Wednesday, November 25, 2009

memphis' best kept secret

The Tour D'Wolfe at Shelby Farms.

I had been craving a solid 10 mile run since this weekend. I didn't feel well on Sunday, and, since it is best to listen to your body, I opted out of a long run. I had the day off today, so it was the perfect day for a run. However, I really was not in the mood to run on the sidewalk today. Sidewalks are 30% more dense than asphalt and both are way worse for your body than good old dirt. Therefore, I went to the Memphis Runners Track Club website to find some good trail run.

I was directed to the Shelby Farms website, and looked up the Tour D'Wolfe. It is a six mile course (well actually 6.08 but who's counting?), and it is the greatest thing ever. Number one- it is super well marked. You know you are on the right path because there are little Tour D'Wolfe signs and these posts marking how far you have run. When I started on the run, I actually started at the finish because I couldn't find the start (it's a big loop anyway). After running the loop, I asked the lady (more on this convo to follow) and she pointed me to the start so that I could run my last four miles (I ran two miles into the course and then turned back for the last two).

Now I shall give you a run down (bahahahahah pun intended) of each mile.

Ugh Mile 1- I always hate you. It always takes me a good mile to start feeling my run. FOr the first mile my food sloshes around and my legs feel a bit heavy. That was true today. My Fino's sandwich was definitely coming up in burp form. But i trudged on. This first mile was actaully the end of the loop, which, in terms of scenery and terrain is the ugliest and least fun. Only good thing about this mile is that it isnt asphalt or concrete.

Wassup Mile 2- you might have started with a steep hill, but i liked you anyway. (remember i started from the finish, so my mile two started with this hill, but if you start at the REAL start, your mile two starts in the woods (see mile 7 and 8 later on)) This was when the pretty terrain began, and I remembered why I am training to be an ultra runner. There is nothing like settling into a run and really beginning to feel your body and the ground.

Hey there Mile 3- i really liked you. WOODS! At this point in the trail, you are running through the woods. The light coming through the trees is spectacular. The coolness of the shade makes you feel like you can run forever. This was the point where i thought to myself, "self, you can definitely do this whole 3 mile thing two more times. NO BIG." Mile three was almost effortless. I sprang across the mini mud puddles and tree roots with ease. Really enjoying the fresh air and the soft ground

Yeahhhhh Mile 4- you are very nice. Mile four was a continuum of Mile 3's feeling. Being in the woods on a tight trail makes all the different in the world. These two miles are really something special, and I recommend you try them. Right around the end of your 4th mile, there is the ONE part of the trail that isn't labeled well. When you come out of the woods, the trail splits- go right.

Okay Mile 5- I am not sure how I feel about you. This part of the trail is through a field, but you are winding all over the place. I am pretty sure i said out loud to myself and the birds and bugs, "where the hell am I going?"- never fear. You are doing the right direction. It is just weird. This point in the run I had to start encouraging myself because I started to feel a little tired.

Boo Mile 6- not a fan. This is the part of the trail that is on a gravel path alongside Walnut Grove. It is boring and not fun. Running into the finish is not as much fun as being in the woods. I was also getting pretty tired at this point, so perhaps that colored my opinion. My muscles were showing signs of lactic acid buildup, and my feet were a little stiff and tender.

BREAK- At this point (the finish) nature called- so I stopped for a break in the little girls room. Good call. I also found the real start line. Also good call. I asked the lady at the desk in the visitors' center (FYI park behind the visitors' center) where the start for Tour D'Wolfe was. She looked at me and said, "You do know that course is over 6 miles, right?" I said, "well i have already run it, but I just want to do more since i started at the finish." She said "You're ambitious" and pointed me on my way.

Shalom Mile 7- so glad i found you. I was happy to find the REAL start of the trail, and I was pleasantly surprised how GORGEOUS it was. At this point, I was tired but still felt pretty good. And then some young little cross country runner hustled past me. I laughed when i made the excuse to myself "well, I have already run 6 miles and he hasn't"- it's always a competition no matter what anyone says.

Meh Mile 8- you made me tired. Mile 8 allowed me to see how the trail is actually supposed to connect to the road along Walnut Grove mentioned above. Other than that, it was uneventful other than i turned around and ran SMACK into.....

Miles 9 and 10- Oh hey. Thanks for kicking my ass. I dont even remember anything about you other than that I was barely moving forward and my muscles ached and my feet were tired. It took a good amount of determination to make it these last 2 miles. But, my friends, that is the essence of running. You have to keep pushing yourself even when you are exhausted. It is a good lesson for life, that when things get tough and are bringing you down, there is only one way to move- forward. On trails in the middle of nowhere, you dont really have a choice. Keep going or die in the woods. You can't get to the finish if you don't make yourself get there.

So come on kids! Join me on the Tour D'Wolfe. It is the kind of run that makes you really feel the terrain. You can just settle into the run and let your feet respond to the rise and fall of the dirt. The hot and cold of the fields and woods. The energy and weakness of your own body. Get out there. Go run.

Ultra Love.

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