Two half marathons, one weekend: Nashville to Knoxville 26.2 total miles

      Sometimes you have to test your limits. That's what this running thing is really all about, right?  After conquering a full marathon earlier this month,... I went ahead with plans to run two half marathons in one weekend. A lot of things could go wrong. But we don't focus in the negative, we expect and plan for the positive. 
    Let's focus on the half marathon weekend madness, the marathon weekend, the running tour of Tennessee, The Jekyll and Hyde Race weekend challenge. 
     Saturday, April 30th is Rock n Roll Nashville.  
     Sunday, May 1st is the Race 13.1 Knoxville race. 
     Same distance, similar terrain but very different experiences. That's why I call it the Dr. Jekyll and

     Mr. Hyde weekend challenge. While the Rock n Roll series has become a mega event with thousands of runners, road closures, parking and traffic headaches... The race 13.1 series is the calm opposite. You can pick your packet up 30 minutes before the starting horn sounds. Sunday, I got mine 15 minutes before the start, but who's counting. 

  So let's start with Nashville-- the music city. I was really impressed with the city. I had never been there before. As an outsider, I noticed what seemed to be a lot of new construction and historic buildings. Downtown on Broadway it gets interesting. You have a lot of neon lights, country music, cowboy hats and cowboy boots. 
     Next time, I'll come home with some cowboy gear. 
     Our first stop was the convention center for packet pickup. That took longer than expected because of traffic, but we had a one hour head start on the game because guess what,.. Nashville is in another time zone. The convention center is right next to the Country Music Hall of Fame. If you look up the street or down the street it's almost looks like one building flowing all the way down the block. 

    We also went to the Parthenon which was made famous by the movie Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. It's the only full scale replica of the Greece temple to Athena in the world. Did you know that it was only supposed to last for 6 months during some kind of world fair in the 1890s. It was part of a huge complex of buildings. This is the only one left. Now it's a museum and aThe backdrop for a lot of prom, wedding and baby pictures. With all the marathon runners and half marathon runners in the city for the weekend, you'd think it would be a very popular place. I returned after the race with my medal and to take a tour inside the museum.

    No time for tours and stuff Friday night,... Race day will come really early in the morning. For Rock n Roll races, I really don't like parking late. Unless I have VIP parking I always get there super duper early. In Savannah I parked on the street-- in a free spot-- and walked to the start line. In DC I was dropped off before the streets closed. In Nashville I pulled into the parking lot of Nissan Stadium ( home of the Tennessee Titans) as the volunteers were just getting their bearings. 

      Park, relax,... Go through final checks on electronics and game plan, eat, nap if I have to. I think I visited the Porto potty twice. Eventually it's time to take the pedestrian bridge to downtown. Gear check, warmup and then it starts to rain. It was only a little bit at first. You could stand under a tree without getting wet. Then the organizers announced a delay. That's when the sky opened up. Most people found a building overhang to hide under or a hotel lobby to hide in. Once the rain passed, the corals started to fill up and it was finally time to run. 
   The music City really lived up to its name. No joke... There was a band or cheer squad on every mile. The support crowds were huge and nearly constant.  
     More than 18,000 people ran the half marathon , 3,100 ran the 5k and 2,900 ran the marathon. That's A LOT OF PEOPLE!!!. Maybe I didn't put myself in the proper coral, but I found myself always behind a slower group of runners. I'm pretty sure people started walking after the first mile. I love seeing friends run together-- as long as I can get around them when I need to. It was very hard to maintain a pace. I didn't get into a running groove until way too late. I loved hills,... So I'm not going to complain about that. They presented a great challenge. 

    Still, I finished in a respectable time of 2:01:23. What a great experience!
    After I crossed the finish line all I could think about was..... Let's do it again tomorrow. But it's not all about me. So, I go pick up the family. We go to the Parthenon then a self guided tour of the city. We drove by Vanderbilt University, Fisk University and the Meharry Medical College. We also went to the Gaylord Opry Resort and hotel. 

     There's a garden and trees, and a river inside this hotel. It was like a beautiful walk in the park. It was cool to see all of the high school prom couples running around taking pictures. If you decide to go here,... Don't pay to park in the hotel parking lot. Drive down to the next exit and park in the shopping plaza behind the resort and walk over. ( I know. That's a lot of walking for a guy who's running another half marathon in the morning. )
     Just look at these pictures. 

     So remember how I said Nashville is in another time zone? On our way back home, that time change would return to haunt me. It's a two and a half hour drive. To make it to Knoxville by 6:30, I needed to leave Nashville by 3 am instead of 4 am. So, off we go into the dark night. We arrive at 6:35. I park the car as close to the start/finish line as possible which is about 200 yards away. I jump in line to pick up my packet and run back to the car. By the time I get my bib on and clothes changed and back to the starting area the announcer says, " we're going to start in five minutes." 

  No time for stretches. That runaround for my bib will have to be my warmup.  But I made it just in time for the second half of my marathon weekend. The only thing I didn't have was water for my Nuun tablets. Luckily, a half mile into the race there was a FleetFeet water station. I filled up and took off. Here, I got into a groove early, running sub 9 minute miles... But eventually the hills and heat began to catch up to me. 
    When you know you didn't prepare the best for a race and all you can do is finish--- you finish. I was doing great until the last 2 miles. It was hot, my Nuun was gone and leg cramps started to begin. I made it back to that FleetFeet table and the had some Nuun to help me out. That was what needed. Still, it was my slowest half ever at 2:21. Add the two days together and it's still better than my full marathon time in Raleigh. 
    Anyway, I did all of that running and sweat. You must be wondering how that 8 hour ride home was. You'd think it was ripe with funk but it wasn't thanks to my Eagle Creek Sport packs. The shoe locker kept the funky shoe smell away and the Roll Sack kept my wet clothes from funding up the car, contaminating my clean clothes or growing mildew. Check out this video.

        Pictures taken of the mountains on the ride home.

       So, that was my final Rock N Roll Race until September. Wow! After Three Races in three months, I think I might just go through withdrawal. Well, probably not since I purchased a season pass for the Race13.1 series. The September races are Rock n Roll Virginia Beach and Rock N Roll Philadelphia. I wish I could go to Rock N Roll Chicago. We'll see how the next couple of months shake out. Rock N Roll has been really cool. I really appreciate being picked at a Rock N Blogger and the perks that come along with it. I won't disappear for the next three months but I will be taking a chill pill for the summer months. (or not-  I'll never rule out a free race entry or a fun weekend)
      If you want to run with me in in an upcoming race use my code and save $15. The code is: JayKnightLifeRuns



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