I had wanted to run the Hot Chocolate 15k for the last several years but I never registered. I think I procrastinated because I noticed it either always rained, was super cold or was super cold AND rainy on the day of the race (mid February). I decided to run the race this year because it is a big one for Team Beef and my Franklin Road Runners group, plus I just wanted to finally do it! I was really excited once I registered and even more excited that my husband decided to register as well!
I was still running pretty consistently since my last race in October but had scaled down a little bit. I was averaging about 25 miles a week and started training with my husband on the weekends. Since the weather has been a little crazy this winter I decided that I didn't want to focus on speed training but just running to do well, to feel good and not have any pressure or stress before, during or after the race. I truly just wanted to enjoy the experience!
We got to the race expo on Thursday night (Valentine's Day) about 15 minutes before it was over thanks to traffic and parking, picked up our bibs and jackets and walked around to the different vendors, got some free samples - hot chocolate, marshmallows, jelly beans and more, and then drove home. We were glad that we went down there to get an idea for how it was going to be on race morning. We figured out where would be best to park, got our gear ready to go and made our plans for Saturday.
The night before the race we wanted to take it easy and relax. We had my typical pre-race meal - chicken, green beans and sweet potatoes and stayed in to do our Crated with Love date night box, had a glass of red wine and tried to go to bed early (never happens). We woke up at 5 am to get ready, take the dogs out and leave by 5:45. We made it to the Nashville Public Library (our favorite place to park, it is never full and only costs $10 in the evenings and on the weekend) by 6:15. We jogged to Centennial Park, met up with Team Beef and the Franklin Road Runners and got ready to start!
Oh, I forgot to mention...it wasn't raining! I was so happy that the weather turned out to be pretty good racing weather that day! It was cold, low 30s, so I just wore long tights and a long sleeve shirt and gloves (I brought an old, free pair that I had planned to take off and throw away when I warmed up but I never did). We did start to get too cold after we were done and had to hurry back to the car since I couldn't feel my hands, but all-in-all, it was perfect weather for running.
I was supposed to be in a different corral than Josh but I decided since we trained for this thing together that I wanted to at least start together! We had originally decided to just do our own race and if we ran together - great, and if not, that was fine too, we just didn't want to stress each other out if we weren't going to be at the same pace. For the first 1/2 - 1 mile we separated to get through the crowd and adjusted to the pace we wanted to be at. It turns out, we were running the same pace so we stayed together throughout the entire run and I absolutely loved it! The course was hilly but not too awful if you normally train on them and I did like how the streets were blocked off so we could space out and weren't running too close with other people. We looked at the elevation ahead of time and knew that it was a slight uphill for the first half of the race and since it was an out and back (with a loop in the middle) that halfway through when we turned around it was going to start back downhill. I had originally planned on eating the chocolate and goodies along the course but the thought of that made me want to die as I was actually running. I stuck with my norm - water and my banana baby food pouch (at the halfway point). We sped it up a bit more on the way back and ended up with a 8:27 average for the 9.3 miles. I finished 242nd out of 1,966 overall, 89th of 1,324 females and 12th of 195 in my age group. I felt really good during the whole thing and so did Josh. I was so proud of him, he did amazing, especially with this being the first race he ever trained for!
We grabbed some free jelly beans and our chocolate goodies (hot chocolate, melted chocolate, a banana, rice krispie treat and marshmallows), walked through the Nashville Farmers' Market since it was right next to where we were and then had to hurry back to the car since we were getting so cold! It was a great race, we felt good and it was so nice to run together. I think this was the first race I wasn't super nervous for and I owe that to Josh! His support and the comfort of knowing he would be close to me throughout the race took my normal pre-race anxiety away and I can't wait to do more races with him. This one was so fun since it was around Valentine's Day, we love the jackets we were given and the goodies at the end topped it all off! You can't go wrong with chocolate.
Pinkerton Park is a 34-acre municipal park located east of the Harpeth River, near downtown Franklin with a 1-mile paved path. Fort Granger is a 1-mile trail located on 14.5 acres and was built in 1862 by Union troops as a federal post and signaling station and is set above and behind Pinkerton Park. It consists of a 1-mile trail with a boardwalk and stairs to reach the overlook.
The trails and paths connect so you can choose to explore them together or on their own. Just keep in mind that the paths/trails are very different from each other. Pinkerton is paved and flat and Fort Granger has a steep, rocky climb with an unpaved trail. It will definitely keep your walk/hike/run interesting!
Starting with Pinkerton, there are four entrances; two are right off of Hwy 96/Murfreesboro Road (405 Murfreesboro Rd, Franklin, TN 37064) with a huge parking lot, one from downtown Franklin through the Sue Douglas Berry Memorial pedestrian bridge and the other off of Eddy Ln (with a parking lot), through the Fort Granger trail. If you are driving, the most direct option is to park in the parking lot accessible by Hwy 96/Murfreesboro Road. You can’t miss it!
There are 3 large pavilions, multiple picnic tables and benches to rest, stretch or enjoy your picnic on. There are also water fountains located around the park; one at the pavilion closest to the river, one by the playground and one by the bathrooms. All important things to know if running at the park or planning to run through it! You could also pack a hammock to relax on after your run, a Frisbee to throw on one of the fields or ping pong paddles to play on the new concrete ping pong table. Don’t forget 25 cents to buy a ball! If you are bringing your family to get some exercise you can take your kids and dogs (or just yourself) along the storybook trail and read a story about forest animals at 20 stops along the way for an interactive walking experience. Another bonus for the kids is a Read Box, a community library box where you can take a book and share a book. There are also several play areas around the park for kids and exercise equipment located at various points along the path with 3 different modifications and options for those in wheelchairs. If fishing or canoeing/kayaking is more your thing you are in luck, there is a public access point to the Harpeth River as soon as you enter the park on the left!
As for running or walking the wide, 1-mile paved path takes you around the perimeter of the park, looping through the fields and along the trees. It is an easy to follow loop with a 22 ft. elevation gain. This makes for a fast course…mile repeats anyone? It is normally pretty busy with other runners, walkers or kids riding bikes on it since it is such a popular park. You can easily add more mileage by starting your run off here and going through downtown to Bicentennial Park (more info on this path in a later post), down the new Hwy 96/Murfreesboro Road sidewalk or just behind the park to the connecting Fort Granger Trail.
The easiest way to get to Fort Granger is off of Eddy Rd (113 Fort Granger Dr, Franklin, TN 37064), you will see a Fort Granger sign with a parking lot down the drive. You could also access it through the back of Pinkerton Park on foot. There is a new pavilion in the parking lot and a Franklin Historic Parks Cell Phone Audio Tour option for those who are interested! If you want water or a bathroom you will need to go through the trail and down to Pinkerton Park. There are several placards located throughout the trail with important information on the history of Fort Granger. Starting in the parking lot you will enter through the boardwalk and can go to the right on the trail loop with the placards (stopping for the beautiful views) and then back onto the boardwalk to the highest lookout point, down the stairs and then back onto a steep, rocky trail that takes you down through the trees and across a little field, by the river and to Pinkerton Park. Turn around and head back where you came from to make 1-mile total, or add in the Pinkerton Park loop for an extra mile. Remember, you will now have to go back up the steep climb (a total elevation gain of about 50 ft.)! There were some extra little trails I found that were connected to the top trail section, one took me to an overlook and the other down to the train tracks. Not quite sure if something else will happen with these eventually but they were still nice to explore and added a tiny bit more mileage.
Both of these paths/trails are dog-friendly but must be kept on a leash. While they are not super long, they make for a fun, safe, quick workout or great family outing with something for everyone! They are also in such convenient locations and make great stops before or after visiting downtown Franklin! There is no excuse to visit these paths and trails and get active!
Find more paths, trails and places to hike/run/walk in Williamson County, TN here!
Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
I had a request for a recipe that involves buffalo sauce but not with wings because she didn't like the texture of meat. I thought about what I could make and I landed on cauliflower since it is a pretty neutral, yet hearty vegetable. I lightly breaded the cauliflower, tossed it in the buffalo sauce and baked it. This is a great recipe for vegans, vegetarians, or really just anyone who likes buffalo sauce and vegetables! I have served it with a salad and baked potato chunks to make it a meal but also love making it as an appetizer with a vegan ranch or onion dip for a party!
Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes
Brentwood Parks Trail System
The Brentwood Parks Trail System connects several of the City's parks with multiple marked paved paths to provide a great place to walk, run, bike, etc. They are incorporated around these parks, historic areas, YMCA, Williamson County Recreation Center and more to allow use while family or friends might be utilizing these other facilities. It is a wonderful way to tie everything together!
While I could go on and on about all of the parks, paths and trails in the area that are around, throughout and connected here, I am going to focus on the main long path that connects River Park to Marcella Vivrette Smith Park. I will get to all of these other areas in different posts. Since it is so connected, there are many places you can park and begin but for the majority of people who might want to use this path in its entirety, I suggest parking at River Park (1100 Knox Valley Drive, Brentwood, TN 37027), across from the Brentwood Public Library or you could do it the opposite way and start at Marcella Vivrette Smith Park (1825 Wilson Pike, Brentwood, TN 37027).
Starting at River Park, you have free parking plus a bathroom and water fountain, always a bonus before and after a long run or walk! This is an out-and-back paved course (9.6 miles) that you can easily cut short by just turning around sooner, or you can add mileage with the Raintree Parkway or Split Log Road paths or by adding in some of the connecting park paths (Tower Park, Concord Park, Crockett Park, Smith Park or the connecting neighborhoods). There is also a bathroom about 2.5 miles in by Primm Park and one with a water fountain at Marcella Vivrette Smith Park, as well as benches and safety call boxes along the way.
This is such a lovely traffic-free, wide path with rolling hills (total ascent of about 253 ft). The course is beautiful and scenic with a majority of it being between the woods or along the Little Harpeth River. The trail is popular but not overcrowded. It feels safe but there are definitely areas where you can be pretty isolated at times. This is a great path year-round but also might be a really good option during the summer to help shield you from the sun. Since the paths are so wide it also makes for a great group run, family walk or smooth, safe path to push your stroller and walk your dog!
You don't have to worry about too many turns on the course, just follow the trail markers to Ravenwood/Smith Park. As I mentioned, there are other parks and connectors along the way to parking areas or neighborhoods, but you won't need to make those turns unless you decide to add on extra mileage. When you start at River Park you will cross a few bridges through the woods and will eventually come to a small section of the trail that runs along Wilson Pike, but it doesn't last long before it dips back into the secluded woods. You will pass by an 1830s school house, Native American mounds, the river, farmland, train tracks, tunnels, and will then end up running through the entrance to Smith Park, by the Ravenswood Mansion and more, all the way to the beginning of the hiking trails (where the bathrooms are) before turning back around.
It's an interesting, long, wide, paved trail system that does its job of connecting several of the parks, facilities and neighborhoods around Brentwood. If you want a safe place to walk, ride your bike, or get in a long run, this is a perfect place to do it! I have attached the complete City of Brentwood Park System Trail Map below, as well as a map of my version of the 9.6 mile route.
Find more paths, trails and places to hike/run/walk in Williamson County, TN here!
I am a food loving, activity seeking health coach who resides in Franklin, TN with my husband and two sweet dogs (Lola & Penny).
I believe everyone should eat balanced and not cut food groups if you don't medically need to. All foods can fit in a healthy diet. Unfortunately, I have to avoid gluten and also limit myself with dairy, so my goal is to provide healthy, gluten-free/dairy-free recipes so EVERYONE can enjoy all foods, even if you do have to cut out certain food groups. My recipes are encouraged for everyone to eat, not just for those with sensitivities/allergies! Most of my recipes can be easily converted by using real dairy and whole-wheat in place of my allergy-free substitutes.
Looking for something specific? Everything can be found by category under the "Life" and "Recipes" sections on my website or you can search below.