Sunday, August 29, 2010

Yellow Shiny Happy

I promise that you won't be inundated with wedding related stuff for the next eight months but I do feel the need for one more wedding post.  These, my fine friends, are my wedding shoes:

I am giddy about these shoes.  Seriously, these were in my dream the night they showed up on my doorstep.  I am not a shoe obsessed person but these shoes could turn me down the path to the dark side.  Besides being cute as hell they are actually comfortable and fit my weirdly shaped feet perfectly.  It pains me to have to stick them away in their box until May. 

Now I guess I have to find a dress to match them.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ugly Confession

I have a confession to make.  An embarrassing confession really.  Come, closer so I don't have to say it too loudly.  OK, here goes....My name is Ann-Marie and I enjoy wedding planning.  There I admitted it and said it to the world or at least my tiny corner of the interwebs.  I feel better now.  Admitting you have a problem is half the battle or something like that, right? 

Seriously, since the engagement I don't think a day has gone by that I have not looked at wedding ideas online or in a magazine or discussed them with Kevin.  Dang it but it's fun.  And the creativity people exhibit with their wedding planning blows me away.

Now before you worry too much and wonder what really happened to me I would like to point out that I have not become a white tulle obsessed Bridezilla dreaming of how she can incorporate white swans, ice sculptures, tiaras and 13 matching bridesmaids into her vision of her "perfect day".  None of that crap.  Although if I could get a swan wearing a tiara and a bridesmaid dress that would be kinda cool.  No, I am just talking about throwing a party since that is what a wedding is anyway.  A big-ass party with a quite serious moment at the start and as the impetus for the whole thing.  So really, the planning has been about cool favors, and fun ideas for invitations and table centerpieces and oh, the cake porn, the beautiful, magical cake porn.

If you have never flipped over the rock to peer into this underbelly of the wedding world you might have been as blown away as I was about the sheer number of products and services and websites and blogs devoted to all things wedding.  It is truly fascinating and I had no idea it was really this much of a giant wedding industrial machine.  Here are a few things I have learned so far:

  • THE coolest website for all things left of center regarding weddings is Offbeat Bride.  This site has some of the most creative weddings and ideas featured and it isn't all some little girls cupcakes and ponies and Prince Charming dream crap.  If you want to get ideas how to incorporate sci-fi themed centerpieces,or how to dress a transgendered bride, or about the hand-fasting ritual, or what tattooed brides do about their beloved tattos this is the site for you.  Even though none of the above are things I am concerned with it is still kind of interesting to read and digest.  What this site excels at, and to me its reason for being, is that it reassures you that the most important part of the ceremony and party is that it must feel authentic to you and the person you are marrying and it gives you ideas to send you down that route.
  • Offbeat Bride also gives the sage advice to not worry because no matter what you do someone will think it is tacky or ugly or stupid.  So don't worry about such things and just do what feels right. 
  • Knee-length wedding dresses are very hard to come by.  Are there seriously that few of us who don't want a long-white gown?  And yes, I used to think I would just get a pretty dress in some random color but I decided I wanted the dress to at least look like I was getting hitched.  I truly feel for the poor women who want sleeves, particularly long-sleeves.  You guys are truly screwed.
  • There are a whole lot of crazy women out there.  Dip your toe into the boards on sites like TheKnot and you will see what I mean.  Really ladies, let's chill out and remember why you are doing this in the first place. 
  • I love cupcakes but if I see one more cupcake tower at a wedding I will scream.  Also, the everybody wear a fake mustache things for the ceremony or in the photo booth is not funny and in fact veers to creepy.  Stop it already, please.
I am also lucky because I keep running into articles about how to get the groom more involved in the planning.  Kevin is having fun creating the website and meeting with the photographer and all of that stuff.  It is interesting because this process has revealed how few "normal" weddings I have been to and how few "unusual" ones Kevin has attended.  I think it is an East Coast-West Coast thing but I could be wrong.  We keep having discussions about the wedding and he is definitely the one who envisions a  more traditional gathering and my vision is a little less normal.  Don't worry, no actual fighting occurs but it is interesting to see a different interpretation of weddings than my own.

Now, if you will excuse me I have to go read about a Moroccan/burlesque themed broom jumping or some such thing...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Friday Night Stampede Race Report

Friday night we schlepped ourselves down to my old stomping grounds, Auburn, for a 5K.  The appeal of this race was twofold:  it is pancake flat and they give you BBQ that you can eat in the middle of Main Street when you are done.  Score! 

The race began at 7:00 and it was a completely different experience than I am used to.  It is a tiny race; last year there were 162 people who ran it.  Such a tiny race does not have chip time, the start and finish lines were chalked or painted on the pavement,  and there was plenty of room to get your own pace going and not jostle or be jostled by anyone...totally novel.

Anyway, the gun went off (guy shouted "go") and we were off through the streets of Auburn (Liane - your old house is for sale!!  The high school looks EXACTLY the same!).  I used to think the town was, quite frankly, a shit-hole.  But it surprised me last night.  It actually looked kind of cute and quaint and just like a charming older downtown.  We ran through Les Gove park and there was music and people were barbequeing and having fun and it just smashed my negative feelings about the place.  I am kind of happy about that.  Still don't want to live there but hey, its progress.

So my brother has a phrase for when he goes out too fast during a race and that is "going out like a burning spastic".  Let's just say that is how I started the race.  I felt good, I felt strong, I felt like the 78 degree heat wasn't going to be an issue so I flew down the streets and was seriously thinking I would PR.  Then I reached the mid-way point and reality slapped me in the noggin.  There would be no PR, there would only be holding on to an attempt to keep my pace under 10 minute miles.  I actually had to take walk breaks that is how bad it was.  I can't remember the last time I had to walk in a 5K.  This was disheartening and a little humbling.  Even though the pace was the real killer I believe if it had been cooler I could have held on and at least been able to run the whole thing.  There was some blazing hot heat for running last night particularly where there was no shade and the sun was beating down on you and the open pavement.  Blech!

So here are the splits:

Mile 1:     9:14  (you see why I fell apart later?)
Mile 2:     9:31  (first half of this mile was still strong; second half went to hell)
Mile 3:    11:15 (ugh.  uff-da.  oy.)
.10           8:27  (I only put that in there to make myself feel better).

Overall time per Garmin was 31:24 which is a 10:07 pace.  Not even close to what I wanted but heading into the race it was kind of what I expected.  Official times aren't posted yet but should be mighty close to the Garmin.

BBQ report:  Beans, chips, pulled pork sandwich and lemonade sitting smack in the middle of Main Street listening to a band play Buddy Holly songs all night.  A pretty nice way to end a race and a day. 

Except, wait...there is more.  I got home about 11:00 and at midnight we headed up to the Tiger Mountain trail-head to lay on a blanket in the parking area and watch meteors until 1:30 in the morning.  Meteor Report:  16 each but we both saw a few the other didn't.  There was still a fair amount of light pollution up there but the sky was clear.  It should still be going tonight so go out late tonight and stare up at the sky for awhile.  You'll feel good.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Backyard Oasis

The back yard is finally finished.  Actually it has been for about two weeks now but I just got around to loading the pictures.

Kevin did an amazing job.  It is almost all his vision and execution.  I did help plant things and dump a 1/2 ton of dirt via five gallon buckets but really it was mostly him.

Here is our little rockery with our wee baby plants that will hopefully grow bigger and stronger and hold in some of the dirt to keep it from washing into our pond.

Another view of the rockery and a better view of our awesome rock fountain.  214 lbs that bad boy is; not so fun to move.

The crab sitting by the pond?  His name is Sig. 

Neither of these photographs show it but Kevin made sure to craft a little shallow area at the end of the pond for a little bird beach.  Between the bird beach and the feeders they are some seriously happy birds.  Mortally wounded bird from last week not included.  I was sitting out last night and we had finches, juncos, chickadees, random little brown bird and a hummingbird all at the same time.  It was wonderful.

The other side of our wee yard.
The groundcover thyme took a beating during pond and rockery construction but it should bounce back.  We are also going to try to get it to grow over the edge of the pond to cover the exposed pond liner.  The wine barrel is our herb garden.

I would like to draw your attention to our trellis.  You might ask "what is that growing on the trellis"?  Well, the answer is "nothing" because the clematis we had on it is dead. The trellis itself is supplying all the greenery.  It is made from willow branches and the center branch that we stuck in the ground must have taken root because the "tree" has taken off like a wild thing.  We are growing a willow tree in our tiny back yard against our fence.  We know it can't stay there but we don't have the heart to do anything about it yet.  Currently it is about three feet above the fence line.  How can you kill something that has that much tenacity?

The zig zag patio was put in place strictly to make sweeping or vacuuming up bird seed easier.  I think it is kind of groovy.

Since it turned warm I finally got the courage to put my lemon tree impulse purchase outside and it is thriving.  What you can't really see in this picture are the wee tiny Meyer lemons it is growing.  The blossoms are about ready to burst into bloom any day now.  I am crossing my fingers we get at least one lemon off of it before we have to move it inside for the winter.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Seafair Torchlight Run 8K Race Report

Apparently the secret to a good race is wine tasting, a cold and anger.  If only I had known this earlier my race results would be so much better.  Hal Higdon never put any of those in his training plans.

I guess I will start with the anger part of the race.  See, I had this brilliant idea to have our friend pick up my brother's bib number and timing chip the day before the race so my brother didn't have to go through the hassle of getting it race day.  Since Todd was going to pick his up that day it seemed like a good idea at the time.  So off we go to the race, carpooling from my house and leaving in plenty of time.  My brother chose not to carpool with us and instead said he would meet us at the race.  A blunder.  They moved the start line this year to South Lake Union which meant traffic back-ups from hell at the Mercer offramp and then getting to the parking area and then waiting in a long line to pay for parking.  But we still ended up getting to the start line with about 20 minutes to go before the race started to find my brother. 

Did I mention that the boys didn't set up an exact meeting location?  My brother just said "at the start line".  Well, let me tell you this new starting area had people packed in like sardines, no room to hardly move on the sidewalks.  My brother was nowhere to be found near the start line.  We looked and looked and looked.  No bro.  Now before I continue, let me explain something; my brother takes his racing very seriously.  Very. Seriously.  He is not laid back at all about these sorts of things.  He likes to corral up early and be very focused on the task ahead.  We knew he was going to be pissed.  Really pissed.  But what can we do?  We tried.  So the race starts and we hang out at the back thinking he might be hanging around and we can see him as the racers thinned out.  Nope.  Finally I gave Todd my brother's chip, because he is faster and that way my brother's time would at least be recorded at a pace similar to his own, and set off down the course pretty sure I might be disowned as a sister and then who would be my Dude of Honor at my wedding?  Did I mention he takes his running very seriously.  (Hi bro!  Sorry again!)

The stress of the drive, the parking, the frustration of not finding my brother made me mad.  I was hating everything and everyone around me.  A teenage girl tried to rush across the street in front of a pack of runners and when she fell flat on the pavement I smiled.  That was the kind of mood I was in.  I was also pissed because the organizers started the 8K and the 5K at the same time this year which created a bottleneck down the parade route.  Especially since we were supposed to keep to only the left side of the street because the 5K doubled back down the same street.  I felt bad for the 5K runners because there was no signage that said this or anyone directing anybody that I could see and the 5K's had to run upstream against clueless 8K runners who were running right at 'em.  Can you say clusterfuck?  I can.

Anyway, I was bobbing and weaving down the street trying to get past all the walkers and slow people and kept getting jammed by people.  I wanted to throw elbows so bad you have no idea.  Finally off the parade route and a screamin' huge downhill on Seneca towards the Viaduct.  Except, wait...there were people holding up on this section of the course.  What the hell?  It is a blissful downhill which is a great way to make up time with very little effort.  Let gravity be your friend you freaks.  But I digress.

Out on the viaduct southbound to the turnaround and then back up the viaduct the other way.  Once again, splitting a street we have always had the whole width of in years passed created some blocking problems.  I looked at my watch at the two mile mark and realized that a PR was a possibility.  After mile three I thought I had it in the bag but made myself reign it in a little during mile four in case my spastic running earlier caused me to completely bonk.  The incline leading to the Battery Street tunnel was a great feeling.  People were tiring and starting to walk on this uphill but I kept powering through and picking people off.  I guess running the hilly routes around my house has paid off.  Then it was through the Battery Street tunnel and into the home stretch.  I didn't feel like I was going that fast but I kept picking people off so it felt good.

I crossed the line, looked down at Garmin and thought:  Holy crap!  A PR.  A serious PR.  I finished in 48:09 which is a two-minute PR and a 9:41 pace.  Not bad considering I was expecting a 10:15 pace based on recent training times.  My previous Torchlight PR was a 50:09 in 2006 and I shaved seven minutes off my time from last year.

Here are the wacky, no pacing ability splits:
Mile 1     10:20 (bobbing, weaving, wanting to punch people)
Mile 2      9:10 (included three blocks of Seneca Street downhill)
Mile 3      9:56
Mile 4     10:06 (purposefully told myself to slow down or risk crapping out)
Mile 5      8:26 (Wha?  What the hell?!  I can't run an 8:26 mile.  Especially at mile five of a race!!!)

The upshot is: I ran the race pissed off at our inability to find my brother, mad that we had caused him to be pissed off, pissed off at the poor race organization, pissed off at the crowding during what used to be a race where you could get a rhythm and not have to bob and weave, pissed off at the new start and finish line overcrowding,  and apparently with enough residual training left in me to allow me to run a great race and PR.  In fact, all of us ran a PR this time.  Oh, the 69 degrees and overcast with a slight cooling breeze helped the cause too.

If they don't make a few fixes to the course next year I might not run this again which is a shame.  This was one of my favorite races and something to look forward to every year.  The old course had room to find a rhythm, more time on the parade route, more energy from the parade goers and a less claustrophobic start and finish line area.  I hope they are able to make some changes for future races.