Naresh Kumar Conquers Mind, Body In Finishing Nashville Ultra 50 Miler

I am exhausted and in pain now. I know running Ultra is painful, but I just tend to forget how painful the last Ultra was and still end up signing for a couple more. I can feel the twinge of soreness in my achilles tendon and I dare to break those nasty blisters. I’d decided that I would rather leave the room lights ON and go to sleep instead of making an attempt to get up and turn it off.

3:18AM, Oct 16th, I forced myself out from the bed at this God forsaken hour to hit the shower. Race starts at 5:00AM. I decided to start along with my friend Diane, two hours prior to official start time. My ambitious goal was to get the 50 miler under 10 hours and run until 7:00PM to get a 100K. Little did I knew what was in store for me for the rest of the day.

It was very cold that morning that one could see their breath. I wasn’t expecting it to get this cold. No long sleeved shirt and no gloves. About 20 runners took off, into the fog, into the darkness. Not knowing where you are running at times is a bliss. I could hardly see anything ahead of me and that included the elevation as well. The first few miles were quiet hilly until we reached Kohls from where we ran towards Percy priest dam and back to the start line. Running that long wooden bridge along Stones river has always been my favorite course. While running back towards the start I saw the runners who started at 7:00AM. There were many faces that I could recognize. Dallas Smith, Josh Hite, Mike Melton, Mike from Bartlett, John Titjen and more. By the time I got to the start line which was mile 16 now, my hands were completely frozen and I had to take Angela’s help, another awesome runner and a good friend, to even open a can of coke and the cap of the water bottle.

The sun was up by now and I headed my way towards Shelby Bottoms. The course was great and the course directions were marked pretty clear. There was NU written all along the intersections. It was a pleasant surprise when the arrow turned right detouring from the pavement to a dirt/grass trail. The grass drenched in early morning dew, with trees covering both sides of the trail, it felt like running in the wild. That’s when the unexpected happened. I landed myself in a small ditch which was camouflaged by the covering of grass and I really twisted my ankle and felt a sharp pain shoot out from my Achilles. I walked a bit and when I felt good I started running again. The grass trail was winding through all along the course until a few miles short to the Shelby Bottoms Aid station.

It wasn’t until after crossing the Pedestrian Bridge, mile 26, that my feet started hurting from the earlier ankle twist. It was getting hotter but nothing unbearable. Running along the Cheatham lake reminded me that it’s the Purity 10K course which I ran earlier this year and I ran the purity 10K just for the unlimited ice cream after you finish. I saw the turn around point for 60K and 70K and was eagerly waiting to approach the 50 Mile turn around point. Mile 31, finally I made it to the turn around. Now all the way back to the start in addition to a small loop to the finish line.

Mile 33, piercing pain hit my achilles and even running a 13 min pace was becoming impossible. I was well in time until now for a sub 10:00 and decided to take it easy and walk till the pedestrian bridge but when I reached mile 37 I lost all hopes and the goal was just to finish. A doc at the aid station looked at my leg and after examining my feet he said that my feet is swollen and it’s going to be difficult but when I insisted to continue, he decided to splint my achilles which offered very little support. It was still painful but at least helped me keep moving. Prolonged walks on the hot pavement, my Vibrams couldn’t hold it, and ended up developing blisters. At mile 40, when I reached the aid station I had nothing in my mind but to quit. Should I drop down to 40 mile and finish the race, running another 10 miles in this situation was something too daunting. While my body was waging a battle against my mind, I decided to keep moving on the course so that I will not have a choice but to continue to the finish line.

Soon I hit the grass/dirt trail. The same course which I loved running earlier that morning was looking like a crazy demon waiting to devour my leg as soon as I set my feet on it.




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