florida fun in nashville

Greetings from the North!  I am allowed to say that after spending a weekend in the South, right?  More specifically, I spent the weekend in Nashville, Tennessee with Eric and a bunch of his friends from Florida.  Two years ago, the men of the group headed to Nashville to see the Florida/Vandy game for a bachelor party…they had so much fun they decided to do it for a second time, but let the ladies come along as well.  It ended up being six guys and two girls, so I’m pretty sure the two of us got bonus points for putting up with the guys’ shenanigans.

We stayed in a rented townhouse about half a mile from Vandy’s stadium, which was beautiful and way too nice for a guys’ weekend – the first matter of business was moving anything breakable to a safe location.  Otherwise, the weekend can be divided into a few different sections – food, feats of strength, some touristy things, running (for me), and football.  Away we go.

the food

Our diet for the weekend basically consisted of BBQ with one meal of fried chicken thrown in for good measure.  The townhouse was conveniently within walking distance (or a short drive, if you’re used to driving…the New Yorker in me would definitely walk) of Hog Heaven, a hole in the wall BBQ place.  I ate pulled pork, mac and cheese, baked beans, and a cornbread pancake every single day we were there.  I do not regret a single bite.  If you go, get the pulled pork with the white sauce…I’m still not sure what it is, but it is delicious.  I also can’t believe that I don’t have any pictures of the food…but then again, I’m not a food blogger.  Oops?

As a side note, do not, I repeat DO NOT, go to the South and ask for “regular tea” meaning that you do not want sweet tea.  The guy behind the counter kindly reminded me that “this is the South, we ain’t got no regular tea here.”  Noted. 

The one meal we skipped having BBQ was when we mixed it up for some fried chicken.  One of Eric’s friends had eaten at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken on a prior trip to Nashville and deemed it worthy of skipping BBQ.  They basically serve all types of fried chicken (vegetarians, beware) with all the typical Southern fixings.

photo 3 (14) SO GOOD.

I got chicken tenders with medium heat…provided enough bite for enjoyment, but not so much that I struggled to eat it.  Otherwise, the pimento mac and cheese was ridiculous (Abbe, this must be replicated) and no one questioned me about my tea order.  Win and win.  Seriously, go here.  I suggest taking a statin with you.  (Nurse humor, I can’t help it.)

feats of strength

Boys being boys, they of course had to engage in competition.  “Feats of Strength” continued from the bachelor party that started this whole trip, where they did silly things after consuming some adult beverages.  Pretty sure I was in bed when they recreated those moments, and the feats of strength I was around for seemed a bit more tame than the stories I’d been told.  I do know that Sports Jeopardy and Head Up (yes, the Ellen game) were involved.  The feats of strength that I got to join in on included Jenga and beer pong…please note that more time was spent arguing over the rules of beer pong than actually playing it, ha.  Jenga was actually played at a local bar that had a few different games you could play.  We warmed up with some old school boxing…

IMG_2540 Eric won.  Pretty sure it was rigged slash his guy was broken.

Then we moved onto Jenga, single elimination…and my official invitation into feats of strength.  These guys didn’t know what they were getting into, as I moved onto total domination.  They said I was cheating with my “steady nurse hands”…they come in handy for IV starts and Jenga.  (Putting that on my resume…)  I ended up winning the whole thing, and Eric got this video of a Jenga-fall in progress:

So dramatic in slow motion.

My team also won at beer pong, and Eric’s friends became scared to go against me.  I suggested running games, but that got shot down.  Maybe next time…

the touristy stuff

Being a guys’ trip, not much was planned, but we got around to see a few things.  A store for American Pickers (an antique store with a show on TV that I was not aware of) was on the list, although the store itself didn’t really have much in it.  A few boutique stores were in the warehouse that had the store, so we wandered for a little bit.  We got some fancy marshmallow (peach basil?  yes, please) and found a random tie store called “Otis James.”  Only one guy was in the store, so I asked him if Otis James is a real person…you never know, right?  He said he is a real person…to which I proceeded to ask if he is Otis James.  Yep.  I guess that would have made sense to ask from the start.  We headed out, but the ties were nice and made in the shop next door if you’re looking for handmade ties/bowties.

After, we headed to downtown Nashville, which is tourist city.  The other girl in the group was on a hunt for cowboy boots, so we searched around for those and hit a couple bars between stores.  The bars were far from fancy, and we even got this gem at one of them:

photo 1 (22)
THEY SERVE SHOTS IN MEDICINE CUPS.  The nurse in me found this hilarious.  Also, that is beer in the medicine cup because the only shots I’ll be taking are of the flu shot variety.  (PSA:  Get your flu shot!)  I think the bar was called “Paradise Park,” so check it out if you’re in town.

photo 5 (1) Such a deal on boots.  Fun fact:  They’re selling for $200-400 each, not so much a deal!

Nashville is full of some quirky things, including this guy:

IMG_6494 Beaver Elvis…alright.

Annnnnnnd, of course, you go to Nashville to see the Parthenon, right?  Athens of the South?  Full size replica of the Parthenon?  You think I’m kidding, but kidding I am not.


Apparently it was built over a century ago with plans to demolish it after the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition, but it was going to be costly to destroy it and the people of Nashville happened to like it.  Now, it serves as an art museum and a place for people to come visit or hang out.  It also has various workouts you can do around it, which I thought was cool.

IMG_6500 My yoga is not paying off, apparently.

“Burning off that chicken?”  haha.

So there you go…it’s like going to Greece without a passport!  And a lot more pulled pork…

the running

Naturally, I couldn’t spend my days off or time traveling in another city without running, so I did a little exploring on the run.  I had high hopes that it would be warm in Tennessee, but it was not…luckily my shorts/tank top did just fine in the 50 degree weather, and I had some lovely runs.

My first run was a five mile out and back around Vandy’s campus.  I stopped at a light to check my directions, and two men sipping coffee asked if I was texting while running.  I told them I’m from out of town (I think that’s rule #1 of things you’re not supposed to tell strangers…) and was checking directions.  They informed me they were visitors too and couldn’t help – probably Florida fans since a bunch were in town!  Anyway, Vandy’s campus seemed nice, although small (student body of around 7,000?), and had some hills.  I waved to the school of nursing and saw some students who were far more stylish than I was in college.

image Hello, Vandy!

My second run was an eight mile run that took me down to the river that runs through Nashville.  It was basically a straight shot down the 70S that you see in the picture above and went right down the main street leading into the city.  I almost got tackled by a Crossfit class running sprints on the sidewalk (move over for the rest of us, thanks!), but otherwise it was smooth running.  That is, of course, until I got a few blocks from the river and saw that the road was closed off – a race was going on!  I kicked myself (not literally, no plyos while running!) for not checking the race schedule, then realized it was a marathon and half marathon (with an earlier 5K, I later found out).  The runners seemed fairly spread out, and my later research found that the women’s winner of the marathon ran 3:19 with second and third running 3:24…put this on my life of “races I stand a chance of winning.”  The half marathoners were a bit faster – women’s winner was about 1:24.  Speedy!  Anyway, running along the river gave some nice views on a paved path.  Made me wish I’d planned a longer run, but oh well.  The pace felt easy, which was welcome from the struggles I’ve been having lately.

Friday – 8.01 miles in 1:02:55, avg pace of 7:45

photo 4 (6) No filter!  Ha.

image Why hello, Nashville.


Ah, finally the reason we headed to Nashville!  The Florida/Vandy game was at 6:30pm, so we had all day to hang out.  Some feats of strength continued, we had pulled pork.  This should not surprise you.  About an hour before the game, we headed down to the stadium and claimed our seats in the Florida section.  When I was back home in Chicago in October, I realized that this would not be my first Florida game – my high school marching band went to the Gator Bowl, so I saw Florida play there.  Of course, this time I was surrounded by a few more Florida fans.  I had my eyes on the Vandy marching band, as it brought me back to my college days…although the Maryland band was much, much bigger.  They played their pregame show and did a Veterans Day theme for half time.

photo 1 (23) Vandy Star.

Otherwise, Florida brought a small pep band, so much of the time was spent with Eric teaching me Florida chants.  One of them involves yelling, “Gator bait!” which terrified Gatsby.  It tough being a small elephant.

photo 2 (24) I guess he needs a Florida shirt.

The stadium seemed to have many more Florida fans than Vandy fans – I suppose Florida travels well and Vandy isn’t all the great.  Lots of orange and blue, and lots of touchdowns for Florida!  Florida won 34-10, with much of the stadium clearing out in the fourth quarter due to Florida being up so much.  I’m 2-0 at Florida games, so I guess Eric better keep me around…

and that’s a wrap!

After lots of pulled pork in Nashville, I’m glad to be back to somewhat normal eating up…but I suppose I could use all of that protein to start preparing for feats of strength for next time!


11 2014

volunteering for the 2014 NYC Marathon

As many people in the running world know, today was the New York City Marathon.  I’ve run this marathon twice, and I’m know as the resident marathoner at work, which meant that I spent the last week answering the question, “Why aren’t you running the marathon this year?”  I found it to be interesting that I felt like I had to defend my reasons for not heading out Staten Island this morning.  The main reason was that I decided to take the year off from running marathons, as I was worried about having back issues and chose to sideline the long distance running in favor of a triathlon.  (Hence:  Princeton Half Ironman.)  Otherwise, I can’t always decide if I love running the same course over and over again.  I’ve run Chicago, Boston, and New York two times each.  Not sure when I’ll head back for a third – they’re all tempting courses!

It seemed as though most of my running friends took the year off from the NYC Marathon as well, and a few months ago I got to thinking how the day would be different not knowing EIGHT BAZILLION people running it.  Around this time, I got an email from NYRR requesting volunteers for marathon weekend, so I checked it out.  They still needed medical volunteers, which I thought would be pretty cool…so I signed up for that.  The expo also had plenty of spots available, so I signed up to help with bib pick-up on Thursday.  I’ve been running for a long time and figured it was time to give back to the sport that has given me so much.  It was interesting to be on the other side, and admittedly it was difficult to not say things like, “I KNOW JUST HOW YOU FEEL, I RUN MARATHONS TOO.”

So, in case you were wondering about the experience on the other side, it went something like this:

bib pick-up


My shift for bib pick-up was 2-8pm, although we spent 2-3pm in “orientation” and getting organized before heading up to the expo.  Everyone had to check their bags/jackets and we were all given green volunteer shirts.  We randomly got placed behind a set of numbers, although we had too many volunteers so I got placed at the entrance to “direct” runners to one of the three lanes that had bibs.  I tried my hardest to ask people what their number was to point them in the right direction, but let’s be honest – the numbers are clearly labeled so most people were like, “I see the number, but thanks!”  Luckily, one of the volunteer supervisors told me that I was in a boring job and pulled me into a bib line.

I was in the 5,000-6,000 bib range, which I thought was fun because that means that some fast people would be coming my way!  Handing out bibs is fairly easy, although the NYC Marathon is huge on preventing people from selling/stealing bibs, so we had to check the runners’ IDs against their confirmation sheet and their bib number/name.  This was mostly fun because I got to see the passports of many different countries – at one point, I realized the plane from Germany must have just landed because we got multiple Germans in a row!  We had people who lived as close as a few blocks away and people as far away as Australia.  Despite the international feeling of the race, most people spoke English, which always makes me feel like I need to learn a new language.

I only ran into one strange situation where the name on the bib did not match the name on a person’s ID – and it was clearly different since one was male and one was female!  The person was quick to point to the bib number and the number on the confirmation sheet, saying, “You just compare the numbers, right?  They’re the same.”  It may have been believable, but the person was quick to point that out, which made me think something fishy was happening.  That’s above my pay grade (ha), so I got a supervisor involved and I have no idea what happened.

We got a break in the middle of the shift, and I didn’t think I would be making it back to the expo for the rest of the weekend, so I explored a little.  Mainly, I went on a hunt for the nuun station in search of Kim.  Kim was in my van for Hood to Coast (round 1) does evening marketing for nuun, and she travels to many of the race expos, so I get a dose of her every few months.  We catch up on life and on the running world, and it always makes expos a little more fun.

And, of course, I couldn’t help browsing the merchandise.  I thought that Brooks has some of the better marathon-related apparel this year, and even though I wasn’t running, I couldn’t help but buy this shirt:

photo 2 (23)

I was also lucky enough for Brooks to send me their Freedom Adrenalines, which are a tribute to the NYC Marathon.  I’m partial because the Adrenalines were the first running shoe I truly fell in love with (and I ran in them for seven years!), and I love New York.  These might one of the best things Brooks has ever done:

Yes, I spelled “NYC” with the shoelaces.  It was hard.

finish line medical tent

photo 1 (21)

As the name of this blog suggests, I’m a nurse who runs.  When I spotted the “medical volunteer” option on the NYRR website, I thought that it would be a good way to combine the two aspects of my life.  Nursing does involve a special set of skills that not everyone has, so I figured I could be of use.  This involved going to a gigantic orientation where we got a rundown of the main afflictions we would see on race day and how to treat them.  (Read:  It’s a medical tent, not a hydration station.  AKA not everyone gets an IV!)  Being in the post-finish line area, most people who would be coming in would be a result of cramping or a post-exercise related collapse.  If runners are going to have cardiac issues, they’ll probably happen before the finish line.

I was in P5, which is the largest medical tent in the race.  The medical director said the marathon is the largest planned mass casualty event in the country, as they see about 5,000 people on race day.  (The medical tents on the course have to record if they gave Vaseline to someone, so it’s not like 5,000 runners are collapsing.)  As a runner, I’ve never set foot in a medical tent, knock on wood, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  We got to the medical tents at 9am, and the first runners don’t arrive until around 12:30pm…we had plenty of time to set up!  We filled bags with ice, set up IV poles, spiked IV fluids, and prepared IV start kits.  (Oddly enough, we have no heplocks!  Just the angiocaths…fail.)  Being such a large tent, everyone was assigned to an area – triage, escort (to move runners to the area they were triaged to), discharge, podiatry (for runners with only foot problems), and areas 1-5.  I believe that “1” was the least critical whereas “5” was also labeled “RESUS,” short for “resuscitation.”  I was assigned to this area, and we basically set up a mini-ICU.  Kind of.  We had iSTAT machines for quick BMPs (although the machine overheated more than not…) and monitors…and I do believe there was an intubation box.

Each section had a mix of attendings, residents, medical students, nurses, and physical therapists/PT students.  The medical students acted as scribes to fill out the “chart” for each runner who came in, while the residents/attendings/nurses assessed the runner and acted as needed.  Honestly, the people who got the most action in the tent were the PTs – so many runners came in with cramps, so the PTs went to work massaging muscle, while we tried to get the runners to drink some chicken broth or Gatorade to help with the cramping.  The rule in the tent was “no IV without iSTAT,” meaning that not every runner who appeared dehydrated would get an IV – if you looked bad enough to require labwork, then you would get an IV.  (Convenient because we would just draw the blood as we started the IV.)  I can only think of one person in my section who actually got some IV fluid, and that wasn’t even a full liter.  No one even had wonky labs, which was good.

Our more serious issues were a couple asthmatics and some people who got short of breath/chest pain after finishing, but they mostly stated that the cold caught up to them after they finished and they couldn’t get a deep breath.  Being in a super heated tent (seriously, it was so toasty in there) made them feel better, along with some blanket and oxygen.  We did a few 12 lead EKGs, put in a couple IVs, and gave some breathing treatments.  Sometimes we thought we would be getting something more critical when volunteers from the outside would carry in a runner, but that was mainly because they were cramping so bad they couldn’t walk.  Terrible for the runner, yes, but not a medical emergency.

Many of the medical volunteers weren’t necessarily runners themselves, or at least they hadn’t run a marathon, and some said, “Well, this doesn’t make me want to run one…”  But as a runner looking in from the outside, the runners in the medical tent weren’t that bad.  Certainly some awful cramping, and I would definitely be nervous myself if I was having chest pain after a race, but as a medical professional looking in, everyone seemed pretty okay.   I did wonder if the cold made things worse with the cramping after the race – many runners were in shorts (which I would have run in had I been running), so I’m sure going from running 26.2 to being in the cold wind didn’t help.

Luckily for the runners, nothing too crazy happened in the main post-finish tent.  It was fun to give back to a race that I’ve enjoyed so much, and I enjoyed the teamwork with my group.  None of had ever worked together before, but we helped each other out and when someone did come in who looked like they might be really sick, it was all hands on deck.  I love watching a group of nurses working together – everyone knows what needs to be done (oxygen, monitor, IV, etc.) and people just start doing things.  I think that’s really cool.

But I digress.  If you’re in the medical field (especially the physical therapists of the world!), I would definitely recommend volunteering the medical tent.  It’s a specialized way to help out and gives you a different side of the race.

a special shout out

I went for a five mile run in the morning before volunteering, and one of my main thoughts was, “I am so glad I’m not running in this wind today.”  Major props to everyone who ran the marathon!  That wind was brutal, and while the sun seemed to come out at some point, I can only imagine how tough it got out there.  But runners will run, and that’s what all of you did – congrats to all!

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11 2014