Ever run a race after working at an expo? I had the opportunity at the Country Music Marathon thanks to Nuun Hydration and my friend Zoë, who works for the company.
This race was nuts! Soooo many people. It definitely seemed like more people than at the Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll races. Here we are walking to the start area from the parking area on a gorgeous Saturday morning in Nashville:
I don’t think I’ve ever felt more like a sardine than I did on Saturday in the wave start at the Country Music Marathon.
It’s a Rock ‘N’ Roll event, so it was all very well organized, or course. Just crowded!
Zoë and I were running the half. The sun was out, so we sprayed ourselves with sunscreen. Gotta protect our pale Seattle skin! (I saw nobody else doing this, just a lot of very tan people.) Paleness:
Before the race, we wiggled in to our corral to find a spot. Unfortunately, we were wedged behind a couple that should’ve GOTTEN A ROOM! (And also, should’ve showered. And the man should try out a nose hair trimmer some time…just saying.) Aaaaanyway…
Despite that, the atmosphere was friendly and the cooler morning air was warming up quickly–especially with all those bodies around us. Since we were in Corral 5, it didn’t take long for us to get to the start.
Right away, I felt the tiredness of two long days of standing in the Nuun booth. It was fun, it was worth it, but I was feeling it–especially in my feet. The expo ran from 12-7 on Thursday and 10-7 on Friday. We were there Wednesday to set up, as well, for a few hours.
Photo by Zoë.
I won’t go into detail about how poor my sleep was all week at the hotel. This is not entirely the hotel’s fault, as I’m not a good sleeper outside of my own bed, but when you can hear the person in the room above you peeing, you know your walls are thin. And, oh yeah, on the other side of the wall from our headboards, was housekeeping’s service elevators. Boy, do they like to start their days early.
Here’s a visual of how we felt before the race:
Photo by Zoë. Follow Zoë on Instagram.
Okay, let’s get into the race.
Mile 1: 9:27
Mile 1 wasn’t so bad despite all the people. We had to go slower because the crowd needed to thin out. The course turned, going around the block from the start.
Mile 2: 9:11
Heading back up toward the corrals, after running through the tunnel that goes under the Music City Center (where the expo was held) and then right by all the corrals that had yet to start.
It was energizing to see so many runners, and I tried to high-five people on the edge of the corrals. Some of them obliged, but others didn’t. Sometimes, I was running with my hand out…and nothin’! “Don’t leave me hanging like Tom Brady!” I yelled.
Mile 3: 9:15
Maybe I was too energetic on Mile 2, but on Mile 3, I felt really tired. Ten more miles?
Mile 4: 9:21
Probably a hill here. I can’t remember. The entire course had hills. They weren’t terrible. Just rolling hills, but it was clear I did not train on any. Like at all. I didn’t even program any into my treadmill runs.
Mile 5: 8:57
I took a GU before I needed it. I sipped my Tri Berry Nuun. I was really enjoying the beautiful course and running with Zoë, but tired.
Luckily, there were tons of spectators. They helped energize me. And we saw some really funny signs. “Smile if you’re not wearing underwear,” was a favorite.
There was also an older gentleman dressed in an Southern summer suit sitting at a patio table alongside the road and sipping on mimosas. This guy was awesome. Not sure if you follow Dave Mari on Instagram (you should!), but he took a picture with the man. (Follow Dave Mari on Instagram!) See it here. He also posted tons of pictures of the best signs along the course.
Mile 6 – 9:47
Zoë was having trouble getting her Shot Blocks open, so she asked if we could walk and I more than welcomed that. Walking! Yay!
After that, I felt more energized, but then…
Mile 7 – 13:56
…we saw a lone port-a-potty. And we both had to go. So that took a few minutes. But we both felt better. Plus, Zoë got this picture of my arms looking buff.
Photo by Zoë.
Mile 8 – 8:53
I told you we were feeling better.
Somewhere in the middle, we ran down Music Row and also near Vanderbilt. It was just absolutely lovely. It was a sunny day, but I never really felt too hot since there were many opportunities for shade from the old, leafy trees that stood in front of the houses on these streets.
Mile 9 – 8:55
My stomach started growling. I had been hoping to make it to Mile 10. Made it to, like, 9.3.
Mile 10 – 8:43
Possible downhill? Or just feeling better after the GU. Maybe it was the lack of sleep and two days working the expo, but I could not find a consistent pace. One minute, I felt great and we were flying along, the next minute, I felt I was holding Zoë back because I couldn’t will my legs to move any faster.
We’d agreed to run together, so she wouldn’t leave me. And since we’ve run several half marathons together (and our full!), she knows how to motivate me at the end of a race.
Mile 11 – 9:07
Still feeling okay; trying to stay positive; willing my legs to turn over; wishing I had a spare set of feet.
Mile 12 – 9:48
And here’s where it went downhill. Actually, I think this was a significant uphill. A long uphill. I think we walked a little here. It was also really hot at this point. My feet were screaming.
Mile 13 – 9:36
Zoë was pushing all my buttons. I told her that I was trying to make my legs go faster, but they wouldn’t. We hadn’t really cared about speed in this race, but considering how bad our feet hurt, we needed to get done ASAP. I was scanning ahead for the finish line.
The last .32 – 7:53 pace
I was looking, looking for the finish line. Finally, I saw it.
This was a hard-fought race for me, but probably one of the most memorable I’ll ever run. I am so grateful to Nuun. (PS-Kara Goucher is running a deal on Nuun for her Facebook followers; check it out here.)
Afterward, Zoë and I found our checked bags, changed into flip flops and then waited way too long for our race beer (30 minutes for Michelob?!).
On the way back to the car, I wasn’t feeling too well. The sun seemed too bright. I almost felt a little dizzy. And Zoë’s stomach didn’t feel great, either.
We went back to the hotel, tried to nap, and finally felt good enough for dinner. Fried food and the best pretzel bun I will ever have did the trick. Oh, and some good beer. That night, we chilled out to a marathon of “My Cat from Hell,” then put in our newly purchased ear plugs and slept like a couple of champs.
Fun post. I’ve heard that course is really tough, and it usually rains, so you had a great day for a run.
And….your arms do look buff.
The hills are rolling. Keeps things interesting. Plenty of downhills, too. So, it wasn’t terrible. Buuuuuut, if you’re running for time on this course, TRAIN ON HILLS! (And, yes, we lucked out on the weather. Last year, it dumped rain.)
What a fun way to combine work and pleasure! You look like a great team!!
LOL! Yeah…no doubt. Lots of fun. Zoe is a great running buddy!