In 2008, Cody Goodwin moved to Nashville to attend graduate school at Vanderbilt where he quickly became buried in work. Looking for a diversion, Goodwin and a friend methodologically went hiking, crossing off routes listed in a book called “60 Hikes within 60 miles of Nashville.” Hiking subsequently turned into trail running. “I would go back after the hikes and try to run the trails. There was one trail close to where I lived. When I first ran the 2.5 mile loop I was gasping and wheezing up the hills but kept with it,” recalls Goodwin. “Within a year I started running in longer trail races and adventure races and finished a 50k race. My relationship with running has progressed to something important.”
Running helped Goodwin manage the stresses of graduate school and life in general. “Running provided more balance in my life. When I started running I was in graduate school for chemistry. It was stressful being chained to a lab bench all day. At the end of the day I felt there was like a swarm of locusts in my head,” says Goodwin. “Running was a way for me to sort my thoughts and reflect on the day.”
Like most runners, Goodwin experiences both mental and physical benefits from running. “Running has become a bit of an addiction,” he says. "It’s nice to be able to go out and eat as many pancakes as you want." (Goodwin swears by Edgehill Cafe's pancakes, calling them the best in the country and his go-to post run spot) . "But the mental aspect is equally important. You can build relationships with people but then when you are running alone you have time to reflect, come up with new ideas and digest things that are going on in life.”
Goodwin has embraced Nashville’s running community and is an active participant. “I definitely enjoy the running groups that I’m part of. I’ve run with the Nashville Harriers for just over a year. It’s been a pretty formative experience meeting with that group and tapping into their knowledge,” says Goodwin. "The Nashville Harriers have contributed to my success. They have absolutely transformed my running from something that was sort of “wild west” to a sustainable competitive running program.”
He also runs with the Fleet Feet Nashville Ultra Dirtbags Race Team. “They are a great group of people who share an attitude about getting out on the trail and challenging yourself. The members of the group range from people who are racing competitively to runners who are trying to finish a long distance race for the first time,” says Goodwin. “The Dirtbags is a great resource for people who may not be familiar with trails and want to get involved or people who are pretty good athletes looking for people to train with.”
An ambassador for Nashville’s trail running community, Goodwin still has a competitive streak. “I always go to a race with a goal in mind,” he says.
Two years ago Goodwin raced in the Rock/Creek Trail Series Upchuck 50k — one of the most difficult 50k's in the Southeast. Finishing second, Goodwin felt the course record was within reach. This year, he returned to the point-to-point Cumberland Trail course well-trained and ready.
“My goal was to break the course record. I did! The finish was euphoric,” says Goodwin. “I had the race broken down into digested sections and mapped out a plan. As the race unfolded I hit all these milestones. The final two miles I realized this is going to happen. I was well under the time for the course record. It was a pretty emotional experience.”
Goodwin smashed the previous record by 25 minutes.
Nashville’s trails and solid running community provide Goodwin a way to balance his hectic professional life, competitive drive, and an interest in sharing his love of running with other people.
“Trail running has fostered an incredible community in the South, and has provided countless friendships and formative experiences,” says Goodwin.
Ever willing to give out a toothy smile and a cordially drawn out, "Heyyy, man!" to acquaintances and friends, Cody Goodwin is sure to be an ever-present and inspiring member of the Southeastern trail running community for years to come... And surely, there are a few more course records in store for him as well.