Monday, April 4, 2016

Bells Bend 6-Miler Race Recap

   The Bells Bend 6-mile trail race was yesterday. As you may know, I'm a recent convert to trail running and this race was the first for the year in the Nashville Running Company's Trail Race Series. This would be my first race coming off of my 2.5 week running hiatus after healing from a small tear in my calf muscle. How would it go? I had no idea, but there was only one way to find out.

   The race weekend started on Saturday with the Bells Bend Outdoor Expo as this was where you picked up your race packet. There were all sorts of vendors who were trying to lure you to explore the great outdoors: kayakers, bird-watchers, cyclists, stand-up paddlers - they were all there. It was pretty fun and I got a lot of info about sports that I had always wanted to try but didn't really know anything about. I probably should have set up a table for the Nashville Tri Club, now that I think about it. Oops. Maybe next year.
   Anyway, after picking up my packet I headed out to the Natchez Trace for a 3-hour bike ride. (Yes, this is relevant to the race recap - just stick with me.) The entire day had been pretty windy, but the winds were "REALLY" supposed to pick up in the afternoon. Did I pay any attention to that? Nope. Should I have? Absolutely. Why? Because the winds were a consistent 20 mph in all directions with gusts of 120 mph. OK - not really, but it felt like it at some points. The 20 mph was true though. And it was terrible. I held on to my bike so tightly that my shoulders and biceps still hurt two days later. Though I've ridden on the Trace countless times, I honestly felt like I was going to have to get off of my bike and walk up some of the hills because of the headwind. And I'm generally not afraid of heights and bridges, but I was TERRIFIED riding over the Trace bridge. There is nothing like feeling like you're going to lose complete control of your bike while riding over one of the scariest bridges in Nashville.

Because that wouldn't get windy at all.

   When I woke up on Sunday morning for the race, the muscles in my body were still really tense from the ride. EVERYTHING hurt. Granted, this could have also been that 3-hours was the longest bike ride I had done this season and my body didn't like that very much, but I think it was more from being battered by the wind. 
   But I got up, did a bit of yoga to stretch out a bit, and headed over to Bells Bend. Since I had already picked up my race packet, I caught up with some friends while waiting for the race to start. It was a little chilly - in the 40's, but you knew it was going to get warm when you were running because it was really sunny out. I wore a long-sleeved shirt and capris and hoped I wouldn't get too hot.
   After a few announcements from the RD Beth about the course and how not to get lost (a legitimate fear on my part), we were off. The race course was more cross-country than trail. Of course, I had to be told this because I have no actual idea as to what a cross-country course looks like (I stayed as far away from running in high school as possible). But apparently, a CC course is more on grass while a trail run is on dirt and rocks. With the exception of a small creek and a lot of mud from recent rains, Bells Bend is all grass. It's flat too, for a trail race anyway. When compared to a road race, not so flat, but it's definitely flat for a trail race. However, I would like to know who put the finish line at the top of a hill. That was just cruel.
   While the race itself was great (fun course, well-organized, awesome people), my race was terrible. Still hurting from the previous day's ride, my legs felt like lead. It was one of those races that just hurt the entire time. Admittedly, I went out way too fast (as I am prone to do), but then I burned out quickly. By mile three, I was spent and ready for the race to be OVER. And yes, I got a little warm. Unfortunately, I still had three more miles to go. Sigh. The good news was that, other than when running uphill, my calf didn't bother me and it didn't hurt at all post-race. HAZZAH! I AM HEALED! 

Me at the finish. Don't I look happy? (Photo credit: Jacob Carrigan)

   I finished the race a bit under an hour. Not great, but I felt like crap so I'm not beating myself too much. I need to get used to running with bike fatigue if I'm going to survive Raleigh 70.3 in June. I have two months to prepare. Better get busy!

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