Tuesday, June 7, 2011

the country adventure.

once i really began racing i knew that one day i wanted to go back to nashville for the race they hold every year.  the first year of racing the timing just didnt work out.  so i made sure it worked its way into the second year.  i already had an offer of a spare room for the weekend and could not wait to go back!  when richard and i started dating i wanted to take him with me hoping he would fall in love with the city too.  finally in 2011 it all fell into place. 

we began looking into tickets and hotels pretty early in the year hoping to score some sweet deals.  after weeks of checking we finally decided to buy.  thank goodness we did since tickets spiked$30 each way the next week!  i started training back in january for the race and was well prepared by the time it arrived.  we were both so excited about taking a vacation away.  this would also be the first time we would go to a race by ourselves. 

we left on a thursday evening since the race was on a saturday (seriously best idea ever).  we ended up driving to the airport ourselves since it was in the middle of the day and we were coming back pretty late on sunday night.  it wasnt my favorite idea ever, i wont lie, but it turned out to be a lot easier.  our flight was delayed about a half hour and by the time we finally landed in nashville the airport was about to close (who does that??).  we found a few people on our flight that were also going out for the race and i was getting more and more excited!

after picking up our rental car and heading to the hotel that was literally 2 minutes away from the airport we should have been exhausted.  except we had both slept in that day and the time change had really honked up our bodies.  i needed to get some decent sleep so my body could adjust and be ready for the big race on saturday.  we finally fell asleep watching the coverage of the royal wedding, even though i was dvring the whole thing at home.

friday morning came faster than we thought.  we woke up a little early so that we could eat breakfast at the hotel then went back to our room and were mesmerized by the replay of the royal wedding.  ok, maybe that was just me.  but richard was so sweet to leave the channel on so i could drool all i wanted:)  ps did you know the new princess and i have the same name, catherine elizbeth!  ok she spells it a little different.

we headed out to our first stop of the day, the race expo.  it is hands down one of my favorite parts of race weekend.  you are able to pick up your bib/race chip and wander around hundreds of booths filled with everything running.  its fantastic.
look out 1/2 marathon #4!

only runners think this is funny, its hilarious.

we headed back to our car with full intent to head out to the jack daniels distillery, until we found out the tour was $45 each!  that was a little rich for our blood but decided to still head out to murfeesboro so that richard could get his fast food fix.  we had found out there was an exit on the way that had a chick-fil-a, a white castle, and a steak shake all in the same shopping center and richard had been salivating ever since.  luckily there was a panera bread right next door so i could eat too.  we started at white castle.  and well...
needless to say he was a little excited
after stopping by chick-fil-a to take back to the hotel for a late night snack, we headed back the 30 minutes north to nashville.  except we didnt really have anything to do.  we had planned on the jack daniels tour and hadnt really made a back up plan.  we decided to visit the gaylord opry hotel, allowing me to cross one big thing off my list.  and oh let me tell you, i fell in love.
the stairs of my dreams, thanks to beauty and the beast.
the location of my imaginary wedding!

of course i found the red barn on the property.

we kept the evening simple and headed back downtown to find a restaurant i could carb up in and something we didnt have at home.  however we didnt really take into account the fact that there were 30,000 runners racing the next day and the restaurants were packed!  after an extremely long wait we had a really great dinner at the big river brewery, seriously delicious!  afterward we headed back to our hotel to try and get a good nights sleep before that awfully early alarm started blaring.

430am the next morning i was rolling out of bed to starting putting water in my system and food in my belly.  the weather was looking fanastic.  sunny with a high in the 80s.  it was actually the warmest day of the week.  with the location of our hotel we only had to walk up a small hill to get to the shuttles that would take us straight to the starting area.  if you ever have the opportunity to take a shuttle and not have to worry about it!  it is so worth the money.  

arriving at the start area was a little overwhelming.  being in a new city i didnt really know where i was going.  and this race had a separate start and finish line.  that meant that richard had to navigate his way from one end to the other, also not knowing where he was going.  i pretty quickly got in line for the bathrooms that were lined up everywhere in the large field at vanderbilt university.  that of course took forever!  and i was not willing to pay for vip porta potties. 
we make a lot of bathroom jokes.
before i knew it we were lining up.  which made the race time real and the fact that i was really hoping for a sub-2:14.  i had said it out loud only a few times and was ready to give it a go.  i gave richard my phone with directions to the finish line, kissed him for good luck, and told him to find me!  as i lined up in the corral he started walking.  except that i sent him in the wrong direction.  good thing he realized pretty quickly that his dots were not lining up and he turned around.  
richards adventure from start line to finish line. seriously best support team ever.
this was definitely one of the funnest races ever.  every stretch of the course was filled with cheering spectators!  they were out on their porches drinking and spraying hoses for the warm day.  then there were the hills.  holy crap!  this was the hilliest race i have ever ran and it was seriously tough.
every corner i turned i kept looking for richard but couldnt find him anywhere.  one of the coolest things was running over the freeway and looking down to see so many ups trucks (with all the checked runner gear) with a police escort headed toward the finish line.  the bands were great and the course was never boring.  and for the first time ever i actually stopped to use the bathroom at mile 10 because i literally couldnt hold it anymore!  

as we got to the split for the full and 1/2 marathon i knew we were getting very close to the finish and i literally only had 2 full miles left.  it was really starting to get warm out and i was ready to be done.  i also knew there was one more big hill.  and i still hadnt seen richard anywhere.  but if i was going to get my pr i knew i had to keep going and stop looking for him.  somehow though i knew exactly where he was without even seeing him.  
he caught me turning the corner toward the finish line.
i crossed the finish line almost right after this and found richard almost immediately.  i was ready to stop right there, except since there were so many runners i was literally almost getting run over so i had to keep moving.  it was the longest finishers chute ever with not really good food or drink.  plus i was dying to know my time.  i found richard outside the runner area and he was concerned with stretching/making sure i was ok (so good to me) and all i cared about was my time.  finally the text came through...
i was beyond excited and could not believe i finished in that time on such a tough course.  then the hurt set in.  we made our way toward the shuttles and i bought a finisher shirt on the way.  i was definitely ready to get out of there and eat some serious food!

my original food plan post race was to find somewhere to get chicken and waffles.  after that didnt really happen we ended up at the waffle house across the street from our hotel.  OMG it was amazing!  the best part was when i ordered tea they instantly asked "sweet or unsweet?"  i was in heaven.  after a good shower and quick nap (that richard fought in the beginning then kept asking to continue sleeping) we were back out to explore downtown nashville.  my friend jp had invited us to a bbq later that night with his runner group so we still had some time for ourselves.  

we walked very slowly, mostly because i walked like an 85 year old woman and because there were sooo many people!  all i wanted to do was eat.  i had gone 2 months without starbucks, fast food, and alcohol.  on top of that i hadnt had ice cream, pizza or anything fried for a month.  ice cream was definitely the top of that list!  we found mikes ice cream on broadway.  heaven.  the long line was 1000% worth it.  we souvenir shopped (mostly unsuccessful) and people watched a lot.  

finally came richards favorite part...the bbq he had been waiting months for.  we had gotten many recommendations about jacks and made our way into line after awhile of wandering downtown.  the line was through the restaurant, out the door, and down the block.  let me tell you though, totally worth it.  now richard was in heaven.  you can order as many meats and sides as you like.  there are divider plates, the sauce comes on the side, and the sweet tea comes right out of the jug!

we made our way to east nashville after that to meet up with jp and his runner group.  everyone was nice and welcoming, very southern hospitality.  richard and jp finally got to meet and i got to see what a real runner group looked like (it was awesome). 

we tried to convince jp to come out with us, it didnt work very well.  he gave us some great recommendations though of places to go and said he might meet us later.  richard and i headed back to our hotel to change and see the nightlife downtown.  all the bars were free to get in and i was ready to drink, plus there was a last call!  we only went to a few before the wear of the weekend set in and we ended up back at the hotel munchin on fast food right after last call. 

sunday we stayed in bed as long as we could and opted for a late check out.  we packed our things slowly, that day i walked around like a 75 year old woman, and made our way to the car to head out for pizza.  we had been saving pizza for the last day.  richard always likes to try pizza in the new cities we go to and i was dying for some.  jp had recommended pie in the sky near vanderbilt and when we arrived there wasnt many people there.  richard was weary, but we didnt know where else to go.  so glad we stayed!  you could order any salad on the menu as a side salad and the pizza was fantastic!  the longer we stayed to eat the more people showed up.  by the time we were leaving the place was getting pretty full.  i had found out where the pizza place was the day before and foundthat my favorite coffee place was just a few miles away, we had to go.  it was the first coffee i had in 2 months that was frilly and girly.  bongo java, also in heaven.  amazing!

we made our way back to the airport shortly after that so we could catch our flight.  i couldnt believe the trip was over.  it had been so much fun and a great getaway for the 2 of us.  maybe it will even be on the move to list one day...

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