The race this past weekend was beyond fun and Nashville is officially my new favorite city. Unfortunately getting to Nashville Thursday night was just not meant to be. My original flight got canceled at the last minute, then my new flight got delayed to its connection and the next thing I know I’m spending the night at a Marriott in Chicago. Luckily I got a few hours of sleep and hopped on the first flight out in the morning. When I landed in Nashville I was welcomed by sunshine and country music, heaven on earth! (Side note-Tim McGraw even does the “welcome to Nashville” airport announcements)
My sister and I wasted no time and headed straight to the race expo. I’m such a sucker for race expos, I could spend hours going from vendor to vendor trying free samples and hearing about the newest massage tools. I think it’s because it makes me feel like I’m hanging with my people- the runners, the people who GET IT. It was by far the best expo I’ve ever been to, it was massive. They even had a mechanical sneaker!
We took the rest of the day pretty easy. We visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and went to Rippys for some live music and barbeque. After lunch we lounged at a park nearby and soaked up some sun for the remainder of the day before heading back to our place. We were both still pretty full from lunch so we decided to forgo the pre-race pasta dinner and picked up a crepe from Red Bicycle Coffee & Crepes – BEST DECISION EVER! I’m totally one of those runners who has to have everything planned and perfect. I stuck to my 12 week training plan like glue, got upset when I could only get a couple of hours of sleep Thursday night thinking it would set me back for the race, worried about not having my traditional pre-race pasta dinner and triple checked my outfit/shoes a billion times. I’m insane I know BUT this is why running is such a mental game. One day I will learn to just let it go.
I highly recommend staying in Germantown if you plan to run this race in the future or if you are ever visiting Nashville. It was super cute and we were able to walk to the expo and starting line in 25 minutes. On the morning of the race we woke up at 5am and had the standard bagel, peanut butter and banana. It was a chilly morning but we knew it would be in the 80’s by the end of the race so we sucked it up and froze our butts off in tank tops and shorts. The morning race vibe was AMAZING! There were 30,000+ people racing and each corral was lined going up the hill on Broadway (aka Honky Tonk Highway). The pump-up music was a mix of everything and the entire start was extremely well organized.
My sister and I were in corral 13 with a projected finish time of 2:00. We had both been training really hard and hoping to finish around 1:56. Unfortunately the race had other things in mind for us so lets get down to it… It was a great starting location, we ran down Broadway with crowds of people standing in front of the old honky tonk bars but right away the hills started. At mile 1 we went under a hotel underpass and my Garmin lost satellite signal so the whole race it was off by about .3 miles which was a little annoying. I had read a couple blogs and knew the hills were going to be there but I did not know they would be there THE WHOLE TIME. I’m not lying when I say there wasn’t even a ½ mile of flat terrain the whole race. I knew I should have done more hill training! Luckily none of the hills were straight up and down; they were more like long ascending ups and long descending downs but by about mile 5 my shins were screaming at me and I knew I was not going to finish in the time I had hoped for. Another thing that threw me off about this race was the crowd. From mile 1 to mile 13.1 the streets were packed. I was constantly weaving in and out of people, clipping ankles with people and struggling to get my stride down. It was a slow slowww start and I was frustrated but there was literally nowhere to go at times.
On the upside! Despite the crowd and the hills this was definitely one of the most fun races I have ever done. The spectators were there every inch of the course and there were about 7-8 live bands. The bands were GOOD, really good, but then again this was Nashville. The scenery was amazing and a little bit of everything. We started downtown, went through the Gulch, the Belmont suburbs, then back through downtown and finished outside of LP field. I truly fell in love with the city during this run and that is why destination races are the best. At mile 11 the marathoners went one way and the half marathoners went the other. I was secretly itching to go for the 26.2 but I know that time will come in October :). I felt good throughout the whole race, my body felt strong and my stomach held it together thankfully. At mile 11 I saw the 2:00 pacer and sprinted past her desperate to beat 2:00. Luckily it worked and I finished the race at 1:59:40. It wasn’t exactly where I hoped it would be but I did shave 5 minutes off my last half marathon (Providence RI –my first half marathon ever) back in 2012. I think the thing I was most happy about after the race was feeling good and being injury free. Afterwards we hit up the chocolate milk stand and cheered on the marathon finishers as they came in.
Later that afternoon we met up with my friend Hana for lunch. We went to The Pharmacy in East Nashville for burgers and beer, it was AMAZING. I had a burger with ham egg and bacon on it and 2 beers, hey I deserved it! That night the race held a concert at the Bridgestone Arena featuring the cast of the ABC show Nashville. I love the show so I was really looking forward to this and it did not disappoint. It was funny, you could tell everyone in the crowd just ran a ½ or full marathon because everyone was wobbling down the stairs of the arena and taking sitting breaks in-between songs. To cap the night off we got ice-cream at Jeni’s and it truly was as wonderful as everyone told me it would be. On Sunday we had brunch and then visited the Belle Meade Plantation to get a little history fix followed by some wine tasting- highly recommend!
The weekend was a blast. It was so great to see my sister and spend some quality time together. The race was awesome; we could not have picked a better half marathon or location. It was also great to see my friend Hana who recently moved to Nashville about a year and a half ago. She’s been dabbling in some production work with a lot of the big country artists so we were able to see some pretty cool off-the beaten path things with her (aka all of Taylor Swift’s hang outs and celeb houses). Nashville is officially one of the coolest cities I’ve ever been to. If you love country music especially live music everywhere you turn, gorgeous weather and southern hospitality- this is the city for you. The whole time I was there I was thinking about how I can’t wait to come back with Jon, so another visit is in the near future for sure!