5/2/16 - Rock 'n' Roll Nashville Marathon Weekend

Write-up of the weekend of my fourth full marathon. Running stats can be found here - https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1148252448

My back locked up Tuesday night, and didn't loosen up until late Thursday after a visit to the chiropractor. Wednesday I got a stomach bug so over a 48 hour time frame, I had a total of about 4 slices of bread, a little bit of chicken noodle soup and lots of water.

We got to Nashville late on Thursday and then woke up early on Friday to grab some breakfast at Puckett's (we got the all you can eat buffet...killed it) and then over to the expo. We didn't have anything planned in particular, so we walked up and down the area with all the honkey tonks and bars and the over the pedestrian bridge. It was nice to get out and stretch the legs. There was a park on the other side of the river where we watched some guys attempt some parkour moves. That was pretty entertaining.

After that, we headed back to the house where we played some games and hung out. Grabbed some dinner, pasta for Phillip and Greg, Dad got him some spicy chicken from Hattie B's. I had some pasta and chicken from home. Everyone really enjoyed their meals. It was more games and then an early bedtime.

Saturday morning started with a 4:15 alarm and more questions about the weather. Stomach was acting alright, but I couldn't eat. We made it to the parking lot of the stadium around 5:45 or 6:00 and slowly made our way to the start. On the way, I knew I needed a bathroom so we stopped at the Hilton downtown where they were allowing runners to come in from the light rain, and use the bathrooms. Great decision. Dad, Greg and Phillip got to sit in some plush chairs while I did my business in a very luxurious restroom with Angel Soft toilet paper.

Around 6:45 we made our way up to the start corrals for the 7:15 start time. So far that morning, we had just light rain, basically a mist. Nothing too bad. Not long after making it to the starting area, we got a massive downpour that soaked everyone. Most areas to take cover were occupied, so we were forced to take the brunt of it. After a quick picture or two and final prep, Greg and I made it into our corral just around 7:00 to wait for the start. With a few strikes of lightning nearby, the start time got pushed back to 7:50. This left us standing in the rain, and cold for another 50 minutes, plus another 8 before our corral (corral 7) got the chance to hit the course. There wasn't much to do, other than stand there and try to contain the nervous energy. As we stood there though, the rain started to soak our shoes and socks, our nerves kept us quiet and mentally thinking of the race, and the cold kept us just chilled enough we couldn't really get comfortable.

By the time we got to the start and ready to go the weather had basically cleared up, but was still overcast. We would get sprinkled on throughout the entire race which was not a bad thing as the heat slowly began to rise.

Having started in Corral 7 with an expected finishing overall pace of 8:30, I expected to be able to have a solid start. Instead, our first mile was a 9:41, followed by 8:42 and 8:43. The crowds were too packed, on too tight of a course, with too many people starting in the wrong spot. I eventually got frustrated with having to wait in certain spots and had to push my way through people to not run into them. It was beyond frustrating. Because of the crowds and the fighting for position, neither of us truly realized what kind of hills we were climbing at the same time. Using Strava.com's GAP that takes elevation change into account, miles 2 and 3 were actually equivalent to 8:22 and 8:10.

Once we got out of some of the crowds, the hills became noticeable but we both felt reasonably strong. We knew we'd be seeing Phillip and Dad around mile 9.5 so we started looking for them around mile 9 which was a great distraction. We made the exchange and kept on going. It was around mile 11 that we started talking about how miserable we felt, but we had to make it to the halfway point before we could walk. We barely made it. It was also around this time that the blister on the bottom of my foot starting irritating me which made my stride just a bit awkward. My right knee also started bothering me. Finally, I began to notice that my shoulders were really tense, and even as I'm writing this two days later on Monday morning, my shoulders are still sore.

From then on it was running down every hill and then keeping the momentum as long as possible. This pattern repeated itself for the next 13.1 miles. Finally, around mile 23, Greg started feeling better than me, so he went on ahead. I knew he was going to be close to a PR, but he wound up missing it by about a minute. There was honestly nothing worth mentioning as far as the race goes. It was just a constant grind.

As for the course, I don't remember a whole lot of features. The best spots were miles 9.5, 16,5 and 20 where we got to see Dad and Phillip. Another point of interest was mile 16 where we ran around the warning track of the stadium of the Nashville minor league baseball team. I don't remember the crossing of the river, or much of anything on Music Row. I think there was a nice garden we ran through around mile 10, but don't remember anything of it. At mile 14 we ran right by an Arby's and if we had money, might have stopped for something to eat. Around 19.5 we ran through a block party which looked like a lot of fun. Miles 21 through 23 were through a really nice park which was very relaxing with a golf course, pond and some softball fields. There was an aid station around mile 23 offering pickle juice, and it was the most bitter, eye-opening drink I've ever had. Definitely woke me up for a few steps. The aid station at 20.5 and 24 had wet sponges which were just incredible.

Overall the course really was a great course, with incredible support from crowds, official water stops and then a few stages with local bands playing. I'd definitely run this marathon again, although I would start in an earlier corral, I'd slow down for the first 6-10 miles, and I'd try to enjoy it a lot more. I'd also make sure it didn't rain on us and soak our shoes, I would not mess my back up and get the stomach bug the week before, and I'd train on more hills.
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