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Monday, May 02, 2016

Race Recap: Rock 'n' Roll Nashville Half Marathon

The medal and shirt

Welcome to another Weekly Review linkup with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin. I'm going to use my normal weekly wrap up space to recap my most recent race: The Rock 'n' Roll Nashville Half Marathon took place Saturday, April 30 in Nashville, Tennessee. [Race Information]

Arriving in TN & Expo
Expo photo
We left Ohio on Friday morning and arrived in Nashville just after 1pm. Our hotel wasn't ready, but we valeted the car and walked to the expo. We stayed at the race hotel (Hilton), so getting to the expo was a piece of cake. It was pricey, but convenient.

The expo was large, but they kept people moving. We grabbed our packets then wandered around to see the vendors and collect some samples. I was excited to see Harvest Snaps. (Between the 5 of us we had a bajillion sample bags and I ate at least 8 bags total. I'm not joking.)  I was also excited to grab some Wild Planet coupons.

After the expo we had to kill some time so we went to eat at a bar on Broadway. It was tasty and yes, I had a good local beer. We were all pretty beat by this point, so when our room was ready we went over immediately. After getting situated we walked down Broadway again, then stopped at Jimmy Johns and Walgreens. I wish I had a Fitbit because I'm pretty sure we walked several miles.

After our last outing, we went back to the room, turned on the TV and vegged out for a while. We got our stuff ready for the race and went to bed. I think it was 10pm. I got lucky: it was a two room suite and I ended up alone on the couch bed in the second room.

My goal race was April 10, so this wasn't a PR attempt. I waited so long to sign up that even with a discount code it was still $120! (I usually spend as little as $10-35 on halves!) I knew going into the race my main goal was to have fun and get as much out of it as possible. I figured I'd run with a friend, but wasn't sure who. Andrea wanted to chase her 2:08 PR, Angie was looking to beat 2:18, Sarah was just running for fun, and Jen changed from the half to the 5k at the expo.

Pre race, rain was mostly finished
Pre Race
The forecast predicted rain, but when we woke up everyone's apps (except mine) said 0% chance of rain. I decided to wear my hat and light layers... just in case. I'm glad I did. When we walked outside it was raining. It was a light drizzle, but a few folks decided to add layers. Jen's 5k was set to start at 6:45am and it was already 6:30, so she, Sarah, and Andrea went to the 5k start while Angie changed into capris and made a poncho.

Getting closer to the start... 
Angie and I sat in the lobby until 7:00 (the half/full start was 7:15) when we found out the 5k had been delayed because of lightning. I was having flashbacks to Indy Women's and hoped this race wouldn't be canceled! We bit the bullet and left to find the others. As we were walking the rain began pouring and we got an official race photo. By the time we found the others the 5k had been delayed another 5 minutes, but the rain had mostly stopped! There was an announcement that the 5k would take off in 10 or so minutes, so we said goodbye to Jen and made another bathroom stop before heading to the corrals.

The corrals were crazy. My feet hurt so much as we stood there for what felt like eons. With the delay and corral releases, our 7:15am race start turned into 8:24am. I'm happy I had friends to entertain me!

A complaint: We saw several folks with corral 30+ bibs taking off with the first 10 corrals. I really wish people would take an honest stock of their race speed because I felt like I was dodging and weaving the entire race. I can't remember a segment where I wasn't trying to get around someone.

A cool inflatable in the early miles
The Race
I decided to stick with Angie to beat her 2:18 PR. As soon as we took off we were weaving in and out of people and lost the 2:15 pacers. Bummer!

Holy crap there were a lot of hills. Everyone said Nashville had "rollers" but what they really mean is Nashville has a lot of hills... over and over. Every time we got to the top of the hill I looked forward to the downhill... if there was one. Sometimes there was just another hill. I barely recall any sections of flat road during the first few miles. Angie and I were trucking along. Sarah passed us around mile 3, but we never saw Andrea.
I don't want to get too detailed with this recap because it was a blur of hills and dodging people, so I'll touch on the highlights:

The hills were never-ending. Most of them weren't terrible, so I was able to keep running even though it was tough. I tried to take advantage of downhills, but that only lasted a few miles. Instead of going fast downhill I eventually settled for trotting. It rained a bit, but mostly refreshing sprinkles. Angie grabbed water at the stops, so I'd walk along for a bit. Around mile 5 we passed Sarah when she stopped to talk to her cousin. It seemed like we were always dodging people. I enjoyed the large race and course support, but it was obnoxious to constantly have to get around people. I really respect walkers and interval runners (everyone's out there getting it done!), but I can't stand when people stop right in front of you without warning. Or walk three wide right in the middle. I love when people move to the side and signal their stop. I always say thank you.

Somewhere around 6 (where it smelled like BBQ!) I realized I was doing that obnoxious thing where I would run a few steps ahead of Angie and look back. We weren't really talking by this point because the hills were kicking our butts. At mile 7 or 8 the 2:15 paces magically appeared. Weird. I was so over dodging people and worrying about pace that I latched onto them immediately. I know Angie hung on for a bit, but there was a water stop and we were separated. We'd already agreed to go our separate ways if needed, so I stuck with the pacers. It was nice to fall into line and just run. It was hard uphill, but the 10:20 pace felt good on downhills. I stuck with them for a few miles, then went off on my own around mile 10.

I really wanted to be done. Luckily, miles 10 and 11 were downhill or flat-ish. I made good time here, but when my watched beeped 12 and I knew there was no way I could finish before 2:15. Even though the pace group was still behind me –and I know I started behind them!– I would be over 2:15. I got really tired at 12 (probably because 11 and 12 were my fastest miles) and as soon as I turned a corner and saw a steep hill, I allowed myself to walk. I walked three times in that last mile. Normally I'd feel bad about that (especially after running everything leading up to that), but I needed those breaks. I swear the last two hills were killer. Even with my walk breaks the 2:15 paces never caught me. I was so relieved that the last bit on the bridge was downhill, so I let myself fly... kind of. We turned the corner to the finish and I was happy to be done!

Right after we all finished

Post Race
Nashville bridge shot!
A couple got engaged as I crossed the line, so I didn't stop for photos and almost forgot to grab my medal. I was out of water, so I took one not realizing there would be two other drink options. I started piling on the freebies and running out of arm space. I wish I'd brought a baggy. ha There was so much good stuff and I decided I should eat and drink a few things asap. I was so sweaty and salt-covered that I couldn't text my friends, so I just kept moseying through the finish chute. I was still dodging people, even after it was over!

Eventually I made it through and found a quiet spot. I had a bunch of texts (I forgot Alex didn't know it was delayed, so he texted a few times to make sure I wasn't dead haha.) Jen finished the 5k, showered, and came back to the finish to collect us. She was waiting by the beer and it looked like I was the first to finish. Soon, the texts came through from the others and we reconvened by the beer. By that point I'd had more Harvest Snaps, a fruit cup, some pretzels, and Gatorade so I was feeling ok. No one wanted beer, but luckily the beer dudes didn't open the cans so I took mine to go. I was really trying to get as much swag as possible for that steep race fee! ;) We didn't hang around too long, just long enough to grab some photos.

After the race we lounged around, showered, got ready for dinner at Rock Bottom Brewing, and went bar hopping along the strip. All-in-all a great Nashville weekend!

Stats and Thoughts
Even with dodging and weaving, my GPS milage was only 13.25. Looking back, I probably could have finished in 2:15, but I'm glad I kept it conservative. (I'm still confused how the 2:15 pacers finished after me.) I wish I didn't walk in mile 12, but c'est la vie. I needed it at the time. It was a challenging course; especially for someone from flat Central Ohio.

Final: 2:18:40 (2:17:20 at 13.1)
Overall: 7155 / 18087 (39%) 
Gender: 3612 / 11678 (31%)
Age Group: 698 / 2008 (35%)

Mile Splits: 10:33, 10:32, 11:06, 10:32, 10:36, 10:43, 10:54, 10:25, 10:01, 10:13, 9:57, 9:53, 11:09, 8:41 (last .2)

This was my first Rock 'n' Roll event. I wasn't sure if I'd like it since I tend to gravitate towards small, local races along scenic trails. The only con: the number of people. But the pros outweighed the cons. The course was beautiful, the crowd support was stellar, and the organization was pretty impressive for such a large event.

Up Next: I hope when I run the Medina Half in a month I can remember how I kept trucking during this race. The overall elevation was 620ft in Nashville. Medina is 398ft. I need to remember that when the going gets tough!


  1. great job dodging people during the race and surviving the hills!!!! I don't enjoy it when others jump corrals and stop in front of me either--way to be a trooper though!!!the Nashville half sounded like a great way to prepare for the half you have next month!
    since I'm from TN (near Nashville) I am thinking about doing this race next year.....looks like I have to add hill work into the mix!
    anyways, great job on the race, hope you have a good rest of the week!

    1. I would definitely recommend the race - just be prepared for large crowds and some waiting in the corrals and at the finish. I thought the course was very pretty (especially the first half) and the crowd support along the way was better than any other race I've run! Next time I'd do more hill training! ;)

  2. That is a long delay! I'd be starving already! Tricia was at this race and attempted some arm twisting. Having raced a half in hilly ol' Nashville (in summer heat no less), I declined. Kudos on your race time! I know it is a tough course -- but the Honky Tonking makes up for it. We had such a blast there! RnR NOLA was very crowded too, especially on their narrow streets. With the popularity of RnR, I guess that's what we should expect? Thanks for linking with us Elizabeth.

    1. I forgot to mention I ate some pretzels before the race set off. I was getting so hungry! I'm glad it rained a bit and kept the weather relatively cold. I can't imagine running those hills in summertime heat. I may try another RnR, but not sure which one...

  3. Congrats on your race! Rock n Roll races can definitely get crowded but they are top-notch when it comes to organization, swag, the expos and race excitement. I've always wanted to race Nashville so it was great reading your recap - especially the part about all the hills. I guess I'll have to start running more hill workouts if I ever put this one on my race schedule :)

    1. Thanks! I'm not sure if it's runner brain or what, but now I can't remember how many hills there were and would consider running it again! ha I looked at other RnR locations last night and may sign up for another in late 2016/early 2017. We'll see! :)

  4. That was nice that you got to stay at the host hotel! I'm with you I like harvest snaps too! It was great fun reading about your experience running this as well. As far as dodging, I've had friends up in the 4 5 and 6 corrals even with them being policed and they still deal with it. I think it's just the amount of people. The crowd support was by far the best Ive ever seen from a city. That so helps. I scooted in at 2:23 which is great for me, my PR is 2:14 so I was happy with it considering the wet streets, people and hills. I enjoyed reading this, I hope I will have time to sit down and write mine.

    1. Awesome job! I can't wait to read your recap. I'm glad to hear the crowd support really was amazing. Sometimes I run small races with very little crowd support, so I didn't know if this was an excellent crowd or just way better compared to my other races. ;)

  5. Great job! The Rock n Roll races are pretty neat, but they are just SO big and crowded! It's such a shame when folks start too close to the front. Corrals exist for a reason, and it goes more smoothly for everyone if we just abide by them. I don't remember much from when I ran Nashville. But I do remember running over a bridge just before the finish. It was like one final hill up onto the bridge, then I could look to my right and see the finish down below. We ran over the bridge and the road curved downhill and then I ran across the finish line. I wonder if it was the same bridge? :) I also remember it took me 45 minutes to cross the start line because of the way they had the corral releases set up. I wonder if that 2:15 pacer started in a different corral and thus a few minutes after your official start? Otherwise, it sounds like they just missed the mark on a 2:15 finish. Bummer for those that stuck with them hoping for that time.

    Glad you had a great day out there! It's fun when you have a group of friends at a race, even when you're not all running together.

    1. That finish sounds exactly like what we did on Saturday. The hills before were so tough, but it was great to have a downhill at the end. I started in the corral with the 2:15 pacers and my first half was slower than the 2:15 pace, so they must have gotten stuck behind people or something. Very weird. When I ran with them they were right on track... You know, what if there were multiple 2:15 pacers for each corral? Would that make sense? (There were 4 or 5 corrals listed as 2:15 on a pace sheet at the expo). Perhaps the 2:15 pacers from the corral behind me caught up? Ooooh maybe I've solved it! Ha ha

      Regardless, it was a good race. I'd probably try it again and stick with the (correct) pacers the whole time. ;)


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