I’ve been looking forward to the Twisted Ankle Trail race like a kid on Christmas morning, studying the elevation chart and taking a few practice runs on Pigeon Hill. Then, about two weeks ago, the Feds apparently had a hissy-fit, probably because they couldn’t get entries into the half. A good portion of the race could not take place on federal land. Becky, the Picasso painter of course designs, took out her magic brush and with a few strokes here and there, managed to give new meaning to the Twisted Ankle. …so much for that elevation chart I diligently studied.
My goals were simple 1)don’t be the one person that always manages to twist their ankle during the race, 2) meet my pre-preggo time , 3) ….well, I don’t really have a three.
Parking was so much easier this year. Anticipating the increasing popularity of the race, they opened up parking areas in the fields and told you where to go, eliminating the possibility of getting blocked in by other cars.
I stood chit-chatting with other members of the Adventure Runners and some other runners I recognized from recent races. That’s what I love about trail races, the relaxed atmosphere and everyone chatting with one another like next-door neighbors.
Becky, a table-talker, gave the pre-race speech, which almost left me in stitches! This year, 13.1ers would run a blue loop and a red loop. 26.2 would do doubles of each: blue, red, blue, red. In the process of attempting to explain the features and turns of each loop, majority of the audience was left with puzzled expressions on their faces, while the minority looked panicked, as if they might have pooped/peed their liners too early. She explained the inclusion of a new “hill,” the Fire Break. Upon completion of the course, we would all be honorary members of the “Mile-Long Fire Break” club.
Ready, Set, Go!
Just like that we were off, darting around the lake and onto the main road. The change in course meant there would be approximately 3-4 miles of pavement, broken up into various sections of the race.
The beginning portion of the race sent us onto the pavement, against which my calves protested. Pavement just ties all kinds of knots in those suckers. We then hit some gravel roads before hitting the lake. There were several pavement sections in the blue loop, which I wasn’t thrilled about; however, Becky did her best to chop them up and spread them out like bread crumbs.
If you’ve trained on the trails around Atlanta (Pigeon Hill at Kennesaw Mountain, Sweetwater Creek, Boling Park), you won’t notice a “hill” until close to mile 5, which is when the Fire Break rears its’ ugly head. And even on that mile-long break, there was only one hill that received recognition from me and slowed me to a hike. Take a look at the elevation chart, and I’m sure you’ll find it. What I loved about the Fire Break was the one or two “stream” areas, which could be awesome after some heavy rainfall, the fallen logs, and the twists and turns! You either sang the Fire Break praises or damned it to purgatory, mainly because of the ridges cut into it by ATVs. Beginning trail runners struggled in this area, finding foot placement difficult.
The blue loop was approximately 6.5-7 miles long, and runners received respite between miles 6 and 8.5, with gently, rolling hills.
Around mile 9 or 9.5, the moment we all had been waiting for arrived, the birthing of Becky’s Bluff. Much like going through the stages of labor, it started innocently enough with breathing controlled and even.
Then, comes the 2nd stage, active labor. The ascent is getting steeper, you’re leaning forward more with the occasional grunt or groan…your quads are beginning to burn, but no…no, you’re not there yet. …not until you feel the Ring of Fire, so breathe.
Stage 3, the most demanding part, the delivery of the new you. Exhausted, grunts and groans give way to desperate gasps for air, expletives. Don’t grit your teeth. Don’t squint your eyes closed.“You feel weak and when you feel weak you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
and just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up
and not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse. (Eminem)
You’ve pushed through, hands on thighs, willing them up, and this is your reward…a man with a mullet.
No, seriously, you do get a FAB view of Alabama off in the distance.
Much like the shock after delivery, you lose all sense of time and awareness. The last 3 miles were a blur, and much like post-labor, Becky’s Ring of Fire leaves quickly. You remember that you did it and remember that it was challenging, but the memory of it subsides enough to make you want to do it again next year.
I hope you’ll join me at the Twisted Ankle in 2013! Experience yourself what Becky’s Bluff is all about! …Oh….and remember to Run Happy while doing it! Cheers!
(I would like to thank Katrina from Katrina Runs for Food for allowing me to use her pictures of the Twisted Ankle in my race review. Please make sure to check out her write-up about the race!)