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Ben and Kelly Run a Marathon

by Meghann on April 30, 2011

They did it! They did it!


Kelly and Ben officially kicked that marathon’s booty!

And from the looks of it – the Country Music Marathon was NOT easy. LOTS of hills, LOTS of sun, and LOTS of heat! I was working up a sweat just spectating!

But, they did an INCREDIBLE job; coming in at 4:31:29! Wowza! Not bad for a first marathon. Heck, not bad for any marathon!

I’m about as proud as a big sis can be. CONGRATS guys!


While they were having the time of their life running the race, I was having just as much fun spectating! Ashley and I were able to catch the twosome FIVE times along the course and I cheered my little heart out for every runner who passed.

What a day! What a day!

It all began at 4:30am with four different phone alarms and two very nervous runners.


Last night, Heather helped us develop a navigation plan around Nashville that worked out perfectly. We had everything pre-mapped on where to park, where to meet, and how to avoid traffic. The plan guided our day and without it we would have been lost.


We left the hotel on the early side and dropped Kelly and Ben off right next to the start line with minimal traffic and zero delays.


After we said our good byes, Ashley and I headed downtown to find parking for our first stakeout spot. We wanted a spot that was both close to the interstate and the course, yet away from closed roads and unnecessary race day traffic.

Our first attempt was a no go, but our second led us to a quiet parking garage within walking distance of where we wanted to be. Score!

With over an hour to go before race start, we found a McDonalds to use the restroom at and kill some time.


I used the free time to piece together a quick breakfast.


Iced Coffee for energy


Oatmeal for fuel


The Rokit Fuel was a freebie the company had sent me a while back. I had been saving it for a special occasion – like today – that required a quick breakfast fix. All I had to do was add a cup of hot water and breakfast was served.


Not only was the oatmeal full of fun mix-ins, like dried cherries and almond slivers, it also came in the perfect little cup that made it perfect for on the go meal.



We took our time finishing our morning meals, used the clean restroom one last time, and headed to the course to scream and yell our little hearts out.


Ready to go!


By the way… our signs were a hit! We had several people run by the thesis one yelling “So True!” and had a few guys lift their shirts for us with the shirtless one. It felt good to put a smile on several runners faces. I know how important signs are during a race, reading them is always the best part!


We positioned ourselves just past mile one for our first spotting. It wasn’t long after the race began that we saw the first runners pass us by.


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I can’t even imagine how it feels to run that fast!


Let the race begin!



We got our first text alert that Kelly and Ben had passed the start line at 7:05. They weren’t far now!




Do you see them?


Go Andersons, Go!



And just like that, they were gone!


Down the hill to downtown.


As soon as they were out of sight, Ashley and I picked up camp and headed a couple of blocks down the road to catch them next just before the 5k mark.


The hills! My lord, the hills!




…that didn’t take long.


At least he was living up to his name. Go Shirtless Ben!


Mile 3 was the beginning of Music Row and the crowds were pumping! Since we had some time to kill we decided to stick around and show some support.





We only had to walk across the street for our next spotting at the 15k mark.

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One of my FAVORITE race treats is an orange slice. I’ll take an orange slice over a goo any day of the week. We declared mile 9 an orange mile for Kelly and Ben.



Don’t worry, we shared!


It felt good to share. Next time I want to hand out chocolate too. I <3 mini chocolate bars during races as well. πŸ™‚



I spy pink!


A couple of orange slices, a kiss for luck, and they were off!


Our next goal was to meet them at mile 15. We booked it to the car, hopped on the interstate, and managed to drive right passed our exit. Unfortunately barricades and runners foiled out perfect plan. Crap.

On to plan B.

A quick consult with the map detoured us to mile 17, which actually worked out better. The way the course looped itself allowed us to park near mile 17, catch them there and at 20, then meet them at the finish line without moving the car. Not bad for thinking on our feet.


Mile 17 was smack dab in the middle of a long, steep hill. Not cool mile 17, not cool.


Ashley and I made it our duty to encourage as many runners as possible to push through it.


At least we got a few smiles. πŸ™‚ One guy walking up the hill told us the hill had already him it’s bitch. Ha!


Oh, and we made a friend.


Hi Katie! Katie started in the same corral as Ben and Kelly and was sweet as can be. She was struggling with the hills, but still pushing through it. Katie rocks! πŸ™‚

Not long after Katie left we saw Ben and Kelly chugging along.


After missing us at mile 15 they were more than happy to see us at 17.


They were also happy to see fresh water bottles and orange slices.



Ben and Kelly were doing great. They were on pace for a 4:30 finish time and still in great spirits.



Miles 17 – 19 created a big loop that led to the final out and back stretch to the finish. We were able to cut a corner and wait for one final sighting at mile 20 before hightailing it to the finish.


I handed off the last of the orange slices.


And ran a quarter mile with Kelly and Ben


Not only were they still able to talk, but they were able to joke and laugh too. They were having FUN and I started secretly wishing I could finish the race with them. I love running with my siblings. They are the best. πŸ™‚

We sent Kelly and Ben on their way, then the real fun began for Ashley and I.


The fighting-our-way-to-the-finish-line fun.


Holy crowds!


It took some patience (and a little elbowing), but we found a great spot right by finish line.


We had 45 minutes until Kelly and Ben were due to arrive. Plenty of time to enjoy an apple


and people watch.

I was so anxious waiting for them to cross, that the time flew by! I was on edge thinking ‘any minute! any minute!’ There was also plenty of action at the finish line to keep me entertained. I witnessed several people fainting, a couple of collapses, some throwing up, and a whole bunch of happy tears. It was so inspiring and terrifying at the same time.

I soooo want to run another one! πŸ˜‰

My favorite part was watching the fathers and mothers cross with their little ones.


The little girl’s shirt read ‘My Daddy Runs This Town‘ Too. Cute.


Once the clock hit 4:30 Ashley and I were on pins and needles waiting for them to appear in the distance.

‘Where are they?’

‘Is that them?’

‘I see pink!’

‘Wrong pink.’

‘A shirtless guy!’

‘Oh, he’s wearing a heart rate monitor. Not Ben.’

‘Wait…. I SEE THEM!!!!!’










Emotion Overload!!!


‘How do you feel Ben?’


‘Don’t touch me’


Fair enough. Fair enough. πŸ™‚

We found them a few minutes later exiting the post-race area covered in ice and stuffing their mouths with food.


Way to go guys!





Proudest. Sister. Ever.


Seriously. That was a tough course and Kelly and Ben really stuck with it. They raced strong and finished strong, I couldn’t be more proud. πŸ™‚


We headed back to the hotel to shower up before heading out to lunch. I was following the #CMM twitter stream and saw a tweet go through from someone raving about their post-marathon burger at Burger Up. A quick google search later I knew where we had to have lunch.


Unfortunately it was already after 2:00 when we arrived at Burger Up and the 40 minute wait for a table wasn’t going to cut it. The food did look too good to pass up, so we decided to order Take Out from the bar instead.


We skipped the crowds, placed our order, and Kelly and Ben enjoyed their post-marathon beer.


Then we enjoyed our burgers the best way we knew how, on our butts in the ally next door. Yes, we’re classy like that.


100% Worth it.


I ordered the Marathon Burger, which was a quiona/black patty with a cilantro creme fraise sauce, tomato, and lettuce.


The burger was amazing. It was chewy, flavorful, and very filling. Just what I needed after a morning on my feet.



The sweet potatoes that came on the side were thick, soft, and melt in your mouth delicious. I could of had a whole meal of these sweet potato fries and have been a happy camper.


We finished our meals then headed next door for the highly recommended popsicles at Las Paleta.


Creamy or Fruity? Such a tough decision.


Of course, you know I couldn’t pass up any dessert that contains peanut butter. πŸ™‚


The popsicle was basically peanut butter ice cream on a stick. Love. Love. Love. πŸ™‚

After two full days of somehow escaping the driver’s seat, it was finally my turn to drive back to east Tennessee. I can now officially add a third state to the list of states I’ve driven a car in. Woop! Woop! πŸ™‚

We made it to cabin just before 8:00 and met a couple of locals for dinner at Ruby Tuesday for dinner.


I met Ashlee and Lew (from Ash and Lew Plus 2 πŸ˜‰ ) at Foodbuzz Festival last November (you may recallr a certain cupcake incidentπŸ˜‰ )and was really excited to learn we were only staying a few miles from their hometown.

I was even more excited when I discovered they would be bringing their two angels along for the ride.


Daisy and LB are Ashlee and Lew’s ADORABLE twins and Daisy and I had a lot to bond over. She has a twin brother (I have a twin brother), she likes drinking from a straw (I love drinking from straws), and she get’s cranky and tired when she’s hungry (umm… hello?!)


It was really great to play catch up with Ashlee and Lew. They are such a great couple and amazing parents. I <3 them. πŸ™‚

Dinner was an easy choice – salad bar all the way.


I loaded a plate with as many vegetables as I could manage and finished about 3/4 of it before feeling stuffed. (I think I was still full from lunch)


So. Exhausted.

Been up since 4:30am.

No nap.

Must. Sleep. Now.

Good Night!

1 Holly @ The Runny Egg April 30, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Congrats to Ben and Kelly! That is awesome!!!

The burgers/beer is the perfect post race meal!

I’m glad you got to be there to watch them finish — I love having family/friends at races to cheer me on.
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2 Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food April 30, 2011 at 10:32 pm

oh my gosh congrats to Kelly and Ben! that is so impressive and so special that they ran the whole race together! πŸ™‚ I wish that my husband was running the half marathon with me tomorrow! maybe some day…

So great that you went along to cheer and support I’m sure they really appreciate it! πŸ™‚

I love the look of that marathon burger mmm mmm! have a safe trip back!

3 Lew April 30, 2011 at 10:34 pm

It was so great to see u again. I am just sad I didn’t get another cupcake I hope ur ride home is fun and u keep it between the ditches. Oh yeah Ashlee and I are in for Savannah
Lew recently posted..Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

4 Kate (What Kate is Cooking) April 30, 2011 at 10:35 pm

I actually got a little teary-eyed seeing the pictures of Ben and Kelly crossing the finish line! I want to run another marathon πŸ™‚ You are such a supportive sister!!
Kate (What Kate is Cooking) recently posted..Modesto Half Marathon Recap

5 Maddie Essig April 30, 2011 at 10:40 pm

I am pretty sure the relationship you have with your siblings is the exact kind parents hope for when they have kids! I love reading about you guys – you’re too dang cool. They did an awesome job at the race and you were obvs a fabulous spectator!
Maddie Essig recently posted..PHONE FAIL

6 Heather Eats Almond Butter April 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Wonderful recap Meghann. I know Ben & Kelly must love all the pics, and I’m so glad you were able to see them at so many points throughout the race. I can tell you and your siblings are so close – I love that. πŸ™‚

Also love that you made it to Las Paletas. I used to live about 2 blocks from there. The peanut butter and avocado popsicles are my two favorites, and I LOVE the sweet potato fries at Burger Up. You hit some of my favorite spots while here in town. You got good taste my friend.

Jealous you got to meet up with Ashlee and Lew. We always miss each other when they’re in town. Someday hopefully.

Wishing you guys safe travels back home!
Heather Eats Almond Butter recently posted..A Heart For Ginger

7 Ashlee (Ash & Lew Plus 2) April 30, 2011 at 10:49 pm

I am so glad that we got to fit into your busy day! I also loved meeting your family! So Much Fun!!!
Ashlee (Ash & Lew Plus 2) recently posted..Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

8 Jordan P April 30, 2011 at 10:52 pm

This entry made me cry a bit! As the eldest of 5 kids, I can only imagine the pride watching my baby siblings run past a finish line together. I love it!!

9 Katy (The Singing Runner) April 30, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Fantastic recap! Definitely makes me excited to run Chicago in October! πŸ˜€ Oh, and to run the RNR Savannah 1/2 marathon! πŸ˜‰

I love how supportive your family is of each other! Congratulations to Ben and Kelly, and for you and Ashley making it through such a long day of cheering!!!
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10 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife April 30, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Congrats to BEN and KELLY!! SO cool. I love the feeling of finishing a marathon-such an amazing experience πŸ™‚

11 Sana April 30, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Sooo Sooooooo proud of you and your siblings, you are an amazing role model!
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12 Lisa April 30, 2011 at 11:38 pm

I LOVE the thesis sign! Awesome race recap…makes me want to run it next year! Nashville is one of my favorite cities I’ve visited! πŸ™‚
Lisa recently posted..The perfect egg sandwich

13 Josephine @ Creating a Positive Life May 1, 2011 at 1:31 am

Awww what a supportive sis you are! What a great time it looks like you all had πŸ™‚

What was Kelly’s thesis in?

14 Meghann May 1, 2011 at 7:03 am

Anthropology. Something about stable isotopes?

15 Emma (Namaste Everyday) May 1, 2011 at 1:56 am

i cried reading this, I really did! What an amazing recap! I’m so proud of your sibblings, too <3
Emma (Namaste Everyday) recently posted..Glacier Country

16 Heather May 1, 2011 at 2:27 am

As a big fan of your blog AND a Nashville native, it was thrilling to see my hometown all over this post. Yay for Ben, Kelly and Music City!!!!

17 Sarah May 1, 2011 at 6:43 am

That was such a touching post ~ congrats to them! I was tearing up as I read it. Also, as someone who plans to run the CM1/2 next year, I have to ask if you could maybe share some of the parking and navigation strategies Heather gave you? I am so worried about all that stuff!

18 Meghann May 1, 2011 at 7:07 am

We got there SUPER early, dropped the runners off near the start at the West End exit at I-440, hopped back on I-440, got off at the Church Street Exit and stumbled on a private parking garage a half a mile from the exit (we just happened to pull up to park as the building occupants were – they were running the half marathon – and they were super nice with letting us stay) then after seeing them at mile 9 we hopped on I-440 to I-65 at the Spring St exit and found a small church parking lot a little less than a mile from the finish, but right next to mile 17-20.

19 Little Miss Runshine May 1, 2011 at 7:57 am

Congrats Ben and Kelly!!!

Looks like you had some great fans! πŸ™‚
Little Miss Runshine recently posted..Relaxing Saturday

20 Michelle May 1, 2011 at 8:02 am

Congrats to your brother and sister!

I love that you guys are so supportive of each other. So sweet! I have only been able to bribe one of my brothers to watch me run — and neither them are interesting in racing with me. Boo!

Lol at “Don’t touch me.”
Michelle recently posted..Why My Friends Are Awesome

21 Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy May 1, 2011 at 8:09 am

Congratulations to Kelly and Ben! I loved looking at all of your race photos!
Emily @ Perfection Isn’t Happy recently posted..A mother’s love and an open heart

22 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey May 1, 2011 at 8:16 am

CONGRATS TO BEN AND KELLY!!! They did amazing!
chelsey @ clean eating chelsey recently posted..realist ravioli

23 Jamie Sometimes Healthy Girl May 1, 2011 at 8:47 am

Congrats to Kelly and Ben! Great race recap. Love the signs. If I were running a marathon, I definitely would have appreciated them.

I went to Burger Up when I was in Nashville. AMAAAAZING. I had the best veggie burger of my life!
Jamie Sometimes Healthy Girl recently posted..Friday Flaw-Day- The Home Edition

24 Courtney May 1, 2011 at 8:54 am

Congratulations Ben & Kelly!! This was such a fun post to read πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€
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25 Evan Thomas May 1, 2011 at 9:13 am

Congratulations to them! The CMM sounds like a blast. I had a blog reader who was running it, too; I wonder how he did.

This + Spectating the Providence marathon this morning makes me really want to run another one, soon. But then I remember how much it hurts and costs and I still want to run another one. Must shake this feeling.

26 pinkflipflops May 1, 2011 at 9:49 am

I have totally peed at that McDonalds as well after a nice picnic at Centennial Park and being serenaded by a homeless man. Good times. I love Nashville.
pinkflipflops recently posted..Sammys Hill- Discussion 4

27 Katie May 1, 2011 at 9:50 am

Hey I made it to the blog!!! It was so great to meet all three of you during the race after reading your blogs for so long! This was marathon #6 for me and the toughest (and slowest) one yet. I finished in 4:41:24. Thanks for helping me get through a tough part of the race! Your family is awesome!

28 Katie May 1, 2011 at 10:09 am

Darn it, I looked for you the whole time (i ran the half) and saw your sign but didn’t know it was you!! Congrats to your brother and sister, it was a fun race!!

29 Amy May 1, 2011 at 10:12 am

Way to go Kelly and Ben!

Great pictures Meghann… you know what I oddly noticed? The number of runners not running with water. Maybe I’m a water fiend, but I thought it was just bizarre. In some pics it looked like Kelly and Ben were the only ones with water! πŸ™‚

Great race recap. You have such a great family!

30 Alaina May 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Congratulations to Ben and Kelly!! Looks like an amazing first marathon! πŸ™‚

And that burger looks so good. I have GOT to make a quinoa burger sometime.

31 Dione May 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm

You always have the best recaps!

Congratulations Kelly & Ben!!! You guys did awesome!

32 Christine May 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm

I love that they finished together! I’m running a 1/2 with my 19 year old brother in June but have already given him permission to pass me up!
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33 Karolina May 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Wow- looks like a tough marathon to complete- way to go ben & Kelly! Glad you had fun cheering them on and being an encouragement to the other runners:)
Karolina recently posted..Dealing With Grief Part 3

34 Katherine: Unemployed May 1, 2011 at 3:09 pm

great jobs! you are awesome cheerleaders
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35 Brittany May 1, 2011 at 4:27 pm

What an amazing race! It’s such a great feeling to be able to complete a race with your siblings πŸ™‚
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36 Lisa (bakebikeblog) May 1, 2011 at 6:00 pm

What an awesome recap!! Congrats to Ben and Kelly!!!!

37 Alexa @ SimpleEats May 1, 2011 at 6:23 pm

That’s awesome that you got to experience that with them, I’m sure you were so proud! That frozen PB popsicle looks soo good.
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38 margo May 1, 2011 at 6:41 pm

i saw the thesis sign, but didnt realize it was you guys!! Made me smile though!!! family that runs together…stays together!

39 Rebecca May 1, 2011 at 7:41 pm

That was my first ever marathon in 2004.

40 Julia May 1, 2011 at 10:29 pm

This marathon was my boyfriend’s first too! And I was actually in Nashville last weekend and had the Marathon Burger at that restaurant. Small world!!

41 Lauren C. @ FocusedToBeFit May 2, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Love that they held hands as they crossed. So awesome!
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42 natalie (the sweets life) May 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm

congrats to them! what rockstars! so glad you got to try burger up…those fries…ahh i’m still remembering them!
natalie (the sweets life) recently posted..Lemon Bars

43 Lauren @ Team Giles May 3, 2011 at 8:27 am

Congrats Kelly & Ben!!!

This race was my first half-marathon. Love Nashville! πŸ™‚

44 AmyB. April 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm

This is the third time I have read this post! I am getting ready to run the 2012 CMM as my first full and this post gets me so excited every time! Great recap and detailed spectator info and pictures. Happy for you and your sister and brother! One question, though. Can you tell me how you made the shirts for Kelly and Ben? I know you wore a similar one for your fist full and I have been wondering if I could do something easily similar! Thanks! Looking forward to the next post!

45 Meghann April 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm

GOod luck! Ben and Kelly made the shirts with iron on letters for Joanns πŸ™‚

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