Do Not Fear the Country Music Marathon
Let’s face it: either you are into running, or you’re not.
Luckily, there is an easy way to tell which category you fall into. Does running 13.1 miles sound fun to you? No? Well, you’re probably not a runner.
Since I’m running the Country Music Half Marathon again, I’m a firm hell yes, but I don’t really consider myself "a runner." Why? Well, I need to run on a regular basis or I’ll go insane, but I frequently go to happy hour and indulge in regular beer and cheese fries. I do not own a heart rate monitor, and I select my running shoes on the criteria of how pretty they are. I can identify every different kind of cupcake from each bakery in Nashville, and I think protein bars taste like Silly Putty. Also, I am eating a bag of pretzel M&M’s while I’m writing this (according to the package, they have 30% less fat than the leading chocolate brands, whatever that means).
But in a country that sells frozen pizza with slice-and-bake cookies in the box, that’s OK. It’s all about balance, right? So for those of us who like to have our cake and our chocolate, too, the Country Music Half Marathon is a great way to stay in shape(ish) and challenge yourself without signing up for months of monk-like living.
In Nashville, there are many options for runners training for a half or full marathon. Team in Training rallies the troops to train and raise money for cancer research; the East Nasty running club offers training for a variety of races (including a couch-to-5K program for beginners), and the ultra coordinated can hoop the half marathon through the nonprofit Hooping for Hope. If you’re one of those solo, earbuds-prominently-displayed-with-iPod-on-full-blast types of runners (hello, kindred spirits!), you have your pick of park trails and gyms in which to train.
While I would not recommend this to novices, I've never joined a running group or followed any kind of training “schedule,” unless you count doing long runs on the weekend after “carbing up” at Donut Den. I’m a loner runner, and the long treks give me the opportunity to listen to my "It’s Still the ‘90s!" playlist and shut out the world for a bit. Running serves as a kind of therapy, a unique psychoactive stimulant, and a way to work through the noise in your head while enjoying repetitive, rhythmic movements akin to meditation. It also helps you fit into your skinny jeans when you eat too many of those cheese fries or frozen pizza cookies.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I think non-runners are intimidated by the running subculture. Because non-runners assume that runners eat rabbit-like diets (I have a pet rabbit and I can assure you that our diets have zero crossover) and schedule every minute of their day around their workouts. Because the idea of running a marathon — or a half marathon — seems so farfetched that a non-runner wouldn’t even surmise that they could accomplish it.
Well, you can! Go you. But if I won’t be seeing you on April 30th at this year’s Country Music Marathon, maybe it’s time to set yourself a goal for 2012. You’d be amazed by how easy it is to integrate running into your lifestyle. And if you can’t or choose not to run, the spectators at the marathon have almost as much fun as the runners. In addition to the scenic route — which includes the honky tonks of lower Broadway and Belmont Blvd. — there are tons of local bands playing along the way and we runners need someone to cheer us on so we can make that final stretch into LP Field.
Dana Birdsong didn’t have time for a headache that day. The (then) 35-year-old lobbyist and advocate for the American College of Cardiology in Washington, D.C. had a meeting on Capitol Hill she couldn’t miss.
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