Posted by Anne "Pocket" Rock, Specialty Sales & Marketing Coordinator
I've been riding and racing bikes since the days before suspension forks, clipless pedals, and Lance went from hero to zero. To paraphrase Dr. McCoy, "Dammit Jim, I'm a cyclist, not a runner!"
It's taken me a while to adjust to my status as a runner. Indeed, I'd developed the habit of telling people I was going for a "ride" when I meant run. Or that Nathan made hydration gear that "riders" love.
In a moment of collegial spirit mixed with a dash of lunacy, I agreed to participate with some Nathan folks in the Hyner View Trail Challenge.
It didn't sound too daunting when I planned to participate in this 25K trail ride that had 4200' of climbing and a few creek crossings. Except that it wasn't a ride. It was a run. And I was terrified.
It's not the dumbest thing I've agreed to do. From 24 Hour Mountain Bike races to Cyclocross racing in a city junkyard, I've signed up for some crazy business.
I had completed one 11K trail race the previous summer. My longest run to date was 11.7 miles with 1400' of climbing. I'd raced mountain bikes in central PA before and had a vague understanding of what I'd signed up for. I figured I'd better either start training or developing schemes to weasel out of this mistake.
So on a sunny April Saturday, I lined up with 999 runners to embark on a 5 ¬Ω hour death march. (The winner, incidentally, smashed the course record and finished in 2 hours and 10 minutes).
The ordeal remains mostly a blur punctuated by occasional bouts of pain, terror and laughter.
I thought about the difference between this running event and similar endurance cycling events. For starters, there were very few spots along the 16+ miles that could accommodate a mountain bike. The trails were too steep, the turns too severe and the terrain too technical.
Endurance mountain bike racing usually leaves me shelled early, dropped from the group, to suffer alone. At Hyner, I was usually with other runners, often sandwiched between them on climbs. I found the proximity to so many suffering soles (and souls) comforting. We were one big team facing an unforgiving foe-the trail.
Being on foot allowed me to chat with lots of interesting folks who shared secrets, inspirational quips, and advice. I wasn't isolated and in my head which happens to me in mountain biking. I didn't worry about being hampered by mechanicals-flat tires, broken chains, snapped derailleurs-instead the only thing that could break was me.
For five and a half hours I'd cursed my predicament and couldn't believe my joy at finishing Hyner. Five minutes later I was already plotting how I would approach this epic ride. Run. Whatever.
This weekend I'm going on a bike run. Or a trail ride. Whatever I do, it will be outside.