It rained the whole race. Then it rained four straight hours after the race. Country Music Marathon was good running, but a bummer on all other levels.
People did their best to brave the elements and cheer on runners, and in the end, there was great support by the fans. For running, it was almost perfect, and thankfully I felt strong for most of the race, even though I came out way too fast (possibly because I started in corral one). I was shooting for something below 1:40 and built a nice cushion by doing the first two miles at an average pace around 7:08. Even the third mile, which is almost all a hill, was around 7:20. I was feeling it. But that’s not all I felt.
Around mile 9 my IT band started acting up and I elected to back off a little. My pace was pretty strong and sub 1:40 seemed like it was in the bag, but I couldn’t read my watch because of contacts and the rain, so I was just looking for a “7” on the pace count and hoped it would all work out.
It did work out. I finished in 1:37:28, which is about 35 minutes faster than I ran this course last year and 5 minutes faster than I ran the very flat New Orleans Half. All in all a good day, but literally two minutes after I crossed the finish line I was freezing.
Soaking wet and standing there in a tank top, I quickly grabbed a race blanket and pulled it tight around me while I waited for friends to finish. I walked out of the chute, looked for somewhere warm to hang, but unfortunately there were no options. I walked back and forth near LP Field and was perplexed at why they didn’t open the stadium for people to get out of the rain. It was absolutely brutal.
People were shivering and waiting for people they couldn’t find because everyone looked identical wearing their “Rock n Roll marathon” warmer blankets. It was a steady rain in 50 degree weather and I’m staring up at this massive stadium that is basically locked. I don’t care if marathon people asked or not, the people in charge of LP Field should have saw it coming and offered the facility. It is an incredulous oversight and I don’t care about politics or safety or anything else. It should have been done.
So, instead, I wandered like a vagabond, teeth chattering, and legs shaking, trying to find people I knew. I ran into exactly two people I recognized, but had no clue how to find Rebekah, whose warm clothes were waiting in my car.
My knee ached and I contemplated walking 6 blocks to the car and back, but thought it would be best to just hang, then walk together, and leave. After almost two hours, I decided to go to the car, change, and bring her bag of clothes back. All told, I was standing or walking in the rain for over 3 hours. It was miserable and I still can’t believe they didn’t at least put up some more tents or something. Not like it’s their first marathon in the rain.
Anyway, the actual race was great considering the circumstances. The post-race, however, was a nightmare. I know you can’t plan for everything, but the forecast was calling for this exact weather a week ago. It would have been very easy to make this a better experience.