Rock N Roll Marathon Series – Nashville TN – #RNRNashville

Saturday was my first time at the Rock N Roll Marathon Series  event in Nashville TN.  While most are talking about the unprecedented heat (93 degrees & 86% humidity) or maybe the many hills that Nashville presented to us over the course, I want to talk a little bit about the SPIRIT of Nashville.  The crowds, the volunteers, the residents, the race officials and the overall good vibe from the city as it welcomed us with open arms.  And by “us”, I mean me & 25,000 of my closest friends.  People further than the eye can see.  This photo is as we were attempting to get to our corral for the start. 

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This is one of the largest Rock N Roll races in the country with only RNR Vegas being larger.  If you’re a half marathoner & making your rounds, do put RNR Vegas on your list too.  It’s fun & so awesome to run the Strip at night.

Finally we were into the corrals & ready to go.  There were 40 or 41 corrals in order to ease congestion on the course.  But the race was busy.  The entire way.   Both with runners & spectators.

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We started out on Broadway heading east toward the river.  This is otherwise known as “Music Row” and we ran past all the famed “Honky Tonks” that make Nashville & its various artists famous.  If you like country music, live music or bars in general, this might be the town for you.  Plenty of places to grab a drink & hear some live performers.  Grab a group of friends & make a weekend out of it!

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Quick trip down Broadway, then over & back up Demonbreun to pass the Country Music Hall of Fame & the new Nashville Music Center (location for expo & packet pick-up).  I just love the architecture of the Nashville Music Center.  One of my favorite buildings in this town, pictured below, on the left, brownish building. 

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Then a quick pass by the start line & all the runners still awaiting their start in the corrals. 

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Photo Credit:  Julian Smith, visiting from England!

Next up, the Visual Arts Center & Music Square, which features Carnival Music & the RCA Studios. Thanks to Mr. Julian S. for grabbing a few photos of this area (below).  This is the location of the famous “Studio B” from RCA that recorded early greats such as Elvis & Dolly Parton.

Carnival Music RCA Studio B

On to Belmont University (pictured below, photo courtesy of Julie Molenar), Troutt Theater, McAfree Concert Hall,  Children’s House of Nashville & the Battle of Nashville Monument Park. 

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Between mile 5 & 6, somewhere around Gale Lane Community Park, we saw our first collapsed runner.  Others had seen one down much earlier around mile 3, but by mile 5 to 6, everyone was really feeling the heat.  RNR did an excellent job with aid stations that were close together.  The medial teams were well staffed.  Sprayer hoses, ice, cold water, Gatorade, oranges, salt packets, Glukos gels/chomps, cold towels/sponges.  It was just a matter of getting from aid station to aid station.  And that’s pretty much how most of us had to think about the race, just one small segment at a time. 

On to 12th Avenue where there were lots of shops, restaurants, and spectators.  I’ve got to give it to the spectators, residents of the city & volunteers.  They were tireless (and hot too!) as they moved around to help out the runners.  The neighborhoods that we ran thru were in full on party mode.  Music, beer shot stations, Krispy Kreme donuts, bounce houses for the kids, local bands.  It was fun, fun, fun!   Another pic from Julian below of the neighborhood parties.  Great selfie, Julian!

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Back around Belmont University & Jane Ayres Academic Center (Julian S’ photo below), another loop thru downtown.  As we headed back out of the downtown area, we caught a glimpse of the Tennessee State Capitol & then split with the 1/2 marathon runners around mile 11.5.

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Shout out to the Nashville Rescue Mission for all of those cheers as we passed at 11.75 & 15.25.  YOU all, rocked our run!  Thank you!  Then we rejoined the half marathoners at mile 16.  That’s when reality really hit.  We could see probably 1000 or more people on the half marathon side, all walking.  Not one runner.  Just  a sea of people in good humor walking & talking.  Heading toward their finish line.

I was a bit surprised that we had so many people on our side for the full marathon.  It wasn’t packed like the side for the half, but there were still a quite a few toughing it out with us.  We were never alone.  Those of us who ran the full got a special treat too as we were able to loop the field at First Tennessee Park.

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Next up, Musicians Hall of Fame & Woodland Street.  The finish line was off Woodland in the Nissian Stadium.  We said good bye to the half runners for the final time around mile 17-18.  But not before some of us took a run thru a fountain in the business district!  I may or may not have instigated the fountain running.  Michael would be proud of me.  Smile 

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East Park, 5th Street & Davidson Road along the Cumberland River.  One loop around Shelby Park & then we FINALLY headed back to the finish line at Nissan Stadium.  Long race.  Took us 5 hrs & 18 minutes and no that’s not a personal worst.  We’ve had some really hot races.  We don’t run well in the heat but we have learned how to survive.  If you find yourself running a really hot/humid race, I suggest:  1)  stay on top of your hydration – drink before you’re thirsty; 2)  plan to use extra fuel because your body is working harder & you’ll be out on course longer; 3) use any means necessary to keep cool – ice, water sprayers & cold towels work great, 4)  wear a visor to keep the sun off your face but it will in turn allow the heat to escape thru your head, 5) use sunscreen cuz if you burn, your skin can’t breathe & 6) make sure you have access to salt tabs.  When you are taking in a lot of water to stay cool, your tummy get sloshy.  You may throw up.  The chances of vomiting & dehydration are less if you can get that water in your tummy to absorb.  Salt/electrolyte tabs/capsules will help the water to absorb. 

Huge shout out to all the runners who managed to FINISH RnR Nashville despite the heat!  There were several points where some of the full marathoners got turned around/diverted due to weather & cut-off times.  Please don’t get discouraged if you got cut-off at this race.  The heat was bad.  Nobody was hitting the times that they trained to run.  It happens.

Stats:  2,445 marathon finishers, 67 marathon finishers that got cut-off/turned around at the 10.7 mi mark, 18 marathon finisher that got cut-off/turned around at the 18 mi mark, 20 marathon finishers that got cut off at the 20.2 mile mark, 17,821 half marathon finishers, 2,776 5K finishers, 841 mile run finishers, 12 half marathon wheelchair finishers, & 11 full marathon wheelchair finishers. 

Congrats to all the runners! Thanks to all the volunteers, medial staff, police, spectators & the bands that kept playing even though the sun was beating down on them too!  The spirit of Nashville really showed throughout the weekend but especially on race day.

SWAG:

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Quick note about the marathon finisher jackets.  The cut is the same as last year but they are longer.  The length now goes over most of our rumps, at least for the ladies.  I’m tall, if it goes over my bum, it will probably go over yours.  Utilize the sizing station at the expo to determine the correct size.  You may want to size up if your bum is bigger than your waist.  Otherwise you won’t get this jacket zipped.  Example below. 

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** Run Happy, all! ** Rock N Blogger – TooTallFritz**

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Marion Rotary For Shoes Marathon & Hot Weather Running Tips

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Marathon #21 was in the great state of Iowa, in Marion, just north of Cedar Rapids.  It was the Marion Rotary For Shoes Marathon.  And it was hot.  And hilly.  But I had a great group of friends who made the trip with me.  From left, meet Lindsay (Glitter Girl on the Run), Judy F, Amanda W (Get to Goal), Derek, Julie M & myself.

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We also met Kim from Running on the Fly and her friend, Barb (not pictured). 

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The 2015 Marathon for Shoes was held in June for the first time.  The first two years were held the third week in April and apparently the weather both years was crazy cold with either snow or wind/rain/sleet.  So the 2015 edition was pushed out til June and cold it was not.  In fact it was hot.  So hot that most of us would have done a choreographed rain dance had we thought it would produce a cloud or drop of rain from that beautiful blue but steamy sky.  But alas, no rain.

Packet pickup was at a local school gymnasium and there were a handful of vendors.  Nice, friendly people.  Easy packet pick up.  Free parking.  Nike tech shirt as the SWAG.  You could have been in and out with your shirt & number in less than 10 minutes.  But you had to get your packet the night before the race or there was a late pickup fee the morning of the race.

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The race started in front of a local high school at 7am.  Easy, free parking.  A handful of port-o-potties.  Chip timing.  Beautiful blue skies.  The race started on time without much of a production.  We were across the timing mat in less than 30 seconds, along with the half marathoners and a handful of relay runners.  Not a huge race, less than 500 people at the start. 

Then came the hills.  One right after another.  Then a few more. And the never really stopped.  The temps that were in the mid 70s at the start climbed to mid 80s by the finish.  The course was mainly on country roads with some neighborhoods.   There were a couple sections where we ran along busy highways separated from the zooming cars by orange cones.  Highlights were an old cemetery and a small park.   The coolest thing we saw was a piece of art in the form of corn stalks just before mile 7.

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Around mile 7, the half marathoners turned off and it got pretty lonely.  I’ll be honest, I was so thankful to have friends running this race!  We mostly stuck together and just dealt with the hills heat as it came.  Very slowly.  With lots of walking.  Aid stations were every 1.5 miles or so apart.  They offered warm water & watermelon AdvoCare Rehydrate (tasty and way better than traditional sugar laden sport drinks for your body!).  There were lots of people on bikes offering bike support, asking us if we were okay, calling SAG for those who needed a ride and calling 911 for those who dropped.   There were a handful of spectators scattered throughout the 26.2 miles.  The best spectator award goes to a nice couple who put out their sprinkler as we ran thru one of the last neighborhoods.  We were super thankful for that sprinkler and ran thru it like a bunch of 5 year olds.  I think I even squealed with delight!  Winking smile 

Running in high heat and 100% humidity is pretty dangerous.  I wouldn’t recommend it.  However, weather for pre-registered events is an absolute unknown.  There is no way to predict what the day will bring but only what we can do to make our chances to survive the elements a bit better.

Tips for running in the heat:

  • Wear a hat or visor
  • Wear sunscreen to keep your skin from frying
  • Dump water on your head and body to keep yourself as cool as possible
  • Wear light colored clothing
  • Use ice or cold water to increase the rate of cooling
  • Run thru sprinklers or open hydrants, if available
  • Use sponges or cooling towels if the event offers these things
  • Take your time, decrease your pace, and WALK to keep your body temp as even as possible
  • Replace lost salt with salt tablets, electrolyte drinks/gels or by eating salty foods

Bottom line, even if you do all of the above, your rate of success will depend on how your body can ultimately deal with the heat.  Some people handle it much better than others.  Some people can’t handle it at all.  One of my friends still has a headache from the heat and dehydration suffered on Sunday.  Another friend had no idea why we struggled so much because she “loves running in the heat”.   It’s all about your body and how it can adapt to the conditions and that is super hard to predict.

Ultimately, everyone in my group finished, most of us with bragging rights over our new “personal worst” time.  But we finished under our own power because we did what was necessary for us and that meant slowing WAY down to endure the weather.  Here is Judy and I running around the track toward the finish line.  We were two happy campers to have finished another marathon in yet another new state. 

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Being safe always trumps running fast.  It’s certainly not fun but something we all learn over time.  If you ran in Marion on Sunday and are feeling bad about your race, know that only 124 people FINISHED the full, only 243 FINISHED the half and there were only 9 relay teams that crossed that finish line.  Finishing really was winning in Marion IA on Sunday.  Be proud.

Amanda – TooTallFritz

Running in the Heat ….

I think summer has finally arrived.  The heat and humidity have been circling the CHI like a shark considering the most strategic plan of attack.  It’s swooped in a couple of times only to be abruptly scared off; however, it’s not leaving this time.  So how are we going to handle running in the heat?   I’m going to cry cut my run short and head for my car!  Okay, I admit that I did do that last night but that’s not my normal method of heat management.  Here is a fast and friendly list that anyone can use to try to keep cool while running cuz the bottom line is that if you run, you will be running in the heat sooner rather than later.

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  • Hydrate – I know this is a no brainer but it’s of utmost importance.  You need to be consuming good fluids which hydrate, all day, every day.  Not beer.  Not wine.  Water.  Remember that alcohol dehydrates you, for days if you go on a binder like I did last weekend and will cost you after the fact.  One day/night of drinking will take many more days to replenish what was lost.   The alcohol is a diuretic, gets into your muscles and flushes out all the good stuff that you’ve worked so hard to put into your body.  It causes you to lose excess water (and vitamins & minerals), slows the pumping of your blood which decreases the amount of oxygen to your already depleted muscles and inhibits your body from pumping enough blood to get to your skin which is one of your natural, self-cooling methods. Scientific, huh?  I know, go get the real info HERE, then go fill up your water bottle.
  • Dress appropriately – Once again, sounds easy, right?  Maybe, maybe not!  When Chicago heats up, it’s no joke.  Think people in the ghetto city busting open fire hydrants cuz it’s so hot they could die.  Yep, it’s THAT hot.  So don’t take it lightly, dress in lightweight, cooling, moisture wicking tops with as little material touching you as possible.  One of my favorite “hot weather” tops is the Saucony Ignite Singlet ($30) and the Saucony Hydralite Tank ($25) which is on Last Chance Clearance for $12 HERE if you are an XS.  It’s so light, you can barely feel it.  I have 4 of ignite singlets, see an older model below (with Susan D) in pink.  On the “bottom”, my favorite hot weather skirt is Race Belt Skirt ($45) from SkirtSports.  The black & pink Race Belt Skirts come in an airy light material that has a lot of tiny pinholes.  Super for cooling & they dry FAST when they get wet!  Try a skirt this summer!!

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  • Hat, Visor & Sunglasses – Although, I’m not necessarily a hat person, it will help keep the sun off your face and out of your eyes.  If you can double up with a visor & sunglasses, even better!  If you can get your hands one of the 180s Cooling Visors ($25), much, MUCH better!  I was totally kicking myself that I didn’t have it last night when I had to bail on my run cuz I thought I would pass out.  The 180s cooling visor is my go to visor when it’s hot.  And in case you were wondering on sunglasses, I’m still rocking the Ryder Shot Photochromic’s that I reviewed last year HERE which are the only glasses I’ve worn on the run more than once or twice.  I really like them!  They are lightweight and don’t move even when I have sweat water pouring down my face.

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  • Carry or drop water for your runs.  If  you don’t like to carry your own water, consider dropping some along your run route or circling a path with a fountain.  I need a lot of water when it’s warm.  I drink, then dump.  If I’m wearing a hat/visor then I’ll get that wet  too!  This keeps my head cool(er) and the wetness provides a barrier from the heat.   The easiest way for me to carry water is via a hydration belt.  I’m not good with handhelds because I don’t like to hold onto anything.  My favorite hydration belt is below, it even went to Ragnar FL Keys with me.  The Road Runner Sports R-Gear Double Duty 2 Bottle Belt ($26.99) is light, doesn’t move, fits well, has Fuel Bottle brand “bottles” but is an exclusive Road Runner Sports design.  I particularly like the reflective pouch at the front and the plastic casings for the bottles to keep them from falling out, plus I can still wear it with my FlipBelt.  Win, Win!image
  • Sunscreen – The one thing that most people forget.  It will not only provide protection from the sun but also offer an immediate cooling effect upon application.  I also personally think that if you can keep your skin from heating up and burning, your internal cooling systems have an easier go and can work at keeping you cool on the run.  No science behind that, just personal opinion.  Real science is below:

Sun block or sweat block?
While use of sunscreen can reduce radiant heat absorption, many athletes are concerned that sunscreen will also hamper sweating. However, data from a 2000 research study published in the Journal Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness showed that use of sunscreen doesn’t affect thermoregulation — in fact, it may actually enhance overall body cooling. This data, while preliminary, should convince those who believe sunscreen will compromise their performance to start protecting their skin.

  • Schedule Your Run around the heat!  If you are able, try to avoid the hottest hours of the day when the sun is blazing.  Ideally speaking, its best to run before the sun rises or after it sets but I know that’s impossible difficult for many of us. 
  • Slow Your Roll – This is not a good time for a PR, or even a killer workout.  When the heat is high, run by effort.  Do not look at your watch and get discouraged, just run at a comfortable effort.  If you are feeling hot, faint, weak or just “off balance” then don’t be ashamed to back off or even walk.  Remember that a good day is a day that you get home safely under your own power.  Nobody checks your watch to see how fast you were running BEFORE you passed out and needed emergency assistance.  Take your time and get home safely!

There are just a few of my favorite hot weather running tips.  If you know of more good tips or have a good article in mind, please link it up! 

** Always Run Safely ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

I Think I Can, I KNOW I CAN…..

I know you remember from your childhood, or possibly you still use this with your own kids, The Little Engine Who Could. “I Think I Can, I Think I Can, I Think I Can, I Think I Can……..”

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I know a lot of you are really stressed about the heat.   Running in the heat today, tomorrow, this weekend and basically for the rest of marathon training season summer.  Is it going to be fun?  Probably not.  Is it ideal?  Definitely not.  However, its part of the equation that will deliver you to race day in tip top shape.  The kind of tip top shape that will carry you thru 26.2 miles of whatever Mother Nature throws at you.

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So wrap your head around the fact that it’s gonna be hot and sticky for a long time to come.  Wrap you head around the fact that you are going to run outside and sweat it out.  Wrap you head around the fact that you can NOT cop out and hit the dreadmill.  Running on the dreadmill in your air conditioned basement gym will not help you when its 80+ degrees on race day.  You’ve got to suck it up and run outside now, in the heat. 

Although, I’m sure you’ve scoured every article in the run mags on heat running, here are a few things to consider:

  • DRINK YOUR WATER, every day, all day long, not just while you are running. 
  • ADD SALT TO YOUR DIET.  When you are sweating it out on the trail, you need EXTRA salt in your body so that as you are drowning yourself in water for both internal cooling and hydration purposes you don’t get water poisoning because you have flushed all the salt out of your body and not replaced it.  Some people use salt tabs to help with this while they are running.  I’ve even carried disposable salt packets with me and eaten a salt packet a couple times during the marathon or long training run.
  • SLOW DOWN.  Do not expect your body to perform the way that it does in 50 or 60 degree weather.  It won’t happen.  There’s a lot of science behind that statement but just take my word for it.  Don’t be disappointed, just focus on getting in the miles at whatever pace you can SAFELY manage.
  • FOCUS ON GOAL.   As you are debating weather you should get your ass out of bed hit the trail with your training partners in the heat, or sleep in and hit the dreadmill in the AC later, remember why  you are doing this.  Remember what you need to do on October 7th.  Remember that failing is not an option.  Remember your goal.
  • PLAN AHEAD.  Where are you running?  Where do you need to drop water?  Can you carry water with you?  How will you fuel?  These are not things I can answer for you.  I normally carry water in a hydration belt on me and drop water for refills.  You will go thru way more water than you anticipate because you will probably be using some of it to cool yourself externally.  I dump water on my head or neck to help keep cool.  What is your MO?  Think about it and make a plan.
  • DRESS APPROPRIATELYThis is a good time to look at your wardrobe.  Do  you wear a hat, sunglasses or visor to help shield you from the sun?  Do you have lots of light colored tanks or sleeveless shirts to that wick to help keep you as dry and cool as possible?  Did you buy some shorts/skirts even though you think your legs are ugly?  You need to focus on staying cool and that might mean making a few adjustments to your wardrobe and stepping outside your comfort zone.
  • SAFETY IN NUMBERSIt’s really important to run with a group in this weather.  If you collapse from heat stroke, are vomiting from dehydration or water poisoning, get dizzy from the sun……you will need help.  Carry your phone or make sure that you are running with somebody who has one ON THEIR PERSON, not in their car,  not on the kitchen counter, ON THEIR PERSON

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You can do this.  I think you can.  I know you can!  Now you say it…..”I think I can, I Think I Can, I KNOW I CAN!”  Hit the trail for those group runs and get in your miles.  Just be smart. 

Do you have any hot weather training tips?

Sidenote:  Favorite Training Items Giveaway goes until Tuesday, have you entered to win?

** Happy Training ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com