Square Life Round World

I'm navigating through this round world while living a square life, and it fits exactly as it should.

My Quest For Half Fanatics Part Three–Herb Parsons Trail Half Marathon

on April 9, 2014

In case you missed it, parts 1 and 2 were about the Memphis Greenline Half and the runDisney Wine and Dine Half, respectively.  Part 3 was supposed to be about the Memphis St. Jude Half but Mother Nature intervened with an ice storm that caused the race to be cancelled.

Just to review, the basic Half Fanatic requirement is 3 half marathons in 90 days.  Since the first of 3 was on October 13, I’d have until around January 13, to get the third.  With this in mind, I spent the week after the cancelled race scouring the interwebs for anything within driving distance that would help me reach my goal.  I came up empty and resigned myself to just having to try again later.

Then fate intervened, or something like that.  Right before the new year, one of my local friends posted in a Facebook running group we both are members of that she was doing this local trail half on Sunday, January 5, so she could “moon up” this year in Half Fanatics (you can achieve higher levels of membership by completing more half marathons in a year, among other things).  I was elated!  I was going to get to be a Half Fanatic after all!  I completely ignored the part about it being a trail run.  I don’t have trail shoes.  I’m not trail trained.  I’m not sure I’ve ever even set foot on anything that can be considered a bona fide trail for longer than maybe a quarter of a mile.  I had no idea what I was in for.  I also completely ignored the weather, until after I had registered.  Pretty much as soon as I got the email confirmation of my registration, it was only then that I thought to check the forecast.  Freezing rain and snow.  Here we go again!

As the weather forecast continued to materialize over the course of the rest of the week, here’s how things were shaping up: a balmy mid to upper 40s at the start with a cold front moving in throughout the morning, bringing rain and wind, changing over to freezing rain and snow by early afternoon.  Cool!  I’ll be way done by early afternoon, I thought.  And that’s pretty much how the weather went down.  Except I wasn’t done by early afternoon.  See, here’s what happens when 30 mile per hour winds combine with pouring rain and falling temps in the mid to lower 30s within a half hour of race start:  the trail gets muddy.  You get soaked.  No amount of layered wicking clothing can keep you anywhere close to dry in that kind of rain.  A muddy trail without being trail trained and having no trail shoes means you fall down in the mud.  A lot.  Falling in the mud means you become muddy on top of being wet.  And sore.  There were parts of the trail where I literally had to climb up hills while holding on to tree trunks.  Another runner had to pull me out of the mud at one point, otherwise I might still be lying there (I kid). 

This hill was more steep than it looks.  It's where I took my first muddy tumble.

This hill was more steep than it looks. It’s where I took my first muddy tumble.

Other parts were so slippery I had to hang on to trees, almost swinging from trunk to trunk to keep moving forward while trying to stay vertical.  Also, the trail was not marked very well, and I thought I was lost more than once or twice.

Where do I go?

Where do I go?


I could go on and on about how miserable it was and how long it took me to finish, but I think you probably get the idea.  It wasn’t all bad, though.  The aid stations, although there were only 3 (well, 2 but we passed one twice), were very well stocked.  Of course you would expect water and electrolyte of some sort but there was also sodas, cookies, chips, m and ms, and chocolate candy bars.  This was much welcomed because I did not anticipate taking as long as I did to finish, and I was out of fuel by the halfway mark.  The sugar and salty snacks helped tremendously!  Also, Herb Parsons is a beautiful lake area, and had it not been pouring rain, I think it would have been very peaceful and enjoyable.

Herb Parsons Lake

Herb Parsons Lake

I’m so glad I did it, though.  Not only did I reach my goal of becoming a Half Fanatic, I found an inner strength I didn’t know I had.

Some of my clothes did not make it.

Some of my clothes did not make it.


I finished!

I finished!

I could have quit at three points in the race, but I didn’t.  Quitting is just not an option as far as I’m concerned.  Would I do it again?  Not in those conditions.  I would do a trail again, though, even that trail.  I would incorporate trails into my regular workouts and work my way up in trail mileage, however.  I completely underestimated how much more challenging a trail can be.  I would also get some trail shoes.

What’s the most challenging race you’ve ever finished?  What did you learn?

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5 responses to “My Quest For Half Fanatics Part Three–Herb Parsons Trail Half Marathon

  1. Andrea says:

    Wow, that sounds like a tough run! I’ve never done a trail run either and it sounds a lot different. My last race was also really challenging because of the weather.

    So I’ve heard of half fanatics and will hopefully qualify in a few weeks, but don’t really know much about it. What are the benefits of qualifying and joining?

  2. Congrats on getting the job done! I had never heard of this race; not sure I’m brave enough for a trail run but that area is beautiful!

    • Kristen I wouldn’t have been brave enough had I known what I was getting into. This is the first year they did it and it was very small. I want to say it was around 150 people, some doing a full. Almost all of the full people I talked to were training for a trail ultra. I can’t even wrap my head around that.

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