Tuesday, 30 April 2013

St. Jude Country Music Nashville Race Recap

I scheduled this trip to Nashville in the dead of winter in Canada. My friend told me that it would be hot at the end of April so we should only plan to run the half rather than the full. As this Canadian winter dragged on and on I got more excited about my warm weekend in Nashville.

Then the week before the race came and rain was in the forecast. I don't mind running in a bit of rain and I was actually happy for the cool down it would bring since I hadn't ran in shorts since September!

I arrived in Nashville on Thursday evening and we attended the expo on Friday. I can't say for sure if things were set up differently this year than past in terms of security because this is the first time I was at this race venue. My friend and I were commenting on how this would be the safest race we have ever run similar to when flying after 9/11 was the safest time to fly.

There was a lot at the Expo about supporting Boston. There was a photo booth, lots of apparel with support Boston messages, and we were all given bracelets to wear during the race. 

After the Expo we went to check out the country music scene in Nashville. I really enjoy country music, I always have so this was one of the reasons I wanted to do this race. There is a street in Nashville that the course runs down called Broadway. There are several - like 3 blocks - of bars and restaurants that start playing live music at 10 a.m. and go until 3 in the morning! It was fun to walk along the street and hear the live music coming out. I was moved by the music to buy cowboy boots! 

We headed back to the hotel to rest a bit before dinner. The idea was to take a little nap, but I found Steel Magnolias on TV and we rested watching the movie. I forgot how much that can make you cry at the end! 

Then we checked the weather to prepare our gear for the morning. This is what we saw:

Really?!?! 100% Rain! Ugh! So we prepared for the worse and figured we would make adjustments in the morning if things changed with the weather. I again used the Runner's World What to Wear tool. There was a difference in what to wear depending on if it was going to be a light rain or a heavy rain. So I prepared for both. I set out shorts for sure and was going to decide between a short or long sleeve shirt in the morning. I got a vest just before getting on the flight and was glad I did. It helped with the rain a bit. 

One of the security measures that was put in place for the race was using a clear plastic bag that we were given at the Expo. We were told at the Expo and again in an email that the only bag that was going to be allowed at the bag drop would be the clear plastic bag we were given, no exceptions. Our bags were also going to be searched. It felt like this was going to be a very safe race.

We woke up at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning and the weather had not changed for race time. So I decided on shorts, a long sleeve shirt that I knew I could push the sleeves up easily if I got warm, & a vest, visor to keep the rain off my face. Oh and a very fancy garbage bag to attempt to stay dry and warm until the race started.

Luckily our hotel was right at the start so we stayed inside until nearly 10 mins before the race started.

The race started in waves based on the corral you were assigned to. I was in corral 9 so luckily I didn't have to wait too long to start. My chip time was around 11 mins off the gun time so not long. There were 36 corrals I believe, so there were people waiting quite a while in the pouring rain. 

Corral 8 was 2 minutes a head of us so and I happened to be at the front of our corral. I started out the race pretty slow because I felt like people sprinted at the start with such a wide open space in front of us. It was a crowded race as well, 26,000 runners so I was taking my time, seeing what it was going to be like to run in pouring rain and trying to warm myself up a bit.

I kept the garbage bag on for about the first mile and then I had to bite the bullet and let it go. I was instantly soaked! At first many of us tried to avoid the puddles around and then realized that really splashing through a puddle was not going to make us any more wet than we already were. Every step I took I could feel the sloshing of my soaked socks. Fun!

I felt really good through the entire race. I walked through every water stop for my walk breaks even though I didn't drink at all of them. I was afraid of getting too much water into my tummy and not sweating it out. I have done that before and it's given me such a bad stomach ache. The course was hilly - not steep hills, but several rolling hills. It was a challenging course, so I was really happy I wasn't running it in 80 degree weather.

I usually try to find someone I can chat with a bit during the race, but everyone was really quiet. Just listening to their music or concentrating on not slipping on something. I listened to my music until my ear buds got so saturated with water I couldn't really hear out of them anymore!

Around mile 9 I realized that I was running a pretty good time despite the conditions, but I was going to have to maintain a faster pace if I was going to finish in under 2 hours. So I kept an eye on my watch and kept it as close to 5:10/km as I could. I was less than a mile to the finish line and my watch ticked closer and closer to 2 hours. I was getting nervous that running in this weather was going to get me close to sub 2 hours, but not quite. I ran as fast I could muster with still keeping myself safe in all the puddles. 

I crossed the finish line with my watch saying 2:00:36. Crap! That is still a PR for me, but I was SO CLOSE to making it under 2 hours. I hoped that my watch was off.

And it was!! My official chip time was 1:59:48 - just a hair under 2 hours - I'll take it!

I had very crazy split times. I definitely got faster as the race went on - but look at that difference between mile 10 and the finish! A minute faster pace - Whoops! I should have been doing that the whole time! Oh Well, Blame it on the Rain (cue Milli Vanilli song)

 Here we are in the shuttle that our hotel had for the runners at the finish - we are sopping wet, but we both ran personal best times and we were headed to a warm shower! 

I'm not sure I would run this race again - I would recommend it to others, but I think my experience is unlike any other year. Usually it's warm/hot and this year wasn't. Nashville is a really fun place to visit! Hopefully I can go back someday with better weather conditions!

What are the craziest weather conditions you have ever raced in? Is there a particular kind of weather you enjoy running in most?

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