Monthly Archives: March 2011

2011 Resolutions: January-March

A quick review on how I’ve been doing on my 2011 Resolutions:

1. I resolve to become fitter, faster, stronger.
Fitter: I haven’t managed to lose any weight (supposedly, it can be difficult to do so when training for a long distance race), but I did manage to at least stay about the same and have to buy a new pair of jeans in a smaller size. Small victories!
Faster: So far, I’ve PR’d in the 4 mile and half marathon distances. I’m hoping to PR in the 5K and 10 mile distances in April.
Stronger: I was doing well with strength training for about a month there, but I fell off a bit as I started to have to run longer distances in my race training. For the most part, we have April off from our long distance training (we’re basically already all trained up for the GW Classic 10 Miler), so I’m hoping to focus more on strength training and cross training in April.

2. I resolve to do five things from my “101 things in 1001 days” list each month. Oof… I have been doing terribly at this. I’ll really need to pick it up if I want to get to all 101 before the end date! I think I need to start setting out some specific monthly goals in advance, rather than just winging it and hoping I cross some items off the list. For April, I’m going to try to do yoga 3X/week for the whole month, send a care package or two (want one?), complete a 500+ puzzle, go to a museum, and go the entire month without buying any clothes (spending gift cards for clothing stores excluded).

3. I resolve to leave my work at the office. I have actually been doing really, really well at this goal! Even though I had a trial scheduled for early February, I managed to turn off my work brain while I was home during that crazy time. This has had a huge positive impact on lowering my stress/anxiety levels. I am actually a bit surprised by how well I did at this. (Things are comparatively slow and boring at work these days, so it’s not really as much of an issue right now.)



Filed under Randomness

National Half Marathon

Adam and I woke up before the sun on Saturday to head on out to the National Half Marathon.  The race started at 7am, so it was still dark (and only about 30 degrees!) when we got to the starting line around 6:20.

Adam is much faster than I am, so I was planning to run the race with Carolyn, who was actually going to be running the full marathon.  Carolyn and her husband ran into some traffic issues, so they actually got dropped off several blocks from the starting line and made it to the corral shortly before the gun went off.  We still had about 20 minutes to wait until it was finally our turn to cross the starting line.

Because it was so cold, I didn’t really feel my legs for the first mile and a half. Our first mile was a bit slower than our goal pace, but we ended up picking it up after that. Around what I think was mile 3 (there were hardly any mile markers – just miles 1, 5 and 10, which was SO annoying), I finally got feeling back in my toes.

I am so glad that I had Carolyn to run with. She is definitely faster than I am when we cover the same distance, but because she was running the marathon, her pace was closer to mine. Having her there definitely pushed me to keep up my pace, especially through the hilly middle miles. It was also nice that she was wearing a Garmin, so I had some idea how far/fast I was running even without the mile markers. I think we kept a fairly steady pace, until we hit mile 11.5. Then, I hit a wall. That was the farthest I’d ever run without walking and my legs were all, “what is up with this? why are we still going?” (I had completed 12 miles in my training, but had walked a mile during that run.) I told Carolyn to go on ahead, but I kept running and I kept her in my sights. At what I think was about 12.5 miles, I picked up the pace again and managed to catch up to her. We ran the last half mile or so before the split together before I wished her luck, then turned the corner to make my way to the half marathon finish line.

As I rounded that last corner, “I Gotta Feeling” – which is my current kick-ass/get-pumped song – came on! It was as if it was meant to be! (It actually was playing as I crossed the finish line of the Four Courts Four Miler, too.) Once I heard it, I busted it out to the finish line.


I crushed my old PR by 12 minutes!

And I didn’t walk a single step. (Not even through water stations… I carry my own water bottle.)

When I set out to train for this race, my goal was to set a PR in this distance. I had hoped that I might be able to come in around 2:30. After how poorly I finished my last half marathon (hobbling most of the last three miles as the muscles in my legs seized up), I hadn’t even considered the possibility that I’d beat 2:25, even though I had adjusted my training this time around to include 11 and 12 mile long runs. I just wanted to finish strong and without pain.

I finished strong and with a big fat smile on my face.

Distance: 13.1 miles
Time: 2:20:33
Pace: 10:43/mile

Sometimes, I get down on myself because I am not fast, because running does not come naturally to me. I feel like I’m not good enough when I read about how people had a “slow” race due to injury, and still crushed my time. I get frustrated when new runners go out for the first time and knock out an 8 minute mile, no problem, when it took me years of running to get to the point where I’ve been able to do that… once.

But I have to remember just how far I’ve come. I am not naturally athletic. Running doesn’t come easy to me. I have to work hard at it. I have worked hard at it.

Two years ago, I wrote that I could barely complete 5 miles without feeling like I was dying.

Three days ago, I ran 13.1 miles without walking a single step.


Filed under Pretending to be a Runner, Race Recap

Wedding Recap II: The Reception

I actually had this post in draft mode when our wedding coordinators sent me this link to our wedding being featured on a local wedding blog. That post actually sums up a lot of the details I was planning to talk about – the food stations, the favors, dessert – and includes photos!

But first, let’s start with what it doesn’t cover…

First Dance

I’m probably laughing because I just totally messed up my box step.

After spending a few minutes socializing with our guests during cocktail hour, the DJ made our official “announcement” to the reception as husband and wife as we walked onto the dance floor for our first dance. We chose Ladies and Gentleman We are Floating in Space (Can’t Help Falling in Love) by Spiritualized. It actually has a waltz beat, so we took a dance lesson so that we wouldn’t look like total fools during our first dance. Turns out, it didn’t matter. I was so totally lost in that moment, singing and laughing along with Adam, that I lost my step within the first 30 seconds… and I didn’t care at all. Our first dance is probably one of the moments that will stand out in my memory most of all from that day. Even though we were dancing in front of nearly 150 people, I felt like we were completely alone out there, dancing, laughing, singing, twirling. It was perfect, missteps and all.


I think this is where Adam’s brother, Justin, was describing how Adam used to pin him down to play “typewriter” — type out something on Justin’s forehead, then smack the right side of his face as the return.  The under-20 set at the wedding probably had no clue what he was talking about.  (Also, Sarah and Carla are huddled nervously over wine, waiting their turn, in the background.)

Originally, we weren’t going to do toasts. We didn’t want to have to put our friends in the awkward position of having to speak in front of so many people, plus toasts typically tend to drone on just when everyone wants to start eating! A few weeks before our wedding, though, our friend (actually, the one who performed the ceremony) convinced us that the guests really do like hearing toasts, especially if they only know one person in the married couple. So, Adam decided to ask his brother and I asked my bridesmaids, Carla and Sarah, if they’d like to speak… trying to make it very clear that if it was something they were not comfortable with, they didn’t have to do it. Well, in the end I’m so glad that we asked and that all three of them agreed to do it. Not only did they each keep their toasts to a minute or two, but they were wonderful. I was pretty sure I was going to cry during the ceremony (I tend to at other people’s weddings), or during the first dance, or during the father-daughter dance, but I didn’t. But when Justin, Carla and Sarah gave their toasts, the tears started. (Happy tears, of course!) I would never have imagined that would have been the most emotional part of the day for me, but it was. (I love you guys!)

Decor, Food, Favors, Etc.

Despite what the blog post linked above might suggest, Adam and I did not want a “carnival-themed” (or “anything-themed” wedding). I think this whole idea that weddings now are supposed to have themes is kind of ridiculous. No, wait, that’s not completely true. We wanted a “Stephanie-and-Adam-themed” wedding. We wanted to throw a party for all of our family and friends our way, even if that meant having our close friend get ordained on the internet to perform the ceremony, seeing each other before the ceremony for photos, eschewing the formal sit-down dinner and a wedding cake, and getting married at an old amusement park. We chose the location not because we wanted a “carnival-theme,” but because it fit the casual feel of the park setting we wanted, but still allowed us to serve alcohol. (Not to mention it was pretty cool that it is a national park and the colors make for great photo ops.)

I am a firm believer that favors are absolutely not necessary, but if you choose to have them, they should be consumable. (Actually, this is my approach to a lot of gifts in general.) The bumper car pavilion was a totally blank slate, save for the white lights strung on the beams above, but we didn’t want to spend a whole lot on decor. So we decided to combine snacks, favors, and decor into one and came up with the idea for a popcorn bar. We’d briefly considered a candy buffet, but couldn’t stomach the idea of feeding our friends all that sugar after wine, beer and ice cream. Imagine the hangovers! Plus the popcorn was WAY cheaper than a candy buffet and much easier to set up. Obviously, a popcorn buffet does fit into the carnival theme, but also? It’s just really, really delicious. We were afraid that people wouldn’t eat it during the cocktail hour/dancing time, thinking it was just for display, but it was a huge hit. And, I don’t think it contributed to anyone’s hangover like candy would have.

We did not want to spend a lot of money on our centerpieces and wanted them to be as consumable or reusable as possible. We had 8 large tables and several high tops. We didn’t want to do flowers (they’re pretty, but only last a few days and WAY expensive) and candles were out because we weren’t allowed to have open flames. After poking around on the internet for some ideas, we loved the idea of the clean look of bright green granny smith apples in white bowls for the large tables. Bonus – lots of people took apples home with them at the end of the night, and several people in my family now have square white serving bowls! For the high top tables, we did go with rock candy “bouquets” because they were cheaper than flowers, and many were also eaten by the end of the night. (P.S. I’d picked blue for the bridesmaids’ dresses because it’s generally a universally flattering color and would look good with the colors of the park for photos; we actually came up with the centerpieces first, then chose apple/lime green as our accent color. I ended up LOVING the color combination, especially when it came to our flowers and the guys’ ties.)

And, that was it for the decor: popcorn bar, apples in a bowl, rock candy in mini vases, and the white lights that were already in the pavilion. (The other candy in the photos our photographer took were more props, not part of the decor. They were super cute and I love those photos, and the memory of the little kids who saw us taking them that said they wanted to get married so they could get lollipops, but we did not have candy decor as part of any “carnival theme.”)

Onto the main meal, which was actually one of the most important elements to us. We knew we did not want a formal sit-down dinner. We wanted a party! A sit-down dinner breaks up the flow and we wanted everyone to be up and socializing, mingling and drinking, dancing all night long. We had seating available for everyone, in case there came a moment where every single person’s feet were tired at the same time, but we only had large tables for about 60% of our guests (with four tables specifically reserved for family). We had lots of high top tables for people to eat at and some people just sort of created their own gathering areas with extra chairs and benches. Our parents were a little worried about the set up, but after the wedding agreed that it worked out just as we’d hoped.

Since we weren’t having a sit-down dinner, we had food stations. I wanted to make sure there would be lots of things that I, as a vegetarian, could eat, so almost everything was veggie-friendly. We had a pierogi station (pierogis are a family favorite, eaten every Christmas Eve), a home comfort station with brisket (shout out to Adam’s Jewish family) and macaroni and cheese, and a soup and gourmet grilled cheese station — because it was a chilly November night, and what is more comforting on a fall night than a mug (or 3) of soup? (There were also salads and sides at each station.) I actually got to eat the food during the reception (benefit to being the one in the white dress? you’re allowed to cut in line), and it was delicious. Although, we knew that would be the case… we’d done a tasting with our caterer and had been dreaming of our menu ever since then. Seriously, every time we had to review it during our planning, I started to get hungry. (Our caterer also packaged up goody bags of food for us to take home, so we devoured the appetizers when we got back to the hotel, and ate wedding leftovers all weekend. It was awesome.)

Finally, the dessert. The very first official decision that we made as an engaged couple (that stuck, anyway… our talk of a small, backyard wedding being shot down) was to scrap the wedding cake in favor of ice cream sundaes – a decision we agreed on, lying in bed, the very night we got engaged. This decision was made LONG before we knew when or where we’d get married. Hell, honestly? This decision was made (by me) long before Adam even came into the picture. I love ice cream. I’m convinced I could take down a Vermonster singlehandedly. There was going to be ice cream at my wedding. I told Adam we could have a cake too if he really wanted, and that I would leave all of the cake-related decisions completely in his hands (well, with veto power if he chose something ridiculous), but he was totally on board with the sundaes idea. And one of Adam’s favorite foods? Cookies. So we asked our family members to make cookies and brownies to be served with the ice cream, and they gladly obliged.

We didn’t have a receiving line and, since we didn’t have assigned tables, we weren’t able to make the rounds to see everyone during dinner. Instead, we wanted to do something that I think our caterer (and possibly our coordinators) thought was crazy — we wanted to serve the ice cream sundaes ourselves. That’s right… after we did our photo-worthy joint ice cream scooping and feeding each other thing, we surprised our guests by pulling out our aprons (Mets for me, Yankees for him) from beneath the table, put them on over our wedding best (um, which made me look like I was wearing nothing under my apron, because of the strapless nature of my dress!), and started serving our guests. It was SO MUCH FUN. I think the servers felt bad, like we just wanted to do a few people and then let them take over, but we kept shooing them away.

Nope, not naked under that apron… it just hides the strapless dress!

Adam was stuck scooping the mint chocolate chip ice cream, which was for some reason still completely frozen solid, even though our other two flavors were at perfect scooping temperature.

And then, we danced. And danced, and danced, and danced.

As my uncle put it… pierogies and coffee chip ice cream? Best. Wedding. Ever.

All photos credited to our fabulous photographer, Abby Jiu.

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Filed under Our Wedding

I’m Tired Just Reading This…

You guys, my dance card is full. My weekends are pretty much booked solid until the end of June. JUNE!

March 25-27: National Half Marathon
April 1-3: 5K Friday race (okay, this one isn’t so bad… nothing planned for Saturday or Sunday)
April 8-10: 5K Friday race, GW Parkway Classic 10M
April 15-17: 5K Friday race, parents in town Friday night, Saturday-Sunday in Virginia Beach
April 22-24: 5K Friday race, bachelorette party Saturday night, Yankees-Orioles game at Camden on Sunday
April 29-May 1: 5K Friday race, Earth Day 5K, bachelorette party in NYC
May 6-8 and May 13-15: taking a short breather… nothing on the agenda for these weekends (yet)
May 20-22: trip to Portland, ME
May 27-30: trip to NYC
June 3-5: wedding in Virginia wine country
June 10-19: wedding in San Francisco, trip to Seattle, weekend in Chicago

So many fun things planned, but ohmygod do I feel a bit overwhelmed looking at that!

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Filed under Randomness