Throughout my time here in college, at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, I have often felt like I have lost running. Now I don’t mean that I stopped running, I have run a substantial amount while here in SLO. What I mean is that I have been plagued by the recurring feeling that I have lost the running ability that I had during times of my life like the lead up to the Bryce Canyon 100 in June of 2017. That feeling of setting out for a run, knowing that you will enter that pain cave but remaining confident in your fitness to bring you through the discomfort and emerge on the other side better for it. I spent so long tying those two concepts, discomfort and enlightenment, so closely together through running that when I lost that fitness, due to the various challenges I have faced here in college that led running to take a backseat in my life, I felt like I lost running. However, since the New Year I have been training with focus and drive for one goal: the Santa Barbara Nine Trails 35 Mile Endurance Run, which took place a week and a half ago. The race, with the 11,700’ of elevation gain that a runner covers across the 35 miles, is known for its difficulty and I was determined to use the race as a platform to reset my outlook, perspective, and mindset on running and on what I was capable of. Stepping across that finish line was a deeply emotional experience for me because it told me that I could still run far, that I still loved it, that I wanted to do more with it, and that I could still learn from it. Join me today as we explore Nine Trails, my experience with that race, and what it taught me.


Jarod Contreras

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