I had been looking forward to this race for over a year and it was everything I thought it would be! Since the Harvest Half and Quarry Crusher were a little over a month before this race - I focused on only trail running for the month between leading up to it. I had the endurance from training for the Harvest Half and power and strength from training for the Quarry Crusher as my base. So during that month I specifically trained for the trails, making sure I got plenty of elevation gain during my normal runs. I ran three times a week - one was a long trail run, the second was a power/strength 5 mile trail run and the third was just an easy 3 mile on the road. I also did 2 days a week of strength training. I have discovered over the last few years that trail running (for me) is all about running on fresh legs so I made sure to space my runs and workouts out so I could give my all and not be dead. I need the power to climb up the hills (and avoid tripping and falling) and it just isn't there if I am beat down. During most of my trail runs in the past I ended up walking most of the big hills but I decided I wanted to be able to run it all - so that was my goal. During my training runs I made sure to run all of the hills at Marcella Vivrette Smith Park and the Westhaven trails and it actually felt good! I definitely felt strong and ready for this race.
Josh drove Heather (fellow Franklin Road Runner/Team Beef member) and I out to Montgomery Bell State Park on Saturday morning. I fueled with water and a peanut butter and banana sandwich on gluten-free cinnamon raisin bread. We got there an hour early so we picked up our great swag and walked around for a bit while we waited. I started to get a little nervous but then as we walked and looked at the scenery, it went away. It's crazy how much better and less nervous I feel about trail running vs road running!
We lined up at the starting line and we were off! The first mile or so was on the pavement which was a little unexpected. Once we got on the trails though, it was amazing! Definitely more of my element. I was SO thankful they cleared the path of leaves so we could see all of the roots and rocks. That did not go unnoticed and was very much appreciated. The path was also clearly marked in all areas (there was one area that I think people got a little confused with but if you followed the arrows then you were good). I started with a bigger group of people that was slimming down as the miles kept on going. I really wanted the wooden award so other than my goal of wanting to run the entire thing, including all of the hills for the 1000 + elevation gain, I also wanted to pass as many people as possible. I was able to stay strong throughout the entire race and did run the whole 9+ miles and felt great. It was such a fun, pretty, technical trail (roots/rocks/elevation). I talked to a lot of people along the way who helped push me to go even faster. What I love about trail running is you can't get bored - you have to be very aware of your surroundings and always thinking about where your next step is going to be. The race seemed to be over before I knew it! I could hear people cheering and all that was left were the steep stairs before the final uphill climb. I finished 3rd female out of 43 and 14th overall out of 86. I got to ring the bell at the finish! Heather also did awesome!!!!
We celebrated at the after party with beer (Josh had that) and soup. I never thought I would want soup right after a run but it was perfect. I was starting to get cold so the vegetable soup was amazing. We waited around for the awards ceremony where I got my wooden plate, drank our coffee that Josh brought us and then headed home. It was a fantastic race and while I don't normally like repeating races, I would do that one again - especially the 25k. It was one of the most organized and well attended races I have ever done, so thank you Montgomery Bell State Park!!!
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I am a food loving, activity seeking health coach who resides in Franklin, TN with my husband and two sweet dogs (Lola & Penny).
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