* Country Music was actually my first half marathon I ever did. I know most people always thought my first race was Women's 1/2, but technically that was just the first race I trained for. Although I had no desire to do this race again, I figured since I had friends coming into town, work pays me to do it, and it couldn't possibly be worse than back in 2010, I'd give it a go. If I were to do a recap of how I thought the race went it could be summed up as "it sucked." It was hot, my legs were tired from all the hills, I vomitted, and I just overall wasn't "feeling it". After the race B & L commented how much they didn't realize about this race and what to expect (and these are seasoned racer/travelers) and how they were thankful I was around to make things go a little smoother. With that being said, I figured I'd give everyone the nitty gritty on what to expect from this race that you might not think about when traveling here*
Half marathon #31, 5th completed in TN, 2nd time doing this race.
Start of race 70s (at 7am) and humid. End of race low to mid 80s and even MORE humid.
Overall: 2063/ 22277
3 Major Things to consider about this race:
large size/crowds, hills, weather
large size/crowds, hills, weather
- First and foremost, aside from Las Vegas, this is the largest Rock n Roll race the series puts on. Why do you need to know this... because it affects EVERYTHING. (seriously)
- Expo is open thursday and friday till 7pm- despite having 2 days and a longer time to go to expo in the evenings, everyone generally gets into town the day before and heads there late friday afternoon. Due to picking Becka and Laura up at the airport Friday afternoon, it made no sense for me to make 2 trips to expo, so I decided to just go with them-- this is the line just to get INTO the building around 3:30 pm on Friday that holds the expo... factor in once you are inside there are 2 floors worth of winding lines just to get inside the darn thing.
- Somehow both B/Ls corral line and my corral line were the only ones where we were able to walk up, but all others had lines at least 10 people deep, yikes.
- They ran out of women's cut L and XL shirts. (with just shy of 4 hours left of expo, crazy) I could have just went for unisex, BUT considering the shirt was RED I wanted to actually be able to wear it because I don't have any red tech tees. So I had to fill out a form with my bib # and size I wanted. Note to race directors--- don't make your women's sizes so small so that people underestimate what they want then steal the bigger sizes for those who are vertically gifted like myself.
- After leaving expo you are constantly dodging people left and right downtown because everyone has that tourist glint in their eye which blinds them to the fact that someone is trying to get around them.
- Dinner downtonw = S.L.O.W. As long as its not super greasy, I can eat whatever the night before a race. My carb loading is always 2 days before and night prior I'll generally just eat light- B and L ALWAYS do pasta so I thought it would be a good idea to check out the Old Spaghetti Factory.
- I remember when I did this race 2 years ago it was IMPOSSIBLE to get in, but considering we got sat right away, I thought we'd be able to make decent timing and get back to hotel early, wrong. Although we got our drinks, salad, and bread pretty quickly, our actual meal didn't come out for over an hour... its pasta people! We walked into restaurant and sat down at 5:20, we didn't leave till about 7, ridiculous. When we left the entire front of the restaurant and lobby (which are all huge) was PACKED with people waiting to eat. I cannot imagine how long we would be if we had arrived any later.
- If you're wanting some of the downtown Nashville experience, I suggest going to a hole in the wall restaurant or non italian place and surely not many people would have done the same. Most restaurants downtown do offer pasta specials specifically for the race since its a big deal here. Despite long wait times, OSP was DELICIOUS :)
- Race morning- on the website AFTER you navigate through the event details--> getting to the start --> participant info and parking THEN you see that you HAVE to take a shuttle to the start line and it sends you to a PDF file that actually does explain in detail what you have to do, but again you have to really navigate through the site. Now remembering from 2 years ago how busy traffic was and how LONG the shuttle lines were I told the girls we'd leave hotel no later than 5am. Nope was way too late. After sitting in traffic for 10-15 min I decided to try a different route- Luckily I live here and knew a round about way (why I didn't think of it sooner is beyond me) to potentially avoid traffic and get free parking
- Parking is free at LP field which is where the finish line is, but its also why there is so much traffic because everyone is trying to go there. They do offer parking near the pedestrian bridge which is next to LP field but its $20. So being the thrifty person I am and knowing downtown pretty well, I parked a little farther away for FREE and had no problems walking to the shuttle line AND avoiding traffic after the race (Highly recommend doing this)
- Just like all rock n roll events, things are NOT clearly marked so we wasted a few minutes apparently standing in the VIP shuttle line before being told where to go... WHERE ARE THE SIGNS PEOPLE?? We waited in the never ending line for about 20 min and were shuttled to Centennial park where the race start is. My original plan was to get to the Parthenon by 6:15 so I could get my ipod that I accidently left at work from Jack, but 6:15 came and went and we arrived at the park just before 6:30, right in time for our Maniac/Fanatic photo.
I hate how its always "tall people in the back"
- After several failed attempts at texting J, I finally realized he probably didn't have his cell phone on him and I would most likely be music less this race- bummer. Luckily J came out of no where and saved the day with the exchange of the coveted ipod shuffle. (wearing bright colors and posting what you are going to wear on facebook the night before pays off)
Both all smiles now, after the race... not so much
- By the time we were done with photos it was 6:40. I still had to pee, however the lines were ginormous and I hadn't stretched yet and didn't want to miss the start since I was in corral 3, So I said my goodbyes to B & L and went off with J toward the start line so I could stretch and get in a good position to avoid the crowds
Dave surprised me with the photo... yes I look dead sexy caught off guard, I know ;)
- Even though I lined up in corral 3, I was at the very front of it and managed to squeeze into corral 2 when the rope was dropped. I was extremely lucky in never really having to deal with people getting in my way. I've slowly learned how much bobbing and weaving not only frustrates me, but sucks up so much energy. B & L were not as lucky. They waited in the monstrous lines for bathroom and the closest corral they could make was 14- from what they told me, the entire race was extremely congested with slower people just halting and walking without paying attention to if anyone was behind them or not. New (and some experienced) runners should have to take a race etiquette quiz.
- I was anticipating the finish line to be a garbled mess, but I guess I finished before it turned into a disaster, beer area and family meeting groups, whole different story. Although dressing "matchy matchy" is fun, it also serves a purpose--- easy recognition. B & L are 5'0 and 5'4 (?) so its not always easy to find them, generally they find me first, however it was definitely tricky this time around with the crowds.
HILLS, HILLS, and MORE HILLS
- Now I know I have said on my blog many times before how hilly Nashville is. I promise I never was exaggerating. Unless you are in a park, its extremely difficult to go more than 1 mile without hitting a hill, no lie. The interesting part about our hills is they are, long gradual inclines you just want to get over with, AND just because you go up, doesn't mean you'll go down.
- The entire race was hills. I knew the course was hard, but what I didn't know was how much they changed it from last time I ran it. I would post the course elevation profile, but it does't do it justice at all.
- Normally I don't let hills bother me that much, after all, it is pretty standard considering my training runs have hills in them. This race was a different beast- maybe it was the fact that it never ended, maybe it was the high temps, maybe it was the fact that my energy has been zapped the past month, maybe it was last week's incident... whatever it was the hills really got to me and I walked like it was going out of style... seriously. I can't remember if my first walk came at mile 3 or 5, but once I started, every.single.mile I walked. I guess the positive side of things is that I can manage to walk and still pull a decent time... so there is that.
- In short- if you don't like hills, or don't train on them.... I would avoid this race to save your misery (and legs)
HEAT and HUMIDITY
- I think people often forget that Nashville is in the South. I know silly right?!? It gets hot here, but aside from the heat... it gets REAL HUMID..... like take your breath away humid. Now although the temps were milder for this time of year, it was still around high 70s at the start, 7am, and by the finish time it was already in the 80s... at 9 in the morning
- I wore sunglasses for the first race of my life--- I felt like my eyeballs were sweating. Several times I had to take my glasses off and hold them just to be able to get some type of breeze on them. B assured me that its not normally like that wearing sunglasses, it was just THAT hot.
- Fun fact about me- I over heat easily. When choosing a shirt to wear, its ALL about the neckline. Considering I wore this shirt for the CO race a few weeks back, I didn't think my neckline was too high... WRONG. There were so many times I wanted to rip my shirt off and just run in a sports bra... come on abs... make that happen for me! Needless to say, this shirt will not see another race till the fall.
- One positive about the heat was that at the finish line that had ice cold towels they handed you to put on your neck.... all races should do this, by far my favorite part of the entire race.
- If you do not like humidity and running in hot weather, this is not the race for you and I would advise coming back to TN in the fall or winter.
- I will say one positive of training in this stupid weather is how much it helps you when traveling to other places AND how greatly it drops your times in the fall because you finally have full lung capactiy back. I'm kind of wishing I would have chosen an October or November marathon instead of september because I would guaranteed be faster.
Other tidbits that might be helpful
- Although they got rid of Cytomax and replaced it with gatorade (thank goodness) its only available at every other aide station
- They don't hand out gu until AFTER mile 10... yup you read that right... mile 10
- The entire course for the half marathon is LINED with spectators, it definitely helps (plus everyone is so friendly)
- For the marathon you run through some INCREDIBLY boring industrial parts AFTER you split from half marathoners at the 11.5 mile mark. Music will definitely help considering not a lot of spectators in those parts.
- Mile 17 runs you right next to the finish line... cruel curel.
- Instead of doing a post race concert at the race, its actually held that night at Bridgestone arena- bring your bib for free entry. It's always a country artist and this year was Rodney Adkins. (I wonder if this is why the race is so large?)
So there is my take on the Country Music Marathon- if you've never been to Nashville, it is a good way to the see the city, I think it just helps to know what you're getting yourself into before being surprised on race day.
way better medal than when I ran!
kind of obvious here when I started walking.
Mile 1: 7:53
Mile 2: 7:39
Mile 3: 8:20
Mile 4: 8:40
Mile 5: 9:06
Mile 6: 8:36
Mile 7: 9:11 (vomitted somewhere in there)
Mile 8: 9:11
Mile 9: 8:52 (this was even after stopping and talking with Becca since she was spectating!)
Mile 10: 8:35
Mile 11: 9:01
Mile 12: 9:19
Mile 13: 9:14
. 19 : 6:03 (get me done already!)