This was a good year not to be running. The weather was potentially terrible, with severe thunderstorms, hail, and tornadoes possible. With this in mind, the race committee decided to start the race 15 minutes early. They also determined that if runners were not on pace to finish the full marathon in 5 hours or less, those runners would be directed to the half-marathon finish at Mile 11, where the full and half parted ways. While the morning started off with fairly decent weather, it got worse around 10am. Runners were diverted at Miles 20 and 21, and even spectators were urged to take cover. Nashville was spared of severe weather, and eventually the event ended.
The race course comes fairly close to our neighborhood. Steve and I went over early this morning to watch the runners at they passed the 6-mile mark. After watching for awhile, I went over to Sam and Lynnette's, where the runners pass the 11-mile mark headed out for a down and back, returning at the 18-mile mark. I saw some of the same runners three different times.
I enjoyed watching the runners. These were some of my favorites:
*Barefoot dude - yes, he ran sans shoes. Apparently he wasn't the only one. While I do love barefootin' it, I just don't think I could do 26.2 miles of it. Although I do think it's pretty cool.
*Juggling dudes - I saw two of them. I have to admire their ability to do two things at once - or is it four, since they were juggling three balls? Technically, I guess I do two things at once during a race - run and look at the road in front of me so I can avoid stepping in a hole (or on a pebble or on a crack) and falling down. And since I can't always master doing those two things (resulting is falling), I guess I'll leave the juggling to the juggler-joggers.
*High fashion men - these are the dudes today who wore the colorful shorts, or the wetsuit-style outfit (not my favorite as a spectator), or ran without their shirts (some of whom needed to keep them on). Bravo for not sticking to convention when it comes to your running attire. However, the dude who ran in a running skirt - I just want to know if you did it for comfort, or because you lost a bet, or because you're trying to make a point.
*Seemingly unfit women who obviously are fit - your gait looks weird, your body looks un-athletic, and your age appears in the middle-age range. And yet you are knocking the socks off the marathon - running for a finish in the 3-hour range. You give me hope.
*Sad weeping young woman at the 18-mile mark - your husband was walking with you, encouraging you to finish. I hope you did. I wanted to tell you that you would catch your second wind, if you kept going another mile or two. But ultimately I knew it would have to be your decision to keep going or not. Either way, you win, because you have the support of someone who loves you no matter what.
*Half-marathon woman winner - I saw you at Mile 6, and you were clearly in the lead. At Mile 18, you were second, but we could see that you were pumping to catch up with the woman leader. You caught her somewhere, because you won. You taught me to never give up, because it's not over until it's over.
*Runners who encouraged the spectators to cheer for the runners, or slapped our hands in a high-five, or who looked up and said, "thanks" when we yelled encouragement, or who smiled like they were having fun. You have the right idea - and I appreciate your spirit.
In the end, around 27,000 people finished either the marathon or the half-marathon. Each had his or her story before the race, and each now has a race story. Their life stories are different because of the hours spent one weathery morning in Nashville. And for the runners whose stories I was privileged to share, my life story is different, too. I guess that makes me a winner, too!
Things that make today great: Watching the CMM with Steve and then with Lynnette and Lindley; observing runners and spectators along the way; seeing the Crimms and Matt Self; taking Sam, Lynnette, and Lindley to the airport; chatting with Marilyn on the phone