Monday, October 17, 2011

2007 Country Music Marathon

Originally written 23MAY2007

28APR2007 Nashville, TN

"It is not about the destination. It's about the journey so Enjoy the Journey." I know you all have heard it before. It is easier said than done especially if you, like myself, have always been running against the clock chasing an ever elusive time goal. Meghan and Bill, I know you understand. This revelation came in part from listening to John "The Penguin" Bingham at the expo the day before the marathon. He told us that even the elite runners understand this concept better than us average runners and they won't usually give you a time goal. The elites will tell you that they have trained hard and prepared well, but they don't know what will happen the day of the race and that they can only do the best they possibly can that day. If that is the elites attitude than by all means I think I should fall in line as well. The other parts of the enjoy the journey revelation came to me during and after the marathon. The marathon took place on 28APR2007 in Nashville, TN.

The expo was good, but other than there not being at least a slight language barrier like most of my European marathons it was just OK. I did get a great Adidas sleeveless shirt for less than $20. OK now that sounded girlish didn't it? The best thing that came from the expo other than the shirt was hearing The Penguin's tips and advice.

I arrived at the race a few hours early on Saturday. Between getting on a shuttle to the start, checking in my gear bag, and waiting in line for the portajohns that time flew by. The marathon runners had red race bibs and the half marathoners were yellow. As with any marathon that has a half marathon, especially one in the US, the half marathoners outnumber the marathon runners by an almost 2 to 1 margin. And why not? The half marathoners get all the excitement and feel of the full marathon with only half the effort, time, and pain on race day. I will say that they only get half the reward and satisfaction that a full marathon finisher can claim though. This was my first stateside marathon. It combined two of my favorite things. That being running and country music. Though not all the bands on the course were country. Despite having almost 30,000 finishers between the half and full the start went smoothly thanks in part to there being 32, yes 32, different starting corrals spaced about 90 seconds apart.

My training leading up to this race went well and I even did a fair amount of speed work so once again I came in with a goal of running a sub 4 hour marathon. You would think I would get tired of beating my head against that brick wall by now. I think this was my 5th or 6th attempt at it. In the first half I ran comfortably and the miles came easy. There was adequate food cause you know that half marathoners need actual soluble food, but we full marathoners run solely on gels and liquids. I am sorry to be so negative about this. Insufficient food on the course is one of my constant gripes when it occurs. I must sound like a glutton and I am a glutton for punishment that is in that I continue to push my body to run ever increasing distances. The truth is that I am a big runner and without soluble food my performance lags.

The other negative for me this day came in the form of my ultimate personal kryptonite- the heat. The day started out overcast and cool. Perfect running weather. This gave way to sun and heat about 7 miles in. At halfway I was still on pace for a sub 4 with only a few minutes to spare.

The early going had been nice with rolling hills. At about the 11 Mile point things flattened out considerably. The worst and hottest part of the day for me started around Mile 15 during the long flat stretch along the Cumberland river causing me to have flash backs to running along the coast in last years Edinburgh marathon. Just like in Scotland the heat and lack of terrain change sapped me physically and mentally. I don't know maybe I am lacking mental toughness. I plan to be ready for the heat the next time. I need to be as I have 3 more marathon or longer distances coming this summer.

I must confess I walked a fair amount off and on after that point. I crossed the line in a rather unimpressive time for me of 4 hours 44 minutes. It is a finish I guess and that is what counts. The bands were pretty good and some provided a nice boost as you ran by. Nashville can be proud of the support their citizens gave though I do not personally draw much energy from the fans. Thankfully the finish line area had plenty of food. The medal was a good size. The best thing might have been the towel they handed out that had been soaked in ice water. That was truly refreshing. As with most races the volunteers and traffic control were outstanding. A big thanks goes out to all those involved in that.

The concert that evening was excellent and it was a great way to relax and wind down. Sara Evans is one of my favorite country artists. If I had to rate the marathon I suppose I would give it a 4 out of 5. It may be lacking in some areas, but the organizers try hard and Nashville is a great place to visit. I wouldn't repeat the marathon, but there are only a small few that I have done and would like to do more than once.

My plan for all future marathons and beyond is to prepare adequately, run comfortably, take what the day and the Lord give me, and enjoy the journey that God has given me the ability to take part in. I am going to forget about the clock and time goals and just let the race come to me while taking it all in. I encourage you all do do the same. To Him be all the glory and honor.

Up next will be God's Country Marathon in the first weekend of June followed by the Laurel Highlands Ultra 70 Mile race the second weekend of June. Pray for me. I think I will need it.

Run Happy,

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