Race morning began with an easy drive to downtown Nashville. We parked near the finish line area LP Field (home of the Tennessee Titans) and made our way across the footbridge to the starting area. The walk was about a mile, a nice scenic warmup before the race began. It made for a great place to grab a few photos with the city skyline as the backdrop.
Once we made our way to the starting area we found the corrals were way overcrowded. They stretched across all lanes of the road and there wasn’t enough space on the sidewalk for the masses of runners to move by so we stood in a deadlock for about fifteen minutes waiting for people to move forward. While I was waiting I spotted two of my team mates from Team Run 4 the Kids. This is a new group that I found in my local area a few months back that fundraises each year for the Memphis St. Jude Marathon. They are my kind of people!
After having a less than stellar marathon the week before in Kansas I decided to try to maintain a relaxed pace for the day. The weather was supposed to be stormy and there was fear of thunderstorms and race cancellation in the air. My goal for the day was to hang out between a 9:00 & 9:10 minute per mile pace and finally cross Tennessee off the sub 4 State list. As the race started the skies were overcast and the temperature was fantastic. The race started by running straight down Nashville’s Broadway St. (Think of it as a much cleaner version of Beale and Bourbon St) and wrapped around through the downtown area for a couple of miles before pushing into more residential areas. The streets were packed with runners across the entire street. There were areas were my pace was dictated purely by the people around because it was impossible to get around them. Of course, there were normal marathon shenanigans happening along the course. These two guys dressed in full Papa John’s gear carrying pizza boxes ran the full marathon. I saw them several times along the course. Then, there was beer. How do I say no to that? I actually had to double back to grab a picture with a cute little girl holding my favorite sign of the race. How did she know I was running?
Just before I approached the half marathon split I ran into Rock ‘n’ Blogger George out on the course. Every time I’ve ever seen this guy he’s out supporting people and cheering on the runners around him. He’s a great guy! Not to mention he’s always on board for a few mid race selfies.
The half and the full split at around mile 11. As normal you can see how many the course immediately thins out as the masses stay to the right. Those half marathoners have the right idea though, it gets really tiring running all day.
I reached the actual half marathon mark about 2 minutes behind where I wanted to be on the clock. No big deal, step it up just a little bit and see how things shake out. Most of the next 10 miles consisted of several out and back loop sections. I saw a few friends running by going one way or the other. It was great seeing people along the way, seeing how some people are focused and others are just along for the ride. I crossed Mile 20 with right at 3:05 on the clock (chip time). I thought I could knock out a 55 minute 10k with little trouble, so that sub 4 shouldn’t be any problem today.
As I passed by Mile 20 the clouds started to open up and the sun came through warming things up quickly. I hadn’t been hydrating through the race like I should have been to take on a last minute heat wave. Miles 22 & 23 wrapped around a lake and this was when I felt myself start to lose control. My mile times dropped from sub 9 to 9:27 then 11:37, then 14:20 for mile 26. Right at the end of the race my body had started to shut down. I came to a complete stop at the final water station and made sure to really hydrate before putting on a smile and coming to the final turn of the race. I came around the bend and saw LP Field in the distance, coming across the finish at 4:10:28.
I was a little disappointed that I didn’t make it in under 4, but Tennessee isn’t very high on my priority list. Not to take anything away from Tennessians, but at the moment I plan on returning to Memphis to run the St. Jude Marathon every December so there is plenty of opportunities to check it off the list. After the race I met back up with Brooklyn (she ran the half marathon) and our friends Mandi (5k) and Brian, who finished a few minutes ahead of me in the marathon! We’ve run 8 marathons together and this was the first time he’s come across the line first.
We went back to the hotel for a shower and lunch (discounted Papa John’s thanks to the Nashville Sounds blowout victory the night before) and then turned back around to head downtown again for the headliner concert. When the race offers a free Martina McBride concert you don’t turn it down!
Finish – 4:10:28
Overall – 693/2647
Male – 491/1429
Division – 81/228