Friday, October 17, 2014

Final Countdown of #30daysofnew Recap

Little behind on the recaps, but heres the rounding out / completion of my #30dayofnew challenge. Feels good to be done and not feel the pressure of always doing something, but in my time doing research of what is happening in the Nashville, I learned quite a bit about different activities, thus more on my list of items to check off...

Day 20 - Rock Climbing at Climb Nashville
COST: $17
Every Tuesday, Team Green Adventures teams up with Climb Nashville to have a beginners climb night with a discounted rate  for both members and non-members. My upper body strength definitely could use some work (hence the falling off the rock and landing on the ground), but I still had a grand time. It's hard to get to that part of town by 6pm, but I'd definitely like to re-visit this activity again.

Day 21- Nolensville Running Club
COST: Free ($5 toward pizza afterward) 
The last of my Nashville running group explorations! I was blown away at the large turnout for a Wednesday night- just shy of 100 people. There were a few runners who were at the Southside running group (day 16) I went to the previous week, and they were kind enough to show me around. This club is notorious for having some fast runners and some killer hills in their route rotation. I lucked out and the day I joined was the only flat route to the track and back, thus not an incline in site--- nailed it! Afterward they ordered pizzas for everyone and helped make signs for the Nashville Women's 1/2 marathon that was in town that upcoming weekend. 

Day 22- Jackalope trivia + cards against humanity
COST: Free ($11 for 2 beers + mac & cheese)
This is a classic example of why i wanted to do this challenge in the first place. I was near downtown getting my haircut when I decided to stay down there to see if anything was going on. I happened to see using the app Wannadoo --- best app for finding activities to do-- that the Jackalope brewery does trivia on Thursday so I texted a few people to see if they wanted to join. Michael (plaid next to me) said he would be interested IF I found others to go so it wasn't just us. I struck out with everyone else and made the executive decision to just go and randomly join someone's team. Since Michael knew I was going regardless he agreed to join and as I was waiting for him in walks Jesse (green shirt) who I met during my #30daysofnew on both day 4 and day 7 so I joined him and his friends. We rocked the first round and were in 1st place at halftime, but unfortunately dropped the ball on the last few questions and didn't place 

Day 23- Lightning 100 Friday Afternoon Live
COST: Free
I see a pattern with all the lightning 100 sponsored events! Every monday evening there is a 1 hour spot on their radio station starting at 6:15 (for those that don't know, Nashville area code is 615) featuring only local artists. During that show, they announce who their artist of the week is. The rest of that week they play them in heavy rotation and then on Friday that band plays a free concert for anyone that shows, along with plenty of opportunities to win tickets to other shows. I played rock, paper scissors for Broken Bells tickets, but I lost in the 2nd round :(   The band, Vinyl Thief was pretty darn good. I have to say the topper of the night was Becca walking away with the digits of the guy who I beat in rock, paper, scissors who happens to be an ex-lightning 100  worker and friends of my dj :) 

Day 24- Nashville Symphony free day of music
COST: Free
No idea if this is a new concept or something that is done annually, but the Nashville Symphony announced that they were having free music all day a few saturdays ago. I have never been to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, let alone been to the symphony, so I was pumped I got to experience this without spending a dime. In addition to the Symphony performing, there were a lot of local songwriters and performers who we were able to watch as well. When we went, most of the performances were outside and it was a SCORCHER that day, so we only lasted about 2 hours before meeting up with friends for dinner.  Occasionally we'll have big artists that team up with the symphony- Ben Folds is the most recent, so I'm going to make sure to be on the lookout so I can experience the true Symphony experience! 

Day 25- Sky High Trampoline Gym
COST: $14 / hr
So many of my friends have been to this trampoline gym, some even are on a trampoline dodge ball league, but for whatever reason I've never taken the plunge. A few of my PT friends warned me to be careful since they have treated several people who have been injured here, so I was actually a little nervous in going. Kristin and I went one sunday afternoon and it was kid birthday party central,so we decided to come back late on a weeknight- best decision ever! Between trying to move around in the foam pit and racing in the giant trampoline area, we were wiped within 40 min- no idea how people spend more than an hour here! After conquering my "your going to sprain an ankle fear", I think I may be ready for a pick up dodgeball game here soon! 

Day 26- Checking out old theater, Sinema, turned restaurant/bar
COST: $5 for beer
The Nashville restaurant / bar/ local scene is absolutely exploding. Everyone is trying to take a unique spin on venue or food to get one step ahead of the rest. Ever since I've lived here there was an abandoned theater on 8th just screaming be be renovated, and earlier this year thats exactly what happened. I'm told its extremely hard to get in, so we winged it by going late on weeknight to avoid the dinner rush and were able to walk right in. Unbeknownst to us, we were actually crashing the tail end of a Ferrari party and were severely underdressed, but no one gave us grief until we got to the bar to order a drink. Apparently we missed Taylor Swift and two of the cast members from Nashville (Chloe and Gunner) who were there earlier--- timing is everything! I took full advantage going through all the rooms each with their own unique twist, perfect for lounging and having great conversation. I'd like to come back to actually enjoy a meal and not feel like all eyes are glaring on the girls in jeans. 

Day 27- Joining a random pick up game for night kickball.
COST: Free
My gf Danielle had texted me earlier in the week that her bf's team needed 2 girls to round out there male dominant kickball team and asked if we could join. I've been on a kickball league before, however I'd at least known / met/ or talked over email with my teammates prior to a game. Showing up only knowing Danielle + completely different rules from what I was used to was intimidating, but I  got in the swing of things and actually played outfield pretty well. We ended up losing so it was decided we can either be in our 30s and have the time to practice and dominate in kickball, or we can show up do our best and not care if we lose because we have more going on in our life--- the latter is the better option ;) Since then they've asked me to sub in twice more, however I had conflicts both times and was unable to make it. 

Day 28- Trivia at 3 Crow
COST: Free
I'm convinced now that not only could you play trivia every day of the week in Nashville, but also choose from different venues on the same night.  I REALLY did not want to go out this night, but Kristin mentioned a bunch of her friends were meeting up in East Nashville and she had wanted to play since she's never taken part in trivia, whaaaaat?? I've played at a LOT of different venues with many different announcers and this was probably the most annoying of them all as it took extra long to play since they were slow with calculating points, waiting for the entire song to be over no matter what before next question, and even doing half time giveaways which ate a big chunk of time. This was also one of the first times I've played where I didn't know many of the answers, so I felt like I wasn't contributing.  I'd go back once more to see if its any better, but otherwise I'll stick to the Thursday night triva at Jackalope instead. 

Day 29- Full Moon Pickin' Party
COST: $20 (includes entry + 4 beers)
Starting in the late spring one Friday a month when there is a full moon, Percy Warner Parks hosts their pickin party for anyone to come enjoy live folk / bluegrass music. This one  was the last pickin' party of the season, so I was determined to go, rain or shine.... and yes it rained on all of us! I always enjoy live music, but what I loved most about this is how you can walk around, pet some horses, watch pop up jam sessions with other music lovers who brought their own instruments, and mingle with others. Event was both kid and dog friendly, hence a lot of families, which adds to the laid back environment. Unfortunately for us this was a pop up FREEZING day so between the rain + not being equipped for cold temps we left early. I'm anxious to go back this spring when its dry and warm to see how that changes the crowd and atmosphere entirely. This is worth at least checking this out once if you're in the greater nashville area. 

Day 30
I received a lot of suggestions of different grand finale items to close out this challenge, but ultimately I decided not to 'officially' do a 30 day. I wanted this to serve as a reminder that we should always be striving to try new experiences since that helps us grow and meet new people.  I've done quite a few more activities that are new to me since this challenge ended, so I don't think i'll ever close the book on this concept. I've noticed my attitude has changed toward going out as well. If someone asked me to meet up for dinner / drink / etc and I was tired, I would immediately just take a rain check. Now I feel like Jim Carey in the 'Yes Man' and remind myself you never know what will happen or who you'll meet when you venture outside the home. 

I highly recommend this challenge for anyone looking to get outside their comfort zone, expand their social circle, or just get out of a social rut! It is exhausting as well as challenging to constantly be looking for items last minute, but in the end totally worth it!

Monday, September 22, 2014

#30dayofnew Week 3 Recap

Rounding out week 3 of 30 days of new and I have to say September is a challenging month to find new, albeit cost effective, items to do... there is ALWAYS something going on, just maybe not in the $20 price range!  Here in the south, but not quite the deep south, September is a transition month. We still have days in the 90s, and then a sporatic day in the 70s, so the weather doesn't want to fully convert. Fall isn't quite here yet and therefore all the festivities that go along with it don't come around in full swing til October--- helllllllllllllo pumpkin patches.

Day 13- 12 South Run Group
COST: Free ($15 for dinner afterward)
My old roomie Leah's new boyfriend introduced her to this run group that meets in the trendy 12 south area of Nashville. Apparently there is an incredibly tall & funny guy who goes regularly that she keeps telling me I need to meet, so I finally made it out for the 6:30 run. As luck would have it, he randomly didn't show up this night, but I met some other cool folks as well as reconnected with a few runners I hadn't seen in awhile. As I imagined, it was hills galore and the knee pain set in about mile 2, thus felt like the longest 4 miles of my life. Leah actually ran with me since she is nursing a hamstring injury and we've NEVER run for longer than 1 mile together- was kind of nice.
Day 14- "Beer, Bands, & Bingo"
COST: Free ($4 for beer)
Every Tuesday, lightning 100 hosts free bingo, cheap beer, and of course great music, at Tin Roof for the chance to win different tickets to concerts or other events that are going on in the area. This is WAY easier to win tickets vs. Wed night cornhole, yet after 7 or so rounds NONE of us won anything. I'll be going back again tonight with a few of my gfs in an attempt to come out this time a winner. 

Day 15- Renting B Cycles and cruising around East Nashville
COST: $5
Ok so this doesn't necessarily fit my "social" rule as it was just the roomie and I, but we did come from cornhole and then rode our bikes to another establishment to meet up with some other friends to watch a band play--- so the before and after were social. I haven't ridden a bike in YEARS and have always wanted to rent one of our bike shares but was afraid to do it during the day in case I fell. I did lose control once and Kristin rode right into a bush.... 20 min of practice and we were good to go 

Day 16 - "Southside Runners" run group
COST: Free ($10 for dinner afterward) 
I was nervous to go to this run group since I didn't know a soul who took part in this one, but it turned out that Jamie, the guy in the kilt, I've met at my original Monday night run group so he introduced me around. Whats interesting is the past 2 "new to me run groups" were all individuals around my age yet REALLY fast--- this one was mostly middle aged and medium paced to slower. I can't tell you the last time I heard "you're too fast for us", had to chuckle at this one. Although these were my stomping grounds the first year I lived in Nashville, this was prior to me really running that much or exploring the area- every sec of this run was brand new scenery for me which was a nice change of pace. 

Day 17- Nashville Night Market
COST: Free ($8 for dinner + 4 bell peppers- what a steal)
For a few Friday nights in the fall, the Nashville Farmer's Market also opens at night in addition to their normal hours on Sat / Sunday. I was FLOORED at the cheap prices--- bell peppers 2 for $1?!?!! There were several bands playing, craft booths set up, and even met some local runners who were mutual friends with who I brought--- I may or may not have scored a Ragnar teammate from this. If I can make it downtown this friday, I will for sure be heading back to make a small investment in bell peppers- cant beat that price!

Day 18- Comedy Interactive skit "Bye bye Liver"
COST: $12
Becca turned 31 and the festivities that kicked off the night was a drinking interactive play "Bye Bye Liver"- such a neat concept and not to mention funny. Unfortunately I never got chosen from the audience, which actually may have been a good thing as there would have been more drinking involved.  

Day 19- Jazz concert along river front
Sunday nights there is free jazz along the river from 530-8pm. What I didn't realize was that it was held at a park called Cumberland Park (never heard of it) which is on the LP Field side of the river. I mistakenly thought it was at river front park (the downtown side) like all the other concerts so it was a LONG walk but well worth it when I discovered this 'new to me' park. Turns out, everyone else that I talked to at work had never heard of it either.  Event itself is kid friendly as there was quite a bit for them to do- slides, play football, rock climb, roll down hills- so with that being said it was mostly a family type event. I walked around a bit and even had someone buy me a snow cone because I "was a pretty white girl who likes jazz"---- needless to say I did stand out in the crowd haha. Never saw this view of the city before and I LOVE it. 

All in all, a good week. I did manage to meet a few more people and even became facebook friends so you know it's official. I've found myself opening up more and most importantly, being the one to initiate conversation. I don't think I'll ever be that girl that can just walk up to anyone and act like we're best friends, and thats okay. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Week 2 of #30daysofnew challenge

Another week down of trying new things. Since all my events this week were free, I decided to be more 'robust' with my reporting of what was spent and document anything that was purchased while at said activity. Here is a more accurate look while rounding out the 2nd week of #30daysof new challenge.

Day 7- New Running Group - Craft Brewed 
COST: Free ( 1 beer afterward totaling $3)

Back in the winter Elizabeth mentioned she had a friend who was being re-located to Nashville for her husband's work. I got her information and then met up with Char (black tank) and husband Jesse (white t shirt) to show them around town while they visited. She officially moved here in the spring and in that time frame we've met up on a few occasions. I actually spent day 4 last week with her and hubby and since I mentioned I was in process of checking out new run groups, she extended an invitation  to join her run group that meets at Craft Brewed. I have to say that I dig the smaller run groups as they are more intimate and I actually run with people <gasp> I've actually spent very little time running in the city, so it was a nice change of scenery, albeit un-relentless hills.

Day 8- Harvest Moon / Blue Moon Rooftop Party
COST: FREE (had 2 beers, after tip $7) 
Acme Feed and Seed is Nashville's newest bar on Lower Broadway- PRIME location as its the last building before you get to the Cumberland river. What's unique about this venue is that its 3 floors each featuring a different concept + a rooftop bar overlooking the river--- my favorite part is that its not a honky tonk and people that live here actually go there- minimal tourists! The full moon party was basically a free event Blue Moon hosts offering crazy cheap Blue Moon brand beers, listen to music, stare at the sky, and even dance once the dj starts up (I left before that happened). My favorite part was they had a giant canvas of the Nashville skyline that you could contribute your artistic skills. I'm terrible at painting and drawing, but gave it a whirl and worked on the beer itself. I went to the event solo  and told myself goal of the night was to talk to 5 different people. 

Day 9- Fat Bottom Cornhole Tournament
COST: Free ( dinner and drinks there- $38 after tip) 

Ok so I've been to Fat Bottom Brewery multiple times, AND I've played cornhole more times than I can count, however I had never been to the weekly tournament that lightning 100 sponsors. Since I'm pretty competitive at games, I knew this would be a good way to meet people and it did not disappoint. The winning team gets to choose from a list of different events and concerts in town and then as their prize they get the free tickets. Since there weren't as many teams this week we got to play 2 rounds. In talking to the winners of the first round (bottom left), they found out my 30 days of new goal and said if they won again we could have their tickets. Low and behold they won, and we chose the Chicken Wing festival since it was this upcoming weekend + 2 of my girlfriends were performing there. 

And of course if you saw my last post, my true highlight was meeting my radio dj crush, Wells!

Day 10- Bocce Ball at Pinewood Social
COST: Free (tried fried okra for first time- $10 after tip)
If you're ever in the Nashville area, Pinewood Social is a "must" on the venue list. Aside from the swanky menu, drinks, and coffee shop inside, there is also a vintage bowling alley and karaoke room indoors. When it opened this winter, the outdoor venue wasn't finished so I hadn't yet got to check out the  2 dipping pools, bocce ball, and ping pong all in the courtyard. My roommate from 2 years ago, Krista, told me she was in town and heading there so I knew I had to meet her and check out the additions. Surprisingly I had never played bocce ball nor knew any of the rules. Her friends were all from the country where apparently its heavily played, so I learned in no time and even got to show a few people how to play that were watching. 

Day 11- Concert at the Basement
COST: Free (had someone pay my cover and drinks)
Went to check out a mutual friend's band playing at The Basement---this is one of Nashville's local staples for just good live intimate music. Venue is in a basement, shocker, so it doesn't hold many people but ranges from big names that pop in to local artists trying to get their name out there. Chuck Adams, who we went to check out, initially started  as an r&b artist and then morphed into country and folk. Such an interesting transition but man did he rock it.

After the concert I met up with Krista again at a different venue and actually managed to initiate conversation with a group of guys who were playing shuffle board and joined in their game. Turns out 2 of them went to Miami University (my alma mater and is RARE when I find someone in the south who went there) and one was even from Dayton. We hung out for a few hours and then parted ways... nothing like a twofer night of new. 

Day 12- Music City Hot Wing Festival
COST: Free (bought 2 beers + photo booth picture, totaling $13)

As mentioned in day 9, we were given free tickets to the hot wing festival for Saturday. Little did we know the tickets were just for all you can eat chicken, but we still needed to buy our own beer wah wah. About 2 hours in I happened to see one of me exes- for those that have been reading for a bit, the "not an asshole, asshole" type. We're still friends and occasionally talk, so when I realized he was with my best friend's wife (she introduced us), it wasn't a big deal to approach and say hi. So glad I did because he had 2 extra VIP tickets which meant that Kristin and I now could eat AND drink as much as we wanted for free, along with access to the VIP tent. And who should I happen to see in the tent... low and behold dj crush Wells... life is funny. 

Rest of afternoon was spent meeting people, seeing how many free sunglasses we could acquire, and then watching my ladies show off their aerial skills. It was Sarah's first performance, so I'm glad I got to see her in action

As I figured they would, the chicken did run out so after everything was dying down we headed to dinner followed by meeting up with some friends downtown. We ended up at the same bar as night before, Rebar, and I tested my "make friends with stranger by playing shuffle board" theory again - worked like a charm. We ended up crashing a bachelor party of a bunch of Texans and did karaoke and dancing with them at a few other places... I can truly say that is another first.  It was a LONG day so I spent Sunday catching up on chores, errands, and just relaxing- I scolded myself for nothing 'new', but I did go to breakfast with some friends so I got my social interaction in for the day! 

Last week my focus was heavily on the new 'activity' whereas this week I took a different approach and really focused on the meeting new people part of the challenge.Total amount spent for the actual events- 0- amount for activities during event,  $71- not bad at all. 

Week 2 un-expectantly revolved around playing games, which is always a great catalyst for interaction. This upcoming week with what I have planned out it seems there are  a few more 'fitness' items on the agenda, gotta burn those calories! 

What's your favorite outdoor / social game?
For me I think cornhole will always be a favorite past time, but I'm learning to really like shuffle board as it requires such a finesse which makes it challenging. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Finding Confidence with men through cornhole

Earlier this week I blogged about my #30daysofnew challenge and have been documenting each day on facebook and instagram. I've had a few of my girlfriends reach out and asked if I was meeting any hot guys during this process. Although that was not my initial intent, I decided 'why not', and see where it goes by testing it out Wednesday. 

Yesterday I had already planned to take my roommmate, Kristin, with me to Fat Bottom Brewery for their Wednesday cornhole tournament hosted by my favorite radio dj, Wells Adams. To better understand where I'm going with this- I have a minor crush on Wells. I've been listening to his morning show for years and dig his snarky personality and how many of his interests align with mine. 

I'm sure like most people, we just assume everyone on the radio is unattractive or fat, so we don't really give much thought to what they look like. And if you don't assume that, you are a better person than me... 

 Within the last month I was at our local concert series, Live on the Green, when he happened to come out on stage to present one of the artists and I realized he was actually good looking AND TALL. For those that have not spent some time in Nashville, we have a lot of shorties here and an attractive man with height is rare- if they're single and normal, they're a unicorn and should be captured immediately. 

It was my goal last night to talk to him and get a photo. I know I sound juvenile but I'm INCREDIBLY shy with meeting someone new whom I find attractive, so this would be my ultimate test to see if I'm getting better at coming out of my shell. Luckily we made friends with one of our competitors in the tournament and they happened to be regulars every week so they already knew him and have talked with Wells on occasion. 

After they introduced us I nonchalantly asked if could get a photo with him--- don't worry I prefaced it with "I'm not trying to mack on you, but can I get my photo with you?" as to not appear creepy. Much to my delight he did laugh and asked if I just used the word 'mack' and he hasn't heard it in years. I let him know it was making a comeback and to tell his friends. 

I got the photo and I actually accomplished my goal for the evening <insert patting myself on the back>  Kristin made phone of me when I started jumping up and down after he liked the photo on instagram.... its the little joys in life! 

Icing on the cake is the team that won the tournament, Micah and Matt, knew about my #30daysofnew and once they found out my 2 rules (social event + under $20), they decided to give me their tickets they won to the Hot Chicken Festival this Saturday (tickets are $50 a piece) how awesome is that?
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They even took us out after the corn hole tournament to a concert their friend was playing downtown at a venue I hadn't been to before (twofer on the new things!). Yes mom and dad, Kristin and I were safe!

I know this probably seems like such a minuscule thing to blog about, but for me its baby steps in working on initiating interaction with others and truly creating memorable experiences. 

Kristin and I both agreed we'll return next Wednesday as it was one of the best nights of the summer thus far... yes as long as its still in the 80s/90s, I'm calling it summer! Now to find something new to do during the day next Wednesday since the cornhole tournament can't count twice...

I can't be the only one alone in the 'hard time initiating conversation piece'?

Are there any local celebrities you have a crush on / would love your photo with?

Monday, September 8, 2014

#30daysofnew Challenge

A couple weeks ago I visited home for my nephew's 4th birthday party. One of the nights my sister in law made a comment to me on how she envies my life because its so carefree- I get to do whatever I want, try new experiences, and have the opportunity to meet new people. She went on to say that although she loves her life and her family, her day-to-day is very routine and it doesn't allow for much change.  I couldn't help but laugh because I don't think my life is particularly exciting, and coincidentally I was actually beginning to feel like I was in a rut.

Truth is I'm actually pretty shy around new people, so although I live in this amazing city and have a lot of different friends, more often than not I find myself at home  just vegging out solo with very little interaction with others on the weekends. I attempt to go to restaurants or shopping and will myself to talk to strangers, but it just doesn't go over well and therefore I just don't open up as easily as I should.

I always try to be appreciative of what I do have vs. focusing on what I don't, so I starting thinking that I should live my life more how others such as my sister in law view it. I could really start taking advantage of my situation of not having any attachments that prevent me from going out and embracing new experiences, meeting new people, and just living life.

I decided to try a social experiment to get me out of my shell, but to also bring some pep back into my life. 30 days straight of trying something completely new within the Nashville surrounding areas. It will be 5 years in January since I've moved here and there is still so much I want to do.
My hope at the end of this is to walk away more confidence is new social interaction thus making  some new friends I wouldn't have otherwise met, as well come across something that I would do again in my rotation of activities.

The two rules I have is it has to be an experience that is social and calls for interaction with others, and the actual activity I'm trying to keep under $20 since 30 days in a row can get pricey.

Recap of week 1 (9/2-9/7)

Day 1-  New Running Group
COST: Free

There is a running group that meets every Tuesday 2 miles from my current house, and less than 1 mile from my old apartment. Despite the proximity and convenience, I never managed to make it to any of their runs. Since it was a smaller turnout this evening, we all ran together--- that in itself is a new experience to run with 8 people and carry on multiple conversations. Everyone was so welcoming and LOVED the idea of #30daysofnew, a few even offered some suggestions for later in the month. I'll definitely be back (and the free beer afterward doesn't hurt)

Day 2
COST- $15
Ever since I've been in Nashville (and for many years prior to that I'm sure) Music City Roots has been a staple live music and variety show every Wednesday for bluegrass, folk, and Americana music. Often I would listen to it on the radio, but told myself I needed to see it live at some point. Up until a few months ago it was held at the infamous Loveless Cafe which is on the opposite end of town so I hadn't yet made arrangements to leave in enough time to catch the show. Randomly the show moved to the Factory in Franklin--- literally 2 miles from my house. The acoustics were amazing and I now have a new appreciation for banjos! 

Day 3
Johnny Swim and Cage the Elephant Show
Cage the elephant became popular when I was living in Louisville and my roommate and I were going through a 'party phase' after we quit our jobs and blared their self-titled album daily. I'm the type of person who attaches memories and periods of my life to music, thus they played a pivotal role of me coming into my own and my change in direction with my life. I've always wanted to see them perform, however like many other things I wanted to do the past few years, I was away for a race anytime they played nearby. 

Day 4
Checking out new restaurant in the ever popular 12 South neighborhood- Flipside 
COST $20 (Dinner + 1 beer) 
Initially I wanted to check out the full moon pickin party this day (everyone plays banjos, harmonicas, washboards etc under the moon light) however the rain kept me away so backup was to cross off eating at one of our newest venues in greater Nashville area. Everything on the menu features breaded chicken beat really thin with different toppings- I was more drawn to the 50s decor than the food itself, so as far as going back, it might be awhile before I return. 
Photo: Day #4- rain foiled my original outdoor plans, so instead checked out one of Nashvilles Newest restaurants Flipped #30daysofnew #50svibe

Day 5
COST:  Free
One of my girlfriends works for Nissan (who is one of the sponsors of the festival, thus they get a free boat), and they were looking for another girl to meet the minimum requirements,so a few days before the race I joined. Each boat has 20 rowers + 1 drummer--- out of the 21 of us. only 6 knew what we were doing or had any prior experience. Good thing we were all fast learners- our first and 2nd race we got 2nd in our heat. Out of 44 teams,  our combined average time allowed us to break into the top 12 which moves on to the semi -finals. We didn't do so well in our last race, thus we never made it to the actual finals. Such a fun and unique experience, I'll be back again next year FOR SURE! 
Photo: Day #5 of my #30daysofnew challenge - dragonboat racing! got 2nd in our first heat. Excited to race @beyondwingsemily in next run #dragonboat #teamnissan

Day 6- Grape Stomping competition 
COST: $2 to get into festival, $10 to enter in the competition
Fall is real big on different festivals, and since typically I've spent the last few falls out of town , I wanted to take part in what I've been missing. The draw for the Italian Lights festival was purely for the grape stomping competition.... I immediately knew this would be my Sunday's "new experience", and just hoped and prayed I didn't fall on my face and make weird noises like the blooper made widely popular years ago

I didn't fall, however I almost had to take a break. The competition was for 2 full minutes and man is that tiring. I TOTALLY one in terms of how much grapes were liquified after my stomping, however afterward you had to get the juice into pitchers via the side hole in the barrel--- I didn't realize there was a technique to this so my first 30 sec I was barely able to transfer any of the juice. I did end up 2nd though, so I'll take it! 
Photo: Day 6- entering in a grape stomping competition at the Italian Lights Festival #cardioworkout #30daysofnew #2ndplace #ilovelucy #feelssogoodbeyweenthetoes

I started my challenge on a Tuesday, thus my first week was only 6 days. Total spent was $47. I had an absolute blast with each experience, met tons of new people, and even met an actual Italian at the festival who gave me his number haha. Can't wait to see how the rest of this challenge will pan out... 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hip alignments, learning to paw, and my first run back

Ever take a break from running and are too scared to try again for fear that despite taking 3 weeks off, icing every night, and doing all your foam rolling / stretching/ and strengthening exercises that you won't actually feel better? 

Last week was a test run (pun intended) on the treadmill at the PT office to not only see how the knee pain felt, but also for Leah to get a better idea of my hips / pelvis / knee alignment during actual running. Knee pain came on toward the end, but more importantly everything felt 'unnatural' and weak- after a few minutes my body remembered again what it should be doing and it did feel a little better. 

She used this AWESOME app, Coaches Eye, which allows you to break it down frame by frame and highlight areas for improvement. She was able to send me my video as well but unfortunately the edits don't save when you share the video. For $5, well worth the money if you're trying to analyze your form and make changes.

My biggest offender is I have a misalignment in my hips that cause them to drop when running (top photos) My left hip sits higher than my right, but its not that my pelvis or leg is longer, its more that I've always favored it and my body naturally has a lean, over time my back has tightened up and now the lean is just natural- I can't believe I never noticed this before.  I have exercises to help with this, but I have a feeling this is a long road to correction as it will always have to be something I'm conscious to correct. 

The next biggest offender is my stride length- aka when I plant my foot, my stride is too far out from my center of gravity. Most people assume that when you're tall, you're automatically a faster, more efficient runner, when in actuality its the opposite. We can take long strides,  which in turn means a slower turnover unless we remember to bring the legs back in closer to our body before taking the next step--- this definitely does not come naturally and the only time I ever do this is when I'm feeling fresh and am going for a certain time. The more tired during a run I get, the lazier I get with my stride, thus a contributor to my reoccurring knee pain as you're putting more force on your knees the farther away from COG they are. 

I've found that if I continually run on the treadmill I naturally adjust my turnover and stride length to avoid hitting the plastic shield at the front of the treadmill--- last year I did a lot of treadmill running during the winter to avoid darkness after work as well as avoid the ice. The stride did transfer over to  races and I actually ran my 2 best times during that 1 month stint fresh into spring. 

Although I could re-visit switching all my runs to the treadmill again for a bit, thats not realistic so I did learn a drill to help correct this, the art of "pawing".  You basically stand in place like photo below, and quickly go through a fast full rotation at the hip to imitate a running motion. Do this for one full min on each side. 

I haven't mastered doing this in place, so I have to have something nearby to balance on. Leah also mentioned that when she was  in college (she ran for Stanford), they would do several sets of these drills right before speedwork to get your legs used to the fast rotation. Let's be honest I don't do speedwork, but I can keep this in my back pocket if I should choose to do it in the future. 

So Labor day was the big plunge to take all this into action and actually go out for a real run. The plan was to do 3 miles with at least the first mile focusing on the art of 'pawing' and  adjusting my stride. Not only was I pain free, but I was actually able to do this for the full mile! I wasn't sure if it was the adjustment in stride that caused me to go a little faster, the not running for 3+ weeks, or the high humidity at 9am (typically need to do 6am runs in the summer), but I was WIPED after that first mile.  The rest of the run was a walk run combo as to not jinx myself and to find my rhythm of breathing again.

I can't remember the last time I felt proud to finish 3 miles, despite the walking, and was just so thankful that I felt semi- normal. I still have a lot of work to do as I can definitely feel the weakness in my left leg since I've been babying it, but happy to finally at least be able to try to get back on track. 

Heres to a continued recovery so I can be back at it come October for both Bourbon Chase and Ragnar TN!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My first drop out + solving knee pain

Last week I briefly mentioned in my July recap that I had to drop out of Hood to Coast due to some knee pain. I'm not one to back out of a relay (or any race I've booked travel to) so its actually a big deal for me to say no. I wish this was the first time addressing wonky knee issues, but sadly there were 2 other incidents while #racing50states, so I had an idea of what was going on.

 3 years ago it was  a bad case of ITBS that lasted months and 2 years ago an even more debilitating plica inflammation.  (not to be confused with PICA which Kim misunderstood me when I first blogged about it-- pica  is an eating disorder where you have an appetite for chalk, dirt, clay, sand etc.)--- yes its an actual disorder and there was even an episode about this on My Strange Addiction- is that show even still on?

Aside from all that, this time it was different. The previous two incidents it only hurt when I did high impact repetitive activities such as running, jumping, and of course going down stairs, whereas now it hurts all the time. My knee pain triggers when I'm walking, when I do squats, even when I lie down at night to go to bed and I sleep on my side. The most frustrating part is that this came out of NO WHERE. ITBS onset was in the middle of Tybee 1/2 marathon, I heard a pop, fell to ground then knee pain- boom. Plica inflammation I was in the middle of my 21 miler training for Air Force Marathon and at mile 18 my knee gave weigh. This time, I went to bed and woke one day and the pain was just there #worstinjuryever. 

Last Monday I did my normal run group and was in pain within 1 mile but somehow managed to squeak out 3. Luckily there were massage therapists ready for the runners on this particular night so I took advantage of being one of the first to finish and had a very painful and tear-felt 10 min deep tissue IT Band and quad torture session. My masseuse specializes in sports massage and since she knows my old roommie, Leah, she suggested I see her to get a better idea of what is going on since it appeared to be more than ITBS. 

Luckily in TN you don't need a Dr. referral to have insurance cover physical therapy, so I made an appointment with Leah for later in the week and after a few tests she found that I have both infrapatellar fat pad irritation and patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).

My first goal is to just get the irritation down which will remove the pain, so she spent quite a bit of time performing Astym therapy - the before and after not only on my ROM, but also the decrease in pain was pretty significant. She also noticed that my knee cap was pretty "free floating"?? To help immobilize and support my knee, she did some fancy restrictive taping to last for 48 hours. Aside from changing how I walk and making it extremely difficult to bend knee (especially when first getting in the car to drive), I loved how it completely removed all the pain I was experiencing... even walking downstairs!!

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As far as icing goes, I was given dixie cups to freeze and then peel around to ice my knee until the majority of the cup has melted- obviously messy, but quite effective and cuts down on amount of time spent icing as it typically lasts 10 min. 
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Notice the difference in swelling after a few days?
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Lastly as far as what caused this issue, along with injuries from previous years, all stem from poor hip strength and an asymmetrical pelvis. For everyday running this doesn't impact me, but when I make changes, over time, that is why I get injured. This go round the cause was taking so much time off + inconsistency when I did run.  My monthly mileage for the most part was around 50 miles which broke out  to 0-2x a week running. and if I did get in 3 runs it was because I added in a long run here and there. Mentally 10-12 miles doesn't seem like a lot based on what I was used to, but my body felt otherwise and my ligaments / tendons hadn't been properly "re-introduced" to those longer distances. 

Aside from making love to my roller every day, I also have to do the follow exercises to increase the strength in hips...I assume strong hips equates to great child bearing hips so I can get a twofer out of this??

Side-lying Hip abductor raise... or as I like to call, the Jane Fonda 

Did you know there are different levels of the trusty clam shell exercise?? I can't decide if the fact that I have to do level 2 and level 4 means that I'm awesome to skip 1 and 3, or I'm terribly weak and need the advanced moves to make a difference?

Level 2 clam shell is just like traditional clam shell, only you separate your feet instead of keeping them together... burns that much more quickly 

Level 4 clamshell- this one is no joke. Top leg gets extended backwards until your top thigh is in line with torso. keep the knee still and raise your foot toward ceiling then back down.  I'm supposed to 25 of each of these exercises, but so far I can only manage 20 of these before the burning wears me out. 

Lastly no running for at least 2 weeks. Sunday I tried the elliptical yesterday to see how it felt. Thankfully I met Leah at the gym and we talked the whole 40 min. My knee felt fine but seriously I shouldn't be able to carry on a conversation the whole time, let alone the machine tell me I only did 3 miles and burned 200 calories--- no wonder some of these ladies are on these machines forever #aintnobodygottimeforthat.

Yesterday I went to kettlebell and modified my squats and skipped the lunges- still feel great! 1 week running free and my body is slowly coming around that I really do think I'll attempt a short run next Monday. 

It's amazing my mentality today vs. a few years back. During then I HAD to run races regardless of pain, thus 13 of my states were run / walk / shuffle with knee pain. I had TERRIBLE calf pain last summer / early fall which accounted for 6 more states- 5 of them being back to back every weekend. Needless to say I've asked a lot of my body and its time to finally treat her right.  I have 2 relays coming up in October (Bourbon Chase & Ragnar TN)- ideally I think I'll be better by then, but if not, I have no shame in putting me first and adding 2 more drop outs to my roster. 

Here's to the start of an injury free / strong rest of 2014!!

Do you experience the same injury over time?

When do you push through it and when do you call it quits?