Friday, June 9, 2017

Music City, USA

As soon as I got home from Chicago, it was time to think about my next adventure. Way back in July, my girls and I decided it would be a really cool idea to all do a "destination race" together. We selected the Rock 'n Roll Nashville Half Marathon and began to plan our training. Here in Shreveport, we spent the fall and early winter preparing, while Jana followed her own training program in South Carolina.  Of course, in January, when I tore my calf muscle, I knew that the half marathon was not going to be possible for me, but I held hopes of at least finishing the 5K.  Besides, the real reason we wanted to do this race (which was late in the season) was to gather as a family.
Callie and I headed out early in the week with her boys, while Ron and Jordan waited until Thursday night to drive out after work. Unfortunately, Silas had come down with a terrible stomach bug the day before they left, but he was feeling much better by the time we met them mid-week. We rented a small house in East Nashville--and AirBnB--and it was perfect for our gathering. We shopped for groceries and got settled in. Before crashing from our long trips, one of Callie's friends from high school who now lives in Nashville, took us to a nearby park, which was a great chance for the boys to get out some of the car-seat energy.

Thursday morning, it was clear that the virus had taken its second hostage--Rob. The girls and I headed out with the little boys for a morning of fun, beginning with a drive down to Centennial Park to see the Parthenon replica. One of Toddler D's favorite books is his Children's Atlas, so he was familiar with the Parthenon (although not the one in Nashville, of course). 
The boys were delighted to see such a giant building and eagerly climbed the tall steps and danced around.

 After enjoying the pond, we set out to find the train engine we'd heard about. 
Of course, for these two boys, that was the highlight of the day--and possibly the trip. Toddler D kept referring to it as the "rusty old engine" from The Little Engine That Could" and they explored every inch of it.
Next we headed down to the Frist Museum, where Jana had heard about their children's museum within. It was wonderful!! It was full of hands-on activities for all ages that related to the Museum's current exhibition.
 With lunchtime looming, we asked for a recommendation of a nearby restaurant from one of the young docents. He suggested the Paradise ___, so we walked down to the main drag and found it. While I certainly couldn't call it gourmet, we had the place to ourselves (that probably speaks to the quality of food--haha) and the boys were happy with it. There was construction going on all over downtown Nashville, so they loved seeing all the rooftop cranes and other machines.
That evening we enjoyed some of the best ice cream I've had in a long time with Sophia and Sean. In fact, although I'm not a huge ice cream addict, I have thought about Jeni's Ice Cream more than once since we got back.
 Friday, we all headed back downtown to pick up our race packets and visit the expo. Fortunately, Rob was feeling much better again! The virus seemed to be vicious, but short-lived.

We took the boys back to the park to burn off some energy before returning to the house to carb-load on some of Jordan's wonderful spaghetti.
These next pictures only took about 30-50 different tries before we could get a somewhat decent one.  haha
Race times for the morning were moved even earlier in anticipation of the extreme heat that was predicted, so we all headed to bed early. EARLY the next morning, we arose and dressed for the race, only to discover that the bug had taken yet another victim---Callie, this time. She had been up sick all night and as running a high fever as well. Jana was so disappointed that she was going to have to run her first half marathon without her side-kick, but chalked up her own queasiness to a bundle of nerves.

The 5K race began first, so we took a few quick pictures together before Jana and Ron headed to their start line. Don't you love the headbands Jana made for us?!?! (forgive the early morning, no-makeup running face that I am sporting)
I'm not going to lie--it was a tough 5K for me with all of the hills and my freshly healed calf muscle. I was sweating before the race ever began, but I finished it and felt pretty good about it. 
While Callie and Jordan decided to go ahead and leave, not knowing how many stops they would have to make along the way, Rob and Silas came downtown to cheer for Jana. I met up with them and we began to wait for the runners to begin coming through. 

I had picked up a couple of small cow bells at my finish line and Silas had fun ringing them and cheering, but mostly liked riding in the stroller and eating cereal.
 The runner tracking we had all signed up did not work for us, so we weren't sure where Ron and Jana were, but I was able to follow Jana intermittently through the Find A Friend iPhone app. She seemed to be moving slower, but runners of all skill levels were struggling with the high heat and humidity. (We later learned that they ended the marathon early due to the extreme conditions and I witnessed MANY runners being whisked away to seek medical attention while I was waiting for Jana and Ron)

Ron passed me first, but never even heard me screaming for him. He was walking down the last hill, which I thought unusual, but I didn't learn until later that muscle cramps had taken him down right before I saw him. Fellow runners stopped to help him stretch the muscles and he was able to finish the race.
Jana came through next, but it wasn't until I met them at the finish line that I discovered that she was the 4th victim of the stomach bug. Bless her heart---she might never want to run again after an experience like that. She was in great physical condition and finished in a quite respectable time, despite having to stop several times from being sick. And she still finished the race!! I am not sure I could have!!
 We had a noon checkout time, which gave us just enough time to rush home, jump in the shower and pack our cars. After hugs and get-well wishes, we headed home. 

Ron and I decided to go as far as Memphis and spend the night there, which was a great choice since we were both pretty tired. The next morning, we went to the Pyramid Bass Pro Shop. I teased Ron about going there, but it really was pretty cool. 

We rode the glass elevator to the top and attempted to go out on the observation deck, but severe weather was on its way and the wind was so strong that we took a couple quick pictures and headed back inside and down to the ground floor.

All the way home, I was queasy as well, but the virus never hit me full force.  Toddler D, however was not so lucky. He was the last victim and was so sick. While the trip certainly didn't turn out to the dream family get-together that we had wished for, we did manage some fun together and it definitely was an experience we won't soon forget.

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