Race Recap: Marathon #16, Nashville, TN: Country Music Marathon
Several weeks after having a blast at the Little Rock Marathon, I packed up my running gear again and headed down to music city – Nashville, TN!
Anticipating a car ride under 7 hours, I was a bit frazzled with my close to 9 hour commute. Plans of visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame were left in the traffic and construction somewhere on Highway 65. Blasting country music, I finally peeled into a parking garage near the expo, several hours later than anticipated. I booked it inside, scooped up my race stuff, a few gels, and my Mizzou girls Marlena and Christine.
Back in the car again, onward to our hotel, and then straight to the Grand Ole Opry. Because my God, if we’re in Nashville, we’re going to the Opry. I had just enough time to change and leave my stuff in our room before we were off, barely registering the fact that our alarms were going to go off at 3:00 a.m. the next morning.
Yes, I said 3:00 a.m. Shit.
Unfortunately, country music singer George Jones had passed away earlier that day. All of the performers honored him in some way, singing his songs and saying kind words about their experiences with him. And then the coolest thing ever happened.
Y’all….frigging Brad Paisley surprise showed up. No Shit!
Not only did he honor George Jones, but he sang several acoustic songs, including “This is Country Music.” I love Nashville! As soon as the lights came back on, it was back to the hotel where we hurried to lay out our race stuff, set alarms, and were off to bed.
All too soon it was (groan) 3:00 a.m. But then (double groan) we looked out the window and realized…it was raining.
Ok, ok, I’ve been here with the weather before and probably will be again. But after we drove to the public park area, took the free shuttles to the start, and started walking towards the crowds, we realized we were soaked to the bone almost two hours before we were supposed to start running. Somehow we managed to sweet talk our way into the lobby of a hotel where we dried out and had use of a bathroom. We were able to connect with another Mizzou friend, Laura, who was kind enough to direct us over to a building that gave us an indoor bird’s-eye view of the start and supply us with garbage bags.
Because that’s a super hot look if I ever saw one.
And then we were running in the rain. Dodging puddles and hills. Though we didn’t have much of a choice on running through either the puddles or the hills. I’m certain Nashville is a very pretty city, but I admit I spent much of it with my eyes on the road trying to determine the deepest spots in the road to avoid. Each time I landed a foot into a small swimming pool, my shoes felt heavy with rainwater. I knew later in the course my shoes would feel like bricks when this happened. And they did.
Yet all the while, thoughts of Boston. Prayers for the family and friends of anyone affected by the tragedy. Noticing all the runners visibly displaying their support for Boston. Smiling at all the spectators, there to cheer us on with no fear despite what had happened. So much pride for marathoners. So much pride for our country.
This is not a group of people who can be easily messed with.
Cutting off my knee brace (wet from the rain, it wouldn’t stay up) and making it through the marathon turnoff, it eventually just became…laughable and fun. Here we all are, on this hilly course, in what is supposed to be a beautiful city, getting completely soaked and just trying to avoid massive puddles, praying our sports bras don’t leave too many chaffing scars on our bodies (Oh – just me worried about that part? Huh.). Passing through a neighborhood, a loan woman sitting on her balcony cheered her head off for me as I ran by. I couldn’t stop smiling.
And then the damn sweeper vehicles were behind me.
Wait, what? The 7 hour cutoff is supposed to start after the last person crosses the starting line. I was on pace to finish anywhere between 6:15 and 6:45, depending, and I was in a middle coral at the start. So, what was up?
Lightening, apparently. They had stopped letting people through the turnoff point but now it was safe. No worries, we all trucked on. But later, at mile 18, I was the last one they let through an aid station. Everything was then closed down behind me.
Feeling terrible for the people a few hundred yards behind me who never got to go on (at the same time feeling selfishly lucky I did get to go on), I spent the next two miles running while constantly looking behind me. Because I was now the last one. And the damn sweeper vehicles were gaining on me.
Now we all know I sort of came in last place at another rainy and hilly marathon. And I was totally fine if that happened again. But the vehicles were getting closer and closer (as in directly behind my ass) and I knew while I could maintain my current pace, at 20 miles in there was a fat chance I could pick up my pace.
So I stopped running, walked over to the sweeper vehicle, and point-blank asked if I was going to get my 7 hours.
Yes, she said. Sorry for crowding you, she said. So long as you finish in 7 hours you’re fine.
And after that, I never looked back. Blissfully, it stopped raining for a couple of miles before it started downpouring even harder than before. I ran on, passing a few people here and there. And made it in to the end, finishing my sweet 16th state, in Tennessee!
Marlena and Christine, who had amazing races themselves, came back to pick me up before a quick shower and meeting up with more Mizzou girls, Angie and Jessica (who also had kick-ass races) at The Stage on Broadway.
Nashville is truly a great city that I have decided absolutely requires another visit to really appreciate all of the bars with all of the great live music.
The next morning I said goodbye to everyone, grabbed breakfast with Laura (who got a PR on the course, by the way!), and hit the road.
And crossed off state #16 from my list!