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Scenic City Trail Half Marathon Recap

Yesterday was the first time I've ever had the chance to run a race for the second time. Last year I ran the half in 2:18 and was pretty dang proud of my time. At the time I was in pretty good running shape, but I didn't have any experience doing long runs on trails. This time around, I was in worse shape but felt a lot more comfortable on the rough terrain. It was also HOT for the race this year - luckily almost the entire course was shaded so I never felt bad.

The one photo of me on the trails and I'm walking. Awesome.

 The Course: It's amazing. Some parts of the course are pretty technical (rock formations you have to step around, narrow track and even a couple of small water crossings) but for the most part it is rolling up and down hills. A lot of the downhills were so fast that you could really make up time. Of course, that also meant there were plenty of uphills where running wasn't really an option. It was hiking time! The views are incredible and if I had the skill to run with a camera, I would have. The only downside is that after the first mile on roads, there is a bottleneck at the transition to the trail. There's a little bit of waiting around here, but honestly it couldn't have been more than a minute or two. Here's a map and the elevation chart:

My Race: It's been a while since I have written a race recap without a bunch of excuses, an illness or some kind of nagging pain. I had none of that yesterday. I've only been taking iron supplements for my anemia for 2 weeks, but I honestly felt 100% yesterday. Maybe it's psychological, but those pills worked. I enjoyed myself, had no unusual pains, had no digestive drama and I loved every second of it.

About two miles into the race, I saw someone running ahead of me and realized that he had some kind of disability. I don't know what - perhaps cerebral palsy or some kind of muscular disorder. His running style was unusual and each step looked difficult. I chatted with him for a minute or two and told him he was really encouraging me. He fell over at one point and I stopped to help him, but he got right back up with a huge smile on his face and said, "I'm having so much fun." Well, damn. You bet I got all teary eyed right there and then. For the rest of the race I kept telling myself "I'm having so much fun." Best mantra and inspiration ever.

My Time: Last year my time for this race was 2:18:51, but I knew I couldn't beat that time today. Instead my goal was to have fun, not die and come in before 2:30. Turns out I need tougher goals, because not only did I not die, but I came in at 2:26:09 (gun time). My chip time was about 30 seconds faster than that. I'm really happy with that time, but looking back I could have pushed myself a little. But then again, why mess with a perfect trail run? In my age group (women below 44) I placed 49 out of 99. It literally cannot get any more middle of the pack than that.

Post-Race: I don't think I am capable of finishing a race without a tear. Seriously, it's getting ridiculous now. After much pretending I wasn't crying ("I'm sweating around my eyes, shut up!") I walked around for a few minutes, got some water and enjoyed some bagels. I waited around the finish for a while so that I could see Jill come in, who drove down from the Nashville area for the race. It was so nice to see her again!

Then I headed out and Tim and I went to Whole Foods for lunch. I love that place but since they charge like $87 per ounce at the hot bar it's not a frequent dining destination for me. Post race, money and calories don't matter. I got garlic kale, curried swordfish, baked chicken wings, sauteed cabbage, sesame noodles and sweet potato fries. And then couldn't eat it all because my stomach was playing up. Do you know how bad it feels to pay by the pound for your food and then not eat it all?

Somehow about 45 minutes after not being able to finish my lunch I was hungry again and ready for frozen yogurt. Crazy how that happens, huh? I always seem to have a little extra room for dessert.

Today (Sunday) I'm feeling a little tired but no real aches and pains. I will say, however, that my quads have never been this sore. Not even after my marathon was it quite this bad. Sitting down to use the toilet is a mission - as it getting back up. Now I know what it will feel like when I'm 94.

Have you ever participated in a race for more than one year? What's your longest race streak?
This is the only race I've done more than once, but I would definitely do it again. Maybe even the full? A girl can dream!

What's the most inspiring thing you have seen on a race course?
So many things inspire me during a race, and there is no doubt that I'm more emotional when it's a tough race. The littlest things make me tear up! Seeing people with disabilities run is pretty amazing - if they can do it, what the heck am I complaining about?!


  1. I'm glad you beat your goal, and I am STOKED that you had such a good time.

  2. Nice job! There aren't very many races close by so I do the same ones over and over. I wishe there were more half marathons close by. I love how you were so inspired by that guy. I tend to get a little emotional too.

  3. I'm glad you enjoyed the race! I'm not surprised you couldn't eat that lunch...kale post run? Yum.

    My longest streak for a race has been 3 years. I feel like I run a ton of 5Ks that happen on the same course if that counts too.

  4. That's great you stopped and chatted with him and yes it does put things in perspective!!

    I think my longest streak is two years, I like doing different races.

    PS - I'm going to be featuring you in my newsletter tonight! Thanks for being such a great blogger!

  5. Sounds like a great trail race and so happy it went well for you. 'I'm having so much fun' - best statement ever - that is truly what it's all about!

  6. sounds like it was a great race! Nice job!! That guy sounds so inspiring too. I've seen people who are clearly struggling and they just keep going even if they're barely walking. That's inspiring too. That even if you're not sure if you make it, you keep going (as long as you're not injured, that is). I always have room for dessert too :)

  7. I have to say, I love that you said on race day, money and calories don't matter. My thoughts exactly!

    This year I am doing a race for the 3rd year in a row. My mom and I always walk it together, its a popular local race about 15 minutes away.

    I did a race this morning and saw a few inspiring things - two people pushing other people in wheelchairs, and two seeing runners leading blind runners! Two years ago I saw two people running in military fatigues and gas masks, carrying an American flag. They were raising money for Wounded Warriors. That was really inspiring!

  8. Awesome race! I really need to try a trail race one of these days- what shoes do you use for them??
    I have zero race streaks- I keep trying new ones instead!
    We have a high school boy in my area that is on the cross-country team and pushes his friend in a wheelchair for every race (there was a small article in Runner's World or Running Times about it). The friend has cerebral palsey, I believe. I saw them doing the St. George Marathon. I was bawling.

  9. Aww sheesh this recap made me a little teary. Oh running happy is the best!

  10. That race sounds AWESOME. And the guy with disabilities, so inspiring! Last year at the Publix Half I got passed by a guy with a titanium prosthesis. Take that, couch potatoes!

    As far as race streaks, I did the Peachtree Road Race (10K) seven years in a row, pre-kids, in the 90's. Now, getting to Lenox Mall via train by 7am on July 4, and then home again, is just so not worth it.

  11. Doing my very first trail run next weekend here in Miami the down2earth @Oleda Park, looking so forward to it!..your story truly inspires me and i will remember "I'm having so much fun". Thank you for sharing! :)

  12. Glad it went well! I always prefer a good time over pushing myself too hard & end up not having any fun at all. God job!

  13. The tears get me every time, too. Yesterday in the last 6 miles of my marathon I started to pass the back of the pack half marathoners. They were not in what you would typically call "half marathon shape", but I told them ALL great job and that I was so proud of them, and I cried every. single. time. Something about running. It heightens all of my emotions.

    Great job on a TOUGH course! I would love to run a really great trail race one day.

  14. That is so freakin' cool, Vanessa. I'm crazy impressed with your time, too. I run trails approximately 10 minutes/mile slower than on roads, so I could probably finish that in 4:00 at peak effort. It's so cool that you're equally badass on roads and on trails. And I'm so, so glad you had a non-horrible race for once! Man this recap totally made my day and now I feel obnoxiously positive/happy/sappy. *internet congratulatory hug*

  15. no digestive problems!!! what is the trick?! :) !!!
    congrats on your race!!

  16. what a nice race :) it seriously looks like a dream. I'd probably run it the same; why blast through a course so scenic ;)

  17. Sounds amazing! And trail running is no joke! I'd be super happy with that time! Great job :)

  18. Nice race, Vanessa!! The story about the man with the disability, so cool.

    And that course elevation profile was NO JOKE wowww!

  19. Awesome job! I don't think you needed tougher goals, you needed this race to be awesome and it was! Nice work.

    Also, I love Jill!

  20. I am glad you had such a wonderful race experience! I love it when that happens!!!

  21. Congrats! That's awesome!!! I get emotional in races too :) Glad you felt so great!

  22. Hooray! That is an awesome elevation profile - way to rock it.

    I'm doing my first trail race next month - should be interesting!

  23. I get emotional in races too! Great job on the race! Hey, random question, but how do you make tabs on your blog?

  24. fun that you got to see jill and congrats! and thank you for the dvds. we watched 2 of them last night. :) my streak is 3 races at RNR new orleans. i’ve seen a lot of disabled runners with prosthetic legs and disabled individuals being pushed in strollers. both are VERY inspiring. makes me realize i shouldn’t complain about my race. ever.

  25. First off awesome job! I talked to a bunch of people this weekend who were getting burned out of racing and just wanted to have fun while doing the PDX RnR, it really made it a blast. I have done the Seattle St. Partick's Day race 5x and plan to continue to do it. Its just under 5 miles, it was my first race ever and I look forward to it.

  26. Maybe one of my favorite race recaps ever! Sounds like you executed this perfectly and I truly love your attitude.

    At Boston this year I passed a guy with a prosthetic leg at mile 24. I decided that if he could run a marathon with 1 leg I sure as hell could with 2. It was a very eye openning experience for me. Congrats on the race girl!

  27. Woo, great job! Trail running terrifies me. Loved that bit though about the runner with palsy; we all have to remind ourselves of the fun in running sometimes.

    My longest race streak so far is 4 years. I've run the Crim 10-Miler every year for the last 4, and this year will be my 5th! Hoping to beat the Kenyans this year!

  28. Wow girl, I'm soooo happy for you - for a wide variety of reasons. I'm thrilled your health held out for the race - that's a HUGE relief for you I'm sure! I can only guess how frustrating it's been for you these last SEVERAL months - yay that you felt strong!!!!!

    I'm also sooo happy for you for crushing your 2011 time - woot woot!!

    I'm also happy that you found inspiration along the way.

    My longest streak so far is 3 years with this summer giving me the opportunity to do a couple of races for the 4th time . . . if I can.

    Most inspiration during a race . . .I think the wheelchair athletes are pretty hard core! Last year there was a sort of out and back section of the Columbus Half and as we were at like mile 3 the wheelchair leaders were coming back at like mile 10 with the police motorcycles surrounding them - got all choked up!!! They were flying and man do they have guns (arms on the athletes not weapons on the cops).

  29. That sounds like an awesome race! I love trail running/racing. Its nice to not worry as much about your time and just have fun with it, as your buddy said. When I ran the CIM, a blind guy with a lead passed me and I started crying! Haha. I just was so moved that the blind guy was kicking butt that I thought, "man I have NO reason to be down on myself!" It was so inspiring. Wall shmall.

  30. Congrats! That is an amazing time! I don't think I could ever run that fast on a trail! I have done one particular half marathon (Toronto Goodlife) three times but I skipped a it isn't really a streak!

    I probably would have let out a few tears if I saw that runner. I am really emotional when it comes to things like that! The most inspiring person I saw was the 100-year-old man who ran a marathon here just last fall. It was amazing.

  31. You might be walking in that photo, but at least you're not all bloody like the guy in the front!

    way to go on a trail run! I have my first at the end of the year in Cali and am pretty scared about it---mainly b/c I haven't done any trail running and am just concentrating on my september 26.2 and then will worry about trails ;-)

    Great job on your trail run. . . . oh, and I was going to ask if maybe you have an intestinal bug? A friend had been having (bathroom) issues for a few years, then her whole household had some nasty bug and they had super strength antibiotics and she hasn't had a problem since!

  32. Congratulations on a great time!
    BTW I take iron pills every day and have for a while now. Just to make sure my iron is up! I truly believe taking vitamins does help. But maybe that's just because I have been taking them since after college. I"m glad you are feeling better!

  33. Sometimes just enjoying being out there and able to run is better than a PR!

    We've run several races around here twice. The 5K we run on Memorial Day is one of our favorites and this will be our 3rd year to run it.

  34. It was great to see you again!!! This will absolutely be a repeat race for me. :)
    See you at Stump Jump if not before!

  35. Congrats! And, I LOVE JIlL! So glad you two could connect!!

  36. That was an exciting and a great race event, Congratulations to all the participants for a great job well done. Thanks for sharing and keep running !


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