Imagine getting into your car and driving to a trailhead. Simple enough. Now imagine opening your car door and stepping into the dirt. You inhale the crisp, piney forest air. Maybe you stretch a little. And then you start to run.
And you don’t stop moving for the next 15 hours.
On Saturday ambassador Gina Middaugh, @happytrigirl, ran 50 trail miles with more than 11,000 feet of climbing and descent over the course of 15 hours. But apparently, she had more running to do. On Sunday morning at 6:15 am, she got up and ran another 50 kilometers. Want to know the craziest part? This isn’t the first time she’s done this. It wasn’t even her second. It was her third time running the infamous Squamish 50/50. Gina is the first woman to run the back-to-back distances on three different occasions. To date, there are only four individuals in the history of the race that have completed the Squamish 50/50 three times over.
To celebrate her accomplishment, we invited her to participate in a Q&A.
Superfeet: So you just ran 50 miles on Saturday and then ran 50 kilometers the next day?
Gina Middaugh: Wow, I guess I did! Still not quite sure how that happened, but the muscles in my legs are reminding me right this minute.
Gina was awarded a yellow trucker this weekend to recognize her 3rd completion of the Squamish 50/50. She is the first woman and one of four people to have completed the race three times.
How did the race feel the third time around?
Gina: It would be nice to say that I had the familiarity of the course working to my advantage, but in all honesty, I kept asking myself why I was putting myself through the torture again (generally around mile 20 ... ha!). This course has been wickedly hard and unforgiving, each and every time.
How did your body feel on Monday?
Gina: Wow. Monday hurt. I'm so glad I took Monday off from work. I was more tired/fatigued than anything. General muscle fatigue, but that is to be expected after any significant distance.
What’s your secret to keep running mile after mile, kilometer after kilometer? Especially on day two?
Gina: The key to making it through day two is just waking up that next morning and getting dressed. From there, just getting to the start line even when the body is wanting nothing to do with running. I told myself to just take the day from one aid station to the next, relentless forward progress.
Tell us about the course.
Gina: Anyone who has ran this course will tell you it's one of the hardest courses around. There are roots, rocks, trees, and crazy climbs and descents. Your mind is constantly engaged because you are trying not to trip, fall, or slip.
How did it feel while you were running?
Gina: I felt very prepared for this 50/50. The 50 mile race on Saturday went really well, except for one superman crash around mile 20. I dusted myself off and continued on. I worked on fueling, with hydration and nutrition, to keep my muscles working for me and not against me. I also had a good friend running with me the entire time, so that helped pass the time! During the 50k, I was sore. It was definitely more of a mental and physical challenge and there were some tears around mile 25. I ultimately ended up finishing strong at the end, which is always my goal.
During the race, do you run with other people or do you run solo? Why?
Gina: I ran with my friend, Ali Riecke. She was going for her second 50/50 and we both have a similar pace, so we decided to stick together, through thick and thin, both days! We also have the same coach, Daryl Smith! She pushed me when I needed some encouragement and I did the same in return. It was the perfect way to finish this race!
Which insoles were you using? How did they hold up?
Gina: I used two different insoles in my Brooks Cascadia 13. The first day, I used the FLEX insoles. I loved them! The second day, I used the RUN Comfort Thin insoles and equally loved them! They both held up fantastic!!
What are some of your other must-have pieces of gear?
Gina: My must-have gear includes: TRUCKER HAT, Body Glide, a buff, a watch (I used the Garmin Fenix 5s), hydration pack filled with Gatorade Endurance (I used the watermelon flavor and never got sick of it!), a really good sports bra (I used Brooks rebound racer), ProCompression Socks, Brooks trail shoes (I wore the Cascadia 13), and Superfeet insoles of course!
What did you eat after the race? Day one and day two?
Gina: Omgoodness. After a race, I am normally not hungry at all. But after the 50k on Sunday, I wanted a finish line burger they were serving up! It was so good. And our friends who we stayed with in Squamish made us a home cooked dinner. The next day, I woke up starving. I had a huge breakfast of eggs benedict with bacon and avocado and also avocado toast. For lunch, I had a huge salad with chicken. For dinner, my husband made me Paella with seafood!
You are incredibly inspiring to all of us at Superfeet. What inspires you to run like this?
Gina: Oh wow. Thank you so much. I am inspired by so many people and to think that I may inspire others is a huge compliment. For me, the personal challenge that comes with an ultra distance, not for time, not for pace, but for completing it, drives me. If I encourage one person to start running or keep running, or push themselves to go further than they dreamed of, or step out of their comfort zone, THAT inspires me.
Thanks for answering our questions. How are you going to celebrate this huge milestone?
Gina: I am taking a few days, maybe even an entire week, of complete rest (from running that is)!
Full disclaimer from Gina:
Said (during the 50k), "I am never running this course again!" And she told her friends, "I am not signing up for another 50/50!"