2015 Country Music Half Marathon

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Another half marathon, regardless of how slow I ran it (it is now my personal worst finish, but we will examine this in a later post), is in the books. Saturday marked my second consecutive year of surviving the hills of Nashville in the late April humidity. The weather could have been worse, the predicted storms could have come through, ravishing the course and participants, but luckily all we had to endure was humidity at the start, and actually was blessed with a reprieve from the sun beating us down along the course. The temperature remained relatively cool, especially for late April in the south.

2015 Country Music Half Marathon Finisher's Medal

2015 Country Music Half Marathon Finisher’s Medal

There were over 30,000 participants for the day’s activities, and while at times, it certainly felt like you were around 30,000 other people, the event does a good job of managing the masses. There is plenty of parking at LP Field, especially if you arrive early, which is something I always try to do. Traffic is a beast, but that cannot be avoided in Nashville. The city is designed in such a way that traffic delays are unavoidable, especially during major events. If you have some knowledge of the side streets, you can circumvent some of the delays, which will certainly help your stress level. The event had 43 starting corrals to spread us out along the course, which certainly helped with the early congestion in the race. I was in corral 19 which meant I started about 35 minutes after the elite runners. The standing and waiting for your race to begin is not ideal, but it certainly beats trying to funnel 30,000+ people along city streets and through water stations. I cannot even imagine the chaos that would ensue without the wave start!

An area that the event could improve its crowd management is with the porta-potties, beer ID check, and post race refreshments. On my walk from the parking lot to my starting corral, I only saw four clusters of less than 20 porta-potties within each cluster. For 30,000+ people, this can create some issues. Especially when units begin to run out of toilet paper, which happened around 6:15 for the units closest to the parking lot. To get your ID checked for the post race beer, you had to stand in a long line at the expo. Maybe checking ID’s at the bib pickup location could help? I do not know for sure, but several people skipped the ID tent because they did not want to wait in line for their 21 and over bracelet. The finish line was a huge cluster. People were trying to stretch, refuel, and meet up with their families in a very finite space that was constantly adding new people to it. It felt like runners were being herded like cattle from receiving our medals to the various refueling options, around the corner to the beer tents. Honestly, the process would have probably worked better if the race could have used the facilities inside LP Field, not just around it.

Yep, my iPhone equated the hills to roughly 54 flights of stairs. My Fitbit placed the hills at over 60 flights of stairs.

Yep, my iPhone equated the hills to roughly 54 flights of stairs. My Fitbit placed the hills at over 60 flights of stairs.

Course: B: It was hilly, but we knew that going into the event. There were bands throughout the course and quite a bit of crowd support. Water stops were frequent and there was GU at mile 11, which is where the marathon and half marathon split up. The wave start helps to maintain the crowd considerably along the course, with only minor issues when the course goes through a residential neighborhood towards the middle. The course incorporates music row and downtown, which are areas everyone wants to see in Nashville.

2015 shirt, bib, and medal

2015 shirt, bib, and medal

Swag: A-: I like the medal, the shirt is good, but not great, and the post race refueling was plentiful. Rock ‘n Roll events are expensive, so it is nice to know that you got your money’s worth once you finish the event.

Nashville is known for its hot chicken, so of course that is how I refueled after the race!

Nashville is known for its hot chicken, so of course that is how I refueled after the race! This meal was consumed at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. It was excellent.

Overall: A: Managing an event for 30,000+ people is not easy. There are going to be complications to address. Lines will be long, the crowds will be dense. The expo was a great example of this. There were numerous vendors there, but getting to each one could be a chore. I loved the expo, and I scored a few much-needed running items on the cheap. I really do enjoy this race, even though it is a challenge for those of us flatlanders that get kicked in the teeth by the hills. I have run in this event before, and I will run in it again. And maybe next year, I will be closer to my 2014 results, and not this year’s disappointing finish.

And on a side note, if you like fried chicken and spicy flavorings, Nashville has you covered. I loved the hot chicken at Hattie B’s, and will also be making a return trip there in the future!

I am a Rock ‘n Blog Ambassador for 2015 and I ran this race as such. It in no way skewed or influenced my reflections of this event (you can check last year’s review for that confirmation). All views and opinions within this blog are my own. 

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Music Highway Medal

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Music Highway Medal

First off, my race recap for the Mercedes Half Marathon should be posted on Monday morning. It has been a hectic week, and I just have not done it yet. In the meantime, I wanted to share with all of y’all the Music Highway medal that I received this week for running the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville and St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis as a St.. Jude Hero.

Country Music Half Marathon Recap

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This post is a little delayed, but I have been piecing it together since the event on April 26 as I take breaks from my final papers.  I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with this semester and will get back to a normal running/workout/blogging schedule.

Start line pic taken from the CMM Facebook page

Start line pic taken from the CMM Facebook page

I arrived to the expo on Friday around noon and it was a madhouse.  There was very little parking near the expo and the ones that were available would price gouging runners.  Therefore, Susan dropped me off and made the block while I grabbed my registration stuff.  The expo was well-organized, it was just a large mass of people in a small space.  There were several vendors in attendance and if Susan was not waiting on me, I could have spent some time wandering around the various booths.

Country Music Half Medal

On race day, it was advertised that you needed to get to LP Field by 5:30 am or there would be no free parking available.  We got there at 6:00 am and had no problem getting a spot, but the issue was traffic, as any trip to Nashville involves.  I went the long way to LP Field and missed the vast majority of the traffic, so that did help.  Parking was 1/2 a mile or so from the start line, so runners could get a little bit of a warm up before getting to the corrals.  The lack of porta-potties was noticeable on my walk to the corral.  The few that I did see had insanely long lines.  Around corral 14 there were several porta-potties, but by that point most people had fought the crowds.

Prior to the race, all I heard about the event was how hilly it was and that the weather could be quite unpredictable.  Whereas the course was hilly, especially on mile 12, that was not the most notable feature of the course to me.  The most notable feature was the amount of runners on the entire course.  There were over 19,000 finishers for the half marathon alone!  This is the first race that I have run in that had a crowd for all 13.1 miles.

This was before my walk to the start, minus my Grizz headband

This was before my walk to the start, minus my Grizz headband

I did a fairly decent job of watching my pace early in the race, balancing the hills, sun, and crowds.  In fact, it was not until mile 11 that I really started to feel the effects of the course.  And at that point, I had not fueled besides my water and Gatorade stops, so I just sucked it up and gave it my best attempt to finish.  There is a modest hill at mile 12 that felt like a mountain to me, and my splits reflect that.  I did feel good as I crossed the finish line, and felt that it was a great race overall.

Course: B: It was hilly, but not overwhelmingly so. There were bands throughout the course and quite a bit of crowd support.  Water stops were frequent and there was GU at mile 11, which is where the marathon and half marathon split up.  The finish line, however, was a huge cluster.  It felt like runners were being herded like cattle from receiving our medals to the various refueling options, around the corner to the beer tents.  Honestly, the process would have probably worked better if the race could have use the facilities inside LP Field, not just around it.

And for those of you that frequent The Chive like I do, the water station around mile 7 was sponsored by Nashville area Chivers.  It was great to see all those green and BFM shirts.

Race swag

Race swag

Swag: A: A nice looking tech shirt and two medals!  One medal was for completing the race and one was for being a St. Jude Hero.  The bonus medal was not from St. Jude, but rather the fundraising medal given to everyone running in a Rock ‘N Roll event for charity.  The 2014 Country Music Half Marathon medal and race shirt were MUCH better than years past, especially the 2012 medal and 2010 shirt.

Rock 'N Roll charity medal that I received for being a St. Jude Hero

Rock ‘N Roll charity medal that I received for being a St. Jude Hero

Overall: A-:  Fun race with tons of support and upgraded swag.  Weather in late April in the south can be quite unpredictable, but this year we really dodged a bullet.  It was almost a perfect day for running, and I finished as the heat began to set in.  I would certainly run in this race again.

Quick Update: I’m Not Dead!

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It has been over a week since my last post, and first, I want to assure everyone that I am still here, plugging away!  The hills of Nashville did not consume me!  This is the last week of the semester and I have quite a bit of work left to do.  Some of this is due to my procrastination, and some is just the nature of grad school.  Also, some of it is due to the Memphis Grizzlies being in the playoffs.  So, as I take a mental break from my 30 page paper and budgeting assignment, I thought that I would do a quick update on what is going on.

First, I completed my 4th half marathon in 41 days in Nashville when I ran the Country Music Half Marathon.  It was a fun event and a full recap will be coming later this week or early next week.  But for now, I want to share the medal with y’all.  It actually looked better in person than I thought it would.

2014 Country Music Half Marathon Medal

2014 Country Music Half Marathon Medal

Second, a couple of months ago I was chosen to be a FitFluencial Ambassador, which mean I will have the opportunity to review some products, techniques, or events throughout the year.  My first couple of reviews from this partnership will be coming very soon.

Third, Monday I finally joined a local running club here in Memphis.  I joined the Memphis Runners Track Club, which is the major running club here in town.  I only did a 1 year membership because I want to see what it is all about.  I am certain that I will post more about this in the near future as well.

MRTC

And one last thing, Go Grizz!  Tonight, at 7:00 PM CST, the Grizzlies will host the Oklahoma City Thunder, here at the Grindhouse.  If you cannot be there, watch on TV.  And look for the battle between Tony Allen and Kevin Durant, which pits the league’s premier perimeter defender against the league’s premier pure scorer. It has been fun thus far.

Is It The Shoes?

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Back in college (and in middle school and high school as well), we played an insane amount of NBA Jam.  Is was not the most realistic basketball game on the market, but it was a lot of fun.  You would play two on two and there were tons of crazy catch phrases like “BOOMSHAKALAKA!!!”, “He’s building himself a house, one brick at a time!”, and “He’s on fire!”  Our personal favorite was “Is it the shoes?”, which was a reference to the Spike Lee Nike commercials from the 1980’s.

Is it the shoes?

Is it the shoes?

Anyway, history lesson aside, I have been thinking about my shoes for this weekend’s Country Music Half Marathon.  I have been dealing with some toe issues for quite a bit now.  Susan is just waiting for my big toe nail to fall off (I will spare you the pictures), and I am just hoping that the toe pain from the WDW Marathon does not come back with any regularity.  All of these issues have one thing in common, my shoes.  Specifically, my Asics Nimbus 14’s are the culprits.  The shoes are very comfortable, but they run small when compared to Brooks and some other shoe manufacturers.  I have run three half marathons and a full marathon in these shoes, but there is still plenty of life left in them.  I am thinking that I will transition them to my everyday shoe and go back to my Brooks Glycerin 11’s for the Country Music Marathon this weekend.  I need a new pair of shoes to wear around normally anyway, and as long as I am not running in them, they fit well.

Brooks Glycerin 11

Brooks Glycerin 11

My Brooks Glycerin 11’s were the shoes that I wore during my fastest two half marathons, and they are showing some wear and tear.  I ran in them last night to gauge how my feet felt in them and it went well.  Ever since my injury last year, I have been quite gun-shy with my shoes and that is one reason that I had transitioned away from my Brooks.

I will probably get a new pair of the Brooks Glycerin 11’s or 12’s for the Disneyland Half.  And I am not ruling out the Asics Nimbus 14’s in the future, I am just going to try a larger pair.

While I was writing this post, I came across an interesting article about Skechers sponsoring Meb Keflezighi, the winner of the Boston Marathon and American running hero.  You can read it here.

Country Music Marathon Updates

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This morning the St. Jude Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon released the medals for the event on April 26.  This was the last piece of information to be released by the event since the shirt was released last month as well as the concert and new downtown starting line.  So, for those who are running in the event, or want to, here is all of the released information.

Brooks Tech Shirt

Brooks Tech Shirt

Several people seem to be upset that it is gray, but I do not mind it too much.

CMM ConcertIn past years, the post race has had bigger acts than these three, but people on the Facebook page seem to be excited about the concert.  I am not, but it is free.

Definitely a Nashville feel to these

Definitely a Nashville feel to these

The difference between the marathon and half marathon is a color variation.  These medals reflect Nashville very well.

 

Five For Friday

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It has been a busy week here in Memphis for me.  From work and some improvements on the homestead, I have a few subjects to share with y’all.  And instead of dedicating a post to each, I am just going to encompass them all here.

1. St. Jude sent me a thank you for being a St. Jude Hero.  I am not sure if this was a thank you for the canceled St. Jude Marathon Weekend last December or the upcoming Country Music Half Marathon, but it was a nice surprise.  St. Jude sent out a pair of Yurbuds Signature Series Earphones and a Frogg Togg.  So, thank you St. Jude!

Thank you St. Jude!

Thank you St. Jude!

2. I wanted to share a couple of photos from our newly painted living room.  Here are some before and after pictures of our progress.

Before 1

Before 1

After 1

After 1 (with our model Beau)

Before 2

Before 2

After 2

After 2 (with a Beau photobomb) 

3. And my personal favorite addition to the new living room, my new Nest Thermostat.  It was not exactly needed, but it is really freaking cool.  My thermostat is now actually connected to my WiFi and I can adjust my house temperature from my iPhone here at the office.  The thermostat learns our heating and cooling habits, and adjusts accordingly.  I also get monthly reports on my energy efficiency and how I compare to others in my area with a Nest.

I have some work to do to where the former thermostat was, but I love my Nest.

I have some work to do to where the former thermostat was, but I love my Nest.

4. This weekend is the Germantown Half Marathon and I cannot wait for Sunday morning to get here.  I am very interested to see how running this event will actually be healthy. Of course, according to the weather report, it looks like it is going to be a wet race.  Current projections so 100% chance of precipitation at the race start time.  If this holds true, this will be the first race above a 5K in which I have encountered rain.  There is a first time for everything I suppose.

5. Thanks to the lackluster effort by the Memphis Tigers last night against UConn in the American Conference Tournament, this entire town is on suicide watch today.  A 72-53 loss on your home court against a team that you already lost tow twice this not easy to swallow, especially when on paper, you are evenly matched with the victorious team.  I think Giffey just hit another wide open three!

Memphis will be seeing this in their nightmares

Memphis will be seeing this in their nightmares

Sports talk this morning in Memphis has not been fun.