Run Me to Death
A wild run helps the author rediscover the joy of trail running
One Friday afternoon at work at the Fleet Feet store in Bend, Oregon, I mentioned to my boss, Rod Bien, ...
Illustration by Kevin Howdeshell
One Friday afternoon at work at the Fleet Feet store in Bend, Oregon, I mentioned to my boss, Rod Bien, about plans for an 18-mile trail run the next day.
"Hey! I'm doing 20 up at Smith Rock tomorrow. Why don't you join me?" Rod replied excitedly.
Oh crap. I consider myself a decent runner, but definitely a mere mortal compared to Rod Bien, a professional ultrarunner who has finished over 50 ultramarathons, including two sub-20-hour finishes at the prestigious Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. Perhaps more impressive is that he once ran 30 miles one day and another 20 miles the next day ... on a treadmill.
My legs went rubbery at the thought of trying to keep up with this endurance fiend for 20 fast miles, but I was afraid to turn him down. I searched my mind for a believable excuse before blurting, "Uh, it may be too ambitious for me to run that far with you."
"What? Come on!" Rod said, which is runner-speak for, "What are you, a wuss?"
My fate was sealed. That night, while packing my gear for the run that would surely kill me, I grabbed my maximum-caffeine energy gels, figuring I needed every possible advantage. Lying in bed that night, my mind ran through various hypothetical scenarios, none of them good.