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.|
|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.|
|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 take a quick jog to stay loose in the sunshine.|
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  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.
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.|
|Blues Alley, downtown Nashville.|
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.|
|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!|
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.|
|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 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!|