TriJake Runs Bear Brook Ultra Trail
My alarm went off at 2:30am in Natick, Massachusetts and I was scheduled to be on the road by 3:00am. My destination was Allenstown, New Hampshire almost 2 hours away. The goal was to conquer a famous rocky trail known as the Big Little Bear. When I first visited the website for the Bear Brook Ultra the distance read 27+. “My kind of race,” I thought to myself. In my mind, the people that organize the race aren’t exactly sure how far the distance is, it would prove to be a relaxed and fun day of running. I love small venue races, I always have since I ran some of the bigger one’s. I prefer a field of 300 runners. Usually events like this bring out some characters. I don’t mean characters like the folks that dress up like Elvis and toe the line in Vegas, oh wait, yes I do. Fun loving, crazy racers that simply enjoy a little pain and struggle in their Saturday mornings. At any rate, I was on the road by 3:00am, headed north, with all my supplies necessary to complete a 30 mile race. I assumed the plus after 27 was about 2 or 3 miles, and I was right.
So, what do I bring to an event like this? Not much, believe it or not 30 miles of running for me only requires 120 ounces of water and 5 power gels. I could get away with only bringing two water bottles because I knew there would be several aid stations to fill up my water supply. I was rocking the Ultimate Direction Katoa belt. As far as hydration belts go, in my opinion, it’s the best. I was also rocking Altra Paradigm shoes, red one’s, because that’s how I roll. The Paradigm’s are awesome for support and durability, they also are very light and pliable. The secret weapon under the shoes were my new performance Injinji toe socks. They are like gloves for your feet. Since switching I have not had a blister and I feel confident they are the most durable toe sock on the market. Another piece of equipment I recommend is shoe gaitors to cover your shoes and keep out sticks, rocks, and excess water. Aside from that, Headsweat visor, clean linen towel, and scotch tape for my nipples.
If I can stress anything to you about running great distances over tough, technical terrain, it’s prepare yourself with the right equipment. Find what works for you in your training and then stick to your plan.
Shoe gaitors are very important and should not be looked at as a “luxury” item, or something that you are so tough you can over look. Find a pair that fit’s you well, and remember, if the best of the best use them, they probably have benefits for you too.
I was cruising north on I-93 and listening to a mix of Springsteen and Seger. I drank a protein shake and was killing water. I hit the race site at 5:30am and people were already there, applying body glide and warming up. I checked in, got my number, and went to relax before the race started. That consisted of a half mile trail jog, some dynamic plyometric jumping, and a quick nap. At the start of the race I exchanged pleasantries with a handful of racers, there seemed to have been 60 of us, but I think the rest were behind the cars. LOL, I told you, I love small market races. “READY! SET! GO!”, screamed Ryan Welts. We were off. I felt great. Calm, composed, and confident. The racers were halted by a 900 foot accent about a mile down the trail, but I had been training since Bear Mountain, and scurried up the mountain side with ease, passing many, but the real gift of my trail training the past 2 months came on the descents. I flew down the mountain face passing several others. We were 5 miles in and I felt great. I ignored the urge to go too fast, and maintained a steady, but quick pace. The race was very pretty, and very well marked. I had no major problems, but I did fall twice. The first fall came in a swamp area, I was alone and popped back up with a chuckle. I was covered in swamp water, but was not injured. The second fall was on a big descent. My left foot caught a rock and I flew. I fell well, landing on my side. My hamstring jumped into my glute, I didn’t let it give me grief, and a couple girls were behind me to help me to my feet. I thought to myself, “If that’s the worst, I’ll be just fine.” It was, I danced at every aid station. Maintained a steady 11 minute mile pace, clocked out mileage just shy of 30 miles. I was happy to cross the line in 5 hours and 37 minutes. Injury free and high spirits I slapped high-fives and ordered a double cheeseburger with a cold rootbeer.
No medal at the end….even better, a small jar of honey. I love these things. They are the coolest. I hope this experience will prove helpful to you in your journey of trail running. If you want more, schedule a session with me at TriJake.com.