- 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
This was my very first time visiting Nashville and my first time running this race. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to run this race as a BibRave Pro ambassador.
The Expo was at the Music City Center and was typical for Rock 'n Roll races. I attended on Friday afternoon, the race was on Saturday. There were lots of vendors and plenty to purchase or sample. They had lots of Brooks swag and it was tempting to buy it all, but I only got one tank top and a beer glass. Unfortunately, I found the quality of the finishers' shirts to be poor from a fabric and sizing perspective. Many people attempted to trade in their shirts for a smaller size, without much luck. Also, I realized on race morning that my husband's bib had no holes punched! That was a first - I guess there were some quality control issues this year.
We were staying in the Green Hills area so we had to get a Lyft from our hotel. Unfortunately, even at 6 am, we couldn't get a ride and were lucky to hop in some other runners' taxi to get to race start. The road closures were worse than usual because of the NFL draft, so we had to walk a bit to get to the race area, but it wasn't too bad. People who drove onsite had much more difficulty!
Since my husband was also running the race, I wanted to treat him to the VIP experience. I've had it in Philly so I know how great it can be. We signed up for the pre-race option for $90 total and it was a complete disappointment. They held the VIP at Honky Tonk Central, an indoor venue, and by the time we arrived there were only water, coffee, bananas, apples, and some leftover mixed fruit left. The bathroom line was insanely long on all floors so we used the outdoor facilities, which were fortunately clean and well-maintained. We also used the VIP bag drop, which ended up being very inconvenient - but I'll say more later.
Now the race! I've run 17 half marathons and this by far was the most difficult! We were fortunate to have good weather though it did get pretty sunny by 9:30 or so. I started in Corral 22 and ended up not starting the race til 8 am, the offical start with 7:15 but began about 8 minutes late. The hills are NO joke! I live in a hilly neighborhood so I did my best to train in similar conditions, but this course rolls and rolls and rolls! Mentally, it was really tough to keep running but I was determined to run up all the hills and take advantage of the declines and flats. The only time I walked was at the water stations, which were clearly marked and plentiful.
The course support was fantastic! The quietest area we had was in the Centennial Park around mile 11-12 - otherwise, there was lots of live music, signs, people offering orange slices, just a really great energy the whole way through. Right before mile 5 was a blast with tons of funny signs! It made a huge difference because it would have been all too easy to give up with the endless hills. The race was packed from beginning to end and all you had to do was look ahead to see the sea of people heading up yet another hill. A lot of positive self-talk and enjoying the sights helped me make it through! I also loved that this race supported St. Jude. There was a section where they showed photos of several St. Jude patients, and I saw many runners who were fundraised for the cause. It was incredibly inspiring and humbling.
We were just around the bend from the finish and someone said it was all downhill so don't hold back, and I took his advice! It felt great to finish such a challenging race - mentally and physically. This was my first long race since my plantar fasciitis injury and I'm just so grateful I did as well as I did!
After the race I met with up with my husband and a couple of friends. Iliked that they had a bilevel hangout spot and some yoga mats for stretching post-pace, but the finisher's area was really confusing. My husband went to get our bag from Gear Check but the VIP truck was wayyy out of the way and since it was so crowded, we didn't want to go back over to the main post-race party area. The design of the post-race area just left a lot to be desired.
I know I had a few complaints about this race, mainly with the VIP, but I'm glad I ran Nashville and I definitely recommend it. This is NOT the race for a first-timer, in my opinion. If you're looking for a challenge and a really cool city with great crowd support, this is the race for you!