Rock N Roll Nashville Marathon Trip
It was time to accomplish my 4th marathon of the year, I was really pushing it, as this race was on the last day of the month. This trip would also be with the hubs, and he would be running the full too.
We set out on the Thursday before the race, in the car of course…hey it’s only like an 8.5 hour drive…
Nashville can be pricey, but we managed to snag a great AirBnB in East Nashville or “East Nasty” as the locals call it. Ever since my failed 50k near the area over a year ago, I have been excited to get back and explore.
Registration: Available online, close to $100, price increased as race day approached. There was race day registration at the expo. Included with registration was a unisex short sleeve tech shirt, chip timing, post race beer, finisher jacket and finisher medal.
Expo/packet pickup: There were 2 days of the expo. This was held at the convention center. It was a large expo, half filled with race sponsor Brooks and their apparel. In addition there were your typical vendors with samples and demonstrations.
-The actual packet pickup went smoothly. Participants needed to bring a printout of a confirmation email and their ID. If you didn’t have this print out, computers with printers were available. No one else could pick up your bib. No race day packet pick up.
-You could swap your shirt for a different size. You could also try on the finisher jacket, so you could be assured the correct size at the post race event. You could also get your ID checked for a post race beer, they gave you a paper bracelet.
-There was free parking across the river, or you could pay to park in a ramp or nearby. You could also chose public transportation
We went to the race expo on Friday. We took advantage of the day we had before the race, but tried not to be on our feet too much. We made sure to check out downtown Nashville, walk by the Ryman Auditorium, went to the American Pickers store, and checked out Third Man Records.
Josh scoped out a Italian restaurant to load up on the pre-race carbs. When you are not near downtown, there are tons of different neighborhoods, and each neighborhood is like it’s own town with restaurants, breweries and small shops.
The 2016 event took place on April 30. Race was scheduled to start (with the half) at 7:15, but due to rain and storms in the area, there was a 35 minute delay. The race went above and beyond encouraging participants to sign up for texts to get race updates and were proactive in making sure everyone was hydrated.
*It was about 60-70 ish degrees, humid, and expected to warm up
Pre-race: Pay lots available for parking at the football stadium, which is where the finish was. You could organize a parking shuttle, or you could grab a cab or Uber. There were plenty of port-o-potties lined up near the start (which was not near the finish) There were lots of announcements. No shelter to stay out of the rain. Information tents, race day changes tent, pre race water and food tents.
-There was a corral system set up, 40 of them for both the full and the half. No one was really checking entrance into them, and they weren’t sectioned off. Each corral went off about 2-3 minutes apart after the National Anthem was sung.
It was a struggle to get to the race start for us. Lyft (ride company) was promoted for the race, so everyone was using the service, making getting a ride tough. So we went to Uber, where we finally got a car. We could have driven, but you had to pay to park, we could have also walked the 1 plus mile, but that didn’t sound fun after the race.
There is nothing worse than standing in the rain before a race, then you are entirely soaked before you even start running, it’s miserable. Also I have never understood running in rain gear – you are wet on the outside and wet on the inside from sweat. I brought along my heat sheet from the Louisiana Marathon, so Josh and I huddled under that as the race start kept getting pushed back. There were no severe storms, but the rain dumped, and we kept mostly dry, standing still on the pavement. (this was the only rain for the event)
Oh and the whole standing thing, well add 35 minutes to the regular start…. I started in the last corral. Mostly by mistake. I was assigned corral 26 of 27, I could have changed it at the expo, which was easy breezy and no proof of anything was required (Josh changed his at the expo) So I made my way to the second to the last corral and had to wait for each one to start, even though I was moving forward, I someone didn’t move quick enough, must have been all the chatting, and I ended up starting with the last wave. I think I started an hour behind the official race start, so I stood on the pavement over an hour before I even ran.
Race/Course: Run through Nashville on paved surfaces.
-paved surfaces, some potholes but nothing major, just be aware
-Photography – MarathonFoto was on the course
-Scenery – the course really took on all parts of Nashville, from the downtown streets, to the minor league baseball warning track, to East Nashville, through a park, then finishing near the Titans football stadium.
-Elevation – it was hilly, no steep hills, but enough hills
-Aid Stations – water and lemon-lime Gatorade, in different paper cups. Glukos on course, both gels and chews (however I never saw any chews) The last big AS had actual food and beer. Wet sponge stop.
– bathrooms on course
-medical tents set up throughout, always with vaseline, as well as ice and bandages, even salted Gatorade
-Volunteers – they were every where, police at all major intersections
-Spectators, many areas with them, many areas without- but never felt alone as there were a lot of participants
-mile markers on course, with clocks, timing mats at a certain spots for runner tracking
-music- there were to be over 40 bands, rotating out in 26 spots, about every mile. I didn’t count, but there were lots of bands on the course, however some places had gone to non live music maybe due to rain?
My race: I didn’t have high expectations, just to finish around 5 hours. I started with the 5 hour pacer. I lost the pacer when he stopped for water, as I was carrying my own, I wasn’t sure if leaving the pacer was a mistake. The sun stayed behind the clouds for the most part, but it got hot. I was wearing my Orange Mud Hydraquiver Vest Pack 1, and with the humidity and sweating, I never kept tightening it.. oh the chafe. However the volunteers were happy to fill my water bottle, and I love the pockets on that thing.
I liked having to look forward to the bands on the course, but really, you don’t stop to listen to them, or I didn’t. Also I enjoyed the orange slices and bananas that weren’t advertised, I am not a gel person, so it was nice to see real food.
I think my favorite part was running the warning track at the Nashville Sounds baseball stadium. I didn’t know that it was part of the course, so I was surprised. However when it was my turn to be on the jumbo-tron, I wasn’t! Some lady was standing there texting someone, how rude!
My least favorite part was maybe the small section in downtown, mile 18 ish, where there were some homeless people. I saw a spectator sitting on the curb, wearing sunglasses….as I ran by a man asked the spectator for his glasses. I just kept running.
I kept moving and never felt like I needed to walk. I even enjoyed the hills, for me my legs get bored running too much flat. I had a good race, but my watch said I almost ran 27 miles (I think with such a wide course, it’s hard to stick to the tangents) I did finish with an official time of 4:57, so I was happy with that. It was my 4th marathon of the year.
Finish/Post Race: Before the actual finish, there were gates set up to direct you to the arch and timing mat. There were many photographers. There were many spectators cheering everyone in. Once across the finish line a volunteer placed a medal around your neck, then handed you a bottle of water.
-There was so much food, and no place to put it, but to carry it. Bottle of lemon lime Gatorade, rice chips, pea snacks, grandma’s cookies, fruit cups, bananas, and more I can’t remember. I just remember feeling embarrassed I was carrying so many things.
-The area was gated off from spectators, once departed this area you then claimed your finisher’s jacket and can of Michelob Ultra.
-Live band playing in the parking lot.
-no place to actually sit, except the grass, or there was a beer truck thing, but it was bar – you would pay to sit, maybe
-food trucks – many sold out of food
I wasn’t super hungry once I finished, but I took one of each snack, they are always good the hours and days later. It was a great spread of finishers food, however there was no shade or tents provided for this stuff, the bananas were not delicious by the time I finished, but there was plenty of everything for everyone.
PS- does anyone really like Michelob Ultra?
The finish line party also kept true to the closing time. I am not fast, but if you were last you wouldn’t get to enjoy much of the party or the food trucks.
The parking area was loaded with cars, but some of the roads were still closed when we got our Uber back, and it was an adventure to travel that one mile.
Overall: The race is expensive, but the course is a nice challenge with the hills. You also get a what you pay for with the swag, music and food. Nashville is a great host.
The perks of the Nashville Rock N Roll race is the big concert the evening after the event. This year it was the Wallflowers. The concert was held at the Bridgestone Arena.
After driving around “East Nasty” to find some place to eat without a 2 hour wait (we ended up with Mexican food, we just ran 26.2 miles & weren’t going to stand around to wait and eat), we uber’d back downtown, as we thought we would enjoy a drink or too.
There were some opening acts, but we didn’t get there in time, but the Wallflowers took to the stage just after 7, and it was time to listen to some music. I was surprised at the actual attendance at the concert, there weren’t that many people there. It was free to all race participants, but it can be hard to get out moving after a marathon.
We enjoyed the music and thought we would check out downtown on a Saturday night…ok mistake, it was like Las Vegas, and we felt too old and too tired to partake in the crazy. Even though it was raining – every bar was filled with people.
The next day we found a cute cafe in the neighborhood, grabbed a delicious breakfast and hit the road, back to Iowa.
We had a great overall trip, but maybe we come back when we can explore more and not be worried about walking around too much since we were running a marathon.
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