Tuesday, May 14, 2013

7th event of 2013: Rock 'n Roll Nashville

Country Music Half Marathon: Nashville, TN

Thursday, April 25th:

I set my alarm for 4:30am in order to get the house ready for our absence: trash emptied, plants watered,  rooms tidied, appliances unplugged, thermostat checked and appropriate lighting on/off. We planned a 5:30am departure but I opted for a 15-minute snooze and so we were closer to 6:00am by the time we finally left the neighborhood.

Still, the only commitment I have in Nashville today is a 6:30pm dinner with the local CMTA Support & Action Group. I hope to get to the hotel, check in there and then go to the Nashville Convention Center to check in for this weekend's race. The CMTA crew has said they plan to cheer us on for the race so I want to get them all the official information from the Expo before I head over to the dinner meeting.

About 2.5 hours into the drive we stop at our favorite spot for a quick breakfast, The Bean Trees Cafe:

Not a lot of people here so early in the morning.

A bit chilly to sit outside this time, but with the sound of the river reaching indoors it's still a great treat.

Goodbye, Bean Trees! See you on the return trip.

Back on the road again. A beautiful drive so far, no traffic, and Jim is doing most of the driving. I take some time to catch up on emails and make contact with the CMTA group whom I'll be meeting later tonight.

After emailing Gwen about tonight's dinner she reminded me that I should be prepared for a soggy run on Sunday. Luckily I keep my all-seasons gear packed for every trip (you can't always trust a forecast) and I send her this reply, above. Once you've been told you may never run again the weather doesn't provide a good enough reason to keep you down.

Oh my. We are just shy of 2-hours short of Nashville and we hit major traffic.  It's only 11:00am though so both Jim and I feel fine about our schedules.

Well, after sitting here in a dead stop for 30 minutes we find updates on the internet and radio telling us that our situation is more serious than we expected. While no one was seriously injured, thankfully, there was a major accident involving an overturned tractor-trailer carrying diesel fuel. We are smack in the middle of a 5-mile stretch of I-40 that won't be cleared for hours. Ahead and behind us they are re-routing traffic, shutting down I-40 in both directions until at least 6pm tonight. For those of us in the middle of this, we'll have to wait for them to get the re-routed traffic moving before they'll start to clear us out. They expect this to take 3-5 hours.


With no other choice, Jim and I make the most of our time by working on our computers and enjoying each other's company. It's actually kinda nice to have "unopposed time" with my husband, especially on such a pretty day. We both realize we're going to have to skip our afternoon plans but feel pretty good that we can be in Nashville by 6:30, six hours from now, in time to meet the CMTA group at the restaurant.

Jim decides to stretch his legs and meet our newest neighbors.

Me, never one to miss a photo-op!

Jim, playing travel agent as he buys his plane tickets for the next 2 trips he's taking.

I couldn't resist asking my new friends to help spread the Get Back UP message. They all were only too happy to help. I don't usually carry any GBU signs with me when I travel since I usually fly; I make new ones each time. For this trip though, I had the signs that our TeamUP made in Greensboro and packed them all in the car at the last minute. This was an awesome chance to make use of them!

I take a quick jog to stay loose in the sunshine.

After 14 hours on the road (for a usual 7-hour drive) we finally made it to the restaurant about 15 minutes late. I changed my clothes in the car and was so happy to meet all the CMTA group waiting for us. Jay Nowlin, the Allard rep for Tennessee on the far right, joined us as well.

Although I had never met anyone in the CMTA/Nashville group before tonight I think we all felt like immediate family. I don't even have CMT and yet the challenges we have in common created a very special bond. I have mentioned CMT before but after meeting with the Sarvers, the Dempseys, the Grays and the rest of this support group I feel compelled to keep educating others about it.

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease/disorder/syndrome was named after those who classically described it: Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893), his pupil Pierre Marie (1853-1940) and Howard Henry Tooth (1856-1925). To a person, everyone I've met with CMT desperately wishes that someone will rename the disease. It's such a cumbersome name and gives absolutely zero indication regarding what the disease actually is; they all feel it limits awareness and exposure opportunities and I can't disagree with them. This frustration is particularly poignant here in Nashville, where all of Tennessee associates CMT with Country Music Television!

Recognizing that they can do very little about the name, the CMTA support groups move forward in their mission to provide awareness, education and assistance to those diagnosed with the disease. By Wikipedia's definition, CMT is: a genetically and clinically heterogeneous group of inherited disorders of the peripheral nervous system characterised by progressive loss of muscle tissue and touch sensation across various parts of the body. Currently incurable, this disease is one of the most common inherited neurological disorders affecting approximately 1 in 2,500 people [1][2] equating to approximately 23,000 people in theUnited Kingdom and 125,000 people in the USA.

This definition is really a sweeping summary of the basics, however there are many types and severities of this condition and so much more still to learn about it. For a more thorough explanation read here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charcot–Marie–Tooth_disease  AND please visit the official CMTA site for the most up-to-date information and support available, http://cmtausa.org/

So, back to my visit with this group here in Nashville...

I am always encouraged and inspired by those who refuse to give in to their mental- or physical challenges. I am even more inspired by those who go public in their efforts and reach out to help others along the way. The people I met here are incredible souls: they formed a support network where there wasn't one and every day they are bringing a sobering awareness to the cause while using warmth and humor in doing so. 

Sometimes it's hard for me to reconcile the fact that the most heartbreaking stories can also be the most uplifting... and yet, I see this over and over again along this Get Back UP journey. When you are searching for true heroes and awesome role models, I promise you that you can find thousands of them within the CMTA.

The best part of my job is meeting people like the ones in this photo. Thomas,  far left,  and sisters Gwen and Rachel in the middle have CMT disease and they are here with their extremely supportive families.  Far right is Bridget Sarver, Thomas' mom, who is co-facilitator of CMTA/Nashville (with Gwen Dempsey). Marilyn Redick, Gwen & Rachel's mom, is middle left and in the back are Gwen and Rachel's husbands.  

I gave everyone in Nashville CMTA a Get Back UP medal, well-deserved by each of them. It's such a small token but is meant to show our admiration and appreciation for those who must find a way to Get Back UP every day. In exchange, I got this great bracelet which I plan to wear regularly, to help spread awareness and also serve as a reminder of my newest Nashville friendships. 

I think we probably could have visited together all night, we had so much in common and had so many new ideas of how to ramp up our shared mission of support and awareness. We also just had some really great laughs together.  For now, we all had places to go and things to do to prepare for a busy weekend. I gave them all the GBU signs I brought with me since they plan to support me in the Rock N Roll Half Marathon on Saturday. Tomorrow we will solidify a race-day plan to meet up but now Jim and I needed to finally check into the hotel after a very long and eventful day.

Friday, April 26th:

As usual, I worked in the hotel room for a few hours then went to the Expo to pick up our race packets. We've been alerted via email that the race protocol will change a bit due to the bombing tragedy at the Boston Marathon less than 2 weeks ago. When I arrive at the Expo it's quite apparent that security measures have been beefed up, but overall there's a spirit of strength radiating from the thousands of runners here. When Jim and I are in line to enter the Expo we run into our RnR gypsy friend, Joe Harris:

Joe, supporting the Boston Strong message!

Words to those recovering in Boston and across the country.

Here's to all those who run for love, not out of fear.

Merle sighting!! I had to get my limited edition "Boston Strong" Sweaty Bands as gifts for a few of my friends who were in Boston this year.
After the Expo I went out in search of lunch while Jim was working with some of his Nashville-area reps. I needed to stay close to the Expo in case a media opportunity materialized so I chose to walk downtown in Music City until Jim came back to get me. We plan to meet up with Kristen, my stepdaughter, who lives in nearby Franklin, TN.
Blues Alley, downtown Nashville.
Jim was finished sooner than he thought so he picked me up downtown just in time to beat the rain. We headed over to a place called Tavern Gastropub to meet Kristen. I neglected to get restaurant/food photos because we were so busy catching up with Kristen but here's a link to the menu:

Dad and Daughter! We had a really good visit with Kristen then had to call it a night to get ready for tomorrow's run. Kristen's roommate has a CD release party tonight...starts at 10pm... so we excused her from race-support duties. We hope to catch up with her again after we run tomorrow.

Saturday, April 27th...RACE DAY!!

At 5:30 a.m. Allard rep, Jay Nowlin, met us at our airport-area hotel for the drive into town. Rain was forecast all day and so far the predictions are accurate; light rain and cold temps upon walking outside this morning.
Just like last year, the Nashville Embassy Suites/Airport had a wonderful array of pre-race snacks set out by 4:30am for the runners.

What a great surprise for the many runners who stayed this far outside of downtown.

I grabbed a bag full of treats for Jay, Jim and myself and we headed downtown for our 20-30 minute ride to the starting line area.

We arrive at the start, where thankfully we have access to Chili's Bar and Grill to keep out of the rain while we get ready to run. Jay is such a trooper to brave the cold, wind and rain today. We're praying that the rain lets up at least part of the morning, but just in case I waterproofed the sign with plastic around the sign and clear packing tape covering each streamer.

Jay and Jim, ready to Rock n Roll! Poor Jay, every time he's come to support me in an event the weather's been rough. 

I'm running in my 2009 Boston Marathon shirt and added our support to the back of the Get Back UP sign. I'm freezing in this photo, wondering whether I should've kept my jacket for this run like Jim has chosen to do.

Jay, you're a champ! See you at the finish line!
Jim and I trudged through the initial miles of the race without much conversation, the rain was strong and steady since the start of the race. I finally warmed up by mile 5 or so and was then glad I didn't have my jacket on. Jim stayed a bit drier than I for a few miles but by the time he warmed up he was sweating under his jacket so he was eventually drenched anyway. One thing that was kinda' funny to me was going uphill in the rain: the rain was rushing down the gullies at the sides of the road and as you run upstream against the flow it appears as though you're speeding uphill. I kept getting dizzy looking down and yet I always have to watch my footing while running with footdrop...first time I ever had the feeling of being seasick on a run!

We coordinated with the CMTA group earlier about a plan for them to find us on the course. They said they'd be near mile 9 on the right side of the road. Luckily for all of us I also told them that despite their best planning efforts, sometimes you can't get where you hope to on the race course. They were closer to mile 8 on the left and we almost ran right by them!! I can't tell you how happy it was, thanks to Jim for looking across the street, to see all these glorious faces in the gloom of the weather!

As I said in my Facebook post for this photo: BEST. FANS. EVER.

There's a fantastic story about the first sign on the left...notice the backwards "a". I won't go into it here, but every time I think of this sign I laugh and think of how much I love my newest friends Rachel and Gwen. And I don't know if you can see, but Thomas (far right) is out here trekking about despite recent surgery on his feet. Without a doubt, we had the best cheering section on the course. This crew waited for hours in the cold and rain to give us an awesome dose of extra energy for the finish. Nashville CMTA ROCKS!!!

The weariness of running 13.1 HILLY miles in the COLD and POURING-RAIN completely disappears when you have this waiting for you at the finish line:

I had to jump into this photo to preserve this memory: the all-time best support crew ever. Thomas, Marilyn, Gwen, Bridget (and Rachel, not pictured): You are my heroes and I hope to make you proud as I continue on this Get Back UP journey. I love that you wore your TeamUP buttons and GBU medals under all your rain gear!

Literally, a true "sign" of community and determination. We are all in this journey together and we can all find ways to love and support each other through the rougher weather. I am so honored to have met you, Nashville CMTA, and hope I can repay you for the gifts you've given to me.

Another road-weary sign.

Jim and Jay, ready for me to quit taking photos so we can all find warm and dry havens.

Just when we thought it couldn't rain harder, it did. We only had to walk about 4 blocks thanks to Jay parking so early at the finish line but we may as well have been swimming.

Another view of the Finish Line festivities, which were not quite so festive thanks to the most rainfall in the history of this event.
We made it back to Jay's car which fortunately was a rental. Notice the pool of water on the console at his elbow? All three of us were sitting in puddles on the way back to the hotel. But at least we had heat!

After the race we planned to meet Kristen and some of our RnR friends downtown. Kristen wanted to show us "her Nashville" and as a bonus for all of us, her boyfriend's band was playing an early set at a big club on Broadway.

My stepdaughter towers over me but I love her anyway! :-) I'm so lucky to be her "bonus mom".

Another RnR gypsy friend, Krissey Foley. Just to our right is good friend, David DeNeire who came in from Toronto for the rainy run.

The medal.

The bonus medal for our 6th Rock N Roll event of the year.

My true "trophies": gifts from my new friends at CMTA/Nashville. I will not forget you!
Next stop: the Indy 500 for the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon!


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