Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nashville... Post Race Thoughts

2009 Nashville Country Music Marathon...
"Attempt at Boston Qualifying #2... FAIL!"
Expo: CB met Marissa and I at the hotel, which was only a few blocks from the expo. The streets of Nashville were infested with marathon runners walking, carrying their goody bags, dressed up, even some getting a warm-up jog in. I LOVE it when runners take over a city like that!!!

It was quite the line to even get to the entrance to the expo, but once inside it was the usual representation of apparel stores, last minute GU and energy supplement sales. The only disappointing part of the expo was... NO GRACIE'S GEAR!!! If you're unfamiliar with Gracie's Gear, they sell sports bras and tanks with pockets in the front designed primarily for IPods. I used one in Atlanta and loved it. I had hoped to purchase another one, but they weren't at the expo. :(

Hotel: If you're going to do the CMM I highly suggest staying downtown. We stayed at the Sheraton Downtown and it was just a minute from the expo and about 2 miles from the start/finish area. We took a taxi, but had very little trouble getting to or from the race. Apparently the shuttle service from the finish line to the start was horrible and traffic was backed up!

The hotel also provided suggestion and made reservation for dining options. We were able to get a reservation and a shuttle to a great restaurant in the area. Also, we were able to find a small market in walking distance that had (relatively) fresh bagels, bananas, water, everything we needed for breakfast... Inconsequentially, this also happened to be a market that didn't mind people singing and dancing to Bonnie Rait's "Give them something to talk about," so if you feel like making a scene in Nashville and are looking for a chance to be discovered via a grocery store.... this is the place to be!

The Race:
This years Country Music Marathon was the hottest one on record... and boy did you feel it!!! The race started out quite nice. We were in corral 3 and with the interval started there was very little need to weave through runners or get caught behind. The race started with slightly rolling hills through the city, allowing the buildings to shade you from most early morning sunlight. Andrew was running his first official half-marathon and opted to run with me for the first 10K or so of the race. We started at a nice 8:00/mile pace for the first few miles. I felt great and couldn't slow down!!! I was relaxed and really enjoyed the rolling hills... I felt like I had a great chance at making the 8:23 minute/mile pace for the whole race!!!...

... Then god decided to turn on an oven. It quickly went from comfortable and relaxed to scorching and painful. Around Mile 6 the sun hit hard. There was very little areas for shade. By mile 10 (still slightly better than pace) I stopped sweating and started getting goose bumps... For those who choose not to torture themselves with long distance running, this means I was slightly beyond dehydration. I tried drinking at every water station about 2 cups of water/cytomax... and still felt thirsty. This quickly followed by a faint light-headed feeling and the initials "DNF" was flashing in my head over and over. I decided that my goal for 50 states was more important than my goal for Boston. Besides, Boston will always be there... right??? :(

I slowed down a little at first-- to just below the 8:23 pace around Mile 10. The dizzy feeling didn't go away so I slowed down a LOT and decided that I would have to take it easy for a few miles if I had any chance in finishing. If there were any way to describe the rest of the racing group around me it would be... Land of the walking dead. It was SILENT-- for marathons this is NOT a good sign. People were wandering on and off the road clearly a bit out of it... people were stopped and I saw more ambulances and medical personnel helping pull people out of the race then I wanted to see.

If you are familiar with the Chicago marathon of 2007 then I can tell you these conditions were pretty similar and I thought there was a chance we would have a Chicago repeat. I hoped to get to mile 18 or 19, that was if they stopped the race, there may be a chance they would let people at a certain point finish the race walking instead of making us stop altogether. Unfortunately, also like Chicago, there was an unfortunate death on the course following the half marathon.
I was able to complete the course-- albeit at a very slow pace. However, during the race and after I told myself that I did everything I could in terms of training and gave Boston pace a good shot. Hopefully before my next race I'll get a chance to practice running in extreme heat and will be better acclimated. My results are posted below...

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