Wind and rain and hills! Oh my!

This weekend, I flew to Nashville to stay with my parents and run the Rock’n’Roll Country Music Half Marathon. You may remember that between my experience with the inaugural New York 10K and with close friends’ experiences with Las Vegas (and the interview on The Marathon Show with the head of Competitor Group and his refusal to take responsibility for that disaster), I haven’t had a lot of love for Competitor Group and their races. But I’d heard good things about this one and it was an excuse to come home, so I figured I’d give it a go.

I flew in Thursday night, and then Friday morning Daddy and I headed to the Expo. Got my stuff, Daddy took a picture of me at the Boston tribute (though he missed getting the clock, so I’m waiting to see if it turned out from the Marathon Foto girl). I’d put in for a women’s XL, but it looked like I would be swimming in it, so I exchanged it for a L. It’s nice – white and tech (as opposed to the usual black and tech they seem to do with their other races).



Because the speaker schedule got changed around, we just walked around a little and then went to lunch. I did get to meet Karen from the Penguin Runners list as she was working at the info booth – that was nice! After lunch, Daddy went to his volunteer job at the Frist (art gallery) and I went back to the expo because if I did nothing else, I wanted to go to Kara Goucher’s talk and signing!!!! I sat for a little of Frank Shotrer’s talk and most of Rod Dixon’s, and then Kara took to the stage!

When the last question was asked, I (along with several others) headed to the Nissan booth so we were in line for the signing. She was so friendly!! I said we’d run in the same race a few years ago (the NYC Half), though she was almost done before I left the park, and she laughed and said “No! But we raced together!!” She is awesome!! I’d gotten a magnet and had her sign that.

Day made!!

After, I briefly met up with Eddie and his wife Anna, then walked to the Frist to see their exhibits and wait for Daddy.

Watching the news that night, we got the bad news – though honestly, given what we’d been seeing it was expected. 100% chance of rain.

Sad face!!

Though given that I’ve been racing since Labor Day 2010 and have yet to have a race where it really rained (a few sprinkles in some Coogans, and some cold with snow on the ground, but not while it was snowing), I suppose I was due for it. Nevertheless, I gamely got my stuff ready – I was very glad I had gotten arm warmers though!!

Because we had to drive into Nashville, I was up Disney race early and ready to go. I’d put a post-it on the door so I’d remember my GenUCan and my water bottle, and that worked.

We parked, and I headed over to Centennial Park to potty and chill before getting into my corral. Mom and Daddy went I think into the Marriott to wait for the start. Once we were in the corrals, we had a moment of silence for Boston, and John Bingham had us hold up one hand in the peace sign during it. That was cool – and other than the news helicopter above it was QUIET! The national anthem was sung. And then we waited. It got past 7am and no one had moved. Mom and Daddy said they did announce there was going to be a slight delay, but I didn’t hear that in the back. Apparently (as I found out from Karen later) one of the dogs sniffed something suspicious at a car alongside the route, but it turned out to be fresh paint. Once that was cleared, we were off. Being corral 22, it was about 30 minutes before I crossed the line, but I did! Just before my corral took off, I spotted Mom and Daddy on the hill (I’d somehow gotten up into corral 21 while we were walking, not that it would have mattered because in spite of them saying things were going to be tighter in the corrals, people were all over the place (there was a woman with a 31xxx bib in our corral and a race staff member passed her and didn’t say anything; and people were entering far below their corrals and walking up). I started yelling for Daddy, but he didn’t hear me. The guy next to me was like “Is that your dad? What’s his name?” When I told him, he was like “JIM!!!” and Daddy turned and saw me. The girls on my other side said “Are those your parents? That is so cute of them!! They must really love you to come out in weather like this!!”

Once my corral was released we quickly hit the hills – constantly rolling is the best way to describe that course. There are very few if any flat spots. The entertainment along the course was good considering the weather. And there were a pretty good number of spectators out. In front of Ocean Way Studios, they were frying bacon and had a sign “Free bacon for runners!” but it was so early in the race I didn’t even want to think about it. When we were in the neighborhood where I knew Mom and Daddy were going to try to be, there were lots of people having viewing parties on their porches or under tents in their lawns. One guy was all decked out in a suit and bow tie and hat with his mimosa in hand – so southern!Saw Mom and Daddy and kept on trucking. The combination of the rain (I swear my shoes each weighed 5 pounds by the end) and wind and hills was taking its toll on me. I was so happy to get to the split, because I knew then I was almost done. And I was very glad I hadn’t opted for the full because I’m stubborn enough I would have kept going, but so relatively few people do it, it would have been a very lonely race, and I’m sure I would have had a meltdown at least once.

Finally got to the end and got my medal. Then had to walk through all the post-race food – freezing and shivering!!! – to get to the blankets. Note to Competitor – PLEASE PUT THE BLANKETS RIGHT AFTER THE MEDALS!!! Especially on a day like yesterday!! I didn’t get any of the food because I was too cold to think about anything other than the blanket. Finally got that and headed to find Mom and Daddy at our decided upon letter. Stopped by the beer tent to get my beer, and picked up an abandoned banana there. Met up with Mom and Daddy and we headed to the car. I picked up an abandoned unopened power bar on the way. We drove home, and I got a long hot shower – ice bath be damned yesterday!!

I had done it!! Final time 2:49:01 – which I’ll take for sure.

As Karen said, given the combination of conditions, I’ll be hard-pressed to find a harder half.

So I will say Competitor did a lot to prove themselves to me – but there are still some things they could improve. Besides the blankets, there were some water stops that looked almost empty and abandoned – and I’m not even the far back of the pack yet. But it was definitely a good experience all things considered.


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