Monday, May 19, 2008

Race Review: Nashville Country Music Marathon

So the first marathon in hubs mission to five marathons in five weeks was the Nashville Country Music Marathon. I also ran this race as a full marathon. First off, let me preface by stating that I am no country music fan. In fact, out of all of the genres of music, country rates near the bottom, perhaps only bested by hard (not heavy) metal. So why the Nashville Marathon? Well my sister just recently moved there. In fact I had already planned my racing season when I signed up for the Nashville marathon. I was going to run the Mississauga full marathon, and then Ottawa as half. Then my sister announced that she was moving when her husband landed a fantastic new job, so hubs and I thought, why not Nashville?
So we were off to music city. My mom came with us and we flew into Nashville from Toronto due to limited time off of work. Nashville is a fun modern city. Here is a picture taken in the airport of hubs upon our arrival:

Too fun. It has a bit off a hick town reputation, but in reality, it is a modern city that fuses the southern states with the northern states, and of course it is home of the Grand Ole Opry.

Now the Nashville marathon is a large event with over 30000 participants. It is mostly a half marathon event with 25000 of those participants running the half marathon. I had read on the marathon guide website that the marathon course was lonely on the second half, but since I don't mind this, I signed up anyway. Besides, there was lots of support on the course with over 50 bands, and awesome spectators. Here is one picture of a random spectator clearly enjoying the spectacle of a marathon race..

Since the marathon was on the Saturday, we went to the race expo on Friday. It was a huge expo, but unfortunately it was super crowed, and since we were there with my two darling nephews (aged 12 months and 24 months), we made a quick exit from the expo, which was disappointing since there were so many good vendors to visit. I was in the mood for bargain shopping!

Now I also read tons of reviews which described the course as hilly, but being optimistic, I thought that the hills would probably be O.K, and I wanted to tackle the challenge. Here is the elevation map and course route:

The elevation map to me seemed OK, a little hilly, but manageable. Even people on our airplane flight on the way down warned us not to expect a PR since it was a very hilly course, and some said that they thought the elevation map was wrong. Meh.

Well unfortunately, it turned out that they were right. The day began with pouring rain, which subsided to a sticky humid sunny day. Not too hot, but sticky, and around 23 degrees. The first half of the marathon was hilly, but I felt strong, and came in at the halfway point around 2:00 hours, which was reasonable to obtain my goal of under 4:10. The course was a lot of fun and the scenery was great and the bands were awesome (mostly rock music). However, the second half of the course seemed hillier, and of course it was desolate when over 25000 of the half participants finished. None of the hills were huge, but they were constant. There were literally no flat stretches. I quickly lost steam, and the sun was really beating down on my back, and by the 20 mile mark, I knew that today was not my day, so I decided just to relax and enjoy the course.

It was great seeing family on the course, and it really raised my spirits. Here is a picture my sister took of me on the course.

Other highlights included the free beer at mile 24, and the great camaraderie that formed amongst fellow runners. People would cheer on downhills, it was quite funny.

So all said and done, I ended up completing the marathon in 4 hours, 32 minutes (16 minutes slower than my PR). Not the time I wanted, but it was a great experience and I am glad I did it. The marathon medal was awesome, one of the nicest I have in my collection of six. Here is a post race picture of hubs and I. He ran a 4 hour sixteen minute marathon (seventeen minutes slower than his PR).

Both my sister and my brother in law are very fast runners. In fact my sister was a professional athlete (currently busy with her two young boys), who has completed an Iron man and can run a half marathon in under an hour and twenty minutes. My brother in law is also a terrific runner, having completed the Chicago marathon in 2 hours thirty six minutes. He ran a leisurely 1 hour twenty seven minute half on little training. Pretty impressive.

So my final rating on the Nashville Marathon:

City and attractions: 9/10
Expo: 7/10
Course entertainment: 10/10
Medal: 10/10
Race T-shirt: 1/10 (a cotton t-shirt made for a mammoth!)
Spectators: 7/10 (full)
Course support: 9/10
Post race support: 9/10
Difficulty: So far this is the most difficult course I have run yet, so it gets a 8.5/10 (10 being most difficult)

Would I run it again. Yes, BUT I would set a goal for PR goal for this course, not an overall PR. Next up in the five marathons in five week series: The Sudbury Rocks marathon. Thanks for reading!!


Lily on the Road said...


Great report with pic's and good for you & hubs on your times!!! Nice that you got the chance to visit with family to boot!

I did the RnR Arizona in January. Now that's a nice flat run....with a cotton shirt the size to fit a mamoth too!!!

Let me know your plans for Ottawa, not sure if we can catch up or not...busy weekend ahead of us...

AddictedToEndorphins said...

Welcome to the Blogosphere! Lily sent me over!:) I think you will fit right in, especially since you're doing 5 marathons in 5 weeks! That's pretty crazy!

Loved the report!:)

To answer the question you asked on my race report, this was my second half.

Good luck, can't wait to read your reports, pre-ramble and all about the training:)

anners said...

Great race review, and congrats on running another marathon! I want to run one of those huge events in the US someday...but seriously, a cotton T-shirt?? Boo to that!

Marcy said...

CONGRATS!! Awesome job and a most excellent race report ;D ;D

And LOL, you're so cute! YOu don't have to ask to link back to me :-)

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

Good job and nice photos. And your Husband is running 5 in 5 weeksn?!?!? CrAzY!

Laura said...

Great report! I love country music and so I really want to do the CMM someday. Maybe next year! Good to know about the hills though.

Tom from Cleveland said...

The 2010 event was a bummer for more reasons than the weather. The organizers did their best but seemed it wasn't enough. I registered for the full marathon, paid for the full marathon and ran whatever I was allowed of it which was a little more than 20 miles but still was listed and ranked as a half marathoner. That made me towards the end of the crowd of course, very disappointing. Also, I registered for the official runner tracking on the event organizers web site but none of the three people in my group got any emails.
All in all, it was a rip off country music style.

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