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The Tennessee Mile

I don’t particularly view aging in the traditional sense or go big acknowledging my birthday. I do try to focus on new ways to challenge myself year over year. With my running, it’s simple: I have a running bucket list of races and routes that I someday hope to complete. More recently it has been taking something I was absolutely terrible at in high school (learning a 2nd language) and trying to learn Italian on my own. While I am still terrible at Italian it’s the act of trying to learn I’m focused on. I will likely never be close to fluent but the act of trying to learn is what I am focused on. 

I think a lot of the time I stop myself from trying something new because of the fear of being a novice is enough to not make that initial attempt. Then I have to remind myself that there are very few things I would consider myself an expert in and the things I consider myself skilled at started with just making that first fumbling attempt. 

A few weeks ago I turned 40, something I didn’t put much thought into until the week before. Being back on the trails in Asheville, NC has given me time to think about the coming year and what I want to get out of it. There are a couple big routes I want to check off that bucket list and a race or two that have been on that list for long enough. 

This winter back in Asheville my goal is to get in the training necessary to hit some of these goals and continue to explore the countless trails in the area. To celebrate turning 40 and to kick off winter training I jumped into the Tennessee Mile with the goal of running 40 miles. The race consists of what is called “the murder mile” which is a 1.1 mile loop with roughly 340 feet of elevation gain per lap. The format was a good mental test and the course, while tough, gave me the opportunity to talk to other runners most of whom were local to the area. Half way through the race I decided to do 40 laps instead of miles, as at the time it seemed like a more appropriate goal. We kept track of our laps with clothespins with each red pin representing 10 laps, so in the end I finished with 44 miles and a little over 13,000ft of climbing. 

Next month I am signed up for the Conquer Race in Georgia which is a last person standing format race that consists of a 3.4 mile loop with 1,000ft of climbing per lap. Runners will repeat the course every hour on the hour until only one competitor remains. I really don’t know what to expect with how long I will last but I really want to push myself with this one. The race has drawn a very competitive field as a first year event due to the large prize purse being offered, so I imagine this race will go to the extremes. Races like this offer the opportunity to push past the comfort of everyday life and a chance to face a challenge with no finite ending.