One of my favorite weekends of last year was the Stage Race @ Loretta Lynn’s ranch so I couldn’t wait to get back. And this year didn’t disappoint. Friday afternoon, Steven, Gypsy, and I loaded up the truck and headed 60 miles west. We got there, checked into the super cute cabin, and then went to the nearest town to pick up grilling supplies. Friday night in small town Tennessee = high school football madness. I felt like we were on the set of Varsity Blues.
Once we were back tat Loretta Lynn’s ranch, everyone was trickling in. I went and picked up my packet for the weekend. Packet pickup was at the big red house which is where everyone would hang out the majority of the weekend. After grilling, a bonfire, a few beers (hooray keg!), and dinner with awesome friends, it was time to hit the bed.
I usually can’t sleep the night before a race, but I slept like a log Friday night (even with Gypsy deciding to take up the entire bed). We got up about 6:30 am and went to help with packet pickup. Soon it was time to line up at the start. Looking around, I was so happy to see some RunWild peeps, as well as familiar trail faces. Phil, Derek, David, Sinith, Scott, and Sean, along with Daniel, Donna, Jewly, and Grace were all running that day. Jackson, who is apparently the Flash on any terrain, was there to crush it as well. Season gave her pre-race speech, and then we were off. We started down a jeep road for about a mile and then turned onto trails. After a couple of miles, and lots of ups and downs, we popped out into a field. The whole RunWild team was sticking together which was really fun. We ran down a road for about a quarter of mile, crossed over the dam bridge before making our way to Jenifer, Matt, and Donica at an aid station. Our group started spacing out around this point. This started a cloverleaf formation of the course. We were on some partially exposed, overgrown trails for about a half a mile or so. After that, we hit some really nice trails. There was a big downhill at one point, and Derek came flying down it saying he had twisted his ankle and banged his knee. Even injured, he was crushing it. Pretty soon, we hit a brutal uphill climb. The next mile or so back to the aid station was really runnable with a few downed trees to jump over. We popped out at the same aid station and did the loop again. On the second loop, it was just Sean and me for a bit before we ran into Daniel. We ran with him all the way back to the aid station. At the aid station, I filled up with water and headed out. The next two miles were on a gravel road where it was easy to pick up the pace. We crossed back over the dam bridge, went through a field for a bit, and headed back up the trails. Again, there were a lot of ups and downs. We hit an aid station around mile 16. More climbs and descents before finally hitting the main jeep road again. We passed the first aid station which meant we only had a mile left and continued on back towards the ranch. As I was coming up towards the finish line, I saw Steven had Gypsy out watching which was great– so happy to see them! I finished around 3:12 and second overall. Sadly, I also saw Derek whose ankle forced him to drop. Phil had gotten sick and was also forced to DNF. This was a bummer since they had been crushing it earlier in the race. I stuffed my face at the post-race spread and then cheered on the rest of the runners. After everyone was finished, we retreated to the cabin to watch the Alabama game. Sloppy first half but a win is a win…
Later that night, there was a great pasta dinner. All in all, Saturday was a great day!
Sunday started a bit earlier than the day before. The 10 miler started at 7:00 am. Kimbo had come over for the 10 miler, and it was great to see her shining face! The course started the same way as the 20. I stayed with Ken from the RunWild group for a bit, but dude is such a fantastic runner and pretty soon he dropped me. We ran down the jeep road for a mile before taking a right down into the trails. This course seemed to have more climbs/descents than Saturday but that could just have been my tired legs talking. At some point, we went up Forever Hill which tells you all you need to know. I thought I had gotten off track at some point, and right when I was about to panic, there was Yong taking pics. Whew! After a couple more miles, I was back on the jeep road that would take me all the way home. Again, Steven had Gyps out at the finish line. YAY! I finished 3rd overall at 1:16. Gyps stayed at the finish line and helped all of the other runners cross. And by help, I mean she was mostly in their way. The 5 miler was supposed to start at 10 which meant I had about an hour and half to eat as many chocolate donuts as I could.
The 5 miler was super fast and was over before I knew it. My legs felt a lot fresher than I thought, and I was able to get some good turnover from the get-go. I think all of the donuts may have been a mistake but luckily didn’t affect me too much. Portions of the 5 miler were part of the 10 miler only backwards. So the ups and downs of the 10 miler were the downs and ups of the 5. Around mile 3.7, we hit that lovely sight of the jeep road so I picked it up just a little bit. I finally caught the guy ahead of me that I had been chasing for a good 2 miles and cruised it into the finish line. I think my finishing time was 41:17 or so. This gave me a total stage race time of 5:10. Not shabby. Pretty soon after I crossed, David came in which was good enough for 1st male. After a few more minutes, Scott and Sinith were finished. Great showing for the RunWild group for sure!
After a quick shower, it was time to head home and CRASH on the couch. Such a great weekend– can’t wait to do it again next year! Thanks Nashville Running Company for everything!
** Less than 2 weeks until StumpJump…WHAT?!