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Monday, February 2, 2009

THE 11.2

If you're a runner and you live in Nashville, then you've heard of THE 11.2. It's a route that is 11.2 miles long and winds through one of Nashville's biggest (and coolest) parks, Percy Warner Park. The thing about this route... is that it is shrouded in mystique. It's 11.2 miles through 1,500 feet of elevation gains and losses with grades of up to 10-12%. Imagine the hill that you do your hill workouts on. And then increase the grade of the hill by 10x, run that hill for 11.2 miles and maybe you'll get a sense of what the 11.2 is all about. Maybe.

It's one of those things that runners around Nashville wear as a badge of honor. It's like... you're only hardcore if you've done this route. And as you all know by now... being hardcore is my lifelong dream. Sadly, I'd never gotten the chance to run the 11.2. Oh sure, I'd taken the initiative plenty of times... I'd mention it to other runners, running partners, etc... and I'd always get the same type of response... "No thanks."

Sure, I could have ran it alone (although... my brain gets really foggy on runs and I knew I'd get lost on my own), and sure I could have posted a message on the local running website, but... being an 11.2 virgin, I didn't necessarily want to run it with people that had already done it. I wanted to run it with someone that I would feel comfortable bitching and moaning to, and someone who I didn't mind hearing me heave and gasp for air for 2 hours straight and know that I wasn't actually going into cardiac arrest.

So, I had resigned myself to the fact that I'd just have to wait till the Marathon Training run that includes the route in March. And then... last week, I got an email from Vandy Montana...

"...I have a GREAT idea for our Sunday run. You may not like it though."

I was a little nervous... but I inquired further and his response was...

"...I think we should go to percy warner and do the 11.2 loop. I know it's hilly, but we can take it slow."

JACK-POT. You see, Sunday just happened to be my 29th birthday and I couldn't think of a more perfect way to spend the beginning of my 29th year than tackling the 11.2 beast.

All week long, I eagerly anticipated Sunday morning. I didn't know what to expect... I'd read the detailed description of the route many times and was really nervous about it. When Sunday morning finally rolled around, I was super excited. Even with a hangover headache, I was psyched to get out there and get started. The running gods were smiling on us, because yesterday was the most perfect day. Beautiful clear skies and a balmy 60 degrees with a breezy wind that kept things at a good temperature for running. Not only was I going to run the 11.2 on my birthday, but I was going to get to do it bare armed and legged. Perfect.

All was well until about 2 minutes into the run. Seriously... that's all it took. 2 minutes and we were climbing. I had brought my headphones along, but couldnt get them to stay in my ears, so I just listened to myself choke and gasp for air (ugh, I hate hearing myself breathe).

For the first 8 miles or so... I found myself oscillating between telling myself... "Hmmm... this isn't soooo bad..." and "holy shit... this hill sucks major, major ass." It was literally a rollercoaster of emotions.

I was feeling really good around mile 8. I think we had our fastest split between 7 and 8? I don't remember exactly... but it was somewhere around there... like a 9:05. And then, we hit the 9 mile hill. The 9 mile hill was long and steep and the ultimate in suckiness. Somehow both Vandy Montana and I glazed over the description of 9 mile hill and it took us by surprise. I had thought that the worst was behind us. I was wrong.

I don't generally get a lot of leg fatigue in runs, but, I felt like my legs were on fire. I kept my head down and trudged along. And finally... we made it. We ended up adding an additional .6 miles to do an offshoot loop around mile 10 that had a cool view of the city and the last mile or so was all downhill.

By the end of the run, I felt amazing. The weather was beautiful, the scenery was beautiful, and I felt strong and oh so hardcore. I can't remember a run where I felt that good at the end of it, especially such a challenging one. (Now I'm ready to try the route starting in the opposite direction).

It's a fitting start to my 29th year. I have a feeling I'm going to kick some major ass this last year of being in the 25-29 age group. Bring it.

Triumphant Post-Run Pic:

Hells yeah. We are officially hardcore running bad-asses, now.


Chic Runner said...

love the pic and glad your run was so amazing! :) way to conquer the 11.2!

Spike said...

Great run! The 11.2 sound crazy difficult, so I'm sure the sense of accomplishment must be extremely fulfilling.

J said...

Great job - that sounds like a tough course but finishing must have been such a rush!! Congrats!

Kelly said...

So hardcore. Nice work!

Joe said...

congrats. sounds like a lot of fun! and happy b-day!

Rhonda said...

What a great birthday present to you! And you're fricking awesome and debating that!

Melanie said...

Way to go! I've actually never tried out the 11.2 either. It's on my list of things to try when I get back up to that kind of fitness.