As you are all well aware, we embarked a few weeks ago on our 7-day trip to Nashville. We primarily we there to see my brother, his wife and two-year old daughter, but we also registered for the Country Music Rock’N'Roll, Jess the marathon, and myself the half. We worked a half-day on Wednesday to lessen the sting of being away from our paying jobs. Fortunately, we had a friend that was willing to drive us to the airport (thanks Elizabeth!) and put up with us realizing that we forgot our check-in confirmation a mile out. We arrived at the airport, went through security and waited patiently at our gate. We eventually boarded, took our seats and set off into the eastern sky.
Trip to Nashville – Video
I love flying! I can’t help but smile every time I can experience a takeoff and landing. Even turbulent ones! Sometimes the cramped seating can get to you, but at least there’s a coke and some peanuts waiting for you above 10,000 feet. Our travel itinerary was quite good for this trip with relatively short layovers in Minneapolis. We did get in a little late, but it was way better than driving for two days straight! Our flight came in a little early, so we called my brother and waited for him for just a few minutes. He pulled up, loaded our things in the back and we were off to their home and bed.
The next morning we were greeted by the wonderful sound of a toddler getting ready for her day. Lil’ Miss Ev was bright and shiny, but a little shy with some vaguely familiar faces in the room. She eventually warmed up and she headed off to day-care, and my brother and his wife, off to work. We eventually went out on a short run to acclimate ourselves to the humidity, ate some breakfast and went for a drive. We drove around downtown, along the line of music-infused bars and diners, all of which still looking a little sleepy after yet another long night. We had lunch with my brother and wrapped up our afternoon with a trip to the race expo to pick up our packages. That evening we dined out at the Loveless Cafe. It was a great meal, a good southern cooking experience.
The next day we took the opportunity to play aunt and uncle. We took Ev out on a quick run, our first time ever pushing a stroller while running. We continued our day blowing bubbles, playing hide and seek and chasing each other around the house and yard. It was a great day! We wrapped up our day with a great meal-in with the family and an early night.
Jess woke up early to eat some food and went back to bed. I half-heartedly woke up with her. There is something about race-day mornings. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I think a big part of it is the anticipation, mostly on Jess’s part. I never like getting up early, but I like early mornings. I just don’t like the getting up part. My brother dropped us off near the marathon starting point. He actually was headed out of town for the weekend, so it worked out well for him to drop us off. We walked toward our starting gates. Jess was in gate 8 and I was in gate 3. I was surprised to see that I was so far up front, my estimated finishing wasn’t all that great for a half-marathon, but my sister-in-law reminded me that this was a “southern” race and most people down there tend not to run, in part due to the high humidity/temperature and also because the food doesn’t lend itself to being running friendly.
Once I settled into my gate, I looked back at the 30+ gates (30,000 people) and was awed by the masses of people out for a run. I could barely hear the announcer over the throngs of people, but I did catch something about Sheryl Crow running (more on that later). The temp was already nearing 70Ëš F which meant that it was already too warm for me. I have been running in shorts since the thermometer rose just above the freezing mark. Before I knew it, the race had begun and we were off. I was feeling great, the first couple miles passed with ease and I managed to stay just ahead of the pace group, but then then the inevitable had to happen. I needed a bathroom break! I stopped at the next Port’O'John and did some business. At this point in the morning, the temp had risen a noticeable 5Ëš, which made the temporary restroom facility a bit uncomfortable. I hurriedly finished and got back onto the course, making sure to double up on my fluid intake, as the sun was beating down. My sister-in-law came out to cheer us on at the 4 and 8 mile marks. It was great to see a familiar face and to have some encouragement as I strode along.
As I approached the 6 mile mark, I noticed a duo of ladies running with the same shirt. It had a team logo on the back that perked my memory. It was the same team that Sheryl Crow was running for, so I wondered “could this be her?” Many ideas came to mind as to how I could document my encounter. One of my ideas was to run ahead of her, and as I pass her take a picture with my camera, another was to stay behind her for the entire race just to get some awesome race photos, you know, like a thumbs up, or stay 10 ft. behind her and raise my arm in hopes that it looks like we are buddies. As these thoughts continued to swirl, reality sunk in. I don’t even own any of her music, I couldn’t really remember what she looks like and she was running slower than I was. So I sped up, passed with a slight glance to see if it was her (it was), and left my 30-second debacle behind.
From this point on, the miles peeled away slower and slower. The sun rose higher, and every time I, along with my fellow runners, encountered a hill, the air suddenly became thick, almost like being wrapped in cellophane. The end was nearing, the water stations were my only goal. Even though they were nearly equally spaced, they seemed further apart than their earlier iterations. Finally I saw the final stretch, down the hill and around the corner. I hurried myself across the finish line, knowing full well that I had not performed to my pre-race aspirations, but nonetheless happy to finish. They donned me with a medal, an iced towel, handed me a water and pushed me on through the chute. I love the finishers area. Usually food and water abound. I grabbed my fill of energy bars, fruit and various liquids, including some tasty chocolate milk.
I let Annie (my sister-in-law) know that we had finished as she was our ride. I met up with her and we waited for Jess to cross the line about two hours later. I love watching my wife run and especially finish a race. They joy on her face always lifts my spirits. As she made her way through the finishers area, we backtracked to find her and set off for home.
The remaining days of our trip were just as great as the ones prior. We went on a hike the following day and went out for pizza in Franklin, which also happened to be having a rather large arts and crafts fair that made getting seated a challenge. On Monday, we hung out around home, and primarily relaxed. A friend of Annie’s came into town and we had a great time getting to know her and it was great to spend more time with our adorable little niece. Later in the evening we picked up my brother from the airport, grabbed ourselves some great coffee and my brother made us some tasty dinner. Tuesday rolled around fast and we packed in our remaining time with family. I took some family photos for my brother. After we wrapped up the photo shoot, we hopped in the car and headed for the airport.
Our trip back back to Bozeman was uneventful. We had a longer layover in Minneapolis so we had some dinner at Rock Bottom in the airport. After dinner, we grabbed some coffee, hopped on the plane set off toward home. It was a great trip, one I hope to repeat sometime, but maybe without the running.