Sunday, August 29, 2010

Running-Themed Wedding (Sort of)

I married the man of my dreams on August 14. The wedding took place at the Tower Club in Tysons Corner, VA- which is an event venue and restaurant at the top of a 17-story building about 10 miles outside of Washington, DC.

The day began as I woke up in an Executive Suite at the Ritz Carlton. I stayed there Friday night so that I could avoid seeing the groom the day of the wedding. We wanted to see each other for the first time that day when I was walking down the aisle. My maid of honor, Tara, had spent the night in the Ritz with me which was a lot of fun. When was the last time I had a sleepover with one of my best friends!?!

I thought that maybe I might run that morning, but ultimately I decided against it because I didn't want to pack the extra running clothes-- I already had so much to think about packing wise! Instead, I watched music videos that coincidentally revolved around weddings as Tara slept in the next room. I also saw an episode of "Married with Children". Definitely not glamorizing married life!

That morning, I had my hairstylist come to the Ritz and do everyone's hair, including my mother and the flower girls. It was a fun morning as we all got to hang out and see the hairstyles come together! We also had access to the Club Executive Lounge, which was basically an all-day buffet of food. The bridesmaids kept brining food down in little bits, so I did a good job not being hungry. When I had gone there for breakfast, one of the hotel employees informed me that pajama pants were not allowed in the Club Lounge. I politely told her that they were "lounge pants" as if it was an entirely different thing-- but she didn't buy it. When I returned, I made sure to wear my "Bride" T-shirt as a subtle way to tell her not to give me any more problems!

Finally it was time to make our way over to the Tower Club. This was the first time I started to get nervous. I had been surprisingly calm for the entire morning and just enjoyed spending the time with my bridesmaids. But because we were running about 10 minutes behind schedule, I got anxious and really wanted to just get over to the venue. As we left, we all had our hair done, I was not in my dress yet, but the veil had been affixed by the stylist. I also had my makeup professionally done. The makeup had been a saga, but it worked out well in the end.

We arrived at the Tower club, and my mother was waiting for us there. She had already met the florist
and had all the bouquets in the room where we would be getting ready. She also brought my dress and my shoes, so I wouldn't have to worry about transporting them. What a great mom! We had about an hour and a half until the ceremony was going to start. The photographer was taking tons of photos of us getting ready, and also of the Groomsmen.

The bridesmaids wore zebra print dresses. I am lucky that I got married when I did, with zebra print being so in style. The dresses were actually Greg's idea, and I think the ones that I picked out were really classy.

I started to get anxious. Not nervous-- just that excited anxious feeling you get at the start of a really important race. You start to think about all the preparation that went into this day, and more importantly, how much it meant to you and how much you wanted it. Everyone wanted to talk to me about one thing or another, and yet my mind was elsewhere-- focused on how this was such a huge step for me. Romantic relationships had always been such a struggle for me, and I never thought I would get married. And yet one day, out of nowhere, I met someone who far exceeded my expectations of what a good partner would be. I truly believe that Greg and I were made for each other, and that we met each other at exactly the right time-- once we had figured ourselves out and were able to love and respect each other fully.

During the week leading up to the wedding, I was also surprisingly calm. The week leading up to a marathon is typically a lot more anxiety-laden. I am super worried about what I am eating and drinking, and I am a huge germ-a-phobe. I stalk the weather forecast like crazy. But none of this happened the week leading up to the wedding. Everything was indoors, so the weather didn't really matter to me, and the thought of getting sick didn't even cross my mind. I think this is because I knew the outcome of the wedding: Greg and I would be married. However, with a marathon, you really don't know the outcome. And frankly, there is a lot more time invested in training for a marathon than in planning a wedding. I maybe spent 2-3 hours a week on wedding stuff, and time spent running far surpasses that!

Finally it was time for everyone to line up to walk down the aisle. It was almost surreal for me. These bridesmaids were the closet women in my life, and I had know them all for a very long time. My sister, my cousin, a friend from elementary school, a friend from high school, and a friend from college. All of whom had remained close with me and who had always supported me in everything I chose to pursue. They were all there for me on the most important day of my life!

I heard the piano music played and just waited, arm-in-arm with my father until it was our turn to walk. Everyone stood up and the pianist gave me my cue. This was actually happening! I was getting married! All eyes were on me and I felt like a princess. A magazine article somewhere had said that the bride should smile and make eye contact with guests, and not just look straight ahead. It was almost like a dream, seeing all my close friends and family there gathered in one spot to watch me get married.

When I made my way toward Greg, we held hands and the ceremony began. We hired a priest who specialized in performing marriage ceremonies. The ceremony was somewhat religious, but mainly in the sense that "God is Love" and I truly believe that God is an important part of our marriage. The ceremony seemed to go by so quickly. Both our mothers gave readings. We said our vows (we used the traditional ones) and then put the rings on each other's fingers. And suddenly, we were married! We hadn't rehearsed the kiss, but I think it went off just fine. :-)

We walked back down the aisle as husband and wife, and I was absolutely glowing. I love him so much!

As for the wedding itself, I already noted that the bridesmaids wore zebra print, in honor of my
obsession with zebras (I have been fascinated with them since I saw them at the zoo when I was seven). I didn't want to go overboard with it, so the zebra print was just represented in the dresses, the cake and the party favors.

As I alluded to in the title, we also wanted to personalize the wedding with regard to our love for running. Greg and I spend a great deal of time training together so we wanted to have that passion represented. We decided to take the bib numbers of the races that we ran together and get them laminated. Once they were laminated, they looked so good that many people were surprised that they were the actual numbers we wore! I was happy that they turned out as well as they did. I also had two tables worth of running friends, so they especially appreciated this detail.

The rest of the wedding went by very quickly, but Greg and I had been warned of this, so we took a few moments to ourselves to just remember how it felt and to tell each other how much we loved each other. It was so nice to see our closest family and friends all at the same time.

After the dinner, it was time for dancing. Our first dance was "Learn You Inside Out" by Lifehouse. We wanted to choose something original that people probably wouldn't have heard of. I then danced with my father to "100 Years" by Five for Fighting. That was a lot of fun-- we had actually practiced beforehand. The dancing continued for a few more hours and everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time. It was by far the best day of my life!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

NYC Marathon: Training Update

This is my first official blog dedicated to my training for the NYC Marathon.

The NYC marathon is the largest marathon in the United States, and rivals the London marathon for the largest marathon in the world. Due to its popularity, there is a lottery system to get into the race. It seems like about 1 in 6 people got in through the lottery this year (and that's just a guess based on how many people I know who entered it and were accepted vs. denied). And one of them was my fiancé, Greg. I was unfortunately denied, so I opted to raise money for charity and "earn" my entry that way. This will be Greg's first marathon, and I definitely want us to share the experience.

When it came time to choose the charity, I realized there were a lot of options. Most of them revolved around fighting some kind of disease, none of which have directly affected me (thankfully). So I chose a charity that was relevant to the marathon and relevant to my family history:
The Central Park Conservancy. This organization cares for Central Park and goes far and beyond what taxpayer dollars would cover.

My father grew up in New York city in an apartment building that faced central park. Throughout his childhood, he would play in the park and he built many memories there. He eventually moved down to Virginia where I was born. We would visit my grandparents and uncle in New York, and I had the opportunity to play in the park, just like my father.

My grandparents passed away about 7 years ago. It was very sad for me because I had a strong relationship with them. Every time I go to New York, I remember them and all the wonderful times we had together. My uncle is my only remaining family member in Manhattan and it will be great to have his support when I run the marathon.

So if you are reading this, please help me meet my fundraising goal of $3,000. I am currently 46% of the way there and every dollar counts! Click here to donate now.

Now for the training aspect of it! My attitude when training for this marathon is that I want to motivate Greg and support him in his first marathon. I don't care as much about our finish time, although I really think Greg is capable of that golden 3:40. His half marathon PR is the McMillan equivalent of a 3:40, and he has built up even more endurance since then.

We've been doing most of our runs together-- but sometimes I run a few extra miles on my own or I do a recovery run when he has a rest day. For interval work, we go to a track and run at our own paces. He's faster than me on the intervals and I wouldn't want to hold him back.

My past few weeks have been:

Week of 6/28: 41 miles (includes a 5K race)
Week of 7/5: 45 miles (inc. 13-miler)
Week of 7/12: 47 miles (inc. 16-miler)
Week of 7/19: 48.6 miles (inc. 15-miler)
Week of 7/26: 52.5 miles (inc. 18-miler)

Each week includes one speed work, one Fartlek, and one long run. For this week I am planning on 56 miles. And then next week I am getting married so I have a recovery week!