Run for the Hills (There Are LOTS of Them)
“I can’t tonight, I have a long run tomorrow.”
Since this semester started, pretty much everyone I ever hang out with has gotten the above sentence in response to a suggestion to do something fun and exciting and non-sweaty on Friday nights. “Booooo-riiiiing,” they cry. “Do less,” they snort, with an understandable amount of derision at the prospect of me choosing to forgo a party just to wheeze and chafe my way through a three-hour cross-country slog at 7am.
Here’s the deal, though: Saturday mornings are sacred. Saturday mornings are when I lace up, put on my (admittedly really stupid-looking) hydration belt packed with fruit snacks and electrolyte jelly beans, slather every inch of exposed skin in sunscreen and Body Glide—I wasn’t playing around about the chafing thing, okay?—and wrangle my hair into a supertight ponytail to head out the front doors of Branscomb Quad, running playlist on shuffle in my ears.
Please understand, I’m not just doing this because I get a huge kick out of putting my body through the agonies of ketosis. Sure, I love running, but nobody runs this much without a specific goal in mind—and mine is the Nashville Marathon coming up on November 14th.
I mentioned this race in my previous post, probably because I’m one of those awful people who talks way too much about running. Ask any of my friends. I’m obnoxious. But hey, if you spend every single morning of your week doing something, you’re going to have lots of stories to tell, right? To run Nashville is to explore it and to meet the people who inhabit it, and that’s what has made all of my training not only bearable, but also my favorite part of every day. I figured I’d share a my favorite spot to run to and around. (This is adding on to an already awesome post by Aleida Gomez, and we share some routes in common–go check her post out!)
One of my sorority big sisters, who is on the cross-country team, first told me about McCabe Park and the Richland Creek Greenway route while I was agonizing about how I was going to diversify my routes enough to get through fifteen-plus miles without running the exact same loop five or six times over. The park itself is 2.3 miles from campus up West End and down Murphy Road, and the Greenway makes a three-and-a-half-mile loop through the shady, mercifully cool woods.
Pros: Great photo opportunity, friendly runners and dog-walkers at all hours, nearby bathrooms. Cons: far-ish from campus, and to get back to West End you’ve gotta climb the MEANEST hill I’ve ever encountered. Oh, and sometimes, you’ll get done with a fourteen-mile run in eighty degree weather and you’ll be, like, super dehydrated, and you’ll notice a hole in the fence bordering the golf course and an Igloo water cooler on the other side of said fence not fifty yards away, and you’ll think if I don’t get to that water I will IMMEDIATELY DIE, so you crawl ungracefully through the fence and get three steps onto the course before someone yells at you from their shady, comfy golf cart about how you’re on the wrong side of the fence, because what is this, 1984?*
*Disclaimer: I know I wasn’t allowed on that golf course. I know. There were signs that told me so. But higher-level thinking shorts out about two hours into a run for me. My legs were trembling. There were salt deposits on my arms and forehead. I WAS REALLY THIRSTY, OKAY?
All this aside, McCabe Park is a must-run if you’re looking to do about eight to ten miles and you want a run that takes you past yummy restaurants and produce stands as well as through scenic woods that hardly seem like they’re less than three miles from the business and background noise of Hillsboro and Vandy’s campus. And if you’re ever running around McCabe in the mornings or plan on running the race in November, keep an eye out for a girl with a cloud of curly blonde hair and a Bukowski quote tattooed on her shoulder—or keep an ear out for the faint sounds of Taylor Swift’s 1989, and you’ll have found me.