Saturday, April 28, 2001

RR Music City Marathon

Race Report
Music City Marathon
Nashville, TN
April 28/01

We're bacccckkkkkkkk!
This time we have #1 son (Chris) in tow who we found wandering around Tampa airport.
We had a great weekend in Country Music City or Nashville, TN and I am happy to report that I had a satisfactory and fun marathon! The weather and course certainly didn't help the effort to make it a fun marathon. The weather was very warm - 56 degrees at the 7am start and 78 by 10:30am. The course was very hilly as advertised but thankfully the hills were the gentle rolling type, except for miles 20 to 23 which had the toughest and steepest hills.
I started out slow and easy as I had promised myself -an 8:05/mile pace. This was actually faster than I planned to start but it felt easy in spite of the hills and my heart monitor indicated that I was only working at 75% of max heart rate whereas I normally run between 80 to 85%. So I held that pace through the first half and then slowed by 5 seconds to 8:10/mile.
At 20 miles I did my routine 'gut check' and felt good - 'soooo goooooddddd' compared to my last two races that I considered lowering the pace to sub-8s for the last 10K. However those nasty hills between miles 20 and 23 quickly killed any heroric intentions that I may have had as my heart rate increased to 85% just to hold an 8:20 pace through the hills. BUT I was still feeling good and having fun!
Mile 24 was slightly downhill and flat which helped me cruise through the mile under 8 minutes - but very suddenly it stopped being fun? Mind you, I didn't struggle and I didn't hurt, but, all of a sudden it stopped being fun and I had to focus real hard and the old heart rate jumped to 90+% just to hold an 8:15/mile pace over the last two miles.
But I was still able to enjoy the bands and the cheers of the large crowds of spectators/supporters lined along the course in front of the Adelphia Coliseum where the marathon finished. I was very pleased and happy with my performance and time of 3:33 as I crossed the finish line. Because of the weather and course this time was fast enough for 2nd place in my age group (Old Farts).
My time was only ONE minute slower than Nagano in spite of warmer weather and a course that was ten times more difficult - and I felt ONE HUNDRED times better -especially over the last 10K! It makes such a big difference when you run a smart race and can stay just under your limits!

Following is a quick marathon/course evaluation since I know that many of you are interested in running this marathon:
This was only the 2nd running of this event and the organization/logistics were excellent. Information was easy to find and access. Registration was easy and the race provided a list of convenient hotels at discount rates. Packet pickup was well organized and easy. The exhibition only rated a 'C'. Very few booths -only a few running store booths offering clothes. The shoe manufacturers had their own booths but did not offer very good discounts.
No pasta party but a C/W (country/western) concert Saturday night after the race was free to runners. Martina McBride and the Sons of the Desert.
The city and citizens are solidly behind the race - lots of TV coverage before, during and after the race. Lots of people asking if you are running and congratulating you after the race.
A few negatives: the city completely closes down all the roads that the course is run on (a positive for runners) which can make it very difficult to drive anywhere. We had to park our car 1/2 mile from the hotel because the roads near the hotel were to be closed from 6 to 11am race day. (Recommendation -select a hotel downtown near the stadium/finish line).The city forgot to advise us that Saturday was Prom day and every good restaurant in the city would be booked from 6 to 10pm. We had to drive 10 miles out of the city to find a restaurant for dinner!

Course: hilly but mostly gentle rolling hills. Water/aid stations and digital clocks every mile. Bands, great bands, every mile along the course and lots of noisy supportive spectators.
It is a good, fun race if you run smart!

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