I Had The Time of My Life

Admit it, your brain immediately went to this movie, right?  We’re not going to be discussing the movie, Dirty Dancing…even though I love that movie!  We’re going to revisit the past few days in Wartburg, Tennessee and the Barkley Fall Classic (BFC).

MFH (My Favorite Husband) and I arrived in Tennessee a few days before BFC.  I get super excited and anxious before a race so we try to arrive a bit early so I can work the heebie~jeebies out of my system.

There are quite a few small towns in this area and we decided to play a little bit of tourist and visit all the iconic places in the documentary, The Barkley Marathons:  The Race That Eats Its Young.

From the very first time I watched that documentary, I knew deep down in my heart that I HAD to reach that yellow gate someday.  This weekend was my chance to see the gate in real life and try my hand on that notorious course.  Did I have what it took to maybe(?) try THE Barkley Marathons?

There’s some sort of magic surrounding that course, those trails, the entire race!  It’s a place where legends abound.  Victories on those trails are huge.  Defeats are legendary.

Frozen Head State Park:  Even the location of the race strikes fear into this kid’s heart!  I think it’s the most intimidating name of a place ever!!!  For this self proclaimed #ColdWeatherSissy, anything with a name talking about it being chilly is an automatic “nope!”

MFH and I visited the famous prison from the documentary.  Remind me not to do anything that will get me sent to prison?  That place does not look like fun.

After playing tourist for a bit, it was time to rest and settle my brain for the race.  We went to packet pickup where I met up with a few people I knew from online.  You *might* recognize these two guys?

I tell you, I’m such a huge dork but meeting Laz was just amazing!!!  He’d just finished his walk across the United States.  He’d started May 10 at the Atlantic and had just reached the Pacific the evening before, grabbed a plane and Ta~Dah!  Here he was back in Tennessee~a very tired man but having a great time!!!

This other guy is Jared Campbell.  If you’ve watched the documentary, you know he’s one of the very few finishers of the Barkley Marathons.  He’s actually finished that race not once but 3 times!!!  Holy Cow~that guy can run!!!  Much respect!

I got my bib then it was time to rest up and face those infamous trails in the morning.

According to “tradition,” MFH and I head over to a Waffle House for pre~race breakfast.  We were super close to a Waffle House so at 4:00am we were enjoying a waffle and coffee.  I was too nervous to eat.  Nervous is a kind of a lie~I was terrified!!!  After breakfast, we hopped in the car and drove over to Frozen Head.

Seeing as we were early enough, I was able to nap a little bit in the car.  I did hit the porta potty before the lines got long.  I learned at the London Marathon, get to the porta potty early.  The lines in London were over an hour wait (that’s no exaggeration) and it was 10 minutes to gun time.  That was not good.  For the first time ever in a marathon, I had to make a potty stop at mile 21…but we’re not here to talk about London.  Actually, we’re not here to talk about porta potties, either!  Back to the race.

Finally it was time to head over to the start.  I lined up and started chatting with people.  I met a person who immediately made it to the tippy top of my #BFF list because she thought I was only 40.  Bless Her Heart!!!  If you read this, you totally made my morning!

We all lined up. Listened to last minute instructions.

Then, Laz lit up his cigarette! It was time to run!!!


We had 1.5 miles of asphalt before we reached the yellow gate. I remember feeling the same thrill running through the yellow gate that I had running through the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.  I must have this thing for running through famous gates?  Just. Wow!!!

The views were stunningly beautiful!!!  The entire run was like this!  Beauty everywhere you turned!

Even though I didn’t make the entire course, I DID make it half way!!!  I’m soooo excited about this!  I know I posted on FB and Twitter about this so this part might be repeat for some of you.  My apologies?

Before you ask how I got such specific data (knowing that Garmin and GPS is not allowed at Barkley events), the guy I ran the last few hours with *might* have broken the rules and had his Garmin running the entire race.   He promised he was going to delete the map off his Garmin?  Seeing as I’m such a huge #NumbersNerd, I was tickled to learn what we’d just done. So here’s the specifics:

20 miles

9,600′ elevation

8 hours running time

That was just the first half of the race.  Simply too much fun!!!

I learned that those tire pulling hill repeats paid off in a big way!!!  I was very strong on the climbs.

I learned that my downhill running is dreadful!  LOL!!!  We don’t have these kind of trails in my part of Mississippi so I need to find a place to train for this kind of stuff.

My eyes didn’t give me any problems at all!  YAY for being able to see!!

I learned that I am strong.

I. Did. Not. Quit.  The thought never even entered my mind!  #determined  I was simply swept at the check point at the half way point.  If it weren’t for the sweep, I would have continued.

The weeds were TONS higher than I am tall.  T.O.N.S.

The hornets were being their hornet selves.   Good thing I’m not afraid of bees!

The briers did not disappoint!

The snakes were…polite?

The volunteers were wonderful!!!

I didn’t get lost!!!

It’s impossible to think of one negative thing in regards to yesterday!

I’m so excited about my attempt at BFC.  This race was a win!!!  So many deep down inside, little personal victories were won on those amazing trails yesterday!

Make no joke, those trails are tough and I loved every. single. step.

Huge thank you to MFH for coming and supporting me and today listening to me moan and groan.  There’s no way I could to any of this stuff without his love, support and encouragement.  #blessed

Today?  My body is hating life. It’s saying, “What in the WORLD did you do to me!?!”  Given the opportunity, I’d do it again in a heartbeat!!!  What a fabulous and unforgettable day!!!

Do I have what it takes to toe the line at the BIG Barkley?  Right now, No.  I have some work to do to be able to do that!  Then again, I’m not afraid of a little work.

Thank you for cheering and your kind words of support.  Y’all are the very best!!!









4 thoughts on “I Had The Time of My Life

  1. Pingback: Guest Blogger Melinda Howard on Running In The Dark | Exercising Foodies

  2. Tiaqunia Hayss

    I loved everything about this. I’ve seen 2 documentaries about that race. I just want to visit the park and starting location one day. Meeting Laz would be awesome too. Great job out there. You are truly an amazing runner.

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