She’d just eloped with her old middle school friend, marrying the budding country star and moving with him to Music City.
It was so exciting for young Cassidy Bentley, but she felt, well, lost.
Her new husband, Dierks Bentley, was playing about 200 shows a year, and Cassidy joined him on the road now and again. But the tour bus was crowded, and none of the other guys in the band had wives or girlfriends with them.
So Cassidy stayed home most of the time. In a new city. Already feeling a little like a road widow.
“Suddenly I had the feeling – what does it even mean to be a wife? What am I going to do?” she said last week in an interview at her favorite coffee shop by Lipscomb University.
“We were figuring out a lot of things.”
What Cassidy has figured out since is that she loves running, both as a way to feel better and a means to help others.
Like many Music Row types a decade ago, Cassidy joined the exclusive Green Hills fitness center The Delta. She would wind her way up to the top floor of a parking garage to get to the front door and find her favorite treadmill.
Cassidy started off walk-jogging three miles and grew a running habit that’ll put her into her second elite Boston Marathon April 17.
This time, the Bentleys are rallying friends and fans to donate to Nashville shelter Safe Haven for homeless families as part of her 26-mile run. And that makes the effort more meaningful and inspirational for her.
“At the end, when it gets really hard, I’m going to be thinking about Safe Haven and the people who supported me,” Cassidy, 41, said.
Runners have to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and it’s an impressive feat for anyone, let alone someone who only started running 10 years ago.
Before that, Cassidy did some yoga, but little other regular exercise since her days as a stand-out high school volleyball player in Arizona.
It didn’t take long on that treadmill in The Delta to reawaken the positive feelings of being in shape.
“I’m energetic and awake, better all around. Happier. I’m in a better mood,” Bentley thought.
She started running four to five times a week, and her first pregnancy didn’t slow her down: Cassidy bought a treadmill for her house. After daughter Evie was born, mom would run while the baby napped.
After their second daughter was born, Cassidy ran her first race when the girls’ swim coach, Kennett Pyles, encouraged Cassidy to try a 5K.
Cassidy showed up for the Franklin Classic in a T-shirt and shorts, and she was surprised.
The other racers wore running gear. They had a sense of energy and community Cassidy wasn’t expecting. And Cassidy ran faster than most, finishing just over 20 minutes, a time that really surprised her friend Pyles.
“Girl, you are fast! Oh my gosh!” Pyles told her afterward.
Cassidy was hooked. She loved the good feelings around the races and she wanted to set an example for fun fitness for her daughters.
Eventually, Cassidy started running half marathons and marathons. Exhausted, she had the same feeling at the end of each.
“Why do I do this? This is horrible. This hurts. I’m not doing this anymore,” she said, laughing. “But then it’s like, that wasn’t so bad. And I want to do it again.
“It’s like having kids,” she added, smiling.
At her first full marathon, in Arizona, Cassidy finished in three hours, 40 minutes, qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
So she went to Boston — the year after the 2013 marathon bombing.
“At that race, there was a real sense of love. People who’d gone through it came back, to not let terror win. It was very exciting to be there.”
Through all her races, Dierks posted his wife’s times and pictures online, and he often attended the races with their children.
Cassidy began to think she wanted to race to raise money for causes, and a few of Dierks’ fans suggested the same.
In 2015, Dierks featured a formerly homeless mom named Amy in his video for the song “Riser,” and that’s how Cassidy got introduced to Nashville’s Safe Haven shelter for homeless families.
Both Bentleys are looking forward to race day, and the added bonus of helping those in need.
“I am so proud of Cassidy and it’s so fun watching her get ready for this race,” Dierks said. “It takes months and months of preparation and determination to pull this off.”
Dierks and Cassidy started fundraising pages for her upcoming Boston race for Save Haven. So far nearly 100 people have contributed more than $11,000.
“I feel total gratitude,” Cassidy said. “It’s incredibly motivating, more so than I thought.”
Reach Brad Schmitt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-259-8384 or on Twitter @bradschmitt.
What: Country star Dierks Bentley's wife, Cassidy, is running the Boston Marathon to raise money for Safe Haven, a Nashville shelter for homeless families.
When: The race is April 17, and the online outlets to make donations are open now.
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