Sue’s 50th Half in Nashville

Where do I start to tell the tale of an awesome and inspiring weekend?  How about the beginning?  Yes, but I also need to condense or we’ll be running #60 for Tim and I’ll still be writing about this one (#29 of my 60). 

After a good amount of driving and an extremely frustrating car rental experience the previous weekend, I decided to fly instead of drive to Nashville to enjoy Birthday Bash Weekend.  Birthday Bash Weekend has become an annual tradition between myself (Sue) and Sharon (Tim’s mom).  As background, Sharon and I met when she moved with her family to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan the beginning of our fifth grade year.  Living in a very rural area with few others my age nearby, I quickly forced her to become my best friend – LOL – honestly, we just hit it off from day one as I recall.  I could fill pages and pages of our escapades and evolving friendship, but that would be totally off-subject and unnecessary.  Suffice it to say our bond is still strong; no matter how our separate lives have evolved in the decades since.  In an effort to insure we actually see each other periodically, a few years back we decided to establish a tradition of getting together somewhere near our birthdays in September and October…that tradition has become the Annual Birthday Bash.  When I finally found a Nashville race that fit my schedule this year and it fell in October, it only made sense to incorporate the two.

On Thursday, October 27, Sharon picked me up at the Nashville airport at 8:30 am; yes, that means I had been up since 2:30; so after a marvelous homemade breakfast at their house, a nap was in store for me.  The remainder of Thursday was pretty laid back just hanging out with Sharon, Tim, and John.  Later in the afternoon, we took a short ride to pick up mine and Rhonda’s bibs and shirts and a quick stop at the mall and grocery store.  After dinner and before Tim left for the Titan’s game, we got together for a quick family and friends photo session with my #20for 20 tank since both Tim and John would be out of town on Saturday.  Later that evening while watching the Titans game on TV, Sharon showed me the running scrapbook she is creating for me.  I am telling you, this woman is artistic! I laughed, smiled, cried, and was totally in awe as I perused the pages she transformed from a pile of pictures handed to her last year. 

On Friday morning I was awakened by the scent of another scrumptious breakfast creation from Sharon.  After breakfast and more down time, Sharon and I headed out to lunch. Oh—M—GEE!!!  The Chocolate Covered Strawberry is quite the find.  Not only is the food marvelous, but the atmosphere and décor are unmatched…transforming a large old home into a quaint hideaway.  An amazingly delicious lunch of soup and sandwiches and dessert, fruity drinks, and take-home cheesecake had us almost rolling out.  If ever in the Nashville area, I highly recommend it.  Every plate is adorned with a one-of-a-kind chocolate covered strawberry.  A stop at Kroger and we were headed back to their home knowing Rhonda and family were pretty close, and they did arrive within the hour.   

Can I just say again how excited I am every time Rhonda and I are reunited?  This time was extra special because the girls and hubby were with her.  We all had a good visit; Rhonda’s girls thoroughly enjoyed playing with Hawk, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, last year’s rescue dog for the Shaw’s.  Laughter was plentiful when Tim asked how Rhonda and I met and after an awkward moment of silence we coughed up the true story.  We’ll reserve this for another time, but Tim’s comment to Rhonda’s daughters probably says it all: “Now girls, listen.  These are all the things you should NOT do.”  In all reality, he was right, but sometimes you just gotta go with your gut and trust God.  If we hadn’t, none of this would have ever happened.   

During that time, Tim showed us the trackers he wears and the computer program showing his progression – one of the ALS TDI projects he is involved in and why we continue to run and ask you to donate to our fundraising site.  It was absolutely fascinating and fortified us to continue forging ahead.  Speaking of the ALS TDI fundraising, since this race was to be my 50th lifetime half marathon and it was special since I would be running it in Nashville, I had put out a plea for donations dedicated specifically to this run.  I am excited and pleased to report that several of you rose to the challenge and exceeded my request.  In total, we raised $365 for ALS TDI that weekend!  THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!! 

Soon it was time for Rhonda and family to leave so they could get to the home of their friends where they would be staying over the weekend.  But not before a couple pictures of three people now bound forever – two friends who run for a reason and the man who inspires them.

After yet another delicious home cooked meal (do you see a pattern of food here?  I think I gained five pounds in five days), later that evening I had the pleasure of attending a high school football game with the Shaw’s where Tim’s younger brother is on the coaching team.  It was a nail-biter between two rival teams, and Ensworth (our team) pulled it out with a 21-20 win in the last 25 seconds of play!  I even caught a glimpse of Tim McGraw in the stands.  After the game, we went back home and I quickly headed to bed for my normal race morning early wake up. 

Saturday, race day, came and it was pretty much a normal weekend morning with waking around 4:00 am, prepping and gearing up, then Sharon drove me to Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park where I met up with Rhonda and we made our way to the start line of Race13.1 – Nashville.  It was literally a matter of minutes before the national anthem began and the start gun was sounded and I was again enjoying a run with my best running buddy.  The 13.1 miles passed quickly as we chatted and enjoyed the scenery.  It was a nice course which covered a variety of venues.  An attempt at a selfie in front of the Titan’s training facility was not as successful as we hoped due to the angle of the sun.  But hey, the sun was shining, so no complaints!  We wound around a clean industrial park area, a golf course, and another park before heading up along the river walk where Sharon and Hawk were waiting to cheer us on.  It started to warm up and the water stops dwindled, causing fatigue and the beginning effects of dehydration.  Luckily there were several stations in the last 1.5 miles to help begin the rehydration process – a little late, but better than not.  We raced to the finish line and it truly felt surreal that I had just done that for the 50th time.  Fifty half marathons, what?  I distinctly remember just six years earlier crossing for the first time and saying “Never Again!” 

And the best news of the day…Rhonda has a brand new grandson!!!!!  How exciting is that?  She headed back to be with her family and to check on her daughter and grandson and Sharon and I went to her home so I could shower, eat, and relax.  The afternoon and evening were spent mostly watching football and visiting.   

On Sunday Rhonda and family headed home to South Carolina while Sharon and I attended the morning church service then headed downtown to enjoy a tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Before I knew it, Monday had arrived and I was boarding a plane back to Savannah.  Another enjoyable Birthday Bash Weekend was over, this one with an additional special memory attached.



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