Monday, April 28, 2008

Nashville Report

Thursday - Gary, Robert, Kelly, Annette and I drove up and arrived Thursday afternoon. After getting settled into our rooms we headed to the Gerst House for food. This was a little German restaurant about a block from our hotel. Let me tell you, this place was awesome and the service was second to none! Afterwards we checked with the hotel staff and found out that there was a pedestrian bridge to downtown Nashville just across the street so we headed downtown to look around. We were actually staying at the perfect hotel. LP Field was right across the street and this was where the finish line was. The shuttles ran from there to the start line also. So if anyone does this race, stay at the Ramada Inn at the Stadium. It’s really convenient.

Friday – we all headed down to the expo around 10:30. We drove down there and had to look for parking. We should have walked but we were getting enough walking in anyway. The Expo was awesome! It was so big and there were so many people it was hard to believe. Made me nervous about how many people were running the race. Brenda and Michelle arrived there just before 1:00pm so we all headed off to find some lunch. We ended up at a nice looking place called “Bailey’s Bar & Grille”. We figured with a name like that it would be an awesome place. Wrong. The service was terrible, but the staff told us up front that they were short handed and it would take 45 minutes to get our food. So we stayed anyway. It was over an hour later before we got our food but it was good. We decided then we would eat at the Gerst House again that night. Then we all went back to the expo for more walking. We attended the pace group meeting as some thought about running with them. Several of us bought shoes. I actually bought some Brooks racing flats for doing 5k’s. We were pretty wore out by the end of the day and again headed to the German place for dinner. This was when we started a new pre-race tradition. Gary has been swearing by the use of pickle juice so we asked the waitress if she could get us all shots of pickle juice. She looked at us kind of funny but she said let me see what I can do. Shortly afterwards she brought us shot glasses of pickle juice!

We all did a toast and drank our pickle juice, wondering what affect if any it would have on our race performance. Needless to say, I don’t think anyone had cramps! We decided then we would celebrate our race again at the Girst House on Saturday night. We tried to make it an early night but after getting everything laid out for the race I think it was close to 9:30 before we got settled in the bed.

Race Day Saturday – We were all up and getting ready by 4:15am. Gary called around 5 and said the people were streaming in at LP Field to catch the shuttles. The other problem was, it was pouring down rain! Oh well, we had trained in the rain so it really wasn’t that big a deal but I knew mentally it would slow me down. By 5:30 we were all in line to get on a shuttle. It was raining, Brenda had her trash bag for protection, and most of us had none. Luckily it wasn’t a driving rain. We didn’t have to wait long though. Once the shuttles came in, we were on the second group so we may have had to wait 5 minutes tops. It was nice on the bus till they turned the defrosters on which made us all cold.

When we arrived at the starting area at Centennial Park, we walked to see where everything was. It was very well organized with signs showing which way to go for gear check, corrals, etc. There was food, coffee, and other drinks available. Of course the next stop was the porta potties. The lines were not too long. There were plenty of porta potties so the wait wasn’t over 5 minutes at most. We all said our good lucks and headed for our corrals. Gary was in 3 I think, Brenda and Robert were somewhere around 9, Annette, Michelle, Kelly and myself were in 15. We stood there for probably 45 minutes in our little group shivering in the rain waiting on the start to come. Probably 10 minutes before the start the rain stopped. Then at 7am, the elite runners started. One minute later the next corral would move up and start. It worked this way through each corral which was nice because there was never a big crowd running all together. We were close to the front of our corral so when we finally made it to the line there was hardly anyone in front of us. Unlike Little Rock where you had to deal with walkers, there was none here. You just had to dodge a few runners so it was a very well planned start. Only thing I didn’t like was the long wait.

My Race – I really wanted to run negative splits on this one but I knew the way the race course was laid out this may not be possible. Plus the tendency is to go out too fast and then slow down at the end. My goal time was a 4:45. I ran with the girls during the first ½ mile then got separated from them. I saw the 4:45 pace group so I decided I would just try and stick with them and see how it goes. Well, it didn’t take long before I saw that the pace group was not running at a 4:45 pace. They were much faster. Each mile I would look at my time and I would be ahead, at first maybe a minute but as the miles went on it grew. Not really a bad thing I guess but I knew it was bad to bank time. I tried to walk the water stops which were all very well organized. They were even kind enough to put the water stops on a lot of the up hills. That was awesome. At mile 3 I started seeing the faster runners coming back at us from their turn around. I was staying with the pace group. I would lose them at the water stops but then catch them on the hills. This continued to be the case on to about mile 11. The half marathoners turned off at mile 11 then things thinned out quite a bit. There was lots of crowd support, too much to mention. There were cheer groups, little kids, very very good support which really kept me motivated. I couldn’t wait to hit the next mile marker to check my times. The course itself was rolling hills, most were not as bad as the hills here in Cabot. When I hit the half point I looked at my time and it was 2:19:48. I was amazed to see that I almost had a ½ PR, missing it only by 1:30. I knew I might be in trouble then. I had gone out too fast, and now I had over 3 minutes in the bank. I needed a bathroom break so I knew this would cost me 2 minutes. Just before 15 I hit the porta pottie real quick. Lost most of my bank time. Then I was on the river trail section of the course which was kind of isolated, no cheer support and the sun was coming out. The weather had been almost perfect till now, not too hot but not cool and cloudy. By the time I hit 17 the sun was out in full force. And I could feel my time slowly dropping. I think I was actually running the same pace, I just couldn’t hold it for as long which would cost me a walk break. I kept trying to keep these just to the water stops. By 20 I really hadn’t seen a wall but I knew my hopes of a 4:45 were dropping quickly. I really didn’t have any pain, my quads and my legs were just wearing down. The struggle to finish was on. Between 22 and 23 Michele caught me. She looked like she was just running a 5k. I tried to run with her for a while but told her to go on. My legs just couldn’t keep going. So it was run walk, run walk. I didn’t feel too bad as that’s what most everyone was doing at that point. I think the heat was getting to everyone. At that point I saw almost no one running hills at all. Luckily the water stations had plenty of fluids. We always had accelerade or water. 22-24 was around a small lake in a park and this reminded me of the 20 miler we had in the driving rain when I was at Indian Head Lakes. It was not a good left-right brain experience. Somehow I shut the left side down and kept moving forward. By that time I just wanted to finish. Then at about 24 I started calculating again. I had to come in under 5 hours. If I didn’t I’d probably just quit running. There was no reason I couldn’t do that. Still the legs were tired and wouldn’t keep going. I’d run to one point fairly fast then walk to another point. I kept adding up the numbers making sure I could make it under 5. With less than a mile to go I knew I had it in the bag. The crowds were amazing coming in to the finish but I couldn’t really hear them. I just wanted to finish and be done. At this point I knew I was giving it everything I had. As I hit the turn going to the finish I heard Brenda yelling my name which gave me a little last boost but there was no sprint left in my legs. I crossed the finish line feeling I had given it a 99% effort staggering to get my medal and some water. Official time 4:58:03. I was not happy that I missed my 4:45. I felt like I had let everyone down but I had to consider the weather change and the hot sun the last several miles. It was much hotter at the end so that was the one factor I could not control. Needless to say, it was a learning experience and will make me better on the next one.

I found Gary, Brenda, Michelle and Robert a little while later. Gary was bummed because he missed his BQ by 7 seconds. 3:36:07! He did AWESOME! Brenda had missed hers by just over a minute. 4:02:52 WOW! These two are SUPER STARS!! I told Gary that the heat had its affect on everyone so don’t be bummed about it. Brenda was actually very happy with her time because she knows now that she can BQ in a cooler race. And miss speedy negative split Michele; she had an awesome race too. At the half she was 13 minutes behind me then passed me at 22.5 to finish in 4:52:49! Brenda had great negative splits also. Maybe we all need to listen to the coaches more. (me) Robert had a great race especially considering he didn’t get any 20’s in for training. Kelly did awesome for her first marathon, only deciding to run the full at the last minute. Annette had a great 2nd first marathon along with a very happy birthday and really enjoyed the marathon.

Afterwards we all got cleaned up, got our feet in the air for a while and then walked downtown for shopping! I think it actually helped our recovery. Later a nice dinner at the Gerst House again then another walk downtown where we heard a great band playing at The Stage. Total post race miles, 5+ walking! After the injury during my first marathon it was nice to be able to walk afterwards!

We all had a great time at a great race event. I would highly recommend Nashville as a “must do” marathon. Thank you Gary, Brenda, Robert, Kelly, Michele and Annette for a great time in Nashville!!! You guys ROCK!


santa said...

Hey Arland- Thanks for stopping by my blog. Glad to know you had a good race . Best wishes for all your future running endeavors!

Randy - Maniac #788 said...

Arland, I know you didn't get your 4:45 but you still ran a good race and came in under 5 hours, that is great. When I looked at the clock as I crossed the finish line I saw 4:32 and change, and I giggled, but I also knew...others didn't realize...that I had to add 2 hours to that time...I was just glad to finish, because the left brain had done some serious trash talking to me about not finishing. Way to go with your race!!

Susan said...

Pickle juice -- I will definitely remember that!

I think you did GREAT, Arland. I'd KILL fo a sub-5 marathon!

Cheryl said...

You didn't disappoint me and I'm extremely proud of you!!

Under 5 hours is excellent, this is only your 2nd marathon and we haven't been running very long, so keep that in mind, most people will never even run a marathon! You will only get better.