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I did it. I can't believe it, but I did it. I ran a half marathon. I mean, I actually ran it. I didn't walk or crawl, like I thought I was going to have to. I ran. But, this past weekend was way more than that. Allow me to share parts of my weekend with you:
Friday (Day 1): Well, as it turns out, you can't just snap your fingers and be somewhere. So, although I didn't want to, I had to fly to Nashville. Before this, I'd flown twice in my life. I was a little nervous, because I didn't know the exact process of what to do, where I needed to go, etc. Luckily, it's not as scary as it sounds. After flying to Atlanta first, I made it to Nashville at about 2pm. Right on time.
I had to take a shuttle to my hotel, so that gave me an opportunity to see the city a little bit. I'd been to Nashville twice before, but it had been a couple years. It was just like I remembered. A very cool city. On this shuttle, I tried explaining to a couple of ladies that yes, I was running in the half marathon, but no, I didn't like running. They were confused, as they should have been.
I then arrived at my hotel: The Renaissance Nashville. The fact that I had to look up how to spell "renaissance" should tell you that it was way classier than a kid from Nixa, MO deserves. Still, it was awesome and I was on the 17th floor and had a great view of the city.
All participants in the St. Jude Country Music Marathon had to check in on this day, by 7pm. I had a couple of friends meeting me in Nashville. They were driving from Nixa and made it there by about 6:30pm, when they were planning on being there by 4pm. Classic girls. We then rushed to check in and made it about 5 minutes before it closed. Being the impatient person I am, I wasn't crazy about this, but we made it and all was well.
This was definitely the most boring night, since we had to be up by 5am the next day. We walked to grab some pasta (classic Michael Scott carbo load), then went to bed. Again, we had to be up at 5am! I wasn't aware that 5am existed on a Saturday, but apparently it does.
Saturday (Day 2): It was race day. Did I mention we had to wake up at 5am on race day? Yeah, miserable. We had to catch our shuttle to the starting line at about 5:45am. That's when it got a little rougher. We walked outside and saw that it was raining. We had no idea what the weather had in store for us. Hint: rain.
The race started at 7am. After a cool National Anthem and tribute to the Boston Marathon victims, we were off. Still raining. By this point we had been standing in the rain, with the wind blowing for about an hour. Just standing. It was cold. Luckily, as soon as we started running, the rain and cold weren't nearly as noticeable.
It was still raining, but wasn't bad. Then it hit me: I still had to run 13.1 miles. As I mentioned before, I feared that I was going to have to walk or crawl at some point. Yes, I trained for this thing, but not nearly as much as I should have. We I would run, I'd usually run about 2 or 3 miles. That's 10 or 11 miles less than what I had to run on this day.
Of course, I was running in my American Flag shorts & American Flag bandanna. On top of that, I was wearing a "St. Jude Hero" singlet (picture below). This made me a crowd favorite. People that I didn't even know were standing there cheering me on. I got a lot of cheers for raising money for St. Jude and a lot of cheers for supporting this great country. If my mind serves me right, there were at least 5 "USA" chants during the race. 2 started by me and 3 by others after seeing my outfit. My friend who I was running with got embarrassed, but I told her that it wasn't in my blood to turn down a "USA" chant.
I was blown away by the support the city of Nashville showed. Thousands of people watching a race, supporting the runners, in the pouring rain. I wish I had those people clapping and cheering for me in my everyday life. I feel like I'd be a lot more productive. Every time I heard someone cheer, I ran faster and after about 2 hours and 15 minutes, I finished. For some reason, my stamina for the race was fine, but my legs weren't. They hurt bad. For probably the last 3 miles, I thought my knee was going to explode, but it didn't and I completed a half marathon to help support St. Jude!
This is when the cold set in again. We were walking to get our bag we checked, then eventually walked back to our hotel. It had cooled off even more and had started raining even harder. I was glad we were done running by that point and was ready for a warm shower and sweet tea. After only drinking a couple sweet teas in a 27 day period, I was ready for one. I may or may not have had 5 glasses with my lunch. OK, I did and it was fantastic.
The race was done and it was time to celebrate. I have a couple of friends who live in Nashville, so they picked us up and we ate at a local place called "Chuy's". Fantastic Tex-Mex. They then, dropped my 2 friends and me off at the Craig Morgan concert. Everyone who ran in the race was able to go to this and it was a great show. I've seen Craig Morgan a few times and he was just as good this time. The weekend just kept getting better.
Sunday (Day 3): This was SUPPOSED TO be the last day of my trip. I'll get to that later. I was really excited about this day. Because I was a St. Jude Hero team leader, I got the opportunity to have a lunch at John Rich's house. It was much more than a lunch, though. John Rich has a 2 story bar, with a stage in his house. Just ridiculous. Oh, and by the way, we took an elevator to this bar in his house.
There were probably about 60 people at this event. We had lunch, then the music started. They first brought up a new duo from Australia, McAlister Kemp. They were huge dudes and they were fantastic. The first song they played was called "It Don't Buy You Love". It was one of the best written songs I've heard in a long time and it blew me away. I can't wait to hear more from these guys.
Next up was a new artist, who I THINK was named Jenny Lee. I'm not positive, though. I hate that I can't remember it, because she was good as well. She was also pretty. Very pretty.
Then, it was time for the big boys. John Rich and Big Kenny from Big & Rich took the stage. They played a couple songs, then brought up LARRY GATLIN!!! He played a song that he had written for George Jones. This was 2 days after the passing of the Possum. Very cool to see.
After that, all of the artists took the stage to help Larry Gatlin sing "All the Gold in California". Again, unbelievable stuff. It then got wrapped up with everyone singing "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy". What an phenomenal experience.
The event ran a little long and I had to catch a flight out of Nashville. So, we couldn't stick around for pictures with the artists. Well, I thought I didn't have time to stick around for pictures. Little did I know, that my flight was going to be delayed by 3 hours. This made me miss my connecting flight in Atlanta.... By about 4 minutes. I had to stay in Atlanta for the night. As smoothly as my flights went on the way to Nashville, they went that bad on the way back.
Monday (Day 4): I don't wanna talk about it. I was suppose to be home by this time.
This weekend was such a great experience. While having the time of my life, I helped support St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Given the opportunity, I plan on doing it again next year. I know the weather will be better and I hope you'll join me next year!