Summer's late season heat finally rolled around and lucky for us it would be just in time for an outdoor wedding. Luckily, we planned it to be a casual family picnic-type affair - so we weren't too worried about. It was what we were hoping it would be, a perfect end to The Wedding Summer.
Because they thought it would be cool, my place of employment decided to throw a "groom shower" for me. I reluctantly agreed to this, but they meant well it wasn't a horrible thing. Among the fun stuff was a cake with photos of L and I hijacked from my Facebook page. I got a kick out of telling folks, after all of the things I've done to them, they could finally have a piece of me. Their effort was appreciated and doing something of this nature for a jerk like me is impressive. This proves I can, sometimes, grow on people.
Before the summer long planning was put into effect, I followed up the August half marathon with Columbus Running Company's Blazin' 5 Miler the weekend before L and I took the plunge. I would be running this one by myself as L decided to relax and watch me suffer in the humidity. Having had fall-like temps at the Goodyear Half Marathon, we would have a race start temperature warmer than nearly that entire half marathon day. There is a reason why the five miler is called "Blazin'".
Last year, I took 8th in this race at 30:18 - finishing behind now CRC Westerville Teammates Seth & John. A bit disappointing as I was wanting break the 30:00 five miler barrier for the first time since my Morehead State University Cross Country days and came up just short. With the same goal, and much better training behind me, this was again my focus - though how much the half marathon the weekend before would effect me would be key. I spent the days before doing some light workouts as those leg muscles were showing signs of fatigue. As for L, she was fighting allergies that were being spread through the summer air.
The Blazin' 5 Miler is be an out and back jaunt starting at the Jerry L. Garver YMCA in Canal Winchester and then a left onto Long Street which runs directly into the Blacklick Creek Trail, which winds along the Blacklick Creek from Reynoldsburg to Groveport. We would follow the trail past Portman Park and to the right, crossing both Gender Road & Brice Road, before making the turnaround at a roundabout portion of the path at the 2 1/2 mile mark - flat and (depending how well you are feeling) fast.
Come race day it was humid, but not blazing hot. At the start I follow one of the CRC Elite women hoping to stick with her for as long as I can. There was a dude directly behind us who had a horrible case of heavy footedness, making it hard to concentrate. Luckily, shortly thereafter, he went around us. Moments later there is another tagging along and at mile one I'm at 5:41. I am one who only looks at my watch once the mile marker signal buzzes to see my pace, but I didn't have to do this here. The dude behind us had his watch set so that an automated voice would tell him how far he'd gone, his pace and time at each marker. Yes, this - too - was annoying.
Still sticking with the CRC Elite woman as we meander about the rolling paved trail terrain, we dodge oncoming Sunday morning bikers. The three of us are pretty close-knit and hoping to have enough on the return trip to improve last year's finish. At mile two we're at 6:03 and we pass, coming the opposite direction, the bike lead and lead runners. The bike lead throw's out some encouragement, "The turn around is just ahead, looking good folks!"
Reaching the turnaround loop, the three of us are still sticking together and we pass those who were a bit behind us. I don't see Traffic Panther Gary, this only meant he wasn't far behind and is within striking distance. Moments later I pass L and we give one another a thumbs up.
A bit more than halfway back, I'm feeling the fatigue. The dude with the annoying watch has over taken the CRC Elite woman and I, but she is on his tail and I'm drifting back (mile 3: 6:14). Focusing on form and keeping my stride long, I'm hoping to maintain the rest of the way in. There isn't much incline on the course, but the return trip felt it was ALL up hill and I'm wearing down in the humidity and those in front are long gone (mile 4: 6:24).
I'm working on reaching the final straight stretch in order to pour what I left into it, but before I can - a sharp pain shoots through my right calf. I'm taken back a bit, hoping after a few steps the pain would subside - but it doesn't and it is enough to force me into an awkward "run-limp" type movement. I'm disappointed and ticked, but I'm not going to come to a stop with less than a half mile to go. The pain isn't going away and I can't push off with any sincere effort - son of a b***. I was hoping to "pegleg it" to the finish without anyone passing me - but that didn't happen. Traffic Panther Gary flies with about 100 meters to go. I finally finish and stop my watch to see 30:58, :40 seconds slower than last year and full minute slower that what I was expecting.
A medical staff member gives me an ice pack to apply to my now swollen calf, my last mile end up being 6:35. Checking to see if I was still among the living, Gary finds me, "Sorry man, but you were a wounded duck - I had to make sure I caught you." I ended up 7th overall, one spot behind Gary. The two I had been running with for most of the race - the loud watch dude - finished in 29:48 and the CRC Elite woman in 30:11.
Not long after, L is making her way in and she doesn't look good - the allergies are eating her alive. She did finish 25th in 42:36, but she struggled with breathing as the remnants in the air played havoc with her sinuses. She did, though, win her age group - but being as competitive as she is, she didn't think she deserved it having not being able to run her best race. On the way home we grabbed breakfast at Tim Horton's, L laughed saying we had to stop there instead of one of tastier local places because our performances were sub par.
Come to find out, I have a calf strain and the only way to get over it is to ice frequently and to take a break from running...this will be hard for me as I'm not one to sit still for long. It is nice to know that the next event isn't until September 29th with The Dam Half Marathon & 10k, circling a large portion of Alum Creek Lake. And, well, I - or WE -will be preoccupied having taken the next two weeks off of work for the wedding and ensuing honeymoon. How did these turn out you ask? We will see in the coming weeks...
(Two weeks or so later)
...Holy cow, we're married! And did it without killing any relatives, having the authorities called on us or having some weird confession being blurted out by a random whatnot who hates happy people and likes to see people suffer. Oh, and my beer didn't contaminate anyone, BOOM! You laugh, but trust me - we have a history of backwardness that'll make your head spin, this was an accomplishment for us.
We did have a rather hilarious error a few days before the event. We created a wedding Facebook page and sent our friends & family a message to like and follow it. This way we could share details and what not with everyone, then have them post pictures and such from the wedding on it as a way for us to commemorate the day. One of the pre-event posts I wrote included the phrase "downtown delaware". Not realizing it, Facebook had auto-tagged the Downtown Delaware organization.
Imagine my surprise when I get his message sent to us via our Facebook page from a concerned resident: "... downtown Delaware posted your last message in to the public. You might want to give them to take that down."
Upon investigation I did see the post was shared. To make sure we didn't need to produce enough food to feed ALL of Delaware City's 40,000 residents, I kindly sent the Downtown Delaware folks a message asking if they could "un-share" our post. They apologized saying their social media manager shares all the posts they get tagged in and didn't really notice what it was they were sharing.
They apologized, and obliged, within minutes but not before our post had reached over 730 people and produced 430 engagements from Facebook users. Downtown Delaware wished us luck and was happy we weren't upset, just surprised and amused. Though, I was impressed with our popularity since that post had 700% more traffic than all of the others. Maybe I need to start a business promoting events via Facebook, hmmm?!
I wrote back to the concerned citizen who alerted us to the error and thanked her. She found it amusing as well, telling us, ".... well I guess I'll take the China back! Haha. Congrats to Lauren and Craig!"
It was definitely an experience, doing all the food, decorations, music and preparing the venues ourselves- with family and friends assisting. The morning started with heading out to garner nine bags of ice, then making sure our house and yard (the reception location) were prepared for after the picnic and ceremony at the park. As for L, she and others decorated the venue at the park. Shortly thereafter we traded locations, she headed back to our place to continue preparing while I headed to the park to fire up the grill and start cooking the main course.
Fixing food for about 60 people wasn't something I've done before, so it was a bit nerve wracking hoping to cook/smoke the chicken thoroughly and not have it be overdone or taste like tree bark. People began arriving dressed in their Sunday semi-casual best and mingling while I, still dressed in what I essentially woke up in, smelling like briquettes and smoldering wood chips. It was weird for me, so it had to be different for others hanging around the grill with the guy cooking the food for the wedding feast who would be leaving shortly to shower & dress to return moments later to play the part of the groom.
You couldn't have asked for a more perfect late August Sunday, mid 70's and full sun. When the chicken was finished, I promised our family and friends that I would return, high-tailed it the mile home, showered & dressed and returned just in time for L to announce our buffet was reading for everyone to dig in to. Somehow we had the venue prepared, the food cooked and were dressed for an outdoor picnic/wedding just minutes after the noon hour - after four months of gathering, tweaking and collaborating - our target event start was right on time!
As our guests ran through our makeshift buffet line and sat down to eat, L & I walked around welcoming and thanking folks for helping us celebrate. Before we knew it, the food had evaporated and it was time for the ceremony. Our officiant arrived and we moved off to an area of the park we had selected for the wedding and moments later....L and I were officially a married couple. It went so fast and I still find myself pausing for moment or two thinking, "Holy crap! I'm married!?"
Everyone who wanted to then traveled to our house for a reception of adult beverages, games, camaraderie, celebration and more food. Our neighbors from across the street provided portions of the games and our next door neighbors offered their giant livestock feeding trough they had purchased to use as the beer cooler for their son's wedding weeks before. And, of course, we used it in the same manner.
Somehow, L & I and our crew of family and friends had pulled off this entire day without a single misstep or woulda-should-coulda to be had. And the food brought down the house:
Out of 24 lbs of smoked chicken thighs, there were three left.
The sweet & sour pickles L made were gone.
The pickled peppers we made were gone
The pepper jelly L made was gone
Lauren's mom's Slovak potato salad was emptied
Out of the 100 wedding cupcakes made by my nieces (ages 14 & 11), there were three for us to enjoy - Calli & Abby out did themselves.
The sliced peaches and homegrown tomatoes & cucumbers were gone
The mac & cheese was destroyed
My mom's baked beans were eliminated
L's Aunt Marci's Quinoa salad was left on life support with recipe requests coming from all directions.
Only a quarter of the ham (purchased to suffice those who may not have wanted chicken) was left
Four of the wedding beers I produced survived
Five purchased beers (for those who wanted beer made by actual brewers) remained
And the tray of 40 sampler subs we ordered for late date noshing at the reception had dwindled to just three lonely sandwiches. (Though, since I hadn't eaten anything all day, I inhaled these in about 2 1/2 minutes when our guests had finally moved on and I had time to relax)
We spent the following day recuperating and relaxing, basking in amazement at how everything went better than we had planned - Tim Horton's was our breakfast as we were in no mood to do anything else. Two days later we headed for our honeymoon: South Haven, Michigan and the spectacular shoreline. It was a fun-filled five days and discovered what we already knew - it is just as fun in South Haven in human weather as it is during arctic weather. (Yeah, we were there last February when everything was frozen over - including Lake Michigan) We even stayed at the same B&B to get the full alternative experience and explored a handful of area breweries (Saugatuck Brewing, Waypost Brewing, Harbor Light Brewing, Three Blondes Brewing and The Livery).
Again, it is amazing to look back at all of the work put into the planning & preparations then have that day come and go in what seemed to be a blink of the eye. With that said, one can only imagine what we have to look forward. We aren't sure how it will evolve, where it will go or even how fast - so, as a courtesy to you - this is the final warning folks: We have joined forces, buckle up and hold on...the L & C amusement ride begins in 3...2...1...
Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors - Family
Family, singing in the kitchen
Family, running thru the yard
Family, going on vacation
Family, on the credit card
Family, all in this together
Family, we’re taking a chance
Family, like birds of feather
Family, kick off your shoes and dance
Family, on the way to the city
Family, laughing in the rain
Family, it ain’t always pretty
Family, can drive you insane
Family, got the keys to the kingdom
Family, take it a la carte
Family, all four seasons
Family, well bless your heart
You don't choose ‘em, you can’t lose ‘em
We all have a song to sing
Some are crazy, some are amazing
All got a little bit of everything
Family, sons and daughters
Family, like a photograph
Family, baptized in the water
Family, put me on the map
Family, all in this together
Family, taking a chance
Family, like birds of feather
Family, kick off your shoes and dance