Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Country Music Marathon - 4/25/09

A 26-year old man died after crossing the finish line in the Country Music Half-Marathon. How humbling is that? Although it was hot (reaching 85 degrees), the young man's death was not attributed to the heat. The Tennessean, Nashville's newspaper, stated that it was a "sudden cardiac event." How many times have I heard someone say that they wanted to die doing something they loved? I would like to think that the young man felt that way. I guess it would be the way to go, but it does not take away the sadness I feel for him and his family. RIP.

I have run 8 out of the 10 Country Music Marathons. I missed the inaugural race in 2000 because I didn't even think I would be able to cover 26.2 miles without getting in my car and driving, lol. By 2001, I was ready and completed my first marathon at the CMM. I missed the 2003 race because the chemotherapy for my breast cancer had worn me down so badly that I would not have been able to complete the race if I had started. But I came back for the 2004 race, and I haven't missed a year since. This year, by far, was my slowest at 5:54:30. My fastest CMM was in 2005 at 4:26:49. That was my PR for 2 years until the 2007 Andrew Jackson Marathon in Jackson, TN, where I posted an amazing (for me) 4:20:02. I'm due for a new PR, but that's not going to happen any time soon. As far as speed is concerned, I seem to be going in the wrong direction, lol.

It was hot at the start at 7:00 a.m., which is always a bad sign. Standing in corral #16 out of 33, with close to 1,000 runners per corral, was stifling. There didn't seem to be any air blowing. It took almost 30 minutes for my corral to reach the starting line. Thank goodness for chip timing. That has to be the greatest invention ever. My gun time was 6:22:07, a big difference from my chip time. But just imagine those runners/walkers who were in the last corral. It took them over an hour to get to the start line. By the time corral #33 was released, the Kenyan that won had already reached the half-marathon point. There's some perspective for you, lol!

The majority of the runners are half-marathoners, and we all run together for 11.5 miles, before going our separate routes. There were only 3,961 finishers for the marathon, but there were 22,918 finishers in the half-marathon. It makes you wonder what happened to the other 6,121 people. For one, I guess the CMM did not reach it's full capacity this year. Some of the runners were DNFs. The Tennessean stated that about 45 runners went to the hospital for heat-related problems. And I'm sure a number of people were DNSs for various reasons.

Regardless, this race is way too big for my liking, and if it was in another city besides Nashville, I would not run it. I like small races. With so many runners, I was never running alone, but I also did not have any extended conversation with anyone the entire time. I met a half-marathoner from Birmingham, AL on the bus ride from the finish line at the Titans Stadium to the start line at Centennial Park. On the bus and while waiting around for the start, we talked a lot as we had almost 2 hours to spare. Other than that, I was pretty quiet for the next six hours. Although I was constantly surrounded by runners, spectators, volunteers, and a band every mile, it was kind of "lonely" out on the course, lol.

I give Nashville and the race organizers, Elite Racing, credit for doing such a wonderful job with the weather being so hot. There was plenty of fluids (water and Cytomax) on the course, along with small packets of salt at every aid station. There was plenty of Gu, oranges, and bananas along the way. Water hoses were hooked up as sprinkler systems in several locations along the course. Spectators in the neighborhoods that we ran through came out and cheered us on, spraying us with water, and offering cold, free beer. You'd be surprised at how many runners partake of the free beer, lol. It makes me wish I was a beer drinker. I feel like I'm missing out on something, lol.

I saw the first runner go down at Mile 2 from the heat. Race volunteers were right there with her and taking care of her. Every couple of miles, I would see someone sitting or laid out on the side walk, or under a tree, cramping or vomiting, trying to find the will to go on. A race volunteer was always present, trying to help out as much as they could. Ambulances were visible, and paramedics were treating runners throughout the day. Runners soon became walkers as the day heated up even more. My friend, Jackie, who has been coming out to spectate over the years, noticed the difference from years past. She said that she saw a lot of people walking, and she had not seen that in previous years. Have I stressed enough about how hot it was, lol?

In it's 10th year, the CMM has finally given out a technical shirt instead of the cotton shirt. And as usual, the die-cast finisher's medal is beautiful. All 8 of my CMM finisher's medals are different. I like that about the CMM. A lot of races are using the disposal chips, and the CMM has joined the ranks. I have yet to have any timing problems with the disposable chips, so I'm all for them.

I'll sign up early this summer for the 2010 CMM to get the $15 discount. It's too big, but that's not really a complaint. It was my first, and you always hold a special place in your heart for your first love. I feel good running the familiar (Centennial Park, Downtown, Music Row, Belmont, the Gulch, Metro Center, and Shelby Park) and then finishing at the Titans Stadium along Victory Lane, hearing the cheers of the spectators and listening to all of the bands along the way. Music City has it going on! Just ask the 33,000 runners and walkers that register for the race every year. That many people can't be wrong, lol.

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