Monday, April 29, 2013

About Country Music Marathon & Half Marathon

It was never my intention to run this year's Country Music Half Marathon.  I ran in the USA Half Marathon in Washington DC on March 16th and the Oak Barrel Half Marathon on April 6th.  I am registered to run the Rev3Knoxville Olympic Distance Triathlon on May 5th, so running another half was far from my mind.

That is until the events of Monday, April 15th in Boston.  It was then that I decided to run in Nashville, so on Wed., April 17th, I registered.

My wife was already registered, so this was an added bonus.  We would run this together.  Again.

The weather in Nashville for this race is always unpredictable to say the least.  We've had heat and humidity in the 90F's, the floods of 2010 came the week after the race, but on race day we had tornadoes and the race was cut short.  This year's weather proved to be equally exiting.

All week rain was in the forecast for the entire day.  As we got closer to race time, the chances of precipitation increased.  As we arrived at race site, the chances of rain were holding steady at 70%.  It was just a few minutes after, that the rain started.  And it never stopped.  Ever.

First on the agenda was the obligatory stop at the porta potties.  And in true Rock 'n' Roll fashion, accommodations for these were sub-par   As usual, there were not nearly enough, anywhere.  The lines were huge.  We stood in line for almost 45 minutes.  I wish they had taken a note from the USA Marathon where they had four porta potties inside each corral along with several scattered outside the corrals.  This is the way to go.  Maybe one day, the Competitor Group will start thinking about the athletes a bit more.  This was and is the only negative about this otherwise well organized race, except well, for the finish line.  More in a bit.

As we made our way to our corrals, the rain kept coming down steadily.  Not hard, but steady.  The mood amongst the runners was upbeat.  Everyone was making the best of it.  We just wanted the race to start so we could get moving.  It was getting cold.

After the National Anthem, we were asked to raise our hands and make the "peace" sign.  This was pretty awesome to see.  After this, Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline came on.  Everyone was singing.  Again, pretty upbeat, pretty cool.

And then we were off.

I don't know where or what time it was when the rain picked up.  At times it was coming down hard, and the wind was blowing.  At times, the rain hurt (as much as rain can make you hurt) as it hit you.  But we kept going.  Everyone kept going.  No one was complaining, everyone was just moving.

One of the biggest challenges throughout the day was having to pay attention, extra attention, to where you were stepping.  The puddles at times where big.  I tried to avoid as many as I could but I quickly realized that this would do no good.  It would use more energy than needed and the shoes and socks were already soaked, so through the puddles I went.  I did try, however, to follow the lead of those in front of me.  Didn't really want to step into anything that could be dangerous.  This is where it got tricky.  Additionally, I tried to run, as much as possible in the middle or the road, where it crowns.  This is a place where there was less chance for water to gather.  For the most part, this worked.

A few "firsts" for me took place during this race.  This was the first time I ran a race in the rain from start to finish and beyond.  Also, this was the first time I had to stop at the porta potties more than once.  Actually, I had to stop four times.  Not sure what's up with that. I'm thinking electrolytes were messed up.  But, each time I stopped, the lines were large.  Larger than I have ever seen before during any race, so I guess I was not the only one with issues. Not sure what to make of this.  According to my Garmin, I lost exactly four minutes on these stops.

Regarding the finish line...  A couple of years ago, they changed the finish line, in my opinion, for the worse.  Marathoners used to finish on one side of LP Field, Half Marathoners on the other side.  This would allow for the crowd to disperse a whole lot quicker.  Now, everyone finishes at the same spot.  Making this overcrowded and dangerous at best.  Not only does everyone finish together, but the chute gets narrower as you move along, so you literally come to a dead stop.  As you finish running a half marathon, much less a full marathon, the last thing you need to do is to come to a dead stop.  Makes me think that whoever thought of this brilliant idea, is not a runner.  I have complained about this before, I will continue to complain about this until its fixed.

So once I made it through the finish line maze, through the overcrowded human corral, I proceeded to move to the family gathering area where I was to meet my daughters who had come to support; braving the elements all morning long, and my wife, who finished not to far behind me.  By the time I arrived where I was going, I was cold. Very cold. I was shivering uncontrollably at times.  I waited patiently for everyone to gather, but once we were together, we hurried to the car, which was at least two miles away.  It felt like it was two miles away. It could have been just two blocks away, but it felt like it was two miles away.

And for the numbers:  Official Finish time: 2:17:27.  Official Pace: 10:30.  Moving Pace:  10:03

Mauricio 9868.  Monica 23435
Am I glad I decided to run this race?  You betcha   Would I have run this race had I known before hand that the conditions were going to be like this?  You betcha   I would change nothing.  I would do nothing different.  It was a wonderful day, it was a wonderful race, it was a wonderful time.  Glad I ran it.

The one thing that stuck to my mind more than anything was the fact that during the entire day, despite the monsoon like conditions at times, I heard no one complaining.  No one.  Everyone was upbeat, everyone was happy, the mood was perfect.

So, as I posted on my facebook page on Saturday:  "Don't ever doubt the heart of a runner."

Next on my agenda is Rev3Knoxville Olympic Distance Triathlon, to be held on Sunday, May 5th in Knoxville, TN.  I will do this alongside my wonderful wife Monica and awesome daughter Juliana.  I am looking forward to this race for it will be one that I will never forget!