7.65 Miles On Foot, 6.5 Miles By Bike In Nashville, Tennessee

Nine hours after leaving Chicago I arrived in Nashville, Tennessee. We stopped through Indianapolis and Louisville en route to Nashville. Wow, nine hours by bus will take it out of you, but I was able to catch up on my writing and luckily had some space to stretch out.

When I arrived in Nashville, I was picked up by Nolan Pattee, my pledge dad from my days at Phi Delt at Iowa State. It’s been years since I’ve seen Nolan and his wife Brandi, so I greatly looked forward to my visit. Nolan and I caught up for a bit before hitting the sack.

Nolan and Brandi have four kids, with the oldest being six. Upon waking up, I went into Uncle Steve mode and had a blast with the kids prior to leaving for our run. Seriously, cutest kids ever.

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I told Sadi that Tillie would thoroughly love her polka-dot outfit.

Nolan and I headed downtown for our run mid-morning. We started at LP Field, the home of the Tennessee Titans. Here, I threw on my Cincinnati Bengals shirt to thank Sean & Michelle Wagner. Sean has been a colleague at Phi Delt since I started in 2004 and is a Bengals season ticket holder. I thought it was only fitting to sport my Bengals gear in enemy territory. Who Dey!

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From LP Field, we took off over the pedestrian bridge into downtown and was immediately welcomed with many a picture opportunity. I quickly had the opportunity to take my first Runner’s Choice photo of the day, thanking John and Kimmy Talcott. John and I worked together at Phi Delt, and the Talcotts now live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I stayed with them last year during my run, and I was able to see them a month ago when I was in Pittsburgh. John and Kimmy will soon be welcoming a little one to the family and will phenomenal parents.

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We headed to Broadway, the main strip in Nashville. Broadway is stacked with honky-tonk bars, restaurants and gift shops. We spotted a giant cowboy boot and figured that it merited a Runner’s Choice photo. Here, I thanks my sister and brother-in-law again.

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Just a block down the road, we ran into one of Nashville’s many street performers.  I promised my cousins Adam & Lindsey Good that I’d stop by the Wild Horse Saloon for today’s picture, but I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. A small tip and picture later, we continued down Broadway.

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We stopped by Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge for a quick pic, one of Nashville’s most famous watering holes.

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From Tootsie’s we headed north a block and came upon the Ryman Auditorium. Ryman is the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. Tillie and I came to Nashville over the winter break a few years ago to see a show at Ryman. Despite bringing the average age down by a few years, we saw a phenomenal show that included country-stars Trace Adkins and Little Jimmy Dickens. On this trip, I thanked my aunt and uncle Tom & Colleen Good. Tom & Colleen have supported both of my running trips, and we love spending time with them in the fall during Iowa State football games. Thanks Tom & Colleen!

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From Ryman, we headed to the Tennessee State Capitol that resides in downtown Nashville. It’s one of the smallest state capitals out there, but it’s charm makes up for its size. Here I thanked Drew Miller, who is a fellow Phi Delt from Iowa State. Thanks Drew!

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From the capital, I had to make a quick stop by Printers Alley, the home of many great memories from my pal Joe Wechsler’s bachelor party back in the day. Printers Alley is a small street stocked with karaoke bars and other establishments that serve wonderful hot plates at night. I will never forget my time spent in the Alley!

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We ran south towards the Country Music Hall of Fame. Right next to the Hall of Fame is the new Nashville Convention Center. Wow, what a structure. It’s still under construction, but I can only imagine how much business it will bring to the great city of Nashville.

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Right next store is the famous Country Music Hall of Fame. I’ve been through the Hall of Fame before, and even though I’m not a huge fan of country music, it was one awesome experience. Here, I thanked Todd & Candice Thomas. One of the neatest things about these trips is the connection with people of whom I’ve never. I received a very nice message from Todd & Candice during my fundraising efforts. Candice mentioned that her grandmother had ALS, and it once again provided great motivation for today’s run. Thank you Todd & Candice!

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Nolan and I headed west towards Music Row, but we soon came across Nashville’s public bike service. As you can see, Nolan was a fan, and it sparked an idea that the two of us would capitalize on later during the run.

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So Nashville is obviously known for its connection with the music industry. It’s everywhere, and it is very neat to see. Music Row is an area of town that is packed full of the many businesses that serve this industry. We came across this random statue that merited a picture. Who knows what they are doing and why they neglected to wear clothing.

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Near Music Row, I found a friend playing the piano. I had to take the opportunity to thank my main man DeMarkco, a fellow Phi Delt staff member. I consider DeMarkco a little brother of sorts and I’m proud of the tremendous work that he is doing to bring Phi Delta Theta back or to new campuses. He’s knocking it out of the ballpark. While I promised to do the Dougie on Music Row, I quickly realized that I had no idea how to do the Dougie. I may need DeMarkco to “teach me how to Dougie.”

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Nolan and I ran Music Row. It’s such a cool place, and it was neat to place a location to many of the things that drive this industry.  We found Sony Music, but Taylor Swift was nowhere to be seen.

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And the famous RCA Studio B that is home to numerous hits by many famous artists, including the one-and-only Elvis Preasley. So much history here!

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Nolan and I thought it would be a great idea to stop for lunch at this point. Who said a belly full of fish tacos and nachos is a bad idea mid-run. We ate at the San Antonio Taco Company, one of my favorite places that I frequented when I helped restart the Fraternity’s chapter at Vanderbilt University.  We enjoyed the delicious meal and relaxed at Starbucks a bit to charge my phone. It’s been awesome to catch up with Nolan on this trip, and I was able to learn more about his career and family life at Starbucks. He’s kicking tail and doing many great things.

Looking like a pair of 70-year old men, Nolan and I started “running” again onto Vanderbilt University. Our goal was to run normal when students passed us, but our hobble shone through. We ran over to the Phi Delt house on campus. Here, I thanked Scott and Lisa Mietchen. Scott finished up his role in 2012 as the President of Phi Delta Theta’s General Council. He did many great things for the organization. It’s been great to get to know the Mietchen family. I’ll never forget a snowmobiling trip with Sean Wagner, Scott and Chris Lapple a few years back in Wyoming. We had a blast.

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After Vanderbilt, Nolan and I were struggling big time. We decided to alter our route and utilize the help of the local bike service. For $5, we picked up a few sweet red cruisers and continued the trek around town. We picked up the bikes at a park near Vanderbilt and headed to the Parthenon for a wonderful pic. The Parthenon is a full-size replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. As you can see, it’s quite the structure. Here, I thanked two very important people in my life, Neil & Suzanne Alexander. If I hadn’t started this run a year ago, I don’t know if I would know the Alexanders. A highlight of last year’s trip was connecting with the Alexanders. I received a few donations from the family, and through my trip, was able to learn about the Alexander’s story. Neil was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease a few years back, and has truly been an inspiration to me since I’ve met him. Following his diagnoses, Neil started the Live Like Lou Foundation and is doing so many great things to help other families who are being affected by ALS. Neil became a Phi Delt at this summer’s Phi Delt Convention in DC, a very proud moment for many of us. He’s been an inspiration to the Iron Phi program, and through his diagnosis, is helping us educate our members about this terrible disease. Neil’s approach leaves me in awe, and I am lucky to know him.

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From the Parthnon, we cycled to the final stop, Belmont University. The Fraternity has a great chapter here, and I have been able to get to know a few of their members through the Iron Phi program. I had actually never been to the campus, but was amazed by it’s spectacular architecture. Here, I thanked my colleague Alex Stefanic. Alex has been the leadership consultant for the chapter over the past two years. Thanks Alex for your donation!

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We made our way back downtown to celebrate a great day. Prior to heading back to Tootsie’s, Nolan took me to Fort Nashborough along the river. You have love old structures like this that have survived the new developments of downtown districts. We then headed to Tootsie’s, where we ran into a few fellow Iowans from Waverly.

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Whew, what a day. Nearly eight miles on foot and 6+ miles on bike. We considered jumping in the river to complete the triathlon, but we quickly detracted from that idea.

It was great to come across a few familiar faces in Nashville. My family has neat history with the American Gothic painting by Grant Wood.  My great-great-grandparents owned the house in the painting when it was painted. It’s located in Eldon, Iowa, my mother’s hometown.

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Once again, a big thanks goes to the Pattees for their tremendous hospitality. Their family is wonderful, and it’s been great to catch up with them. They were even kind enough to get this for Cal.

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My day has only begun, as I’ll be hopping the 1:40am Megabus from Nashville to Memphis, my first overnight trip. It shall be interesting. I look forward to a great day in Memphis tomorrow, but I need to get a bit of rest before then.

One final note – A week back, I learned that an Iowa State undergraduate Phi Delt, Kyle Bangston’s father was battling ALS. While we have approximately 10,000 undergraduate Phi Delts, only a handful have parents with ALS. This morning, Kyle’s father Paul passed away. My heart goes out to the Bangston family.

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