What an incredible race! Would I do it again? I do not know. Am I glad I ran it? Absolutely! It was the coolest race I have done. I finished with a smile on my face to tell you the following story.
The morning started out early and cold, 6:15 am/45 degrees. The sun was coming up, but as we started the race it was still a bit dark. We ran for about the first two miles of the race uphill in the mud. I have got to describe this mud to you. This is not typical mud. Imagine that you have fine, powdery clay and you mix it with water. Then, imagine that it is ankle deep on a horse trail. Each step I took made a loud suction noise as I pulled my foot out. There was no way to avoid the mud. I just had to accept the fact that my shoes would get muddy and my socks would get muddy too. The suction was strong enough to pull my tied shoe off. I did not lose my lose my shoes, but many people did. I would revisit this mud several more times that day!
A wise trail runner once told me that the race does not begin until mile 17-18. The trick is to be patient until then. In this race, the toughest mental part was miles 10-18. This course was easy to run for the first 18 miles. It had lots of rolling hills and downhills. The toughest physical part of the course would come after mile 18. I had to be patient, eat and drink well and maintain a conservative pace until the last 6 miles.
There were moments on this course that I just had to stop and laugh out loud. One such moment came at mile 18-ish. I literally ran to a wall of dirt and mud. Picture me scaling the wall of mud, slipping down, scaling the wall, slipping down, etc. After the third try, I made it to the top.
Miles 20-24 brought the last tough climbs. One climb was up a set of wooden stairs, resembling the length of those at the end of Belle Meade Blvd. in Percy Warner Park (146 steps to be exact). The last tough climb was at mile 23-24.
From 25-29.5 on was gradual decline down rolling hills. There was a great stretch on the road through a campground with a BATHROOM. I only had to use the forest one time!! I had access to a campground bathroom twice. (That was a treat.) During this stretch, I realized that this weather was perfect, and I was feeling good. It was my opportunity to pick up my pace. AND, I did. It was hard, but I felt determined. I did not need to slow down. I did not need to walk. I had to see what I had left.
Then. . . miles 29.5-31 another bought of “laugh out loud” FUN!! Oh my word. At approximately mile 29.5, I came to an abandoned ski slope, revisiting the mud from the start and middle of the race. All that I could do off the edge of this hill was to ski the mud. I did successfully and ended in sloppy, muddy, tall grass. It was through the grass to the edge of a river. At this moment, I am looking for the “pink” flags that marked the entire course. I noticed them in the river, not stream, river. Then, I noticed a couple people in the river. OH. MY. GOSH. I had to get in the river up to the TOP of my thighs and stay in it for approximately 1/4 mile to the other side. Finally, run the last 100 yards to the finish! Amazing experience. Best Mother’s Day weekend ever.
I finished the race in 7:36:36. I got lost along the way for 10 minutes. I placed 3rd in my age group, and I received a cool race medal as well as a prize for being third in my age group. I do not know if I would do that again.
By far, the coolest race that I have ever done!