My friend Michelle and I signed up back in January for the 2016 Tour Pass 3 pack. We decided our first race would be in Nashville at the St. Jude RNR half marathon.
We delayed in picking a hotel until early March, and by then our "pickens" were slim. Michelle found us a room at the Holiday Inn express for $300 a night and she managed to use her points to get us a free night. But it was still pricy. However, to be staying downtown made the logistics of the weekend much easier. We were about 4 blocks from the Expo at the Music City Center.
Getting to the expo was easy once we realized it wasn't at the convention center (oops!). It helps if you read the materials before you set out from your hotel. Signage in the City Center was well placed and several volunteers were available to direct us into the bib que.
Bib pickup was easy, but since I wasn't properly trained, I decided to drop down to the 5k distance. This is a perk I love with the Rock & Roll series. I would much rather drop down to a race distance I know I can complete rather than get picked up in the sag wagon and given a medal for a race I did not complete. (I'm looking at you, Rundisney!). I went to the Solutions desk to see which corral I should be in for the 5k and was told that I could pick any corral I wanted because there were only 5 corrals total.
Once we received our bibs it was off to get our shirts. As most race shirts, RNR's are cut a little small so I exchanged mine without a problem. Michelle's shirt was a little big, so she exchanged hers as well. One word about the shirts, I was pleasantly pleased as they were very nice and I am a fan of black.
We next ventured into the Official merchandise area of the expo and I was very pleased with the selection of options. Given that I am trying to limit new race-related clothing, Michelle and I both decided to just get RNR Nashville hats. I chose the black with blue lettering and she chose the black and white version.
As a tour pass holder, you get a special line for merchandise sales as well as some other perks, but you need your Tour Pass credential. We tracked down our credentials at the main Rock and Roll exhibit and then proceeded to explore the expo.
Most expos have similar vendors: shoes, clothing, compression items, recovery items, and other endurance events. We made sure to go by each vendor and we're pleased with the offerings. I was a little sad that Toyota didn't offer the "record" personalization as at previous RNR expos.
After doing our part in stimulating the economy, we went to get the wristband for the post race beer. It made more sense to stand in line 15 minutes at the expo as opposed to bringing your ID with you on the run. Once we were sufficiently ID'd, we decided to head out and explore Broadway.
Deciding on a pre-race dinner can be tough, especially with 12,000 other runners in town. Unfortunately, we were not prepared and didn't make dinner reservations. All of the places we wanted to go to didn't have anything until 9pm and that is much too late for dinner. We finally decided on Rock Bottom Brewery. I knew there would be several options for carbo-loading and the food was always good in Chicago.
We each had a Cosmo and some ballpark pretzels to start. Michelle chose the Brown Ale chicken and I went with the jambalaya. Both meals were tasty but not too filling. We decided to each get the salted caramel and toffee mason jar for dessert. That was one of the best choices of the day. I can't say enough about the item and I wish they would make them back in Chicago.
After dinner we walked the 10+ blocks back to our hotel, enjoying the music emminating from each establishment. We were both very excited about exploring after the race and on Sunday. We went back to the room to lay out our clothing and items for the morning's race.
After years of races at both our homes and across the country, we've got this down. Nothing new on race day ever! Also get everything ready the night before so that you don't forget anything. We finally fell asleep around 10pm and were up with the alarm at 5:30am.
Details on the actual race day to come in part 2.