Remember that time I decided to run two marathons in a week to help Fight Stroke? Well let me refresh your memory.
A few days before the Boston Marathon I decided with the help of Tedy's Team to take the plunge and sign up for the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, which took place on April 26. Taking on this challenge meant raising an additional $1500 for the American Stroke Association in honor of my grandparents.
On Thursday, April 24, I headed South.
And was pleasantly greeted with this amazing Edible Arrangement from my girls of the #HotMessExpress. It was such a touching and sweet gesture.
Since I was the last addition to the Tedy's Team crew heading to Nashville, I had to buy my bib at the Expo. After Boston, I decided I would drop to the half for safety reasons.
Well when we got to the Expo I realized the Full and Half were the same price. According to Rock 'n' Roll rules, you can drop down during a race from Full to Half, but you can't go from Half to Full. So just in case I registered for the Full. ;)
We had a great pasta dinner the night before.
Seven folks doing the Half; Three doing the Full Seven of us had run Boston on the Monday
On the morning of the race, I woke up excited. We had to leave the hotel in the 5 o'clock hour because our hotel was on the course for the full marathon. So in order to get the guests who were racing down to the Start Area, we had to get out before the race closures.
Thankfully Tedy's Team provided some bagels for us to bring on the bus so we had a snack pre-race. I packed my ENERGYBits in my pocket and was ready to run.
As we drove, I knew I wanted to give the Full a shot. The split came around Mile XX so I would make the final call then.
We were dropped about a block from the Start Line so we made our ways towards the Resolution tent to get extra safety pins. ;)
It was chilly walking around the Start Area. We set up shop on the benches in a small square area, where Rock 'n' Roll set up their tents. But, we were lucky. My teammate Lisa's boyfriend John had stopped in a hotel to get some coffee and found a bunch of other runners hiding out. So we followed suit. We claimed an area of the group and made sure to do the last-minute foam rolling, use real bathrooms and just chill out before the race.
Another teammate's fiance was running the 5k and part of me wanted to switch places with him. ;) But he was the first to depart as his race started prior to ours.
After a final bathroom trip, it was time to head to the Start Line. I can't thank John enough for playing sherpa and carrying the extra layers we had worn.
But, before we could all head to our respective corrals - let's take a team selfie.
It was great to get final high-fives and hugs before we all departed.
Dan and I were in Corral 6 together. And you know how small the race community is? Oh if you don't here is an example. As we went into the corral, there were my friends Crystal and Mindy!
Crystal would be running her first marathon. I was sooo excited for her.
Something not new - I was so distracted catching up with my NYC ladies that I didn't realize they were doing the National Anthem and getting the party started. I think this was the farthest back I have started at an RnR event in a couple years.
But as they set each wave off, we moved closer and closer to the Start before BOOM!
We were off...
I was taking the race off Dan's pace and game plan. I had no set rules for the day except to avoid medical tents. If you missed it, here is my recap from Boston a few days prior explaining the medical tent visits.
The Country Music Full Marathon was set up in three separate out and back loops. We started out in downtown, which was quiet and peaceful. A far cry from the day/night before. It was too early for the tourists to be awake. ;)
We took a port-o-pottie break early, which was one of our smartest decision.
During Mile 2, Dan said "There's Belichick." And it was. We knew that New England Patriots' Coach Bill Belichick would be running the Half Marathon that day, but we weren't sure if we would see him or not. Of course I had committed his bib number to memory - just in case.
But there he was, he must've started in the first corral. We made our way across the street to try and talk to him. My main goal was to take a selfie with him, but he didn't seem in the mood. We said a quick 'hi' to him and let him know we were part of Tedy's Team. Kept it brief to let him get back to his run.
Thanks Rock 'n' Roll for the pic!
Just before Mile 3, we spotted Tedy's Team leaders Zack and Lauren with signs. It was great to tell them Belichick was behind us and see familiar faces.
After a quick 'hi,' we hit the road.
5k Mark: 31:48 (10:15 min/mile pace)
The weather was hot, but there was more shade than Boston, which was appreciated.
The crowds were doing their best to rally the runners.
We were feeling good. I wondered when my legs would realize they had run a marathon about 5 days earlier.
10k Mark: 1:03:16 (10:13 min/mile pace)
And at Mile 7, the soreness settled in. Ha! It hit Dan and I at about the same time. But didn't slow us down.
I really hadn't been paying attention to pace at all since we were having such a good conversation and taking in the scenery.
If nothing else, there was a lot of beautiful houses and buildings to look at.
As we headed towards Mile 10, we saw Lisa's boyfriend John with the Go Pro. It was a great pick-me-up to see a familiar face cheering for us.
Dan and I were both wearing our Tedy's Team singlets, which have our names on them, so I am sure some people we wondering why we had done that. It is something common at the Boston Marathon, but not something I see a majority of folks do at other marathons.
Mile 10 Mark: 1:41:43 (10:10 min/mile pace)
The big decision moment was quickly approaching. Would I bang right and take the Half option or power through the Full.
Well, the breathing was under control and my legs felt tired, but not painful. So onward and upward I went. :)
We enjoyed a bit of a downhill, but looked to our right only to realize we would be climbing back up this hill only a few miles later.
Don't you hate how hills work?
Half Marathon Mark: 2:13:55 (10:13 min/mile pace)
I give big credit to Dan for keeping us in check. As the conversation rolled, there were times when we sped up and he brought us back to a nice even pace.
We knew the hills would be coming on the second half and made sure we had the gas in the tank to make it through them.
When we hit the half way mark, we were in what felt like the middle of nowhere. It was an office park of some sort, but not what we have in New England - meaning there was like three businesses in it. :P We ran about two miles in this office park/neighborhood with zero spectators.
I had heard from friends not to expect a lot of crowd support during this race, especially on the second half. So I tried to keep that in my mind and instead focus on the other participants and my running buddy.
As we came out of the office park area, we met back up with a large hill/incline. We tried to be smart and walk a good portion of it. It was hot and no one was trying to be a hero on that day.
During Mile 15-16, we met back up with the half marathon route. They were on the right side of the cones and marathoners on the left. I tried to scan the crowd to see if we would catch any of our fellow teammates out there. I didn't see any unfortunately.
We had already run with two teammates during the first half so I knew I might not see any more.
While we endured Mile 17, you could see the Finish Line chute on your right side. Oh c'mon. That is just CRUEL. :P
Dan and I had been walking when necessary.
But as we approached Mile 18, my breathing was starting to act up so I wanted to walk a little more. I freed Dan to run his race. We had decided early on that if we had to leave each other we would. In the end, it was our own races to run.
I wanted to listen to my body to make it through the final eight miles.
Oh and since I lost my partner and entertainment, it was time to take out the phone and get to picture taking!
While walking I took this opportunity to let my social media channels know that I had decided to run the Full rather than the Half! Ha! I'm such a sneaky blogger. ;) It was great to see the cheers and shocked reactions coming through the phone.
It was another pick-me-up.
So I started running again. My game plan was to use the run-walk method the rest of the way. I wanted to stay ahead of the breathing issues that plagued me a few days earlier.
After climbing the Mile 18 hill, we were back in a neighborhood, which meant the spectators would be out there. And that they were. In full effect.
Folks were having parties on their lawns, spraying water hoses out into the streets and offering makeshift water stops for the runners.
It was the liveliness I am used to from Rock 'n' Roll races.
I almost kissed the girl giving out jolly ranchers - it was welcomed sugar.
Mile 20 Mark: 3:29:01 (10:27 min/mile pace)
Can you tell I was excited? I was ready to eat those last 6.2 miles.
Favorite sign of the day!
We were heading downhill - hello rolling hills - towards Shelby Park. We would be running in there for less than two miles.
But in the moment it felt like longer. There was one water stop and one band, but it was quiet. It zapped some of my energy. But the shade was welcomed.
It was at that time that I wish I had brought my music. It was now just me and my thoughts, which can get scary this far into a marathon. ;)
As we completed the Shelby Park loop, we met back up with the downhill we had enjoyed to enter the park.
I was thankful I was not one of those runners just getting to the park, but leaving it.
I took this picture to try to drum up entries to my virtual 5k fundraiser that I was hosting to hit the final $$ I needed to raise. I tweeted this out and it gave me a boost.
As I trekked up the hill towards Mile 24, I saw my friends Crystal and Mindy running towards the park. It was great to cheer them on and to know that Crystal was still out there fighting for her first marathon finish.
It was around this time that I just started talking to the people near me. Especially if people were run-walking, I would join them. Why not make friends? I met a guy that always runs in a kilt. He hadn't properly trained for this race - having not done a training run more than 9 miles. Eek! But he was out there pushing through.
The steps ticked by. I fist pumped as a local high school cheering squad at the Mile 25 marker.
I knew I could finish.
This whole time we had a group text chat going between the Tedy's Team folks so it was great to see the half marathoners had all finished and they were checking in on the three marathoners left out on the course.
Thank goodness I am semi-decent at running and texting so I could stay in the conversation.
I bottled up their excitement and pushed on through the final Mile.
Since this was the final loop, I knew there would be crowds the final half mile.
I fist pumped again after seeing the Mile 26 sign, but then wondered: "Man 0.2 miles seems like forever right now."
But there they were. My teammates had waited for us. I was about to start crying.
Could you tell I was happy to see them? It was the little steam I needed to get my engine to the Finish Line.
I gave it all I could for the final 0.2 and it was over.
Finish Time: 4:42:12 (10:46 min/mile pace)
My third-fastest marathon time came five days after my second-slowest. Who woulda thought?
I happily collected my medal and got ready to hit the Got Chocolate Milk tent! Even though I didn't run as Team Chocolate Milk for this race, I couldn't wait to see them!
There was Dan! He finished in 4:33:29 (10:26 min/mile pace). I knew that meant I walked more than he did in the final 8 miles, but I was happy to have finished less than 10 minutes after him.
We snapped a pic, picked up the amazingly cold wet towel they offered and headed to refuel with chocolate milk.
It was heavenly and just what I needed.
I continued my normal RnR post-race by heading to the Medal Engraving tent. $20 is worth getting my medal engraved on-site when they have extra medals on hand in case something ends up being misspelled.
Our final teammate Carly finished 4:54:14. Heck yeah three of us in under 5 hours.
We collected Carly and limped to meet the rest of the group at the hotel shuttle. Unfortunately the shuttle stop seemed like miles away from the Finish Line. It took what felt like hours, but we finally made it and it was great to hear how everyone's races went.
We got back to the hotel and met up with the rest of the team at the hotel pool for snacks and a recon discussion.
I had felt a blister forming at about Mile 2 and it bothered me all race long. It wasn't until I took my shoe off that I noticed how bad it was.
Note: please scroll quickly through if you don't want to see it. It is so bad I have to share.
After some water and snacks, we all broke to shower-change-decompress before a night of celebrating.
Overall, the race was well-organized as all of the RnR races I've done have been. But I felt the second-half of the course was seriously lacking crowd support, as well as a music presence. It was a little sad and disheartening. I expected more from what I had heard about this race before getting to Nashville.
So if you are someone running alone, I recommend keeping music on your person for the lulls. There will be some so be prepared.
I did enjoy the race being on the Saturday, which gave us Saturday night and Sunday to really enjoy all that Nashville had to offer. :)
Country Music Hall of Fame
Country Music Hall of Fame
But can you beat that medal? Loved it.
Thanks again to Nashville for being a great host city and Tedy's Team for making it a weekend I would never forget.
I was shocked at how my body held up through the two marathons I put it through in a week. I couldn't believe how much better the second one went over the first. I think what they say about being trained is right. I had put all the miles in so the body was ready to do it's best. Neither was a PR and that is okay.
I was there to push my body to help Fight Stroke and I ended up raising $10,000. THAT is the reason I did it.
Have you rocked and rolled through Nashville?