Choosing the Race
My husband, in lieu of a giant 40th birthday party with friends, suggested that I pick as many weekends (or races!) as I wanted, and celebrate with my closest buddies throughout the whole year. Jen, being a great friend and runner, wanted to do a spring half together. Nashville is one of our favorite places to visit, so it made perfect sense to sign up for the Nashville Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon. Not only would the race be fun, but the after party? Well, this was a no brainer. After we registered we read about the dreaded Nashville hills, we’re from Cincinnati, so we know hills.We eat hills for breakfast.
Training and Planning
As you might know, I ran the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon Washington D.C. six weeks ago. I had my training plan mapped out for Nashville, but life got in the way (a few other birthday celebrations!) and I missed two long runs in a row. I didn’t sweat it, but I did try to cram at the last minute. I knew in my gut that I shouldn’t have done that, but I did, and I went to Nashville on an empty tank.
Jen and I decided to not wear music, we wanted to enjoy the run and all of the live bands playing at every mile. I wasn’t even going to wear a watch, which was a first for me. We were going to start together, and finish together, no matter what the outcome. I had been training at an 8:40 mile, so we settled on that for our pace.
Before the Run
The expo was at the beautiful Nashville Music City Center. It was well organized, no lines and the Brooks Run Happy Island exhibit was amazing. They did a great job of engaging the crowd; we even won free tee shirts!
We woke up on race day to beautiful weather after a great nights sleep. The area hotels provided an early breakfast for the runners, so we needed nothing. We made it to the start area in plenty of time to mingle with some fellow running geeks in the VIP area. I got to meet John Smith, of the Competitor Group, who runs the RNR series. They take amazing care of their athletes, in all aspects of racing. I’m proud to know some of these influential people who work their butts off so the rest of us can focus on our task at hand- running a half marathon.
Time to Race
The first three miles were crowded, as usual. Our first mile split was an 8:56 so Jen’s pace alarm was going bananas. We ignored it and kept on moving. It was at mile three that the unthinkable happened– I wanted to drop out. Seriously. This hasn’t happened to me since 2006, in the NYC Marathon.
I wasn’t in any pain, and mentally I was prepared, but my body was so tired that I could barely move. Complete exhaustion took over, and there was nothing I could do to shake it. It was in explicable because while there were rolling hills, but they weren’t insurmountable. The energy of the runners and crowd was fantastic and I still considered quitting again at mile 5 and 7. At some point I just stopped thinking all together, I turned off my brain and let Jen do the thinking for us. She’s the reason we finished.
I remember a few things.
- The awesome sign that said “If Marathons Were EASY they’d be Called YOUR MOM”
- The smell of bacon and barbeque the entire way- Gosh, I just love the South
- Looking for Chad at mile 9, when he was in fact at mile 7 (we missed him)
- Mile 8 and ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’
- Wishing there were bands at every HALF mile, because once you breeze past them, it’s a long way to next one
- Wishing I’d had my Metallica to help me push through fatigue
- I remember Jen saying “we’re right on track at 8:40’s” (that mile was a 7:56)
- I remember mile 12 being completely uphill and wondering if I was going to make it to the finish, or at the very least, the medical tent
- And I remember Jen looking at me and saying, “You look good!” only to confess later that I looked terrible.
Things to Consider
The course is challenging so do your hill work. It’s not a huge climb like the Flying Pig, it’s more steady. But that means that the hills are constant. The weather is unpredictable and while we were lucky, it can be very hot in Tennessee this time of year. The organization is fantastic, expect nothing less from the Rock n’ Roll series. During this particular race, they removed the clocks from the mile markers as a test- and I have to be honest, I loved it. The clocks can be confusing since all Rock ‘n Roll races do a waved start. This means that your official chip time can be way off from your actual running time. They received this feedback from runners and decided to test it out. Don’t ya love it when organizations listen to their consumers? I will say that I wish the mile markers were taller, my neck only stretches so far and I was desperate to see them all.
As I Reflect…
Looking back, I loved this race. It was a rough one for me, but even after wanting to quit at mile 3, I somehow gutted out 10 more miles. Our finishing time wasn’t a PR, but it was mighty impressive given the way I felt. I loved the music, the crowds, and the good friend who stayed by my side. After we finished we made our way back to Broadway, to the heart of downtown Nashville. We exchanged smiles with fellow runners, ordered drinks and burgers and settled in for an amazing day of live music and boot shopping.
Of course, I highly recommend this race. In fact, most of the people I talked to were repeat performers. Maybe it’s the charity. St. Jude’s is such a worthy cause. Or, maybe it’s what all runners love– a monumental challenge followed by a massive payoff- you’re in Nashville! No matter what your reasons, I hope you you’ll put it on your race calendar for next year, because I can safely say we’ll see y’all there. —Amie