Monday, April 29, 2013

Nashville Recap Part 1: The day before the half marathon!

So, there is just far too much to write about my weekend in Nashville.  I started to do a race recap last night and was choked up 2 sentences in.  I think today I finally came down off of the adrenaline high I was on for all of Saturday and Sunday, which was one of the most blissful feelings I've ever had.  I'm still feeling pretty great but reality hit today and I've been tired and sore.  Yet, also more proud of myself than I have ever been in my life.  Anyone at work today who asked me how the race was... well I talked their ear off telling them how great it was.  Hopefully emptying all my thoughts onto the blog will help spare the poor people who pass me in the hallway at work, saying "How'd it go?!" from hearing a novel rather than a quick, "Great, thanks!"

So let's rewind to last Thursday night.  I finalized packing to go to Nashville, pretty confused about what to bring. What would the weather be like? Would it be cold? Would I need to ditch clothing at the beginning of the race? Should I bring nice running clothes or crummy running clothes?

I tried on all of my outfits and made plans, packed, and went to bed. My flight to Nashville was at 6:00 a.m.! Well, since there is never any direct flights from Albany, I flew first to Atlanta then from Atlanta to Nashville. The flight there started with a bit of unease as the line for security was bonkers at the airport! Seriously, it went out into the parking lot.

I'll tell ya, 6:00 a.m. flights can be rough but they are also pretty beautiful.

The day stayed high in the excitement factor as when I got to my gate at the airport in Atlanta, turns out the gang from Duck Dynasty was on my flight to Nashville! Now I am not a Duck Dynasty fan but I know a lot of people that are. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to snag a picture with Si.

And as Sarah commented to me on Twitter, it was the beginning of a great trip that was destined for an epic blog recap :)

When I arrived in Nashville I went to my hotel and get settled.  I stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Vanderbilt/West End in Nashville and I point that out because I have to say they were so, so great for the runners!  I had chosen that hotel off the race website because it was listed as being close to the start line.  The staff at the hotel were amazing and so nice and had so many "extras" for runners.  When I checked in they gave me a welcome back with snacks, water, and Gatorade.  They also planned to have a pasta dinner that night and breakfast starting at 4:30 a.m. for runners.  The hotel really made the experience so much more worthwhile.  They had a shuttle going back and forth regularly downtown and it was so convenient and easy.  I highly recommend this hotel for future Nashville Country Music Marathoners!!

From the hotel.  I wish I knew how to rotate these photos...

After checking in to my hotel in Nashville and getting settled, I went and met up with the girls I also knew doing the race - M and J. These girls are both half marathon pros and their number of races completed is in the double digits by now. They’d given me some great advice leading up to the weekend and I was excited to be able to spend some time with them.

We hit up the race expo where I wanted to take every cheesy, corny race expo photo possible. Luckily M and J were totally cool with that and obliged my newbie runner dorkiness. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to capture a moment of the weekend!

It was also really incredible to see the support for Boston throughout the city.  I could have taken a million photos of all the signs, shirts, etc. that people were sporting for the marathon but I'll share a quick couple things from Friday.  By my hotel a bank had a great sign up.

And at the Expo they had a wall where you could sign posters for Boston.

The afternoon after the expo was spent exploring Nashville’s “Honky Tonk Row” for lunch, ice cream, shopping, and live music! As we walked up and down the main road, I thought to myself, “Man, I can’t wait to run through these streets tomorrow!” and it sort of hit me... holy crap, I’m a runner!

After walking around a bunch we settled at one place to rest our feet a bit. The weather for Saturday had been a topic of conversation throughout the whole day and as we sat there we checked yet again. I’d been obsessively checking the hour by hour forecast on both Yahoo and Unfortunately, nothing had really changed. And by no means was it looking good. Rain all morning. 

We didn’t really have much of a choice but to accept it. I was getting really anxious and scared as to how this would affect my goal of wanting to run the whole thing. I was getting pretty stressed out and also questioning why this goal was so important to me. So many people I talked to walked at points throughout the race and didn’t consider it to be any less of an accomplishment. My mind was really starting to get to me. Should I be so worried about that goal? Or just enjoy it? And this stupid rain forecast? At that point, I sort of just said screw it and had a beer. M and J were both drinking and I figured one beer wouldn’t kill me. If anything it would make me relax a bit. I’d planned to only have water the night before but I think the beer and live music did me well.

After that I parted ways with the girls and went back to my hotel, which I had chosen because it was near the start line. I wanted to lay all of my clothes out, prepare everything exactly as I’d need it, stretch, relax, eat dinner, finalize my playlist, give myself a few mental pep talks and get to bed super early.

When I got back to my hotel, I actually had a wonderful surprise waiting for me.  Flowers from my sister and brother-in-law!!  They were beautiful and it really made my day.  I know I was only there for 2 days but for some reason that hotel felt so homey to me.  Maybe it was the incredible staff or the friendliness of all the runners staying there.  But as someone who has spent a lot of time in hotels over the past year, this was truly a unique hotel experience for me.  The flowers in my room were so thoughtful and just added to my enjoyment of the whole weekend.  Thanks Nikki and Mark!

I ended up eating at a place I saw out of the window of my hotel called The Row. It was a BBQ place and I really didn’t want to eat a lot of meat the night before my race but I honestly chose it because it had brussel sprouts on the menu. I love brussel sprouts and they have so much nutrition and I always feel good after I eat brussel sprouts. I got a sampler of sides that included mac and cheese, brussel sprouts, and green beans. It came with a biscuit on the side and all were delicious and I think perfectly what I needed. The smashed sweet potatoes were very tempting and delicious sounding but just seemed so heavy.

I ended up not even eating all of the mac and cheese, which is incredibly rare for me to leave food on my plate. But I was full and it was pretty heavy too. I had been eating carbs since Thursday so I hoped that was good and opted a lighter dinner was better than a huge one. Plus, I ate that whole biscuit so I really wasn’t skimping on any carbs here.

After eating I was able to get to bed early with my alarm set for 5:00 a.m. The race didn’t start until 7:00 a.m. and my hotel was right by the start line so I didn’t NEED to be up that early. But I know my body and it takes a while to wake up in the morning.

Speaking of which.  I'm going to head to bed for the night myself and continue Part 2 of race recap tomorrow.  Hope you all had a wonderful start to your week! xoxo.

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