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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Only Insane People Do This

I’m not running the Harding Hustle ultra at the end of this month, nor did I plan to.  I did however do the Harding Hustle training run this morning.

Why?  Oh, I don’t know.  The camaraderie?   Perhaps.  Emmett was going to be there.  And he was bringing my Hashtravaganza t-shirt.  That was a plus.  With my rolled ankle and a busy, busy work week, I haven’t run since my marathon last Sunday.  Heck, I just thought today was a good idea.  I’d get to sleep in, and the drive was easy.  Nervous about the late start (7 AM), relief settled in when I walked out the door to find the town socked-in.  We’ve been socked-in all week. 

I’m not a big fan of Harding Truck Trail.  It’s 9+ miles up, up, up with little or no shade. Still though, it’s gorgeous.  I saw my friend Emmett and his friend start up the mountain before the rest of us.  That’s when I thought, “I’m outa here.”  I needed all the extra time I could get.  Then my friend Chris saw me take off and I presume thought the same thing.  He was by my side within seconds, and we ran the first five miles together.  I was glad for his company.  His conversation kept my mind off “this fresh hell,” called Harding Truck Trail. 

Actually, the morning was lovely.  Yes, the climb was hard.  But it was the good kind of hard.  The accomplishment kind of hard. Then when Chris turned around, I was on my own for a while, still climbing up.  The words that raced through my mind were, “Only insane people do this!”  And don’t they?  I mean if you do this, you have to admit you are insane.  And if you read this, and want to do this, you are insane as well. 

Running Harding TT out-and-back 6-8-2013, Elevation

RD Jessica says a few words to the group:

Chris points out some interesting geological happenings:

Running above the clouds, it heats up some:

Continuing upwards after my company leaves, up ahead, another Harding Hustle trainer (a.k.a insane person):

Normally, my pack doesn’t hold enough fluids to run around 19 miles, especially mountain miles.  Call me stupid, because it was a stupid call, but I thought the cool weather at home would be my saving grace.  After 7 miles up, I knew that I was going to run low.  The downhill though, 9+ miles of downhill wouldn’t need much water. 

I saw Emmett and another runner running down from “Four Corners,” and they told me about a little bit of water that was waiting at the top.  Relieved to finally reach “Four Corners,” I chugged down the remaining water from a jug sitting in the shade.  (I was the last one up the mountain anyhow, no one else would need it after me.)  After a few pictures, I took in some calories and headed down for the trip back. 

I enjoyed some shade at first.  I also enjoyed the lovely flowers and a bounty of butterflies fluttering about.  Relieved that the bumble bees didn’t bother me, I still gave them a cautious eye. 

A cool breeze blew here and there.  I continued drinking when I needed to.  At about mile 11.5, all shade disappeared. 

I tried to hold off a little on the fluids.  But in the end, I decided it was better to drink up now than to pass out now, with water still on my back.  With 5 miles remaining, I was finally out of water.  I continued on running, anxious to get back to the truck where a couple gallons of water awaited me. 

With 3 miles remaining, I saw some hikers with their dog up a ways.  At 1.5 miles remaining, I ran up behind them.  As I passed, the woman (named Marilyn) commented to her brother (Michael) about all the lovely bird chirpings.  She said, “There must be a water source near by.”

To this, I held out my arms and jokingly said, “WHERE . . . ?“

That’s when Michael asked if I needed water.  With a hydration pack strapped to his back, he reached into another bag and handed me a fresh bottle of water.  Can you believe my luck!  I thanked them profusely and ran upward, the one uphill on the way back, drinking that water.  Not twenty-five feet away from the brother and sister hiking team, heat exhaustion, or perhaps the beginnings of dehydration hit.  And it hit like a brick wall.  I felt like I was going to fall to the ground.  I needed to lay down.  All I could think about was causing a spectacle.  I didn’t want to do that to the couple behind me.  So, I slowly lowered myself to the ground.  And I sat.  I had a smile on my face and assured Michael and Marilyn that I would be fine.  After a few minutes, I stood up to prove it.  And man!  I was gonna go down again, so lightheaded was I.  Instead, I leaned over holding my thighs, breathing hard.   I tried to walk onward.  But I couldn’t.  Again, I was back holding my thighs, feeling like I might pass out.  That’s when the two, very kind strangers decided they weren’t leaving.  “Lauren,” Marilyn said, “You’re going to stay with us the remainder of the way.” 

She handed me her walking sticks and we progressed onward.  I had to stop every few minutes and hold myself up so that I wouldn’t fall to the ground.  Michael handed me cold chocolates with orange gel filling.  I ate two of them.  Using the walking sticks, I finally gave them up because gripping the poles only made my hands numb.  Within about a half mile, I could see the parking lot.  I felt A LOT better.  Still, I remained hiking, chatting away with the two about local trails.  Thank God for Michael and Marilyn.  Without them, I would have surely lay down in the road, perhaps passing out.  Without their water, I would have not been able to make it back to the truck. 

It’s humbling to take the aid of strangers.  I hope that I can pay back another stranger some day.  Thank you Michael and Marilyn.  What a day.  Another lesson learned (again and again!).

Total miles run today: 18.77

Total elevation gain: 4,266’


  1. Glad there were good samaritans to help. I've had a few trails lessons learned the hard way. You made it back safely and that's all that counts. Stay strong!!!

    1. Don't you just love good samaritans Hank? I hope that I can repay them by helping others the same way. Thanks for reading.

  2. I have under estimated my water needs on some long trail runs with no access to water in the heat and humidity of the south. Not a good situation.
    Love the climb. Wished I had it in my backyard. Insane we are. Anything different would be a less exciting life.

    1. I agree Thomas. This is a good kind of insane. Relatively safe. I hate it though when I under-estimate water needs. That's why I'm a water stasher. I constantly stash water in the mountains. Thing was, I wasn't on my usual trails.

  3. Scary! I'm glad those angels were on the trail!

    1. Thanks Allison. Funny thing was, I was sooo reluctant to take their help. And they were so friendly and unwilling to leave me. True angels.