|Half Marathon State # 06
Half Marathon #13
One word…. Hills…. Hills…. Hills….. Sorry I stuttered there a little, but for this Charleston SC guy those hills were brutal. I will discuss this further below in the recap.
On April 26, 2014, I ran the Country Music Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee. Let me start by saying that in my 30 races, 13 half marathons, this was the most organized event in which I have ever participated in. Yes, I think they even out-shined the RunDisney events! From communications to expo, traffic to corrals, start to finish on the race, it was the best race I have ever been a part of! This was the 15th anniversary of this race. This was my first Rock ‘n Roll series event, and I plan to do far more in the future based on their showing here in Nashville. In fact, I will be doing the Savannah Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in November. Sign up and join me, you will not be disappointed.
Here is a link to the Expo Recap from yesterday.
Race morning started by waking up about 4:15 AM. We stayed outside of Nashville in Franklin, TN, which was about a 20 minute drive to the race. We did this because the hotels in Nashville were outrageously priced, and secondly, my co-worker, Michael’s sister works at the Marriott in Franklin, which was a really nice hotel. It also gets you out of the busy-ness of downtown Nashville. We left the hotel a little after 5 AM, and had no problem driving to the race. Once we got about a mile away, we had a traffic backup, as expected. However, we were parked by 5:45 AM. For this race, which was communicated properly, was to park at the finish area, at LP Field (Tennessee Titans football field) in lots A-D & N. Once parked, you walk about a half mile over the Cumberland River using the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge then one block northwest to the corner of Fourth Avenue North and Broadway, where the starting corrals are.
The weather could not have been better! The race started at about 50 degrees, and the race ended near 60 degrees. There was little to no wind to fight with, and the humidity was satisfactory. Compared to the same race last year, which was a downpour, were were truly blessed!
The start was well organized, continuing with the good vibe themes. There are 40 corrals for this race, with 30,000 runners! There are plenty of port-a-potties, but like all races, the ones close to the corrals will have long lines closer to the start. The starting area had two commentators with good upbeat music, and NO, it wasn’t all country music! I posted an estimated finish time of 1:55 when I registered, and was placed in Corral 6. The race started a few minutes late, with the National Anthem being sung at about 7:00 AM. So the first corral left out about 7:05 AM. After that, a corral was being sent about every two minutes, so my corral started about 7:15-7:20 AM.
Since this was an unusual race for me, in that it was not flat, I developed a pace chart based on the race course elevation using Taz Running. They then made me a tattoo to put on my forearm. It is a good thing too, because we went through a tunnel before mile one, and it threw my Garmin GPS watch off. It tried to recalibrate but it ended up adding about 0.3 (three tenths) of a mile to my watch statistics and made me have to do race math throughout the race. Here is a picture of the tattoo, and the different mile paces (factoring in the hills) that I needed to maintain to finish the race under 2 hours. As you see, on the last column, is the overall time at each mile, so this is what I used to compare my watch time to to make sure I was pacing properly.
GPS Watch Alert: The tunnel on Mile 1 may throw off your GPS tracking for the remainder of the race. After coming out of the tunnel, it tried to recalculate my distance, and added 0.3 (three tenths) of a mile to my distance, which threw off my overall distance & overall pace.
Other than the fact that my watch flaked out on me, the remainder of the race went well. Thank goodness I did a lot of training on the Arthur Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, SC to prepare. The first couple of miles were somewhat downhill, and then “they” showed themselves. There were hills pretty much the remainder of the course; however, between miles 3 to 5 (probably a 200 feet incline), and the final miles were the most troubling hills. As you can see on my pace chart above, it had me dropping my pace down significantly to compensate for the hills, but helped me on the downhills to maintain my overall pace.
The race looped through parts of downtown Nashville, so we got to pass a lot of country music highlights & honky tonks. We saw so many recording studios as well. We then ran to the outskirts of town for 4-5 miles, then back in to town for more highlights. However, no matter where you were there were spectators cheering you on. It was great support!
As an avid NFL football fan, this was probably the most exciting finish behind completing my first marathon in 2012. With about one tenth of a mile to go you turn right from Woodland Street to South 1st Street, and you run directly facing LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. It was such a cool view. Continuing with the NFL theme, Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots ran the half marathon and finished. He started in Corral 32, so I am better than Belicheck (2:47 finish time).
There were water stops about every mile and a half, with Gatorade included on the even mile stops. There was a GU Stop at about Mile 11, which had about 5 different varieties. The volunteers were super awesome, and as with every race recap I would like to thank all the volunteers for the race support. In fact, I did not see a one volunteer with their finger inside the cup touching the content. All were being handed with the palm! Thumbs Up! We Thank You!
There were bands throughout the course. Almost every mile had a band. They were really awesome, and helped keep us motivated. Most were country bands, but they had other genres as well. In fact, I overheard one of the bands announce that their lead singer was Jo Dee Massina’s significant other! Cool, a name I knew. Then, about mile 8 or so, the was a church praise team rocking it out with Christian music. I almost wanted to stop and just start rocking with them, but then I decided against that. That is why my church has me in the sound booth!
After finishing the race and getting my medal there was super support. They provided water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, bananas, apples, bagels, Power bars, cookies & cold wet washcloths to cool down!
My goal for all half marathons is to try my best to complete them in under two hours. I was again successful, finishing the race at 1:58:26, with an overall pace of 9:20. I feel my training was sufficient for this race. Going into the race, with all the hill training, my legs have been really sore. However, with therapy from my chiropractor & massage therapist at Family first Chiropractic, and the excellent tape job by KT Tape on my IT Band, I had no leg issues during the race! Thanks everyone!
Parking: If you are driving to the race, there is plenty of free parking at LP Field, where the finish line is located. Allow yourself about 20 minutes to park, as there is a backup as you get closer. We arrived about 5:45, and were parked by about 6:00 AM. Then there is about a 15-20 minute walk from the parking lot to the race start. It is all very easy & organized. WARNING: If you arrive late and cannot park at LP Field, do not park along the on ramps to the interstates. There were motor police ticketing cars parked in this fashion, and tow trucks towing the cars away as we were leaving.
Note to Spectators: This race, as others, has increased security measures, especially near the start and finish of the race. Spectators were not allowed to carry bags, purses, or backpacks unless they were clear. My wife said that many spectators were not aware of this and were turned away from the finish area. This is something that we will likely see at more raves so something to plan for next time.or next time.
Best Race Course Sign: Being a Star Wars fan, it was “May The Course Be With You!”, as popular as this would be, it is the first time I have ever seen this one.
On all my race trips, I try to find a cupcake store to celebrate, this trip was no different. We found GiGi’s Cupcakes in Franklin, TN and were not disappointed!
Here are a few photos from the MarathonFoto photographers.