Now,time for the long-awaited and much-anticipated post about the Nashville Country Music Marathon and 1/2!
Yes, I am alive. Of course. For those of you who could care less about details…here is the skinny.
I ran 13.1
I finished in under 4 hours.
Now for those of you who like a bit more! Ok, ALOT more…
It was a wonderful trip down. What a FANTASTIC group to travel with. We were all sooo laid back and as it got closer to race day, they all “handled” me well! HA!
Ben, was our resident expert marathoner and was ever so patient in filling Esquire and I’s heads with plenty of knowledge and wisdom the whole way down. Starting with HYDRATE! HYDRATE! HYDRATE.
We, being dutiful students who just want to finish alive, did as we were told. We drank lots of water on the way down, laughed a lot and almost peed our pants often. ok, that part is just me because well…just because.
Ben, Esquire, Aaron, Leann, and I all arrived after about a dozen bathroom breaks in Antioch, TN about midnight (Southern Time). Antioch is where my cousins Mike and Catherine live and where we were staying. Holly and Katie were arriving in the morning to my cousin Elizabeth and Thomas’ home. (It is important to note that at this point Thomas is still part of the family!)
On Friday, after Holly and Katie had a nap, we headed to downtown Nashville for the Expo and packet pickup. It was so exciting to get my bib number and t-shirt and of course this is where reality started setting in that I was actually going to do this. Nerves began to kick in to high gear here and as I wandered around looking at all the things for sale as souvenirs, I was ferociously texting Coach. It seems when I am super nervous like this, I can’t seem to verbalize out loud what is going on, but I can text/write it. Meanwhile I am talking to my friends who are with me as if nothing is going on. All excitement!
We left the expo with numbers and shirts in hand and headed to grab lunch from the Sushi Nazi…who promptly kicked us out saying there were too many of us and he wasn’t going to make us sushi…we left and headed out looking for different food and some Middle Eastern guy saw us and came out of his restaurant, opened the door and invited us in telling us he had food for us…such extremes…but that is where we ended up eating at.
Later we headed back to Mike and Catherine’s for a pasta dinner and an early bedtime. Or an attempt at an early bedtime. We figured we needed to be out of the house by 5:30 AM, so it was gonna be a very early morning. After dinner and playing for a bit with Mike’s kids, we all began putting our race gear together.
I went quiet as I busied myself with making sure that I had everything and that it was packed the way I wanted it. At some point I HAD to try on my running clothes to make sure they fit. Why I thought they might not, I do not know. I wore the same pants I wear running all the time and my new shirt that we had made just for this race, that I KNEW fit me. Before I knew it, I was walking around the house in full running attire. I had on the pants, the shoes, the shirt, the bib, the hip sack. I had loaded my water bottle with my G2 (Gatorade) and put it in the fridge. I had my Ipod on and made sure it was working and charged then made sure I had my ID, money/debit card and my health insurance card all in my hip sack. I am not sure how long I had all of that on for, but I do know that at some point someone asked me if I was planning on sleeping in it.
I think it was about 9 PM that we decided to head to bed. At this point I finally took off my run gear and got into my pajamas. I laid down…and got back up and headed back downstairs to talk to Mike and Catherine. At about 10Pm I forced myself back to bed and proceeded to text Coach. Who did I think I was trying to go to sleep as keyed up as I was and for whatever reason, I could not verbalize any of it in spoken word. So my friends who are with me, get my silence…and the one who is 1000 miles away gets my texted nerves. I have no idea what time I finally fell asleep…perhaps after 11. At 1 AM I was wide awake. My bed was hard as a rock so I moved to a couch downstairs and slept until 4:30 before getting up…on race day!
As organized as I was, I felt like I was scrambling. Like I would forget something. I was in total task mode as I prepared my breakfast, then Aaron’s. Ben declined breakfast so I moved on to Esquire’s at which point Ben had enough of watching me and took over and demanded that I go eat my breakfast.
But I didn’t sit. I took a bite, then went and brushed my teeth…(Yes, I brushed my teeth mid breakfast. It had to be taken care of before I forgot!)then came back and took another bite and went and put on my shoes. I took another bite and strapped on my HRM. Took a bite and went to make sure Leann was awake. Took a bite and headed back upstairs for some other random thing that I HAD to have right in that moment.
I am not sure I ever finished my breakfast before we headed out the door with Aaron driving us to the start line.
Esquire, Ben and I got out of the car at the start line. Pretty quickly we lost Esquire as Ben and I headed for the port-o-potties. It was already 65 degrees and humid in Nashville and it was only 6:30 AM. Ben gave me last-minute words of encouragement/wisdom as we waited. We went in to our own port-o-potties and when I came out he was gone.
I headed to my corral (#33) to wait my turn to start running. As I headed there I was suddenly feeling very alone amongst the crowds of people. I knew there were about 8 people in this crowd I knew. 4 were fans and 4 others were probably making their way to their own corrals to get ready to start. Suddenly I wanted to talk to someone I knew and wouldn’t you know…I ran into 2 of the fans, Elizabeth and Katie.
After a brief chat and hugs, I headed into the corral and began cursing Thomas, who I have yet to see on this trip. How did I get myself into this mess? This sounded like a FINE idea 3 months ago! I wondered if anyone would notice if I snuck off and just showed up at the finish line about 4 hours later.
I knew my mind was heading no where fast so I put my Ipod on and hit shuffle. The first song that played is one that I love but haven’t listened to in a while. This is My Now by Jordan Sparks. Lyrics that spoke of looking around and seeing how far I have come. How many fears that were now behind me, no longer in my way, no longer stopping me from living out a grand story. Lyrics that reminded me of the love that was surrounding me(even if I couldn’t see them). I knew then that I would finish this race and I would finish well. I am no longer the person I once was. I am no longer the girl who quits when it gets hard. On this day, I am a runner…so let’s run!
As I approached the start line, as the corrals ahead of me were released I realized something else important. Very important. This realization was not gonna wait until the end either. I had to pee. Again. Dang it Jen!! Where were you to insert that catheter we talked about???!!! Too bad. My corral is up. Maybe I could make it to the first bathroom stop at mile 3.
Wasn’t gonna happen.
I didn’t make it a full mile before I knew I was in trouble, so I ran off course, into a gas station and begged use of their bathroom. Then quickly headed back out.
As I headed out again I realized something else I was absolutely NOT cool with. The tail end of this race is this group of people who walk the 1/2 marathon while hula hooping. While I was in the bathroom, they had passed me.
Oh hell No!! I might be the last RUNNER in. I might not even beat many of the regular walkers in. I am ok with that. However, I will NOT be beaten by a bunch of hula hoopers wearing PINK! uh-uh. No way!
I was at the bottom of a hill heading up and I kicked it into high gear. In my head, all I heard was Ben reminding me NOT to go out too fast. Save your energy for the 2nd half Kim.
Yeah well, Ben didn’t factor hula-hoopers into his advice now did he?
I raced up a huge hill and passed them on the next down hill…then I slowed down to breathe…just in time to pass 2 more fans…Aaron and Leann! YAY!! They made it from the finish line in time to see me at Mile 2. I felt great at this point! No problems…I got Nashville in the palm of my hand!! 🙂
That was the last of Aaron and Leann until the finish for me.
I followed Ben’s advice to hydrate with Cytomax and water at ever water station. I also conserved energy for the end. And I reminded myself a lot to keep my head up, to look around and SEE Nashville, the people and the sites as I ran. I also did body checks every few minutes. This forced me to remember to relax my shoulders since I tend to run hunched up. It also allowed me to assess pain levels and determine what kind they were.
At mile 5 I still felt good, but was getting really hot. Too hot in fact. I passed Esquire as he was on his way back at some point which was fun to see him on the race course!
At about mile 6 the skies opened up and it down poured for about 10 minutes.
Thank You Jesus for the cooling rain. I was never so grateful for rain in my life! It instantly cooled me down and I felt like i could run forever.
However, at this point I was also realizing something about my cousin Thomas. He is a liar. He told me the hills weren’t bad. He said that they were gently rolling hills until the end where there is a big long one, then downhill into the finish line. Lies..all of it..except about the end. I am from Michigan. These were NOT gently rolling hills!! Sometime between mile 6 and 8, things got tough and I disowned my cousin.
I did some walking at this point and some texting to let my fans and friends know where I was at. Katie came out and joined me at mile 8 and ran the rest of the way in with me. Thank God for Katie! Truly, I might have quit if not for her obnoxious energy and ADD ways that kept me moving.
At mile 10, thunder and lightning came. The skies opened again and the police were encouraging all runners to take cover until the storm passed.
Katie looks at me and asks me what I want to do.
“Run.”, I said.
I knew if I stopped now, I would not start again. Besides, what are the chances that one lightening bolt would strike the exact spot I am running in. Odds were in my favor.
Sometime between mile 11 and 12 Katie and I played “kick the can” with a cup in the road as a distraction and then we started puddle jumping.
By the way, it down-poured for the last 3.1 miles of my run.
At mile 12, we were told that race officials were talking of evacuating the race course due to tornado/severe storm warnings and if we wanted to cross that line, we better kick it up.
Katie looked at me again and noted that the hula-hoopers were catching up. I looked back and noticed they were…but only because they were cheating. They were no longer hula hooping!! I had 2 thoughts. Hula Hoopers will not beat me AND I will not be pulled from this course. I came too far to not finish. So…
I looked at Katie…and summoned some energy…some strength…some cahones…and kicked it up a notch.
At mile 12.75ish, I saw my cousin Mike on the course with an umbrella. Such a southern gentleman…he offered it to me…Thanks but no thanks…it won’t help, but hey Mike, why don’t you run with me…
So he did…with his umbrella and his phone in hand as he called ahead to tell them “he had me” and was bringing me in.
I could laugh at that…He is NOT a runner…I brought HIM in!
We approached mile 13 and for the first time I saw Thomas.
Thomas had finished a couple of hours before. Was dry …and warm…and looking very refreshed. He looked far to good for someone who finished a half marathon. At this point he learned that he was no longer family…as I rounded the corner and they continued to cheer and run down the sidelines…
I rounded one more corner and saw the most beautiful sight in the world.
The finish line. I just had to make it there and look strong for the cameras that I knew were there! Then I would get my medal and food. I wanted food.
I kicked it up again and found myself across the line…and with a medal around my neck.
I soon saw Aaron, Leann, Esquire, Ben, Holly, and Katie…then Elizabeth…it was a giant hug fest…and I could no longer think.
Where do I go? How do I get out of this finish line chute? Where do I find you guys again?
I managed. I picked up some food that I never ate. Didn’t have any energy.
I found my friends and we paused to take shelter and a few pictures then headed back to the homes we were staying in for showers and then plans for food.
I don’t think I have ever been clothed and this wet in my life. It took 3 days for my shoes to dry out.
I was cold. Leann got me a space blanket. And despite the rain we walked oh so slowly to the car…we got back to Mike’s where I was directed to a shower.
After showering I called Jen, then Coach and G.I Jess for a post race report.
All I can say is, Thank God that my friends are able to make decisions. I was NOT making any more that day!
I was done. I was spent. I left everything I had on the streets of Nashville. I was too tired to even nap that afternoon.
Oh yeah, my time?
Unofficial Polar time with my one bathroom break deducted: 3:54
Finished in under 4 hours…
Ben says that is amazing because this was an incredibly tough course and conditions were less than ideal.