Week 36

Nashville

My grandfather adored Chet. So many memories surfaced on this trip through my musical childhood.

My grandfather adored Chet. So many memories surfaced on this trip through my musical childhood.

Weekly Training Log

Sunday

Plan: 90 Minute Run

Reality: My alarm went off at 2am. I was at the bakery by 2:05. It was Easter Sunday and we had 2000 doughnuts on the production schedule. My task was to hand cut all the them (while making cinnamon buns, sticky buns, three kinds of muffins and baking the breads). By 3am, they were finished and the first of the doughnuts were ready to fry. Once they started coming out, the team raced to finish them before the first customers arrived at 7am.

I had a flight to catch at 11am. Brad and I were going to Nashville. It was my first time. I just had to finish the doughnuts and the bread so I could grab my bags and get on the plane. My mom called. ‘Don’t get on a bike before that plane takes off,’ she advised. Brad and I were supposed to leave for San Francisco the day after my accident, it would have been my first non-work related trip without the kids, ever. Now, Nashville is.

I may have slept on the plane, for a minute or two. As soon as we landed, the warm sunshine welcomed us. We were both starving and set out to find food immediately upon arriving in downtown Nashville. It was 1:30pm. There were runners passing us on every corner. I was chomping at the bit to get my 90 minutes in. We found an open BBQ joint (everything was closed or booked for Easter). I had a BLT with fried green tomatoes, what a brilliantly southern idea, and a giant vat of sweet tea. I did spend half a decade in northern Florida. It’s hard not to get sucked right back into the south.

After our late lunch we checked into our Airbnb and I laced up. I couldn’t wait. I had a vague idea of where we could spend 90 minutes running based on all the Nashville Strava stalking I did over the weeks leading up to the trip. When we hit the road, it was 80 degrees and the sun was right above us. It felt great, for about 2 minutes, then it felt terrible. We ran downtown, past the Country Music Hall of Fame, down the frat boy hell strip, through the NFL draft and over the bridge. I was tired but enjoying the scenery. At the 40 minute point I I could barely hang on. All I could taste was that fucking fried green tomato. What a terrible idea. The heat was pounding, there was no shade where we were running, I stopped and puked on the side of the road. That was a first for me, though I’ve threatened a few hundred times. What made me think no sleep, baking since 2am, navigating airports, eating BBQ and a 90 minute run in direct sun was a good idea? FOMO? Brad was a good sport. We turned around and walked for a few minutes, ran to the bridge, walked a little more and ran back to home base. I think I got 6 miles in. It might have been an hour. I definitely didn’t learn from my mistakes in Vegas. Working/Flying/Running does not do a body good.

After we cleaned up, we walked 3 miles back downtown to check out the Pinewood Social, an old bowling alley turned bar & restaurant where you can still knock some pins down. I had a big fat quinoa salad and a half a beer before I almost fell asleep at the bar. I had been up for 20 hours straight.

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Monday

Plan: HIIT

Reality: Food Tour of Nashville! We started out at Milk & Honey a restaurant that opens early for breakfast and serves Stumptown Coffee. Finally a trip that doesn’t require me to bring my own. Brad and I met the head baker, Ben, when we were in Vegas. We knew this had to be our first stop. I had an incredible avocado toast on the house sourdough with fried eggs on top. I quickly learned that everything in Nashville comes with pimento cheese spread although I’m still trying to figure out what that is exactly. I’m pretty sure it’s what they served at every 1950’s potluck in the US but Nashville just didn’t let it go. Brad had a bacon egg and cheese on the most incredibly delicious biscuit ever!

Avocado toast from Milk & Honey

Avocado toast from Milk & Honey

For lunch we found another BBQ joint in the 12 South district. We shared brisket & pulled pork tacos that were incredible. I discovered Imogene & Willie’s, a boutique who fabricates their own jeans, one of the only in the nation. I bought the most comfortable pair of pants I’ve had in long time, so much so that there’s only been one day in the last week that I didn’t wear them.

We had reservations for Rolf & Daughter’s for dinner. I have to say, it was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten from the sourdough with seaweed butter, the sweet potato with chili and anchovies, the nettle pasta with toasted hazelnuts to the house made kombucha…out of this world. And we got to sit outside.

After dinner we checked out the Bearded Iris Brewery, the top recommendation from everyone we knew who lived in or visited Nashville before. They were not wrong. Definitely the best beer on the trip. And we got to sit outside, again!

Jeni’s ice cream but more importantly, new pants from Imogene & Willie…best trip souvenir EVER!

Jeni’s ice cream but more importantly, new pants from Imogene & Willie…best trip souvenir EVER!

Tuesday:

Plan: RUN (3x200, 1600) x2

Reality: Done

I found a local track about a mile from where we were staying. It was like Brookdale park minus the soccer balls with the addition of foul balls from the adjacent baseball diamond. It was 6am on a Tuesday. Luckily, I didn’t have to heed the ‘watch out’ warning.

The crappy Sunday run, followed by a day off on Monday must have been the fuel I needed to make it through the workout hitting all my paces. I’ve come to love the track, which I once despised. Instead of counting laps, I count down the number of straightways. It’s similar to laps in the pool and it goes by a lot faster than counting the full circle.

We grabbed a quick bagel for breakfast before we stumbled in Biscuit Love where I couldn’t help but order the ‘bonuts.’ The tiny fried biscuits, rolled in cinnamon & sugar, topped with mascarpone cheese and laid on a bed of blueberry compote were the best version of a doughnut I’ve eaten in a very long time. It takes a lot for me to take more than one bite of a breakfast pastry (that isn’t one of my cinnamon buns) and I cleaned my plate of these!

Fried Biscuits!

Fried Biscuits!

We joined the Tuesday Nooner group run at the Nashville Running Company in lieu of lunch. It was a small group. I wasn’t going to run but decided I could go out for the 4 miler and keep it easy after my track workout, or so I thought. I was holding down the back of the pack with an 8 minute pace and struggling to keep the group in sight. Brad was busy one-stepping the front runner and had time to get water, freshen up and hang out on the back porch before I finished. I did get to chat with members of the board of the East Nasty Running Club along the way. They’ve been established for a decade and I admire their organization as Fueled by Doughnuts continues to grow and expand.

After my second run of the day, we went to find some Nashville Hot Chicken. Somehow we missed all the music in Nashville but we were not about to miss the food the city is known for. Having just watched Anthony Bourdain’s Nashville trip, I urged Brad not to get the Hot Chicken Hot. He kind of listened to me and insisted on the medium. After Bourdain’s meal, he spent 22 hours in peril, unable to film until he was well again. The atomic heat radiating from my MILD chicken was ridiculous. I couldn’t feel my face for hours after lunch. Brad was pretty much down for the count for the rest of the day too. Insane! Don’t do it. You can have a tremendous food adventure in Nashville WITHOUT ever eating Hot Chicken. This stuff was hotter than the hottest curry I’ve ever eaten and I frequented the Jackson Diner when I lived in Queens.

Sweat is literally dripping from his face! Hot Chicken at Bolton’s.

Sweat is literally dripping from his face! Hot Chicken at Bolton’s.

Wednesday:

Plan: SWIM 2000

Reality: We were still feeling the after burn from the Hot Chicken when we boarded the plane the next day. It seriously felt like a hangover even though we didn’t have anything to drink. My skin was clammy and my head was spinning.

Shortly after we landed and made it back to Montclair, I went to the Y to swim off some of my excess consumption this week. Workout completed as planned.

Thursday:

Plan: BIKE 60 Minutes

Reality: My first day back to the grind was certainly a grind. Even though it was her birthday, Jessica offered to sit in court with me. A vendor dispute arose over a year ago and, unfortunately, it had come to this. We thought we would be in and out but nothing in the judicial system is in and out. After our 8am arrival, we finally got to leave just before 5pm. Thankfully, the dispute is resolved however, there was no way I was in any shape to get on my bike once I finally got back home. Push to tomorrow.

Friday:

Plan: SWIM 1800 long reps

Reality: I arrived at the Y at the perfect off-hour to have several open lanes to choose from, after the people swimming before work but before the post-kid-drop-off swimmers. My workout consisted of 3x500….long steady laps. I would have never been able to complete this a year ago. I finally figured out how to float.

In the lane next to me there was someone who was clearly in the same place I was a year or two ago. He expended so much energy getting to the other end of the pool that he had to rest for several minutes before coming back again. I wanted to tell him it would be okay, just stick with it, it will click…just like everyone told me back when I was certain they were lying. When I finally got a break to talk, he was already out of the pool. I was a little afraid to say anything because I didn’t want to be ‘that woman,’ the one giving a 20 minute lecture on stroke form when you just have one lap left in your workout….cause that may have happened to me once.

When I started baking bread, at the Culinary Institute of America, my instructor, Nick Greco, was a very seasoned baker. He would stand by the mixer and tell me if my dough needed more water or more flour just by looking at it. He knew exactly how much to add to make it perfect. I would ask him for a recipe and he would rattle off numbers for me to transcribe. How did he do that??? No books, no binders, they were just in his head!!! Now I rattle off recipes and add more flour and more water so often that I don’t even think about it or consider how I know it, I just do.

The first time I got in the pool with John Williams, he made swimming look sooo easy. He learned later in life and didn’t consider himself to be a strong swimmer. Watching him, his head was barely peaking above the surface. It was like his entire body was underwater. Only his nose and half of his mouth emerged every so often to take a breath. When he got to the other end of the pool, his head barely bobbed above the water as he turned to come back. Meanwhile, I stopped for a good minute to 90 seconds before I turned to come back, hanging onto the side and embracing every breath before I thrust myself back into asphyxiation.

Today, I acknowledged how far I’ve come in the water. My form may not be perfect. I’m 100% mediocre in terms of pace but I can float and I can breath and I can use the water to recover. When I reach the end, I turn as quickly as I can to come back just as I watched John do. I feel calm. I’m no longer struggling just to breath, I have focus and determination.

Swimming in open water still horrifies me. I’d rather the bandaids and the hair ties than whatever lies in the murky brown abyss as creepy ick brushes against my skin.

After I completed my swim, I hopped on the bike to make up for my dropped Thursday workout.

Saturday

Easter Bunnies!

Easter Bunnies!

Plan: RUN 60:00

Reality: 3AM start at the bakery, finishing doughnuts. At 5AM, I had enough support staff to head out for a run with Anne. We decided running and hiding Easter eggs for the Fueled by Doughnuts hunt would be easier than driving around. We filled our bags with eggs and had a blast dropping them along the course.

Keeper of the prizes…still wearing my new pants…trying to keep them clean enough to last another day.

Keeper of the prizes…still wearing my new pants…trying to keep them clean enough to last another day.