After traveling nine days, visiting four cities in three states and covering 1,671 miles I finally have time to write about my experience in running the St. Jude’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. The past nine days were very busy with little time to sit still for long. I got to see and run with my daughter and son-in-law. Visit with two of the grandkids, my mother, sister, and a whole bunch of cousins, aunts and uncles. At the start of this writing it’s still a bit of a whirlwind.
We headed to Nashville on the Friday before the race. The travel by car went smoothly-even the part through downtown Atlanta. I made sure to drink plenty of water on Thursday and Friday. In fact at least 100 ounces on both days with Nuun electrolyte tablets added. I did have to make a bunch of pee stops on the way to Nashville though. We arrived in Nashville around 2 p.m. and my daughter and her family arrived about an hour later. My daughter, son-in-law and myself headed down to the Music City Center right away to get our race packet. Our motel was just a little over a mile away from the Music City Center and with the traffic we probably could have walked faster. On top of that, I had to pay $10 to park once we got there.
The Health Expo was very well organized. The line to get our race packet and shirts went very quickly and the people at the check-in were very friendly and easily answered our questions. We didn’t stay all that long at the expo though. We all wanted to eat an early dinner, prep for the race and try to get to bed early. If we do this again I think we will try to get to Nashville by mid-day so we have more time to walk around the expo area and allow us not to feel so rushed.
Immediately after getting back to the motel we all (my wife, grandkids, daughter & son-in-law) went across the street to Amerigo Italian Restaurant where we hoped to eat a plate of pasta to carbo load a bit. Unfortunately, the wait for a table was about 90 minutes. So we walked next door to Blackstone Restaurant & Brewery. Not much on the menu for carbo loading but we were able to get a table immediately. The dinner was good just didn’t get the pasta I was hoping to have. Instead I had a tuna steak sandwich. Some had pizza, sandwiches, ribs, etc. I even tried one of their brewed beers.
Back to the motel we started prepping for the race. We had been checking the weather several times a day for most of the week and rain situation wasn’t looking good for race day. By Friday evening it was starting to look like we might get a break in the rain forecast. It appeared we were right on the edge of the weather system so it could go either way. We were certainly praying for the best. With our clothes, shoes and gear laid out I was in bed by 9 p.m. with my alarm set for a 4 a.m. wakeup.
Up at 4 a.m. I felt rested. I dropped two Nuun tablets into a liter bottle of water and started nursing it down. I ate a Quest protein bar and a Clif Bar right away. I really can’t eat anything unless its at least two hours before a run. Jumped into the shower, dressed and doubled checked I had my shoe tag, number bib, ear buds, phone, SPIBelt, and Clif Blocks for energy during the race. I met my daughter and son-in-law in the lobby and I drank coffee while they ate their breakfast. By then I had started my second liter bottle of water with Nuun tablets.
After breakfast it was going on 6 a.m. We had shuttle bus tickets to the starting line so we headed outside to wait on the bus. We had garbage bags to use a rainsuits and ziplock bags to protect our phones but at the last minute decided to take our chances and leave them behind. The bus ride was uneventful and it didn’t take very long to get to the dropoff point. It was nice not having to stress about getting to the start. By the time we got there though I had to pee BAD! The bus dropped us off around 2nd Avenue and the porta potty’s were up the hill to 7th Avenue. I knew there were supposed to be porta potty’s near the start line. The trouble was we couldn’t find them or any signs pointing us in the right direction. I finally found a police officer that gave me directions and we quickly moved to get relief. By then, my daughter was ready to go too! Of course, as with any race there is a line to get in the porta potty. Let’s just say I was doing quite a bit of dancing and jumping while I waited my turn.
My dancing around must have been a little to close to being a rain dance because the sky opened up with a downpour minutes afterward. Luckily, we found shelter using a building overhang. I can’t remember how long the rain lasted, maybe 15 minutes tops. Once the rain stopped we started walking toward our starting corral. Our starting corral was 32 so we were staged four large city blocks from the starting line. No problem at all getting to our corral. Just a few minutes later, the rain came again but this time with some lightning and thunder in the distance. We found shelter under a gas station pumping area and started waiting it out. The rain didn’t last long but you could still see lightning and hear thunder in the distance. The race was supposed to start at 7:00 a.m. I received text message that the race was delayed until 7:30 due to the weather.
I never intended to finish the second liter bottle of water but after drinking two I needed to get some relief again! We walked two blocks to the nearest porta potty’s and the lines were crazy long. I didn’t keep track of the time we waited but let me tell you it felt like forever. I should tell you now, after waiting over a week to write this some of the details and sequence of events could be off slightly. While we waited I got another text message saying the race would start at 7:45 a.m. It was hard to hear the PA system from the porta potty queue but we were still waiting in line when the National Anthem was sung. By then our stress level was up a bit. Minutes after the National Anthem we were relieved and quickly heading to our corral. I’m not sure how soon the first corral’s took off after the National Anthem but we stood still for a long time before we started moving toward the start line. I calculated our start time would be no sooner than 8:17 or no later than 8:51 a.m.
With the delay I was starting to get hungry. I went ahead and ate three of my Clif Blocks. I didn’t really bring extras so this would cause me to come up a little short at the end but I figured I would still be OK since I did eat a little earlier. Normally, I eat nothing when I run in the morning. Finally, we started slowly moving toward the start line. Once we got within a block or so from the start both my daughter and I needed to pee again! There was no way we could run over to the potty’s and still find our way back to our corral. All we could do at this point is hope the urge would go away. At approximately 8:45 a.m. we made it across the start line…