Friday, August 15, 2014

It's One of those Days

Today was one of those running days that I wanted to hold onto as long as I could. The most perfect blue skies, a breeze, and 68 degrees. Is this really DC?

This summer I almost always headed into the woods for my runs. It's quiet, and away from traffic, and if I time it right, I miss all of the people that get up early to run or bike before work. The paths are all mine!

This week I've been soaking in my time outside. School responsibilities start up next week, so I only have a few morning runs left. I also know that winter will be here soon - and by soon, I mean there are still a few months. But the leaves will eventually fall and the crickets will disappear. There will be nothing but cold and wind, too much for this Vermonter to really enjoy. Knowing this makes me look around more, to take in the sites and smells while they're still here, and to feel the warmth of the sun while it still shines high in the sky. 

From the ONE time I ran with my phone while in Vermont

I was reminded this morning why I love running without music or a phone for photos, even if it is the most gorgeous day. There's a strong instinct in me to go outside to relax. I feel rejuvenated after a run. I feel more connected with the world. Without technology I am free. If I had music in my ears I would miss out on the sounds that make my runs what they are...

Like....
....The twig snapping to my left this morning, and when I turned to locate the source I discovered a family of 5 deer enjoying their breakfast by the trail.
....The sound of the water in the creek as it flows over the rocks, always louder just after a rain storm, but calming at the same time. Something about water refreshes the soul.
....The crickets always chirping, providing a constant background music that is the theme of summer.
....The birds going on with their days, whether it is the woodpecker on the tree, the robins looking for food, or even the crows that get angry because a certain someone has invaded their territory.
....The sound of the blue heron splashing on the surface of the water as it lands in the creek right next to me during my warm down yesterday. We both stopped and stared at each other for two minutes. It is is one of my favorite creatures out there - so elegant, graceful, and quiet. 
....The peepers (frogs) that welcome in the spring, giving hope to warmer weather that lie ahead.
....And the crackle of the leaves that have fallen - nature's last gift of beauty before life goes into hiding for the winter .

Nature is my music. Nature keeps me calm. I am always thankful that I have two legs to carry me outside to enjoy what the world has to give us. Our society is overloaded with technology (yet here I sit, using it) and we tend to forget to put it down to truly experience life. 

I'm not religious, but I have to say I'm impressed with Pope Francis, who just a few weeks ago, encouraged young people (am I still young?!) to stay off the internet and smartphones. I couldn't agree more.

Put down the phone. Turn off the music and the computer, and go do something outside. And with that, I'll log out and truly get this day going!

 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Let me Explain....

Last night Tom pointed out that my post about the recent Twilight 5k was significantly longer than my post about our wedding. Don't get me wrong - our wedding will forever be one of the best days of my life. I got to marry my best friend, someone who I love and care about greatly. There is no way that any race will top that experience.

However, I am very aware that this a public blog. Anyone can find it and read it, especially students. While I am fine with giving more than enough details about a race, I for some reason, like to keep the big, personal milestones a little more personal.

Someone once told me that I'm good at compartmentalizing my life. This is my running blog, not necessarily my life blog. That's what Facebook is for!  I've seen bloggers write post after post about their wedding on their running blogs, which is totally cool, but now how my brain functions. I have no desire to broadcast every detail to the world. I'll have the photos and the memories to look back on, and for me, those are enough. Blogs are a great way to document the happenings in our lives, but it's important to remember that anyone and everyone can read it, and a little privacy in life is a good thing.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Crystal City Twilight 5k Recap

I first heard about the Crystal City Twilighter last summer and was excited to sign up for it this year. Pacer's, a local running store chain, has been big into the high school cross country scene, and invited coaches to this event both years (although I didn't get an invite this year...) and held a team competition between high school teams. Our team wasn't partaking in the event, but I still wanted to check it out.

About a month ago, when Tom and I signed up, I had huge plans to train for this, and hoped to be able to break 19:00. That was before we went up to VT and got married. Read: Wedding planning consumed my life and mind for a solid two weeks, and it was hard to refocus after the wedding. I'm not complaining, I'm just stating that there has been a significant lack of quality and focused training recently.

Here's another thing: I don't know how to prepare for an evening race, specifically one that starts at 8:30pm. I love morning races: Go to sleep, wake up, eat, and run. Easy!

Not this one. I thought about the race the whole day - a race I wasn't all that excited to race. We also had a hard time planning what to eat, but eventually made a larger lunch and ate a smaller dinner at 4 pm.

It's hard to get excited for a race when you know you aren't going to run your best. Fortunately, my worries and lack of excitement began to fade once we arrived at the starting location and met up with one of Tom's coworkers. Once I started to warm up my body and mind naturally began to go into race mode. It's amazing how easy that is if you follow the same pre-race routine year after year. Your body knows what to do.

The race went off right at 8:30, just as the sun was going down. I'm pretty sure they announced that there were about 50 invited elite runners - another reason why my heart wasn't into this - I was going to get crushed and there wasn't a darn thing to do but go out and run my own race.

We blasted off and I was immediately unsure of what my pace was. It felt a lot harder than the 5K I did last month, even though this was a flat course with far fewer turns. I was a little sad to cross the first mile and see 5:56. Dang! I did it again. I went out way too fast.

During the second mile I worked really hard to focus on it being just a mile, and nothing more. I didn't want to think about the rest of the race. The sun was definitely down, and at the turn around point, I got to see Tom up ahead and cheer him on. I tried to run faster, but in reality, I was just trying to put in more effort so my second split wouldn't be too much slower.

Second mile: 6:29

No surprise there. It was playing out to be very similar to my last race. However, I really wanted to pick up the last mile in this one.

I don't know if it was the fact that it was now dark out or if it was because I kept repeating to myself, over and over, "I love this! I love this!" but I could feel that my body was calmer and less tense during the 3rd mile, and I didn't have the urge to vomit like I have in recent races.


As we closed in on the last 0.1 miles, I found myself catching up to two ladies, both of which who had just passed me. I passed them, but they weren't having it. I somehow found more energy to pick it up, but so did the other woman. We were tied as we crossed the line, but due to her later start than mine, she ended up taking the faster time.

Third mile: 6:29
Last 0.1: 0:34



Overall time: 19:29
Place 143/1954
Age Group: 10/186

Tom had a decent race, finishing faster than the last 5k. It's funny to hear the both of us talk after a race, because we break down every single part, talking about our weaknesses and strengths. It's awesome that we both have a passion for running and have done it together for so many years, but to someone else who runs it for fun, I could see how weird it might be.
We were quite impressed with how put together the race night was. Tom founded a race in Milton back in 2003, so we tend to analyze the logistics of races every now and then. I can't speak for Tom, but I would have no problem with doing this race again. The free beer ticket is also a nice addition for a post race celebration!

Even though I may not look forward to a race prior to running it, after the race is said and done I'm even more motivated to work toward the next race.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hitched!

We had an absolutely gorgeous wedding day in Vermont on July 12th. What made it even better was that we were able to have so many of our friends and family spend the day (and for some, weekend) with us. When people ask what the best part was, I say it was seeing everyone we love with us on that day, some of whom we haven't seen in years.

Doesn't Tom  look like a fancy stud muffin? 

 It was so hard to leave these awesome people. We were so happy to have them with us the entire weekend. 

 

Our photographer, Margaret, was PHENOMENAL! As soon as we were engaged I knew that we had to get her. She paid attention to every single detail, gave us advice throughout the whole day, and managed to capture every moment in her beautiful shots! We could not and still cannot thank her and her sister enough!


And just like that the day was done. All of the planning and celebrating was over. We returned to DC and don't have any honeymoon plans yet, but after being together for 10 years, it's nice to step into this next phase of our lives. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Our Engagement

School's out and the big question I am constantly asked is, "what are you doing this summer?"

My response: Relaxing, running, and GETTING MARRIED!

Tom and I were engaged last summer but I never took the time to publish the story of that evening. It's been written since September, but was never published, until now. I've gone back and forth in my mind: publish it to the world to see or keep it just for us. Well, if I blog about my running, then I should blog about one of the biggest days of my life. So here goes, the story of our engagement!

_________________

Let's start with Monday, August 12th. We were up in Vermont for the week and Tom was going to work that day in the Vermont Office (as opposed to his DC office). Before he left for work that morning, he reminded me that we may go to a friend's camp for dinner and to stay the night. He said he would keep me updated.

Keeping this in the back of my mind, I continued on with my day. I ran in the morning, then headed to my friend Kat's house for lunch and to hang out. I thought I would be home around 4:00, but when you haven't seen someone in 8 months its hard to say goodbye. While there, my phone died. I didn't realize this until I was about to leave, just after 4:30.

Tom, on the other hand, had realized that my phone died. He had tried to get in touch with me all afternoon to confirm plans. As I was about to get into my car he and his dad drove up to Kat's house. Tom hurried me into our car and announced that we had dinner reservations in Grand Island with our friend,instead of going to her camp. He grabbed the keys and off we went. 

I believed this until he turned off the road and into our hometown's recreation park. Confused, I asked why. His response? "Uh... they're building a block house or something that I want to go check out."

I didn't believe him for one second, especially when I saw the van with the balloon crew from U Ken Do Ballooning. I knew what was going to happen. We have already been up in a balloon together so I knew that the only reason to go back up would be if there was a ring involved (not that I would complain about going in a surprise balloon ride anyway!).

My house and our field!

We had a beautiful ride with another, super fun couple that was celebrating their 7th wedding anniversary. Our pilot, Ken, was awesome as well, teaching us how to fly and showing us the reason why you weren't supposed to use a phone on an airplane. It was neat to see our hometown from the sky, and we had 80 mile views into Canada and New York. We kept picking out landmarks that we knew, and saw our houses from up above. At one point we went "leaf picking", dipping just above the tree tops to allow us to reach down and pick some leaves.

On a side note - I am totally afraid of heights, but being in a balloon is totally different. It's so peaceful that you actually feel safe up there. 


The wind practically died by the time we were looking for a place to land and we had few choices available. We landed in a marshy area and got help from a bunch of folks at a nearby horse farm. They towed us out with a four wheeler and moved us to a mowed field to take down the balloon. There were tons of kids to help and soon we had a line of people packing the balloon into the bag.

That was always the fun part that I remembered from my childhood: everyone helps take the air out and pack it into the balloon bag, while little kids are thrown on top to "get out the air."

Tom's parents had chased the balloon the whole way and documented a lot of the trip with their camera. They were there the first time we flew, back in 2009, and were now pros at chasing and tearing down the balloon. 


Everyone (family, crew, horse-owners, house owners, and kids) was part of the champagne toast, a tradition for balloon landings, but this one was unique: Our pilot taught us about the history of hot air balloons, then made us chug our glass of champagne with our hands behind our backs!! I lost immediately after I cracked my cup and Tom finished in 2nd place.


This whole time I was waiting. I couldn't figure out why Tom hadn't proposed. It made sense not to do it in the air - it was too crowded in the balloon to get down on one knee (not to mention that if you drop the ring up there you aren't going to get it back). But why hadn't he done it while everyone was together? Isn't that how it would have been in the movies or something? We even turned to look at the sunset at one point. But nope - no ring.

It was on our walk back to the car when Tom got down on his knee and proposed. Since I knew it was coming the whole night I didn't have that emotional breakdown that women are known have. In fact, it took us a minute to realize that I hadn't officially said yes! But Duh! After 9 years with this guy, there was no doubt as to what my answer would be!


The surprises didn't end there. That night we went out for a late dinner at Koto's, a Japanese restaurant in South Burlington. Because it was so late in the evening, the restaurant was practically ours. We then made our way to the Inn at Shelburne Farms, which I had never been to. Tom had reserved the Webb room for us (after securing a special rate). We explored the Inn that night, which felt more like a museum, while other guests retired to their rooms.


The next morning was cool, windy, and a little rainy. We ate breakfast outside in the restaurant at the Inn, and it was by far one of the tastiest meals I ate during our trip. Tom's entire meal was grown/raised right there on Shelburne Farms - an idea I am totally in love with.


After breakfast we walked around the grounds and by the lake. The whole place was gorgeous and it was hard to imagine just one family owning the it. Talk about a dream home! Before leaving for the day we stopped at the Farms - I just had to see the piglets which were so so cute. 

I love the architecture of both the Farms and the Inn. Gor-ge-ous!

Tom totally surprised me with the engagement and evening and I honestly had no idea that any of this was coming. He always told me that he wanted the engagement to be a surprise, but I was convinced that I would have an inkling that it was coming beforehand. I can tell you now, I had absolutely no clue when we got on the plane to VT that we would be coming back home to plan a wedding! He can keep a good secret (which I am horrible at) and knew the perfect way to propose.

I publish this with only 22 days left until our July 12th wedding. We're excited to be getting married in Stowe and are looking forward to spending the weekend with family and friends, some of which we haven't seen in many years!

And of you're wondering if I'm going to make my own cake, the answer is no. Tom won't let me. He seems to believe that I, the bride, will be busy or something in the days before the wedding .....