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Cosplay and Expos and Races, Oh My!

Hello, friends!  Dana here!  It's been a while.  Did you miss me?  Well, if you've read Heather's RnR Half Marathon blog post here, you know she lived through our horrendous heat.  Raise a cheer and/or a glass to all of those that got out there and stuck it out in what may have been a very specific circle of hell.  I'm not trying to be snotty, but I have to say I am so pleased it wasn't like that for us 5k runners, though we did have to get started so early.  I was finished earlier than I'm usually awake in the morning.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The weekend fun actually started on Thursday when Heather and I attended the Adventure Science Center's DC vs. Marvel Way Late Play Date.  These are quarterly events where a bunch of 21 and up adults dress up and are given alcohol and get let loose on the children's science center after hours.  It's the best!  There are science demonstrations and exhibits and a planetarium show, so you're basically combining three of my favorite things - wine, cosplay, and learning - into one package.  Oh, and we get tacos beforehand at Taco Mamacita.  Did I mention it's the best?!
Here are Heather and I looking so fierce as Loki and Black Widow.

And here is the hubs demonstrating one of the science demonstrations: bat vision!  The mask was rigged up with echolocation tech, and he had to find us (in a controlled space) using only that.  It totally worked!  See what I mean?  So cool!  And you can bet your batarang he was doing the voice as he said things like, "I'm batman" and "I am the hero Gotham deserves!"

Finally, here are Heather and I at the very top of the jungle gym in the science center.  It's about four stories high and goes up through the center of the building.  We climbed all the way to the top!

The next day, there was the Health and Fitness Expo.  I was a little disappointed, and I think Heather was too, that there weren't as many vendors there this year as there were last.  The big guys were all there, of course - Toyota, Garmin, Publix - but I didn't see any of the same jewelry vendors, and the snarky tee-shirt people were absent too.  Heather and I did, however, see our favorite purveyor of headbands, Sparkly Soul, and made sure to get a couple from her.
Here are Heather and I at the expo, ready to spend some money!

I also got myself a new armband because I wanted one that made it easy for me to take my phone in and out, which I took on the course with me, thereby committing one of the cardinal sins of racing: don't use brand new, untested gear at a race.  The new armband worked great, though!  Still, don't be like me.
The St. Jude area always has a big wall participants can sign as well.  This is always hard for me, being a survivor of childhood cancer, but it also makes me thankful for the opportunity.
After the expo, there was just the race to get ready for, which meant an early, early night.

I won't repeat what Heather (and I) already said in her aforementioned post, so I'm going to start at...well, the start line.  We started out in front of the Music City Center, which is basically a big convention center, and the energy was already palpable even at that early hour.  We were slated to start at 6:15am, but I think we started a little after that actually.  I was actually really excited about waiting because there was a picture I had been planning to take for a 6-word story challenge I was participating in/hosting on Instagram.  Here's what I ended up with:
If you like bookish and creative content like this on your IG feed, you should follow me @danafraedrich .
That's the 5k starting line, as you probably figured.  I absolutely love the energy at races.  It's so positive! :D  And don't you know, I very nearly forgot to take a picture of myself there.  I only just remembered as we were released, though we were still walking to the start line when I took this.
I'm so happy!  Which was sort of weird because I was dressed as Darth Vader.  Well, my sports bra and shorts were Darth Vader-y anyway.

And we were off!  The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville's gorgeous art museum, was one of the first things we passed.  I wish I had a picture, but I was, you know, busy running.  And after that was M Street, home of some really great restaurants.  Seeing them made me wish I had some of their delicious food.  This should surprise no one.  I think with my stomach.  Unfortunately, there was something else on my mind too: I needed to pee.
Heather here - I was along Broadway in the chute for the half, and I was desperately searching for Dae in the throng of runners, but there were so many of them that I missed her. I was actually very upset about this. 

Don't you hate that?  I'd had a bunch of water before the race since we knew the heat was coming.  Too bad.  Have to keep going.  I'll admit, I was tempted during mile 2 when I saw the port-a-loos standing off on the side of the road.  "I bet they've barely been used at this point" I reasoned with myself.  I will go to great lengths to avoid using port-a-potties because eeeewwwwwww!  Have you seen those things?  Especially during a race.  I told myself to suck it up and press on, though.

The sun showed up pretty early into the race, and some lovely angels along the course had sprayers.  I ran through those things with my arms up in the air like I just did not care. :)  Between miles 2 and 3, we ran through downtown, which is such a cool experience every time I do it.  The buildings tower over you like the sides of a steep steel and glass gulley.  The city looks so different from that perspective, as opposed to when it's full of traffic and you're driving through.

Since the course was the same as it was last year, I knew what to expect.  I knew once I was on the Woodland Street bridge, I was in the home stretch.  I wanted to sprint as soon as I saw the finish line.  Oh, and by the way, I'm so glad I remembered this part for Heather when she was finishing up hers.  I was able to encourage her because her race ended along the same stretch that mine did.  And I was worried she was going to drop dead, but I knew where I would have to run if she did.  As I came around the last bend, I saw it.  The finish line glowing like the pearly gates with angels singing in the background.  Okay, that was a bit dramatic, but I was really excited.  I turned the speed up to 11.  I'm really glad the outside path was clear because I didn't want to risk running anyone over as I ran like I was being chased by zombies - Heather has seen what this looks like in real life.
There I go!  All Darth Vader-y and happy!

I was a little confused when I got a phone call from her and she was still huffing and puffing. She had just crossed the finish line and called me. I was so proud of her, because she was pretty certain she PR'd. 
Too bad there's no rest for little sisters whose older sisters have a half marathon to run.  As soon as my race was done, I called up Heather.  She was already at her start line, so I grabbed a chocolate milk and booked it about a mile back to where she was.  Along the way, I saw an old friend I haven't seen in years, which was pretty cool and then got to see Heather off.  Whew!  And you know what the first thing I did after I saw Heather off?  I headed back to First Baptist and used their facilities!

In the end, I ran my best 5k yet!

34:35 and better than the field as a whole.  I feel pretty good about that.  And afterward, I was able to tour my city a little bit.  See?

This is the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, where the Nashville Symphony plays.  It's gorgeous inside and out.  I ran through the courtyard on my way to see Heather and then strolled back through on my way back.

 And here is our pedestrian bridge right across from another bridge (sorry, I don't know the name).  The river really is beautiful, as is my city. 

Look at that fantastic skyline!  Granted, this isn't the best angle - panoramic shots always look a bit funny to me - but you get the idea.  Nashville is great place to visit. 

And here are Heather and I after she'd finished.  I can't believe she looks that good after her race!  Wait, that sounded bad.  I just mean she sounded terrible on the phone.  I think that sounds bad too.  Anyway, she's amazing, and I was spending a lot of this time trying to get her to eat bananas and whatever else we had on hand.  Thankfully, there was sushi to be had later.
So, so, so, so tired. She fussed at me for not being able to eat an entire banana, but I ate half. Getting up off the grass was very difficult as well. Thank goodness she has a strong arm to help me up. 
I love this race weekend we do.  It's so fun!  I just hope next year isn't as hot.  They actually cut the races off early due to the heat since there were so many people suffering from heatstroke.  Finger's crossed for cooler weather next year!  And great job racers!  Thanks for reading!

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