Music City Trail 50K, ahem 55K – report

music city tral ultra braveheart
Braveheart himself sending us off

Sometimes things don’t turn out just right and you’re left with reassessing, regrouping. This past week I ran The Music City Trail Ultra and it kicked my ass, put me in my place, and handed me my ego.

This inaugural race was held in Cheatham county just west of Nashville. The terrain was varied, single track, gravel roads, river and stream crossings, plenty of stumps to jump. Hardwin Adventures did an overall great job organizing the race, very well marked considering how un-trail like some of the trails were. Without what seemed like a thousand orange flags I’m sure everyone would’ve gotten lost.
Lost
And of course even with all the markings, I still got lost. A wrong turn early on taken with a half dozen others, and before we knew it we were 3+ miles and an hour behind the rest. Dead last. No one to blame but myself, not paying attention and just following along. I spent the next 6 hours passing almost half the field, struggling with the nagging thoughts. I’ve never been so far off a course before. At times I walked more than I would have otherwise, the drive to push forward gone.

Mind games
The longer these races the more important the mental aspect becomes. Pain and doubt float up to the surface, questions of ability, of insanity. Because in many ways these races are insane. So it becomes a mental exercise, how to keep your body moving forward, get to the next bend in the trail, the next hill top, the next aid station. Distract yourself, think of something else, think of nothing, whatever it takes. Whatever happens, don’t stop. A perfect metaphor for life this ultra running madness.
music city trail ultra steep hills
quad busting hills
I was shooting for 6:30 or better, thinking this was a reasonable goal with the increase in training I’ve done. I ended up running 2 hours longer than planned. My slowest 50k ever. But enough complaining. I still had a good time, and an excuse to come back next year and do it right. As usual there was plenty of chat along the way, there’s always something to talk about when you’re stuck in the woods for hours on end.
Some extra perks
Poison ivy
It was everywhere in plain sight, a few times it was thick across the trail and you had no option other than run straight through. I’m luckily not allergic, but still have some itchy red areas. Long socks highly recommended.
Ticks
Little bastards latch onto your legs and start burrowing in, picked off a half dozen or so. They are fairly harmless really, just have to get them in time.
Chiggers
Even worse than ticks, evil little bastards get under your skin and lay eggs. Itchy as all hell.
Quad busting hills
Most trails have runnable switchbacks to even out the steepness. Not so much here. You know it’s steep when you’re just as slow going down as up because you’re afraid to trip and tumble to the bottom.
Rain
My last couple of miles had a nice torrential rain downpour, the kind where you really feel the raindrops, and can’t see more than a few feet ahead. Somehow it seemed a fitting end to the race.
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Things to adjust for the next race:
– I need to buy shoes with just a little more padding. I love my minimal shoes, but after 4-5 hours of gravel and hard rocky surfaces it starts taking its toll. So a zero drop shoe with just a few millimeters of extra padding should do.

– Pay attention to markings more, don’t follow along. Load GPS mapping data into my phone when available.

Phrase of the day:
“More stumps than Stump Jump.”