Each weekend as my Wife and I train for our ultra marathon, we search for a nearby trail to run. After all, the ultra will be a trail race, so it is only fitting that we do our Saturday long runs on trails. I have meant to document each long run we do on this blog, but I have gotten behind. We have run several trails already, but the most treacherous thus far has been the mountain bike trails at Clear Springs Recreational Area. There are several trails here, but only one was open, Richardson Creek Trail – a 10 mile loop in the Homochitto National Forest.
As I ran this trail, the one thought that kept recurring in my mind was, “how the heck do people ride bikes here?”. The trail was very narrow, and in some places very close to very steep drop-offs. There were a great many wet spots, as it rains frequently here in Mississippi, which we tried mostly to avoid. The course was extremely hilly. Everything that I have read about ultra running suggests that one should walk up hills rather than running. There were so many up hills on this trail that I’m not sure that I could even call what I was doing running (I’m exaggerating, of course). As we finished the loop, my wife turned to go on the trail again, and I said, “No! I want no more of that! We’re doing the last three miles on the roads!”.
Now, all of that is not to paint a bad picture of this trail. It was quite scenic, and definitely a fun challenge. I’d like to be able to say how we did, as far as time and pace, but both of our phones died before we finished. We are not seasoned trail runners by any means, and I’m sure that once we get the hang of it, we’ll come to appreciate trails like this more and more.
I’ve been using these long runs as test beds for nutrition and hydration strategies. On our 12-miler at Bogue Chitto State Park, I finished the run absolutely famished, to the point of actually shaking. I’ve never felt so terrible. I know that this was due to improper fueling, so for this run, I decided to make sure to bring along some food. I emptied my 5.11 Tactical Rush 12 backpack, and packed in it my 2 liter hydration bladder, 2 granola bars, and 2 of these soft peanut butter granola bar-esque things (package said they had 240 calories). Additionally, in the bottle holder on my backpack, I packed my Nathan water bottle filled with Powerade (I prefer Gatorade, but some gas stations only have one or the other).
In addition to drinking water from my hydration bladder at each mile, we stopped at the one hour mark and ate the soft granola thing and drank some sports drink. At the 9 mile mark, we ate the granola bars and had some more sports drink. This proved to work out pretty well. At the end of the run, I did not feel terribly hungry nor did I feel nearly as bad as I did at our previous week’s run. My wife won’t eat much while running. She seems to do fine, though. Perhaps the fact that she weighs 60 pounds less than me means she needs less fuel while running.
The only other lesson I learned is that I need to make sure I charge my phone adequately if I want to map my runs with it 🙂