The Music City Trail Ultra has been on my mind a lot in recent weeks. That’s in no small part due to the fact that it’s one month from tomorrow. If you’ve followed this blog, or my Twitter, or have talked to me, you know about this race. I love it, and am terrified of it. And what else is a blog for, than for me to piece together my thoughts in one spot.
A brief rundown/recap for those of you who aren’t familiar. The MCTU is a 50k about 40 minutes west of Nashville. And it’s really freaking hard. In the past, the RD has offered prize money if someone can break 4 hours, because no one has come close (the Course Record is 4:16:58…set 4 years ago). It runs on single track, jeep roads, double track, off trail, through rivers, and LOTS of hills.
In words to a friend, “The race is so brutal. Yet, is somehow more brutal than I remember it.”
All that being said, my 50k PR is on this course. My only non-injury DNF is also on this course.
So yeah, I’ve been through the gambit on this one.
The first time I ran this course (when I ran a PR) I didn’t know what awaited me. I knew it was going to be hard. But after running the Maryland HEAT where we had to climb a literal wall…twice; I figured it couldn’t be worse. And while the hills were brutal, I took my time at Aid Stations, played it conservative, and finished 5th.
Coming back in 2018, I was filled with confidence. I had course experience, and I knew where I could save some time from the prior year. Going into the race, I held the belief that if I could get 5:30 or a little below, I’d have a legitimate shot to podium.
The race decidedly did not go well. In hindsight, there were a couple reasons. The first was that it was super hot; hot enough that the race put an extra water station out. I didn’t adjust my hydration accordingly, and greatly suffered. It’s also worth noting I had run the Cowtown Marathon two weeks before, and a 20 miler (where I REALLY suffered) the weekend inbetween. Stupid, I now know. Throw in that the flu and pneumonia came quickly on the heels of this race, and I probably wasn’t 100% healthy.
The bigger factor, though, was that I was ruined mentally very early in the race. I felt like I was going slower than I needed, and was still getting passed in the first 15 miles. With all those people passing me, I felt there was no way I would podium. Basically, my mental game was not strong at all for this. Again, in hindsight, I was SO wrong in that moment.
When I thought I was going slow? I was ahead of my PR pace until Mile 13.
All those people who had passed me in the first 13? Had I kept my head screwed on straight and kept plugging along toward that 5:30ish finish I probably end up in second. Second place was a 5:38. And I had kept plodding along at my slowed pace, I probably end up top 10.
I’m actually getting mad at myself while writing this.
Never mind the fact that I’ve run two mountain 50ks since this disaster. And nevermind that they were both harder (especially Killington). Last year’s race is still something I think about.
Of course, that’s partly because I’m signed up for the Illinois Marathon and actually want to do well there. That’s also me making excuses. My two best marathons have come 6 weeks after a 50k. Illinois? Six weeks after the MCTU.
So now I’m pumped, I’m ready, and I need to find some trekking poles to run with. At MCTU 2019, it’ll be about redemption for me. And I’m ready.