Race Recap: Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Half Marathon
A year ago, I registered for the 2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Half Marathon. At the time, I was running less than ten miles a week at most. Apparently, I had high hopes for a comeback because I registered with an expected finish time of 2:15, a PR. Fast forward to now and those high hopes were nothing more than that. I headed to Nashville completely under-trained – my longest run was a 10, most of which I walked. I knew it would be a hilly course (because Tennessee). The forecast for a hot day held strong in the days leading up to the race. I headed to Music City with one goal: cross the finish line, hopefully with a smile on my face.
A few days before the race, officials moved up the start time by 30 minutes due to the forecast of a high in the 90s. It was a good call because even at the start, it was 75 degrees with 79% humidity. We were in for a brutal day.
Due to my crazy idealism when I registered, I was originally assigned to corral 20, but decided to drop back to 31 and run with my friend, Emily, who I road tripped with for the weekend. We were still in line for the bathrooms when the first corral went off, but getting everyone through for this race takes about an hour, so we weren’t too concerned. After trying to get to our corral, we first decided to let them come to us, and then just jumped in with the masses.
We finally crossed the starting line about 20 minutes after the race started! We stopped around the 1 mile marker for a quick bathroom break. According to my Garmin, I moved two-tenths of a mile while standing still! I’m not sure what happened there, but it irritated me the rest of the race to have my miles so far off from the course markers. When we stopped at that first mile, I was already covered in sweat – not a great sign for the rest of the day! I truly don’t think I’ve ever sweat so much during a race. It was unreal! I made sure to drink water at every single aid station, switching to Gatorade when it was an option. I took two Gus – one around mile 5 and another around mile 9.
Knowing it would be a challenging race, I kept a close eye on the pace so we didn’t burn out too fast. Around the 5k mark, I felt really nauseous. Despite a couple false starts when I thought I was ready to run again, we walked for a bit until my stomach calmed down. For at least the first half of the course, we had a pretty good routine of running the flat sections and the downhills, and walking the uphills. By the second half of the race, we were definitely walking much more than running. In fact, I never saw more than a couple people at any given time running during those last few miles. And, it’s not like I was out there solo at that point; the course was still relatively packed. I feel like that fact alone is telling of how hard the day was on everyone.
This was, without a doubt, the most challenging course I have ever experienced – essentially 13.1 miles of rolling hills. The first jaunt of the course runs down Broadway. If you haven’t been to Nashville, think of it as the local equivalent of Times Square or Bourbon Street. It’s the place to go for the true Nashville nightlife experience with live music and dancing. It looks a little different at 7 am! We also ran past the Country Music Hall of Fame, Belmont University, and through Music Row, which is the heart of the Nashville recording and publishing scene. It was a great course for truly getting the local experience.
The “mile 5 party” was a blast, filled with people who were truly making a party out of the morning. To the awesome people handing out Krispy Kreme doughnuts somewhere in the second half of the course (mile 7, maybe), you are beautiful souls. That was the best doughnut I have ever had in my whole life. I mean, it wasn’t. But, it was the sugar boost I needed and it tasted amazing in the moment. They didn’t compare to the amazing crowds at the NYC Marathon, but Nashville is amazing at supporting runners along the course. In the crazy heat, no less! I suppose for Nashville, it was just another hot day. Still, they didn’t have to be out there and they were. Thanks, Nashvillians!
By the time I crossed the finish line, temperatures neared 90 degrees! Not long after, I got a text that they were shutting down the marathon course early due to the weather. I’m honestly surprised it didn’t happen sooner. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to “just” be running a half marathon. There’s no way I wanted to be running a full that morning, nor would I have finished before getting pulled.
I thought this was my slowest half marathon to date, but I missed that honor by a whopping FIVE seconds! Apparently, Rock ‘n’ Roll races and I just don’t get along, because my slowest half was RnR Chicago in 2012. Slowest or not, I am incredibly proud of what I accomplished at this race. After a DNF in New York, I took some time off from distance races. I toed this starting line completely undertrained and facing a very challenging course. Tears welled up as I crossed the finish line because for the last couple months, I honestly questioned if I still had it in me. As it turns out, I do.
Time: 3:09:45 (average pace: 14:29)
While this course was ridiculously challenging, I can understand why I heard so many good things going into it. The RnR series knows what they’re doing, in general, but the city of Nashville really knows how to make it a party.