Nashville Eats

4 05 2012

In case you were wondering, I did some serious carbo-loading and refueling while in Nashville. Here’s a peek at my eats from Nashville last weekend:

Michelle and I headed out sans-children for a pancake feast at the Pfunky Griddle on Friday morning. It’s a pretty cool concept for a breakfast place. Basically, each table has a built in griddle (kinda like a mini version of what you’d see at a Japanese Teppanyaki or Hibachi place) and basically you cook everything yourself- the pancakes, the french toast, the eggs, and you can heat up your bacon and sausage on there too. It’s $5.99 for all the pancakes you can eat plus one topping. Additional toppings are $0.75 each. They bring you two batters- one made with unbleached white flour and an organic 5 grain batter.

Hi Michelle!

I was super excited for pancakes!

They brought us each our own spatula and two small pitchers of batter. Off we go!

We started with the 5 grain mixture. YUM! I thought it was pretty tasty, and I really liked cooking them on their flat top. WAY easier to get an even cook on the pancakes!

Michelle got chocolate chips as her topping. I decided to go with the apricot almond spread (left) and the cinnamon spiced cottage cheese (right).

The apricot almond spread was really sweet, and basically tasted like they put almond extract into apricot jelly with a little bit of almond meal. It was good, but a little too much of the artificial almond taste.

Next time, I think I’d get a topping I can put into the batter, like Michelle’s chocolate chips.

Michelle was the master flipper. Look at how purty these things are!! After we killed both pitchers of batter (maybe made a total of 12 or 16 pancakes, I don’t recall), I put up my white flag and surrendered.

Carbo-loading meal #1 = Success!

We spent the rest of the morning running a few errands and shopping. One of our stops was Trader Joe’s and I stocked up on some of my favorite trail mixes, since there is not a TJ’s near me in Tampa 😦

Next up: Pre-race pasta meal at Chateau Michelle. Sorry friends, this hot spot is by invitation only. 🙂

While we were out shopping, Michelle’s hubby (and my running buddy) was home with the boys and preparing our super delicious pasta dinner.

Fresh meat sauce and rotini pasta. Perfect pre-race meal. Dinner was paired with a beautiful spring salad.

I love putting fruit in salad! After filling my belly with a massive amount of pasta, I grabbed a small bowl of cookies and cream ice cream. 🙂 Perfect ending to my meal!

One of the things that was motivating me to get to the finish of my marathon was thoughts of dinner plans with my girlfriends. (I didn’t wait until dinner time to eat after my race, I promise! I ate every food item they passed out at the finish line and then a veggie bowl at Chipotle. Yes, I ate at Chipotle after my race and it was amazing.)

A few weeks ago, my friend Caroline suggested we try out Puckett’s Grocery for dinner after the race. I know my friends have good taste in food, so I immediately said YES, without even glancing at the menu. 🙂

Love these ladies! (Anna, Michelle, Caroline, Stacie)

Friends, I was NOT disappointed. I got some good ol’ southern BBQ pulled pork, on a corn cake pancake with some sweet potato fries. DELISH!

Oh, and I can’t forget my drink! So excited to see this outside of North Carolina! You know I love my Cheerwine!

Great meal to end a great day 🙂 Puckett’s also had a musician playing some live music, which I thought was really cool. The live music scene is one of my favorite things about Nashville. After dinner, we walked down to the Wildhorse Saloon for some more live music and some country line dancing. I was able to bust a few moves, but my quads and knees were definitely in some pain. Feeling much better now:-)

We saved the best meal for last! On Sunday morning, we headed over to Monell’s at the Manor. It was our intention to get breakfast, but they stopped serving breakfast at 11, right when we arrived. DOH! But, we got an amazing lunch and I was certainly not disappointed.

Monell’s is a family-style restaurant serving traditional southern cooking. This particular location was in a beautiful mansion.

I wonder what it would have been like living here?

We sat down at a large dining table set for 12, with a slice of pecan pie at each seat. A place that serves dessert first? I love it already! I think they must do this because you eat until you’re full and then pay at the front when you’re done. Your server doesn’t have to wait for you to finish your meal to serve you dessert. You can keep nibbling away all afternoon I think! Anyhow, within minutes, someone came up and told us how meals at Monell’s worked. There was already sweet tea, fruit tea, and water on the table, and right behind her, another server was bringing us a basket of biscuits and cornbread, homemade peach preserves, coleslaw, and veggies. We served ourselves, passed everything around, and shortly the remainder of the meal would come out.

Plate Number 1: (I was told to hold back, the best is yet to come)

The veggies were marinated in a sweet vinegar, and they were super tasty. I need to recreate! And the biscuits. Oh the biscuits! YUMMY!!!!

Soon, bowls and bowls of more food came out. They brought pork loin, fried chicken, roast beef, cat fish, corn casserole, green beans, broccoli rice casserole, macaroni and cheese, and mashed potatoes. (I think that’s it?) Comfort food at its best!

Plate #2:

SO. GOOD.

I stuffed my face and then some. I can’t tell you what my favorite dish was; it was all delicious! I’m normally not all about “comfort food” since my mind immediately thinks of how unhealthy it is for you, but every last bite of this stuff went in my belly. And I’d do it all over again in a heart beat. Gosh, it was so good.

I’m totally in love with the food at Monells, and I want to go back for breakfast now. BTW, its a flat fee for each meal; Sunday lunch was the most expensive, at about $18/person, but it was totally worth it, and I definitely ate my $18 worth! I would highly recommend Monell’s. The food is great, the building is beautiful, and its a really cool experience to eat at a big dining room table in a southern mansion with a bunch of strangers 🙂 If you’re in Nashville, go to Monell’s!

Gosh, now I’m hungry. Can I get some of that food shipped down here?





Country Music Marathon Race Report

1 05 2012

I did it!!

First of all, THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone for your kind words of encouragement before, during, and after the race. I am overwhelmed by the support 🙂

You’re probably wondering, so how’d it go? Well, I didn’t meet my A Goal time-wise, but I certainly met my other goals to finish and have fun! I had what I considered to be a great race and couldn’t be happier with how the day went down.

I went to bed pretty early on Friday night, and willed myself to sleep. I tossed and turned some, as my nerves were getting the best of me. I had this terrible fear that I wasn’t going to finish. I knew I had done my training, but I was second guessing myself. Its funny because I don’t remember this fear before my first marathon, which I had hardly trained for. I guess back then, I didn’t really know what real marathon training looked like. Ignorance is bliss?

I finally fell asleep and then woke up before my alarm.  However, after realizing that it was only 1:00am and the race wasn’t for another 6 hours, I went back to bed. My alarm buzzed at 5:15 and I sat up in bed thinking, “Holy crap. I am running 26.2 miles today. That is a LONG way!”

I had laid out all my gear the night before, so it didn’t take long to get ready 🙂

After fueling up, our car full of runners left for the starting line. Michelle (my hostess) drove me, her cousin, her cousin’s friend, her husband, and her husband’s friend all to the starting line. I’m so glad I was staying with a Nashville local- Michelle drove us to the starting line, taking back roads, so we experienced zero traffic. We were there in no time at all, about 15 minutes before the first corral was set to leave! Michelle’s hubby Luke, was also running the full. It was his first marathon and he was also hoping to run it in four hours, so we decided we would run together for as long as we could.

We wanted to try to make a quick bathroom stop before heading to our corral, but unfortunately, we underestimated the potty lines a bit. We tried to get into some of the local businesses, but the lines there were crazy too. Oh well. I had gone before we left the house, and this was going to be a “just in case” potty break. We decided that we’d just get in our corrals and stop along the course if we needed to.

There were TONS of people at the race. I heard somewhere in the ballpark of 31K running the full and half! That’s a lot of bodies!

An up and coming country music star sang the national anthem and then the race began! It was already humid when the race started, and the weather had said it was supposed to get into the 80s. I wasn’t too worried, since I had done all my training in Florida; I was just worried about getting a headache from dehydration after!

Just before 7 I got a text from Bill telling me he was hitting the road again. If you recall, I had mentioned in my goals post that I was excited about Bill coming to the marathon, since he had a gig within driving distance to the marathon. We discovered on Thursday afternoon that we had a slight miscommunication about the location of the race and his gig. Had my marathon been in DC, he would have been a mere 2 hours away. Unfortunately, his gig was in central Virginia, and he was a good 10 hour drive from the actual location of the race, Nashville, TN. Whoops.

I was a little disappointed when I found this out, so I searched for flights from Dulles (VA) to Nashville for Saturday morning. I saw that the earliest flight got him to Tennessee at 11:30, after my expected finish time. I mentally began preparing for him not to be there for the race.

We texted back and forth on Thursday night about what the plan was going to be. I was worried about him driving all through the night, so I tried to discourage him but he is one determined man. He soon sent me a text that said he made the necessary changes to the rental car agreement and was returning the car in Nashville. He was going to drive through the night and sleep when he needed to, but he was NOT going to miss my marathon. Love him. ❤

I was worried for sure, but I tried not to think about him driving all through the night. I didn’t ask details about when he was planning on leaving, or where exactly his gig was. I figured the less details I knew, the less my mind would stress about it, and the greater the chance that I’d be pleasantly surprised to see him.

He had texted at about 4am to let me know he was stopping to sleep and that he was about 140 miles away. So when he texted again at 7am  to let me know he was on his way again, I put a smile on my face, because I knew he’d definitely be there to see me finish, barring any terrible problems. 🙂

A few minutes after 7am, Luke and I crossed the starting line. The crowd was pretty dense, but somehow we were able to find a little space and find our groove. I knew that we needed to hold 9:07 miles for the entire marathon, so I incessantly kept checking my watch, even within the first mile. I didn’t want to go out too fast and die. I wanted to run a smart race.

Mile 1: 9:03

Mile 2: 9:03

Only a smidge fast, but that’s ok. I recalled that mile 2-5 was basically uphill, so I was mentally preparing myself to slow a little.

Mile 3: 9:14

Mile 4: 9:05

We saw Michelle around mile 4, and we were so very excited.

You’d think we were just finishing the race! I was feeling good and having fun!

Mile 5: 9:12

Mile 6: 9:02

Mile 7: 9:04

These miles were just ticking by. I kept checking my watch, and then checking my wristband that I got at the expo to help pace me. I realized we were right on track for a 4:00 marathon; heck, we might even be able to sneak in under it!

Mile 8: 9:03

Mile 9: 9:04

Mile 10: 8:51

Just before the marathon and half marathon split, I got to see Michelle again. It was so fun seeing a friendly face along the course! About a quarter mile later, the marathoners stayed left and the half marathoners stayed right. I jokingly looked over to my right and waved saying, “Hi Friends!” As soon as I returned to looking forward, I saw my friend Caroline heading over to the half marathon side. It was an unexpected surprise to see her! I smiled, gave her a cheer, and kept on moving!

Mile 11: 9:10

Mile 12: 9:05

Right around the 13 mile mark, Luke asked if I could call Michelle and ask her to have a dry shirt ready for him the next time we saw her. We knew she planned on being between mile 18 and 19, so I got out my phone and made the call. It was short and sweet, and I didn’t need to stop 🙂 She also said she’d have my Acellerade ready with the cap off the water bottle. (We had a failed exchange at mile 10).

Mile 13: 9:05

Mile 14: 8:54

Mile 15: 9:23

I looked at these splits and was pleasantly surprised. After the half marathoners left us, the crowd thinned way out. We also headed to an area of the course that was pretty much just pavement and nothing else. Miles 11-15 were probably some of the most boring miles on the course, and there weren’t many spectators on the course either. Because of the way the course was laid out though, as I was headed towards mile 12, I was able to see the runners coming towards mile 16. I spotted Mary, and gave her a yell 🙂 She was looking pretty good, and I was happy to see her!

Just before mile 16, Luke told me he could feel some leg cramps coming on. He said he was going to walk through the water stop at mile 16 and then see how it went from there. I was still feeling good, so I kept on trucking.

Mile 16: 9:01

Right at mile 17, we were running past the stadium where the half marathoners were finishing. It was fun to see all of them, and to think how crazy it was that I was still running. It was also about this point where I pushed aside my “I’m not going to finish” fear. I had miles in the single digits to go. I was going to finish, and I was going to finish well!

I glanced off to my right, and there was Bill!! He was over in the crowd, running along next to me. I yelled over and waved, and I’m sure I had a ginormous grin on my face. HE MADE IT!!! I didn’t expect to see him again until the finish, but I was SO HAPPY he had arrived safely. I couldn’t wait to give him a big hug! I kept chugging along, knowing that I was going to see Michelle in a little bit too, and that I was less than 10 miles from the finish line!

Mile 17: 9:11

Mile 18: 9:17

I knew at this point in the marathon it really becomes about the mental game. I recall at this point in the race trying to stay ahead of that girl in the sport bra. I think we went back and forth a few times, but then I lost sight of her at a water stop around mile 21 or so.

Mile 19: 9:24

Mile 20: 9:04

I think mile 20 was slightly down hill, but I was also REALLY excited that I only had a 10K to go. A 10K! I do that at the end of my tris! BRING IT ON!

At this point however, I think I was barely hanging on to my 4:00 goal. But honestly, I didn’t really care. I was having a great race, and was going to PR by about 40 minutes. I’ll take that!

Mile 21: 9:16

Mile 22: 9:32

Mile 22 was where I started to hit a wall. I knew I only had a little over 4 miles to go, but I was hot and my legs were starting to yell at me. Miles 21-25 were also through this golf course part of town where there were few spectators. Again because of the loops in the course, you could see the runners on miles 24 and 25 as you were headed on mile 21 and 22. I saw Mary again and gave her a cheer. Unfortunately, I could see that she was tired. I could also see that a lot of other runner were tired and hot. Runner after runner stopped to walk and stretch, but I kept on trucking. Until mile 23.

Mile 23: 10:14

Ouch. I was hurting for sure at mile 23, so I stopped for a second to stretch. I didn’t want to stop, but I told myself I could stop for a few seconds, stretch out my legs, and then I’d feel much better afterwards.

I started running again, and I felt a bit better. i was doing some serious self talking, trying to get motivated, when I looked up and saw Bill coming toward me in all his running gear. He ran up to me, told me how proud of me he was, and told me he was going to be right there by my side. I was super surprised and thankful to see him there, but didn’t have enough energy to tell him so. I smiled big, and pushed a little harder.

Mile 24: 9:51

The last 5K was SO HARD. My legs were incredibly tired and I just wanted to be at the finish line already. I knew at this point that a 4:00 marathon was out of the picture; I just wanted to finish. I stopped to walk twice (maybe three times?) between mile 24 and mile 26. It wasn’t for very long, but I was just beat. Bill stayed with me every step of the way. He hung back a little while we were running so that I was setting the pace and not him, which I really appreciated. He provided words of encouragement when I needed them, and poured some of his water on my back to keep me cool. I am so incredibly thankful to have such a loving, caring, wonderful man in my life!

Mile 25: 10:40

My legs felt like lead. I looked at my watch and saw my pace, and thought to myself that I could walk faster than this. Pull it together Steph, you’re almost there!

Mile 26: 11:07

On the home stretch I saw my friend Leah, who had ran the half. She gave me a cheer, and I started to pick up the pace. Only two tenths of a mile to go. I CAN DO THIS.

Last 0.2: 8:54

Official time: 4:05.58. YESSSSSSSSSS!!!

I was so incredibly happy to be finished, and just as happy to know that I had run the marathon in a 4:05!

Finishing the race with this guy was icing on the cake. I can not put into words how thankful I am that he made it and how incredibly loved I feel. He is certainly a keeper. 🙂

Overall, I think the course was pretty challenging. It certainly was hilly, but honestly, I think I had psyched myself out for some more serious hills. It was also a hot day, but training in Florida had prepped me for that. I think I hit my nutrition pretty much spot on, taking an AcellGel and 3 Gus during the race. I drank Gatorade at just about every station they offered it (every other water station), and drank water throughout the entire race. I popped a few salt tabs during the race and I took a salt packet from one of the medics on the course too. I also had a few swigs of Acellerade between mile 18 and 19. All of this put together = NO headache!

Me and Leah, happy to be done:-)

All in all, I’d say it was a pretty good day. I have to give a HUGE thank you to Michelle for hosting me, schlepping me around for a few days, and for being an amazing support crew and photographer! You are awesome!

Some folks have already asked if I am going to do another one. Right now, my answer is I don’t know. I would really like to get that 4:00…In fact, during the race I told myself that if I crossed the line and there was a 3 at the beginning of my race time, I’d be perfectly content not to run another one. But for now, I’m going to be proud of my accomplishments, and think about another marathon later. Its time for me to turn my attention to the sport I really love. Triathlon season is here, and I’m ready to rock and roll!





Country Music Marathon Goals

27 04 2012

I can’t believe its almost race day.  EEEEPP!

For the past 16 weeks, my legs have been logging more miles than they ever have before, and now its time for the pay off. Bring it on Nashville!

Here’s my goals for tomorrow:

1) Finish!

I haven’t run a marathon since 2006. At the time, I was still lifeguarding at the beach. One of the guys I worked with told me that I wasn’t going to finish- sort of in jest, but sort of not. Believe me, those words stuck with me as I was running, and I refused to walk and I refused to quit. When negative thoughts came into my head, I pushed them aside and told myself I was going to finish. He was NOT going to be right.

This time around, I didn’t have anyone telling me I can’t do it. In fact, I’ve felt an incredible amount of support, and have been so thankful for it! My biggest challenge this time around (at least in my training) has been myself. I’ve let my negative thoughts get to me, and have stopped runs short because I was hurting or I just mentally wasn’t in it. I’m going to be my biggest challenge in getting to that finish line. I need to squash the negative thoughts and KNOW that I can do it. Sure, it will hurt, but the glory of the finish line (and the thought of an amazingly yummy brunch) will motivate me to get through!

2) Have fun!

If I don’t accomplish this, there is something seriously wrong with me. First, I’m going to be in Nashville, an incredibly fun city! I’ve been there a few times before and love the live music scene, and can’t wait to get my line-dance on! Second, I’m going to see LOTS of people I know there, from different walks of my life!

I’m staying with Michelle, my college roommate:

This picture is a few years old, and now she’s got a 2nd little boy too. I can’t wait to meet little Micah, and see how big Isaac has gotten! Michelle’s not running, but her hubby is!

A few of my friends from DC are racing too! Stacie, Caroline, and Anna are all running the half!

We’ll all look this good when we race. 🙂

My new Tampa friend, Mary is also running the full. She’s hoping to BQ! She’s in phenomenal shape and I can’t wait to hear all about her race!

My other college roommate, Leah and her friend Kitty are running as well! Leah’s doing the half and Kitty is doing the full.

These would make great running outfits, eh? Haha! This picture is from Halloween; Kitty is Summer and Leah is Winter. (I cropped out Spring and Fall, sorry!) I’m wondering if they’ll dress up for the race?

And finally, I’m SUPER excited because BILL WILL BE THERE TOO!!

He happens to have a gig on Friday which is within driving distance to Nashville. What are the chances?! So, he’s going to be there to watch me race and I couldn’t be more excited about it! His smiling face and encouraging words are definitely going to help get me through this thing!

If you’re wondering about the time-goals I’ve set, here they are:

A Goal: Finish in 4:00 or faster

After I discovered the McMillan running calculator and it spit out that I should be able to complete a sub 4 hour marathon, I set my sights on that 4 hour milestone. It’s been my goal all along but I think I’m going to have to dig deep to achieve this. I have doubts that the amount of training I did fully prepared me for the marathon, but what’s done is done, and I can’t go back and add more miles in now. I need to push those doubts aside, and be confident in the level of fitness I have. I know that I did get in a hilly 17-miler and a pretty good 20 miler among some other 13-16 mile runs, and hopefully these will carry me across the 26.2 miles.

B Goal: Finish between 4:00 and 4:15

I’d be happy to finish in this range for sure. I believe my last marathon in 2006 was a 4:45 or something, so crossing the line at 4:15 would still be a good 30 minute PR. Nashville is also pretty hilly and I didn’t really take that into account when hoping to go sub-4. But, we’ll see!

My bags are packed, and I think I’ve got everything I need.

Good luck to everyone else who’s running this weekend too!!

Catch ya on the flip side!