Monday, June 30, 2014

Back to business

Hey guys, it's back to your regularly scheduled programming this week and wanted to fill you in on the past week after the wedding in Provincetown!  It was a busy week and my workout schedule was a bit off.  Let's start back at the Cape...

Monday morning I got my self out of bed and down to the beach for a Boot Camp class on the sand that was a few blocks down from the hotel I was staying at.  Some of my uncles' friends told me about it the night before and I (drunkenly) told them I would be there.  I mean, I do love boot camp classes, but half way through the sit ups, the drinks from the night before were not feeling too good sloshing around in my stomach!

However, I was really happy I went and it was a cool class.  I am a big believer in doing what you say you are going to do and being true to your word.  I said I would be at the class the night before, so I was going to be there!

It might be weird to write this, but one of the things that I like about myself is my independence and friendliness.  I know many people would never have texted friends they made the nights before to meet up for boot camp.  Or earlier this summer when I went to the wedding in New Jersey alone and connected with people once I was there.  I guess it's a factor in having moved to a new city alone those 6 years ago or the fact that I've been single a long time or it's just part of who I am, but I like that part of me.  There is too much fun and cool stuff in the world to not take life by the horns!

After the boot camp, I hung out with my family for a bit before the 5 hour drive straight back to Albany, while stopping at Mary Lou's again for some iced coffee!

Tuesday I slept in a bit and made the decision to run during lunch time.  Since I didn't run on Monday, I was due for a run on Tuesday at lunch, doing a quick 3 miles and then after work traveled to Lake George for the night for work.  My running schedule continued to be off, because I missed the Wednesday morning run with Jess as I was up at Lake George.  I moved the Wednesday run to the evening after work where I got caught in a rainstorm!  It was just drizzling when I started raining but pretty soon BUCKETS were coming down and it was pouring.

Believe it or not, I kind of enjoyed it though.

The only problem with the unexpected rainstorm was that I had plans for after the run!  Usually if I am just doing 3 miles, I can maybe get away with doing a body shower and drying my hair and making myself somewhat presentable.  I knew I was just going to be hanging out with girl friends, but it still was in a public place... However, I showed up I think looking like a wet dog, with a mix of work clothes and workout clothes on, because it was whatever I had in my bad that was dry!  I met friends on Wednesday night to celebrate a lovely bachelorette we had in our group with a quick toast of drinks and some yummy food.  For anyone who is local, Cella Bistro is a great spot for after work drinks and snacks!

Thursday was an awesome day and I was going to use it as a rest day but after feeling guilty about a big lunch (eaten while watching the World Cup - go Team USA!) I went to the local track near me after work.  I've been wanting to check it out and see what the scene is, maybe do some laps, try out some speed work, etc.  I spent a little while there doing some exercises and running 2 miles.  There were some incredibly fit people there, just frog jumping over the hurdles and doing other amazing physical feats, but aside from that, it wasn't intimidating and definitely somewhere I would return for a work out!

Following the track I went to the grocery store for the first time in what felt like forever in preparation of cooking!!  I have been struggling to get back on track eating.  I was doing pretty well before going to Provincetown for the weekend and I am not back in action again.  I promised myself that I would eat healthy for ONE week.  I know that once I am in a groove it's easier to get going, so I am trying to see if it works to mentally trick myself by making the pledge saying "just one week" and going from there.

But man, did I pick a weekend to start eating healthy.  It was a PERFECT ice cream weekend.  And I know more than anyone that ice cream can be a part of a healthy diet, but I didn't want to indulge in junk on the first weekend of my promise.  However, I did have a great weekend, despite that it was ice cream less.  On Friday night I ate out with some friends at the Barge in Albany.  I am a huge fan of the Barge.  I really like their food and drink options and it's a fun atmosphere and view!  This is actually where we ate for my birthday last year.

Following dinner, fourth of July fireworks officially started in the Capital Region!

Saturday consisted of a 9 mile run in honor of my friend Kelly.  I met another friend, who was actually very, very close with Kelly and the two of us ran 5 miles together.  It was a nice pace and I really enjoyed running with someone new and making the day about something positive.

I also still have not run double digit miles since the marathon.  I had that one day where I gave up on my run and I did the Tough Mudder, which was 10 miles also, but not really running.  I am getting nervous about tackling double digits again and need to remember some of the basics.  Getting enough sleep.  Hydrating.  And eating the right kind of pre run fuel.  I love some cereal, milk, banana, and berries before a run, which is what I did on Saturday morning.

Some errands.  Lots of relaxing.  And a trip out for drinks in Saratoga with some friends.  Sunday was cleaning and reorganizing and starting to feel like a normal person again in my apartment in Albany, rather than a nomad with really dusty floors.  I did a good job sticking to Weight Watchers points on Saturday and Sunday, which can sometimes be really hard for me.  I am still loving my smoothies and enjoying a lazy weekend day as the time to have one.

Since I started training for the marathon I would make one in the morning before going out to run and bring it with me in the car, then after my run it would still be cold and creamy and ready to enjoy.  However, now that the temperatures have risen from below zero to in the 70s in the mornings, even after a 3-mile run, the smoothie will sort of just be all liquidy, which is far less enjoyable to me.  So for now, it's weekend smoothies for me for the most part!

However, I made myself another fun treat for the mornings on Sunday.  I brewed a whole bunch of blackberry tea and then put it in a container to keep in the fridge and now I have delicious home brewed blackberry iced tea to take with me in the mornings!  I am SO excited about this.

And speaking of those hot mornings, today was a humid one.  Someone remind me to pack a towel in my car when I go out for runs because I am more and more becoming a total sweat monster and getting my car nasty even just on the short ride from the park where we meet in the mornings to work.  Nice, huh?

So, with one last thing, I'll wrap up this random post.  A week or so ago when I posted a picture to Facebook, someone asked me about the training plan I have at my desk.  This was something that I put together a few months ago to help get me through the marathon, Ragner, half marathon, etc. that I all have coming up.  It is essentially just the same 18-week training plan I did for the Paris Marathon, but just adjusted with races that I have scheduled.  I am using this as a loose guide as to what I am running on a daily basis, because I need something on a piece of paper to get me out the door.  I've now been consistently running over the mileage on the plan, which makes me feel good but I don't want to wear myself out either.

I am amending this as I go to build in some speed work, and perhaps 2x a day runs when the Ragner relay gets closer.

Anyways, that's all for now.  Cheers to a short week and go Team USA!

Friday, June 27, 2014

A few thoughts about running

1.  On Wednesday, within about 5 minutes, two different friends sent me the Buzzfeed article, "21 Secrets Runners Won't Tell You."  I thought it was funny in itself that two separate friends from different parts of life thought of me and sent it to me, but also some of the items are very true!  One of the majorly talked about items on this list is nipple chafing -- which -- I think is a bigger issue for guys than for girls, however, it made me laugh thinking back to the Paris Marathon and the advice that the marathon booklet gave us.  "Prepare bandages for your tits if needed."  Gotta love the French!

2.  I still have mixed feelings about being called a "runner."  Many days I am very proud of it.  Many days I feel like a fraud.  And many days it just feels pretentious.  I ran into a coworker the other day who asked if I had been running a lot and proceeded to tell me a little story from his "10 mile run yesterday evening..." WHICH, is fine, and this guy is an intense athlete.  But, a midweek 10-mile run?? And you're just saying it like it's a casual thing??  10 miles midweek was the PEAK of my marathon training and I am pretty sure I talked about it and obsessed about it to anyone within walking distance of me.  I am pretty sure I crankily bitched out a coworker because I hadn't eaten enough afterwards and then had to sneak away from work and sit down for a bit on the floor in the back closet at a trade show in Barcelona.  Runners are so pretentious...

3.  That being said, have you ever heard this joke?

"How do you know when someone runs a marathon?"
"Oh they will tell you..."

4.  I am about to start marathon training again and I am a bit nervous about it.  How did I do it last time around?  Jess is trying a new training plan from what we did before and I am sticking with what worked the first time around.  However, I don't know what my goal should be for this next race.  I honestly don't know if I can beat my last time of 4:37.  Before my goal was to finish, and I did.  With a great time!  So what should I aim for this time around?  The course is going to be different and hillier.  There will be less people and less adrenaline.  I'm scared, guys.

5.  Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of my friend Kelly passing away.  What was so horrible and ironic about Kelly getting sick when she did was that she was working so hard at getting healthy.  Doing Weight Watchers, losing weight, getting active again.  She wanted to run so badly and one of the last things she said to me was to run every day for her.  If you can, get out tomorrow and run, or walk, or bike, or do something active in memory of my friend Kelly.

Be thankful for everything you have and have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Provincetown Wedding Recap: Part 2

Sunday morning was the first morning in a long time that I was able to wake up without an alarm and without somewhere to be early in the morning.  Because I was out drinking of those reasons, I took advantage of that fact and had a lazy morning in bed.  Finally rising around 9:30 a.m. and grabbing breakfast at the hotel, before laying out on the beach by the water.  Tough life, right?

I then wanted to get some movement in for the day, so I took my bike, which I'd brought with me from Albany for about a 10 mile bike ride along the same hilly bike path on the dunes as the day before.  Although I had just gone up and down the same path, it felt different on bike rather than running and I thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the ride, the breeze from pedaling, and the little breaks you get biking when you go down hills :)

When I got back I got a sandwich with my mom for lunch again, and then we proceeded to get dressed and ready for the wedding!  It was really fun to get dressed together with my mom, brother, sister, and brother-in-law... it was like prom prep family style.  The last family wedding we had was my sister and her husband's, which was about 5 years ago so we were all very excited to be dressed up snazzy and dolled up together.

At 3:00 p.m. we went down to where the wedding was taking place, which happened to be right at the Red Inn where we were staying.  It was cool to see the same area where we had been hanging out a lot the past day be turned into a beautiful wedding venue overlooking the ocean.

The ceremony was supposed to start at 3:30 so the next half hour was spent sipping champagne, taking lots of pictures, and admiring how beautiful my family members all clean up!

The dress I wore was one that I actually had made for me when I was in China!  Since I haven't gotten around to writing about that trip yet, I haven't shared this I guess, but I had some clothes custom made for me!  I picked out the pattern, fabric, design, belt, etc. of this dress and they made it just for me in 3 days.  I loved wearing it to my uncles wedding and loved the compliments that I got from so many people!  One of my uncles' friends and I sort of matched, which I totally loved, and if we were a couple, we may have won best dressed :)

At 3:30 the ceremony started and Steve and Colin looked so handsome in their suits.  Seriously amazing.

And it wasn't long after the ceremony started that we were all in tears.  They were married by a "celebrant" who had done interviews with each of them separately and then wrote out their "love story."

She talked through their story, which included the story of how they first met (it's a good one!), how they first knew they were falling for each other, what they love about one another, and what they want for their future.  It was full of serious moments, heartfelt moments, and funny moments, like when she talked about all the family memories at Waukewan that Colin has now been a part of over the years.  So much of what she said rang true because Colin has been such an important part of our family for so many years now.  At this point, I cannot imagine things without him.  Our family would not be the same without him.  If any two people are truly meant to be together, it is Steve and Colin.

They have been wearing rings for many years now so the exchange of rings wasn't a new thing for them.  However, they something called a "ring warming" which I found really beautiful.  While the celebrant told their love story, their rings were passed around to all of the guests in attendance to "warm" or say a prayer, blessing, or best wish to them.

I am sure that it wasn't just me sending them all the love and happiness in the world, as they both deserve, through the palm of my hand and into those rings as they were passed around.

When it came time to exchange vows, both Steve and Colin joined the rest of us getting choked up.  Well, Steve, being a sap like myself, was emotional throughout the whole ceremony.  And he said afterwards that when he finally felt like he was pulling himself together he'd look out to the crowd and see me and start all over again (woops!)  However, Colin, who is usually rock solid, showed some emotion during the vows as well.

I think one of the reasons that it was so emotional for everyone is because of the fact that it was a ceremony between two men.  It is a travesty that gay men and women are persecuted and seen as unequal around the world and in our very own country.  The fact that it is ILLEGAL for two people like my uncles to marry in many states in the U.S. makes me really lose faith in the world a bit.  As a single woman, I can honestly say that I only WISH that someday I find love like theirs.

In attendance at the wedding was every member of their families.  All four parents, all seven combined siblings and even more siblings-in-law, and many, many nieces and nephews.  Including little kids ages 3-8, who will grow up knowing nothing but the fact that they have two uncles who would do anything for them and who are happily married and in love.  Including 6 nephews between the ages of 19 and 27 who all play sports and live in worlds where homosexuality is often the butt of jokes and the punch in a verbal insult.  It is so meaningful to me that those kids see love as love, no matter who it is between.  That my brothers and my cousins have tears in their eyes as they watch two men marry, because they know how perfect they are together.  And that our whole family was there to love and support them today and every day.

The whole ceremony was one of the most beautiful things I've ever witnessed.

Once the vows were exchanged, the happy new husbands were able to kiss their groom, and they walked down the aisle together, it took us all a while to pull ourselves together, but once we did it was time for a cocktail hour.  The tears continued to come for many and we hugged and congratulated the new official husbands.

The cocktail hour was really pretty and the passed appetizers were delicious.  My favorite was a little piece of bruschetta that had pesto, sundried tomato and goat cheese on it so it looked like a little italian flag.  I am so going to steal that idea for a dinner party at some point in the future!

After the cocktail hour, we went inside for a delicious dinner that included a beautiful surprise for all of us at our tables.  Everyone had a small gift at their place setting, which for all the ladies, was an Alex and Ani bracelet with an anchor on it.  Steve and Colin love all things nautical and I am going to forever cherish my anchor bracelet.  Family grounds you.  Forever and always.

The dinner was delicious, I had the scallops, because when you are in New England, you choose the scallops.

Both fathers gave beautiful and very perfectly suited toasts and the dinners went by deliciously and wonderfuly, with all of the tables being a mix of both sides of the families and their friends.  It was great to spend more time talking to Colin's sister, her husband, and two of their friends from San Francisco.  Following dinner, we returned to the area where the ceremony had been held as it was time to begin the dance and drinks part of the par-tay.  Oh, and eat the cupcakes!

If you've been around the blog long enough you know that my family enjoys making music videos together, and we always have at least one dance party when we are at our family vacation every summer in New Hampshire.  So when you give us a designated dance floor and a DJ, it's totally on!

I am always one of the firsts out on the dance floor and I love how as the night goes on, more and more people start to creep out.  I had such a good time dancing with my family, new friends, and the newlyweds.  As with any wedding, the champagne and wine were flowing, and as the night went on, the dancing became crazier and the champagne turned into tequila shots.  Wait, what?  That doesn't happen at normal weddings?

The DJ played the songs that my family music videos are too.  We danced our hearts out.  We toasted the happy couple.  And it was all in all just a blissfully happy night.  The official wedding ended at 11:00 p.m. and the DJ shut things down, but after the party is the after party.... so we went back out in Provincetown.

It was such a fantastic wedding and one that made me so proud of my family and of my uncles.  There are certain things I tend to avoid talking about on the blog, but my views on marriage between two men or two women are never one that I will shy away from.  It is my hope and dream that someday I will be an old grandma, after having found a man whom I love as much as my uncles love each other, and be able to sit around and have a conversation with my grandchildren where they are saying to me, "Gram, is it true that when you were little two men weren't allowed to get married to each other???"

And I will explain that yes, as crazy as it seems, it was at one time true.  It is my dream that my grandchildren will be horrified and so find it a silly, unimaginable notion that people cared so much about something that affected them so little.

Because I am blessed enough to grow up in a family that taught me that love is love, no matter your sex or race or religion, I believe it is my responsibility to help spread that openness.  I believe it is my duty to not be accepting of a semi-equal world.  It makes me so sad inside to think that there are people who spend their day to day lives feeling like they need to hide who they are for fear of not being accepted by their families or friends or communities where they live and work.  Or worse, not just being unaccepted, but actually lawfully persecuted as homosexuality itself is illegal in many parts of the world!

Can you imagine it being illegal for a brown haired person to be attracted to and want to marry a blonde haired person?  Isn't that the most ridiculous thought in the world?  Why is anyone telling anyone who they should be attracted to?

My uncles are two of the most amazing, caring, silly, fun, and without a doubt most generous people I have ever met in my life and will probably ever know in my life.  They are so smart and so kind and mean so much to me.  I couldn't imagine my life without either of them in it and I could not be happier to have been able to be there for their wedding this past weekend.  Congratulations Steve and Colin!!  I love you guys!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Provincetown Wedding Recap: Part 1

Alternate blog title: "The dunes of the Cape"

Do you ever have one of those weekends where you are SO sad to see it end?  When you almost get sad before it even ends, because you know it has to at some point?  One of those weekends that leaves your heart feeling so full and you just feel blessed and grateful for everything around you with your whole body?  A weekend that energizes you, makes you want to take risks and try new things, and excited to be alive?

This past weekend was all of those things for me.

After the really lovely day I had with friends in Saratoga, I came home, packed up and drove the 2.5 hours to my mom's in Rhode Island.  It was just a quick visit that really only involved me sleeping the night and then being up bright and early to be in Providence at 6:30 a.m. to pick up my brother.  We hit the road, having a full on dance party in the car for most of the way as we drove out to Provincetown, Massachusetts to begin celebrating a very special wedding.

The wedding was for two of my favorite people in the world.  My mom's youngest brother, Steve, and his now husband, Colin.  Steve has long been the "cool uncle" as he is the youngest of my parents siblings, so much so that I attended both his high school and college graduations.  My grandmother used to give me his old T-shirts from the musicals he was in that I would wear all the time and I loved them.

Colin, his partner of more than 10 years now, has been a part of the family since the moment we met him.  He fit in perfectly with our goofy, over the top gang, and so perfectly suited Steve it was hard not to love him when you saw how happy he made him.  They were only dating for a few months when Steve brought him to our family gathering at Lake Waukewan for the first time.  It's true love when you don't run away from those shenanigans after such a short period of time of dating!

Their two year anniversary of dating coincided with when I was studying abroad in Florence, Italy and the two of them included coming to visit me as part of their anniversary trip.  It was an experience that was so memorable to me and the first time in my life that I truly saw my uncles as not just uncles, but friends.  We bonded so much and the following year when my friends went to beach towns and exotic locations for spring break, I jumped on a plane to San Francisco and spent a week staying with my uncles in their home in the Castro.  

My uncles are two of the most generous and open-hearted people I have ever met in my entire life.  They are so incredibly open and sharing and have come to be great friends, confidants, advice-givers, career advisors, dating coaches, and drinking buddies of mine, as well as incredible uncles.  They are so giving and caring, especially to their families, and I am so lucky to have them in my life.

As soon as I arrived in P-Town and said hello to some family, I went out on a run along the bike path that weaved through the dunes of the Cape.  It was a gorgeous and hilly run but I was happy to get 7-miles in before what I knew would be a tough weekend foodwise.  The path was beautiful and I enjoyed the run, stopping for some pictures and showing off with the sign for the hills that I totally conquered.

After the run, I spent the afternoon getting some sandwiches with my family and sitting outside enjoying the absolutely perfect weather we had.  It was a warm and sunny enough that you could be in shorts and t-shirts or a sundress but not hot enough that you were sweating.  There was a perfect beach breeze and just seriously could not have been a greater weather day -- which is something that stuck with us the whole weekend! 

My family was staying in all different locations along Commercial Street in Provincetown.  I specifically was at the Red Inn, and my uncles stayed at one of the most unique and beautiful rental properties I have ever seen -- Captain Jack's Wharf.  Everywhere had incredible water views and set ups that made you never want to leave.  I now know why my uncles have loved it so much in P-Town over the years!

After enjoying a lazy afternoon, all the wedding attendees, which were my whole family (pretty big!), Colin's family, and a handful of their friends from San Francisco, all met up to start the festivities.  This began with private dune tours throughout the sandy beaches.  Cars aren't allowed on the sand and the only people authorized to drive on the dunes, which are protected by the National Seashore, is this one company.  They explained the history of the dunes, and the private artist bungalows that people wait years to be able to stay in.

After a tour, we stopped for a while in the middle of the dunes and had the opportunity to take some pictures and walk around a bit.  The younger kids (nieces and nephews on Colin's side) enjoying running around and rolling around in the sand, where the rest of us I think just took in the beauty of everything.  Okay, and hiked around in the dunes a bit and may have jumped and played in the sand too.

After exploring the dunes for a bit, we piled back into the vans, and then drove to a location right by the water, where we stopped for dinner.  We'd previously picked out what we wanted for meal options, which ranged from a lobster and clam bake to BBQ chicken to sushi.  There was a bonfire, blankets, lawn chairs, a kettle drum player guy named Magic, coolers full of a beer and wine, oh, and a beautiful sunset.

The bonfire ended and we packed back into the car to head home with full bellies and happy hearts.  Steve and Colin have been together for 10 years, during which all of their nieces and nephews on Colin's side were  born, who we've watched grow up through photos (his family all lives on the West Coast.)  I've been Facebook friends with his family members and met some of their friends years ago, and it was so great to have everyone there together and get to spend quality time with the new people, as well as my family.

Happiness and love were in the air throughout the whole evening and it was such a special night.  Including a moment that my uncle Steve and I witnessed that made me say to him, "Did you just fall in love all over again?" -- to which his response was, "Yup."

When we got back from the bonfire, a group of people headed straight to the hotel bar, which I joined briefly, and then headed out with a big group to experience Provincetown nightlife for the first time.  And boy, was it a sloppy fun night!  

I had a blast with my brother, cousins, uncles, their friends, and some new ones we made.  It is such a high to meet people who are friendly and interesting and nice and FUN all in one!

It was an awesome first day to the wedding weekend that ended in a pedi cab ride home from a lovely Bulgarian bike rider who confidently carried my brother, cousin and I behind him.  I bet he also wished I had been better that day about eating healthy.

It's getting late for me so I am going to wrap up for tonight and will finish recapping the wedding weekend later on!  Happy Hump Day everyone!