Monday, July 25, 2011

Showered with Love, Part 1

On Sunday, my aunt Mary (my dad's sister, whom we lovingly refer to as "Old Auntie") hosted a running-themed wedding shower for future hubs and me.  We had a great time, and it was fun to share the day with family and friends.

Here are some photos from the day:

Going with the running theme, the cake featured photos of Mark and me running, along with our favorite engagement photo

The bride-to-be and the groom-to-be with their beers

My aunt whipped up some delicious food for the shower.  My faves were the pasta salad and the blueberry cheesecake pudding.

Old Auntie explains the first game, where Mark and I passed a tray of running-related items around

Most thought they would have to write down as many items as they remembered, but they actually had to remember the colors in my corsage

Relatives chatting

The second game consisted of me trying to guess which leg belonged to my fiance while blindfolded.  Here, I'm feeling up my uncle, who happens to be a priest.

I was *this close* to saying that Mark's father's leg was his.  The legs must run in the family!

Thank God my fiance wore sandals!  Shoes and socks meant that my fiance was not in front of me.  In this photo, my uncle Bob is getting his leg felt up.

I could tell that my cousin's son Sean was in front of me because his leg was too soft, thin and hairless to be Mark's!

My cousin Mike feels totally embarrassed by this game.  I am too... notice how red my face is!
I did correctly guess which leg was Mark's, in case you were wondering. :)

Opening gifts

Mark's aunt gave us toasting goblets for the wedding.  Cheers!

Someone said something funny

At the end of the party, everyone released blue balloons containing tiny slips of paper

Everyone wrote well-wishes for us on those little slips of paper inside the balloons

Our wishes float up to the heavens

Watching the balloons until they're outta sight

Mark and I are so loved by our family and friends
Life has been extremely busy around here.  Future hubs and I close on our condo on August 12, so we're hoping and praying for everything to go smoothly.  I am beginning to pack up my stuff and compiling a few bags of items to donate to Goodwill.  We both have this Wednesday off, so we're meeting with my uncle Fr. Dave (our officiant) to finish up the last of the paperwork for the ceremony.  On that day, we are also applying for our marriage license, meeting with the vocalist, and visiting the site of the rehearsal dinner to determine the menu for the evening.  Whew... there's so much going on!

My mom's sister Jan and my cousin Rebecca is hosting a shower for us this Saturday, so I will post a few photos from that event.  Mark and I are running a race that morning, so expect a race recap, too!

OK... time for me to write out some thank-you notes!  I hope your week is starting out well!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Good news, and a farewell of sorts

This past weekend at home was very productive.  I finished addressing invitation envelopes, and my awesome mom stamped them.  Wedding invitations were sent out today, thanks to Mom who dropped them off at the post office in my hometown.  I distributed the invites for my co-workers at work today.

We have a new vocalist for our wedding, who happens to be one of my old high school English teachers. :)  She has a beautiful voice and I'm so excited she will be singing at our wedding.

I met with our wedding cake vendor over the weekend, and I'm liking our Plan B cake more and more.  It will look awesome!

Finally, my Realtor called me at work today.  We got the condo!  Yay!  Now, I know (thanks, Sam!) that we really won't get the condo until the keys are in hand at closing, but I still can't help but be ecstatic about the news.  I was squealing so much at work that my co-workers thought I was crazy!  Closing should take place before August 25, and I'm hoping to move all my stuff in the last weekend in August and Labor Day weekend.  I can't wait!

It's now less than two months before future hubs and I get married, and it's crunch time.  Don't be surprised if you see me blogging and commenting on your entries less.  However, this doesn't mean that I don't care about you!  I love you guys and I thank you for reading my thoughts and following me on my journey.  I will continue to pray for good races for you all and for good things to happen in your lives.  I will probably post a race report here and there, when I'm not busy doing wedding stuff and moving.  I will be back in full force after September 17 (our wedding day!!!!) and our honeymoon, which will happen immediately after the wedding.  I hope to write even more and make this blog really take off!

Have a great week!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Four for Friday: Wedding Edition

1. If you're planning a wedding, be prepared for something (or multiple things) to go wrong.  Just this week, I learned that my cake vendor couldn't make the cake future hubs and I had originally envisioned.  Fortunately, Mark and I have a Plan B design and she can do that one.

2. Along with the cake snafu, we learned that our original vocalist for the ceremony backed out.  This issue bothered me more than the cake problem, especially because our vocalist could have mentioned she wasn't singing for our wedding oh, I don't know, a few months ago!  Thankfully, a former high school English teacher of mine who regularly sings at weddings in my hometown during the summer is free the weekend we're getting married.  We are so hiring her!

3. One of my co-workers saw me eating a small snack at work yesterday and commented "That's fattening, you know.  You won't be able to fit in your wedding dress."  I countered with, "Oh well, I'll just run more."  Seriously... the nerve of some people.  I just wish I would have retorted with something more witty.

4. I am spending the weekend in my hometown and will finish addressing all the invitation envelopes.  The post office will love me as I mail out all those invitations! :)

If you're married, what went wrong during your wedding?

Do you think well on your feet?
I certainly don't!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Switching Gears and Run.Love.Bride

With my first half-marathon of the year under my belt (I've done six half-marathons since 2007 in case you were wondering), I am now focusing my training on one of my goal races for the year... the Ragnar Relay.

Official "Van 2" photo (with my goddaughter being held by Travis) from the 2010 relay
The training program I developed for myself last year worked great, so I'm revisiting it again this year.  What makes it so helpful are the following guidelines:

1. Run in the heat to get used to race day conditions.

It was already scorching hot early on in my first leg of the relay
I will be doing plenty of running after work when temps are in the 80s and 90s.

2. Hill training

Teammate Jack crests a nasty hill during his first leg of the relay
I have a few hilly routes that I run specifically for Ragnar training.

3. Run 2 to 3 in 24 (run two or three times within a 24-hour period).

Photo taken after yesterday morning's run.  I ran Friday evening, as well.
Last year during the relay, I ran my first leg about 5:00 Friday afternoon, my second leg about 3:00 in the morning Saturday, and my third leg about eight hours later.  Relay runners need to get used to running on tired legs.  I usually do 2 in 24 every week or every two weeks: run 2-4 miles on Friday evening, followed by a Saturday morning run of 5-7 miles.  In August, I will have the opportunity to do 3 in 24 with a training run sandwiched between two races I'm planning to register for.

I probably do a lot more training for Ragnar than other people, but I like to be prepared. :)


If you follow Linzi over at beyond DESTINATION 26.2, then you know she is getting married this month!  Hooray!

Aneta over at My Running Bucket is hosting a virtual race in honor of Linzi.

I chose to dedicate my Saturday morning run of 5.6 miles to Linzi.  This run was a tough one, having already put in 3 miles the night before AND running in heat and humidity yesterday.  But I gutted it out and finished in 52:55.

I'm going to be jumping on board the marriage bandwagon come September, so I don't have any advice for her that comes from my own experience.  All I know, from what others have told me, is that marriage is wonderful but it's also hard work.  It's a lot like running.  Sometimes, you have awesome training runs and races where everything goes perfectly, and then sometimes you have runs (like mine on Saturday) where it's hot and your legs are feeling sluggish and you want to give up but you tough it out anyway.  Marriage will be the same way: you'll have periods where everything is great, but then you'll have some rough patches along the way (sickness, financial problems, career woes, etc.).

Future hubs and I are going to have a well-known Scripture passage read during our wedding.  Even if you're not Christian, this passage can still serve as a way to gauge your relationship.  Is my marriage (or my relationships with my parents, siblings, children, etc.) reflecting love in this way, even in the rough patches?

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, New International Version)

Best wishes to Linzi and J. Alabama as you start your new life together!

If you have any advice or well wishes for Linzi, be sure to visit her blog and leave a comment.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Foto Friday (with videos, too!)

My friend Rachel recently celebrated her 30th birthday, and she decided to do something fun and outrageous for her birthday party.  No, I'm not talking about skydiving (although she has done that... brave woman!).  I'm talking about the Pedal Pub.

Yes, it's a pub on wheels!  The Pedal Pub holds up to 16 people, plus the driver, and has 10 pedaling seats.  It's a great way to carbo-load while getting your sweat on!

First off, however, Rachel made dinner reservations for us at Fabulous Fern's in St. Paul.  Yum!

For gifts, Rachel requested 30 of something.  I gave her 30 mini Clif bars, 30 cat stickers, and 330 temporary tattoos.

Rachel and her fiance, Matt

Having fun with one of her 30 "gifts that came from the Dollar Store and use your mouth"

Seth and Laurie give Rachel 30 hugs and kisses
After dinner, it was time for the Pedal Pub.

Our driver

Riders have to provide their own alcohol, but there is a nice tap set up for a keg

Getting started down the street

We backed up traffic until those vehicles following us could pass us

Future hubs is having a good time as we head down Selby Avenue

Here's a video of us pedaling away...

... and heading downhill...

Those of us who sat on pedal seats got quite the workout!

Taking a breather
Rachel ordered a delicious German chocolate cake from Cafe Latte, so we made a stop along the way to pick it up and eat it on the Pedal Pub.

Singing "Happy Birthday" to our dear friend

Cutting the cake

Cake and Surly Hell (great beer, btw!)

Finger-licking good!

After consuming that delicious cake, we headed on our merry way again.

We cracked open the mini-keg of Bell's Oberon

These bikers didn't intimidate us!
We stopped at the Muddy Pig for a few drinks.  I had had enough beer at this point, and was content to watch the birthday girl take shots.

At the end of the night, we helped the driver get the Pub back onto the trailer so he could transport it to the garage.

Everyone had a great time on the Pedal Pub and sending our friend into her 30s with plenty of fun memories.

The crew
Have you ever done a pub crawl or something like the Pedal Pub before?  If so, what was your experience like?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Race Report: Red, White & Boom! TC Half-Marathon

Bear with me because this is gonna be a long post...

A 6:30 a.m. start time meant a 4:00 a.m. wake-up call for me.  I only got about 3 1/2 hours of sleep because some of my neighbors were setting off fireworks until the wee hours of the morning.  Ugh!

Future hubs and I headed over to northeast Minneapolis around 5:00 a.m. and found on-street parking (meters don't run on holidays, yay!) near the start of the course.  We were happy we didn't have to pay to park at a parking ramp.  I had picked up our race packets on Friday afternoon, so there wasn't much for us to do but wait until the start and chat with anyone we knew.  We were perhaps a tad bit early (sorry, Mark!).

Twin Cities in Motion added a team component to this race through Team Up for the Boom!  Teams of 2, 5 or 10 paid an extra fee ($10/person) to receive the following perks:
  • Separate porta-potties and bag check at the Team Up for the Boom! tent
  • An event-themed messenger bag
  • Special holiday-themed food after finishing the race
  • Team photo
  • A chance to win guaranteed entry into the Medtronic TC 10 Mile (held this fall) and other prizes
Mark and I decided to pair up as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.  And, as hinted in previous blog entries, we wore costumes.

The "RWB" on the front of our shirts stands for Red, White and Boom!
Besides the starry red headband, my other favorite part of my costume was my red sparkly skirt from Sparkle Skirts.  I loved wearing it and I had no "wardrobe malfunctions" during the race.  I just may order a blue sparkle skirt so I have one in my favorite color. :)

I was in costume from head to toe (and fingertips!)...

Thanks to Wells L for the nail polish inspiration!

Future hubs and I hung out at the Team Up for the Boom! tent before race start, chatting with some of our Team Ortho friends that were doing the race.  We got our team photo taken, checked our bags, and I hit up the porta-potties.  It was so nice to not have to wait in line (and I saw the lines that the other race participants had to endure... sooooo long!).  I also ran into an old friend of mine from college that I hadn't seen in over five years.  We spent some time catching up.  He just ran his first marathon (Grandma's Marathon in Duluth) a few weeks ago and did well.

Mark and I headed over to the start corral about 6:15.  We kissed, hugged and prayed for each other before going our separate ways.  I found the 2:00 pacer and noticed that three of the Team Ortho friends we chatted with before were nearby, so I made my way through the crowd to get to them.  I asked them what pace they were planning to run (most were gunning for 2:05-2:07), and when Juli mentioned that she was going to try for a sub-2, I stood by her.  I figured we could run together for a while.  We inched forward through the crowd so we were between the 1:50 pacer and the 2:00 pacer.

The horn sounded and we were off!  Juli and I didn't expend a lot of energy weaving around runners during this first mile.  I enjoyed watching the spectators lined along Main Street cheering on the runners.  We kept the pace easy during this first mile.

Here is the course, which winds through several neighborhoods in "Nordeast" (northeast Minneapolis), in case you were interested in checking it out:

Mile 1 - 8:40

The course turned onto Marshall St. and we picked up the pace just a little bit, but it still felt comfortable.  I'm not a very talkative runner, and I mentioned that to Juli.  She was fine with it.  She's a pacer for the Minnesota Pacers Pace Team, and she said she liked the break from the constant gabbing.

I enjoyed running past several old churches, restaurants and bars, and houses.  There was always something to see.  So many runners were wearing red, white and blue, and some were in costume as well, including a guy wearing a Spiderman costume.  He must have been roasting in that getup!

Mile 2 - 8:14

The sun was shining bright and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  Temps were in the upper 60s/low 70s at the start, but it was beginning to warm up.  Juli and I continued along and the pace still felt comfortable.  We walked through the first water stop at mile 2.5.

Few spectators lined the course, but that was because it was still so early in the morning.  Every once in a while, Juli would go into pacer mode and give me a tip, but we were content to run side by side and not chat.  Good tunes from my iPod filled my ears.

Mile 3 - 8:22

We continued along Marshall St. and then turned onto St. Anthony Parkway.  Trees and houses lined the road, providing some shade.  There was a slight downhill during this portion, so our pace picked up a little bit.

Mile 4 - 8:08

Juli took a gel at this point and I followed suit with a margarita-flavored Clif Shot Blok.  I chewed slowly, keeping my eye out for the next water stop that would come somewhere around mile 5.

Mile 5 - 8:20

We walked through the water stop, drinking as we went along, then started running again.  Next up was a small incline over a bridge, followed by a slight downhill and then another short hill.  We slowed the pace so we'd be able to run up both ascents.  Mission accomplished!  We were rewarded with a nice little downhill and some shade, as a golf course bordered the left side of the street.

More spectators lined the course at this point, particularly at the bridge, and several of them complimented me on my costume...

"Love the skirt!"
"Nice antenna!"
"Cute costume!"

Hearing all those remarks put a smile on my face, as well as Juli's.  I think she liked running next to someone who was popular.

A guy passed us wearing a shirt that said on the back, "If you pass me, then you are a Communist."  Worst shirt ever!

Mile 6 - 8:40

At this point, I was beginning to fatigue.  The temperature felt like it had warmed up 5-10 degrees since the start of the race.  I was looking forward to the next water stop.  The heat and the sunshine were getting to me.

The big hill, Deming Hill, had arrived.  Juli and I slowed our pace down and trucked up the hill, but a couple minutes in, I requested we take a 30-second walk break.  Juli advised to walk fast, not too slowly, so we did.  The walk break helped and we started running again, but I requested another 30-second walk break before the top of the hill.  Juli was beginning to check her Garmin a lot more frequently, and I could tell she was getting antsy to pick up the pace a little more, but fortunately she was patient with me as we made it up the hill.

Once we crested the hill, she said that my strategy for tackling the hill was smart.  The downhill afterward was steep, so it was hard to go really fast, but we did speed up.  I could tell, however, that getting back to the speed we had been at earlier in the race was going to be difficult for me.

Mile 7 - 9:17

Juli was feeling good and said that at mile 8, she wanted to pick up the pace.  I told her I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep up with her anymore.  The heat was wearing me out, and that hill didn't help either.  We walked through the water stop at mile 7.5, taking water.  I took a second cup and doused my arms to try to cool off.

Mile 8 - 9:01

Once we passed the mile marker, I wished Juli good luck and she took off, looking strong.  Just like that, my pacer was gone.  We didn't talk much, but I liked running by her side.  Her presence made the miles go by faster.

I walked for about a minute and took my second Shot Blok, then started running again but at a slower pace.  I walked again before the mile 9 marker.  I just couldn't keep a steady running pace anymore.

Mile 9 - 9:17

I'm so glad I was wearing a costume.  Seeing spectators smile when they saw what I was wearing and hearing their positive comments on my outfit made me smile and kept my spirits high.  I was struggling with the heat.

I tried to walk in areas where there weren't many spectators.  I'm sure that helped me keep my overall pace up.  More people were passing me, however, and that was disheartening to me.  I would run for 4-5 minutes, then walk for 30 seconds to a minute, even though the course now had a net downhill.

I walked through the water stop just before mile 10 and took a cup of Powerade this time.  I had another gel I could have taken, but I wanted some liquid electrolytes instead.  I doubt it helped me much.  I also grabbed a cup of water and got my arms wet again.  That cooled me down for a couple minutes.

Mile 10 - 9:58

Somewhere after the mile 10 marker, a lady was handing out small American flags.  I grabbed one and held onto it.  Eventually, I started looking for a young kid I could give the flag to.  That gave me something to focus on.

A lady passed me dribbling a basketball.  Seriously... who let that woman on the course?!  My gosh, she was so annoying.  I hated hearing the basketball strike the ground... bounce... bounce... bounce.  I turned up the volume on my iPod a little more to try to drown her out.

Mile 11 - 9:11

I want to be done running, I thought  The finish line can't come soon enough.  I kept looking at The Red Dragon, trying to figure out if I'd still be able to finish under two hours.  Math is difficult for me when I'm running, as I've mentioned in previous blog posts.

I grabbed two cups of water at the next water stop, one to drink and one to cool off my arms.  A little relief, but relief nonetheless.

We crossed the Plymouth Avenue bridge, and since a good chunk of that was uphill, I walked a lot.  I started running again once I crested the highest part of the bridge.  Ugh, it's so hot out!  Then, we turned onto West River Parkway.

I saw two kids with their mother along the parkway.  The little boy was holding a flag, but the girl wasn't.  I wanted her to have a flag to wave, too.  I ran up to the girl and held out the flag to her, saying "Here you go."  She looked at me tentatively, but then her mom said "Go on," and the girl took it.  The mom thanked me and then I took off.  I had the biggest smile on my face.

Seriously, I'm so glad I wore a costume.  Several runners even told me that they liked my costume, especially my sparkle skirt.  That really cheered me up.

Mile 12 - 10:22

I couldn't wait to be finished with the race.  I knew the Stone Arch Bridge was coming up soon, and my goal was to run across the entire bridge to the finish line.  I did not want to stop and walk at all.

Lots of spectators lined the bridge, but there was absolutely no shade.  Ugh... so hot!  It seemed like it took me forever to get to the finish line.

Mile 13 - 9:13

Keep going, Richelle!  You're almost there!  Finish strong!

I heard the announcer call my name (butchering my difficult last name like always).  As I crossed the finish line, I put my fist in the air.  Thank God, I'm done!

Final stretch - 8:37 pace (The Red Dragon said I covered a total of 13.21 miles.)

Here are my official stats:

Official finish time: 1:58:35
Average pace: 9:04/mile
Overall place: 658/1804
Gender place: 238/944
Division place: 45/189 (25-29 age group)

I made sure the man dressed in the Uncle Sam costume awarded me my finisher medal. :)  I really like the finisher medals this year... they have a nice design.

As I headed toward the food area, a woman stopped me: "Hi, I'm ______ from Twin Cities in Motion.  On behalf of TCM, we'd like to give you a Middle of the Pack Award."  TCM gives out prize packs to average runners during their biggest running events like Twin Cities Marathon and the TC 10 Mile.  Because I was a "middle of the pack" finisher and also because I was dressed festively for the race, I won a bag full of goodies.  A picture of them is at the end of the blog entry.  What a pleasant surprise!

This race had one of the best post-race food spreads ever!  Not only did they have water, bananas, rolls from Great Harvest Bread Company, and typical Minnesotan fare like Old Dutch potato chips and Pearson's salted nut rolls, but they also had chocolate milk, hot dogs and rocket pops.  The popsicles were my favorite and definitely cooled me off after the race.

Juli also found me in the finish area and congratulated me.  I later found out that if I had been able to keep up with her, I would have had a new half-marathon PR.  That's OK... it wasn't a PR day.

After stopping by the team tent to pick up my camera, I headed back to the finish line to wait for future hubs to finish his race.

I liked the tutus these ladies were wearing

Kim, a Team Ortho friend, finishes the race

Mark heads for the finish line, along with a married couple he ran with for a good portion of the race

Looking strong

Yay... all done!
Mark's official finish time was 2:52:27.

I was let back into the finish area so we could have our photo taken together.

I followed Mark through the food area.  This time, I grabbed a hot dog.

Mark grabbed one, too
At the team tent, several other goodies were waiting for us:

Mmmmm... cupcakes!

Watermelon and Powerade

The team gift: a messenger bag
I met some of the people Mark ran with during the race; they were a lot of fun.  Once we finished our food and picked up our stuff at the tent (the tent volunteers even gave us some extra water and milk), we headed home.  Ice baths awaited us, which helped speed recovery.

The swag

Close-up of the finisher medal and pint glass

Temporary tattoos!

Middle of the Pack Award: TCM cinch bag, RWB water bottle, beach towel and ball, socks, sunblock, cooling neck wrap, and a magnet

Love the magnet's quote!  The prize pack also included a $15 iTunes giftcard.
My goal to have fun at "the Boom" was achieved.  I LOVED wearing my costume and am glad it brought joy into other people's lives, even if it was for a split-second.  I'm pleased that even with the heat, I finished the race in under two hours.  I spent time with several Team Ortho peeps and got to experience the race with future hubs.  The swag was awesome and the Middle of the Pack Award was an unexpected blessing after a tough race.  I don't know if Mark and I will do this race next year because of the weather, but I'm glad we decided to do it this year.

Do you ever run a race with a pacer?
What has been your favorite post-race food?