Wednesday, February 26, 2014

From Nightmarathons to Nightmarriages

I know, I know. I haven't blogged in, like, 8 months. There are many reasons for this, but the primary one is that I just haven't had a lot of interesting running stories to share. I mean, I guess there was that marathon in Naperville back in November. And the entire summer of training leading up to said marathon.  Oh, and did I mention that was my 10th marathon?!? That's kind of a big deal, I guess. So really, I guess my main excuse for not blogging has been laziness.  Oops. *looks ashamed*

To be fair, Naperville wasn't my best marathon (4:11 - not bad, either), but I had a lot of fun with it.  Well, except for the hills and the wind. The huge hills and relentless wind. Who knew Naperville had so many freakin' hills???

So VERY happy to be finishing after all those effing hills!

After finishing that marathon, I decided I needed a huge break from marathons. Like, I dunno, a year or six.  Oh, I'm still running (30-ish miles per week, these days), and could probably muddle my way through a half marathon.  As I say: I'm always training for something.  Even if I don't know what that something is.  But I'm taking a bit of a break from the serious training.

Besides, I don't have time for marathon training because I have another marathon-like event to prepare for instead.

A wedding.

*insert horrified scream*

As many of you already know, I am newly engaged. Cool, yo. Let's have a party!

Wedding planning is mostly pretty fun. But it's also a bit stressful. I didn't realize how stressful it was until I started seeing parallels between wedding planning and marathon training.

Last night, I had my first wedding nightmare. It was a lot like one of the nightmarathons that I tend to have before a key race.  Let's call it a nightmarriage. In my dream, I was running late for my own wedding (versus being late for a key race), I hadn't put on my dress or makeup (versus showing up naked to a race), and I hadn't booked any of the important vendors for the wedding (versus showing up to a race without having trained for it). Coincidence? I think not. Weddings and marathons, though very different things, are very similar in the amount of preparation required for a one day event, and the amount of stress they produce.

The fiance and I decided on a wedding date that is less than 6 months away, due to the availability of our preferred venue. Most wedding planning checklists are built around a 12-month timeline.  Those of you who are good at math can probably imagine we've had to seriously condense the front end of the planning timeline. In the last two weeks, we have checked off roughly 1,432 items from that ridiculous planning checklist on  I say it's ridiculous because it includes stuff like (I am not making this up) "Start your wedding workout routine now!" (do I have to train to be able to lift that bouquet or something?) and "Make a beauty plan!" (uh, get my hair done?)  Not to mention insanely detailed sequences of things like "Browse photos of invitations" and "Decide on invitations" and "Place order for invitations" and "Receive invitations" and "Address invitations" and "Put invitations into envelopes" and "Mail invitations" and "Wait for guests to receive invitations".  Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit, but for crying out loud, does there need to be a checklist item for every.little.thing??? I feel exhausted just reading the checklist!

So, as you can imagine, trying to quickly get through this checklist where half the items are marked "OVERDUE" in bright red text is a teensy bit stressful.  But no matter what the centerpieces look like (don't get me started on the ridiculousness of centerpieces), no matter what color my shoes are, and no matter how drunk Uncle Bob gets on the dance floor, at the end of that one day, only one thing matters: that I married the love of my life, and our family and friends were there to celebrate with us.

Now that we have booked the most major and important facets of our wedding day (venue, food, dress, photography, music and officiant), I am taking a big step back and giving the entire wedding industry a big middle finger. I will NOT be convinced that I need to obsess over the style of my table numbers (or table names, as is the current trend), or that I must spend thousands of dollars on decorations that will be promptly thrown away after the wedding (buh-bye $200 floral centerpieces!), or that anyone really cares whether or not we have personalized cocktail napkins (god forbid people should have to use a plain napkin to set down their sweaty beverage glasses!).

This is not meant to poo-poo on couples who do opt for these extravagances. Hey, it's your wedding and your money - do what you like. But the point is, that's not the point of a wedding. And after a whirlwind two weeks of intense wedding planning (more out of necessity than my wanting to be a control freak), I realize now that obsessing over every detail won't necessarily make for a better wedding. It certainly has no bearing on the quality of the marriage that follows.

As I'm typing this, I just received an email from about a crazy awesome deal they are having on, you guessed it, personalized napkins! GAH! STOP IT! I will not buy your silly paper products!

This blog entry is as much a rant against the overpriced, overblown wedding industry as it is therapy for a bride caught in the middle of said wedding industry (me). Watching television shows like Four Weddings and Say Yes To The Dress makes it seem like every wedding is in some sort of competition to be the best thing since sliced bread, and that wedding gowns are supposed to cost thousands of dollars or they're not real wedding dresses.

Pffft.  I call bullsh*t.

So I'm not gonna sweat the small stuff. And we're not going to break the bank.  I'm just going to marry the man I love and have a great party with the people who are dear to us. Without personalized cocktail napkins, dammit.

Peace. Love. Train. Wed. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Marathon Tale

Gather round, kids, and let me tell you all a little story about the importance of not being greedy.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a fair maiden who loved to run.  She trained hard for a big marathon, logging over 550 miles over the course of her 14 week training plan. She felt confident of her ability to run a sub-4:00 marathon, something she had done only once before.

The maiden and her Prince Charming journeyed to the lovely village of Champaign, IL on a fair spring day to begin the epic marathon quest.  On the night before the big race, she and her prince carb-loaded on delicious pasta and bread, and went to bed very early, in order to gather up plenty of energy for the quest ahead.

The fair maiden's gourmet pasta feed. Yum-o.

The fair  maiden awoke the next morning feeling energetic and ready to run. The maiden and her prince met up with some of the other villagers and walked to the starting line on a beautiful, crisp, clear April morning. They rejoiced how perfect the weather was for a long-distance quest such as this.

The villagers. Not to be confused with the Village People.

Fifteen minutes before race start, they participated in a completely different, but equally important quest:

And they peed happily ever after...

The maiden and her prince lined up in their assigned starting corral. The prince was running the half marathon and was planning a faster pace than the maiden was going to run for her full marathon.  So they bid each other adieu and then they were off.

The maiden and her prince, ready for battle.

The maiden spotted the 3:55 pace group and decided to run with them. She felt wonderful and the pace felt easy.  Maybe even a little too easy.  The fair maiden, thinking she could run faster than her goal, pulled ahead of the 3:55 pace group. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the maiden's greed would come back to haunt her.

Early in the maiden's quest

Despite the increasing heat and her tired legs, the fair maiden stayed pretty much on pace for a full 20 miles (20 mile split: 2:58:23, pace 8:55).  Then at Mile 21, the evil antagonist of the story, The Beast of Cramping Calves, arrived to battle the fair maiden on her quest to the finish line.

The fair maiden ran as far as she could while Cramping Calves attacked, until finally she was forced to walk.  The cramps subsided with walking, so the fair maiden spent the next 5 miles alternating walking with running. Eventually, Cramping Quads joined in the battle as well. The 3:55 pace group ran ahead and out of sight.. The fair maiden would not be defeated though.

Rather than spend the last five miles pouting over a failed quest, the fair maiden decided to embark on a different quest: enjoy the final miles as much as possible. After all, the marathon is more than just a race; it's an adventure! She waved to spectators, high-fived little kids, thanked every volunteer and police officer, and encouraged other runners who passed her.  She even enjoyed some beer at Mile 22, and it was oh-so-refreshing!

With only one mile to go, she spotted her Prince Charming, holding this sign, cheering for her. He had constructed it in the short amount of time between finishing his own half marathon (and showering and changing!) and the fair maiden's arrival at her 25-mile mark.  The maiden nearly wept, she was so touched.

A true Prince Charming!

Cramping Calves could no longer hold back the fair maiden on her quest.  She mustered all the strength she could, finishing her quest and slaying the beast on the 50 yard line of the U of I football field.

Beast slain.

The maiden may not have met her original goal, but she still succeeded in finishing her 9th marathon.  And it was her 2nd fastest marathon ever, at 4:09:21.  She also learned a valuable lesson about greed, which she will take with her on future marathon quests.

How not to run a marathon

So the maiden, her prince, and the villagers celebrated the destruction of the beast of Cramping Calves with a hearty feast and refreshing beverages.

And they all ran happily ever after.

Peace. Love. Train.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Marathon Panic Attack Threat Level: Red

Um, guys?  The marathon is three days away. THREE DAYS! Do you know what this means?


It means I can focus on nothing but marathon preparations: planning my marathon gear, checking marathon day weather, planning pre-marathon food, planning mid-marathon food, remembering to bring my shoes, remembering to charge my Garmin, not forgetting to set my alarm on marathon morning, cursing whatever deity decided this spring would be a great time for me to develop seasonal allergies for the first time *cough cough sniffle*, trying to get plenty of sleep, not being able to sleep due to panicking about the marathon, trying to decide whether to run with a pace group, wondering if I trained smart enough, analyzing every mile in my training log, feeling like a sloth because I am running so few miles this week, making a list of everything I need to pack, making a list of everywhere I need to be, making a list of all of my lists, and being generally obsessive.  

*takes deep, cleansing breaths*

*experiences brief moment of calm clarity*

*resumes panicking

CODE RED! CODE RED, PEOPLE! Out of my way! I have to pack my shoes before I forget them!!! 

*runs out of room flinging energy gels and tech socks everywhere*

Peace. Love. Train.