So much to say about this weekend……this could be an epic post (or a marathon post, whichever you prefer….)
The drive out to Nashville didn’t take as long as I had anticipated. We all entertained one another and it was pretty fun. There was a lot of talk about KFC and their new grilled chicken. We actually stopped at a KFC just outside of Knoxville, but wouldn’t you know their dining room wasn’t open? And we weren’t prepared to eat in the car (there were 5 of us!) So we hit up McDonald’s. Oh yes. Oh so healthy two days before a race (actually, it wasn’t so bad….)
We made it to Nashville around 9:15 p.m. and we had the most fabulous concierge, Peter, help us with all of our stuff. Peter was my favorite for the rest of the weekend. So very helpful. He was from New York and I just had fun talking to him and asking questions. Really, all of the staff at Homewood Suites was super-fabulous.
Friday was the expo. It can be pretty overwhelming. The first thing I noticed was the CMM store was a little bare this year. No cute shirts (my favorite CMM shirt is my green shirt with the flower on it – I wanted one in blue) and all of the TNT stuff was missing. We made it through the store without buying anything, and into the real expo. There, I noticed that Saturn was missing. Definitely a sign of the times. The economy blows and everyone is being hit – including running events! We still had fun and racked up on a lot of free products. I also bought my white Asics shirt for $10. So glad I bought that, since it helped a lot on Saturday. (Oh, and I’m seriously wishing we had a Publix in Asheville. They have the best salsa and organic lemonade!)
We were going to head to Demos for lunch (italian food) and ended up at Cadillac Ranch (bar food), which was better since most people were craving french fries and fried chicken. I know. Weird runners. 🙂 Cadillac Ranch is not new to me. We ate their before my first marathon (I didn’t eat much that year) and then I ate there on a work trip. They had a live musician who performed Zac Brown’s “Chicken Fried” which was oddly appropriate. They were very understaffed for such a busy weekend, but we made the most of it and I made sure to tip our server well.
We then headed back to the hotel for several hours. I napped and went to the hot tub to soak my legs (not for long, but I was still having some knee problems from the garage door.) I was pretty nervous. I had seen the forecast and knew this sounded exactly like 2007. Too hot for me to handle, and I didn’t want to end up in the hospital again. Something just didn’t feel right about going into the marathon and I think the weather had a lot to do with it.
I went to bed around 9:30 that night, and woke up at 4:00 on Saturday morning. The hotel was shuttling runners over to the start (rather than having us walk several blocks to the finish and get the shuttle over.) See? The staff rocked. I had my oatmeal, got dressed and remembered lots of sunscreen and vaseline. We checked the weather at 4:45, and it was already 68 degrees outside. The race wasn’t starting for two more hours. I received a lot of grief over wanting to get to the start so early, but I think it helped in the end. We were able to get coffee for those who wanted it (lonnnggggg lines at McDonald’s since the race didn’t actually have bagels and coffee like they had promoted!) and we all used the restrooms several times.
I was still very nervous. And when I get nervous, I don’t want to talk to people about it. I want to be alone with my thoughts and my iPod. It was warming up and I knew I had a long day ahead of me.
At 6:45, we headed to our corral. I was in 10, some of my friends were in 22 and Kenny was in 3. I think they had around 32,000 people start the race. My corral started at 7:16 and we were off. I had a slow first mile (had to stop to use the bathroom) and my 5k time was around 30 minutes – sloowwwwwww. The race course had changed slightly and they added SEVERAL hills to the first 8 miles. I mean, come on!!! It’s a freaking marathon!
Around mile 4 (or shortly thereafter), I left my running friend. I was feeling strong and fast. Little did I know that feeling wouldn’t last for very long.
At mile 11, I saw the signs for the split. Marathon, keep left. Half-marathon, keep right. I considered staying right. I continued left, though. I could see the finish line in LP Field. They really shouldn’t take the race by the finish line until you’re actually at the finish line.
At mile 13, I was hurting. My half marathon time was around 2:27. Not too shabby for how bad I was feeling. At mile 14, I could tell something wasn’t right and at mile 15, I stopped and talked to a medic. He determined I was overheated and gave me a bag of ice and told me to rub it on my arms. I decided not to stop and took the bag of ice with me. Every mile after that, I stopped and grabbed a bag of ice and continued on my way. By that time, I was also walking a lot.
I remember seeing mile 18, as I was around mile 12 or 13. I couldn’t wait to get to that point. When I was around mile 21, I looked over and saw the milemarker for 25. I saw two people catch a guy and the guy go down and have a seizure. I literally froze. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. All of the runners around him were helping and calling for help and they had a medic on hand pretty quickly. An ambulance was right behind me and they were able to tend to that runner very fast. Just sad that it had to come to that.
The difference between this year and previous years is that I remember miles 22-26. I normally block out 22 and 23. I talked to some of the other runners, offered my ice bag to one guy, even offered my Gatorade to one girl when she looked worse than I felt. I carry a fuel belt, mainly because of days like Saturday. You need it.
I was almost at mile 26, when I saw four ambulances carrying people away. I can’t imagine getting that close and not being able to finish. I could hear my friends and husband cheer for me when I was closing in on the finish line, but then I heard a lot of other people cheering for me and that felt pretty awesome.
I finished an hour later than I had wanted. I know I could run 26.2 miles much faster, but the conditions on Saturday were less than desirable. I’ve also convinced myself not to run the full marathon in June – I’m doing the half.
Part of me is disappointed, but the other part is just glad I made it through the race. One runner went into cardiac arrest when he crossed the finish for the half marathon. He later died. He was 25 and a veteran (he served four tours in Afghanistan, one in Iraq.) Makes me sad to think that someone died after this race – even if his might have been a pre-existing condition.
We’re not running in Nashville next year, we’ve decided. We’ll focus on a different city, but Nashville is not in the cards for us. It might be a while before I decide on my next full marathon. I’m pretty sore today (I’ve already been to the chiropractor) and I expect to lose a few toenails over this. I also need to re-build my morale after such a poor time. I do have to say that I still love Nashville. I just don’t like running the course in 80+ degrees 🙂
I have lots more photos and I’ll share them as I can get them off my camera!!