06 July 2011

Tennessee: Home of Friendly People. And Giant Farm Equipment.

Best friends and a baby

This past weekend, Mark and I ventured into the South for the 4th of July. My best friend Erin, her husband Ashley and daughter Reagan live about 45 minutes west of Nashville, right on the border of Kentucky. A long drive, but totally worth it. It was a truly great weekend.
Are we there yet?

A rundown of what I did:
Biked 80 miles and saw more tractors than cars (more on that later). Took a nap. Ate the best popsicle in the world (mint chocolate chip). Went to a U2 concert. Had dinner and a girl's night out with my best friend. Set off pyrotechnics. Lit a sparkler. Slept. Ran 19 miles in ridiculous humidity. Swam in an outdoor lap pool. Baked cookies. Ate cupcakes (of the homemade AND of the Georgetown variety). Played in a sprinkler. Watched the Tour de France. Ate cinnamon toast crunch cereal and ENJOYED it. Drank sangria (OK, only half a glass, but it was something!). Read 5 books with my goddaughter. Didn't turn on my computer or check e-mail or facebook once. Got chased by a dogs on three separate occasions on my bike.

My 80 mile ride on Saturday morning was bliss. I managed to get out the door by 6am (!!??!!) and was done before 10:30am. I watched the sun rise over the cornfields of Kentucky and had the roads completely to myself for long stretches of time. It was a bike rider's dream (strangely, however, I didn't see a single recreational rider out there besides myself). Barely any cars, sunny weather, quiet roads, and beautiful scenery. I did, however, almost get run over by a tractor on steroids. It looked like something straight out of Transformers. As I was biking down this stretch of quiet road, I heard a rumbling behind me, looked back and saw a tractor that spanned the width of the road lumbering right at me. Fortunately, there was plenty of space by the cornfield to pull over, which I did immediately. And that was my excitement for the ride.

Saturday night = U2 concert. Erin and I went out to a fancy-shmancy dinner of tapas, just the two of us (the boys were in charge of the baby and took her out to buy booze and fireworks - awesome). The Vanderbilt stadium only held about 43,000 so every seat was a good seat and it was an amazing show. All the songs I wanted to hear were played and I can now check this off my bucket list.
The mothership has landed.
Sunday was all about recovery. Recovery from a long bike ride. Recovery from a late night out. Recovery from too many sweets.
This is what I want to do every time I am within a 10ft radius of a red velvet cupcake.

No, scratch that last part. Sunday was all about the sweets. Erin and I went on a baking rampage and filled the kitchen with cupcakes, frosting, cookies, and almond-coconut-pecan balls. July 4th weekend was my last hurrah with recreational sugar before attempting to give it up until after Ironman Lake Placid. You know what's going to get my through those last difficult miles of IMLP? The magnum bars, with a side of oreo balls and brownies, that will be waiting for me at the finish. Maybe I can even finagle some Cadbury Mini Eggs out of thin air to add to my feast. So what if Easter was three months ago - there have to be Mini Eggs somewhere!
Anyway, what better way to recover than with a swim? A swim in an outdoor 50yd pool. A swim in an outdoor 50yd pool that isn't crowded. And I did just that on Sunday. I have the sunburn on my back to prove it.

Monday was my long run. I wouldn't say I was dreading this run all weekend, but it was hanging over my head all weekend, getting in the way of important things like alcohol consumption, cupcake and cookie eating (who am I kidding, nothing gets in the way of cupcakes and cookies). Thanks to Miles, I got up with the sun. I ended up doing the majority of the run on quiet neighborhood streets. Everyone was so friendly - people in their yards would smile and wave at me. People in their cars would wave at me. It made the run so pleasant - why don't more people smile and wave up here in DC? 19 miles later, I rolled back up to the house, looking like I had jumped in a sweaty pool of water. Ick. Last long Ironman run in the bank. My weekends (except for that one on July 24th) have suddenly gotten easier and emptier. Strange. But I am definitely OK with it right now.

I've always gone out to watch the fireworks shows in the past. But in Tennessee, you can buy fireworks and make your own show. So that's what we did. And now I have a better understanding of how people can hurt themselves setting off pyrotechnics (we didn't have any major mishaps, just a few minor ones). Between the 4 of us, we have 25+ years of higher education. But apparently that means nothing when setting off fireworks. We managed to hit the house with one. And then had another explode in the yard. Oops. Nobody was hurt and it did make for a good story.
After the second mishap, we decided to hide behind the car

Seriously guys, stop blowing stuff up.
And that was the weekend in a nutshell. Here are a few of my favorite pictures we managed to take of Reagan. I saw her back in March and she is a different baby 4 months later, but still super cute and very sweet. On my last night, I gave her a bottle and put her to bed. The little stinker already knows how to play me like a harp and managed to get me to read five books to her before going to bed! Being smart and cute is quite the irresistible combination :)

Cute Reagan

She looks like trouble. Fun trouble :)

Wouldn't you read 5 books if those eyes were staring at you?


Melissa said...

OK. I need a gel just after reading all that you've been doing! I'm so excited for you and Placid, you are going to kick bootie!

And Reagan is a super cutie pants!

Katie said...

ok, as a cyclist, i am incredibly jealous of the ride you described. sounds gorgeous.

Caroline said...

@Melissa - we got our Placid numbers today, totally makes it real!! You have a race coming up this weekend, yes? Good luck, you will leave everyone in the dust I am sure!

@Katie - I would move to Tennessee/Kentucky simply to have bike rides like that at my fingertips. It was one of the best rides I've ever had. Seriously. Bring your bike if you ever go to that part of the country!

tri-ing races not cases said...

Great pictures and so glad you could combine some fun with your last LONG weekend. Getting excited for you and Placid! YOU are so ready!!!

JV said...

Thanks so much for your kind comment :-). I love your post Letter to my Younger Self. Good Luck at LP you are certain to crush it!!

Caroline said...

Thanks Bethany! I am getting excited for Placid, I can't believe it is almost here. I hope my race goes half as well as your Cour d'Alene race went! You kicked butt!

Jamie - thank you for reading! I hope Placid goes well - I may need to borrow your speedy biking legs, if you don't mind :)