At 10:03am on March 18, 2023, I set off facing a 20mph headwind to run the Central Hardwoods trail in hopes of setting an unsupported female FKT. The sun shone brightly, but the wind was brutal, and temperatures felt like high 20s. Holy windy snotfest, Batman! I ran too fast for the first few miles, determined to push through the headwind instead of relaxing. Poor choice. I forgot Tailwind, my constant during long runs for years. Big mistake. I knew within three miles that drinking only water was going to negatively affect my run. I felt my energy levels wane as I exited the road and started running the trail. I kept moving, telling myself things usually turn around in a long run. I came to a ‘Y’ in the trail and was unsure of which trail to take. I got out my phone and studied some maps, choosing the correct route, but losing minutes in the process. What I thought was going to be an easy day was turning out to be a tough mental and physical challenge. I couldn’t get my body into “go” mode. I walked inclines. I felt a bit dizzy. I took gels, and would feel good for a few minutes, then my energy levels would fade again. I blew so many snot rockets, and sometimes the wind plastered them to the side of my face. Trail running facial? I tried to appreciate the beautiful sunshine and be grateful my legs could carry me to the extent they were. I gave up on pushing the pace and settled into cruise. I stopped worrying about time and appreciated the hints of spring as the forest started to wake up – buds on trees, small wildflowers blooming, squirrels scurrying through the leaf litter in a frenzy, and a gorgeous red-headed woodpecker flying from one tree to another. I made it to the turnaround in Fenton, touched the sign, and snapped a pic. I headed back without delay. I walked inclines and steadily ran the flats and downhills. One foot in front of the other, keep moving forward. Back on the asphalt path following the road, I was ecstatic that I could take full advantage of what was now a tailwind. I may have forgotten my Tailwind, but mother nature gave me her tailwind for the last three miles. It pushed me back over the Lake Barkley Bridge, and I watched seagulls and fish crows dancing in the gusts. I made it to the finish. I touched the railing in 03:53:04. I sat down on a rock and let out a deep breath. I was grateful to finish in under four hours and be able to set an unsupported female FKT.
Out and Back
3h 53m 4s