Friday, June 8, 2012

Parade Floats and Porta-Potties

I have alluded to (and even called out at one point) the fact that I plan to have some sort of run/race as part of the wedding festivities. You can blame Lindsey.

I hadn't even thought of how important
safety gear might be... (courtesy of
http://lasvegasbride.files.wordpress.com)
I'm not sure how long ago it was, but sometime after my lady and I started dating - a pretty significant amount of time, actually, as no one wanted to rush me into the whole "marriage" idea again - dearest Lindsey shared with me either a dream or brainstorm she had about my future. It was also right around the time I had decided I was going to (and did) run eight half marathons (you might see how that is important in a moment). She pictured me running a half marathon in a wedding dress (and veil) and getting hitched at the finish line...

Since then, I haven't been able to get it out of my head that running will most certainly be a part  of my wedding. Especially since it is blindingly clear (especially to my lady) that I absolutely must run the morning of my wedding unless the guests (and again, my lady) wish to have an irritable and anxious little white dress wearing firecracker. As anyone else who has ever co-habited with me can tell you (I'm looking at you, mom and dad), I become a little grumpy - sort of like an explosive device that can blow up at any moment - when I do not burn off a significant amount of energy via working out, running, etc. (doing something that requires me to sweat profusely for at least an hour). It's ugly.

Running has been on my brain lately more than ever. In the midst of this house buying, job changing, and wedding planning craziness, I am also training for my first full marathon on June 23rd in Seattle (as well as my second, which will follow on October 7th of this year in Chicago). After eight half marathons in 2011, I decided that I was too crazy to not want to try a marathon. So naturally, if I do one, why not do two?

As all of you sane and healthy minded people who aren't in this position have inferred (which is why you aren't doing it - bravo!), training for a marathon takes a lot of time and energy. Significantly more than any training I did for my halves, even before my final one in Savannah where I set my personal record. Sundays are my long slow run days and as of last Sunday, June 2, I officially finished my final long run before taper - 20 @#$%ing miles. That is a really long way (and time) to run, in case you needed a qualifier on that. As I have said for the last few weeks of this training, this is silly. I'm not sure what possessed me to do this but moving forward I will likely stick to the 13.1 miles after the Chicago marathon in October. I know I am a little off my rocker in life, so running over twenty miles shouldn't seem a stretch, but 26.2 pretty much takes over your life... and when you already have job hunting (and now transitioning), house buying (and now moving), and wedding planning (and more planning) going on in your life, there isn't much capacity for something else that needs a lot of space, time, calories and muscle tissue. Oh the muscle tissue.

So, initially, I thought it would be a great idea to have everyone (healthy and able - not trying to kill anyone) run a half marathon with us and actually have the wedding ceremony at the end. Turns out, that was lofty. On the bright side, I think we truly would have gotten that "super small wedding" dream - but I don't want something that small and exclusive, I want everyone to have fun and enjoy themselves. So then we discussed having it be 13.1 miles that you could get through anyway you wished - running, walking, biking, scootering, etc. This was when a former colleague and friend of ours came up with the idea to basically have it be a parade with floats - floats where the occupants could ride on it and drink beer the whole way, etc. This is also where the porta-potties come in at...

There is a story (which my lady finds so incredibly entertaining that you have likely been privy to hearing it if you have ever conversed with her and gotten on the topic of my crazy + running) that accompanies why I did eight half marathons last year, all over the country. In November of 2010, after having run my first half marathon the month before in Denver - it was a Rock 'n Roll Series event - I got an email about a "cyber monday" deal from the Rock 'n Roll Race Series. It said if you signed up for all (at that time) sixteen races in 2011 you would be guaranteed a fabulous prize.

Naturally, I was in. I immediately called up my lady (I was in the burbs of Chicago at my brother and SILs house as it was Thanksgiving weekend) and said,
"so I think I am going to run 16 half marathons next year." 
 "OK, well, that's interesting, why exactly did you decide to do this?" was her (ever so careful) reply.
"There is a PRIZE!" I said. 
"Oh, OK. Well what is the prize?" she asked.
"Oh. I don't know - but there is a PRIZE and I would be guaranteed it!"

I mean, come on people - a PRIZE. Prizes don't just grow on trees - nor do they go to just anyone. We sat in silence for a bit after the few lines above. I slowly processed where all of these races where and not to mention the fact that 16 races in a single calendar year equated to more than one race a month (one and a third, if we want to get mathematical aout it). Inner though process: Wow. That's a lot of running. Well, that's a lot of travel. Let's say each set of plane tickets was three hundred a piece, times two, that's six hundred dollars just for the plane tickets. Plus hotel, likely at least another two to three hundred. Then meals, the actual race entry which is anywhere from sixty to a hundred dollars each, and you know, travel costs. Boarding the dogs, parking the car, possibly needing to rent a car... geez. This is going to be pricey. 
"Hmmm. Maybe I will just do eight."
"JUST eight?!" she questioned.
"Yep, I guess that is a lot more reasonable, makes a lot more sense. But that means I won't get the prize..."
"What is the prize?! Have you figured that out yet?"

Naturally I did not hear the tone of her question, "Just eight?"... The fact that she really meant "as if you think eight is normal? That is still eight half marathons - that is over a hundred miles just in race miles alone!" I think the conversation ended soon after this point, cyber monday was still 4 days away at this point and I think she hoped I would take off the crazy pants by then. 

She got an email Monday morning sharing every date/location I had registered and paid for.

Just needs more room for seating and a keg!
(of champagne?)
(courtesy of http://vintage.johnnyjet.com/)
So, back to the porta-potties. As we discussed keg-holding parade floats and my lady told the story of the "prize," everyone of course want to know, what was the prize? I actually did end up finding out what it was before I signed up for only the eight. I could not remember the details, but I do recall part of the VIP treatment being a personal porta-potty (if you have ever ran or cheered someone on at a race you know how the lines at the porta-potties pre-race get super long). Well, the group of people that had come up with the keg-holding parade float obviously thought this was a riot. As such, they invented an "upgrade" to the float that would include a traveling porta-potty for your truly to use. I mean, obviously - it is my wedding day after all.  Doesn't that top the wish list of every bride-to-be?

After all has been said and done, there will be no half-marathon running on our wedding day. There will, however, be a morning run around Lake Estes. The paved path around the lake is 3.75 miles long and I intend to have those who wish do two laps. However, one lap will be more than amazing for many and walking, crawling, biking, skipping, or any other form of transportation that the park allows will be welcomed and appreciated. Expect finisher medals and t-shirts at the finish.  Or maybe I should give out pants. Crazy pants.

Sounds like a great start to any wedding day, right?

Oooh, and maybe some sweet potato hash browns for breakfast. Mmmmm. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Better than fiction.

Prologue & Disclaimer: This entry only contains brief references to wedding planning. I have decided that in order to be able to post more I am going to write what I feel like writing about, which will likely often end up looping back to my wedding and/or my amazing lady and our relationship as we adventure down this path. Planning anything gets interrupted with life, a lot. I think that is the fairest and most honest thing I can say about this whole planning process (and adventure), and why "life" shall now become a bigger part of this blog. It's real.

Throughout my life I have always found "being me" rather entertaining. Not usually in the present (up until recently, anyway), but certainly in hindsight. As I have grown older and met new friends whom, usually after a drink or two, start probing further into the many adventures I have had up until I meet them, it has not been uncommon for, at the end of the long and oh-so-tangential, the new friend or friends to say something in the realm of,
"you could publish a book on this."

I always laugh this off. As, while in theory that sounds flattering, it isn't. Especially if you know the ups and downs of those many adventures (as most of those who read this blog do... if you have come across this endless ramble you have likely either heard at least a handful or, lucky you, been a partner in crime in them*).  That said, regardless of whether or not it is flattering, I do know that it is very, very true, so I have not ever and will never take offense. If the crazy pants fit, I wear them proudly. 

I have, admittedly, made sure my life never was and never will be dull. Sometimes I think that, as the years grow more numerous between some of the more ridiculous situations I have found myself in, I have embellished parts of the stories or increased the drama with each retelling. This weekend, after a seriously emotional start to packing up my life for the big move, I was able to reassure myself that this is not the case. I can't bring myself to say I was necessarily "comforted" by this reassurance and confirmation that each of these tales are, in fact, as odd, bizarre, crazy, or even appalling as they sound - but hey, at least I am not a storyteller. Well, fictional storyteller.

How did I get the soul-filling "joy" of confirming this? I have written in a journal since my friend Elisabeth gave me one for my birthday in 5th grade. Well, to be fair, in large blue totes in my parent's basement, you could find a smattering of little "diaries" with cute little  - yet always dysfunctional - locks on the front to "keep all the secrets inside" (my dog could have gotten in, let alone my intelligent brother, if that was the purpose). These, however, have only a sprinkling of entries and except for one priceless one I know by heart where I confide in my journal the absolute horror of the fact that I no longer am excited for the first day of school, like I always used to be (oh the disappointment I thought I was going to spark!) for so many years before (all three of them!).

First on my order of things to pack on Saturday, while my lady was out golfing, was all of the books - I have too many. There, I said it. So, first and foremost, let's thank all-that-is-good-and-kind for my family getting me a Kindle Fire for my birthday this year, regardless of how much I claimed to not want one all of these years. There is a reason that humankind invented technology and it is so that we do not have to lug hundreds, if not thousands, of books around from house to house, city to city, throughout our lives. Save paper and save your back. Buy a Kindle.

the original.
As I packed box after box (after box), I saved the best for last - all of my photo albums, Italy scrapbooks, and journals. What better way to spend a blustery Saturday afternoon than in your basement with your "previous selves" sobbing in the fetal position? I cannot think of a single one. Win. I also laughed hysterically as well as felt my blood boil out of anger - perhaps even a little steam out my ears (cartoon style) - it was certainly not all tears. Some were happy tears, some were sad (and some were just ridiculous, like when I read my graduation speech aloud to Jake-the-dog and myself in an empty house). I started at a random page near the end of my first journal - it had a green vinyl cover with a jungle scene all over it. This one spanned the longest time (except for the last one which still sits half empty thanks to the advent of technology and the infamous blog, "Will She Ever Learn to Type? The original and the sequel... and now this), from 5th grade until almost the end of 8th grade, or even early 9th grade, I believe. The span of time is very apparent just be looking at the handwriting, let alone the writing, from the first pages to the last pages.

I used to just love to write and by middle school I started writing at least two or three times a week - or of course when anything life altering (to a 13 year old) occurred (in case you are too far from that age to recall - and you haven't taught them recently either - that standard is not high). Reading through my writing I can almost completely transport myself back to the day (and all of the emotions that went with it)... thanks, in part, to things like my "top 5 hate list," "top 5 friend list" and "and top 5 <3 [love] list" that was included in almost every entry for many, many years. I also would end every entry with a poem - possibly the most awful poetry I have ever read, in hindsight, but certainly the kind that creates a visceral reaction in your stomach (particularly if you are the person who was in that state of mine to write it in the first place). Between these "features" and my ramblings I spent a good portion of Saturday afternoon as teenage Ashley Boven. I traveled through gossip worthy best friend fights, six year long crushes, many firsts, and many relationships - the short, the long, the made-up, and the very real.

I think what was most striking to me was how much my writing then still mimics my writing now, especially my writing style and thought process. On the one hand, it is frightening to know your level of maturity hasn't changed dramatically since you were in 10th grade. But, even more so (at least to me), because it reminds me of how quickly I outgrew what the world refers to as your "childhood" and took on the burdens, worries and fears of those years older.

After a few hours like those I spent on Saturday, I was never more thankful and happy to have found the person I love so very much and get to spend the rest of my life with. It was not always an easy or straight path to follow to get here (ha! no pun intended, but I'm still chuckling), but I am so incredibly lucky that I made it. And yet, even when it seems like the ridiculous adventures of me are nearing their final chapters, I find myself still stumbling into new ones of a whole new (and generally even happier and more joyful - which is impressive given how amazing my family was when I was young) category.

When I first started going to my therapist earlier this year he had me fill out his "intake form." It walked me through sharing about the significant people who have shaped my life up until this point - both those currently in my life and those from my past. This was not a short list, nor was the text that accompanied each (to be fair, given the length of each of my blog posts, we all know I am not one to be brief). It ended up truly being a short novel. As I walked in to see him for our first real session, he was still in the middle of reading through it (I got there early, of course). As I sat down he looked up at me and said,
"my Ashley, this is quite the story you have, I think you could publish a book."

Just recently I brought up someone that was included in that novel as we chatted a few weeks ago. Naturally, he got the mini-novel out and read their chapter back to me. Again, as he finished, he repeated his initial statement he made to me upon meeting me. As unsettling as it is, I couldn't agree more. It's one thing when your friends tell you you could write a book. Generally, that is an entertaining comment to hear. When it comes from your psychologist...? Thanks.

However, the best part? The shortest chapter is the current one. So many adventures left to have!

*Or, if your alias is Lashley Bomith, likely either heard or taken part in 100% of them...