Saturday, I ran the Country Music Marathon held in Nashville, TN. Land of the Grand Ole Opry and the heart and soul of Country Music. The CMM is one of six Rock 'n' Roll marathon/half marathon series run by Elite Racing, which is a fun series where if you run multiple events in the different cities around the country in the same year, you can earn extra Bling. I didn't run it for the extra Bling...but I will take when offered after I run the Rock 'n' Roll Half in Virginia Beach on 31 August. This race has both the marathoners and half marathoners starting at the same time in 30 or so corrals in 2-3 minute wave starts and the course is basically a three loop course with the start line a few miles from the finish line so parking was provided near the finish line outside of the LP Stadium…where the Titans play…and buses were provided to bus runners to the start line. The first loop heads south of the city with the half marathoners breaking off around the 11-mile mark near the stadium to run a separate section to their finish with the marathoners continuing on a westerly loop which takes us pass the stadium again and then on to an easterly loop which finally brings us back to the stadium for the final time to our own separate finishing area.
I drove to Nashville Friday, which was a rather pleasant drive considering the 10 hrs it took to get there. Rolling through the Smoky Mountains impressed the heck out of me. Real hills...or rather mountains...it was real tempting to stop my truck and see if I could run up some of them...but good thing there wasn't any room alongside the road filled with whizzing cars and trucks or I might have tried to. The Dogwoods and Redbuds were in bloom and the trees were just getting their green leaves, all amongst the jagged boulders and sheets of sandstone...quite beautiful. The only concern I had was not the steep curving ascents and descents of the road, but the signs that said 'Beware of Falling Rocks'...Rocks!?! These were huge boulders and sheets of limestone that come cascading down the mountain. I didn't actually see any come down but there was plenty of evidence along the side of the road.
I made the trip in good time and even had the benefit of an extra hour from the time change. So I was able to get checked into my motel and then decided to do a quick 30 minute run...not because I wanted a chance to run the hilly roads but to fulfill my Kindzia streak challenge...besides it was a good chance to stretch my legs from the long ride. I don't know how far I went but I went 16 minutes out and back for a total of around 32 minutes...so probably 4 miles...and after a quick shower, headed downtown to the Expo to pick up my race packet. The whole downtown area was very congested and hard to navigate because of all the cars trying to get in and out of the expo the last minute…like me…but I was finally able to find public parking almost next to the Convention Center. The expo was wall to wall people with lines at each area but the lines moved surprisingly fast and soon I had my bib, chip and goodie bag. I wandered around the expo and got some souvenirs for my girls and then headed out to have dinner with Nat, her good friend Fishstick (just her nickname and running the half)...both had driven up from around Atlanta and another good friend of Nat’s Chris...at Germantown Café also owned by Chris. We had a wonderful dinner and the food and drink was plentiful and good. If you ever go to Nashville…be sure to stop by and take in the great view of the city while enjoying a wonderful meal. Thank you Chris! It was great to meet Nat and Fishsticks…Nat and I have been visiting each other’s blog for over a year now and finally getting a chance to meet her was fantastic! She’s as wonderful a lady in person as she is on her blog!
After dinner I got back to my motel and laid out my stuff for the next morning, set the alarm and asked for a 4:00 wake up call and tried to get some sleep…Yeah Right! It’s always difficult to sleep in a strange place with strange sounds and smells but I was able to drift off to sleep eventually but was suddenly awaken to the sound of thunder and pouring rain early in the morning around 3:00. Unable to get back to sleep, I got up and got ready for the race and drove to the LP parking to ride the bus to the start line. I took a plastic bag with me to help keep my shoes dry since it was raining on and off…sometimes hard but mostly just a drizzle and misting. I don’t mind getting wet but wet shoes just doesn’t do it for me. I noticed some people tied plastic shopping bags to their shoes but I only had one bag and just tried to shelter my shoes to keep them dry while waiting for the bus and at the start line to wait for the start. There were plenty of buses so thankfully there was little waiting in the rain. The buses did get crowded with people standing in the aisles but everyone was cheerful and upbeat and it was great to talk about running and to talk with the locals to get the scoop on the course. We arrive at the start line and there is very little shelter from the rain except for some large trees but the rain seems to be slacking off with only an occasional hard rain. I got in my bathroom break in a group of port-a-potties…good luck…no lines…and then went down to near the start line and waited under some large trees. After a bit nature was calling again and since by this time the port-a-potties were too far away to walk to in the rain and crowded by now, I selected a nice large tree away from the crowd of people. I wasn’t the only one…every tree had one or more guys relieving themselves. It’s good to be a man…but later…I was told…the ladies were using them too! After finishing my second call to nature and waiting under a tree, I spotted Nat with her umbrella! I had thought of bringing an umbrella to rainy races before but I always never knew what to do with the umbrella when the race started. Nat buys a cheap umbrella at the Dollar store for a race and when the race starts she hands it to a volunteer or spectator…What an excellent idea…a great investment of a dollar which keeps you dry and a volunteer or spectator happy and dry!
We got into corral #2 a few minutes before the 7:00 start and watch and cheer as first the wheelchair racers are sent on their way, then the elites and the first corral. They move our corral to the start line and drop the rope and we all start running but we’re halted again just before the starting mats with another rope…a false start…but about a minute later we are sent on our way.
The goals of this race is to get Nat a PR of under 3:37 and if all goes extremely well a 3:30, so off we go on a pace which I think is slow…I only have a chrono on my watch and Nat’s Garmin is broken so there is no idea of pace until the first mile marker…Oh…did I tell you I also forgot to start my watch until we were about two minutes into the race. So we ask around what the time is and someone says 7 something, which is way faster than the low 8’s we are trying for, and we try to slow it down. About this time one of my MCM forum friends races up and talks with us a couple of minutes before continuing on ahead…his marathon finishing times are close to mine and he is trying to go sub 3:20 today. We come up to mile two and it is still in the high 7’s and again I try to slow the pace down some more. We hit some gentle rollers and at the three mile the split is low 8’s and the 5K mat says 26 something and I think we are on a 8:30 pace but I forget that we started two minutes later so the real split turns out to be 24:26…which is about a 7:50 pace. I think we are doing great but Nat says she is feeling it a bit and we try to slow down the current pace some more. We reach the six mile mat and it reads a little over 49 which should be around an 8:15 pace and I think we are again right on pace…but again the real time, due to the 2 minutes delayed start, is 47:48 for a 7:58 pace. My watch splits seem to be steady in the low 8’s now and we continue our pace but Nat is still starting to feel uncomfortable and she takes a GU. The 10-mile mat reads about 1:22:30 (actual 1:20:39), which is still about an 8:15 pace with the actual being around a little over 8. Around the 11-mile mark the half marathoners split away from us to their couple of miles to finish and we start on our westerly loop and Nat seems to be still having issues and the GU seems to have made things worse rather than better, so we try to slow it down a bit and readjust our goal of a PR of 3:37 instead of going for 3:30. We come to the halfway mat and it reads about 1:49…we had wanted it to be between 1:44 and 1:45 but we are just going with the flow now and Nat wants a picture so we slow down and take a picture with her phone…but when she tries to save it, it says there is insufficient space to save. She deletes a picture and tries again and still receives the same message. The third time is a charm and she gets our picture and is able to save it and we continue on our way. We start taking it easy through miles 16-20, which has some long steady climbs as well as some good downhill’s. We try to cheer on the crowds and hamming for the cameras…something about rabbit ears over my head at one of the picture taking areas...and you should have heard Ms Natalie sing! She was belting out the songs from her ipod as we ran. We finish our westerly loop by the stadium and start our easterly loop and we crossed the mat at 20 in about 2:55. Around mile 21 I see Jimmy again…his mile 25…and we cheer each other on and he is looking good. Around mile 23 we go around a field with a large pond and meet up with one of the Runner’s World posters, and another fan of Nat’s blog, from Alabama and he joins us going around the pond. We pick up another runner from Alabama and our little group is growing but we lose the Alabama gal in the final mile or two. Between miles 24-25 I see another MCM forum runner going the other way and cheer her on. Mile 26 comes up lined with cheering crowds and we pick up the pace for the final 0.2 and as we round the final bend we see the finish banner and clock and make a final sprint for the finish to try to keep our time under 4 hrs.
There were 210 finishers in the Male 50-54 age group and 4373 total finishers
Overall finish place was 1225 of 4373
Age group finish place was 59 of 210
Time: 4:00:17 for an overall pace of 9:10 per mile
Mon: 6.7 miles run, 15 min Elliptical, 12 min Stairstepper
Tue: 35 min Elliptical, 32 min Cycle, 12 min Stairstepper
Wed: 8.2 miles run, 21 min Elliptical, 12 min Stairstepper
Thu: 35 min Elliptical, 31 min Cycle, 21 min Stairstepper
Fri: 32 min run
Sat: 26.2 miles run at CMM
Sun: 34 min Treadmill
This was probably the most enjoyable marathon that I have run. I was able to run relaxed, enjoy as much as possible and not worry about my goals, but I was disappointed in myself for not being able to bring Nat her goals. Also on the plus side, even with running a very strong half last week before this marathon, my legs felt great and I didn’t experience any leg/muscle cramps or any other issues. Today I feel some tightness from completing 26.2 miles but everything feels good and I feel confident that I can do well in the Frederick Marathon this Sunday.
Have a great week you all!