One of my favorite weekends in Nashville is the weekend of the Country Music Marathon. This Saturday, April 24th, be prepared: if you have never experienced 30,000+ people running in a sea of humanity, it is exhilarating. The first time I ventured to see the Country Music Marathon, I had small children in tow. I mastered where to eat breakfast, where to park, the best place to view the race and sip on a steaming latte – completely hassle free. The band even pulled my kids on stage so they could wave silk flags at the runners. It was a near perfect experience…and it was completely based on luck. Now, you can have this perfect experience just from the luck of being a StyleBlueprint reader!
There are two main stakeholders in the Country Music Marathon: the runners and the spectators. I have some great tips for both groups.
To the Runners
My hat is off to you! I have run only a handful of races in my life and each time could only think, “When in the hell is this going to be over?” I swear that during the last 10K race I ran (amidst 20,000 of my favorite sweaty friends), if someone had tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You don’t have to finish this nightmare,” I would have stopped DEAD in my tracks. By my own admission, I am not a runner – but that is not to say I don’t admire each and every one of the participants in the race. It takes determination and chutzpah to finish any marathon – half or whole. Here are some essentials for you to consider:
Carbo loading the night before: Nashville finally has a few AUTHENTIC Italian purveyors of homemade sauces, pastas and fixings. And since the city has been slow to embrace real, gourmet Italian food, I am proud to say we now have these incredible Italian restaurants and markets from which to choose. My favorites are Coco’s Italian Market on 51st off of Charlotte Avenue, Lazzaroli’s located on 5th Avenue in Historic Germantown, and Savarino’s Cucina on Belcourt Avenue in Hillsboro Village. I have eaten at all of them and can attest to the delicacies inside their doors.
I have to admit, however, Coco’s Cafe wins my vote for most improved. Don’t let the scorched store front scare you. Apparently, they were installing their new sign and a couple of things went haywire. Once inside the door, you’ll relish the cases filled with homemade breads, pastas, sauces, sausages, tiramisu, and chocolates. I took my girls there for brunch yesterday and we feasted on french toast made with Panettone Classico and mascarpone cheese, omelets made with olives, basil, spinach and tomato and a breakfast egg delicacy made with focaccia bread. Of course, my younger girls had noodles and marinara sauce, but at $2.50 for a child’s portion, I’m not complaining. Coco’s has beer on tap, a huge selection of wines and yummy gelatos.
Savarino’s Cucina and Lazzaroli’s Pasta Shop are the real McCoy. And depending on where you live, these two Italian Cafes pass the muster. Just last week, my husband and I ordered a pasta dish from the City House restaurant with pasta featured from Lazzaroli’s and it was incredible. Savarino’s is conveniently located in Hillsboro Village and makes all their sauces, pastas and fabulous pastries.
Gear: Liza and I can’t say enough about Swiftwick socks. If you’re running a marathon, you need to check these out. Full disclosure, Swiftwick generously donated socks for the swag bags at our consignment sale, and we have had nothing but rave reviews. I love mine because the long traverses on the red trail at Percy Warner can be especially tough on the tootsies. Swiftwick’s are for the athlete who endures weather changes, lengthy sports challenges and wants comfort. They are available at many locations in town; see website for details. If that sounds like you, or if you simply want to visit a Nashville store with a sales staff who understand marathons and the clothing and shoes you will need, check out Fleet Feet and Athletes House.
To the Spectators
Get ready for a great morning. Here is my 1-2-3 for a great race experience.
1) Set your alarm EARLY and head to Pancake Pantry in Hillsboro Village. Since half the city is running in the race, it is a cinch to get a table. No long lines for you! Power pack pancakes, eggs and bacon; I always order the bacon waffle as a nod to my paternal grandmother. (I order martini’s as a nod to my other grandmother, but at 6AM, martini’s and the Marathon don’t mix.)
2) Head over to Belmont Blvd. I head south on Hillsboro and take a left on Portland Avenue, just south of Hillsboro Village. Park on either 20th or 19th or anywhere you can find a place. Walk to Belmont Blvd, right in front of the Curb Event Center on the Belmont University campus, and find a place to call home. Belmont is primo because you can see the runners coming and going. There are always a great bands, plus Bongo Java is right there.
3) Send one of your kiddos for a steaming hot latte because it can be a little nippy on an early Spring morn’. After about two hours, give or take, you’ll be ready to go since it is only 9AM and you have the entire Saturday ahead of you. Plus, you’ll have ingested so much caffeine, in addition to the sympathetic adrenaline running through your veins, that you may even want to take a jog!
And just when you’re least expecting it, someone runs by dressed like the caped crusader below, and you have to chuckle. Give the marathon a try – it’s definitely worth it.
P.S. Here’s to my baby sister Sarah, and my tennis partner Kristen, who are running the 1/2 marathon for the very first time. You go girls. I will be there with you in spirit (thank God) and cheering you all the way right in front on Bongo Java on Belmont Blvd.