I got my usual strange looks as I strolled to the starting line, gloves on and no shirt and Ultimate Direction bottle in hand containing a Nuun, along with some gu chomps. I was anxious to see what I could run on a mostly paved greenway course off Briley Parkway in Nashville. This is the third year of the race and the numbers have been steadily growing. This year they topped out with over 140 runners for the 50k, 60k, 70k, and 50 mile distance options.
I figured a pack of runners would run together for the first several miles but I must have smelled bad because no one wanted to go out with me. I ran the first mile in 6:40 and then backed off slightly to hit the first aid station (mile 5) at 34 minutes. The first miles were reminiscent of the Marin Headlands with all the fog. The 50k course is two out and back legs (8 miles and 7.5 miles). I made the first turn at mile 8 at 55 minutes and was very motivated, as a group of three runners were only 75 seconds behind me. Running off the front requires guts so I threw in a few surges and ran a few 6:30 miles before the second aid station at mile 11. I grabbed two hammer nutrition endurolytes and was on my way. Returned to the start / finish area (mile 16) at 1:50:00.
Fear was the driving force in my mind. I swapped to a fresh water bottle and ate half a banana and was on my way. I tried to continue to maintain my pace through the next aid station at mile 22. In route to this station I hit the 2.5 mile trail / grass portion of the course. The only problem with a grass path is that it hides holes well. Luckily my bum left ankle held up.
Made the second turn around and was surprised that I had over one mile on the next runner, or so I thought, since I would later learn that he was running the 60k. I continued to push to achieve the sub 3 hour mark at the marathon point. I hit mile 26 at 2:58 and in turn hit the marathon at 2:59. It seemed like my sub 4 hour goal was easily in reach. I hit the grass path and felt the miles on my legs from mile 27 to 29. I was super happy to hit the greenway and not have to worry about footing. I only had one last hill to climb at mile 30.5. I heard a familiar voice, Josh Hite, who was coming back to run me in. With a buddy at my side, I picked up the pace and rounded out the last 5 miles in 33 minutes. Great weather and well organized race made for a very rewarding experience. Ended up breaking the course record with a 3:31:10.
Total number of runners: 156 signed up 144 started the race.
Finisher awards: Glass beer mug
Winner awards: Hoody sweatshirt
Distance Choices: 50k,60k,70k, & 50 mile
Aid stations: well stocked with hammer nutrition gel and endurolytes, fruit, powerade, candy, and salty snacks.