Nashville ~ The City of Music & Murals

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Another trip in the books and what an adventure to the south it was!  I had actually visited Tennessee once before {girl’s trip to Graceland and the Peabody w/ my grandma, mom, and sister} but that was all the way across the state in  Memphis.  Nashville had been on my “to-do” list for some time and since Lindsay was dying to escape the cold for her birthday, off to “Nash-Vegas” we went for a good time.

We flew out Thursday and it was possibly the worst flight I’ve ever had.  I had a drunk passenger who wanted to have a life chat and then get touchy feely.  In retrospect I really should have said something to the flight attendant rather than suffer the two hours of firmly telling him to stop and keep to himself.  Mostly I was worried they would turn the plane around and just wanted to get to Nashville.  I know this might be more on the personal side for the blog but I want to remind women that they need to speak up, especially if they feel uncomfortable.

We finally arrived to our Airbnb around midnight and it was off to bed.  Our home base was named the Cleveland Cottage and was quite possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen.  As a matter of fact, when I saw it, I was inspired to look into design classes and set the seed for my own organization side project.

I think the entire recent southern charm/Pinterest/hipster movement was encompassed in that cottage.  We had a loft, a record player with plenty of country and hits from the prime record days, a range of books for display and reading pleasure, and a faux fireplace that would turn off and on with the swipe of your hand.  If you are looking for a place to stay, DEFINITELY check this place out!  Oh, it’s also a mile or so from one of the tastiest Mexican restaurants called Mas Tacos.  What more reason do you need?

We had a slow start to day 1, allowing ourselves to sleep in (jokes on me there…my body won’t sleep in), attempting an ab workout, getting ready, and transporting ourselves (via  Uber) to breakfast at Biscuit Love located in the Gulch.  Even though it was a Friday, there was already a line to get into breakfast.  As Lindsay waited in line, Annelise and I grabbed some coffee across the street from Kellebrew.  HANDS DOWN BEST VANILLA ICED LATTE! The reason?  Who knows but I have a feeling it comes from that homemade syrups.  I also snapped a photo of the delicious looking cinnamon rolls but restrained from purchasing since it’s a no-sweets zone for me right now.

Luckily for us, the line moved quickly and we soon were eyeing all of the wonderful southern soul food options.  Rumor is the bonuts (biscuit donuts) are a hot commodity but again, Annelise and I were out of sweets commission this weekend.  Guess I’ll have to go back!  Each of us ended up with some form of biscuit – fried chicken for Lindsay, gravy for Annelise and grits + eggs/bacon for me.  All in all the biscuits were alright – not the best I’ve had but certainly not the worst. Tip: The grits are where it’s at.

After breakfast Annelise headed back to the Airbnb since she had to work 😦  Lindsay and I took our time walking towards Vanderbilt and soaking in the sunshine.  I’m 99% sure Lindsay saw Hunter Hayes coming off of Music Mile but can’t confirm since I had my head in the clouds.  We also ended up in Centennial Park where the only authentic replica of the Parthenon is located.

From the grounds of Vanderbilt to the Frothy Monkey for a quick latte (seriously best turmeric latte to date) and then a walk down 12th Ave to Draper James.  If you haven’t heard of Draper James, it’s a lifestyle brand created by Reese Witherspoon and talk about Southern style and charm.  It also happened to be located near some of the murals Lindsay had on list!  Unfortunately Lindsay was in a boot so we couldn’t walk too much but I would recommend creating your own walking tour in Nashville to see all of the sights and sites!

After a short stop and rest at the Airbnb, it was time for a NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN! For those of you who know me, I don’t usually go out and when I do, it’s once in a blue moon.  But in Nashville, you suck it up and dance!  We started the night at Acme Feed + Seed where there was live country music on the first floor and a packed house.  Dinner was in order and after getting our respective BBQ platters, we headed to the roof to sit.  Guess what?  I had another stupid drunk guy encounter.  This time, one guy from a bachelor party decided to walk over and start eating our fries.  No pickup line, no flirting, no questions.  We were not impressed and those sweet potato fries were the best part of the meal! Yep, the ribs and brisket were a bit of a disappointment so my recommendation would be to go for sides.

BBQ: ACME Feed & Seed ~ Martin’s ~ Monell’s (Germantown w/ family style food)  ~ Rippy’s ~ Edley’s (bonus: it’s near Jeni’s ice cream!) ~ Hattie B’s (hot chicken and considered by a lot of critics to be the best fried chicken in the country)

We stayed around for some staged music and live music and then walked down the strip to HonkeyTonk Central.  This hot spot has three different floors with bars and bands on every floor!  If we had played a betting game (dare I say drinking game) with every bachelor and bachelorette parties that we passed, we would either be rich (or very very sick).

BARS/SOCIAL SCENE: Patterson House (speakeasy style w/ great drinks) ~ Winner’s, Loser’s ~ Rebar ~ Tootsie’s ~ Paradise Park ~ Tin Roof ~ Honkeytonk Central ~ Crazy Town ~ ACME

By the time we got around to Tootsie’s (one of the most popular and well-known) it was almost midnight and we were ready to call it a night. Not to mention the length of the line outside the popular honky-tonk had us a little deterred.  So while we didn’t actually go into Tootsie’s, the picture counts, right?  One of our uber drivers told us that some people spend upwards of 4+ hours in that joint so maybe it is worth taking another trip down south one day.

Day 2 also started off to a slow start and despite the late night, I woke up too early and so I set out for a run.  It was refreshing to get out and stretch my legs and (attempt to) work off the late night garlic rolls.  We headed out to brunch around 10:45 and soon found ourselves faced with a very long line at Pancake Pantry.  My hanger was starting to emerge and so we walked to Fido and waited for about 20 or so minutes for food. Fun fact – EVERYONE brunches.

Post brunch, we walked and shopped – I spent more than I needed to – and we took a trip down to the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum.  This is a definite must do when in Nashville because it provides you with a full perspective of country music from start to finish and hey, it’s Nashville, the city of music!  Also, I would hope that you actually like country music if you are in Nashville…otherwise that’s a you problem. 😉

After a couple of hours of wandering through the museum, we adventured off to another part of town to walk and shop (something new and different…mostly window shopping this time).  We picked up another cup of coffee and then called it an afternoon around 4:30.  All of us needed a nap or chill session before one last night in Nashville.  Around 6 we met up with a couple of my friends who happen to be in town!!  One is an old family friend (Mia) and another is a friend’s sister (Lauren) from home.  Turned out they became great friends while working at Vanderbilt last year and all because I was a mutual connection on Facebook!

We met up at Mas Tacos, a quasi hole in the wall restaurant that was absolutely DELISH!  One can never go wrong with Mexican food – that is for darn sure.  I ordered elote (Mexian street corn), horchata, plantains, and a pulled pork taco.  Other solid recs include the chicken tortilla soup and chicken carne tacos.  Heads up – it’s cash only but have no fear, there is an ATM!

After partying ways with Mia and Lauren, we watched UNC beat Duke at a local sports bar and then headed home to pack.  It was in bed by 10 making it a successful night and a fabulous trip!

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“Country music is the people’s music. It just speaks about real life and about truth and it tells things how they really are.” – Faith Hill

Take Me Down Ocean Avenue: Brooklyn Half Recap

Fun fact: I used to listen to Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue” on repeat when I first started running back in the day.  But I’m going to talk about another Ocean Avenue today – the one in the Brooklyn Half Marathon.  Yep, another half in the bag and now I’m forcing myself to take a mini hiatus from racing.  I actually wasn’t even planning to race on Saturday but a few months back when everyone and their mom started talking about it, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and sign up.  Serious FOMO issues here. Good thing I was at my computer that day because the race sold out in 45 minutes!!!  Yes, I paid money to endure 13.1 miles and there’s nothing you can do to stop me from doing it again.

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Overall it went well.  It hurt but that’s something that generally comes with the territory.  The saying goes “don’t do anything new on race day” and well, I may have broken that rule a few times.  First off, I was going in with less training than I would have liked.  Sure, I’ve been working out but not really working out properly – mostly taking classes that leave me sore and then dilly-dallying through my running.  Then my sleep and food routines have been all over the place this week.  Between flying back from home and attending our upfront events and concerts, it was sort of a mess.  Yolo.  On Friday, I was invited to a friend’s dinner party (I guess you could say healthy interest/blogger meet-up hosted by GreenBlender folks) and while the food was absolutely delicious, I maybe shouldn’t have stuck to classics.  I didn’t have coffee the morning of and well, that might have messed up some things too.  I’ll leave it at that.

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^^ White strawberries (actually albino strawberries but that just sounds weird) are a thing.  Check it out!

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Anyways, I do have to thank my friend Sara for letting me sleep on her couch the night before because that meant I was about 800 meters from the start and thus I could avoid waking up at 4am to catch one of the few subways actually traveling to Brooklyn.  WINNING!  I also have to give her a huge shout out for crushing her first half! What a champ 🙂

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So the race.  Because of my time from last year’s Washington Heights 5k, I’ve been placed in some of the front corrals.  Funny since I’ve been getting slower with each race and yet my bib still states otherwise.  I rolled off the couch around 5:20, ate my banana and Honey Stinger waffle, got dressed, and was out the door by 5:45.  Bag check was supposedly going to close around 6:10 but I think that was a ploy to get runners to actually show up on time.  Wave #1 didn’t go off until 7am (wave #2 around 7:45) and that left me with plenty of time to find my NP friends and hang out (and use the porta-potty…duh).

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Weather was definitely working in our favor – slightly overcast with no sight of rain.  Perfect since earlier this week it was about a 100% chance of rain and while voluntarily racing 13.1 miles is crazy, running in the rain is even more so and not so enjoyable.  It may have started to get a bit hot and humid but again, thank goodness no rain.

Consensus is most of us started way too fast.  Typical for me when you get caught up in the heat of the moment, you are pumped with your new playlist (Hello Justin Timberlake and EDM remixes by Spotify), and everyone else is jetting out like a bat out of hell (kudos to my friend Sarah for teaching me that phrase about 10 years ago).  Anyways, I was feeling oh so dandy for the first couple miles and then realized I still had 11 more to go.  Cool.

>> Brooklyn Half Course Map <<

We wrapped in and around Prospect Park, struggled powered up the hills where I saw some November Project folks cheering (we have the best cheer squads out there), and then down counter-clockwise and onto Ocean Parkway.  I happened to be running alongside a couple other of NP people, which kept me focused on pushing forward.  We actually switched off pushing the pace and kept one another accountable.  I rarely race with people that I know, but this prevented me from slowing down too much – something the lazy part of me wanted to do.   But yes, the the course.  Prospect Park was nice but lovely Ocean Parkway – remind me again why I signed up for this?  6 miles of not so attractive open road.  Good times.

About two years ago when I raced this course, I thought the same thing, dying with the endless path in front of me and pretty much crashing at mile 10 because I didn’t fuel properly (aka no gu or chew or dates).  This year I did use fuel (dates at 6.5, 7.5, 9, and 11), but had to stop in the porta-potty for a few minutes at mile 10.  Good times.

So here’s a question – do you stop your watch during a race if you use the bathroom?  I did.  I figured I wanted to know my actually running time and after all, the live tracker would find my total time anyways.  I’m pretty spoiled living in New York City because New York Road Runners has their sh*t together – aid stations and porta-potties pretty much at every mile, relatively seamless bag check, and a much more manageable race start than the one I did in Sweden last year.  Sweden was what we call a sh*t show.  Pardon my French today.

After the pit-stop I had to get my head in the game and power through those last few miles.  It was just me, Bieber, JT, and the home stretch.  I may not practice running fast on a daily basis but I do have a pretty good kick, so with 800 meters to go (thank you to the weekly intervals crew!!), I went for it and landed a time of 1:46 clock time (1:45:59) and 1:43ish by my Garmin but not by Strava so maybe I made up that time in my head (likely to happen to me)

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I found my friends, celebrated their PR’s, picked up my bag, and headed to the baseball field to stretch.  Then it was onto the makeshift beer garden (Steeple Chase) to catch up with all the other November Project folks.  I later left with a few friends for brunch and real food on the main island of Manhattan but more on that later this week.

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^^ Highlight of the morning – seeing Ellie Golden in person again

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Saturday wasn’t about PRs.  It was about finishing with a positive mindset and knowing that I can race under various mental and physical conditions.  I have to have that attitude if I want to run or race double that amount in less than 6 months.  I have to pull myself together and enjoy the moment.  I always enjoy seeing my friends and love how supportive they are to one another.  We have folks running their first halves and half marathon veterans.  We are there through the good and the not-so-great.  They are my family here and I don’t think my experience would be the same without them.

But enough sap for one post.  Here’s to the Brooklyn Half, another day where we voluntarily chose to wake up at the crack of dawn, jaunt (sprint, suffer, slog, fly) through 13.1 miles, and party in all different ways afterwards.

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