Thursday, April 29, 2010

Country Music Marathon (Pre-Race)

On Friday morning, Chad and I woke up early and got ready to hit the road. The only one who wanted to sleep in was Emma! She was buried under several blankets in our bed, snoozing away. We woke her up and got her ready to go, then dropped her off at the kennel and headed south. Luckily Emma does really well at kennels - I know she enjoys the social aspect! We boarded her at a smaller kennel that came highly recommended by my boss, so I felt very at ease knowing that she was in good hands for the weekend.

When we started out towards Nashville it was pouring rain. But after about an hour on the road the skies cleared, the sun came out, and it turned into pretty much the perfect day. We arrived in Nashville around 11:30 and went straight to the Chipotle in the Vanderbilt area for lunch. I had 3/4 of a vegetarian burrito bowl - I think that is my favorite meal ever. The Chipotle was right across the street from the starting area for the race, so it was neat to be able to scope that out a little before the race.

After lunch we headed to our hotel, The Renaissance, which was only like a mile and a half away. The hotel was attached to the Nashville Convention Center where the expo was being held, which made for absolutely crazy traffic. There were people and cars everywhere, and for the life of us we could not find the entrance to the hotel's parking garage. We quickly decided to just use the valet, which was worth every penny of the $30 charge to get us out of the chaos. We arrived about 4 hours earlier than the posted check-in time, but luckily our room was ready. After putting our bags in the room, we headed down to the expo. It was so nice to just have to walk across the lobby to the Convention Center rather than drive across town.

At the expo I picked up my packet, bib and shirt and then we walked around to some of the booths. There was a huge Nissan booth, and Eddie George was there signing autographs. I'm not that interested in Eddie George, but I'm very interested in Ryan Hall, another Nissan athlete. I asked one of the Nissan employees if Ryan was going to be signing autographs anytime soon, and she said he was going to be there in about 10 minutes. I couldn't believe my luck! What are the odds that we would be in the right place at the right time to meet one of America's top marathoners? There were just a few people in line, so we secured our spot and looked through my packet. Once Eddie George was done signing autographs he walked right past me! I quickly snapped a picture of him, because I know my dad is a fan. (There are lots of pictures from the day at the end of the post.)

I was so nervous to meet Ryan Hall that I kept going over my three conversation points with Chad: Twitter, Boston, book. I repeated this over and over for ten minutes. I wanted to tell Ryan that I follow him on Twitter (@ryanhall3), congratulate him on his American course record at the Boston Marathon that week, and tell him I was looking forward to reading his book that he is writing with Josh Cox. When it was my turn to meet him, I hit all three bullet points, got an autographed poster, and then got two pictures with him. It was awesome!! He was so nice, and he definitely looks much younger in person. It was such a fun experience!

After meeting Ryan, Chad and I set out to find the Team Livestrong booth. I was really looking forward to meeting Dylan Trakas, the Team Livestrong staffer who coordinated the Country Music Marathon team. We found the booth and I got to meet Dylan and Amy Dodson. Amy is an incredible athlete - you can read more about her here. She has one leg, one lung, and is about to run the Western States 100 mile run. She lost one leg and one lung to cancer, but she is doing truly incredible things with the one lung and leg that she has left. She has done several marathons and ultras, and Western States will be her first 100 mile run. I asked her if she had any plans to do Badwater, but she said she was worried about the long term internal effects! She got to run a marathon with Dean Karnazes in Arizona as part of his 50 Marathons/50 States/50 Days tour, so we talked about that for a little while which was so cool! It was so awesome to meet these people at the expo - it was definitely an inspirational boost for race day!

After checking out the expo a little more, we headed back to the room to rest for a while. We watched college men's gymnastics on ESPNHD2 - it was amazing! After resting for a while, we headed back out to the streets of Nashville. Our hotel was one block off of Broadway, which is the "main drag" with all of the neat shops, boot stores, honky tonks, etc. There was a ton to see in a pretty small area - just a few blocks, really. It was so neat to see the Ryman Auditorium, Ernest Tubbs Record Shop, Gruhn Guitars, and Hatch Show Print. Chad has been talking about Gruhn Guitars for months - it was like a mecca for him. I am continually amazed at his knowledge of all things is incredible! So we spent a lot of time at Gruhn's, then walked around some more before heading back to the hotel to rest before dinner. I was afraid I was doing too much walking!

We had two places in mind for dinner - Demo's or the Old Spaghetti Warehouse. They were just a few blocks from each other, so I figured we would go to the one with the shortest wait. We walked past Demo's and there were like 100 people! We headed up the block to Old Spaghetti Warehouse, and passed a Sbarro on the way. The wait was pretty long at the Spaghetti Warehouse too, so we just went back to Sbarro. I got baked ziti, a breadstick, a caeser salad, and a bottle of Gatorade. It was quick, cheap, fast and filling - a good combo! After dinner we walked to Mike's Ice Cream for dessert, and then headed back to the hotel. By now it was about 6:30pm (felt like 7:30pm Eastern to me) and I was wearing down. I laid out my clothes and breakfast for the race, got ready for bed and was in bed by 7:00!

An episode of The Pacific was on HBO which was really interesting, but terribly gruesome! Chad loves Band of Brothers, so he was excited to catch a few episodes of The Pacific. After setting three alarms for the morning, I was snoozing by 7:30pm. I was glad our hotel was so centrally located because it accommodated me going to sleep in the early evening, and Chad was still able to get out and walk through downtown some more to keep from going stir crazy!

Here are some pictures from Friday - stay tuned for my race report!

Eddie George, former Tennessee Titans running back

Ryan Hall and me!!!!!

Amy Dodson, me, and Dylan Trakas
(I should have worn one of my Livestrong shirts!)

Apparently I sweat when I meet famous people.

Gruhn Guitars - Chad's reason for wanting to go to Nashville!

They had a buy 1 get 2 free special on boots -
Chad told me he almost got some new boots after I went to sleep!

The Ryman Auditorium

Perhaps this would lead me to Keith Urban?

Hatch Show Print - such a cool place!
We searched for a Wilco at the Ryman print, but to no avail.

Frozen yogurt from Mike's Ice Cream

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