Tag Archives: Ultrarunning

The Lonely Road of the UltraRunner

I read lots of articles daily about running, as I am a person who has sole focus when I commit to a thing.  Articles about hill training, or long runs, or pacing, strength training, about doping, and all sorts of other things that make up our wonderful sport.  But few on what happens when you really commit yourself to a training plan and a desire to excel in a field.  What happens when your training plan no longer allows you to just show up and run with your local running group because you have an important workout the day that they all meet, and the usual 5-6 mile jaunt through the woods isn’t what’s on your plan for the day?  Want the real world truth?

Solitude.

Solitude is what happens.  If its an LSD it can be hours alone with your thoughts.  Perhaps if its a speed workout you’re brain is too occupied trying to remember how many laps you have done in the mile repeat, and then how many mile repeats you have just completed, oh… and don’t forget keeping an eye on that pace/split you are supposed to hit.  In reality those brain occupying, pain inducing workouts are becoming somewhat of a relief to my over-thinking solitary brain.

Do I miss my social running buddies, yes.  Do I feel guilty when I show up at coffee or a morning run on a rare day that I don’t have an important workout and I am greeted with “where have you been,” “you do still exist”–of course.  Do I wish I could be everywhere and have everything– don’t we all?  Instead I have traded in my early morning social runs (so I am not a night time zombie and can actually have a conversation with my husband) for mid morning runs–or even sometimes sneaking in an after work run.  I have prioritized getting adequate sleep, and recovery (and of course work and family.)   And yes, I miss you all!

Do I regret this?  Not really.  I’m not driven by overstretching myself and trying to squeeze everything in.  I don’t feel compelled to give into the societal pressure that tells me I need to do everything, please everyone.   I realize I cant.   When I’m all in- I’m all in.  I’m a person that when I choose to focus on something important to me I am able to let go of regrets.  I realize that most of my life is a consequence of choices I make, and the rest I can’t control–so what is there to regret?

I thrive on single minded-ness.  When I have a few things on my plate that I put as much of myself into that I can.  And I do.  Spreading myself thin doesn’t make me satisfied.  I don’t want to be a jack of all trades, I want to be a master of few things that are important to me.  So right now running, running fast, and uninjured is my free time desire so my single minded-ness has altered my journey onto a path of solitude — for the moment.

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New Favorite Hyrdration Pack

My first introduction to the Hydraquiver was back in January at Little River Trail Run, a race that my trail running community hosts.  I was there organizing packet pickup, which meant I could also run the race as well.  This year I ran with my dad and sister, excited for their first trail race!

Anyway, as we crossed the line and headed down the finisher’s shoot I noticed a pack I had never seen before.  Out of curiosity I had to ask her what and where she bought her unusual pack.  I have seen hand held bottles, bottles carried around one’s waist, and even a few in front pockets of racing vests…this one was a bottle right in the middle of her back, just between her shoulder blades.  I asked about it, and she insisted she loved it.  She had gotten it as a Christmas present from a friend who lived out west.

This sort of seemed to be the answer to my hydration pack search.  I always race with a bottle, its so easy to open and refill, I can use it as a cup in a pinch, and if I am breathing heavy I can squirt it into my mouth.  During most races there are aid stations every handful of miles, so typically I don’t need to carry several liters, plus I am small, and several liters of water on my back tends to throw me off my gait.  I like to have my hands free too.  I had a Nathan pack that clips around my waist, but my actual waist is above my belly button.  This causes me gastro-intestial problems from time to time, not to mention that if I want anything from the pack I have to try to spin it around, and usually have to take it off.  I have tried larger bottles in the waist pack, but they all felt cumbersome, and seemed to through off my center of balance, leaving me with lower back pain.

Several months passed, I poked around online, trying to find a local retailer close to Chapel Hill.  Since I couldn’t find one, I just decided to take the plunge and buy one.  So for my birthday in May, you can guess what I asked for.  The single bottle HydraQuiver came just as my training for Bighorn Wild and Scenic Race was ramping up.

Let me preface this, its HOT in June in North Carolina, and we don’t have mountains within a 3 hour drive from my house, so I spend time at the UNC stadium bounding up and down stairs.  The stadium tends to convect the hot summer sun, so I need to hydrate to stay cool.  The HydraQuiver was perfect.   The stadium is roughly 4 miles from my house so I would run there, run the stadium for a few hours, and then back home.  The shoulder pockets seems small, but expand large enough to hold my phone and a bar on one side, and then some salt tablets and more bars on the other side.  There is a pocket in the back that has a clip for your keys, and can hold a map, arm warmers, and gloves.  I also find that a nice ice pack fits in there quite nicely as well….perfect in the summer!

At first glance, when I saw that the straps wrap directly under my armpits, I thought perhaps it would chafe, or pinch, or annoy me, but the material they are made of and the flexibility of the pack doesn’t allow for any of those annoyances.  Even in a sleeveless shirt I experienced no chafing.  One would also assume that it would bounce, but somehow it sits just right in between my shoulder blades which allows my core to rotate so I can properly cycle through my gait….no bouncing and very minimal sloshing.  The bottle wedges into the pack quite nicely, even while launching myself face first downhill it didn’t pop out of the pack when I made contact with the ground…ouch, that left a mark!  The lack of strap across my core also makes breathing feel less restricted than some other hydration systems.

HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2The HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2 is the newest addition to the Orange Mud hydration line.  Two bottles, and two extra pockets make this vest go the distance.   I borrowed one for an overnight run and wore it for part of the run.   It was a bit heavy for me, full of water it weighed 10 lbs (close to 10% of my weight and was just too heavy to carry for an 8 hour training run.)
All in all, the single bottle HydraQuiver has been serving me well on all my runs and in all my races this summer.  I have been wearing it since May and have nothing but good things to say about the pack.