Sunday, April 27, 2008

Still not a fan of country music

So this weekend I descended on Nashville for the Country Music Half Marathon. The only way I could swing a cheap flight was to leave Baltimore at 6 a.m. and land in Nashville at 9:30 a.m. When I landed, I went to the hotel and asked if I could check in early (not necessarily at 10 a.m., but sometime before 3 p.m.) to which they said no with no exceptions, but let me leave my bag so I wouldn't have to drag it around the city for 5 hours.

The hotel was only 4 blocks from registration/expo, so I walked down to that to register and check out the free stuff. Registration was quick and I wandered the expo getting breakfast, including those bagels that have the cream cheese baked inside, various energy bars, all natural peanut butter and sugar free jelly and flatbread, gross drinks, etc. As I was walking around, I saw a table that was giving out pickles. I sort of threw up a little in my mouth having a stomach full of energy bars and bagels when I smelled buckets of pickles, but I did note that it was a local restaurant (Noshville) before I moved on.

After I left the expo, I wandered the streets of downtown Nashville for a bit, and then around 11:30, decided to get some lunch. Now, being that I have a lot of New York Jews in the family, how could I not go to an Authentic New York Delicatessen? So I walked the 19 blocks to the restaurant and got some lunch. I was impressed, they had all the traditional fare that one would expect, so I ate lunch while reading a book for a while. At one point, the guy at a table on one side of me ordered a ham and cheese, reminding me of the difference between traditional NY deli and a kosher deli. Then, a little while later, two women sat on the other side of me and one ordered an iced tea, to which the waitress replied, "Just to let you know, it's Northern tea." Yeah, I had actually forgotten I was in TN while I was sitting in this deli. But that brought it all back.

After lunch, I started wandering back towards downtown and ran into a girl on the street heading to the expo, so I wandered around with her and a friend of hers for a few hours until my hotel opened up. I checked in, slept a little, and had dinner with my friends Kyle and Lauren (the Lauren who is running MC200 with us).

We visited the Charlie Daniels Museum while
wandering the streets of Nashville Friday night

I woke up Saturday at 4 a.m. to have a bite before meeting Kyle and Lauren to walk to the shuttles that would take us to the start line (the shuttles were about a mile from where my hotel was). Of course, it was pouring. We decided to drive to the finish line, park at the stadium, and take the shuttles back to the start. On the way over to pick me up, Lauren and Kyle stopped at Walgreen's to pick up trashbags and ponchos. We made it to the start line with no trouble, and had about an hour to kill before the starting gun. It rained almost the entire time, and Kyle whined incessantly about wanting to go back to the hotel to sleep rather than run. 5 minutes before the race started, it stopped raining, but it was cold and wet and no one was really happy. I stretched a little in my hotel before I left, and then again about 15 minutes before the race started. I was really tight, and was a little worried I may do something bad during the race just from feeling so crappy after sitting around in the cold rain for over an hour.

When the race started, I took off at a comfortable pace and hoped for the best. My goal was 2:15, so I was hoping to just run consistent 10:20s straight through without having to walk like I did in Phoenix (because of the knee pain I had starting around half way through). My first mile was 10:10, followed by another 10:10. Third mile clocked in at 10 on the nose, and the fourth mile was all down-hill, so I came in at 9:35. At this point, I basically did flat 10s for the next 7 miles. This is interesting because I never felt tired, and for 4 of those miles, I walked through water stops, each time walking a full 60 seconds (but still coming out at 10 min mile even walking for 1 min of that).

Now, here I should mention that both Lauren and random girl I met the day before told me that starting at mile 11, there is a really big hill so be afraid. So for the first 11 miles, I was feeling pretty good, but didn't want to push too hard because I wanted to have some energy to try to run this death-march hill at the end without walking. Anyway, I get to mile 11 and see the rest of the course; it's flat with a slight downhill slant, so I decided to just try to finish strong. My two fastest miles of the day were the last two, run at slightly sub 9:30 each, to finish at 2:09. I did Phoenix in 2:16, so this was an awesome improvement.

It's pretty cool to look at my times measured through the race, because I got faster at every measurement as the race progressed:

  • 5k: 31:22 (10:07/mi)
  • 6mi: 1:00:01 (10:00/mi)
  • 10mi: 1:39:26 (9:57/mi)
  • final: 2:09:02 (9:51/mi)

My only walking was the 4 water stops, and at the end my legs and knees felt really good. I wasn't really even feeling tired, I felt like I wanted to just keep going. I even managed to run into random girl from Saturday by the bag check trucks, which was really funny and continued randomness.

Kyle and Lauren both finished, though neither did quite as well as they hoped. Lauren had a cold, which I can understand. Kyle has a unique training style that we've come to call "The Long Taper(tm)." This basically involves a training regimen designed to maximize his energy levels come race day and protect against injury close to a not running. He may average approximately one 3-mile run with his dogs per month, maybe. So basically he just runs races totally cold. This usually results in what has been described as the "Uhhh, cougar" face:

example of cougar face

Kyle decided at the end of the race that he was going to train for his next race and try to annoy everyone he passes by running up behind people and singing Rick Astley in their ear before passing them (and thus the Running Rick Roll was invented).

On my way home Sunday, my flight out of Nashville was postponed by a little over an hour, and while waiting at the connecting airport, my cell phone died literally 15 seconds before my connecting flight was canceled. I finally managed to get home, but my bag, predictably, did not make it. Oh well. I'm sure it'll show up eventually.

Anyway, to sort of tie this aimless post off, after spending the weekend in Nashville, running the Country Music Half Marathon, watching Kyle salivate over $400 cowboy boots, even visiting the Charlie Daniels Museum, I still don't like country music. However, I am now extremely motivated and excited to train for Chicago, so good things came from this weekend (you know it went really well when I'm still happy even after the dead cell phone and spending almost 6 hours in the Charlotte airport). So that's my rambling story.

Edited 2008-04-28: The suitcase arrived at my apartment building sometime today, and I got a new phone during my lunch break today, so I'm functionally back to normal.


Danielle in Iowa said...

Rockstar! Or should I say: Country Music Star! Way to knock 7 minutes off! You possibly might even have beaten me if I had been there ;-)

Fian said...

Great time! You're going to do beautifully in Chicago.

Steve Stenzel said...

Nice run, Joe! Great job!!

Borsch said...

Awesome job! I was goign to run that but I had a work commitment.

Good luck training for Chicago!

peter said...

Great PR!

You're paying $100+ to do a 26 mile fun run? Come to Falls Church in October instead of Chicago and I'll send you out on a 26 mile mile run, make sure you have no water and then come out in the fourth hour to tell you to walk or you'll go to jail for a felony. And I won't charge you, or blame you.

Al Dimond said...

Nothing like that feeling towards the end of a run when you see it isn't going to be as hard as you expected. Way to rock the negative splits!

Joe said...

Peter: that is a heck of an offer. I may have to take you up on that at some point. But since I already paid for Chicago, maybe I'll run it this year, and we can make tentative plans for 2009...

Nitmos said...

Congratulations! This one is on my future race schedule...some year.