It’s a crazy town full of neon dreams. Everybody plays. Everybody sings. – Jason Aldean

For 24 hours I’ve been trying to put all that happened this past weekend in Nashville into words. Quite frankly, I am not sure I can. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean. If you’ve never been there, you simply must go. For a guy that has music in his blood and constantly in his ears, it is about as close to perfect as it gets. A simple walk past all of the honky-tonk bars on Broadway is all it takes for me to have a smile from ear to ear and feel right at home. As Jason Aldean says, “it’s a crazy town” and I absolutely love it.

We arrived Friday afternoon and quickly made our way through packet pickup for the race. Our goal was to find a place to eat early on Friday night before the rush of other runners with the same idea. We strolled down Broadway until we found the perfect place with a outdoor seating. The city was alive and jumping with all of the visitors for the race and Van Halen playing at the Bridgestone Arena. It was great to catch up with the Wojnarowski’s and talk through our plans for the weekend. It had to be an early night though because we knew what was waiting in the morning…

13.1 miles of pure torture…..

Why I continue to sign up for this race, I will never know. Those were my exact thoughts roughly 4 miles in. At the 3 mile mark my only thought was that there is no other course I have run that humbles you faster than this one. After 2 miles of declines, you turn a corner on an incline that quickly wipes the smile off of your face and lets you know that it’s time to go to work. Oddly enough, I felt the beginning stages of a cold coming on Friday night which did nothing to help my energy level to conquer this course. I literally had thoughts of quitting at mile 4. Just walking back to the finish and waiting on the rest of the group. Yet I knew that in about 2 hours it would all be over. Stay the course. Run the mile you’re in. I’m glad I didn’t quit. It was the toughest race I’ve had in Nashville, but you learn so much about yourself in those times and in these races.

The afternoon was spent with my lovely bride. We had a nice lunch, took a little recovery nap and headed off to Franklin, TN to meet with 12 other friends. This was the crescendo of the trip. This was one of the biggest reasons we signed up for the race. To meet with 5 other couples that mean so much to you is something I cherish. These are people that encourage me, inspire me, humor me and bring joy into my life. We may only see each other once a year, but it’s like we were just together the night before. Words honestly don’t describe my tremendous respect for each and every one of them. I am blessed beyond measure by their friendship.

Sunday morning we packed up the car for the journey home, but there was one final “moment” on our agenda. We made our way to Cross Point Church in Hendersonville to see a family we have loads of respect and admiration for. We also wanted to worship in a church that we feel is our “church in the south”. As soon as we pulled in the parking lot, we saw the smiling face of Tammy Hodge. Again, words don’t describe the tremendous respect I have for Tammy, her husband Brent and their two children Kass and Kota. Immediately, we felt at home and like a part of their community. Kass led worship and Kota crushed it on the drums. Remarkable family. Not only did we worship, we shared a meal at their home after the service. This wasn’t just some thrown together lunch either. We’re talking homemade salsa as an appetizer, grilled chicken, amazing caesar salad, asparagus, garlic bread and homemade cookies for dessert. Kass even handed me cookie dough on a spoon which is pretty much the greatest way to welcome someone into your home.

Here’s the common thread that links all of this weekend together…good people. People that love on you like you’re their next door neighbor. People that treat you like you’re a part of their community and fellowship. Couples that love each other. A family that opens their home. I have taken a lot of space here in this post and yet I cannot come up with the words to express what EVERY SINGLE one of these people mean to me personally. “Friend” doesn’t seem to cover it. “Respect” can’t describe my admiration for who they are, how they live, how they care, what they do. There are no words, but there are marks on my life that each one have made. Thank you Nashville. Thank you friends. It’s a crazy town and I’m crazy about it.