Marathon training (round 2)

A marathon is like a Judd Apatow movie, starts out strong, and 3 hours later you can’t believe you’re only half way through.”
-Daniel Tosh

Have you watched the video above? If not, just watch his opening monologue. I promise you’ll laugh. I did. And I actually like running.

Okay, so back to Tosh. He’s a funny guy, right? He’s also pretty spot on with his marathon jokes. 26.2 miles really takes it’s toll on your body before, during and after. It’s been 4 months since the LA Marathon and I’m still applying Mederma to lighten the battle scars on my chest.

That other stuff Tosh talks about? Lost toenails and hitting the wall? Well, I haven’t experienced those things yet. Maybe it’ll come after the Long Beach Marathon in October.

I have 12 weeks of training left for Long Beach. The first six weeks have been pretty easy and uneventful. I didn’t really have to increase my mileage from before. I took a few days off while in Yosemite, but other than that I’ve been sticking with the plan[1]. Once again, I went with a free-to-me training plan. I chose the intermediate plan this time around. Like last time, most of my mid-week runs are under an hour. I know most training plans have a long-ish run midweek, but I like keeping my workout to an hour or so on weekdays. If I’m missing some great benefit of a 10-mile run on Wednesday, let me know.

I know training will become more difficult as my long run mileage increases. I skipped ahead a few weeks and did 17 miles on Sunday with some friends. My legs felt okay, but I had to stop more than I would have liked and had to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated on a warm and sunny morning.

I’m excited about marathon #2. I’m happy to go back to the flat, seaside Long Beach course where I ran my first half marathon. The course has almost no hills much different than LA with some significant uphill and downhill climbs. I’m not averse to hills, but I really don’t want to climb one at mile 18.

I know I can complete a marathon, so the goal for Long Beach won’t be simply to cross the finish line in tact. There will definitely be a time goal, but I’m unsure what that will be aside from improving upon my LA Marathon time.

[1] In case you’re wondering what it looks like — though you’re probably not — you can check out the training plan on Google Docs. Isn’t it pretty?

Nineteenth of July

Sometimes I forget when something happened. With flickr, photo time stamps and my blog, it makes it easier to remember what I was doing around this time several summers ago. Sadly, I don’t have a photo from every July 19th since 2005, but I think 5/6 is good enough.

Go Lakers!

I met Magic Johnson in the Student Activities Center at UCLA.

No photos from this day. I was likely traveling to San Francisco for a meeting. I did a lot of that that summer.

Red Mango

I think the frozen yogurt craze really took hold this spring/summer. I’m not a big fan, but I accompanied a friend for a cup at Red Mango in Westwood.


My cousin Frank and his wife hosted a graduation/birthday party for his brother, David. I got a photo with my handsome cousin, Robert, who at that time I didn’t seen much.

Oiyan insists on representing Boston in LA.

I met up with Oiyan and several other people from the Ed School for a Dodger game. I don’t usually go to day games, but we sat in the shade.

Dodger girls

Another Dodger game. I got free tickets from my cousin (I think). I took my sister, my roommate and his friend. The roommate accidentally spilled beer in my backseat while we were illegally tailgating. I think he was more upset about the wasted beer than I was about the mess/smell.

Training plan

I didn’t meet any celebrities or attend a Dodger game. I did have yogurt (not frozen). After an uneventful work day, I went for a short, easy run. I made dinner (baked tilapia, rice and steamed broccoli and carrots) for two. I’m standing next to my colorful Long Beach Marathon training plan. I’m in the 7th week of the 18-week plan. Now Sean and I are re-watching the pilot of Friday Night Lights via NetFlix instant watch.


July haiku: Falling behind

I can't wait!

Um. I may have written all these haiku today. I fell behind this week even though I wasn’t particularly busy.

Call Father Ricky
To reserve our wedding date
September fifteenth!

Pay the deposit
For our reception venue
Starting to feel real

Wind-up Bird novel
Draws me in to surreal world
And questions abound

First run with Alfred
Helps keep me at a tough pace
Even on the hills

Midnight Potter show
Worth costumed crowds and lost sleep
Goodbye to Hogwarts

Expected delays
But due to Carmageddon
Roads were largely clear

Seventeen mile run
Followed by yummy tacos
A well-earned reward


Where we’ll say “I do” and dance our first dance

Shortly after we got engaged, Sean and I started planning. Sort of. We checked out the usual wedding planning sites. They suggested making tentative guest lists to narrow down venues. I made a family list. It was bigger than what those wedding sites label a big wedding. With my friends, Sean’s family and friends, the list grew quickly. We had a round number and started searching for venues that would accommodate our JaMexican wedding reception.

Since I know Southern California, I did the search. Yelp was a much more useful source than the Knot. I also added venues where I had attended weddings or saw listed on discussion threads about large Los Angeles venues (that were not hotels, ‘cause, um, we can’t afford hotels). I made the spreadsheet and passed on the task of contacting the venues to Sean.

Sean did a great job and soon we had more info. We cut out venues that didn’t meet our needs and started planning visits.

Sean, my dad and I visited the Pavilion at the Industry Hills Equestrian Center in May. Even though it was empty, it looked smaller than it had when I attended a cousin’s wedding there in 2006. The pros for the Pavilion:
+ Capacity up to 350
+ Allowed you to bring outside catering
+ Close to the church, my family’s home
+ Plenty of parking
+ Not part of a hotel, but around the corner from the Pacific Palms hotel

The cons:
– No BYO alcohol; you have to go with their bar service for all beverages and alcohol
– No day-of event staff aside from the bartenders and required security

When we got home and did the math, we found that the Pavilion wasn’t as much of a bargain as we hoped. With the venue cost and bar service, it was pricier than we expected. Plus, after reading several wedding blogs, Sean was worried about the lack of day-of event staff. He didn’t feel confident that a bartender would be able to handle something going wrong with the venue. We never called back the woman who showed us around.


The party set-up

For the next six weeks, we stopped actively searching for venues and didn’t schedule any more visits with the venues on the short-list. We began to consider a backyard wedding.

val's quince

It started off as a joke with my cousin Nancy while we were at her house. My tío Pancho and tía Martha have hosted several large parties in their spacious backyard including one wedding and all three of their daughters’ quinceañeras.

“How many people did you have here for Valerie’s quinceañera?” I asked. I think they said about 200, but I’m not sure.

val's quince

Unfortunately, it soon became evident that while my family has hosted many parties at our home, as has my tía Martha and tío Pancho, those backyards would be too small for a bicoastal wedding. Plus, an outdoor wedding in late summer might be uncomfortable. September is a hot month.

In June we finally got around to scheduling an appointment with the busy Fr. Ricky at St John Vianney after our Yosemite trip. At our meeting on July 1, we got the details on what we would need to do to have an interfaith wedding. Sean doesn’t need to to become Catholic (he was raised Lutheran). We also learned that the church will take 4 years to rebuild. The interim church will be a large semi-permanent tent with air conditioning and flooring. Prior to the fire, SJV booked fast for weddings. Right now it’s not a popular place since there’s some uncertainty – what will the tent look like? – and many couples want the traditional church atmosphere. Fr. Ricky checked the schedule for us; September and October 2012 were wide open.


Brea Community Center - Community Hall

A few days after meeting with Fr. Ricky, I told my mom that we didn’t think a backyard wedding would work. She nodded. She had visited a friend’s backyard who hosted large parties to check it out, but that place wouldn’t work because of the lack of parking. Mom suggested two additional venues where she had attended weddings and parties.

That night, I looked up the Brea Community Hall; the second venue didn’t have much online. I liked what I saw:
+ Capacity of up to 320 banquet style
+ Allows outside catering
+ Allows you to bring your own alcohol and other beverages
+ Reasonable cost (lower than the Pavilion)

Over the week, I was in contact with the helpful reservation specialist, Nicole. Saturdays in September and October 2012 were currently available. Sean and I scheduled a visit for Sunday afternoon after attending an orientation for engaged couples at SJV. Mom had some time to spare and came along.

Brea is a short drive from Hacienda Heights, which would mean our guests wouldn’t have to travel too far from the ceremony to the reception. As we drove in to the Brea Community Center parking lot, my mom seemed a little confused. Although she suggested the venue, she actually had never visited. The venue she suggested had a similar name. Oops.

At the BCC, a facilities worker was happy to give us a tour of the Community Hall, outdoor patio and kitchen. He explained how the room is typically configured for weddings and answered some other questions. The room has hard wood floors, large windows which allow a lot of natural light. It’s nothing fancy, but not too plain. I liked it. Mom and I checked out the woman’s bathroom to make sure it wasn’t too small.

“I like it. I think you shouldn’t even bother with the other place,” mom said as she washed her hands in the spacious bathroom. (The other place would be Venue 3, the hall mom suggested a few days before. She did some research on the venue. The costs were comparable, but Venue 3 was much larger, accommodating up to 500.)

I nodded. She had said the words before I had a chance. We walked out of the bathrooms and met Sean in the cool hallway.

“My mom thinks we should stop looking. I agree. What do you think?”

Sean didn’t even pause before replying, “Yeah.”

On Monday morning I called Fr. Ricky to book the church for the same date we had tentatively chosen in March after getting engaged. Then I emailed Nicole about moving forward with booking the Community Hall and answering a couple of questions. On Tuesday morning we spoke about some of the additional booking details. By the afternoon I’d paid the deposit and received the contract.

It’s official. Sean and I will be getting married on September 15, 2012[1].

[1]Yup. We’ll have to stop the dancing around 11 for un Grito de Dolores in celebration of Mexican Independence. Since this is Adrian’s birthday weekend, I already told him he can party extra hard and we’ll have the mariachi play Las Mañanitas for him.

Cynical Cinderella

I think this was for my aunt's wedding

I’m not the princess type.
I’m not a girlie girl.
I don’t need or want a lot of frills for my wedding.
And I sure as hell won’t wear a tiara.

At least that’s what the practical me says. My inner 4-year old in a fluffy dress with matching fluffy underpants and socks and patent leather shoes has a different opinion.

I let her out once in a while. She emerges whenever I have Lori do my makeup and hair for a special event. While Lori does me up, I say we’re playing Pretty, Pretty Princess. I love singing “Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid in karaoke, not that I need the lyrics. And I plop a tiara on my head whenever I get the chance.

Cinderella carriage

These tendencies reared their tiara-crowned head on Sunday. Sean, my mom and I were on our way back to my mom’s house after visiting a reception venue. As we merged on to the exit ramp, I noticed a truck hauling a horse trailer and a Cinderella carriage.

My inner four year old oohed and said, “I want!”

I got as close to the truck as I could and made Sean take a picture. As we passed the truck, I saw the sign which read Cindy Cinderella Carriages. Really, that’s the name.

When I got home, I checked out the poorly designed website and pleaded with Sean to let me have a carriage for the wedding. I was joking. Kinda.

After all, one of my nicknames is Cinderella.