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2010 Country Music Marathon Race Recap

Severe weather was the big story for 31,000 runners in Nashville.

The President and VP if Pike Creek Valley Running Club led our band of Rebels on the hilly but scenic course. Tuckin's recap of the full marathon, along with all of it's trials and tribulations...

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Hills, Wind, Thunderstorm and Diverted Marathon Runners

Saturday 4/24: 4:30am wake-up
Tony & I left the room at 545am, after watching weather forecasts for the 10th time in 24 hours. It was warm and humid enough that no throwaway was required. We walked up West End Ave towards bag check in the park. Upon approaching the start area, the announcer said "The only change is that start time has been moved up 15 minutes to 645." Well that’s pretty darn significant, so we quickened the pace to drop our bags and head for the potty line, wondering when and how the time change was made public.

Although there was too much talking and not enough music, the announcer felt no urgency to continue repeating the critical time change message, so luckily Tony informed the other Rebels as they approached. No rain yet, so we figured that things were looking up, even though the high was expected to be 74. Of course the 645 start found runners scrambling into position, with lots of bewildered participants walking on sidewalks in the opposite direction during the first several blocks after the gun went off.

With 31,000 runners, the wave start helped us find a reasonable pace. But being in corral 2 of 31 was a bigger help. Mostly downhill for the 2 miles to downtown helped us relax. Tony and I would run mostly side by side for almost 10 miles as he pulled me up many of the climbs. Bands rocked us and high school & grade school cheerleaders pumped us up as advertised.

Running towards downtown
At 2 miles, we turned on 4th Ave to head back out on Demonbreun Street. This first big loop included lots of gentle rolling and was highlighted by the "Musica" statue of naked dancers and a couple "beer stops" (which Loco & Jordan took advantage of). Water/Cyclomax stops were large and well-staffed with spirited volunteers. Even narrow, tree-lined streets were appropriately full of record studios as we toured Music City. A slight breeze sometimes was a headwind, but felt good in cooling us off. Several long stretches of runners coming the opposite way were fun and back downtown we eventually arrived at the 11.5 mile split off of the half marathoners, which greatly diminished our numbers. Tony's pace slowed, so a gap was developing between us. I was also de-motivated realizing that we still hadn’t reached the halfway point.

The second loop
Two minutes ahead of our 3:30 time pace was reasonable, but with spaced out runners, it was harder work. I settled in to a true 8:00/mile pace (maintaining the 2 minute cushion) for a few miles, but although there were less hills in the 2nd half, the sun sometimes peeked out to intensify the heat. We silently ran on some wide industrial streets until enjoying a scenic 2 mile stretch on a levee along the Cumberland River. A short but steep downhill signaled our turn back to town to complete this second loop. At mile 19, we re-joined the throng of half marathoners as they headed for their finish, crossing the bridge towards the Titans football stadium. At mile 20 there were plenty of finish area spectators, but then we were eerily alone again for the final 10K.

3:30 pace group?
I was struggling to try to maintain a sub-3:30 finish, but was losing ground. Another stretch along the river and around a park helped make loop 3 more bearable. Just before mile 24, I was passed by the 3:30 pacer (whom we had not found in the corral). That was disheartening, since I couldn’t stay with him. To make matters worse, he was alone, having lost his entire group. A lone runner carrying a pacer sign is depressing. Then we again experienced the oncoming runners, as the clouds darkened and a few raindrops fell.

I hadn’t totally lost my stride, but didn’t have the legs to move faster. Mile 25 was good to see, but just before the last water stop I was surprised to see a steady stream of runners coming around a corner to join us. I was afraid to ask what brought them there and even wondered if I had made a wrong turn but I definitely had not run on this street before. Besides, all of my concentration was focused on finishing.

Home stretch
The sore left Achilles that had hampered my training could be felt since mile 8, but never really worsened and I didn’t encounter any other specific aches or pains. Only hills and humidity to blame for a tough run. I was moving at a faster pace than the main group, so passing runners was a positive, but sharing my finish time with slower runners was a negative, especially since I still didn’t know where and when they’d been diverted. I enjoyed the home stretch as much as possible, with a half-hearted kick being cheered by a good number of spectators and my 3:32:30 chip time didn’t really make me unhappy.

Less than 2 minutes after finishing, rain started falling and lightning was visible. Wind kicked up as I collected medal, blanket, water, bananas and whatever I could fit in my Race-Ready shorts pouch. Of course, most of the 25,000 half marathoners had already finished so the finish area was mobbed. It was also very chaotic, with few signs explaining where to go. By the time I found bag check (at furthest point from the finish), I had declared that organization was a mess. By now, it was pouring and people were crowding under tents, stadium entrances and anyplace else for shelter.

Since I found myself near the beer tent, I grabbed one and squeezed in with other storm victims. The rain would not stop, so I kept eating my provisions and grabbed another beer. The wind and downpour only got worse, so I finally did some stretching with one hand while holding the foil blanket closed with the other, since it was windy, wet and cool. I spoke with 2 different young guys who had completed their first marathon, one in 3:37 and one around 4 hours, who turned out to be one of the last to pass before runners started getting diverted at mile 20.5 or so. They were happy. I also spoke with 2 ladies who had been diverted while trying to complete their first marathon. They were sad --- as were many others.

Marathon confusion
Mainly due to the weather, the marathon portion of the race had become a fiasco. I wondered how they’d figure finish times and even who had finished the full, since there were no mats past the diversion point. I later found out that Tony had created his own diversion course, finishing in the half marathon chute. Dar had been part of the regular diverted group. Race management would eventually go through results by hand to determine which “category” each runner fell into (including the previously discussed “marathoners being diverted to the half marathon finish”, essentially running the half marathon. About 720 of us completed the full, another 1,000 diverted to 21 or so miles and maybe 2,000 being forced to run the half.

Long walk in a downpour
There was still one more "leg" to my adventure. Certainly the 10 half marathoners in our group had headed to the hotel or downtown to seek proper shelter in a bar. As the beer tent was being torn down, I started my wet 2 mile walk across the bridge through downtown towards the hotel. Several other stragglers were also limping back across the bridge and I started talking with another idiot who happened to be headed to a hotel even farther up the street than ours. We joked with each other as a deluge of rain fell on us and lightning sometimes lit up the sky. The only people outdoors were soggy runners. Every corner was like a river crossing and soon many of the sidewalks were 2 inches deep with water. It wasn’t the safest thing to be doing and I told him that his wife was gonna kill him. The can of 64 calorie beer I was sipping got weaker and weaker from rainwater, and eventually warm, dirty curb water splashed up by passing cars... Yes, I stopped drinking it.

Upon surviving the trek back , it was nice to see Tony in the room. I had him snap a pic of me before taking that long anticipated shower. Most of the others had remained downtown drinking beer until the rain let up a bit. We gathered for lunch at a crowded Blackstone Brewery at around 2pm. With a burger and beer, all was now good.

We headed back downtown in plenty of time for the 6pm concert at the arena, where Jarrod Niemann, then Heidi Newfield (formerly of Trick Pony) warmed us up for John Rich. Lenora and Christa bought me a beer since I was still without ID. Some of us left early, having heard enough Country for now and walked around a while before Nessie, Jordan & I had one more drink at Blackstone’s.

Sunday 4/25: Mass & recovery walk
While some in our group explored the Parthenon, I hit 8:30am Mass at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, conveniently situated right next to the Hampton Inn. Several marathon shirts were among the congregation. Of course, it was a beautiful cool & sunny day. Our group took a leisurely walk along “Music Row” studios and past the Musica sculpture, retracing parts of the race course and finding plenty of used gel packets on the ground as evidence.

We took plenty of pictures, heading back downtown. After stopping in to the magnificent “train station” hotel lobby, we eventually dropped in to the large Broadway Brewhouse for lunch. Service was horrible, but the food was good. More group shots and the ladies even found a store selling “Rebel Girl” hats.

Private concert at the Ryman
Time to tour the Ryman Auditorium, widely known as the “Carnegie Hall of the South” for much of it’s history since completed in 1892. As we viewed the photos of countless celebrities to perform there, we had the special treat of listening Aretha Franklin’s band do sound checks on the big stage for that evening’s show! A tasty visit to an ice cream parlor kept our spirits (and sugar levels) up. Then as some headed to the hotel, BBQ, Nessie, Jordan, Cutter and I enjoyed some brews at the very cool Flying Saucer – the place to sample 80 beers on tap and plenty more in bottles. Afternoon was turning to evening when we departed to meet up with others for pizza and more beer at Pie in the Sky, yet another place conveniently adjacent to the hotel. 10 of us really didn’t feel the need to travel any farther after that.

Monday 4/26: Delays
This turned into a typical unproductive "travel day", with not enough time to do much before checking out. We took another pleasant walk past Vanderbilt to the West End area, our turnaround point being “Team Nashville” running store. 10 of us headed to the airport early, where Jordan would fly to San Diego, Linda Loco back to Dallas, Cutter on her own flight to Philly and the rest of us on the same 3:40pm SW flight, which turned into 4:30 and finally, 5:00.

I had been apprehensive about possible security problems since I still had the same “no ID” predicament, but I was given the same additional screening as at PHL and the 4 different security people involved were so fast that I got through even faster than the others. I was again astonished that I could get on the plane without any proof of who I was. It turns out that the next day, a plane from Paris to Atlanta was diverted to Maine due to an unruly passenger claiming he had a bomb on board!! Additional delays brought our gate arrival time to around 8pm. At least we had missed rush hour traffic.   Back to page 1 of trip

Rebel Results (Half, except for Tuckin, Dar, BBQ):
Tuckin (full) 3:32:30
Dar (diverted from full)
Tony BBQ (4th overall in diverted group!!)
Nessie 1:47:06
Gelsomina 2:09:43
Steve 2:03:27
Cutter 2:14:51
Loco 2:14:52
Jordan 2:14:52
Linda Loco 2:25:08
Lenora 2:28:20
Christa 2:25:39
Susie 2:13:48


Country Music Marathon course map
Marathon course map


Official race photo
Running on Broadway - official race photo


Official race photo
Elite runners - official race photo


'Musica' statue on first loop


Rebel Nashville trip
Tuckin - after marathon & the wet walk back


Rebel Nashville trip
Country Music Marathon finisher medal


Contingency Plan Email Sent Day Before Race

Race Results Explanation of Diverted Runners


Rebel recovery walk
Rebel recovery walk on Sunday


Rebel Nashville trip
Historic Union Station Hotel in Nashville


Nashville hotel
Lobby of Union Station Hotel


Rebel Nashville trip
Ice Cream shop on Broadway


Rebel Nashville trip
Flying Saucer has 81 beers on tap - click photo to enlarge


Nashville running store on West End

Party girls like the truck

Broadway Brewhouse in downtown Nashville
BBQ on our recovery walk the day after race

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Broadway Brewhouse in downtown Nashville
Sunday lunch at Broadway Brewhouse in Nashville, TN

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