“Don’t walk like an Egyptian, Run like a Kenyan!”
Eric T. Olson
Nashville, “The Music City” and Capital to the great state of Tennessee. Home to over a half million people, Nashville draws tourism from all over the world. It's known for its Downtown bar and restaurant industry all geared toward Country Music!
We wanted to run a spring Marathon someplace warm after a long, cold winter in Northern WI. So we flew in Thursday morning with temps already in the 70s. The first warm day we’d experienced since last Oct. This is another city I have never been to before. It will be good to cross this state off from my 50 State Marathon bucket list.
After checking into our hotel we decided to walk a few blocks downtown and check things out. It was obvious a Marathon was happening in the city with all the fit-bodied people around us. (We just hope to look like that some day). The streets were packed with people walking in and out of all the attractions. There seemed to be live music playing in every bar we walked by. I was also surprised to see so many Street Musicians playing solo in hopes of someone dropping a friendly donation into their open fiddle case or upside-down cowboy hat. Some dressed clean and neat, others not so much. I even saw a man on a unicycle wearing a helmet along with knee and elbow pads on the sidewalk weaving through the crowds of people trying to make a living one dollar at a time.
We found a nice place for dinner and it just happened to be Mexican night! We were there to run and we needed calories right? Well, I don’t mind if I do... We still had another full day before the Marathon so we accidentally found ourselves patronizing the downtown establishments as the night went on. I think we hit them all. We even walked past a sign asking for some brave souls to attempt “Naked Karaoke.” We didn’t actually go inside, but took advantage of the photo-opp with the sign and provided all the folks on the street with a good laugh. It was a good night and a great way to start our trip.
The next morning we met for breakfast and I checked out my wallet to see how much fun I’d had last night. By the looks of things it must've been ecstatic. Later we headed over to the Health and Fitness Expo. 30,000 participants were registered to take part in this event between the Full and Half Marathon so this Expo was huge! We’ve been to many of these and they all seem to offer the same things. We moved through the crowded isles up and down, back and forth, blah blah blah... I did my deed of collecting a handful of stickers to add to my collection displayed on the Ironman Bus that can usually be spotted traveling around the Midwest from race to race. We grabbed our race numbers and headed out to see the rest of this famous river town.
Our second day in Nashville was another full day on our feet. I’ve found through the years, that really doesn't effect Marathon performance. Sitting around the day prior can keep your mind on the race a little too much perhaps? Every runner has their certain remedies, I’m just telling you what works for me.
So it was one t-shirt shop to the next. Every Country Western themed Trinket you could dream of owning is available in Nashville. Our next stop was the Lawrence Record Shop. Thousands of old vinyl records for sale and really fun to look through along with the autographed poster collection totally covering the walls featuring the legendary Country Music Greats. Two blocks further was the Johnny Cash Museum. A must-see when in Nashville! $12 admission and worth every penny. Then it was a walk across the pedestrian bridge that spans the Cumberland River and heads to the Titians Stadium where the next day’s Marathon would finish.
As the day came to an end, some extra large, extra grease Bison Burgers with Jalapeños and Fried Onions. A great pre-race staple! “(Eat Hotta, Run Fasta).” It was another good day that had to come to a close.
An early wake up with coffee and treats and it was time to walk down to the Marathon Start. These large Marathons use Start Corrals that help with the congestion of so many runners all sharing the same street. We were in Corral 22 and the last Corral was number 30. The National Anthem was played and I looked in the sky for the fighter jets to fly over but it didn’t happen at this race.
The start Gun went off and Corral 1 left the gates! Every 3 minutes or so the next Corral would move up to the line and take off by the sound of a loud siren. Pretty soon it was us, and we took off running down Broadway Street. The temps at the start were in the high 60s. It was a few miles into the race before the sea of runners spanned out enough to have your own little space. We got to the outskirts of the city and then came the hills of Tennessee. Nashville is a River City, and that usually always incorporates a River Valley of steep grades and that is what we were up against here.
My goal these days is just to get through the race and stay uninjured for the next. I don’t mind walking parts of them as long as I keep moving forward and run as much as I can. When we reached mile 10 the Half Marathoners split off from our course and headed to their finish line. As we went by a Bank at about mile 12, the thermometer read 79 degrees. It was really getting hot and it was still early in the day. Police Swat Teams were staged here and there donning their Military attire as will become more common at Marathons in the future after what happened in Boston last year. I did my best to thank all of them for being there and felt bad that they had to stand out in the heat with all of that gear and dark clothing.
There was lots to see on the trek through this Historic City. Interesting architecture and some High-Dollar Mansions overlooking the Cumberland river. I just kept plugging along and ran strong until mile 20 but at that point it was just too darn hot. It was time to just walk and take in the experience which is really the main reason we come to these events. The temp made it to 84 at the finish and I was just happy to be done. I enjoyed an ice cold chocolate milk and a short break in the shade. I was feeling good and thankful that I could do this.
Another Finisher’s Medal for the growing pile! It was another great day and we earned this one in the hot sun up and down the hills of Tennessee... I will keep doing this as long as I can, meeting up with good friends in interesting parts of the world participating in the greatest events known to man.
Life is Good! Take it all in...
Eric T. Olson Luck WI