2022 Florida Half Marathon

“Please ignore the faces I make while running”.

(Anonymous)

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Diabolical:  Outrageously wicked (Dictionary.com).

Never thought I would describe a race as diabolical but that’s what I am going to do.  I know there are other meanings for diabolical, but I will stick with outrageously wicked.

The Florida Marathon/Half Marathon is a fine race that is put on by a fantastic run organization.  My use of the word diabolical is more to describe the course and how the runners must finish both races.

Yes, this was a half marathon, so I was ready to put in my 13.1 miles of work in for the day.  I was happy with my 2022 Vero Beach Half Marathon results in January and wanted to translate that effort into the 2022 Florida Half Marathon in Melbourne.

Let’s jump ahead a bit—there was no translation from the Vero Beach race to the Melbourne race.  Happy with my effort but did not get close to matching or exceeding my January race time during this race.  More on that later. 😊

Signed up for this race to ensure I run monthly half marathons January through May.  Wanted to test myself by adding more races to my schedule in 2022 and building a run base that will allow me to get faster with each race—in theory

Melbourne is one of my favorite places to visit because of the great beaches and laid-back vibe of the people.  This race provides the best of my worlds—beaches and running.  This was my first race in Melbourne, so I was excited to run the city as a running tourist

Drove up on Saturday morning since this race had a Sunday morning start.  I wanted to get in town early enough to pick up my race packet and continue to carb load throughout the day.  My ultimate motive was to get into town early enough so I could go sit on the beach at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for a bit.  I always maximize beach time when I can. 😊

The EXPO was held in the Front Street Park Civic Center.  This sounds like a huge place, but it is the size of a regular house, and it is right on the river side in downtown Melbourne.  Parking was quick and easy, so made my way into the Civic Center to get my race packet and see what the vendors had to offer.

There were only a handful of runners in the Civic Center when I arrived so went right to the front of the line to get my race bib (#715) and packet.  Grabbed a fellow runner to take my picture in front of the step and repeat race display which is a tradition for me.  Walked around a bit to see the vendors but did not buy anything while at the EXPO.

Went outside and took a few pictures along the river and got a great shot of one of the bridges we would have to cross during the race.  The bridge incline should have been a precursor of what was to come.

Left the Civic Center and checked into my hotel.  Wanted to drop off my bags and get a good feel for how close the hotel was to the race start line.  Made my way to the Crowne Plaza to get lunch and continue my carb loading process.  The weather was great on Saturday and provided a perfect backdrop to relax on the beach and listen to the band playing on the deck.  Enjoyed a turkey club sandwich, fries, and Bud Light at the Crowne Plaza.  They have an extensive menu, but I stay conservative the day before a race to eliminate potential stomach issues during the race—lesson learned from a past race.  Sat on the beach for a bit and enjoyed the views before heading out.

Left the Crowne Plaza and made my way to Patrick Space Force Base (PSFB) for a quick shopping trip.  Wanted to see if they had the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22s to replace my GTS 21s.  They had the 22s but not in my size so walked around and looked at stuff I didn’t need—never a wasted trip since I get to spend time around military people again—love being back on-base.

Made my way to the Olive Garden to finish my carb loading for the day and get to bed early.  The restaurant was crowded so made my way to the bar and found a seat there.  I am basic when carb loading so went with the Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, lots of bread sticks and Bud Light.  Relaxed back at the hotel before an early bedtime so I could get my rest and get up early to tackle the half marathon.

Remember the term diabolical from earlier?  Well, let jump into that a bit more now. 😊

Woke up at 4:45 am to prepare my mind and body for the 13.1 miles I needed to cover at 6:30 am.  I do some stretching and mental preparation during this timeframe before putting on my equipment (KT tape, Salonpas patches and BioFreeze) and getting dressed.  My run outfit was conservative for me so got dressed after putting on my layers of equipment.

Luckily, I grabbed one of my running jackets before leaving the hotel because it was already raining.  The weather forecast ‘mentioned’ rain the day before, but this was just a steady flow, and it was not cold.  I thought the rain would be around for a little bit but was wrong on my forecasting skills.

Made my way downtown towards the race starting point and arrive about 10 minutes after leaving the hotel.  Researched places to park the night before and found a spot about 100 yards from the race start line.  There was still a light rain coming down at this point, but it got heavier the closer we got to race time.  The race announcer came on the loudspeaker and let us know the race was delayed due to weather—the on-course police support was still getting setup because of the rain.  I sat in my vehicle to avoid standing around in the rain without knowing the exact time we would start the race.  The delay lasted for only 15 minutes, but most runners did not get a chance for a normal warmup.

The marathon runners were allowed to start 10 minutes before the half marathoners.  I did not leave my vehicle until the announcer gave us a 5-minute warning for our race to start.  Made my way to the bathroom and then got a quick stretch in before heading to the start line.

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Yes, it was still raining, and the streets were wet!  We finally got started at 6:50 am

I decided to go out very controlled since the streets were wet and did not want to injure myself or anyone else.  I did not have a specific finish time in mind with the wet conditions—wanted to enjoy the course (LOL) and the experience.

Miles 1 – 3 were crowded as runners were very cautious trying to avoid slipping and bringing others down with them.  My first mile was a comfortable 9:19 which was probably too fast for the conditions and what was to come.  Miles 2 and 3 were like my Mile 1 pace but still felt comfortable.  A cool experience during this portion of the race was we got a chance to see dolphins swimming in the river.  Yes, runners enjoy the scenery during races. 😊

Slowed my pace a bit during Miles 4 and 5 because I knew the course got a bit tougher at the 6-mile point.  The FIRST bridge crossing starts at Mile 6 and goes up until you hit the Mile 7 marker.  Bridge running is tough in normal conditions but gets a lot tougher in the rain.  I did not want to lose too much time so gritted out the incline and then made-up time on the bridge decline.  Felt great through Mile 8 but hit a wall right at the Mile 9 marker.  This may have happened because my warmup routine was impacted due to rain or I went too fast on the bridge.  Either way, my legs were on fire and yes, it was still raining on us.

Decided at this point to just finish the race.  No need to try to set a Personal Record (PR) since my legs were not moving that fast anyway.

Miles 9 through 11 were consistently slow for me but I keep moving forward.  Started feeling good about myself again at this point but then the second bridge crossing was looming.  So, my question is:  who puts another bridge crossing at the 11-mile point of a half marathon?  A diabolical person, that’s who.

Yep, had to dig down to get up and over another bridge to finish this @#$% race!  I made it slowly up to the 12-mile marker and then found some level of courage to go faster on the decline.  I did not want to limp across the finish line but that is how I felt.  I put on my best I’m not in pain face and found a kick to get me across the finish line.  My official time was:  2:17:52 which was 6 minutes slower than Vero Beach.  I’ll take it with the conditions and bridge placement.

Got my medal, a couple beers and donuts and found a place to sit down to enjoy my prizes.  It was still raining so got my rain jacket out of my vehicle so I could sit and get some ice on my quads.  Talked with my fellow runners and we all experienced the course in a similar way.  Happy to finish but beat up by the conditions and the course.  Would love to meet the person who thought it was a good idea to cross a bridge after Mile 11. 😊

As much as I’m complaining, I will probably run this race again next year.  Hopefully, we will have better weather and I know the course now and can pace myself for a better finish.  We will see!

Irie!

“I run because punching people is frown upon”.

(Anonymous)

2022 Vero Beach Half Marathon

Vero Beach

“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough”.

(Og Mandino)

I ran the 2022 Vero Beach Half Marathon for the first time and happy to report this was my best tactical race ever.

I completed the race in 2:11:05 (two hours, eleven minutes, and 5 seconds) which is 7 minutes faster than my 2021 OUC Half Marathon time in December.  It is not my fastest time, but I am extremely happy with my ability to run faster and maintain a consistent pace during this race.

My prerace goal was to run faster than I did in Orlando and I felt good throughout the race.  I consider this my best tactical race because I hit every marker I set out for during each phase of the race.

I am not familiar with Vero Beach so had no idea what type of course I would experience.  I looked at the course map online, but this provided no intel on elevation or type of environment I would have to run through.

The one aspect I came into the race dreading was the fact all runners would have to tackle an over and back bridge crossing within the first 5 miles of the race.  My experience with bridges during a race have never been that great so I viewed the second crossing of the bridge as something that would be unpleasant.  This was my mental picture even before I toed the line to start the race, luckily, I did not let my preconceived ideas get in the way of an opportunity to run this race and overcome my fear of bridge running.

The day started with temperatures in the low 50s which is deathly cold for most Floridians.  😊

I left the house dressed in layers to keep me warm prior to race time.  This was not a repeat of my time in Savannah since there was no sign of rain or bad weather, just cold temperatures which I viewed as a positive since I did not have to fight the Florida humidity.  Excited with the possibility of being able to breath throughout the race.

I arrived at River Side Park in Vero Beach at 6 am for the 6:45 am start time.  Again, I was not familiar with this area so made sure I got there early enough to warm up, stretch and get acclimated to the weather.  Most of the runners were dressed in hoodies and long pants but I decided to run in my normal gear:  running tank top, shorts, and compression sleeves.  Figured I would warm up once I got into full race pace and I did.

I was assigned to Corral C for the race start and I made my way into the correct spot to mentally prepare for the 13.1 miles that were in my immediate future.

The race started without much of a hassle as there were 400+ runners which is pretty small compared to the Rock N Roll races I normally run.  Decided to not go out too fast and ease my way into a comfortable pace.  There were a few fast runners who decided to set a faster pace and it was great watching them head out towards the first bridge crossing.

I settled into a pace that would keep me competitive but not too fast.  The first bridge crossing started at the .50 (half mile) point and the course was up a steep bridge for the next half mile.  I was surprised to see so many folks pushing the pace at this point considering we still needed to make it to the top.  I was comfortable with my pace and did not worry about the other runners.  I picked up my pace once I made it to the top of the bridge and started to lock into my race.

My Mile 1 was run at a 9:20 pace and this was with the bridge incline.  I maintained a 9:20 pace throughout the first 4 miles of the race and slowed to a 10:18 pace for Mile 5 which included my second crossing of the same bridge.  I am proud of myself for this portion of the race because I contemplated walking the second bridge ascent.  Decided to take a measured pace to get back over the bridge and then run faster on the descent.

Miles 6 – 10 were run at a 9:35 pace and I was able to manage my lactic acid threshold by shortening my strides to eliminate overextending myself.  This was a new approach for me since I normally try to power through but discovered a new way to manage my race form and control the pain in my legs.

Miles 11 – 13.1 were run at a 9:52 pace which is good for me closing out a race.  My 9:47 pace for Mile 13 was my celebration as I decided to make a huge kick to finish the race strong.  I wanted to come across the finish line fast and with a smile on my face.  Mission accomplished.

The secret weapon during this race was the song Motivation by T.I.  I put this song on repeat at the 11-mile marker and it got me across the finish line with a big smile on my face.  This song normally provides a boost for me while training, so I leveraged this same boost during the half marathon.

There were only 4 water stops on this course so had to ensure I got Gatorade and water at each one of them.  I doubled up a few times to help keep me fueled and moving forward.

The only aspect of this race I did not enjoy was traffic was not eliminated from the course.  We had volunteers and police available on the course, but cars were allowed to turn in front of runners which normally does not happen with larger races.  I will have to assess this fact when it comes time to register for the 2023 Vero Beach Half Marathon.

Made my way over to Mulligan’s on the beach for a very large breakfast and then a Bud Light to celebrate my race.  Yes, I had a Bud Light at 9:30 am—it was fantastic!  😊

Great way to start a day and continue to run into the future!

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”.

(Kahlil Gibran)

The Return to Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville Honky Tonk

“I love Nashville.   It seems like everywhere you walk, there’s great music coming out of every wall”.

(Imedla May)

I am always looking for a clever quote to help me get started with the writing process.

My friends and family know I love Tennessee and Nashville is one of my favorite places to visit.  I did not realize it has been almost 3 years since my last visit to the Music City.

The 2019 Rock N Roll Half Marathon and NFL draft weekend was the last time I was in Nashville. 

https://walkintothefuture.blog/2019/05/23/nashville-and-the-wild-horse-saloon/

The 2020 Rock N Roll Half Marathon was cancelled due to COVID-19.  The 2021 Rock N Roll Half Marathon was moved to the week before Thanksgiving.  I thought about using my race credit and running the fall version of the race, but it would have kept me from exploring the Smoky Mountains.  Got to have priorities in life! 😊

It looks like I will be able to run Nashville again in April 2022 with the Rock N Roll crew again.

Back to present day Nashville.

I decided to visit Nashville prior to Christmas for a trip to explore the city in a different way than I normally do.  Most times I am in Nashville for an event (race/football game) and get focused on the task at hand.  I have a regimented eating pattern when I am in town for a race.  I also must keep track of how much I am on my feet prior to a race so I can conserve energy to compete.

 I went full tourist mode for this trip so I could explore different areas and venues without worrying about how much time I spent walking or standing up.

Booked a convenient downtown hotel which was only half a mile from Broadway which is the main entertainment center in Nashville.

This easy walk made Nashville more accessible to me since I did not have to worry about finding a place to park.  Nashville is like most big cities where parking is a premium and of course you pay a premium to park.  I simply left my rental car in the hotel parking lot and got my steps in while enjoying everything Nashville had to offer.

Ryman Auditorium

I have been to Nashville 10 times over the years but never visited the Ryman Auditorium.  I have walked by this historic music venue multiple times but for some reason never tried to go in. 

The Ryman Auditorium is steeped in musical history and transcends multiple genres.  It is the original home of the Grand Old Opry and music fans from all over the world converged there to see their favorite artists.  The Ryman Auditorium started as a house of worship but expanded to host political rallies, plays, conventions and musical acts.  I was surprised to see how many rock, pop and R&B acts played at the Ryman Auditorium.  The Grand Old Opry moved out of the Ryman in 1975 to the current location in Opryland.  The Grand Old Opry show returns to the Ryman Auditorium on a regular basis, and they continue to attract national headliners.  Josh Turner was playing the same day I took the Ryman Auditorium tour.  Highly recommend adding this tour to your Nashville travel plans.

https://ryman.com/

Country Music Hall of Fame

The Rock N Roll Race EXPO is right next to the Country Music Hall of Fame.  I have walked by the building a thousand times but never made my way up the stairs to see the exhibits. ☹

This trip was designed to be a true tourist, so I made my way up the stairs and entered the Country Music Hall of Fame.  It did not have the same nostalgic feel of the Ryman Auditorium, but it was a great place to see and relive the history of country music.  The exhibits included subtexts to ensure everyone knew what they were seeing to include instruments and clothing country music stars wore in their videos and on tour.

A surprising aspect of the exhibits was how small most of the country artists are.  A lot of artists look bigger than life on TV but most of the female artists based on their outfits are 5’ 4” or shorter.  Even the BIG country guys are not as big as they appear on TV based on the outfit that were on display.  My favorite artist is George Strait and I thought he was 6’ 3” or 6’ 4”.  He is 5’ 10”—never would have guessed that before seeing his exhibit in the Country Music Hall of Fame.  I made my way into the Hall of Fame Rotunda to view the plaques for everyone who has been elected to the Hall of Fame.  Got to see all the legends in the rotunda but made sure to get a shot of George Strait’s plaque.  Highly recommend a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

https://countrymusichalloffame.org/

Nashville Strait

Wildhorse Saloon

The Wildhorse Saloon is one of my favorite places to visit when I am in Nashville.  The food, atmosphere and music venue are all first rate.  One of my targeted activities at the Wildhorse Saloon is the chance to get in some line dancing.  The staff at the Wildhorse teach multiple dances throughout the day and then get everyone on the dance floor.  I have learned quite a few new dances over the years.  Sadly, the Wildhorse Saloon was closed while I was in Nashville.  They decided to give the staff some time off before Christmas and I respect that.  The gift shop was open, and I was able to pick up a few souvenirs before heading back over to Broadway for music.

Broadway

Broadway is the main drag in downtown Nashville if you are looking for entertainment.  I have covered almost every inch of Broadway over the years and still discover new places to listen to music.

There is no cover to enter the Honky Tonks so there is freedom to roam and change venues.  I love this aspect because I move around depending on the bands playing and how good they sound.

I hit most of the Honky Tonks on this trip but found myself gravitating to The Stage, Whiskey Row, Jason Aldean’s Rooftop Bar and Tequila Cowboy.   The sound stage in these spots were better quality and I enjoyed the bands playing.  The food at Jason Aldean’s was good so why I kept going back. 😊

https://dierkswhiskeyrow.com/nashville-tn/

Nashville is a great place to visit if you have never been.  Looking forward to getting back there in April 2022 for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon and line dancing at the Wildhorse Saloon.

“We’re playing your song”.

(Tennessee Department of Tourist Development)

New way to train, beach runs!

Beach Runs

“I want to run the beach’s length, because it never ends”.

(Deborah Ager)

The quote above makes me laugh because it could not have been written by someone who runs.  The beach is a wonderful place to get in some training but there are challenges and rewards to running on the beach.

I am always looking for a training edge to allow me to run at a faster pace.  My goal to set a personal record (PR) for every half marathon I run stays true—that is the goal every time out.

I ran the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll half marathon in early September to get back into the swing of being a running tourist and to test my training against other runners.  I am happy to toe the start line again but want to see improvement each time I finish a race.  Decided to find a new training method to help me get better daily and work towards improving my half marathon times.

I was able to increase my endurance by running the rolling hills in Tallahassee when I lived there.  Did not realize how much hill training helped my ability to run faster until I relocated to Fort Pierce which is completely flat.  Running on flat surfaces is better than nothing but it is hard to replicate the intensity needed to get up and over rolling hills.

A majority of my Fort Pierce runs are done close to the beach on Ocean Drive.  I enjoy the views on this route and feel safe since I do not have to cross traffic.  I am parallel to the beach when running and make pit stops to catch views and listen to the waves.  Example:  I run 2.5 miles on Ocean drive and then sit on the beach for a bit before running back 2.5 miles.  Some of my best Instagram pictures come from the middle part of my run.  😊

This process and route have worked well for me but wanted to find a new way to train since I do not have hills to climb. 

Decided to leverage the beach and start running directly in the sand.  This is not a novel approach but one I have not maximized since I moved here.  I have run on Jacksonville Beach, but it has a flat surface without awkward inclines.  Most beaches in Florida have an incline which puts pressure on one side of the body.  The Fort Pierce beaches have this incline closer to the water but provides a flatter surface further away from the water.  I used this part of the beach to build my mental and physical endurance.

My goal for the beach runs is to slowly increase my distance each time out as I establish a new training threshold.  Running in the sand creates unstable footing and makes the body adjust to continue to move forward.  This process brings in muscles that are not used with traditional running and strengthens them.  The sand on the beach moves with each step and forces the body to adjust.  Going fast is not the object of the training sessions—building endurance and mental focus are the top outcomes of running on the beach.

My initial foray on the beach allowed me to finish a 2.5-mile run.  I extend my beach runs an additional .5 miles each time I go out with an end goal of 5 miles completely in the sand.

The benefits of this training approach will pay off when I tackle the Savannah Rock N Roll half marathon in November.  I plan to run faster in Savannah with an end goal of setting another PR at the Orlando OUC Half Marathon in December.  The flat surface should be conducive to running fast.  Who’s going to join me in Orlando?! 😊

What new techniques have you incorporated into your training program?

“When I run on the beach, it is always in slow motion. That’s how I roll”.

(Amber Heard)

https://www.runrocknroll.com/news_article/show/1135109

Walking with no new races in sight

(Image by David Mark from Pixabay)

 “I am trying my hardest not to act how I feel”.

(Anonymous)

The COVID-19 pandemic hits just keep on stacking up!  I have been bombarded with emails from the Rock N Roll marathon race organization identifying the cancellation for future races.  Please note, I fully expected the remaining 2020 races to be cancelled but the Rock N Roll folks have begun cancelling races in 2021!

Oh, how we have failed society with our lame government response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I moved from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce in April with the full understanding this country would be in better shape in October.  We are in worse shape today (8/20/2020) than we were in April.  Shocked I had to write that last sentence, but it is unfortunately true.

Races lost so far

The first 2020 race I lost to COVID-19 was the 2020 Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon in April.  This is my favorite race of the season and one of my favorite cities to visit.  Love the Nashville course, culture, food, and country music on every corner.  Always look forward to my country line dancing lessons at the Wild Horse Saloon, eating barbeque, and listening to new country artists playing.  Wanted to visit the Ryman Auditorium for the first time and explore the historic venue.

Got the news the 2020 and 2021 Philly Rock N Roll half marathon races were cancelled two days ago.  Fully expected the 2020 race to get axed but never thought the 2021 race would be on the chopping block due to COVID-19.  Not sure the race organizers are predicting COVID-19 issues for 2021 but this may signal running tourists will have limited options in the future.  I was looking forward to getting back to Philly and hang out with my friend, Lauren Apgar so we could explore the city and get some more of those cheesesteaks.  We planned to explore the Reading Terminal Market in-depth this year to sample food from the different vendors there.  We will have to put off our Philly cheesesteak adventures now.

I signed up for the inaugural 2020 Clearwater Rock N Roll half marathon scheduled for October.  This was going to be the first Rock n Roll race scheduled in my home state in years.  The excitement for me was most of the race is run near the beach and I would not have to travel so far.  I would get the opportunity to enjoy more sights and sounds and not have to rush back.   The course is flat and would have produced a fast time and October in Florida would be cooler with less humidity.  The race organizers cancelled the 2020 and 2021 Clearwater races.  They project to run the race in October 2022, but we will see what happens that far out.  I do not have a good feeling all the cancelled races will come back—some may but believe COVID-19 will eliminate how we travel, race, and interact for a long time.

The Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) 2020 half marathon scheduled for December is still on the books, but most races hosted by Track Shack have been converted to virtual races.  Believe the OUC race will be virtual as well so I have not signed up.

The 2021 New Orleans Rock N Roll half marathon was cancelled today and now the race organizers project to run this event in February 2022.  Turns out New Orleans was the only Rock N Roll race I was able to run in 2020.  The race was completed in February right before the country realized how bad COVID-19 was and we started shutting down.  Had a great time in New Orleans so guess it was only fitting this would be my only half marathon race of the year.  We will see if this race ever comes back because of the close interactions of Bourbon and Canal Streets.  Love the food and atmosphere but it may be hard to host large-scale events there and keep people safe.

Virtual options

Most running organizations are bridging the race gaps with virtual options.  Runners can still race, compete, and receive race swag (t-shirt, medal, etc.) while running in their hometowns—just sign up and sync your running application to the race.  I am sure this is a great option for some runners, but I enjoy the in-person interaction associated with the event.  I joined the Rock N Roll Virtual Running club and signed up for my first virtual race—a 10k which I completed on 8/22/2020.  My time was not great—I signed up on a Friday and ran the 10k the next day without additional mental or physical preparation.  I may explore this option more especially when the weather gets a bit cooler.  I need a competitive outlet for my running program so may reach out to my tree branches to join me on some of these virtual adventures (Apgar, Forges, Kume). 😊

Note:  My first Virtual 5k was completed on 8/29/20.

https://www.runrocknrollvr.com/

Training

I still get out and train but not logging the same number of miles I put in last summer.  I get my runs in on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays but not committing to extreme long runs with no races on the horizon.  I run as a form of therapy and to keep my weight in the range I want.  I have not done any speed work since early March, so my training goal is to keep my heart rate up and enjoy the views I get in Fort Pierce.

COVID-19 Training miles (run, bike, elliptical):

April 2020:  79.45 miles May 2020:  90.57 miles June 2020:  130.72 miles
July 2020:  78.15 miles August 2020:  74.57 September 2020:  46.16

Realize there are more important things happening in the world than me not being able to be a running tourist.  Hoping we can get the COVID-19 pandemic under control so we can all get back to the things we enjoy without worrying about the air we breathe.  Look forward to bringing you reports from new travel locations when it is safe to do so again.

Until then, here is what happen in Nashville in 2019! 😊

https://walkintothefuture.blog/2019/05/23/nashville-and-the-wild-horse-saloon/

“Life equals running and when we stop running maybe that is how we know life is finally finished”.

(Patrick Ness)

 https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/17/some-marathon-races-may-not-survive-coronavirus-pandemic.html

The Big Harvest—Collecting Race Bling

 ‘Any idiot can run, but it takes a special kind of idiot to run a half marathon.’

(Spectator sign, Nashville 2019)

The process of running a half marathon has many layers.  You have the training, nutrition, travel to the race site, EXPO and the actual race.  Sounds like a lot but each layer gets easier the more you invest into the process of being a runner.

Took me a while to get comfortable with the concept of labeling myself a runner but finally stopped fighting the term and gladly accept it.  Hi, my name is Calvin and I’m a runner! 😊  Felt good getting that off my chest.  The quote above is from a spectator’s sign I saw while running the 2019 Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon.  There are thousands of similar and funnier signs at every race.  The spectators are there to cheer, motivate and at times make runners laugh to help get through their respective race.  I make a point to acknowledge sign holders especially when they display a clever sign.  Another of my favorites:

‘Worse parade…EVER!’

The signs and spectators are welcome distractions from the actual process of completing a 13.1-mile race.  Music helps break up the miles, but the spectators always make me laugh with their encouragement and clever signage.

‘You know you’re a runner when…bling has nothing to do with jewelry.’

(Runners World)

An overlooked layer to the half marathon is what happens directly after crossing the finish line.  A legion of volunteers waits for each runner to cross the finish line and present us with city/race unique bling.  I never thought race medals would mean much to me but getting crowned after finishing a half marathon completes the journey.  I would feel I accomplished something big without the bling but let’s be honest—what’s the fun in that?! 😊

I always write about races and my training routine to get prepared.  The race city and entertainment options are other favorite things I have written about.  Decided to invest in a medal holder for the bling I’ve collected over the years to properly display my ‘adult trophies’.  Didn’t realize how many medals or how cool some of them are prior to researching the medal holder.  I didn’t have much of an organizational system for them either.  This will all change since I put in the work to earn the bling—will get these properly displayed on a medal holder where everyone can see them and then must listen to me explain each one—just joking!

Seriously, runners put in a lot of work to get ready for the races and perform their best.  The bling is a nice reminder of the race and city.  The bling is something we cherish and look forward to seeing what next year’s bling will look like.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll series has a Heavy Medal program that allows runners to collect additional bling based on number of events:

https://www.runrocknroll.com/Programs/Medals/Heavy-Medals

Of course, I’m trying to get the Don’t Worry Just Run medal.  I’m sure you can figure out why! Everything Irie!

Had an interesting conversation with a tree branch last month about race bling.  He selects race participation strictly on the bling available for the race.  Bling not up to par and he will not run in your race!  I’m not there yet, if there’s beer at the end I’m probably going to run your race! 😊

How do you display your race bling?  How important is this aspect of the race for you?  Thanks!

Nashville & the Wildhorse Saloon

Rock n Roll Half Marathon

Made my way back to Nashville, TN for the 2019 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in April.  This race has become a favorite of mine because it allows me to run Nashville neighborhoods and catch amazing musicians at multiple music venues.

My training approach for this half marathon and all others moving forward has improved tremendously.  The Walk into the Future approach has allowed me to increase my training efforts and logging ‘true’ long runs.  Long runs for me now routinely cover 10 miles or longer.  The longest training run I put in for this race was 15 miles—didn’t run this distance for speed but used it to build mental and physical toughness.  Turns out I needed all the mental and physical toughness I could display because somewhere in my love for Nashville I forgot about the HILLS there! 😊

The first 6 miles seemed to go uphill with multiple degrees of incline.  My training runs incorporated hills, so I was better prepared than I initially thought.  Decided to just put trust in my training and have fun as I made my way up each incline.  Slowly found myself enjoying each step with a smile on my face—guess I finally got that runner’s high people always talk about.

Fast forward a bit and I was able to finish in 2:08:21 (two hours, eight minutes and 21 seconds) which is my personal best.  Improved on my time from the 2019 New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.  I’m still a bit off from my goal of running under 2 hours but I’m making incremental progress towards the goal.  I will continue to take small bites from the elephant.  Next scheduled half marathon will be in Philly in September.

Nashville after race

Wildhorse Saloon

The Wildhorse Saloon is a place I visit every time I’m in Nashville.  It’s a great place to hear live music, dance and get some of the best food in Nashville.  Made two visits to the Wild Horse on this trip and heard some great new musicians.

Line dancing lessons take place when the musicians take a break and the dance floor was crowded with folks having a great time learning the steps.  The line dance instructor breaks each dance down with step counts and practice for the dancers before turning them loose.  It’s great watching people learn the dance and then actually perform what they learned—yes, I include myself since I first tried line dancing at the Wildhorse.  Believe this place is a must visit if you decide to head to Nashville.

 

 

NFL Draft

The 2019 NFL Draft was also in Nashville for race weekend.  This was an extra event to experience while in town.  There were over 600,000 NFL fans in attendance for the 3-day draft event.  Made my way down to draft central two days to soak in the excitement of the draft and enjoy the crowds.   Didn’t realize how many professional football fans were this invested in their team’s draft process.  The passion, excitement and team pride displayed was impressive and Nashville put on an excellent show for everyone in attendance.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were the most represented team at the draft.  Their fans travel all over the country to show their support.

 

 

My current Walk into the Future seems to keep bringing me back to Nashville and I love that fact!

I plan to return to Nashville next April to enjoy the race weekend and live music again—great place to visit if you’ve never been!

What’s your favorite place to visit?  How often do you get a chance to visit?  Thanks!

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