Plants First, Fish Next

The original intent of this journal was to chronicle the trials and tribulations of the struggling twenty-something, as I searched for love and happiness in the small city-burb of ManchVegas, NH. Now, I'm thirty-something, I've found love in many forms, happiness in even more, and now the struggle is just... well... life. And finding time to do the million and one things I want to do- including writing.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

You Think THAT'S Impressive....

As I work to finish (ok, work to FIND TIME to finish) my Half-Marathon report, I wanted to share what My Runner, his dad, Sherpa John, and 32 others attempted over the weekend:  The Barkley Marathon.

This is one of the toughest races in the country, and as you look through the pictures you'll get an idea.  Both came back with EPIC stories not only of the course but of the people and experiences.  The idea of the adventure- THAT'S why running is fun.  :-)

My Runner

Sherpa John

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dolphin Challenge, Part 1

Towne Bank 8K, 3/20, Virginia Beach, VA
Net time: 51:50

The alarm went off at 6am, much earlier than a vacation alarm ought to.  The race started at 8am; we'd planned to meet Pocket and her friend K at 7:30am.  We took advantage of the early start to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic from our room, a sight I’ve rarely witnessed over the water, never mind take the time to enjoy when I have to be up so early. 

We split homemade egg and bagel sandwiches from the day before, frozen from the hard-working mini-fridge.  I’m not used to eating so soon after waking up; usually I don’t eat for an hour or two after waking up and finishing my coffee.  We headed out into the chill morning air with the 20,000 other runners towards Neptune to meet up with our friends, jogging on the way to stay warm.  A few minutes of searching through the crowd and I spoted Pocket and K.  We paused for photo op, and moved to the back of the pack at the start line, almost 4 blocks from the actual starting line.

It took us ten minutes to cross the starting line with all the people running.  I looked around at the folks in costumes, kilts, wigs, funny hats, crazy makeup.  I love the spirit these people bring to a race- makes it feel like a party.  I wish I had the balls or patience to run in a crazy getup.  Maybe someday I’ll go all out for a 5k.  When I helped my dad by working an October Fest 12k, one of the entrants ran the whole thing in lederhosen and a purple felt fedora with a feather! Even more impressive are parents running with child-filled strollers. 

Technically we were not allowed to run with iPods, dogs, or strollers, but obviously people were ignoring those rules.  While I’m always impressed at someone’s performance with the extra burden of a child and stroller, I wish more people had followed the guidelines.  With 20thousand people these things become a danger to others.  iPods make it impossible to hear a runner coming up behind you with an “on your right,” or “excuse me.”  Even the most well trained dogs can act out in a large crowd, or a spectator’s dog can go bananas at the site of a dog in the race, causing an upset to runners.  Strollers become battering rams.  With crowds this big, passing is difficult enough with just one’s own body.  Passing with the stroller-equivalent of a tank is nigh impossible.  We ran alongside a man on the boardwalk who spent his whole run yelling at people in front of him to make way.  Wouldn’t it be more fun to let your child stand on the sidelines with other family or friends than having them hear you yell at strangers? 

My biggest challenge of this 8k (4.9 miles for those of you not versed in computing, like me,) was staying together with Pocket and My Runner.  We spend the ENTIRE race weaving in and out of people.  My Runner was always in front of us, which  alternately motivated and infuriated me.  In any case, it kept us running and kept us challenged.  It gave Pocket and I a chance to catch up on each other's lives now that she lives three states away.  

The race started cool but weather warmed up quickly.  I took off my “sleeves” and rolled up the sleeves to my long-sleeved under shirt pretty quickly.  By the time we were on the south end of the “boardwalk” (made from cement… non-traditional but dualy functional- take it up with the Army Corps of Engineers, I suppose) it was well in to the 60’s and sunny. 

It was around this time I needed a little “inspiration.”  When running is hard, or I need a smile, or I’m just feeling frisky, I’ll grab a handful of My Runner’s well-developed runner’s butt.  Sorry if that’s TMI, but seriously, if you felt that ass you’d be willing to run for  miles too, whether it was to emulate it or to tap it.  Seriously.  It’s that good.

Ok, I’ll get back to the narrative.  I needed inspiration, so I went to get me some.  Unfortunately, My Runner sped up just as I grabbed my “piece” and this poor girl he had been passing got a full body check from yours truly.  Now, in hockey terms this was no big deal.  I probably wouldn’t even apologize for the minor infraction in the course of a normal game.  But with running, well, it's not a contact sport.  I expressed my apologies pretty profusely, but I don't think she was impressed.  I turned back to Pocket for corroboration, then realized I just ran over this chick in an attempt to grab ass.  I was the dick in this scenario, no getting around that.  Awwwww….  Still, inspiration was given, and that girl now had a story to tell.

We swerved from the boardwalk back onto Atlantic Ave. to run past the Start line.  Around that time I *thought* we were done, I started pulling more gas from the tank.  Pocket and I talked a little about that.  I love the end of a race, where you know how much is left and you can empty your tank and make a strong finish.  Well, turns out one should study the course in order to use this functionality (apparently it's a figure 8).  There were more miles left than I had anticipated when I was ready to “empty the tank.” 

We took one last turn onto the “boardwalk” for the finish.  K was waiting for us on the curve, camera in hand.  This was the first time I’d had a “fan,” and I was WAY more excited than I ever thought I would be.  Honestly she was out there for Pocket, the promise of sharing Pocket's free beers (she's not much of a drinker, like My Runner and I), and because it was convenient (a measly 8 blocks from her current residence).  I mean, she seemed genuinely excited to see us round the corner, but I wouldn’t expect someone to be out there if it weren’t for the same kind of circumstances.  Still, it felt AWESOME to see her.  We rounded the curve, headed into the sunlight, and were greeted with the awesome Neptune: Ward of the Finish Line.

Heading towards Neptune with Pocket and My Runner and almost 20thousand others, I felt giddy.  I started cheering us all on, "Woooo"-ing at full voice.  Here we all were, on the beautiful beach, spending time together, being active, and participating in an event with tens of thousands of people.  That's not nothing.  We crossed a pre-finish line; I realized this was so our names would come up on the screen from our “D-Tags.”  The MC announced the names of the finishers, which was pretty killer.  My Runner’s name was announced, my name was (mispro)nounced, and Pocket’s name was announced.  We all crossed the finish together, feeling fine and ready to take in the beer and the sun.

The race organizers had set up a long corral, allowing finishers to walk after their run, pickup our finishers medal, t-shirt, food, water, and any other swag they were handing out, before finally turning into the beer tent area, serving exclusively Yeungling beer.  We grabbed some beers, and Pocket and I went off in search of K.  Once we were all found, we kicked off our shoes and relaxed in the sand, toasting our wonderful day.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wild Rover Series, 3 of 3

Hynes Tavern 5-miler, 3/14, Lowell, MA
Net Time: 49:05, mile avg: 9:50

Woke up at 8:45am, unsure if the faint smell of beer was coming from me or from the massive amount of empties left from the Epic St. Patty's Day Party.  While I wasn't hungover (thanks, Mom and Dad, for the excellent purification system), I was SUPER tired.  I must be getting too old for 4:30am bedtimes.  Still, I eventually roused myself and headed downstairs and tiptoed amongst the overnight guests to get ready.

There was new fallen snow/slush on the ground in Hillsboro.  I knew Lowell wouldn't have snow, but it would be cold, rainy, and likely windy.  I borrowed some nifty techie thermal undies from My Runner (thanks babe!), toasted a bagel, downed a cuppa, and headed out.

I'm glad I bundled up as much as I did.  I arrived with plenty of time to nap a bit in my car before heading to the starting line.  The turnout was smaller than the race directors had anticipated, but still pretty impressive.  I was struck by how nonchalant the start was.  The last two races had national anthems, this one had nothing but a guy yelling "Go!" on a bull horn.  Another runner commented about the inability to purchase a gun in Lowell, and I realized that gunshots in Lowell are probably NOT the safest way to start a race.

I was apprehensive about this race.  It's the longest in the series and I had the worst training week.  I ran one... maybe two days since the prior race, plus hockey.  Not really a good way to prepare for my longest race to date.  I had even briefly considered not going, but halted that thought process pretty quickly.  My Runner rightly pointed out that the finishers medal would look super lame with just two of the three pieces, and that thought got me out there.  Now, to keep me going forward.

The first mile was pretty easy.  Wearing my new waterproof EMS jacket and a hat, I stayed relatively dry.  My hands were raw, but it was warm enough with my hood up that they would warm up soon.  But I was going too fast.  I could feel myself pushing, wanting to get out of the weather, not enjoying the run.  I needed a pacer.  So I found one.  A woman, a little shorter than me, with a long thick brown ponytail, wearing the Frozen Shamrock race shirt and a vest.  She was running with an easy stride, passing a few folks but mostly just running.  Something about her speed and the way she was running spoke to me.  So, like the creepy stalker that I am, I ran behind her.

I don't know why I didn't run up and talk to her.  I wasn't feeling very communicative that day (having turned down the generous offer from Face to accompany me to the race- I didn't want anyone to have to stand in the rain for an hour just to see me run by).  Sometimes I followed her closely, sometimes I let her get a bit ahead. Just after the 3 mile mark we went down a hill where she was just more willing to pound than I was.  I was getting tired and needed to throttle back to make it another mile and change.  She never had more than about a 20 second lead on me, which on a city course meant I could still see her most of the time.  After the race I found her, went up to her, and thanked her, letting her know that she pulled me and challenged me at the same time.  She seemed surprised, but totally happy.

While there were hills on this course, the most challenging aspect was the weather.  Rain, yeah, chilly, yeah, WIND oh yeah.  Running through a cemetery we were all blasted by a headwind that made the rain fall sideways.  Getting to the finish line felt like sprinting even though I was running at the same pace.

This is the one race I did not get my free beer.  Figuring I'd had enough beers the previous night, and my pants and shoes combined weighed an extra 10 lbs with the water, I was ready for home.  I was tired, but it felt damn good to have my finisher's medal.

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Wild Rover Series, 2 of 3

Claddagh Pub 4-miler, 3/7, Lawrence, MA
Net time: 39:10, mile avg: 9:48

My Runner called me at 8:25am to let me know he was almost at my house.  Wow, I thought to myself, he's running early.  Must be perky this morning.  Come to find out he thought we were leaving an hour earlier... whoops.  Not sure if that was my bad or his, but I felt kinda guilty about it...

I was feeling good, despite having returned from my sojourn to my alma matter with Pocket after midnight the previous night.  It was a beautiful day, sunny and in the high 50's.  We were meeting my Dad in Lawrence for the race- the first time My Runner and Dad would meet.  Dad was there around the time we were taking off from ManchVegas, giving him plenty of time to warm up his creaky old joints (ok, he's only 59, but he said it first.)

We found (dubious) parking and headed down to the Claddagh parking lot to meet up with Dad and get my number (My Runner was "bandit" running- he didn't pay the entrance fee and had no number).  We killed a little time with introductions and catching up, then headed over to the starting line where My Runner and I lead Dad to the back of the pack.  "How far back we goin'?" Dad quips.  I just wanted to be in the sun.  Plus it's more fun to pass people than to be passed.

Sidebar- most races play the national anthem before the start, like a traditional sporting event.  Often it's a recording, or it's some kid who sings in the local church choir/community theatre/karaoke contest who belts it out and sharps that high note.  Generally, it's awful and doesn't make me feel patriotic in the least.  The group that the Claddagh race director hired sang *beautifully.*  A trio of women (or girls, I couldn't actually see them) singing in a capella harmony, hitting every note in clear, strong, and blended voices.  I'm not a super patriotic person, but I was moved.

The race was an easy start, bringing us through downtown Lawrence before moving out into neighborhoods.  As I started the run I noticed I was leading, with Dad and My Runner a bit behind.  My Runner had just run a snowshoe marathon the day before, so I knew he wasn't at full strength.  But I was a little surprised my Dad was having trouble keeping up.  I checked to make sure I wasn't pushing it *because* of my Dad... and I wasn't.  Hmm... Still not sure if he was faking it, but in any case it made me feel pretty good about my very very average 9:30 mile.  Dad asked My Runner to snap some photos of us:

Lawrence is an ugly city.  I'm sorry.  I wish it wasn't, but even downtown had no redeeming qualities.  It's a good thing they put this race on, or I'm not sure why ANYONE would ever choose to visit.

As Dad and My Runner talked about races, Ultras, and folks they both knew (or knew of) I was struck (again) by how similar they are.  Yes, perhaps I am a cliché.  One thing I admire about my Dad (and My Runner) is that he says what he thinks, other people's opinions be damned.  There are plenty of times in life where this is a good quality.  There are also some times when this is socially awkward, like when Dad basically (but maybe jokingly) called My Runner a pussy for running with his Pops even though he had a slower pace.  I can't remember if THIS is the comment my Dad made that prompted me to call him an ass, or if it was another....  Seriously, what did he think *I* was doing at this race?  Did he think I was a pussy runner?  Was he a pussy runner if he was slowing down for me?  Dad has some good qualities, but he definitely IS an ass when he doesn't think about how other people will react to what he says.

The course is shaped like a lollypop: go in one way, loop around, and go back the way you came.  The loop around was really the only challenging part of the course, as it went up a significantly steep and long-ish hill.  Training in Hillsboro paid off.  It was challenging, no doubt, but more than do-able.  As we descend the hill, Dad turns to me, "I'm thirsty!" for beer, is the inference.  Another runner, a man about my Dad's age, comes up behind us.  "Me too!  Got any beer in those water bottles?"  We joke around for a bit with him as we headed back down to the finish line.

I kept pulling ahead, motivated by the sunshine, warm weather, and full bladder, but pulling back again not wanting to leave the guys.  As we round (and round) the final blocks, the finish line comes into view with the big clock just seconds away from 40:00 minutes.  I really wanted a sub-40 minute time.  Well, ok, I really wanted to sprint and let it all out.  I spit out an "I'm going for it" to the guys and bolted.

The guys were content to come in at their own pace.  Probably a good thing since my stomach was maybe a little pukey feeling after the sprint.

We collected our medals and headed in for our free beers.  There seemed to be pasta too, but my tummy was happy with just beer (is that a problem? nahhh...).  Dad was very complimentary towards my running, and I was happy to be able to run by his side.  After our free beers we headed back to MachVegas for some food and more socializing.

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Wild Rover Series, 1 of 3

J.P. McBrides 3-miler, "Frozen Shamrock," 2/28, Haverhill, MA
Net time: 27:45, mile avg: 9:20

The morning after the wildly successful Luau, I dragged myself out of my warm, comfy bed, scrambled up some eggs and toast, and checked the weather.  It was cloudy and chilly, but calm and dry- pretty much the conditions I'd been running in for the last month.  I gathered my usual running gear: Brooks, mittens and Lifesavers (for the last time this season), along with my newly found iPod (MiniMcL discovered it in the couch cushions during the Luau... what she was searching for in the couch cushions, I didn't ask...). I kissed My Runner goodbye and headed out to Haverhill.

I'm not gonna lie, I had butterflies in my stomach.  Not for running 3 miles, but because I hadn't raced since the Beaver Brook 5K in December.  I've said it before, but there's a certain feel about a race, an excitement that doesn't exist at a "run."  It's not just people, it's the ritual of the event, with it's "official" starting and finish line, electronic tracking devices, announcements, etc.  Did the pre-race dance of getting the number, the t-shirt, and the swag, then waited in line for the bathroom for 20 minutes.

The Wild Rover series, and I assume any beer/bar sponsored race, tends to be a social affair.  Folks were there in groups, chatting, many dressed in crazy Irish/St. Patty's Day outfits.  It was a fun scene, and not hard to make conversation with those around me.

I started closer to the front then I meant to, but held my own throughout the race.  My iPod was shuffling through my "workout" playlist; all the songs that were once tired and old felt new after a three month hiatus.  Shuffle was doing a masterful job of random-happenstance-coincidence as one great song after another played, perfectly matching my mood, my pace, and my surroundings.  It was hard not to sing along out loud, but I did let myself groove with it:

The batteries ran out pretty quickly (not having been charged).  I really didn't mind since I run without music most of the time anyways.  The folks near me weren't super chatty, so I filled my mind with thoughts of Haverhill as we moved into the Bradford area of town.  Parts of Haverhill were filled with Ye Olde New England Charm(TM), and parts were just plain run down or abandoned.  Zion Bible College has moved in to Bradford College's campus since the last time I was in Haverhill.  It was nice to see that area thriving again.  This was the most well-laid course of the three, I thought, as it took you over the Merrimack twice, over and under bridges, a few ups and downs and loops.

Post race was CHILLY, with volunteers handing out space-blankets.  Speaking of chilli, that's what they were serving at the finish line, along with chicken and split-pea soups.  Declined the tin foil cape space blanket, grabbed a chilli, and got into the beer line.  Rather than handing out tickets for free beer, JP McBrides had dedicated beer taps on the back porch.  There were 2 problems with this plan: 1)with only one tap, the beer line was LOOOOONG.  2)They had obviously set up the tap as the starting gun was fired, and the beer was really foamy.  I combated these issues by making pals with the two older gentlemen in front of me in line, chatting about this race and others, space blankets, and the merits of a totalitarian system of government.  Since the taps were so foamy, the bartenders were filling two cups for everyone, essentially providing me with a total of an entire pint of free beer.  It was Rolling Rock, so it's not like I won the lottery, but it was a nice gesture on their part.

Unfortunately, the nice gentlemen disappeared after retrieving beers, and I was left in the yard double fisting foamy brew with no companions.  I ambled around, looking for a situation or a conversation, but no go.  People were with their people, or looking for people, or not interested in new people.  It was the first time that day I was sad to be on my own at this race.  I shrugged and enjoyed my beer until I started shivering, then took that as a sign to head home, first of three finishers medals hanging proudly around my neck.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Virginia is for Lovers. And Racers.

Thursday night at 11pm My Runner and I leave to drive the 596 miles to Virginia Beach for the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon.  The weather looks to be in the upper 60's and sunny, and our room has an ocean view.  Pocket's running the 8k with us on Saturday, and nothing will please me more to spend the morning running with two of my favorite people next to the majestic Atlantic Ocean.

I'm looking forward to this trip so much it's all that's on my mind.  I've got an extensive list of what to pack, divided by categories, (clothes, toiletries, booze, etc.).  I'm obsessively checking the weather (last Monday the prediction was 50% chance of precipitation on Sunday, today it's down to 30%).  I'm looking at the race maps and imagining what the runs will be like, and browsing through the "Virginia Beach" pool on Flickr (an eclectic mix of professionals and vacation photos).

I'm SO excited for the vacation that I keep forgetting that I'm running THIRTEEN MILES on Sunday.  After running just under 5 miles on Saturday.  At this point, I'm as trained as I'm gonna be.  I (mostly) avoided injuries at hockey (bruises don't really count).  I know where there's water and Gu on the course, and I've got some to carry with me.  My shoes are well broken in, my running clothing has been chosen, my iPod is charged and I'm ready to go.  The only unknowns are "chafe," (I know what chafe is in general, but runner's chafe sounds... no good), and if I can *actually* go the distance.

I'm no longer afraid to walk, but I don't want to give in to the walking if I don't have to.  I was pretty tired running 5 miles last Sunday, but the conditions were bad.  6 miles three weeks ago felt great.  My plan is to try to make it to the water station (about 6 miles in) without walking, get some water and fuel, walk about a half mile, and see if I can run again.  From then on in, if I'm tired or hurting, I'll sign-post it (ie, run to that sign-post, walk to this one, run to that one, walk to this one).

You know this *isn't a running blog* however the next few posts will be running-centered, so you've been "warned."  Also, the DAY we return from Virginia Beach the Nerd Herd will fight for the NHSSC Hockey trophy in the Season 6 finals.  Hopefully I won't be too broken to break myself at hockey.  :-)

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Naked Cartwheels

It’s been an incredibly busy couple of weeks. I work to post at least twice a week, sometimes more, and it’s been tough to find the time. I’ve had meetings every day at work, some with a prominent political figure in this city (who may be my representative but for whom I did not cast my vote). This past weekend Dad visited, hockey Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday night My Runner and I and Mom and Mr. Fixit went to a dinner party at Mop and Face’s place.

Tonight my calendar had “6pm, Whipple St.” I was scheduled to look at a half a duplex to rent. It was cute, had a lot of space, a yard, and was in a quiet neighborhood. Best of all it was within my price range. The owners are a friend of a friend, so it came with a recommendation.

I assume you noticed that all the verbs in the last paragraph are in past tense. I got an email from the owner today that he had rented it out last night. I knew I had gotten too excited about this place. I had even described it to someone as “the one; we’re meant for each other.” But it’s been on the market for a while, and the owners were (understandably) looking to rent it out sooner rather than later.

I’m bummed, but working through it. How? With naked cartwheels. Tonight, instead of having an appointment, instead of scheduling anything, instead of having to see another living person, I’m home. All alone. Well, Fred T. Ferret, is here, but no humans. My cousin/roommate is home for spring break, and I’m taking advantage of an empty apartment and a canceled appointment for some MUCH needed *me* time.

Ok, Leeapeea, but naked cartwheels? That was Face’s idea. I’m sure it was one of those offhand things, “Oh, your roommate’s gone? What are you going to do? Naked Cartwheels! Ha!” Except it’s turned into something more than that. Metaphorically, naked cartwheels represents ultimate freedom and joy. Not only do you have the space to perform a free-wheeling acrobatic attempt, but you also have the privacy to do it disrobed. THAT’S freedom, my friends.

A good life is a life of balance. I love my friends, my family, My Runner, but I also love me. I have to balance my time with everyone else with some me time. Tonight brought the scales back to true. If you’ve been feeling overstressed, overwhelmed, overtaxed, over burdened, take my advice: naked cartwheels.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Bits and Pieces

Lots of thoughts swirling around lately, and mostly unorganized.  A sampling of the bits and pieces grabbed from the tornado of my brain:

Dad's coming up this weekend.  We're meeting at a race on Sunday morning, then he's staying until Tuesday.  This'll be the first time I run with him, ever.  I'm really worried about being slow.  I know it's stupid  - he won't care, we're here to run it together, but still.  My Runner might be joining us.  I'm glad My Runner and Dad will get a chance to meet. They're very similar, which totally makes me a cliché, but what can ya do.  I love running with My Runner, and I know it will make me worry less about being slow, but there's a small part of me that wants to run just me and my dad.  I think that part's smaller than the part that wants both of them there.

I drove around ManchVegas for an hour on Wednesday checking out neighborhoods of apartments listed on craigslist.  It was ridiculously depressing how much some places were misrepresented.  Of course I only viewed the outside on these, but since I'm looking for a new neighborhood I thought that would be a good place to start.  As much as I want a place that's unique, part of a house, a few neighbors, a nice landlord, I think ultimately I won't be able to find a nice place in a nice neighborhood in my price range unless I go for apartment complex living.  Not really my first choice, but it's got the essentials that I'm looking for, and there are always openings.  The other drawback is that my current rental company operates at least half of the apartment complexes in MancheVegas.  They're probably not better or worse than other rental companies, but their tenant screening process leaves something to be desired.

Last weekend I ran the farthest I have yet - 6 miles.  I felt great, and ran an average 9:20min. mile in the Frozen Shamrock 3 mile race the next day.  This week I feel like crap.  My hip's been bothering me, my calves are cramping, and I've been having some, ah... lady issues.  I've taken some time off to rest, maybe too much time.  I've got a 4.6mi run planned with Pocket when she comes to visit on Saturday, then the race on Sun is 4 miles.  I'm still not feeling great, but it's time to get back in the saddle.  I've totally neglected my PT the last two weeks (slaps hand) and I know that's why my hip is bothering me.  The half-marathon is in 16 days; no time to rest on my weary laurels.

Speaking of the ShamRock (half)Marathon, this was today's facebook post:
Coach Jerry Frostick's tip of the week: Less is best, don't try and make up for missed mileage. Everyone has battled the worstwinter that I remember. That same determination will get you to the finish line. Feel proud of what you've done.Usethese last two weeks to heal aches and pains and visualize great things for... your big day!You all will Sham ROCK.
It's like Coach Jerry is reading my mind.  I'm not going to go crazy with miles, but I am working to get my drive, determination, and "sticktoitiveness" back on line.  (When did "sticktoitiveness" become an ok word to use?)

Pocket and I will be heading to my Alma Mater after our run on Saturday to see a show produced by the theatre department from which I graduated.  It hasn't been terribly long since I attended, and most of my profs are still working there.  I've always been proud of my education.  While the name and the department doesn't necessarily have a huge reputation, I felt the professors and program were all well-rounded and encouraged exploration of talents and strengths.  I really hope it's a good show.

Mom recently "guilted" me that I've been dating My Runner for over six months now and she barely knows him.  She's right, it's weird.  I have a very close relationship with my family, so the fact that I'm so happy and they don't know him IS totally strange.  So we're having dinner on Wednesday, hosted by Face and Mop.  I'm super psyched.  Getting the chance to meet some of his family over Easter.  Excited, but oddly not really nervous.  I mean, I hope they like me, and there is a certain amount of strain making small talk with a room full of strangers, but I'm just happy to get to see a little more of where My Runner comes from.

I know I'm "of that age," but EVERYONE is getting married this year.  Three friends, two family members.  Five weddings.  Don't get me wrong, I actually really like weddings.  Celebrating love, eating, dancing, drinking, wearing pretty clothes, all things I truly enjoy.  And, luckily, there's not a single union that I'm in any way opposed to.  The only down side is that my schedule for the spring/summer/fall is now pretty full, and already there are conflicts with weddings and planned trips.  Normally I'm a "first come first serve" kind of gal when it comes to plans, but people tend to only get married once (at least, to each other), and friends and family are sort of expected to prioritize a wedding over, say, a backpacking trip.  Knowing I will have equal but different fun at either event is not helping me make a decision.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Aloha, Final Party

The 5th Annual Luau was held this past weekend, and it was a success.  I know so many wonderful and fun people, and I'm glad to host an opportunity for them to all meet each other.  As Sherpa said, “You know a lot of people!”  It’s true.  They’re all fun and nice and wonderful in their own way, and I was happy to have them all in one spot.  It also gave me a chance to invite all the awesome folks I’ve met through My Runner and introduce them to the awesome folks that are a part of my life.

This is the last party that will be held in the hallowed walls of apartment 206.  The Seacoast contingent arrived, looking around and saying, "I forgot how great your apartment is." (They don't visit frequently enough.  HINT.)  Yeah, I said, I know...  And we all had a moment of silence as we pre-mourned the passing of an era. 

So, in honor of my apartment and it's ability to host and hold some pretty phenomenal parties, a memorial of sorts to the evenings of fun (and sometimes not so fun) held at 206.  If you have fond (or horrid or funny) memories of any of these gatherings, feel free to share.  (Click any pictures to see larger.)

Housewarming, Nov. 2004: Held shortly after Smarty Pants and I moved in, the housewarming was a SAUSAGE FEST, with exactly three girls in attendance.  Smarty, Face, and yours truly.  This was the first AND LAST time Twister was played in our apartment.  Shortly after the epic Twister bouts I decided to get renter's insurance.

Oscar Party, Feb. 2005: A small gathering to watch the 2005 Oscars.  Hors d'herves and champagne, formal attire, and a red carpet (well, a swath of red fabric safety pinned to the actual carpet).    The most civil of the early parties.

The First Annual Luau, Feb. 2005: A large gathering, the first luau went off quite well until I realized that the guy I was with was sleeping with another woman and wanted her to come to the party.  I distinctly remember chucking his clothes at him from the bedroom and screaming at him to leave (he was quite in the luau spirit in a coconut bra and grass skirt).  Other than that, it was lovely.  Note: The ex and the coconut bra made a return at this year's Luau.  I did not throw clothing, and I knew beforehand he was sleeping with somebody else, as am I.  All is well now.  :-D

Cinco de Mayo, May 2005: made chipotle pigs in a blanket, managed NOT to poison friends with Mom's margarita recipe.  There was talk of making this annual as well, but the party fuse was running low finally.

Talk Like A Pirate Party, Sept. 2005: this party commemorated International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  What?  Pirates were cool once.  Plus I got to use the corset I bought for a play a second time.  And MrFaceHead came in a full parrot costume.  He is teh awesome.  Proudest about: serving orange wedges to prevent scurvvy.  Arrrr.

Smarty Pant’s Surprise Birthday, Dec. 2005: Since Smarty’s birthday falls neatly in between Christmas and New Years, it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.  Face and I resolved to MAKE it have the attention it deserved.  Smarty was surprised.  She cried.  It was awesome.

2nd Annual Luau, Feb. 2006: they start to run together... but I'm pretty sure this is the one where a guy threw up strawberry daiquiri all over the living room floor. 

Toga Party, June 2006: for my 26th birthday I held a Toga Party.  One friend came with his new girlfriend and they were the ONLY ones not in togas.  We made them wear really ugly sheets.  They've since stopped coming to my parties.

The Heist, Aug. 2006: for The Boy's 31st birthday I arranged for him to be kidnapped, tossed in an unmarked cargo van, and charged, by Jimmy Baggadonuts to find the McGuffin Statue.  Obviously my wonderful and awesome friends filled out the cast of characters.  It went off without a hitch, proving that not only are all my friends closet actors, but I am a kickass heist planner.  Research for this was fun.  :-)

3rd Annual Luau, Feb. 2007: this year it snowed 16 inches the night of the luau, and there was a parking ban in Manchester.  People walked 5 blocks in the snow in sandals.  The Boy took my offer to "invite friends" a little too liberally, inviting people he knew only from playing pool at Strangebrew who brought along even more strangers.  Max apartment capacity was reached that night at a total of 51 guests.  I was not amused.

Halloween, Oct. 2007: Smarty was in Budapest this fall, so the entire invite list was up to me.  This resulted in a number of theatre people attending, which is great/horrible for a costume party.  A contingent of actors came from the production of Pirates of Penzance, and I’m pretty sure some of them were getting it on in the shower.  Most notable costume: one friend’s girlfriend came as a Succubus, a costume that consisted of black booty shorts, black bat wings, and black latex body paint.  Yes, that’s it.

NYE 2007, Dec. 2007/Jan. 2008: this should have been the end of The Boy and me, but I'm stubborn and a glutton for punishment I guess.  Carnie Irene made her pox-filled appearance this year, prompting The Boy to spend time exclusively with her, dancing with her (while no one else was dancing, mind you), touching her, and being with her when it was time for NYE kisses.  This night I left without saying good-bye and stayed at Face's house.  He hadn't noticed I was gone.  He was upset that he had to clean everything up by himself.  Boo-hoo.

4th Annual Luau, Feb. 2008: I think this was the year my towel rack in front of the toilet was broken as someone drunkenly fell against it.  There was also some girl… someone’s friend of a friend, maybe, who was trying to kiss all the other girls.  And this was the year half the female contingent showed up in bikini tops.  I don’t know what kind of hormones were in the water, but they seemed to be the horny kind.

Halloween, Oct. 2008: I was stop number one on people's party-hopping list.  While it was nice that everyone came, it was a little sad that I had 4 people in my apartment at midnight.  I whined about it because I am 5 years old.

First 29th Birthday Surprise, June 2009: This time *I* was the one who was surprised.  I managed not to pee my pants and was inebriated enough to give EVERYONE at the party hugs.  I was not so inebriated that I couldn’t figure out that The Boy could never have pulled this off by himself, so thanks to Face and Smarty for the best first 29th birthday a girl could have.

5th Annual Luau, Feb. 2010: after a hiatus in 2009 the Luau was back with a vengeance.  This year the tikki gods saw fit to cut half the power to the building, affording ambiance while still being able to run the blenders. Hula and Limbo contests were a rousing success.  Statistics: Rum Consumed: 2 1/2 handles + approx 300 mL of 151.  Ice Used: 20lbs.  Inflatable Fish Sacrificed: 2.  Lei'd at the door: Everyone.

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