Nashville (Half) Marathon Recap: Adjusting Expectations & Changing Plans

It’s taken me over a month to start writing this post, and > 3 months to complete it.  I trained for the Rock N Roll Marathon in Nashville.

I did not run this marathon.

I just needed to say that.  I am frustrated by this fact, but not upset, nor do I regret my choice to run the half that day.

Let’s back up for a minute.  I knew when I signed up for this race back in December of 2016 a race in Nashville, at the end of April the weather could be really hot, so basically the opposite of what I would be training in from January-April.

So I tried to keep my expectations level.

That was hard because it was a mild winter, and I had a really awesome training cycle to get ready for Nashville.  As race day approached the forecast said it would be hotter and more humid with each passing day.  I started mentally preparing for a slower marathon time.  A week out from race day the forecast was calling for temps in the high 70’s and 80’s and a lot of humidity.  I started to think about “plan b”, what it would be and what it would mean.

I finally decided to go to Nashville with an open mind, and setting out to take a crack at the full.  This was not made easier by the race organizers sending emails constantly about the forecast and high temps, and encouraging runners to drop down to the half.

I have never been more fit for a marathon, so I kept telling myself it would be ok (side bar- heat doesn’t care how fit you are).

This is what makes marathons a bitch: there are so many variables, and sometimes what you bring to the table just isn’t enough.

On race day it was already 75 and humid at the start line, and I had a film of sweat on me just from standing in the corral.  By the time I saw Pat and my in-laws at mile 2 my shirt was saturated.  I made it to the 10k before I saw 1-2 runners go down (yes, pass it out on the road), that was around the time I was thinking that my adjusted marathon pace (a full minute slower than my goal pace, and practice pace had been) still felt “too hard”.

Around the 15k (9.3 miles) we were in unobstructed sun, I had seen a few more people go down, and I was really battling how smart it was to turn and finish a half, or to go on. I finally decided to turn, thankfully Pat and his parents were right by the area to turn for the half, so I was able to signal them that I was tapping out.

The last 2-3 miles to the finish were hard, both mentally and physically.  Mentally because I was no longer running the race I trained for or planned to.  Physically because that’s how damn hot it was.  Around mile 12.5 my friend Kathryn and I witness a girl go down right in front of us.  She went down HARD, two other runners tried to pick her up and get her back running but that was even more unsafe.  The two of us somehow had some brain cells left to yell at the two runners to move her into the shade (there was a band stage nearby) while I waved at a passing course marshal (on a bike) who was able to get a police officer and other first responders over to this woman.

After that, I didn’t question my choice to turn (of course until later that night after I was comfortable and hydrated), it was one of the scariest things I’ve seen in all of the races I have done.

I ultimately opted not to do a spring full, after Nashville my heart just wasn’t into it anymore, and other Plan B races just didn’t fit into my schedule.

I will do a separate post about this marathon/race in general as I would recommend it- but with very very flexible expectations of performance!!

Running marathons is very humbling because it teaches you about yourself and in a weird way about life. Sometimes you really do bring your very best to the table: in your career, in your running, in your weight loss endeavors, heck- even in relationships.

At the end of the day there are only so many variables we can control, and what I think is most important is the act of dusting off and taking a crack at your next goal.

Now looking back I see this as a fun trip, where I made a smart racing decision. Additionally it put me in really great shape for summer training which, for the first time ever hasn’t been awful.

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