I’m signed up for some longer races in the upcoming months, so as an incentive to keep training while the weather has been so cruddy (temperature swings, tornado warnings, and massive flooding to name a few), I signed up for the Nashville St. Paddy’s 7K – a race which occurs on St. Patrick’s Day weekend (as the name suggests) on one of Nashville’s many Greenways. Although there were other race offerings the same weekend in Nashville, I chose this one because of the proximity to where I live, as well as the fact that the race benefits The ALS Association. Additionally, the distance intrigued me – you really don’t see that many 7Ks in the racing world.
The morning of the race, I went through the usually pre-race routine (waking before dawn, bagel breakfast, etc.), before Mom (who decided to race with me) picked me up. The day before at packet pick-up, race volunteers indicated that over 1,200 people had signed up, so we made it a point to arrive approximately 45 minutes before the start time in order to grab a parking spot and use the bathroom before the lines grew too long. The number of people in costume was impressive (Mardi Gras style beads, giant green and white floppy hats, and even kilts!), and there were even people who were in town for the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament who had decided to race while sporting their team gear.
The course started at Wave Country and followed the Stones River Greenway away from the parkway, with the 5K turnaround point in front of Two Rivers Middle School, and the 7K turnaround point near Heartland Park. The race itself was quite hilly – it started/finished on two pretty steep hills through a frisbee golf course, and then the 7K runners had an additional monster hill we had to tackle after the 5K turnaround point. Literally everyone I saw, including the faster runners on their way up while we were running down, was walking, not running, up that beast. Thankfully there was a water station at the very top, which helped with the motivation to keep going as quickly as humanly possible while continuing to huff and puff.
In spite of the hills, I enjoyed the course more than I thought I would. I was apprehensive at first of so many people running an out-and-back course on a skinny Greenway, but the race organizers did a fantastic job of staggering the 7K and 5K runners to avoid a lot of bottle-necking issues. Granted, I’m not a fast runner by any means so the experience could have been different for runners at the head of the pack, but from where I was running, it wasn’t difficult at all to navigate around slower runners/walkers.
We finished the 4.34-mi in 1:06:48, which was slightly above my goal of less than an hour; however, considering all of the hills, I was very pleased with my 15:23 average pace. We also enjoyed our finisher pint glasses (I’m all for unique finisher gifts to spice things up), but volunteers probably should have also handed out bags of some sort since we periodically kept hearing glass crash against the pavement. I would definitely considering doing this race again in the future, but I would certainly add some more hill sprints to the training plan!