TYPICAL HARDWIN ADVENTURE RACE
This Saturday, I participated in the Music City Ultra Trail 25(7)K. (<--turns out it was actually a 27K, not a 25K!) I wasn’t originally going to do this race, I had planned on venturing out on some new trails somewhere close to Nashville. A friend of mine ran this last year and said it was the worst race/run she’d ever experienced. I'd heard rumblings about this crazy course among other runners too. I was trying to avoid running this, not very courageous of me... Sometimes it helps that my chosen adjective at Girls on the Run is Courageous Coach Corrie. It reminds me that it is IMPORTANT to be brave and take risks!
I got over it and decided this would be a fun training run. I LOVE exploring new running routes and I needed some time on quality hills!
Other than a couple of crazy climbs, I had no idea what to expect. I should have known it would be one for the books. Most HardWin Adventure races are. Remember that one time I got bit by a snake? That was during the 20-mile trail run I did this summer as part of the HardWin Adventure's Cumberland Plateau Stage Race.
THE 'ANT' HILL
During the first mile of the run, there is a VERY steep and woody hill that requires careful footwork to avoid a nice pokey tumble. At the bottom of this hill, there is a small, probably three to four-foot wide creek. I was hoping this was the only water crossing we’d confront. I was very proud of myself for clearing this first small creek and maintaining my dry shoes. My friend who didn't like this race mentioned a hill that is so steep, the people ahead of you look like ants. That hill was up next and she was not joking. At least it was more of a hiking hill and not a rock climbing kind of hill. I don't have any specific memories of horrendous hills from this race like I do from Blood Rock. Probably because there were so many, my heart rate was consistently elevated.
I saw a photo of someone crossing a creek when I was trying to register for the race, and I really didn’t think that much of it. No one said anything about a potential creek crossing, not to mention 8 - 10 creek crossings. (not sure of the exact number, but I don't think this is too far off!)
When the creeks revealed themselves all I could do is jump in and run out, on to the next part of the race. Each crossing was slippery and icy cold, much like a mid-race ice bath. Some of the creeks were rather deep with water that came up mid-calf. By the third crossing, I decided that each creek granted me instant bad-a$$ points.
In addition to the creeks, there were several unassuming areas of ponding water hidden under tall grasses. Those little surprises were not as exciting, or refreshing, as the river fording portions.
WILL RUN FOR PIZZA
I had a little bit more energy in the bank during the last six or seven miles, which probably means I did not eat enough for breakfast and spent most of the race catching up. I was all smiles with four miles left to go and was motivated by the pizza waiting for us at the finish line (my joy at the thought of pizza is evident in the photos below).
Honestly, aside from the fun snacking that occurs during trail races, my other favorite part is climbing over (or under!) fallen tree trunks, hopping over mud puddles, and navigating steep downhill portions. I love the pursuit of strategic foot falls to avoid rolling your ankle, landing on a sharp rock, or tumbling into a thicket of thorny blackberry bushes that insist on taking bits of your skin as payment for running too close to their branches. There were many opportunities for exactly this, especially since we had some rough storms the week before.
TRAINING SEASON CHECK-IN
Music City Trail Ultra 25(7)K was a great 'check-in' race before I run the Gnaw Bone 50K in May. I was happy to get in some good climbs, even though it felt like an elephant was sitting on my lungs, and the technicality of the course allowed for a more thorough practice than I would normally get at Percy Warner. I have a better idea of what I need to work on right now, and it got me thinking of some potential goals to have during the race.
Running Buddies are the Best!
Special thanks to my precious running buddy, Michelle, who insisted that we all finish together.
Who still loves me (I think) even though I was chanting PIZZA!! PIZZA!! for the last three miles.
EVERYONE NEEDS A RUNNING BUDDY LIKE MICHELLE!
She was so positive and reeled in my need to speed towards the pizza.
The post race activities are definitely worth sticking around for! There was pizza, clementines, and beer. Instead of medals, you get a glass cup which comes in handy for beer and water.
NO WATER BOTTLES!!! YESSSSS
THERE WERE NO WATER BOTTLES OFFERED AFTER THIS RACE. HOORAY CONGRATULATIONS KUDOS to Hardwin Adventures for providing reusable drink vessels and not adding more plastic waste to our planet.
I am so glad I decided to participate in this race! It was a great change of scenery and the terrain definitely made for great practice as far as climbs and practicing strategic footfalls on a technical course.
See ya next year, Ant Hill!
What are you training for right now?
Do you have any mid-training season check-in strategies?
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