Sunday, April 27, 2014

St. Jude Country Music Nashville Marathon Review

Saturday, April 26, 2014:

It's a keeper - thumbs up.  It feels SO good to be showered and relaxing in clean, dry, cotton clothing, from the skin out.  I relish this part of the marathon - cool, dry, sipping on a cold beverage (in this case an organic stout beer from Milwaukee).  As I ran I saw people doing that, sitting in the shade along the race course, outside a bar or outside their homes.  At about mile 24, I even asked one guy if he had an extra beer, and he said "sure!"  Then I had to turn it down, because my experience with beer along the race course is that it slows me down a lot.  But I was struggling then, and would have loved to sit in the shade and chat with him for one beers-worth of time!

Acres of runners at the start

My Marathon:

My watch failed today; it's 12 years old, and I see a tiny gasket protruding from the back, so it apparently took in moisture from my sweaty wrist and started to fog over from the inside, then finally went blank just after the halfway point.  But before it did, I saw that I was about eight minutes ahead of schedule for a 5:30 finish.  Unfortunately, though, at about mile 14, I started to cramp up and was forced to walk the last 12 miles.  By my crude calculations at that point, I could still finish within the race-limit 6:00 hours if I walked just as fast as I could, about 15 minutes/mile.  Indeed, my actual  finish time was 5:59:08, so I'm glad that I didn't waste any more time along the way than I did.  I finished first of two in my age group, by ten minutes.

This was a tough marathon, quite hilly and warmer than I like, 82 degrees at my finish, with full sun, not much breeze, and very little shade.  The compensation is that Nashville is a nice place to be, the spectators were numerous and vocal, we enjoyed coming back to run here (half marathon in 2012), the aid stations and medical stations were fully-staffed and well-stocked (with ice!), and the roads were entirely free of vehicle traffic.  I like that about the Rock n Roll marathons - we've done several now, and never had to look over our shoulder to see if a vehicle was coming up behind us.  Nashville claims it's the best marathon in America, and I will say it's a pretty good one, but I've done 81 marathons now and there are some other pretty good ones too.

For the first time in several years I wore "DON" in big letters on the front of my shirt.  Hundreds (thousands?) of people hollered "Go Don" or some equivalent, and I do find that energizing.  I admit it.  I should be able to generate the enthusiasm from within, but I like the help from the crowd, when there is a crowd.  I've had other shirts with my full name, first and last, but people don't respond the same way.  This was a treat - I'd forgotten how much DON helps.
Lots of cute signs

I took six Clif Shot Mocha gels along the way (with caffeine), and lots of water.  Near the half I felt a little sick to my stomach, and realized that I was also quite thirsty.  Dehydrated.  How does that happen when I take water at every aid station, and they're only a mile and a half apart?  Then I slowed to all walk anyway, and took LOTS of water, and actually felt better and got stronger toward the finish.  As usual I also took salt, probably eight tablets or so during the race.  My pace in the first 13 miles was run 20 triplets, walk 40.

Whining: No problems with feet, knees, or hips!  Imagine that.  In the last miles I felt an ache in the left side of my back, just above the waist, but I don't think it's myeloma, probably just a lack of core strength.  It seemed to be muscular, and indeed every muscle is sore now, but it's supposed to be after a marathon.  It will be OK by Tuesday, and I will run a little then.

Nashville Marathon:

It's a Rock n Roll event, which means that it's well organized.  We ran past a lot of live bands, some of them offering music that I enjoyed.  It was not all country or rock & roll music, there was a variety.  Some of the bands have no common sense about the volume, and it hurt my ancient ears, but other bands were delightful.

Parking observation: We stayed at one of the many airport hotels and purchased the "reserved parking" option (Lot R at LP Field) and were SO glad that we did.  Lot R is closer than any other lot to the pedestrian bridge that takes runners to the start, making it a little farther from the finish, but the real advantage was getting there.  Traveling west on I-40 from the hotels, with everyone else, we could stay in the left lanes, passing everyone else, and exit on 2nd Street toward Lot R, while everyone going to the free lots had to take the right lanes to turn north on I-24 and the Shelby Avenue exit. An hour and a half before the 7:00 am race start those lanes were almost stopped already, for miles, as traffic squeezed down.  It's hard to imagine that everyone got to the start on time.

On the other hand, this race is huge, just 3,000 marathoners, but 19,000 half-marathoners.  Because of the size, the race was organized into 40 corrals, with each corral started about a minute and a half after the previous one.  The last corral actually started more than an hour after the first, so the late-arrivers may have had enough time to get to the start.
A band

Everyone started together, marathoners and half marathoners.  I think that the 3,000 marathoners should have started at 6:00 am and the 19,000 half-marathoners at 7:00.  After all, we 3,000 have twice as far to go, and we wouldn't be slowed by the half marathoners filling the roads.

Other Stuff:

  • Shirt on a non-runner: "Shhhhh - this is my hangover shirt."
  • Shirt: "If I don't challenge myself, I can't change." 
  • In the second half a wonderful young man handed me a bottle of ice-cold water, and I nursed that bottle, refilling it several times at water stations. It helped a lot.  Maybe I should start wearing my water carrier in warm marathons.
  • They actually know how to sing the Star Spangled Banner in Nashville!  Well done.

Splits: 24:14 (miles 1 & 2), 12:00, 11:26, 22:45 (miles 5 & 6), 25:22 (miles 7 & 8), 11:28, 11:17, 12:09, 12:34, 11:59 (mile 13), total 2:35:14.  My watch stopped here.  It stopped keeping time too, but after drying out, it started up again, but several hours late.  Good old Timex, keeps on ticking.  But I need to fix that gasket, or get a new watch.  Maybe it's time for a Garmin.

The pace for the first 13 miles was 11:56, which works out to a 5:13 marathon finish if maintained, which of course I didn't.


Bobby Bellew said...

Don, I ran across your blog after googling reviews of yesterday's race. Congratulations on a great race! I also ran the marathon yesterday. It was my second full. And it so happens I saw you yesterday on the back end of the course. The letters across your shirt were very memorable. Great idea and a great way to get the much needed spectator encouragement. Best wishes to you in the future. I enjoyed reading your profile and your review of the race.

Bobby Bellew

Don said...

Thanks Bobby