Running the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee

Don’t Rain on My Parade: Running the Music City Marathon

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All week long before my Nashville race, there were forecasts calling for thunderstorms Saturday morning, AKA Country Music Marathon Day. I kind of brushed this off and didn’t come prepared, considering the rest of the week was a hot-and-sticky 86 degrees, and despite my deep base tan, I still got fried from two afternoons spent poolside. So when I woke up in our hotel room at 5am Saturday to ominous clouds and rain coming down in sheets, I could have kicked myself for not listening to Bill Hall, Nashville’s own weather expert. (Is it bad that I was more worried how my Garmin GPS watch and iPod Shuffle would fare in the weather than my own health?) But that was the least of my worries. I almost didn’t even make it to the race in time.

Never one for punctuality, my mom and I left the Marriott for the start line at 6:15, half an hour after we meant to leave considering it would be a 20-minute drive sans traffic, and 15 minutes after they asked all participants to be there. I wasn’t too worried, as I had registered the day before and only wanted to make it there by 6:55 to get situated in my corral by the 7am start, but once we got to the Interstate and the West End exit was backed up for miles, I started getting antsy. Kudos to Jeanie here, because she pulled some fancy maneuvering techniques — guess that’s completely plausible with her wee Chrysler Sebring convertible; my Altima would never have been able to fit in the spaces she squeezed into — and I got out and walked the rest of the way in the rain once we got on West End Avenue.

My cousin John and his brother-in-law John (my family is very creative when it comes to names) were also running the half, and I was supposed to meet them in Corral 11 at 6:45. Well, mother of pearl, I knew this was a big marathon, but 100,000 people? Yeah, good luck finding anyone. (I later tracked them down in the aftermath, as is evidenced in the family photo above. Their cousin on the other side, Scott, the skinny 17 year old, finished third in his division in 1:26. Ridiculous.) I was a couple corrals ahead — Corral 9 of 40+ groups — which were arranged based on projected finish time. My time was optimistic; way back in December when I registered, I figured I could do it in two hours. However, in my training I’ve been averaging 9.5- to 10-minute miles on long run, as I’m not doing this for the time. But I’m a competitive soul, even against myself, so I vowed I would finish in under two hours, no matter what it took.

I was a little worried about my energy level, because I hadn’t eaten much the day before. I had planned to OD on carbs at dinner, and met up with Lucy, her boyfriend Jon, my cousin John, Megs and about 10 other Nashville peeps at a popular Italian restaurant, but after two hours of waiting for our food, they then got it wrong (we asked for all veggies; they gave us a meat pizza) and in the end, I had to return to the hotel room and have my mom run out for fruit and carrots. But I survived and felt fine the next morning, luckily. Each corral started a minute or two behind the previous one, and by the time my corral reached the start line, the rain had subsided. I started out running an 8- 8.5-minute mile the first few, which might have been stupid, but I wanted to get out of the bulk of the pack. Claustrophobes should not run marathons, I learned.

And alas, I finished in 1:57:54, about 12 minutes ahead of what I figured I was capable of and a grand average of a 9-minute mile overall to the dot. Just goes to show you what your body can do once you set your mind to it. And for all those of you who might want to run a half marathon—or even a full–0heed my advice: It can be done. Until February, I hadn’t run in more than three years. Granted I was a college athlete, but after leaving Sewanee in 2003, my fitness took a backseat to just about everything else in my life. Heck, in NYC, my exercise regime consisted of walking to and from brunch and shopping. So if I can train for and kick ass in a half marathon in just two-and-a-half months, so can you!

Oh, and a little word of advice to someone’s who’s been there? DON’T DRINK THE ACCELERADE. My cousin had alerted me to this months in advance, but come race day, I plum forgot. Let’s just say, Accelerade is packed with protein, and my stomach was revolting for a good 36 hours afterward. From now on, I’m sticking to water and orange slices on race days.

Now, three months exactly until I have to run 26.2 miles in one afternoon. And no, walking is not an option. After how my body felt after just a half that weekend (and will likely feel tomorrow after my 11-mile race up Mt. Tam), I’d have to say I’m more than a little freaked out by the prospect.

-Time: 1:57:53
-Calorie Burned: 1602
-Fastest Pace on Race Day: 5:23
-Place Overall in Half Marathon: 4372 / 21398 (Top 20%!)
-Place by Gender: 1543 / 13477
-Place by Division: 414 / 2950
-Water Stations Taken Advantage Of: 3
-Number of Rihanna Songs Listened To: 5
-Odd Places to Get Chafing: 2
-Bathroom Breaks: NONE (Go me!)
-Number of Bleeding Men’s Nipples Seen: A LOT
-High Fives Given to Spectators: 107 (approximately)
-Weeks Trained: 11 (Minus 3 for trips to Brazil and Southern Cal)
-Days Run: 30
-Miles Traveled: 164
-Bikram Yoga Classes: 18
-Pounds Lost: 16
-Sizes Dropped: 2, from a 8/10 (dresses and skirts/pants) to a 4/6; I fear my soccer player legs will never allow me to squeeze into any jeans smaller than a 6

  • May 9, 2008


    And you look FANTASTIC!


  • May 9, 2008

    Congrats! You are awesome!!!

  • May 9, 2008
    The Running Bob

    Damn, top twenty percent on a first try! You’ll have great race in your new, home town with plenty of friends to cheer you along. Great story and amazing starting photo.

  • May 9, 2008

    CONGRATS! I am so proud of you. 🙂

  • May 9, 2008

    Sounds like you had a great race! Good luck to the Mt. Tam race this weekend!

  • May 12, 2008
    Chelsea Talks Smack

    HOLY. WOW. I am seriously impressed. CONGRATS!

  • May 12, 2008

    This is so awesome. Congratulations!

  • May 12, 2008

    Awesome job! I can’t believe you dropped 16 pounds!?!? I’ve dropped, ummmmm, minus 2 since I started training for my race.

  • May 13, 2008

    I have been reading your blog for a few months now and I thought you looked thinner in those pictures you posted from the party, but I didn’t want to say anything because weight is a sensitive topic for some people. Congrats on your progress toward your fitness goals!

  • May 14, 2008

    This is so awesome. I bought that book you have on your blog. I started reading. (At least something, right?)
    I am just a bit sick (runny nose, aching throat and cough), so I will start as soon as I feel better.

    You inspire me.

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