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!
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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!


    • Erica House says

      Thank you! I’m still a little sore but I’m dying to get back to running already. Looking forward to speed work all summer that will hopefully get me ready to hit that 4:30 goal in November!

    • Erica House says

      Thank you! I’m 99% ridiculously happy with all of it. The only thing that could have made it better was a shiny new PR ;)

  1. says

    I have become a fan of heading home on race night if I can, it is great to be in your own bed. I agree on post race bags, super helpful.

    Congrats girl!! Now you are making me want to go back and run this race again!

    • Erica House says

      The Rock N Roll people put on a helluva race, but I don’t think I’d EVER go back to that Nashville course again! It will haunt me in my running nightmares the rest of my life.

  2. says

    Congrats on a solid race!!! My smallest race was a few thousand people and my largest was about 35000 (the Indy Mini marathon)- it’s crazy to run a huge race! Enjoy the continued post race high as you head back to work!

    • Erica House says

      Well …. icing on the cake is I don’t have to go ‘into’ work for 2 weeks now! I’m in between semesters. Still have some grading/online stuff to do but I’m not stepping foot in a class room for a while. Perfectly timed this marathon (and recovery time!)

  3. says

    I read this with great interest as I am heading to my first race ever (a half) and have been a bit nervous about it I only started running last September, and I am glad to hear that I am not the only one with 10:30 and 11:30 times (that’s my average). Thanks for the inspiration and congratulations! Great pics – felt like I was there.


    • Erica House says

      Paul – you can totally do this! 10:30-11:30 is probably the average pace for most half and full marathons. I’ve always run mine between 10-11:15 pace and usually come in right in the middle of the finish times. Even if I didn’t I’m still doing the best I can do and that’s all you can do! Your medal will look exactly the same as those who run 7 minute miles so just remember to HAVE FUN. Your first race is always the most exciting.

      • says

        Great points, Erica! I don’t keep time too much, and like you, I notice I flag a lot more in the second half. But comparing myself to others so early in my running life is silly. I just want to finish and then look forward to training for a full marathon! (How long between the two is a safe amount of time?)

        Thanks again for your encouraging and wise words :)

        • Erica House says

          It took me 7 months between my first half and my full and I think that was a comfortable amount of time (and realistically it may be better to wait 8-9 months.) It’s SO easy to get caught up in comparing your time to others, I still fight with doing that myself. I just have to remember the only person I’m trying to beat on that course is myself. We all have such different running backgrounds and abilities it’s unfair to diminish your hard work by comparing it to others!

  4. says

    Congrats, Erica! Proud of you for rocking Marathon #2, especially with all those hills! I was looking at that elevation map yesterday and was thankful I wasn’t running with you! Speaking of, I know it’s not January, but Rock N Roll has a marathon in Savannah in November and I’m on the verge of signing up. Would love a running buddy–Savannah is beautiful!

    • Erica House says

      I would LOVE to run RNR in Savannah but I’m likely doing the Pensacola marathon again that month. I’m hoping to train with the same place I did for it last year here and it’s kind of my ‘second chance’ to come in at my goal time that I missed before. But … if life circumstances should change, then Savannah is my second choice!

    • Erica House says

      Thank you! I know I’m pretty ‘slow’ compared to many other marathon runners, but I just love that distance! I feel like I can do slow and steady for hours (and hope to test that theory with a 50k next year!)

  5. says

    Congratulations Erica! That’s awesome for completing another marathon! I’m really impressed!
    And, I didn’t know sushi was a common food to eat before a run. I should definitely try that. I love sushi!

    • Erica House says

      I was pretty surprised about the sushi as well! I love it just because it’s so light and fairly ‘basic’ (not a lot of strange ingredients since I always get the same kind of sushi)

    • Erica House says

      Thank you! I kind of regret not fundraising for this one like I did with #1, but I think I’ll do it again for the Pensacola marathon in November.

  6. says

    So very proud of you!!!!! I know I would have hit the wall for sure! I have a friend that did the RnR half in NOLA and said it was flat and fast. I think if you DO do that one, you will PR for sure!

    I’m totally living vicariously through you!

  7. Heather says

    Can you believe how far you’ve come in under two years? AMAZING. That’s all I can say! Wow. Congrats on another marathon :)

    • Erica House says

      It’s surreal. I mean, I can look back on all the miles I’ve logged and that feels very real, but it is bizarre to think that just 3 years ago I hadn’t run since middle school!

  8. Krista says

    Awesome job!!!! Congrats!! :) I looks like such a great weekend of accomplishment…and even better to have your Dad there cheering you on! :) I did RNR San Diego in 2003 and we just got a RNR in Raleigh this year so I may have to try it out some year.

    • Erica House says

      Thank you!

      I’ve always wanted to visit Raleigh. Maybe I should just sign up to do all the RNR’s :)

  9. says

    Congrats on another marathon, you did awesome! I love that you are already thinking about the next one, true runner moment right there! Love the shirt too, cute and like that it has big lettering and stuff so you can actually read it! I can’t believe you sat in the car for 8 hours right after, you are a trooper for sure!

    • Erica House says

      The shirt is definitely my favorite from any race. It’s just so rare that they actually fit me, and the designs are often horrendous!

  10. says

    Just catching up – congratulations, girl!! Great race review. What are those muffins you brought to Nashville? They look awesome!

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