Well, Boston was taken off the table, so I was back to plan #1: sub 2:20, make some money. Sounds good, right? Well, my school's Field Day got moved back a day, which opened up May 10th. What's the significance of that? I could now enter the USA 25k Champs in Grand Rapids, MI on May 11th. Running well there was more important than making some money, so I switched my Country Music plan yet again. The new goal was to run hard enough to win and if conditions were ok, make a run at 2:26:59, so I could get a $250 time bonus and hopefully still come away with $1500. That would be a steady pace, but wouldn't beat me up too badly. And if I did get a little banged up, I could use some of my new found cash to visit Julianna to destroy me with a massage.
|This lady doesn't play around|
Well, about a week before the race, I found out they took away the overall prize money, as well as the Tennessee resident prize money. The time bonus money was still there but the allure of an extra $1500 was gone. And the bad thing about Nashville in late April is that weather can be freaking hot. Did I really want to run a marathon in 70 degree heat and then try to race well two weeks later? It makes me sound somewhat like an elitist jerk but the USA 25k championships are more important than the Country Music Marathon. I could potentially wreck my race by toeing the line at the marathon. So I spent the week before the race going back and forth. Should I run the marathon? Should I switch to the half? I kept a close watch on the forecast and saw the weather was going to be wet but temperature was going to be pretty decent. I ran a toned down workout the Wednesday before and finally decided on Thursday that I was definitely running the marathon. If the rain wasn't too bad, I was going for the $250 bonus and if I felt really good, I was going to go for the $500 one. Not to mention, a lot of my non-running friends and school parents have constantly been asking me if I was going to run this year, so I felt the pressure there a little bit.
I spent Friday eating a ton of sugary stuff. I'm not big on carboloading because if you are tapering for a marathon, then your carbohydrate stores should be nearly topped from the reduced training volume. I'll drink a couple cokes leading up to the race but nothing too fancy. However, I wasn't tapering for this race and with a plan of still getting in 100+ miles during the week, I divulged a little more than usual.
The parking for the Country Music Marathon looks like it can be a nightmare. You have to park near the finish line and then catch a shuttle at the start. I didn't want to have a 4:00am wake-up time, followed by having to hang out in the rain for a while, so I took Scott Bennett's offer to stay at his place the night before the race, like I did in 2011. He only lives about 1.5 miles from the start, so it works out perfectly. After chowing down on Mama's Pancake Breakfast at Cracker Barrel, followed by dropping off my energy gel and water bottle at Nashville Running Company and Jeff Edmond's house (thanks guys), I was on my way to the Bennett Bed and Breakfast. I downed some a couple gulps of children's Benadryl (works faster than the pills), watched some Regular Show on Netflix, set my alarm for 4:45am and I was then dead to the world.
I woke up and was surprised it wasn't pouring rain. Just a light drizzle. Now....what to wear to warm-up? But first things first, I had to lube down. Normally chaffing doesn't bug me but I didn't want to take any chances because I heard it's worse in the rain. I slathered some on the very outside of my armpits/shoulder blades and covered the nips. Unfortunately, I forgot an extra shirt, so I threw on my Saucony rain jacket, put on my half-tights, wore some long tights over that and headed down for some coffee and a couple of Powerbars. My rain jacket against my skin turned out to be not so good of an idea. My jacket stuck against my body where the vaseline was and it also stained it as well. After borrowing one of Scott's shirts, I was now improved and ready to head out the door.
I walked/jogged the 1.5 miles to the start and then looked for my baggage check. Several people told me it was in several different areas and after about an extra 10 minutes of jogging, I found out it was located inside the Chili's. I hung around for a few minutes, did a couple of short strides to get my legs ready for the race and I went into my corral about 10 minutes before the gun. I was later on was joined by Olaf Wasternack, who ran a nice PR at Boston 12 days earlier. I've been making him take some down time but he got the oppurtunity to get a free entry, so he jumped in. 7:00 approached and there was no sign that they were about to start the race. With the rain and temp, I started shivering and was getting a little inpatient. Much less impatient than a lady behind me who was pitching a fit about the delay. You have a long way to run woman, and the key to running well is to relax! But someone had left their car on the course and with all the freaking out over security, I'm sure they had to send one of those remote control bomb sniffer things to go around the car, followed by anthrax sniffing dogs, then they probably had to take the car apart and send all the pieces to some crime lab in Washington. Shortly before the gun, we had a moment of silence for Boston and then we were on our way.
I ran pretty relaxed for the first couple of minutes. There was a pack of guys up front that I finally reeled in about 1000m in. Daniel LePage and his buddy, Bill Martin, were up in front. The pace felt a little bit quick and I asked Daniel what pace he thought we were running because it felt like 5:20. He said he hoped it wasn't that fast but we went through the first mile in 5:21. I've always had a pretty decent "internal GPS" so if any race directors need a marathon rabbit, I'm your man!
|I want this outfit|
|Someone forgot to tell these people occupy Nashville is over|
At around 4.5 miles, I took my first gel. I don't know if it was because of the rain or what, but I didn't really take any water with it. I continued to lead and made sure I stayed relaxed over the hills. Around seven or eight miles in, I started paying attention to my splits and was running around 5:30 pace. Perfect. Because I'm terrible at drinking out of cups, I tried to take an ounce or so at nearly every water stop. I then entertained myself by seeing if I could chunk the cup across the street and make it land in a trash can. I was succesful a couple of times and was hoping the TV crew got it on film and submitted it for one of ESPN's Plays of the Day. Didn't happen. They were sitting in the back of a pick-up truck and I felt bad for them because of the cold rain. I heard them butcher my last name several times and I almost decided to speed up and correct them on the pronunciation. They told me I was getting a ton of air time and I told them that my looks are made for radio, not TV.
About 10 miles in, I took my second gel and I continued to lead. Every once in a while, I would sneak a glance over my shoulder and saw that Daniel was about 20 seconds back, but I couldn't see any of the marathoners. I was still feeling good at this point even though I was getting tired of running through deep puddles in some parts of the course. Shortly before halfway, there was a part of the course that was flooded across the street. Luckily, my Saucony Grid Type A5's didn't hold much water.
I made a 180 degree turn around a curb and saw a guy about 30ish seconds behind me. It surprised me because I had no idea he was there, and didn't know who he was. However, he was looking pretty strong and I knew a difficult part of the course was coming up, so I picked it up a little bit over the next few miles. I went through halfway in 70:46 which was a little bit faster than I wanted but wasn't as fast as 2011 when I went through in 1:10:12 and ran 2:24:10. I made my way up the long hill, which had been my slowest mile of the race both years (5:46 this year, 5:54 2011) and then took another gel at 15ish miles.
|Matt Pulle. He put a whooping on me in the 2010 Moon Pie 10 Miler and I believe is one of the first Nashville runners to discover Julianna|
There were a ton of deep puddles throughout the park and I found myself running through them to see how deep they were. Marathons can get boring, so it was time to find a new, temporary hobby. I ran up around the pond and then back down. In 2011, it felt like my quads and i.t. band were ripping apart from my bone at this point, but I felt good here. I was also able to see the guy in second, who seemed to be at least a couple of minutes behind. There was a big time clock on the top of the press truck and at 23 miles, I did some math in my head. I figured that I easily had the 2:25:59 time bonus and was well under pace for 2:23:59 as well. I relaxed a bit because I just wanted to sneak under the time bonus and take as little damage as possible.
|After seeing this photo, I was curious to see what their order of gun time finish was. My prediction was black shirt, blue tank, blue shirt, girl. However, it was: blue shirt and girl tied, black shirt three seconds behind them and blue shirt 14 seconds behind the first two.|
On the way back out of the park, I passed the place where in 2011, I puked several times in front of some high school cheerleaders. No puking today! I was running in the lower 5:30s at this point, with the same effort level, which meant fatigue was slowly creeping in. I still felt really strong and relaxed but my legs were slowly becoming worn out. Finally, I cut a left and I could see the final turn. I then also saw my life flash before my eyes as some old guy on one of those mini motorcycles came barreling towards me and I had to swerve out of the way so I wouldn't get run over. I threw my hands in the air at him and told him he needs to watch out, made the final turn and I made my way towards the finish.
In my running career, I don't think I've ever broken the tape before. Back in high school, our school paper wrote an article on me and they took a picture of me running on the track, about to break a fake tape, but that doesn't count. Right before I hit the tape, I had my right hand on my Garmin (thanks classical conditioning), then quickly let go and raised my arms a bit, followed by immediately stopping my GPS.
As soon as I crossed the line, I was yanked over by a reporter, who asked me a bunch of questions, then I was walked over to a million other reporters with mikes in my face. It sounds annoying but it was actually a really cool experience and my closest ever thing to "fame." I was then walked to the the medical tent and the only thing I had on my mind was that I REALLY wanted to sit in a hot tub. I was insanely cold at this point and miserable. If I would have run this flat out, man, I would have been hating life at this point, much like the guy I saw sitting on a cot, covered in blankets and shivering insanely hard.
Before I was released, I had to talk to a couple more cameras before being escorted to the baggage check. I was happy the lady walked with me because she had an umbrella, even though I was already soaked. She even let me stop at the VIP tent while she got my stuff for me. That's some southern hospitality! By the time my arms were almost numb from hugging myself so hard, she was back with my stuff. I was really happy I over-packed because I threw on some compression socks, some long tights, some warmup pants, a short sleeve shirt and two jackets. I even debated putting on some arm warmers but I felt like that would be overkill. I then looked for my phone and couldn't find it anywhere. I started freaking out and then my inner cheapo came out. If I lost my phone, I would have to buy a new one, which would be over a hundred bucks. And once I get a new phone, I get "un"grandfathered out of my $25 monthly Virgin Mobile plan and get upgraded to the $35 one. On my way to the baggage claim, I figured after a few years, I would come out losing money because of this race. When I got there, I asked the lady if she found a phone and saw that two of the helpers had it, and told me I had a ton of missed calls (and 106 Facebook notifications). I definitely didn't have time for that!
I then spent the next hour or so thawing out, drinking coffee, eating a ton of some carmel brownie things and talking to some of the Nashville Striders and some other random people. I heard some guy announce that the shuttle would be leaving in five minutes. Since I had no idea where Mary could get me, I felt riding the shuttle back to the start would be the easiest and best option.
I sat beside the second place marathon finisher, Andrew Catalano, who was a really nice guy. Finally, I was off the bus and I arrived just in time because Mary was less than a minute away. After getting my stuff from Scott's house, I was finally on my way back home. I then killed time before the awards ceremony later that night. In 2011, the winners got full sized guitars and I was REALLY hoping I would get one of those. However, it was not to be this year but at least I get a cool, wooden small one (just like in 2011).
While I ran a couple minutes harder than I planned, this was a really cool experience. I never thought winning this race would be such a big deal to outsiders. Random people will come out of their house or stop their cars to talk to me while I'm running around town and I've been recognized by multiple people at Wal-Mart the last two times I've been. When I got to school Monday, parents and students' decorated the school and made posters for me and I even had three news channels and three newspapers come to school on Monday as well. I'm still waiting on my call Obama!
|This first grader ran sub 8:00 for his mile, while talking to me the entire time|
|Two more of my school kids who ran Sunday. Hopefully this soccer players will turn into cross country runners!|
Now it's time to relax the best I can and get ready for the USA 25k Champs. Odds are, I won't be too fresh but it'll be a good racing experience. I'm definitely planning on running Boston next year, but I think I may come back and run this one as well.
- With the continous rain, the race was very good peeing weather, especially if a camera was on you the entire time. However, I will not confirm or deny any peeing allegations. I'm just saying if you really had to pee the second half of the race, you'd be able to hide it pretty well.
- I've had a ton of people ask if I won $17,000 and others ask how much money I won. I assume I'll get a $500 time bonus but that's all I expected to get. It's a bummer they took away the money but I knew that going into it. They did fly in Jim Ryun, Ron Clarke and I believe Frank Shorter (if not more people), so I'm sure that cost a few G's. Those guys were great to talk to and were cheering on the kids at their race on Sunday. But heck, I was at the kids race as well and I bet I had more random people talk to me about the race and took more pictures with kids and other strangers than all of those guys combined. I'm in this to chase few times (and make money when I can) but I felt they could at least kept a small purse or something. But the staff were nothing but great to me, so I hope I that didn't make me sound like a jerk.
- No, there were not any Kenyans in the race. A lot of people have asked me that and their responses have led me to believe that they feel that's why I was able to win. There are fast Kenyans and there are also slow Kenyans. I secretly want to say "no, there weren't any in this race but in my race I ran two weeks before this, they finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th. And oh yeah, I won by about ninety seconds." You can only beat who shows up.
- I've had a lot of people ask me (and my wife) if I heard what Reed Trickett from Trickett Honda said. Well, if you missed it, in his live commercial, he said I had "no chance" to win and he expected that the pack would chase me down. He ended up calling me to apologize and has since apologized in a commercial. I wish he would have had more faith in the local guy, who also has had his Honda worked on there, and plans on buying a Honda when his piece (really Mary's) of crap 2001 Ford Escort ZX2 dies. So Mr. Trickett, hook a brother up!
- Maggie Moo's was cool enough to give me a ton of free ice cream. It's always cool when businesses support you.
- A lot of people have asked about the rain and my shoes. My racing shoes, the Saucony Grid Type A5, have drainage holes on the bottom. While they hold a tiny bit of water, most of it comes out the bottom. This was a huge help.
- In this marathon, I ended up taking four gel's and probably at most, 16 ounces of water. Most studies shows you should drink to thirst, and I wasn't thirsty.
- This was the first big city half-marathon/marathon since Boston. What happened in Boston was terrible and I hope nothing like that ever happens again. I was really impressed because after such a tragedy, rather than having people break apart, they became more unified. As a result, I don't understand what good the attack did in the eyes of the culprits. I had people ask if I was nervous or scared to run. I wasn't in the slightest. Crazy and terrible incidents like that are mainly out of your control. Too many people worry about things they can't prevent or stop and spend too little time worrying about things they are capable of preventing. Take care of your body, spend time with loved ones, be frugal with yourself and generous to others.
2011 Country Music Marathon vs. 2013 Country Music Marathon
5k: 16:29 vs. 16:54
10k: 32:59 vs. 34:00
13.1: 70:10 vs. 70:46
20: 1:48:21 vs. 1:48:07
26.2: 2:24:10 vs. 2:22:41