Thursday, April 30, 2015

2015 Race #6 - Country Music Half Marathon

Apparently this race is not called the Rock 'n' Roll Nashville race (even though it is a Rock 'n' Roll event held in Nashville), but regardless of the name, we got to wander through the streets of Nashville and go up (and up and up and up) all of the hills around town too! My Garmin actually had the elevation gain at 574' while we lost 593' so while it apparently felt like we went up forever and never came back down, that was not the actual case.

Thursday, I headed to the expo, and again I found it to be very well organized, and rather quiet, especially given the number of people who were wandering the downtown streets of Nashville. By Thursday, the weather had changed from rain to potential serious thunderstorms and the possibility of tornados and Friday didn't bring much of a change to that, though we did start receiving updates from Rock 'n' Roll about when we would know more about the severe weather plans, with a final update planned for 5:00am Saturday morning. Friday night was a big hockey night, so I knew I might be staying up later than I normally would before a race, so I laid out all of my clothes, filled my water bottles & put them back in the fridge so they would be cold, realized that I didn't have my bib belt (safety pins to the rescue!) and tried to figure out what to wear after the race, since it was likely going to be raining the entire time.

When my alarm went off around 4:45am Saturday, the weather report changed to rain around race start time (7:00am) followed by lots of clouds and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Since I was on my own for this race, and because I was staying at a hotel near Opryland, I opted to take the shuttle down to the start line. It was an extra $20, but meant that I didn't have to figure out parking at LP Field or how to get to the bag check / start line from there. There were 3 shuttle options and I decided to aim for the middle one just in case I got there a bit late, I would still have one more option. I ended up on the 5:15am shuttle and made it to the bag check line before 6:00. Since I still had an hour before the race was scheduled to start, I headed into the first hotel I saw and just killed some time, ate a peanut butter bar and used their indoor bathroom before gathering my stuff to head out to bag check and on to the start line. As I was breaking out my throwaway rain jacket (kept me warm at the start line, but mostly unnecessary), I realized that while I had packed my water belt, my water bottles that I had so meticulously prepared the night before, were still in the refrigerator in my hotel room... so much for planning ahead! The good news was that I still had my GU, so I could still fuel during the race, but I would just have to rely on the water stops instead of using my water bottles.

I found my corral pretty easily and had about 15 minutes to kill before the race would start, so I found a corral 19 volunteer and she graciously allowed me to take a picture of her sign in front of a beautiful church.

It took us about 30 minutes (maybe a little less) to get to the start line, but since we were standing on a hill, it made for an interesting picture of downtown Nashville as we moved toward the start - this is just one corral in front of me.


Soon enough, my corral was at the start line, and I was able to position myself right near the front of the corral, which is something I highly recommend trying at some point. It's a little like being in the front row of a roller coaster - you get a whole different perspective than those who are in the middle!


After a short countdown, we were off! It was fairly flat in this section and we went down a few blocks, made a turn and then headed back up the hill we were all originally waiting on. When I was in the corral, I was on the far end of the road, so I couldn't really see any of the leaders coming through, but it was fun to double-back on the starting corrals like that because you got an immediate boost from those who were still waiting to get to start their race.
  • Mile 1 - 11:19
  • Mile 2 - 10:31
  • Mile 3 - 10:19
  • Mile 4 - 10:37
  • Mile 5 - 10:15
  • Mile 6 - 10:13
  • Mile 7 - 12:14
  • Mile 8 - 10:32
  • Mile 9 - 10:40
  • Mile 10 - 10:56
  • Mile 11 - 10:08
  • Mile 12 - 12:01
  • Mile 13 - 10:45
  • Last .27 - 8:50
Average Pace: 10:47
Official Time: 2:22:42

I don't have any particular reason that I can think of that mile 7 was so much slower than my other miles, but I do know that once during one of the water stops, I stopped to take in a full GU, so that could have been it. It was definitely more challenging to coordinate my GU intake with the available water stops. Instead of being able to do my 4:1 ratio and basically ignore the water stops, I had to plan ahead to start taking the GU as I approached a water stop. I did make the mistake of trying to take a GU without water early in the race, but that was quickly thrown out once I realized it was really hard to swallow without some water! Definitely not the end of the world, but I certainly prefer to have my water belt with me instead.

As we were cresting our last hill, we were treated by this guy giving high fives and encouraging runners to finish the last hill before we went across the bridge and headed into LP field. 


After crossing the final bridge, we made a quick turn down to LP Field. The biggest letdown of the day was that there was no "finish line" - there were two timing mats and then a bunch of people standing around, but nothing really to indicate that the race was now over. I feel really bad for the first-timers - there's nothing like heading toward the finish line of your first race and this one was basically just run until there's a wall of people and then you know you're done.

The weather turned out to be great for the race! It was actually a little warm for me (mid-60's) and I definitely didn't pack any sunscreen in my drop bag, so after wandering around the festivities at LP Field, I had the medics give me some ice for my knee and then grabbed a shuttle back to the hotel. Most people who had hotel rooms in downtown opted to take the bridge back downtown and I did wander over that way a little bit and got a picture of the full stadium.


The shirt design for this race followed the themes of the others, featuring a country musician including cowboy hat, guitar and microphone and the finishers medal features cowboy boots and guitar strings. One unique benefit of this particular race was a concert by Martina McBride on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. I'm not really a country music fan, so I opted for other activities, but I saw some pictures from the concert and everyone who went seemed to have a good time.

Nashville was definitely a happening place while I was there. Broadway street was packed from the time I arrived Thursday afternoon well through our race Saturday night and even where I was up near Opryland, there were tour buses and people everywhere. You can definitely find things to do in Nashville! Tune in later this week for a recap of my tourist time in Nashville.

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