Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Running Music City

Alright, so my updating here sucks big time. I was off for over a week and half and had big plans to catch up, and, well, guess what happens when you only have a couple of days at home inbetween long weekend trips planned around races - laundry and sleep. LOL.

So, April was a crazy race month (wait til you hear about May!), and it ended with a big trip to Nashville for the Country Music 1/2 on the 30th. This trip had been in the works for maybe a year with folks coming into town from near and far for it. I was looking forward to good times with good friends and definitely wasn't disappointed.

Katie, Steve, Laura, and I flew into town on Friday morning and headed right to the expo after checking in at our hotel. We had all heard stories of the hills in this race and decided to watch the course preview video that was playing. Maybe not the best idea, as Katie and I sat there watching the uphills and repeatedly going "owie". I had decided early on that this race was just going to be about fun with friends rather than time, and the video cemented that decision.

After the expo and some time getting settled into our hotel rooms, it was time to meet up with some ROTE friends for some quality carb loading. After good dinner and many laughs, we parted ways til morning.

A few weeks before the race, the 4 of us had decided to take advantage of a special "platinum" package being sold in conjunction with the race. For $60 (which worked out to $15 per person) you got VIP parking and 4 wrist bands that gave you admission into a VIP runners area with a huge spread of food and most importantly, your own area of Porta Johns. Having done Competitor races before, and encountered ENORMOUS bathroom lines, it was a no brainer to do this. While none of us really took advantage of the food, having a much shorter bathroom line was great. The only drawback was that we were in corral 26, which meant it took us nearly a half hour to even cross the start line, and then suddenly we all had to stop again only a mile into the race. Oy.

The start of the race was pretty unremarkable. It was probably one of the biggest races I've ever done, even perhaps exceeding MCM. While I hate the wave start and how long it involves standing around and waiting, it does help with course congestion.

The race itself was also pretty unremarkable. Katie, Steve, and I chugged along and around mile 3 we encountered the first of our major hills. Everyone around us was walking as one solid pack. There was nowhere to move or even really attempt to run, so we joined in. It was also HOT. The sun was merciless, and it wasn't helped by the fact that we didn't even cross the start line til about 8:30.

We continued on, walking more than running. The hills and heat were just sucking the life out of us. Then, about mile 7, we found nirvana. Over dinner the night before, our Canadian friends, Steven and Cara, told us about a gourmet popsicle place that visited earlier that day. Cathy, one of our Nashville hosts, mentioned that she thought it was near the race course. Suddenly, I saw the sign for the shop and a woman standing out front behind a freezer. I stopped in my tracks. Steve thankfully had some cash on him and was willing to stop and treat us. I chose a honeydew one. OMG, it was amazing. Plus, I felt my internal temp drop by easily 5 degrees.

We were the envy of many around us, and garnered a few laughs from as well from those who were entertained that we had actually stopped and done this. I think they were just jealous. ;) The shops on this stretch of the course definitely did well that morning - while enjoying our icy treats, we passed a group of women who had stopped and bought iced coffee.

Around this time our Crazy British friend, Alison, caught up to us on the course. We were about to hit a good downhill portion of the course and my legs were beginning to stop walking and get some good speed in. I bid a farewell to Steve and Katie, and joined up with her for the remainder of the race. It's always fun to spend time getting to know someone while out on the course and help the miles go by faster as well. I learned that she really is Crazy as she tried her darnedest to push me towards a sub 3 hour finish.

We were racing towards beer though. Cathy's dear husband had agreed to man our official ROTE stop on the course just before mile 12. This spot had been chosen so our friends Greg and Steph, who were doing the full marathon, would be able take advantage of his services as well. It was around this same point that we had to climb more hills, too. I stood there drinking a cup of beer and seriously contemplated just hanging out there rather trying to finish, lol. But, we did bid our farewells and continue the final mile home. I am thankful to Alison for dragging me along in those last couple of miles. We didn't finish under 3 hours, but we certainly had fun along the way!

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