I ignored the advice I read last year while preparing for the TCS NYC Marathon. So rather than take in the energy of the crowd and the live bands and even the strange silence on the Queensboro Bridge I elected to wear my headphones and listen to my own music while Map My Run kept me apprised of my vital statistics. And this worked reasonably well until that young lady in the big hurry squeezed between me and another runner around mile 14 and accidently yanked out my headphones – effectively ending all further updates on my progress. So when I received similar advice after signing up for the Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon you didn’t have to tell me twice. I immediately went to planning my strategy for running without the headphones – which would allow me to enjoy the “band every mile” on the course -as long as I also had the ability to track my own progress. I figured it would be good practice for my return trip to the TCS NYC Marathon this fall as well.
As “luck” would have it my second “Quit-bit” gave up the ghost right around that time and rather than replace it with another one (fool me once…………….) I opted to purchase a refurbished Garmin 225, which has a much more readable face and a lot more information about my run. Despite the more readable face I found I was having trouble reading it on the run so I finally broke down and bought a pair of sport sunglasses with readers. I know, I know, stubborn old man. But with the new setup I was ready to run my first Rock N Roll Half Marathon, sans headgear.
Heading into race week I got an alert from the Rock N Roll team that race times were being moved up in anticipation of an unseasonably hot day with race time temps starting in the low 70’s, rising to the high 80s. Fortunately I was staying in a hotel a block from the starting line so I was able to prepare for the hot weather more effectively. I froze a bottle of water to take with me to drink and hold on the back of my neck when needed, and I ran cold water over my head till I felt chilled before I headed out.
As advertised, the race was hot, and hilly. I saw more runners suffering the effects than I think I’ve ever seen. More than a couple were laid out on the ground being attended to by spectators, runners and officials, and I saw a lot more than the usual amount of people calling it quits before the finish. But there were a lot of accommodations to the hot weather on the course, including quite a few sprinklers to run through, and I hit them all. I dumped a lot of water over my head too, so by the end of the race I was soaking wet, and grateful I was not running the full marathon. Still the heat took its toll and I ended up finishing almost 12 minutes behind my PR at 1:57:02. But I did manage to finish 25th of 445 in my old man group and 1,194th overall – the top 10% of the 17,850 half marathon runners. So all told I was satisfied with the results, and I really liked Nashville and the race. Best of all my Rock N Roll Persona Assessment is “Lead Singer” – so I got that goin’ for me.
Now the only problem about running this race without my music that I couldn’t seem to solve centered on this post itself. Frequently my titles come from a song I heard during the race, and I usually try to find some interesting way to get back to that title in the close. I kinda wanted to use “Still Rock N Roll to Me”, and I knew I could use it even if I had to stretch the truth a bit, because I do have it in my library. But without my playlist what were the chances of hearing that tune? Well sure enough, somewhere around mile 7 I think, as the band was winding down “Back In The USSR” by the Beatles, I heard the lead vocalist say –“now we’d like to do a song by Billy Joel” and I knew my problem was about to be solved. It’s still rock n roll to me.