There are experiences in your life that are simply perfect. Do you know what I mean? When the cosmos align and your heart and soul are so full that you can barely breathe. When tears can come to your eyes thinking about the beauty of the moment. Sometimes those experiences are huge moments like births and sometimes those moments are smaller, everyday moments that stay engrained in your mind forever. Several years ago Chris and I took the kids on a hike in a park nearby. We were walking beside a creek, the older kids running ahead and Vivian tucked in her sling. Then tiny little leaves from the canopy of trees began to rain down on us. It was a moment of divine beauty. A moment when my eyes welled with tears at the love and beauty and wonder that we have been afforded.
This weekend in Nashville was one of those experiences. When your stomach hurts from laughter, your feet hurt from miles walked, and your soul is overwhelmed. My spirit is renewed and my web of motherhood grows. It started with a Facebook post from a friend “I putting a line through 5K on my bucket list. Who’s with me”. In a moment when I embraced my new resolve for spontaneity (read about it here), I registered, bought a Megabus ticket and told Brandi I was Nashville bound. Brandi married one of my good friends from college. She is a sweet, soulful, southern woman of God. We have connected through our love of Piyo and good food. Earlier this year Brandi decided to become a runner, found her inner athlete and was ready to cross her first finish line. Some other girlfriends were coming to Nashville to join in the 5k and one amazing mama was running her first marathon at the St. Jude Country Music Marathon . Girls weekend + country music + running= my idea of a darn good time. The comedy of errors of my Megabus ride from Indianapolis to Nashville is best suited for another post. But after 7 hours of wrong turns and the smell of tuna fish from a can, I arrived on Thursday night. Brent and I had a chance to catch up, I met their collection of littles and then slept soundly!
Friday morning was spent sitting at Brandi’s kitchen table while she cooked an amazing breakfast (and lunch), pots of coffee were made and drank, cookbooks were drooled over and life stories were shared. Pure perfection.
That afternoon, we loaded up, said goodbye to Brent and the kids and battled the Nashville traffic. Seriously, Nashville, do something about that traffic. It rivals New York traffic. It’s not good. Anyways, we met up with the crew of Indiana girls and made our way to the Expo. One of the best parts of any race is the expo. Good vibes, running gear, and free giveaways. What more does a runner need??? It was so much fun to share that experience with Brandi. She was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the event. Packets were picked up, pictures taken, and t shirts purchased. Time for dinner and an early bedtime. Shuttle was leaving the hotel at 5:45am for the start line.
The forecast had called for 100% chance of rain but the dawn brought only cloudy skies. Perfect running weather. Downtown Nashville was alive with energy. There is such a spirit of excitement at the start line of a race of that size. Music, runners, spectators, long lines for Port-a-potties. The adrenaline is like a drug for me. Those of us who were running the 5K wished our resident marathoner good luck and made our way to the 5K corrals. It was an early 6:45am start time. The course was great. Gentle hills throughout downtown Nashville. Brandi was worried she would have to walk but we kept a great pace, shared our tips for keeping yourself moving, and crossed with finish line holding hands at 34:50. The connection between mother runners is like none other. We all cried for Brandi. Seeing a woman accomplish something she had thought was outside of her abilities is really emotional. We then took an obnoxious amount of selfies with our medals.
The post race food at the Country Rock and Roll Marathon was really great. Lots of discussion took place about the benefit of chocolate milk at the finish line.
We then made our way to the marathon route to cheer Becky on at Mile 20. While sitting on the curb watching these athletes persevere through 26.2 miles is beyond inspiring. We watched folks of all shapes, sizes and ages run. Some decked out in branded running outfits, others with gear hung around the waists and three with nothing but shorts on. Barefoot running for 26.2- can you imagine??? But thousands lined up at that marathon starting line. Thousands of athletes carrying with them their story, their reason to run, and I wish I could have stopped each and every one of them to share theirs. What was their motivation to push their bodies beyond what most of us think is reasonable? Most would be running for the better part of 5 hours or more. And I am beyond curious to know why. To drink in their inspiration. Standing at the finish line brought tears to my eyes. Seeing the feat of athleticism among these folks was pure joy. We cheered loudly as Becky crossed that finish line, 4o minutes sooner than her goal. A mother of three young children who owned 26.2 miles. Truly a badass mother runner. A new friend who now becomes a part of my web of motherhood. We may not cross paths often but I will never forget her smile and humble demeanor as she finished that race. It planted a tiny (very tiny, nearly microscopic) seed of possibility somewhere within me. Could my body be pushed that far? Could my sheer will and determination take over when my body raised it’s white flag? Could my legs carry me those miles? Someday maybe I’ll see. Not today, not this year, most likely not this decade. But maybe someday.
After a change of hotels and quick shower, we made our way to Lockeland Table in Nashville where we filled our bellies with some of the best food I’ve ever had.
A quick stop at the Honky Tonks on Broadway to soak up some country music before heading back to the hotels. I’m sure all six of us fell into those beds tired, sore and abundantly grateful. Abundantly grateful to witness two fellow mother runners accomplish HUGE goals that day. Abundantly thankful to have a weekend where we could take of our mommy hats for just a few days and celebrate our love of running, food and friendship. Thanks Nashville. Thanks girls. Who’s up for another race???