Monday, April 29, 2013

Nashville Country Music Half Marathon Race Recap

If I had to sum this race up in one word, it would be "wet".

The day consisted of Rain. Rain. And More Rain.

The sound of the race was the splashing of shoes through puddles and the rustle of plastic (ponchos, plastic bags).

I had packed a couple of race outfit options as I wasn't sure what the weather was going to be. Checking the forecast in the days leading up to the race was an exercise in frustration as each check provided a different response. I was reasonably confident it was going to be at best cloudy and at worst rainy with thunderstorms. I got the "at worst" scenario.

Race morning I looked out the window to see the rain was falling. The forecast was saying it would continue for an hour and then likely back off for the majority of the race. Consulting the Runner's World What to Wear tool resulted in me choosing capris and a t-shirt as my outfit but with little confidence as any change in the rain levels from light to heavy or wind speed from light to heavy shifted the recommendation.

As I arrived at the starting line and got ready to check my bag the rain stopped. It looked like maybe the forecast was correct. After checking my bag and my warm layer I was cool but not overly cold and felt pretty happy about the race.

Five minutes later it started raining.

As I made my way toward the start line I consoled myself with the fact that once I started running I wouldn't care about the weather. But as the rain continued I could feel myself starting to get cold and uncomfortable and cursed my lack of foresight in bringing a poncho or similar to keep me dry before the race. And then I spied a box of garbage bags! I bee-lined my way there just ahead of a couple of other people and luckily nabbed the last bag in the box. Ten minutes later as I stood in my start corral and the rain continued to come down, I have never been so happy to be wearing a garbage bag in my life. I continued to be happy as the race start of 7:00am became closer to 7:10. My love for the garbage bag was cemented when it took a further 40 minutes for me to even get to the start line.

Before the race started the crowd held a minute of silence for Boston. All the racers raised an arm (mostly wearing tribute wrist bands) which made for a pretty moving sight.

Tribute to Boston (source)
By race start, my shoes were already soaked and I was pretty cold but my core was pretty much dry. I ditched the bag on the start line and embraced the rain from that point on. Thankfully, by two miles in my hands and feet had warmed up. Unfortunately, I was already beginning to feel the effects of the hills.

Compare and contrast:
Nashville Country Music Half Marathon

Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon
I am sure there a hillier courses. I am sure that the Nashville hills are nothing for many people. However, I have become quite accustomed to my flat Lakefront Trail and those early hills were just enough to take the wind out of my sails. Because this race was just for fun, I wasn't worried about my time. I was worried about my ability to walk after the weekend was done though. I can tell you right now I don't remember what looks like a long downhill in the second half of the race. It didn't feel very downhill to me.

Despite the rain (because it didn't stop once during the race) there was good course support. The music that the Rock 'n' Roll races are known for was lively in the first four miles and then became more spread out as the race progressed but the many locals were playing music from their front yards and porches made up for it. I enjoyed the course which wound through downtown areas and some more residential streets. I remember seeing lots of things and trying to make mental note of where they were so I could visit again later - but as it turns out, I have race amnesia and couldn't remember any of them! I do remember there were A LOT of music based businesses. I guess they don't call Nashville "Music City" for nothing!?

The half marathon course was nearly all shared with the marathon course. The marathoners passed very close the half marathon finish line which I can only imagine would be a little depressing - to hear all the cheering for the half marathon finishers knowing you still have nine miles to go?

Overall this was a great race. The enthusiasm of the runners, volunteers and supporters was uplifting. The course was pretty scenic and had plenty of twists, turns, inclines and declines to keep things interesting. And let's face it - it's always just plain fun to splash about in puddles.

Race time was 2:28:36. Not my slowest but definitely my wettest.


  1. My legs have definitely gotten used to "Chicago hills," too. I hate running in rain; you're tougher than me! Congrats!

  2. I ran in Nashville too! Wet and hilly course. Good job finishing it. When is your next race?