The Rock n Roll Nashville Half


This might be the first race where I’m still processing the entirety of the weekend, and not because something went wrong.

In a word, Nashville was perfect – the drive down, the city, the race, all of it.

Back in December I registered for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Half after deciding Tennessee would be State #5. I’ve only been to Tennessee once before for a family vacation to Gatlinburg when I was 14. In all honesty, I didn’t enjoy that trip. I like mountains, but there’s a point and I’ve since realized I’ve turned into a city slicker who prefers walking to having to drive anywhere to do something fun. I’ve never been to Nashville before, and after years of seeing other people on Instagram going there for weekend getaways, I got tired of missing out. So when I discovered Rock ‘n’ Roll has a race in Nashville, I knew I had to do it.

Fast forward to last Friday, in the rental car heading south on 71. My workplace offers some employee discounts on rental vehicles and I decided not to put the miles on my car, so there I was, cruising south in a newer Altima. This is dorky, but I’m going to admit that it doesn’t take much to make me happy. The particular little thing I discovered when I was on the road was some sensors letting me know when a vehicle was passing me. I told Mom later on that I could never turn my head again and be just fine, which probably didn’t make her feel better about my solo road-tripping aspirations. Although it did give her a chuckle.

Down 71 through Cincinnati and northern Kentucky I went until picking up 65 south in Louisville. For a trip that took almost six hours, the time flew by pretty quickly. I discovered that along the way in Kentucky I moved out of the Eastern time zone into Central, which was amusing because I clearly don’t get out much (and the bar for amusement is in the basement.)

But enough about road trippin’. I had an expo to get to and a city to explore for a bit.


One of my to-dos for travel races is to explore the city I’m staying in on foot the day before the race. Part of it is to stretch out after sitting in the car. The other part is to get my bearings straight and figure out where the start and finish lines are in location to my hotel. And because it’s Nashville, I had a lot to see.

Reader-friends, I’ve heard of Nashville being referred to as Nash-Vegas, a party not too far off from Las Vegas. But, actually walking around Broadway is another thing entirely. It’s loud, crowded, with bright lights and everyone and anyone out and about. I don’t even think I’ve seen that many people leaving the bars in Columbus or Indianapolis at two in the morning, and yet I was elbowing and tunnel-ratting my way through crowded sidewalks at two in the afternoon. I saw more cowgirl bachelorette parties and party buses in a small-ish radius than I think I’ve ever seen in my city. It’s definitely livelier down there.

I’m going to admit something that will probably make me sound terrible. Or hilarious, depending on how you view such things. But reader-friends, there is something about the people down in Nashville that look good. Really good. I cannot tell you how many men I passed that if I saw in Columbus I wouldn’t think twice about, but down there, walking down Broadway, they looked damn good. Even looks and styles that do nothing for me were doing something.

I was so distracted by the lights, the crowds and reading the raunchy sash the bachelor party that passed me stuck the groom in that I was taken off guard by a man we will call Hot Cop. He was a cop, according to the uniform and cap, and well, he was hot. That man’s face was sculpted by Jesus and frankly, that body was a brick shithouse. I know I’m being a tad vulgar here, but trust me, if you all saw what I did, you would have gasped out loud too. Which I did … and I never have done that in my life.

I did get a quick video of him walking away from behind, which was sent to my mom later that night. I promised her after that sighting we are definitely coming to Nashville together for a girl’s trip to find Hot Cop. Not like we could actually do anything if we found him though. He had on a wedding band, as they all do.

But I don’t want you all to think this is a story of Allison getting hot ‘n bothered in Nashville. It’s also a story of wandering the famous Printer’s Alley, of wandering Broadway and absorbing the culture and beauty of the city. That night I got back to my hotel with my bib and had a lot to tell Mom and Grandma about the day. I was exhausted and exhilarated for the race the next morning.

Rock n Roll Nashville Half

The day really was too perfect. I know I said it earlier, but it bears repeating.

I got up to sunshine, thanks to being an hour behind and found that my idea of wearing a tank top and shorts was one of my better ones. The race itself started at 7:20, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover how quickly the corrals moved forward. I had a moment of panic around 7:00 when I heard the MC mention about how it sometimes takes an hour to get everyone through the corrals. I was trying to calculate my projected running time and whether I’d be able to get back to the hotel for a shower, or have to drive back to Louisville a disgusting mess. Thankfully this concern was for nothing, as I was crossing the start line at 7:35 on the dot.

If I thought walking Broadway in the afternoon was a lot, running up it in the morning with the sunrise was a completely different, incredible experience. The energy is indescribable.

Around Broadway we ran and up the hill towards Belmont University. I surprised myself by maintaining my training pace on the hills, and had to chuckle later on to Mom about how if this course was the newer, flatter one one of my emails referred to, I didn’t want to know what the original was like. But yet in spite of all the hills – and my history of dying on them early on – I didn’t feel exhausted. I felt good and strong.

Mile 6 was my first challenge, where my stomach started doing flip flops. The last time my stomach did that was on a training run last summer when I wound up throwing up once I got home. My mind immediately went to throwing up or, well, the other option that can plague runners. Was this going to be the race where I crossed the finish line with my dignity shattered? Had I tried to run through it and not walked up the hill on Mile 6, probably.

The course continued through Music Row and downhill back to the Gulch. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to run Miles 8 and 9 at race pace after the hill that felt like it could kill me. I felt so free and alive in the Gulch as we headed toward St. Jude. The exhaustion started kicking in at Mile 11 and during 12.5 I felt the nausea from Mile 6 creep back up. Thankfully for me, that home stretch was a downhill towards Nissan Stadium.

I wanted to run the race in 2:15. My final time was 2:25:25, which for the hills we were running I am more than happy with.

There’s that moment after every race, once you’ve saved your run on your watch and are slowly making your way out of the finisher’s chute that it really registers what you’ve just done. My moment came once I reached the Shelby Street pedestrian bridge. I took a moment to stop and get a picture of my medal, with the Cumberland River and the Nashville skyline off in the distance. During my race my mind was toggling between looking at everything around me and the road ahead, but I didn’t process it all together until once I was done.

I ran Nashville.

I ran one of the most challenging and one of the best courses I’d ever ran.

I was among the crowds and that enviable energy, and I felt alive like I hadn’t felt in a long time.

My legs hurt, but who cares? Everything was magical and beautiful.

I frickin’ did that.

And I already can’t wait for when I can return and run Nashville again.

Final thoughts and recommendations

In the future, the only thing I would do differently is book two nights in Nashville instead of the one. Originally I spent Friday in Nashville, then Saturday night in Louisville since that’s the halfway point to Columbus, and driving home three hours on a Sunday sounds far better than six. However, I’m now thinking if I return to Nashville again for a race to book the two nights so Saturday can be a semi-lazy recovery day and to give myself time to explore without rushing to get a shower and get checked out.

Otherwise, I cannot recommend the Rock ‘n Roll Nashville enough as a destination race. It was so worth the time, money and training. And if there’s ever a chance for a Hot Cop sighting, how could you say no to that?

Next up: the Pittsburgh Half.

I hope you all enjoyed this review/blog/tangent. Until next time,

Yours in running and life,



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