I am excited to share this month’s member highlight with you – Tina Hyde! Many of you know her as “Sparky,” and if you don’t know her, you’ll understand the nickname once you do. All the smiley photos here might also be a clue. Tina is a fun person to share the trails with, and she generously gave her time to answer our questions. Be sure to say hello when you see her out on the trail sporting her beloved DPMR trucker hat!
You live in Foresthill, right? How long have you been there, and what is your favorite thing about it?
Yup! My mom moved us there 25 years ago. It has been the best 25 years of my life! I love the small town country life. It’s so simple. I’ve made the best of friends, found my better half and get to explore some of the most amazing trails right in my backyard… all because of one sweet little town in the middle of nowhere.
When did you begin running? Why?
I picked up running about 7 years ago to help reduce stress, lose weight and gain sanity after a tough breakup (but it was a good thing). I ran along Foresthill Road a lot (I know, crazy!) and one sunny day, Jack Meyer stopped and asked me why I ran along the road when there were so many great trails in our hometown. I told him I didn’t know the trails or really anything about running and he offered to show me. And the rest is history… I fell in love with these trails! I quickly learned all about hand-held water bottles, Gu’s and salt caps. Most importantly, I learned all about the friendships that you can find way out in the middle of nowhere on a trail. The ultra-community is full of amazingly kind and humble human beings and is truly why I keep running.
I’ve seen you out at races having a great time. Does racing motivate you? If not racing, what motivates you?
While I have fun at races, I wouldn’t say that racing itself motivates me. I think the fact that I am able to do what I love motivates me more than anything. It’s all about doing your very best, where you are, with what you have. That motivates me beyond measure.
I know you had some health challenges with your lungs and you finished TRT 100 last year in spite of that. Can you tell us about that?
Let’s rewind to August of 2013. Just 3 weeks after my first attempt at TRT100, I ended up in the hospital because of extreme difficulty with breathing. The culprit: MULTIPLE pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in the lungs). The doctors were surprised that I didn’t drop dead on the trail and were even more blown away that I had just run 87 miles with that kind of a mess in my lungs. I cheated death big time and we all knew it. Big eye opener. No wonder why I couldn’t breathe for 6 months leading up to TRT. It all started to make sense. After extensive testing and visits to the pulmonologist (who happens to be my real life superhero), I was diagnosed with Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS), which is a blood disorder. Basically, my blood is thicker than the average joe and is prone to clotting, meaning that I will likely be on Coumadin (blood thinners) for life. While it was a bag of bummers for me, I had one thing on my mind: redemption. I was going back to TRT100 in 2014 and I was going to finish. And that is just what I did!
I am super excited to see that you’re running Western States this year. How are you feeling going into it, and what are your plans for the day?
I am really looking forward to WS. Growing up in Foresthill, I have watched runners hobble through our little hometown every single year and I never really understood why anyone would ever want to go that distance by foot in one day. It’s hard to believe that I am one of those runners this year. It feels surreal! I don’t really have any crazy plans for the day. I just want to arrive at the start line uninjured, take it easy in the canyons and have some life left in me at FH to cruise on down the finish line with my pACE team, Michaela and Dustin! Really, I just wanna smile so much that my face hurts. Maybe that’ll take my mind off the rest of the pain. I feel like that’s a solid plan.
Do you have any dream races?
It’s funny, WS100 was the dream race and here I am running it this year. I don’t really know where to go from here. The Bear 100 and Big Horn 100 have always intrigued me. And of course the Castle Peak 100k put on by DPMR would be a fun challenge one day. We’ll see.
Do you have a favorite on-trail food or nutrition strategy? A favorite post-run meal or beverage?
I will admit, I suck when it comes to nutrition strategy. I haven’t been able to figure it out but I am working on it. I am pretty obsessed with my new on-trail food that I have come up with this year. I make my own rice, bacon and avocado rolls using a spring roll wrap. Every bite makes me smile. I also really like to drink Ensures and Pedialyte otter pops in the later miles, those things have brought me back to life on many occasions. I can’t forget to give a shout out to Coca Cola. I can’t get through a race without that stuff.
My favorite post-run meal would be anything that you put in front of me. I especially love a big fat In-N-Out burger with french fries after a long day on the trail but that’s not always convenient. Maple bacon kettle chips are my newest post-run snack. As far as post-run beverage, ice cold chocolate milk and coke will turn my frown upside down in a heartbeat.
What was your favorite running experience this past year?
Tough question. I have been having so much fun training for WS. A group of friends and I ran a self supported 50 miler on the WS trail in April and that day was a big reality check for me. I finally realized that I was running States and shit was getting real! I also just finished Quicksilver 100k and left it all out there on those hills. I found a sense of humor that I never knew I had. I learned how to embrace the unwanted hills and laugh when it hurts. That course taught me how to have fun even when I’m not having fun!
Do you have any other racing or adventure plans for 2015?
Not really any races on the schedule just yet for this year. But a group of some of my closest friends and I were ridiculously inspired by your trip and are planning to take some time to explore the entire TRT over four days this summer. That’s gonna be an unforgettable trip, I already know it!
What do you do for a living? Is it hard to fit in time for training?
I am a registered dental assistant and work at Ulrich Orthodontics in Auburn. Also, you can find me cross-training as a waitress on Sundays at a quaint little cafe called the Ugly Mug in Loomis. I am also a student, working to get my general education finished up (almost there!) so I can start applying for the respiratory therapy program.
I do find it hard to fit in training some days but you can always find a way to make it work if it’s something you truly love.
What led you to join the DPMR?
The trucker hat, obviously! No, just kidding. Helen Pelster! Since day 1, she has been so excited about the club and I knew I couldn’t miss out on being a part of it.
What was been your favorite DPMR experience so far?
I had a blast working the Canyons 100k this year with some of the members. I am looking forward to volunteering more often with you guys. I’m sad that I can’t join in on your weekday DPMR runs.
Do you ski or do any snow sports?
No way! Being on Coumadin, I’ve pretty much been banned from those sports. But that’s okay because I kind of sucked at snow sports anyways.
What is your favorite local trail near where you live? Do you have a favorite Tahoe trail?
The Western States trail is in my backyard and has become one of my very favorite happy places.
But the Tahoe Rim Trail has my heart. I love those trails, those views, and all the memories that I have made up there during some of the most difficult times of my life. It sounds crazy but the TRT gave me a reason to push through my health struggles and finish what I started.
What other outdoor or indoor interests do you have?
Put me outside in the middle of nowhere and I am the happiest girl in the world. I love road trips, traveling, camping, backpacking, exploring, fishing, and hiking, AT&T Park is also one of my favorite places in all the land. Robert and I are very possibly the biggest SF Giants fans you might ever meet. I am not kidding.
Any other interesting facts about yourself you would like to share?
You would think being as active as I am that I would have a crazy athletic dog to run with. Nope! Instead, I have a fat and happy pitbull that loves life as much as me and an energetic German wire-hair with ADD that is suppose to hunt birds but instead hunts lizards.
Robert is my better half, my sponsor, and my personal paramedic and is the most supportive person I know.
I have a 2 year old nephew and a 6 month old niece that I can’t wait to share the trails with.
Everytime I eat a Werthers original, I get a little pep in my step because it reminds me of my grandpa, who has always been one of my biggest heroes.
I used to hate running with a passion. Now, I don’t know if I love running or baseball more.
Thanks so much, Tina, for taking the time to answer questions. Good luck at Western States, and I look forward to seeing you out on the trails this summer!
Photos courtesy of Tina Hyde