My fourth half marathon in five months – the Nashville Country Music – left me feeling dizzy from heat exhaustion, tired from unexpected hills, and humbled from the importance of training.
The race started at 7am when it still was in the high 60s. My corral, however, didn’t start until 7:40. By the end of the prolonged race, it was reaching the day’s high of 82. As a heat-adverse, fat polar bear I faded to perhaps my slowest split during mile 12.
Yet mile 12 had 11 prior that delivered a surprise curve ball – 1,000 ft in total elevation gain. The course map suspiciously didn’t state the elevation change, so I was blindsided.
But the worst factor was from lack of training. After the Berry Half Marathon, in which I saw a 11% improvement in time, I was sidelined with tendinitis for 6 weeks. After healing, I only got in two long runs – a 8 and 10 miler – and several hour cycling sessions. I was underprepared.
But I finished, albeit humbled. Each mile closer to the finish line had me thankful and appreciative of someone or something.
- Mile 1: VIP pass upgrade. This half marathon was the 3rd largest in the US last year. Shuffling 33,000+ runners to the start line is an impressive logistical feat. So paying $27 extra for reserved parking, bathroom, and breakfast snack tent was money well invested.
- Mile 2: Coffee. This *is* my pre-run warmup.
- Mile 3: 56 Halfs Lady. We met a lady in her 50s who had run/walked 56 half marathons in 36 states during the past 2 years. She shared some pro tips, including waiting to use the porta-johns until after the race starts if you have a later corral number, and “to not be a douchbag” by wearing your race shirt during the race – you thought one hadn’t earned the right to wear it yet.
- Mile 4: Military. I saw two runners on the course in camouflage and a full backpack. I was pleased that they were constantly saying “you are welcome” from everyone else stating gratitude for their service.
- Mile 5: Girl Teen Bands. There was this band of girls in their early teens playing. The drummer smiled big with a mouth full of braces and the rugrat bassist was hidden behind her bass guitar. You go, girls.
- Mile 6: Cool running weather . At this point into the race it was approaching 9am and I was missing it.
- Mile 7: Gumby. A guy was running in a full felt Gumby suit. This was made even more amazing considering the juxtaposition of this sight with the gratitude experienced the mile prior.
- Mile 8: Water. Not only does it refresh going down, but it enlivens when splashed on as well.
- Mile 9: Cheering volunteers. The streets were lined with cheering support. The Belmont neighborhood was especially supportive, with families hosting mimosa-fueled outdoor brunches while their kids played out front.
- Mile 10: Out of Shape or ElderlySeeing a 300 lb. or 70 year old person inspires me….to go faster. The “quit” demons I’m battling must pale in comparison to their own. These people are my heroes, not the pros finishing in impressive 1:30 hours.
- Mile 11: Feeding. After a terrible first half marathon where I faded, I slowly snacked on one package of gel blocks. This helped, even if a placebo effect.
- Mile 12: Running partners. I was ready to give up, but having my wife soundly beat me by running slightly ahead, unfazed at our slower than usual pace, kept me trudging forward.
- Mile 13: Gravity. I didn’t appreciate the cruel joke of going up for 2 miles at the end of the race, but the half mile downhill finish left me only needing to lift my leaden legs.
Now it is onward, but hopefully not that much more upward, to my fifth half marathon in Portland, Oregon is 4 weeks.