May 2, 2012

Country Music Marathon, April 28, 2012

Well, I guess it's finally time to do this, Brutus. I've really been dreading writing down all of my feelings about this race because part of me feels so grateful to have finished marathon #4 in one piece, and the other part of me wishes I could go back in time and change things. Mainly the weather. Running is such an individual sport, so I know that some of you might hate me for complaining about this race and my time, just like I get annoyed by people who complain about their 3:30 marathon times. But I knew that I was capable of more and to not dig deep enough to find that little bit more of whatever it is I'm digging for is disappointing. So yes, I know that my time is totally fine, but I am not totally fine with it. You know? I'm going to just write the same sentence over and over until it comes out sounding normal. Nah, I think I'll end it there. You guys get it.

There is another part of me that wonders if I had pushed it would the outcome have been even worse. When I felt like throwing up, I slowed down. If I hadn't done that, maybe I would have ended up throwing up and in a worse spot than before. So there are also a lot of unknowns as to what would have happened if I pushed it harder. Those are the thoughts that help me feel OK with my performance and with not totally killing myself out there to shave a few minutes off my time.

So here are the official stats from the race:

Chip time: 4:06:42 (aka a 3-minute negative PR)
Overall: 744/3925
Women: 228/1800
Age group: 46/359

Expo. Let's start there. Downtown Nashville traffic was packed even more than usual. Luckily my nephew who was riding with me is a genius and suggested that I run in while he drove around the block a couple of slow times. 

I ran in, stood in line for my bib, picked up my t-shirt and swag bag, and entered the mega-crowded expo.

The t-shirts this year were so much better than last year. Like a million times better. They used the same lady shirts and sizes we got in Savannah, much better than the man shirt from last year, and I loved this year's design (hated last year's). It's actually a cool shirt that I will wear. Shirts: 5 out of 5. 

I'm glad that this year I wasn't trying to push a double stroller through that biz like last year. Sometimes I get these crazy, I'm-so-independent ideas that land me in the middle of giant crowds with a double stroller. Awesome tip: that's when you ask for a favor. Just getting myself through the crowds was hard enough. I wanted to find the Swiftwick booth because I wanted to meet them, and I heard on the Twitter that they would have some deals. 

So glad I did. Buy the Twelves, get the Zeros free. And these pink stripes are brand new. I looked online, and I didn't see them as of yesterday. They remind me of soccer socks, so of course, I love them for that. They also provide the exact same tan line you get from soccer games. Double yay. 

Getting to the start line. The day started off very similar to last year when I ran the half here, except that I woke up even earlier (3:45 a.m.) because I knew that traffic is a beast getting to LP Stadium to park for the shuttles. This year, I left and parked earlier, but unlike last year, the shuttle line was huge. Last year, I left my car and jumped right on a bus. This year, the shuttle line weaved through the parking lot for-freaking-ever. So if I do this race again, my first mission will be to find a kind soul to drop me off at the start line.

My husband left me a present in the car that I didn't see until AFTER the race. Doggone it!

By the time we got off the shuttle bus and found the shortest available port-o-potty line, it was already 6:30. The race was slated to start in 30 minutes, and the line, although the shortest one, was still huge. Luckily I made a friend on the bus, and we stood together the whole time, talking about all things running and gyms. She was supposed to find her friends in their corral and was worried they would think she had been murdered, and I just really urgently needed to do my business one last time. So both of us appreciated someone to talk to while we stood there instead of biting all of our fingernails off because of all of our nervous energy.

The national anthem started with still about twenty people ahead of us in line. If I had been in the safety of my corral, I would have really enjoyed that anthem. It was the most beautiful one I had heard at a race. Instead all I could focus on was the bathroom matter at hand. When the corrals started leaving, my new friend and I kept convincing each other that it was totally fine that our corral was leaving without us while 10 more people were still ahead of us in line. We decided that we would wait for each other to get off the pot, and we ran all the way up as close as we could to the starting line. At this point, I think they were about at corral 12. We were supposed to be in 6 and 7, so not too crazy behind our original start.

I barely even had time to start my watch, and we were running. I waved a quick goodbye and shouted a hasty good luck before the crowd swallowed both of us. I never saw her again, but I was so grateful to have someone with whom to spend those last nervous minutes before the race start.

Miles 1-11

Heaven. I loved every minute of these miles. Usually I give myself until mile 6 to start my music, but I didn't need at at all. The crowds were thick. We were running through parts of Nashville that I adore, and I just wanted to soak in all of the sights and sounds. At one point, there was a 7-piece acoustic band all sitting in lawn chairs in their front yard playing for us. It just seemed so Nashville, and I was eating all of it up.

There was also this cool running dragon. Cool but awkward to run with, right?

My times were what I hoped, some slower for uphills, some faster for downhills. Nothing felt too hard, and my heart rate monitor showed the same. Nice and steady in the 160s.

This is before I started falling apart.

Miles 12-20

Then it happened. We split from the half marathoners, and the conditions sucked after that. The fans thinned out. We lost our shade. At mile 16, they routed us to run by the finish line. Rude. The rest of the course was a series of out and backs, and it felt like we were constantly passing people going in the other direction. It was mentally tough to continually see people who were so far ahead of you, and it made the race feel even longer. 

This also seemed to coincide with the heat of the day amping up. Somewhere around mile 16, I started to feel nauseated. I had taken in a couple of gels, and I was drinking water or Gatorade at every stop, but I think it just wasn't keeping up with the sweat. This is the first race I've ever felt nauseated, so I had no idea what to do. Keep running through it? Slow down? Throw up? Stop?

I chose to slow down to keep the fluids in. It worked. I didn't throw up, but it didn't help my times obviously. And once I slowed down, it felt easier and easier to slow down more and more.

I finally saw my family at the end of mile 18, and I was so happy. They had just what I needed: water and hugs.

I gave them my I-can't-keep-going face.

And they ran with me to prove that I could. 

Miles 21-26.2

My Garmin had already died, which at the time seemed better than the bad news it kept giving me. Also, my right ear bud kept falling out, so music, which I normally am obsessed with having, felt like an annoying chore.

Then I had to watch for that guy's talon-like fingers.

Another important family stop: water and flowers for my hair. 

I ripped my Garmin off my arm and threw it to my husband. I wanted nothing to do with it anymore because I kept habitually checking a dead watch.

Around this point, I was tired and mentally weak. I wanted to stop running because I already knew this was turning into a pot of crap stew. If I was going to make it to the end, I had to change my mental strategy. I was walking some and running some, and I needed some people to motivate me to keep moving. It was weird because my legs weren't dead, but because I had slowed so much to keep from throwing up, I was having a hard time getting them moving again. I witnessed a lot of people who I thought were probably in the same place, hating this race. So I decided to find some people and strike up as many conversations as possible. Maybe I could spread some good vibes, and I was praying that I would get some in return. I desperately needed them!

In the future, I might start this strategy sooner because it really helped get me to the end.

The fam-damily waited for me at an out-and-back loop.

I couldn't stop because I was on the wrong side of the out and back. It was better to be on the back side of that loop than the out. 

Also I was trying to keep up with that bad chica. She was so dang strong.

During this leg, I would take a Gatorade and a water at every station. It hurt my stomach to try and push in that much fluid at once while racing, but I knew I needed it to make it to the finish without full blown heat stroke.

This is the best cheerleader of the whole race. She was everywhere, and I loved her smiling face. Also notice the out and back. We're at mile 25, and the right side is at mile 17. You see what I mean about how demoralizing those out and backs were! Seriously, they were gross.

When we got to the last mile, the crowds grew thick again, and I gained some energy and speed. I already told you guys about my Team Random Stranger partner who prodded me to the finish with his pep talks. Unfortunately, they cropped him out of my finish line picture, so I'll never remember his face. But he obviously really helped pump me up for the finish.

For such an awful feeling race, this is the most hilariously perfect finish line picture I have had to date. You would think I won the whole race with the excitement going on there.

They gave us cold wet washcloths at the end. Love.

 Good parts:

1. The first half had amazing crowd support.
2. They had Gatorade this year instead of Cytomax.
3. Shirts were much better this year.
4. Finish line still had lots of food when I got there.
5. Plenty of volunteers on the whole course.
6. Friendly fellow runners.

Bad parts:

1. The heat. It was in the 80s for the second half, and there was little to no shade at the end.
2. The out and backs were demoralizing, and running by the finish at mile 16 just really sucked.
3. Tiny crowd support in the second half.
4. Hills! The second half hills weren't as big, but they felt bigger than the ones in the first half because of the added heat.

I probably won't run this race again unless I go into it purely for fun, in which case I would just run the half, aka the super fun part. Part of me thinks I would like to run the full again to try and conquer it, but that part of me is stupid so I shall not heed its opinion.

Afterwards, I was really spaced out and feeling weird, definitely the after effects of the heat. I couldn't even answer my husband's direct questions about eating. I could manage shoulder shrugs and a few OKs, so I was really glad when we headed up to Kentucky to relax on the farm where my husband grew up.

 And sit in the grass to check out the sweat and salt rings.

Obviously, I didn't run hard enough because I still had energy to do this 100 times. This must have been after the heat-stroke lethargy lifted. 

The high jumps preceded the homemade shortcake with from-the-garden strawberries. Totally worth the drive.

And the next day on the way home, we all looked like this after about two minutes.

Except me because that would be dangerous to do while driving.


  1. I absolutely love the jumping picture. That is too cute! That girl was by far the most enthusiastic supporter on the course. My favorite music area was the radio station that wanted everyone to dance. I couldn't help but smile and run a little faster.

  2. Awesome blog post!!! My favorite part is the face you made to your family when you were so tired, the I cant keep going face. Awesome job for crossing the finish line and your time was still great!!! The kids running along you was so cute. I remember on my half marathon the other day if I would have seen my family along the way I would have stopped I am sure. Great job! Erica

    1. Thanks! It's nice to have the family there for support, but it makes it really easy to stop and chat for a minute when you might otherwise keep pushing along.

  3. Great post! I appreciate the honesty. Some runs just plain aren't fun. What's awesome, though, is how you pushed back on it and conquered it after all. Me and heat do NOT get along, so I would have been tempted to walk off the course at Mile 16. :)

    Love the jump. Looks like an cheerleader move. "Yay for me"? Hope so, you deserve it after that race!

    1. Thanks so much! I need to start doing more races up in your area during the winter/fall so I can avoid all this heat and humidity that sneaks up on us.

  4. Thanks for the recap. Way to push through a tough race. I would take a 4:06 any day (and for me it would have to be on an overall downhill course, nice and cool out with magic fairy dust helping me along) so way to kick butt. Is there a marathon #5 in the works?

    1. Thanks! Where do you buy your magic fairy dust -- because I need some ASAP! And yes, #5 is going to be Savannah (which was also #1). Our friends live there, so we are trying to make it a little tradition to all visit together with some of us running.

  5. Great recap. Congrats again on marathon #4. Love the pic of you running with the kiddos, is there a greater feeling? When my 4 yr old son wants to Hop in and run with me, it's pure joy, and they look up to you like you're a rockstar. I would flip out if my Garmin died on me(knocking on wood) in a race.

    Priceless finish line photo. You've gotta buy and frame that one.

  6. Congratulations on marathon #4! Maybe you aren't pleased with the execution, but I think we learn the most from races that didn't go as planned. And girl, PLEASE buy that finisher photo - you are so stinkin adorable!!!

    1. So true -- every fail teaches us how to do it a little better next time.

  7. Loved reading this recap. Sorry it was a little rough. My half I ran 2 emerald ago was the same way. It was hot and I just didn't want to go anymore. Way to go. Great time. Lived seeing the pics of your family too! So great they support you as they do!! Xoxox Hanna

  8. Oh I hate the nagging feelings after a race when you know you could have done more, but your mind was was holding you back during the race! It definitely sounds like tough conditions with the heat though, so congrats to you on #4! And besides all of that, you looked super cute! I just can't seem to run in a running skirt, seems like I'm always digging them out of somewhere. LOL

    That finishers photo is awesome and is a must buy.

    Oh, one more thing. I HATE it when my earplugs come out while running! HATE IT! So, i recently bought these ones called Yurbuds that are custom fit and actually stay in no matter what. Love them!

    Congrats again girl.

    1. OK, I'm checking out the Yurbuds. It was like my ear changed shape in the heat. I never have problems with those headphones. They're just the standard iPhone headphones, so I would miss having the fast forward button on my headphones.

  9. Don't be disheartened! Revel in the greatest parts of this past weekend...your kids so enthusiastically cheering for you! Give you body the time it needs to rest and recuperate. Use your disappointments from this race as leverage for motivation in obtaining your next goal!

    1. Spoken like an awesome coach! I hope your girls had a good run. I really wanted to come out last night, but I promised my legs not to run on them for at least a week, even though they weren't really sore. It's also a good mental break from running. Hope I can make it out next Wednesday. Will you be there? How's your leg?

    2. Take all the time you need. This past Wed. was HOT! The calf is doing well...3 runs this week so far and no pain! I'll be there next week too!!!

  10. I was totally debating running my first marathon in Feb doing Merecedes, or waiting until it was "warmer" and running Nashville. For more reasons than i can list, I'm sure glad I didn't wait and run the full last weekend. You confirmed this. BUT, I really do want to do the half next year!!

    1. Yes! Your race was perfect timing. The half for this one is really fun, and you would love it. It's very crowded so make sure to put your fastest estimated time so you don't get stuck too far back.

  11. Visiting from Hannah's blog. Congrats on your marathon, especially running in HEAT! Enjoyed reading your Interview. :)

  12. Congrats on your marathon! I ran my first last spring (a year ago) and fully remember the challenges of those last few miles. And I cannot imagine running it in the heat... well done! Hope you're enjoying the recovery. :)

    1. Yes, those last miles are not usually fun. And recovery is going great. If they gave awards for relaxing, I think I could win some.:)

  13. Love reading your blog! I ran my first 1/2 this weekend at this same race and it WAS HOT! But very fun! Quick Question: How do you bloggers get the proof's on your blog/page? I've been trying to figure it out so I can post mine!

    1. Congrats on your first half!! I hope you loved it. The crowds at this one are just so fun, but I hate that the weather this time of year is completely unpredictable.

      For the proof, I just do a screen shot. I have a Mac so the shortcut is command + shift + 4, which lets me select part of the screen. If you have a PC, you can google "screenshot shortcut" for the keys. Good luck!

    2. Thank you SO much! I'm going to do the Nashville Women's Half next in Sept.

  14. This is a FANTASTIC race report. I know it wasn't the race you were hoping for, but how freakin' cute are your kids and also, you look like you are having so much fun! At the end of the day, that's all that matters. The next PR is always right around the corner. Great job and hope you are recovering ok!

    PS-I grew up in KY!

    1. Thanks! That's cool you grew up in KY. It's such a gorgeous state! I've considered the Derby Marathon that is the same weekend as the Nashville Marathon. Maybe it's a couple degrees cooler up there in Louisville.

  15. Crap stew! Ahhh, I love that phrase (meaning I may steal it).

    I love the pic of your twins where one appears to be telling the other one something important "Dude, listen to this story".

    The heat is a killer. It is worse than a running straight up hill the whole way. Considering how hilly that course is, the dumb out and backs (it sounds like it was geared more toward the half), and the humid heat, you kicked ass. If you were nauseous, then you made the right call to not push it. The last thing you need to be carted off the course for medical attention.

  16. Your first paragraph, I get it! I do, even though I'm slower than you, I realize slower than me people don't understand why I'm frustrated with my finish time. A finish time is a reflection of the training, when you come up short, it makes you feel like you didn't train hard enough, BUT WE ALL KNOW YOU TRAIN VERY HARD!! So.. Yeah, just trying to say I GET it.
    Anyhow, Congrats on the 4th marathon! Your finish photo is hilarious!


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