Nashville St. Jude Country Music Half Marathon

18 Jun

It has been a hot minute since I’ve posted on Gerbs’ Blurbs. Thanks for following along. I’ve been traveling and racing and adventuring so I’ve got lots to share the next couple of days to catch up my loyal reader(s).

The last Friday in April my friends Jamie, Jenny, Kayla, Mandy, Pam and I (yes, that’s 6!!) loaded up Jamie’s dad’s car in Bartlett, Illinois, and headed south to Nashville. We had a smooth ride full of fun chats and laughs and arrived in Tennessee around 4:00 pm. We made our way to the expo to pick up our packets and gear and check out the vendors. I bought a pair of special Nashville Rock ‘N Roll marathon/half marathon socks, a 13.1 magnet for my car, and a cool new phone holder for runs. I didn’t end up using it in the race but it’s cool for training.

After the expo we were starving and because we were staying in an AirBnB condo we had the opportunity to cook our own carb-loading meal. We went to a local grocery store and picked up ingredients for spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad and had a great time cooking and dining. We turned in relatively early because we had a 5:00 wake up call for the run.

We were lucky in the sense that our condo was within three minutes walk from the start. Because we took advantage of the location and factored in our later wave start we almost missed the gear check which closed at 7:00 am. We crossed the start line around 7:40.

Our group of six stuck together for less than a mile before we paced and spaced ourselves out. It felt like we got a quick start but I found that even at the first mile we were pacing around 11:00 miles, slower than how I had trained. We had been warned that the Nashville course was full of hills but could not have possibly prepared for what we were about to face for thirteen miles.

I think the hills were the number one thing that contributed to a 2:31 finish. I had finished 11 miles under two hours while training so I didn’t expect to exceed my goal finish time by almost two minutes. The hills were brutal, though. I tried to power through them but every climb got harder and harder. I walked up most of them and it really messed with my mental plan for the race.

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My favorite parts of the race were reading the signs and interacting with the crowd. Kayla and I wore matching, crazy pants so we got a lot of cheers (when we ran together). We saw people passing out shots, beers, Jolly Ranchers (which I loved!), salt packets (gross?), pretzels, orange slices (yum), and Krispy Kremes. We actually saw a lot of Krispy Kremes.

The weather for the race was near-perfect although the sun got hot. I was grateful to have sunglasses. Because this race was a Rock ‘N Roll-branded marathon there was supposed to be music at every mile but I’m not sure there was. Our entire group chose to run without music (opposite of how I trained) and I sort of regret that decision. Yes, I liked hearing the bands as we ran by but unfortunately most of the time they were inbetween sets for the 20-30 seconds we were within ear shot.

Overall, the race was really fun. It was very challenging and exhausting. We all struggled to have energy and move around the rest of the day/night as well as the next day, but we were all proud and accomplished.

When I was checking my official race time on the Rock ‘N Roll site I realized the craziest thing – there was another woman with my exact same name that finished within 120 seconds of me. She’s from New York, I doubt we’ll ever be reconnected, but how funny is that? What are the freakin’ odds?

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The next day we celebrated with my favorite Nashville stop – Monell’s. If you’re traveling to Nashville it’s a must-do. There are five tables that seat twelve people and everyone (whether you know the people at your table or not) is served family-style and passes the food left. There is more food than you’ll know what to do with but it’s all delicious and reasonably priced. Brunch was no exception.

After brunch we walked around and looked for antique stores and thrift shops. We found a few good places and I picked up a cute dress and headband. Some of the girls got old blue prints of airplanes that will make great decorations.

Sunday night we had downtown Nashville to ourselves! Most people headed back home after the race Sunday but we had planned to enjoy the day and head back Monday. We lucked out because the very crowded bars and long lines from the day before were non-existent. It’s interesting to me how popular of a destination Nashville is becoming. What (I think) was once a southern city for country music lovers is becoming the hot spot for girls’ trips, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and road trip destinations.

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Where should our next girls’ trip half marathon be? We’re thinking Savannah, Georgia.

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