I love running. I love training for races. But I hate the week leading up to the race. I start to get so nervous and wonder why I even signed up and put this additional stress on myself. Ever since I was in track in high school, I would get this way. It was even more stressful then because I had a race every week, lol! I would actually get an eye twitch from my anxiety....every single week :/ I know I get like this yet I still sign up for races....and why? Because once I am actively running the race, I am loving it. I know I will get there and everything will be okay and I will enjoy the run and feel amazing after. I just have to push through that week before to get to that place.
I started trail running on 1/1/18. I wanted to mix up my road running a bit and I instantly fell in love! It is hard and challenging, but in a different way than road running. My friend Mary had me come with her to Marcella Vivrette Smith Park (in Brentwood, TN) and then I discovered the Westhaven Trails (in Franklin, TN) and we kept running them more and more! A few months ago we decided to plan on racing in the Defeated Creek Trail Half Marathon in Carthage, TN on October 21, 2018. We were running twice a week at Smith Park (Westhaven had too many spider webs during the summer, lol) and then added in an additional long run at Smith or the Warner Parks in Nashville, TN. We kept up our road running as well and alternated with road and trail for our long runs. For the last year I have been averaging around 25 miles a week between road and trails and I didn't really switch it up too much for this race. Instead I started focusing on hills more and just being more efficient with my runs and strength training.
Anyways, that all leads up to the race. I was nervous the week before, focused on eating healthy foods that wouldn't upset my stomach, and listened to a great podcast on mindset for races which helped loosen me up a bit. I went to a wedding the night before the race and accidentally stayed up too late (at least I got a good night's sleep the night before) and then woke up at 5am the morning of the race. I had my water pack and everything ready to go, I ate my peanut butter and banana oatmeal, Mary met me at my house and we were on our way. It took about an hour and a half to get there. The drive out there was beautiful!
During our training it was super hot the entire time and then the week before the race it cooled down a lot, so that morning it was 36 degrees. I had been a little nervous when trying to figure out what to wear since it had been so hot previously during the long runs. I decided on my Saucony Peregrine trail shoes (obviously), capris and a long sleeve shirt with a short sleeve one over it. It was the perfect choice. We stayed in the car and got ready to go (as did everyone else) since it was pretty cold out. The race wasn't big, I think about 40 people in all were signed up.
When it was time to begin, we all walked a little ways to the starting line. Then we were off! The first little bit of the race was around the park on the sidewalk before entering the trail. It was a little rough in the beginning because even though 40 people isn't a lot for a race, it was a lot to start on a single-track trail together. It was hard to get by others (Mary and I ended up losing sight of each other) and get into my own rhythm probably for at least 1-2 miles. The start of the trail was a pretty big climb too and then was followed by a steep decline. Once I got through that and the trail opened up a bit, I was able to get around others and settle into my own pace. For the most part, I ran alone and had no idea how many people were in front of or behind me because I literally couldn't see anyone. Every once in awhile I would catch up with someone and talk for a bit and then go on my way. The course was rough with around a 2600+ ft elevation gain but I liked that part of the challenge the most! Because I had been training on hills, I felt like they were my strong point. It was during the hill climbs that I could catch up to or pass people. I was a lot slower on the downhills though because they were quite steep and I was trying to be careful not to fall.
It was an out and back course to the Lookout Tower and back to the campground. I tried to take a sip from my water pack about every 20 minutes or so just to make sure I was staying hydrated even though I wasn't that thirsty since it wasn't super hot. I also brought 4 of my GoGo squeeZ Gimme Five applesauce on the go pouches with me but only ended up eating 3 of them. They were just what I needed to provide me with energy throughout the race. As I approached the Lookout Tower I was told that I was the first place female so I was excited because I had no idea! I started running with someone for a mile or so on the way back down but they weren't quite at the pace I wanted so I kept going by myself. The rest of the time I started catching up with some other runners and would chat every once in awhile. I felt really good throughout the entire race and was actually disappointed when I realized it was less than 13.1 miles (I think it was around 12 but I accidentally stopped my watch at one point for 10 minutes so I don't know the exact distance). The course was marked well for the most part but I did get off track 3 times but not for too long. I know a lot of the other runners got off track as well. It is hard to follow blue dots on trees when you are looking at the ground, lol! The course was beautiful and you could look over the edge and see the water. It was a beautiful day, great views, challenging course...I just loved it! As I was running I made sure to thoroughly enjoy every moment of being out there. I ended up coming in at 2:42 as the 1st female finisher out of 12 and then 12th out of all 40 runners.
I normally get pretty cold after I finish running so I changed, had my after race snacks (half of a PBJ and pea milk mixed with tart cherry juice), stretched a bit and headed home. I felt pretty good the rest of the day except for a headache, eventually I gave in and took some Ibuprofen, and then I was perfectly fine. I even took my dogs on a walk once I got home. My celebratory dinner was steak and veggie nachos from Nachos and it was delicious. Monday and Tuesday were pretty rough on my legs. Everything was good except if I had to use my quads, lol! Walking down stairs was horrible because of all the downhill running/climbing. I went on a walk on Monday and Tuesday to help shake it out. I ran a slow 3 miles on Wednesday and then did strength training. I am feeling almost back to normal today (Thursday), but still a tad sore. I just take it as I should have practiced a bit more on the downhills, but now I know for next time!
Overall, a wonderful, challenging race and now I have the trail bug and want to keep doing more intense races. Thanks Nashville Running Company for putting on the race and for the $50 gift card! I can't wait to use it on something to help with my future runs!
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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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