Wednesday, January 26, 2011

See You in April, Nashville

It's January and, or so it seems, all the runners I know are planning their race season.

I may be reluctantly running on a treadmill while the sidewalk's a sheet of ice, but my sights are on...Nashville.

Why Nashville you ask?

I need a spring race.

I need a goal. I need to be able to mark off progress of four months of training each day.

I need a training schedule to be staring me in the face every time I open the fridge.

I need a reason to buy a new pair of running shoes and to continuously update my ipod's playlist.

And it certainly helps to have a race to blog about.

So, it's been decided that a small group of us will travel down to Nashville at the end of April to run the Country Music Half Marathon & Marathon.

This year will not be my first Country Music Half. In 2009, I ran this race with Mary Beth, her sister Katie and her cousin Meghan.

It's a very hilly race, which makes it challenging when training in completely-flat Chicago. It was also unseasonably warm the day we ran the race. Sounds like a familiar theme to my races, eh?

The Country Music Marathon & Half is unique in the way the race is set up. It is a large race which has all distances start at the same time. All runners estimate their finish times and are then placed in to corral assignments based on that number. Both the Marathon and the Half run the same first ten or so miles, then the Half Marathoners turn off to head to the finish while the Marathoners continue on.

I vividly remember standing in the corral in 2009 looking down and then up a very steep hill and around at people's bibs and picking out those who were doing the marathon. At that point, I'd done my first marathon just the October before, but regardless, preparing for a spring Marathon seemed like a far-fetched dream rather than a possibility - mainly due to the winter weather training that would be involved.

I guess that goes to show you how much time training takes for a single race, and then how quickly your body falls out of that shape. That is the great challenge of distance running.

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