoyed running. I ran mostly 3K, 5K and occasional 10K distances. As you can see running 20 miles was a stretch for what I was used to.
I had a blast–we were hot, we were cold, we stunk, we bonded, we slept in a park once. Despite the cool experience, I told myself I will NOT run marathon (which I always wanted to take a shot at) or anything over 20 miles for the matter. Period.
Shortly, after making this promise to myself I met this guy who was full of life. He happened to be my neighbor that I lived close by for three years and didn’t know about. Sad, right? Do you know your neighbors? Get out and go get to know your neighbors!
One day we were in his back yard enjoying a conversation and watching our kids run around. “So… are you going to run 50K with me?” he said as I almost choked on my drink. The wheels started to turn. Trying to overcome the feeling of doubt in myself and the promise I had made, I said “Sure!” And it was on.
I had about six months to train for Cloudsplitter 100 50K and to learn a whole lot about trail running. My friend and I would run on our own during the week and would try to hit different trails together on the weekends. Beside some epic views and simply being out in nature, it was quite a bonding experience. My neighbor-friend is my brother now–we are like family.
If I try to describe my experience in great detail, this blog could turn into a book. In my family we like to play “High-Low” game at the dinner table. Every person takes a turn to tell the best part of their day (High) and the worst (Low). We start with the Low. So I am going to play this game here to give you a little taste of my experience.
My knees would be the Low. Did they hurt? Heck, yeah! Steep down hills were quite painful. I must have looked really funny coasting down on straight legs. Although, most of the down hills were so steep it was hard to run them. When I did run, it felt like a relief. “I’m glad to be running again” sounded on more than one occasion. That and “every step I take gets me closer to the finish line.”
Beside incredible vistas and the adrenaline rush, the High I would have to say is the camaraderie–an amazing time running with my friend and getting to know other runners and people involved in the event as well. When you are on the trail for nine hours you have time to get to know people–as you run, at the aid stations, before and after the race.
Running over 30 miles with almost 9,000 feet of total ascent is no joke and one needs to be well prepared for such event. Having experienced this myself, I would like to share with you the gear I used that got me through the harsh terrain of Pine Mountain. I hope novice trail runners like me would find this helpful.
Most of the items below were purchased on Sierra Trading Post at a bargain price. There is no need to break your wallet–save your money for race entry fees. I have to mention that a lot of merchandise on Sierra Trading Post is closeouts and older models so the gear I list below may not be available anymore, but you can find similar items.
- Shoes: Salamon X-Mission 3 Trail Running Shoes
- Shorts: Marmot Stride Shorts – UPF 30 (For Men)
- Compression Shorts: Terramar Body Sensors® Compression Shorts
- Shirt: Nike Dryfit t-shirt (it is about 15 years old and has a sentimental value)
- Socks: SmartWool PhD V2 Run Ultralight Socks
- Hydration Pack: Gregory Tempo 5L Hydration Pack – 70 fl.oz.
- Water Bottle: Hydrapack SoftFlask Collapsible Sports Bottle – 12 fl.oz.
- Anti-chafing protection: Body Glide®
- Nutrition: Tailwind® Nutrition
- Head wear: 2010 World Equestrian Games Hat (I got this one while volunteering at the event. Go volunteer somewhere to get you one)
I hope this helps and inspires you to get out there. On to the next adventure!…