Saturday, November 2, 2019

Nashville Women's Half Marathon Race Recap

I ran the Nashville (TN) Women's Half Marathon on September 29, 2019.

Photo by FinisherPix

I stayed at a hotel in Brentwood, TN. The race start was scheduled for 7 AM. I got up at 4:30 AM. Maybe could have slept in a little more. I had a great breakfast of Greek yogurt, sweet potatoes, cherries, blueberries, strawberries and peanut butter.

It was only a 15 minute drive to the Nashville Farmer's Market, where I parked. The race start was a few blocks away. I arrived at 6:15 and headed for the start line just outside the Nashville Sounds stadium. I did a light jog to warm up. I needed to find a porta potty, so headed into the stadium. I really had to go, but the line for the women's bathroom was really long.

I suddenly realized I wasn't wearing my running shoes!!! Nope, this wasn't a nightmare, I was awake, 20 minutes before the start of my half marathon, in desperate need of a porta potty and in the wrong shoes! Well, this was fun. I took off running for my car in a more direct line than I'd taken before and thankfully passed a row of porta potties, empty! No lines. Whew! I took care of that business and flew down the street back to my car. My running shoes were lying in the floorboard. I quickly changed to them, gulped some water, and ran back to the starting line. Nothing like a brisk warm up....

It was warm and muggy already at 6:55 AM. I knew it was shaping up to be a warm day, so I had my small 10 oz Nathan ExoShot handheld to use between aid stations, which were supposed to be every two miles.

My training was a little sporadic and hasty for this race. I used an 18 week training plan, but only did the first 10 weeks of it and then switched to taper mode. I trained for a 2 hr 45 minute finish. I just wanted to ease back into running with a just finish mentality. My training was mostly on trail or on the treadmill. Running 5 days a week.

Back to the start. For some odd reason, they held us until 7:15. They said something about the course not being ready. I found that strikingly odd and annoying, standing around, waiting to start, with the temperature rising.

We finally did start around 7:15 AM. A surge of women and a few men. About 700 runners total.

My goal pace for each mile was around 12:30.

My first mile clocked in at 11:25. Ok, ok, early excitement, just settle down and run.

My second mile clocked in at 11:25. Ok, really, you need to calm down and run slower. You'll never maintain this pace. Slow, slow, slow. I tried.

My third mile clocked in at 11:00. Um, really? I felt like I was running on air. It was almost effortless. The effort was coming from trying to slow down.

For the next several miles, I abandoned the notion of slowing down and just ran what felt like a comfortable pace. Not too hard, but not forcing myself to slow down. Most of those miles were around 11:30 per mile.

Mile 8 (11:45) it started to get hard and HOT. We were out on the Cumberland River Greenway with no shade and no breeze. Ugh. My pace slowed down for each of the next several miles as we stayed on the greenway pretty much back to the finish line.

It was HOT. The water station at mile 8 had hot water. Ugh. I drank it, but it wasn't satisfying in any way. The next water station around mile 10 also had hot water. A gracious volunteer refilled my handheld for me while I grabbed a cup to go. I drank most of that and tossed the rest on my head.

As I was slogging along, a runner came up behind me yelling for a medic for somebody behind. Yep, it was hot. Around mile 10 (11:52), I just couldn't control my heart rate while running. It was way too high. So I did run/walk for the next 2 miles. Transitioning from one to the other was painful. My legs did not like it. I took a salt tablet and a calcium tablet. And kept going. Standing still or walking too long was not going to get me off that hot greenway.

Mile 11 clocked in at 12:12 and mile 12 clocked in at 12:19. I was actually pretty surprised at that. I guess I was running pretty good when I was running. I really thought they'd be much slower.

The mile 12 aid station was wonderful to see. It was at the end of the long stretch with no shade. I could see shade ahead. I drank a cup of water and tossed another full cup on my head. The water was not hot and felt wonderful. Only 1.1 miles to go! I can do this!!!

Mile 13 was run in 11:21; then I made that last dash for the finish line.

I was momentarily annoyed to see my time was 2:33:51. My watch said 13.3 miles. For some unexplained reason, I was secretly hoping for a sub-2:30. Which was ridiculous, considering I hadn't trained for that pace, hadn't even completed a full training cycle and it was much warmer than hoped for a late September race. With a tiny bit more training or a little let up on the weather or maybe just a little more fuel, I would have been sub-2:30. So I readjusted my attitude and was quite happy with the result.

My next training cycle starts November 15. An 18 week marathon training program from Luke Humphrey Running based on the Hanson Marathon Method.
Goal Race: Asheville Marathon in March 2020.