Country Music Marathon Recap

I am a two-time marathoner! I can't believe I ran my first 5k 18 months ago and since then have finished 3 half marathons and two full. It's incredible what a bit of determination and a lot of hard work can do for you. This was my first Rock and Roll Marathon event and I wasn't sure how I'd feel about being in such a huge race. The races I've participated in have, at most, 3000-4000 participants. Last I heard there were 30,000 runners this weekend at Nashville! I wondered how race day logistics would go; parking, water stops, crowding on the course. Now that it's all over I can safely say this event was meticulously organized and I am 100% going to do another (hoping for the Rock and Roll marathon in New Orleans in January 2015!)

Dad and I got into town Thursday around 3 p.m. and went straight to the expo. I read online to try to get there Thursday as most out-of-town runners would be there Friday and it would be much busier. There were zero lines to pick up packets and we had a great time walking around and seeing the vendors. Aren't the shirts adorable?

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2014-04-24 15.54.38After we finished at the expo we checked into our hotel (more on the Hotel and Nashville in general tomorrow) and I ate this makeshift diner. I brought a ton of food so I could save money and eat what I normally would at home. The days before a marathon are not the days to start eating out all the time! 2014-04-24 18.18.20

The hotel had a pretty nice gym so I was up at 5 a.m. Friday and went to do a slow 20 minute run to keep my legs feeling fluid. 2014-04-25 05.52.29Treadmill running does not agree with me and a few minutes into it I developed horrific shin splints. These were an ongoing issues with me during my first marathon training cycle but hadn't been much of a problem this time around. 2014-04-25 06.04.42I headed back to the room and iced my shins while taking stupid selfies.  2014-04-25 07.42.48That afternoon we stopped by Publix so I could get my ritual pre-long run sushi. When I posted this pic on Instagram I was surprised to hear how many other people eat sushi the night before a race! 2014-04-25 18.09.43Saturday, race day, Dad and I got up at 4:15 a.m. (isn't he a trooper?) and headed to try and park at LP Stadium. We got there at 5 and there were plenty of spots left. I hung out in the car for a bit not wanting to get out into the cold.

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I went to the bathroom 3 times in the 2 hours I was waiting to start. I'd wait almost 30 minutes in line to use the restroom and as soon as I was out figured I may as well get in line again just in case! Made a few new friends while standing around. Nothing like talking about pissing yourself with random strangers.

I was in corral 22 so I knew I'd be starting a little later than the first start of 7 a.m.. Around 7:20 I got into my corral and it took us about 20 minutes to cross the start line. I know there is no other way to safely get 30,000 runners over the start but waiting around for 40 minutes after the race starts to begin does suck. I was SO nervous I was almost shaking (the cold didn't help) and I was just so ready to start the run. 2014-04-26 05.55.54I didn't have a specific goal for the race given how hard I heard the course was. Overall I aimed to keep a 10:30 pace the first half, and knew I'd slow down the second half and hoped I could keep it to about an 11:30 pace. I did just about that as my average pace ended up being 11:11. I knew by mile 15 that I wasn't going to be able to beat my Pensacola Marathon time so my goal was to just come in under 5 hours.

Dad hung out the whole morning waiting to catch me a few times on the course and got to cheer on runners and take some cool photos of the race.



I saw him at mile 10 and when he asked me how I was feeling I responded with, "adrenaline is a hell of a drug!" I was feeling pretty good knowing that the steady incline in the first few miles was behind me and that a flatter part of the course was coming up. While miles 12-15 were pretty flat they were in an extremely boring part of town and the heat at this point was brutal. I was keeping up with the 4:30 pace group until mile 15 when I stopped to walk the first time. Mile 17, circled below, was definitely the worst. IT WAS ALL UPHILL. I saw Dad at the foot of the hill and shortly after passing him started to walk, and continued to do so for almost half a mile. My knee locked up suddenly halfway up it but went back to normal after a few steps. Worst feeling ever.

RunCMM ElevationMarathon5I never hit the wall. I attribute it to preparing well and having a good attitude during the race (both topics I will talk more about this week in a training recap post.) Miles 17-21 were pretty tough but once I got to 21 I was smiling most of the way to the finish line. I kept saying to myself (and updated my facebook around mile 23) "I'm about to finish an effing marathon!" A lot of my first marathon was a blur and I wanted to try to take in and remember as much of this race as possible.

The last part of the course was around a gorgeous park. At this point in the race I had seen a few runners passing out on the side of the course or vomiting. The heat and hills were just a nasty combination. The aid stations, water stations, and crowd support were phenomenal. By far the best I've ever seen at a race. Every station was well stocked, the volunteers were positive and clearly willing to do whatever the runners needed. I almost cried twice on the course. Once when a family cheered me on and after I yelled 'thank you' they responded with 'we love you', and once I passed the 26 mile marker and nearly every person in the crowd lining the streets to the finish line said something encouraging to me. I had to fight back tears when I realized I was about to start hyperventilating! Very hard to run a marathon while crying!

I crossed the glorious finish line and made my way down the runners area to get my medal and food. I do wish they provided runners with bags to put their food and drinks in as by the time I saw Dad in the family area my arms were overflowing with goodies. The first thing I had was a chocolate milk (old school carton style) and I chugged that shit like I was drinking beer at a frat party (not that I ever did that.) It was the best tasting chocolate milk of my entire life. In the blur of the immediate period post-finish I had an orange, coconut water, and a small bag of pretzels. 2014-04-26 12.49.30I walked around for about 10-15 minutes as we slowly made our way back to the car. I busted out the foam roller and went to town on my legs as I knew I needed to do whatever I could to make the 8 hour car ride home more comfortable. My legs cramped up a bit on the ride but overall I am so glad we decided to leave after the race. I would have been too tired to do anything fun in Nashville anyway and this way I saved $150 on a hotel and got to sleep in my own bed that night.  2014-04-26 14.44.12The ride home was made 10x better thanks to compression socks and a legitimate runners high. The high didn't wear off until about an hour outside of town so it worked out perfectly! 2014-04-26 13.15.43My post-marathon lunch of champions. 2014-04-26 15.06.57-2Lots of ice bags were used on the ride and compression tights from Tommy Copper (review soon!) I had to pick up at least one chocolate gas station treat on the way home.2014-04-26 16.51.44-2 When I got home I took the most amazing shower and went to bed with a big bowl of this lentil/faux beef spaghetti concoction and two huge pieces of cornbread. Eating that in bed was one of the best feelings ever.

The day after the marathon went something like this:

Literally having to roll myself out of bed and onto the floor. I was so stiff it was ridiculous. Going to the bathroom is an act of controlled falling. It is such a proud pain though - I actually do love the feeling! I added my latest bling to my collection (all earned in the last 14 months):

2014-04-27 08.28.25-2Salem is jealous. 2014-04-27 08.30.51-1I did a bit of research online to see whether or not I should try to go on a short shakeout run. Basically, if it makes you feel better go for it. Walking around the house helped loosen me up a lot so I foam rolled, did trigger point, and went out to see how I felt. I managed to do 2 miles in 28 minutes! I am going to take most of the week off from running but I am hoping to do a slow 5k with friends Wednesday night and if I'm feeling back to normal after that then a 7 mile run on Saturday. 2014-04-27 09.35.01-2After my run my super awesome amazing friend Christina texted me and offered to pick me up and take me out to lunch. Ummm - yes! We went to Tijuana Flats. This was only my second time being there in 10 years but omg was it amazing. 2014-04-27 12.12.27-1After lunch we hung out poolside for a while. I jumped in the water for a bit and it was pretty cold but it felt great to swim around for a few minutes. 2014-04-27 14.47.47Active recovery is clearly working in my favor, as is hydrating like a boss and maintaining a higher than normal consumption of carbs. I have a lot more I want to talk about regarding the race (like my thoughts on doing out-of-town races, and how I felt my training went this time around) so look for that later this week. Thank you to everyone who congratulated me online after the race. As soon as I crossed the finish line I started thinking about #3! Six months from now I WILL get my 4:30 goal!