Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Sunday Night evening on the eve of hope and productivity

I received a grant to research at the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton. They have some incredible late medieval and early modern sources about the Virgin Mary, and are relevant to my dissertation. I am placing a lot of hope and expectation in this trip. After my colloquium (an intensive workshop) in November, and facing suggestions for serious revision and restructuring in my dissertation, it just was hard to summon the motivation, and courage (yes, there is often the feeling of needing to be brave to write) to write and tackle the dissertation. The feelings of defeat, and discouragement, resonated a lot louder than my goals for completion and motivation. I’m trying to quiet those enough and find the New Year and new semester as motivation to get past this hump and mental block.

I am trying so hard to envision the finish line, even though it is over a year away. When it comes down to it, I’ve always had big goals, ones that require long-term planning and execution, but this is the longest. I’m going to be counting on more people for help, support, and encouragement, than I’ve ever demanded. Otherwise, if I just let it all fester in my head, accountable only to myself, my head will explode and I’ll burn out way too soon.
I want to finish I want to finish I want to finish I want to finish. I have to keep saying that to remember that this is actually the goal – my goal.
For the next two weeks, I’ll either be in the library or in my hotel room, with my laptop as my only roommate. I need to write and be productive, to go balls to the wall and crank out some decent material.
I hope I can look back at this trip with fondness and nostalgia. I’ll be able to link this trip with memories of solid writing and innovative thinking. When future grad students ask for advice, I want to cite this trip as inspiration, recalling with a smile, “Those were the golden days – I was able to accomplish so much and it changed my mentality for the dissertation in the final stretch.”
I recall two different New Year’s and new semesters, coincidentally, both odd years, like this one, where I took on a gung-ho attitude, and ultimately, had a profound impact on my life:
January 2011. January 10, 2011 was my first day of classes of the semester, and also, the first day of going gluten-free after my December 2010 diagnosis of celiac disease. I looked at everything as shiny and new, filled with possibilities. On that Monday, I was at the swimming pool by 7AM for my double-days of workouts (this was also my first day of training for my best marathon ever – Boston). I then cleaned up, dressed in professional drab of grey and black (I still have the top and remember the memories of wearing it on that day) for a directed readings course with one of my beloved professors. It was a grueling one-on-one one-hour session, every Monday morning at 9AM – what a way to start the week. But as the weeks progressed, our conversations progressed and the dialogue became all the more compelling. I became stronger mentally, I gained physical strength in my training, and my insides began to heal as I adjusted to my new diet. I ran a personal best of 3:27 later that spring, and found I had experienced a large mental shift in my thinking and training as a budding historian.
January 2013. I sat down and made a list of goals, with my then-boyfriend, now husband, by my side, agreeing to support me and push me. The big professional goal was to get my dissertation proposal passed. Over MLK weekend (now fast approaching once again), I sat in the desk he made for me, occasionally gazed out the window, and wrote the first draft of the proposal that eventually passed later that spring.

With both of these memories in mind, I am at the eve of another odd-year January semester full of hope and anticipation. I still need to write out some concrete goals, but the dream is out there. Now it’s time to make it count.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Not always all about the race: October running

It's been nearly a month since my last blog post, so these are just the greatest hits of October - can't believe it's over!
In continuation of my random fall season of signing up for races on a whim, I signed up for the Rock and Stroll 10k in Alexandria over Columbus Weekend. It poured and was windy - not the most ideal conditions. I was hoping to be fairly competitive (new race and the winner got $100), but I faded after 1 6:30 mile and ran 43:29 (for 7:00 pace). Again, given that I'm not doing any formal training, it was a fine race. I also think we accumulate a certain number of bad weather races - and I was overdue for crappy weather. I will say, the hot shower and post-race nap were some of the biggest perks of the race!
I do love to race, but I am also grateful that racing is not the only reason I love to run. The weekend after that race, I decided to go for a really long run. I had finally gotten back to covering 13 miles, and I thought I may as well add a few more. On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I traversed through Virginia on the Washington and Old Dominion trail, the miles just added up. I had a 2+ hour long running podcast (Marathon Talk) that served to keep me company, as funny British marathoners Martin Yelling and Tom Williams bantered on and on. As I went further down the path into Reston, the people who were just out for a light stroll dissipated, and it was so quiet and peaceful. Not isolated enough that there was no one in sight (don't worry, Mom!), but just peaceful and no need to hear cyclists cry out "on your left" or just glide by like they were on the Tour de France. My legs felt loose and free, and I felt like i could just go on forever. In the end, it ended up turning into a 16 mile run, and while I stumbled into the house tired, it was the good kind of tired. It had been over six months since I had gone that far, and it put me up to 51 miles for the highest mileage I had ran in again, about six months. Feeling strong and happy.
Heaven on earth
I had the honor of pacing one of my dearest friends, Jenny, in the Marine Corps Marathon. She had decided that this was going to be her last marathon. I ran with her for her first marathon four years ago (Marine Corps 2010), I paced her to a BQ at Marine Corps 2011, and she then went to Boston to participate in one of the great races of the world, only to be met with a terrorist attack shortly after she finished. That was not the end to her story, so she came back to DC for her last hurrah, her victory lap. She ran 4:16, and while there were moments of pain as she crossed the bridge from DC to Virginia at the 20 mile mark, we crossed the finish line together hand in hand. It was a run of friendship and a great way to celebrate four years of her hard work.
Me and my friend Jenny after she finished the Marine Corps Marathon
While 50,000 people were lining up on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge this morning for the NYC Marathon, trying to block the 40mph gusts of wind, I went out for my own jaunt around Virginia. I had in my head to run 16, and it was only going to take some heart to make that happen.  It was cold, my legs were tired, and it seemed like a pipe dream. Was I doing this for the right reasons? Was I just trying to show that I still have game? Or was this also a test of endurance? It wasn't until at least 8 miles in that I felt confident in my ability to get through the run, and it felt like the wind was blowing in my face no matter which direction I went. I kept thinking about New York, and those people were in it for the long run, literally, they were going to spend all morning, and into the afternoon, trying to capture this American dream. Surely I had it in me too. It wasn't glamorous, my victory strides back into my apartment complex, and I stumbled in, relieved for it to be over. It brought me up to another 51 mile week, and gave me more confidence that yes, I can enjoy running just for running's sake, and yes, I can still go far (although not as fast as I used to). It's just not always all about the race('bout the race, 'bout the race, no treble!)
I will find my racing mojo again, but in the meantime, I still have a running mojo. This fall is cold, but just too damn beautiful to let these short days just slip away, faster than the leaves can change and litter the ground.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rolling hills

Rolling hills provide some of the best terrain for training. Runners gain strength as their legs work to climb up, only to trash their quads on the descent back down. One can really get into a nice groove with the undulating hills. While flat is always equated with fast, the hills prevent muscles from stiffening up, from repeating the same action time and time again. One of my favorite DC races, the Pike's Peek 10k has these rolling hills, and that's where my 10k PR came from. Even if you are running on the same road, the rolling hills change things up, and provides an interesting view along the way.
Running, writing, and the dissertation all overlap in so many ways. So often, many people have made running analogies when talking about the dissertation, including the over-used "It's a marathon, not a sprint." I know what they are getting at: the arduous work, the moments of doubt, the joy at the end. However, I have finished six marathons: all under four hours. I started regularly running September 2008 and completed my first marathon six months later. This Ph.D. is taking a whole lot longer. I even got an e-mail the other day with the following headline: The two do share a lot in common.
Both running and writing take a similar emotional toll: a veritable roller coaster ride of emotions.The excitement and anticipation in the beginning, the fear in the middle, the triumph in the end.
I'm rolling along in my dissertation, but with that comes the roller coaster of feelings. Last week, I was on a footnote scavenger hunt (a book referenced another book that I thought would be useful). As I read the author's analysis of one of the sources integral to my dissertation, some of the comments that author made started to sound too familiar - was part of my argument already made by someone? I kept reading, closely, waiting to see where her winding road of an argument went. Whoosh! It just just a slight turn, focusing on a different area, and I was saved! Phew! Plus, I could factor her points into my argument, and show how there was a clear distinction. Now that my stomach's knots could unravel, I went back and started reading the chapter from the beginning. I was hooked now, taking notes and the synapses and neurons were firing away. My muscles relaxed and I moved on.  
That up and down, all around emotion has now become a regular part of my dissertation life. The highs are great, the lows are what wake up my brain in the middle of the night. But the promise of the finish line is what keeps me moving. I have two friends who, all three of us could potentially finish and graduate at the same time. The thought of the three of us, in full academic regalia, standing in front of the National Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (that is where commencement is held for us), smiling and relieved from crossing this finish line, is often what gets me to return to the keyboard and the book again and again. 

Off to make another climb...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

When it really is a fun run: Our Lady of Good Counsel 5k 2014

This is just short and sweet, as all as my running late has been:
In continuing my fun fall, I've picked up where I last left off: about 5 days of running per week, 40 miles for the past 3 weeks. This week, I cut it down to 35 miles, figuring take 3 steps forward, 1 step back. That's what I've always done: 3 harder weeks, and then a cutdown week. 
I did cutdown this week, but I also signed up for my church's fun run. I figured I would treat it as a race, again, without doing any real speed work, but just building back consistent running and a base. My church is only 3 miles from where I live, so in keeping green, I ran over to the race on Saturday. It's funny: I've done so many road races of all shapes and sizes. Local races that gather a few hundred people, regional races of a couple thousand, and the international-size Boston Marathon. Each bring their own character, and that even changes year to year. This was as home-grown as you can get. No bibs, no chip-timers, no mile markers. There was also a fun 1 mile run/walk for the kids, and they were all so excited getting ready for it. As I was warming up, I could hear a few of them chattering. One of them said "My mom does marathons..." and then proceeded to explain to the others how far that was, and it was so cute hearing them so impressed. These were also kids who would later cheer for their teachers who ran in the race: looks like they had some good role models. Something to keep in mind for the future. I lined up next to some high school girls and their mom (who asked what cross-country team I was on...she was shocked to learn I was 28) in the front of the oh, say, 50-60 people who were there for the race. With this being a church-sponsored race, it began with a prayer - always a nice way to start the day. And with the ringing of the school bell, we were off.
I had a feeling going into this race that I would do very well, as this race wasn't really publicized beyond our church. And within about 100 meters of starting, I was the third person, not third woman, but third person. Guy #1 was way in the distance, but I spent the first mile or so chasing after guy #2, then passing him strongly with a 6:14 first mile. This turned into more of a solo run that happened to be accompanied by the occasional police officer blocking off traffic or signaling which way to turn. It was a beautiful fall morning: high 50s, sun was shining, and I was running on the streets and trails of my new home in Vienna. Again, I still feel like it's a lot of work, and the second mile (according to my watch) was 6:45, so clearly even pacing wasn't a factor. I finished as the second person in 19:05, but my watch said 2.9 not quite a full 5k. That's 6:34 pace, and the equivalent of a 20:23 5k. I got a $30 gift certificate to Chili's, and then ran home, stretching out the run to make the day's work add up to 9 miles for the day. 
It was what it was, a fun run. Good to remember to support all races: big and small.
And speaking of big: amazing to hear that there is a new world record in the marathon - 2:02:57! I was in Boston in 2011 when the world best was set (2:03:02) and I remember being so stunned by that. Similarly, I was shocked to wake up this morning and read about the first ever sub 2:03 marathon at Berlin - the human body can do amazing things!
I was sad to hear that Shalane Flanagan did not break the American Record at Berlin, despite setting a new PR and coming in 3rd. She put it all out there: telling the press that that was her primary goal, and running gutsy (like she always does) in her best effort. Her post-race remark provides good food for thought for all of us: “This will aid me in future marathons,” she said. “Progress is always good, and this year I’ve dropped four minutes off my marathon time. I’ll look at my training and maybe work on being a little bit tougher in those last few miles. I'll take another shot at some point. Sometimes, it takes a couple of swings.” 
Keep on swinging!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Getting back in the saddle: Navy Federal 5k 2014

The last time I raced was April 27th, and the last speed work session I did was Easter Vigil (April 19th). That was the last time I was on a regular schedule for training, and I've said enough times already that there were enough valid reasons this summer to fall off the wagon. But, in seeing people post on Facebook their progress, and seeing great success from friends, it has been pulling me back into the desire to consistently get runs in. I do have to acknowledge and recognize that it may be the first year that I don't nab any PRs (unless I sign up for some obscure distance that I've never done before) since I started running. I'm making as much peace with that, as much as my type A tendencies will allow. That being said, I decided to sign up for a 5k, certain of completing the distance, uncertain where I stood in terms of time. I figured that while I was absent of speed for 5 months, something still had to be preserved. After all, some of the great pregnant athletes back and were able to regain their speed after months of running slow. I don't know scientifically how much fitness you lose and at what rate, but I figured I couldn't have lost it all. And yes, it probably would make more sense to get some solid speed workouts in (at least some 90 second fartleks thrown in), but I just wanted to race, get a sense truly where my fitness was at, and then go from there.

So, on Saturday I ran the Navy Federal 5k. I ran it last year in 19:59 and came in second. I knew it was a slow course, because that time came after a 19:10 PR and I was in really good shape. I figured since I came under 20 by the skin of my teeth last year, sub 21 was a good A goal, with sub 22 as a reasonable B goal. I threw in a few sprints in my shake-out run yesterday, hoping the legs would remember what a sub 7:00/mile feels like. I was happy that we live close enough that I could run there for my warmup. I positioned myself near the front of the start, saw two women who looked comparable in terms of general appearance, stood near them, and hoped that I wouldn't embarrass myself too much.

Boom! And we were off - in the first minute, as people are swarming around, sprinting like it's a 200 meter dash, and I'm realizing that I am just hoping to hang on. The two women go way out in front of me, one about 200 meters ahead, another about 100. In the first mile, I ran alongside one woman and passed her, and then felt very comfortable in third place. It was a welcome change of temperature - low 60s and cloudy - summer is finally ending! I went through the first mile in 6:29 - whoa! Not setting records by any means, but haven't seen a 6 in months and months. I've run some races where I've been somewhat uncertain of my ability to hold a pace, but there was a big question mark floating above me as I ran - wondering if this was too ambitious and fearing an impending blow-up. Things were relatively spread out at this point, so it was my goal to just pick off guys one by and just maintain this pace. Mile 2: 12:59 - nearly dead on, and looking like I'm squarely in third and able to hit my A-goal. This part of the course has a lot of turns and some hills, so while my pace slowed down, I was making good progress and passing a few guys. The last part of the course (last half mile or so) is part of one of my regular running routes, so I jumped in full-speed, passing 2 more guys in the final stretch and was pretty pleased with my finish:
6:42 pace
3rd woman and 19th overall (out of 808)

Wahoo! While it is the slowest 5k I've run in 3 years, it was less than a minute slower than I ran it last year. I broke even financially, as I got $25 for third place in a big check, a trophy, and had a great morning. I did look ridiculous with all of this in a drawstring bag as I ran home, check in one hand, bag bouncing behind me, but it almost must've been pretty funny to see. It's Wednesday when I'm finishing this, and my legs are still a bit sore - proof it's been a while since they've pushed that hard.
I need to start doing regular workouts again, in addition to just easy runs, but this was overall a great way to ease back into racing. Looking forward to more races this fall!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A decade ago...

On August 28, 2004, I moved into Hanselman 340 at the College of the Holy Cross for my freshmen year of college. I was a bundle of nervous, excitement, every emotion possible. I was excited to meet my roommate and set up my room (we're sitting on my bed), I was nervous about going somewhere where I didn't know anyone or my way around, I had mixed feelings about leaving my family behind, the friends I had known and loved for years. But this was the college I had dreamed of going to and I finally arrived. I knew I wanted to study history, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, and beyond that, I didn't know much.
First day of college a decade ago
Those first few days were a blur of orientation mixers, ice breakers, hall meetings, first classes, and a thousand feelings. And this place became my home for four years:
View of campus from my room
It was at Holy Cross where I became a better writer, it was where I turned into a medievalist, I became an RA and interested in student affairs, I sang in three choirs and made a lot of great friends. I took classes with professors whose books and assignments still resonate with me today. It's because of them that I dropped the idea of law school (what a relief) and decided to become a professor.
Our school gave us journals on the first day of school, with check-in prompts that we could answer a few times per semester. I always did those prompts, and wrote in-between those as well, reflecting on who I was becoming, my fears and concerns (grades and my future were the big winners - some things don't change), and it's all bound up in a purple journal at my parents house. I've looked at it from time to time, and all of the emotions come crashing right back. I wrote about wanting to find love, and meeting the great guy. That didn't happen in college, but nearly a decade later.
I had concerns and interests about staying in shape: trying to go to the gym a few times a week, but without any sense of purpose or real enjoyment. 
As I was reflecting back about the past ten years, and also reading about the class of 2018 preparing for their arrival to Holy Cross, it came to my attention that I wasn't the only one reflecting on the passing of a decade.
It was also the tenth anniversary of when Meb Keflezghi earned the silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Marathon and brought home a medal for the first time in nearly three decades. He blogged about his decade as well: and while the whole article was excellent, it was his conclusion that really stuck with me:
Some things take longer than we want to achieve or accomplish, but just because they don’t happen in your time, doesn’t mean they will never happen. Never give up on your dreams, but also never give up working to make your dream become a reality.
And if that's something I can remember for the next decade, and also advise the newly-arrived class of 2018, it's that accomplishments and progress take time: the dream doesn't become a reality overnight. Grad school has been a slow process: yes with peaks along the way, but it's been years in the making, and the end isn't quite in sight. I did not meet my husband in college, and there were years of wondering when that would happen too. I did not graduate college thinking that within a year, I would run a marathon, let alone qualify for Boston in eighteen months. 
There are bumps along the way, and there are days when the dream seems out of reach, and on those days, it's hard to see whatever medal of victory, be it a marathon medal, a degree, a family, dangles ahead of us. I know I've had those days of doubt and uncertainty. But on a weekend like this, when I've just come home from my honeymoon (Bahama cruise - it was wonderful!) and begun my third year of teaching, it's also important to remember the joy of hitting those milestones as well. And hopefully in a decade, I can dig this up and smile, laughing at what's happened from 2014-2024!
Bahama cruise!
A decade later, still can fit in this shirt, new roommate!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Relief in the Run

Today I ran for the first time since Friday morning. Nothing to write home about, except that the four miles ran this evening were the first four miles I've run in Virginia since June 20th. I had many great runs in Easton, PA. I ran up and down the Lehigh Valley, winding around campus, seeking escape, peace, and quiet, albeit briefly. But always tethered to me was my phone, and not just for safety reasons or to listen to something. In my job as site director, I was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and was the end of the line on site in terms of the final say in a key decision. Yes, there were fantastic deans, a counselor, health staff, residential staff, instructional staff, office staff, campus safety, all involved as well. But this was my site to lead and to run, and I took that responsibility very seriously. 280 families each session trusted us to take care of their children, and while I don't have children myself, I know that they are the most precious cargo. And knowing that made me extra sensitive to the ding of a text, the ringing of the phone. So in going to sleep, the phone was always next to my ear, and in running, the headset was in so I could take a call while running and turnaround if need be.

All in all, we had a good, fun, and most importantly safe summer. There were some bumps along the way, but all in all, both the staff and students grew and developed through this process. Some may have went home with bumps and bruises, but everyone went home in one piece. When I woke up on Saturday, the day after the kids were gone, I was still on site, and my staff was too, and there was a sigh of relief. We did it, the kids are alright. And then we packed everything up, and I headed home that night. What a happy reunion I had with my husband and my dog - such a wonderful reception! And I went to bed that night with another sense of relief and weight off my shoulders -- we all made it.
Since I've been home, I've worked on catching up on sleep, as it's mainly been 6 hours (or less) per night for seven weeks. There have been some naps of sweet surrender, finally just letting my body relax again, after tense shoulders and nights sleeping lightly.

And today, I laced up for the first time since getting home. Just four miles right around eight minute pace in the light rain. While I still brought the phone with me, there wasn't that concern of the ringing or wondering, worrying what was going on while I was on the road. My head was clear, my feet felt light, and the open road lay before me. There was only relief in this run, relief to be done, relief to think about the road ahead of me.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How many wagons can you be on? Falling off and down, and getting back on and up

It's been almost two months since my last blog, and since I started blogging back in 2008, I have never missed a month of blogging. So, with July almost gone, the quick and dirty of the last seven or so weeks:

  • I spent the first 5 weeks of married life teaching my "Middle Ages at the Movies" history class, which was a good first experience teaching a new course. I got to develop some new lectures and come up with some new writing assignments. We also enjoyed catching up with some friends a bit, once we were done with all of the wedding stuff. 
  • On June 22, I packed up and headed off to Easton, PA to return to my summer job in a program for gifted children at Lafayette College. While it was my ninth summer with the program, I was headed to a new site as the director of the program. In layman's terms, I am the equivalent of a principal or headmaster of a program for almost 300 students, working with 80 staff members. Needless to say, there were many butterflies about such an undertaking. Yes, I had lots of experience with the program, but the promotion brought on new levels of responsibility. 
  • Because of this, I've had to be honest with myself and put running on the back burner. I did manage to get in two weeks of 40 miles per week, but really, I've been floating around the 30 mpw mark. It's the least amount of training I've put in since I got into this whole running thing nearly six years ago. I'm trying to remind myself that something has to give in order for me to find some sort of balance. And it's not that the running has fallen completely by the wayside, but there has been no speedwork or true consistency since early May. I wouldn't say I'm out of shape, but I'm not at the level I have grown accustomed to. I also am trying to reassure myself that I haven't completely blown off 2014 as a running year. I do hope to do some races in the fall, but it is very possible that this is the first year that I don't set any PRs - I just need to get back in the groove and then things will eventually fall back into place.  I may just need to wait until 2015 to really hammer out some races.
  • With all of this, I arrived in Easton, PA in June and set up shop. We have already completed one session so far, with nearly 300 children completing the program, and are halfway through our second session, with another group of 280 students. It's been a lot of work, but very rewarding too. I definitely am behind on sleep and schoolwork, but just throwing myself entirely into work here. I've never had a job I've loved as much as this one, and I hope that after I complete my Ph.D. I can find a job like this that I can do year round.
  • So with this job, I haven't had as much time to get in regular running, which has been fine. I set out Tuesday morning for an easy 6 mile run, and 5 miles in, SPLAT. Totally wiped out: banged my both my knees, my hand, my head and nose - lots of blood. Boo to the car that drove by around me and didn't stop to check to see if I was okay. I had a mile walk back to campus, which was just very uncomfortable, and the blood was going down my legs. Shuffling back like a zombie at 7AM, head hung in embarrassment. I have no idea what happened - I was fine one second, then on the ground the next. Thankfully, we have a nurse on site 24 hours a day, so she got me all cleaned up. I was really sore for the rest of the day, shuffling around campus like I ran a marathon, but with a lot more wincing. I'm feeling a lot better, and hope to do a small run tomorrow.
  • All of this is to say, sometimes you fall off the (running/writing) wagon, and sometimes you just fall down. But, regardless of the scars, blood, bruises, and bumps, you just get back up and on the wagon again. Looking forward to riding the wagon to the end of a successful summer!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Life as Mrs. Medievalist

Status update: Newlywed bliss is awesome. Thank you for all of the well-wishes in my previous post. A few of you wondered if I was blogging on my honeymoon. Nope! I was offered to teach a new class this summer.  A few days after the wedding, I started teaching "The Middle Ages at the Movies" - a new course that I designed. I'm lecturing on the historical background that inspired movies such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Lion in Winter, Braveheart, and Kingdom of Heaven, and my students are reading the primary sources affiliated with the time period of each film.
It's been a great experience so far (3 weeks in), and I'm very grateful both to my department for offering me the opportunity to design my own class, and for my husband (love saying that!) to patiently delay our honeymoon. After the course is over (it's a five-week course), I'll be returning to my program for gifted children. The past three years, I've been in beautiful Santa Cruz, CA as Academic Dean. This year, I was very pleased to be promoted to Site Director at a different site in Easton, PA. It is a great opportunity career-wise, and I look forward to getting to experience a new state to live in (for seven weeks).
Needless to say, the first twelve weeks of marriage are quite jam-packed. After that, we are looking forward to taking our honeymoon - a week-long cruise to the Bahamas! Neither of us have been on a cruise, so it is going to be a lot of fun.
On the running-front, there isn't much to report. I haven't had a lot of time/interest to train specifically for anything. I've run 40 miles per week for the first two weeks of married life, and I'm hoping to consistently hover around that number until later in the summer, when I'll pick things up again. I have no idea of goal races for the fall - there's too many (exciting) things happening this summer!

Monday, May 26, 2014

The best day yet

Regardless if you run, dance, sing, play sports, whatever you do for fun - there's a moment of anticipation before "the big dance." The curtain is about to go up, the starting gun is about to go off, and there's that final moment to catch your breath, look around, take in the moment, and realize the magnitude of what's about to happen. You know things will be different thereafter, that this is a game changer.
That's what it felt like before my first marathon, and before I walked into my oral exams for my doctoral program. And that's what it felt like when I stood in front of my childhood home on the morning of my wedding. Everything was planned out - I could visualize a lot: the church, the dancing, the dress, my friends and family there, seeing the man who will be my husband, but the anticipation was tremendous.
Seventy of our dearest family and friends were going to be there for the big day, and I knew in order to have a clear head, I would need to go for a short run. Running has seen me through some of my other big days and put me on the right foot (pun intended), so why wouldn't it kick off my big day? It was one of the best runs of my life. 4 miles just under eight minute pace on a beautiful sunny morning. All of my favorite songs were playing, my heart was racing as I ran through the streets of my childhood. I felt like I should've been clanging a bell and shouting "It's my wedding day!" I had a big smile on my face and was bopping around as I was running, I may have looked ridiculous - or just in love! (Cue either "aww" or Liz Lemon eye roll). 
Me with my family
It's hard to sum up my wedding day - even the pictures and video won't do justice. But things I'll never forget:

  • That first rush of butterflies when I woke up on my wedding morning.
  • Quiet time with my mom before the day really began.
  • Getting my hair done with my fabulous bridesmaids.
  • Listening to music and sitting on my childhood bed with my bridesmaids as we got ready
  • Finally getting into the dress and having it fit perfectly
  • That second rush of adrenaline when the limo pulled up to the house and it was time to go to the church
  • The moment of the doors opening and seeing my soon-to-be husband for the first time
  • The joy of walking down the aisle with my dad and seeing all of my family and friends there
  • Greeting Pat at the front of the altar in the company of a friend of mine (our celebrant was a friend of mine from grad school)
  • The joy of standing on the altar and facing everyone, and all of the other special moments in mass
  • My brother beautifully doing one of the readings
  • Stepping down for the sign of peace with our families
  • Being introduced as Mr. and Mrs. for the first time
  • Taking pictures around my hometown, even stopping traffic for a dip in the middle of our main street
  • Greeting everyone at the reception, including family and friends I hadn't seen in years
  • Our first dance (song: You are the Best Thing - Ray Lamontagne)
  • Dancing with my dad
  • Really, all of the dances - my grandma even danced to the Cupid Shuffle!
  • The beautiful toasts from our families
  • Our delicious gluten free cake
Me and my best friend and maid of honor
Dipping in the streets of Spencerport
  • The joy of having nearly all of our favorite people in the same room
    You may kiss the bride!
    Delicious cake!
It really can't be articulated. All of those marathons and PRs had given me a sense of joy and satisfaction, but it was nothing like this. My marathons were all solo adventures. Yes, I had the support of family and friends, but this was the starting line at the newest race - our marathon life together. And for part of the day, I was thinking this was the best day ever, which I told my husband. But he said "Do you really want this to be it? We still have a lot of living to do. How about 'best day yet'?" And I liked that so much more. 
I'm just over a week into life as a Mrs., and it's pretty sweet. Marital bliss in the early miles of our marriage - looking forward to all of the other mile markers ahead.