I'm always amazed at how hearing certain songs makes me think about particular times in the past. I love taking trips down Nostalgia Lane. I've been listening to Aerosmith this morning and whenever I hear Janie's Got a Gun I think back to middle school when that song was on the radio. I think about wearing my Girbaud jeans and purple IOU sweatshirt to the roller rink. Other songs make me think about laying on the couch reading books for the Book It program when I was in 6th grade. I even have a playlist on my iPod of songs that remind me of driving around in my first car. And every time I hear Mozart's horn concertos I think about AP European History because that's what I listened to while I was doing my reading. But for some reason I don't have as many musical triggers for memories later in life - they seem to end with high school. Of course I have a new song that will always conjure up happy memories: Faithfully by Journey - the first song my wife and I danced to at our wedding.
I can't believe it has already been over a year since I last updated the blog. A lot has happened since them, namely the big day was June 12, 2010. That's right, I'm no longer single! I'm hoping to bring the blog back to life. I'll also be posting over at our joint blog www.kevinandmandi.com.
I haven't been writing about triathlon training since the Hawk Island Triathlon because there hasn't been any training since the race. When I finished the race I was wheezing and coughing quite a bit, but I didn't think much of it since I've felt like that after running in the past. I figured it was just more of the same and it would pass pretty quickly. Wrong. The day after the race I was still having a hard time breathing, so I called my dad's allergy/asthma doctor to see if I could get in. They were able to squeeze me in that afternoon, so I hopped in the car and headed down to Ann Arbor to find out what was going on. When the doctor listened to my breathing she asked how I was able to go to work that day. Not a good sign. She had me do a breathing treatment while I was there, but I was still wheezing after that. She gave me some steroids and an inhaler to take home. She said I should avoid exercise for a few days until the steroids could get my breathing under control. Unfortunately the steroids and inhaler didn't do the trick. Sunday night I laid in bed until after 2:00 am feeling like I couldn't breathe. I finally fell asleep, but I didn't sleep well. I called the doctor Monday morning and they said I should come in to get checked out again. I didn't want to drive to Ann Arbor again, so I went to the urgent care in Lansing. The doctor said I had a slight wheeze and she gave me another breathing treatment. She also wanted to do a chest x-ray just to make sure there wasn't anything else going on. The x-ray was clear, so she gave me a new steroid inhaler. This one seems to be doing the trick. I haven't had any problems since then and I'm feeling pretty good again. I'm scheduled to go back to the doctor in Ann Arbor for a breathing test to officially diagnose my asthma and to get a full allergy test (skin pricks and all). I'm hoping that I'll be able to get this under control so I can start training again. I was thinking about running a 5k later this month, but I don't see that happening since I haven't been able to run for almost 2 weeks. Mandi's dad is bringing her bike over tomorrow so we'll be able to start riding together and I think I'm going to try to join the Playmakers team ride on Sunday.
Mandi and I took the afternoon off to meet with the priest at the church we want to get married in and get the official tour of our reception site. We decided awhile ago that we want to get married in Grand Rapids because there is more stuff to do there for our out of town guests and we don't really like the wedding options in Lansing. On Sunday we drove around looking at all of the Catholic churches and checking out our reception site. The stars aligned and both our top church and the reception site were available on June 12. We were worried that we would lose the date at the church since we couldn't officially book it until we met with the priest, so Mandi made a bunch of calls and we were able to set up a meeting for this afternoon. We're super excited about the church. Imagine a cathedral and then scale it down a little, but not much. We chose St. Alphonsus (www.stalphonsusgr.org) for the ceremony and the Grand Rapids Public Museum (www.grmuseum.org). So mark your calendars for 2:00 pm on June 12, 2010 cuz we're getting married!!!
I asked Mandi to marry me on May 21, 2009. And of course she said yes (the first question my parents asked was if she said yes). Here's how it happened: I started shopping for rings back in January and finally found the perfect ring in April. That's when I started putting the planning wheels in motion. I knew that Mandi really missed her friends in Atlanta and that she would want to tell them in person, so I emailed her friend Priscilla to figure out a weekend when we could come visit. The best weekend turned out to be Memorial Day weekend, so I booked a flight and we kept it a secret from Mandi. I told Mandi that she would need to get Friday of Memorial Day weekend off so we could go out of town, but I didn't tell her where we were going. Mandi had bought me tickets to the Billy Joel and Elton John concert on Thursday for Valentine's Day, so I figured we would just get a hotel after the concert and fly out Friday morning. A couple days before the trip I told Mandi that we were going to Atlanta for the weekend so that she would know what to pack. On Thursday I took the day off so I could pick up the ring and get things ready for the big moment. When Mandi got home from work she was rushing around gathering the last few items to pack in her bag. I told her that she got a new magazine in the mail and handed her a special edition of "Mandi & Kevin." You see, Mandi has a thing for celebrity gossip magazines so I made a mock magazine cover based on her favorite one, "Life & Style." I used pictures from our trip to Cape Cod, a wedding we went to in May, a concert in February, and a picture of Chester. Each picture had a witty caption. The main caption/headline read: "Will she say yes? Kevin asks the big question." When I handed Mandi the magazine it took her a moment to realize what was going on. It finally sank in when I pulled out the ring. At that moment I think I stood there with a dumb look on my face and said something like, "Well, will you?" She responded that I better get down on one knee and ask, so I did. We spent the next few minutes hugging, kissing, laughing, hitting me, and generally being happy. Then we had to rush out the door to get to the concert. We both called our parents and Mandi called a couple friends as we drove to the concert, but otherwise we kept it a secret until Priscilla picked us up from the airport. We spent the rest of the weekend celebrating with Mandi's Atlanta peeps. Since then we've been trying to figure out where and when to have the wedding. We're looking at spring of 2010 and we have a tentative hold on a reception location while we figure out the church piece. Hopefully I'll have more info about that soon.
Ever since the front porch started falling off the house I've been working on ripping out the raised planters in the front of the house. One of the byproducts of the project is a lot of dirt with nowhere to put it. Mandi and I decided we would put the dirt to work by putting in a vegetable garden in the backyard. So a few weeks ago I took a day off and my parents came over to help me put together a garden box. We ended up going with a 10' x 12' box. I used most of the extra dirt to fill the box and I'll use the rest of the dirt when we finish the front of the house. We ended up planting a mix of seeds and plants. Plants: 2 tomato plants, 2 cucumber bushes, 2 green pepper plants, 2 red pepper plants, and 2 rows of lettuce plants. Seeds: green beans, wax beans, lettuce, spinach, and green onions. The plants didn't seem to be doing so hot at first and the seeds didn't seem intent on popping up. I watered every night and we waited. It probably didn't help that we had a frost the night after we planted. But our patience paid off. When we got back from Atlanta the lettuce plants had spruced up and some of the seeds started to pop up. Now we have seedlings for all of the seed varieties, we have peppers on all four plants, and the lettuce is looking great. Tonight we harvested our first batch of lettuce to make taco salad. Yum.
I'm officially a triathlete! I finished the Hawk Island Triathlon in 1:42:39, good enough for dead last in my age group and 590th out of 700. I did the swim in 15 minutes, the bike in 40, and the run in 38. My transition from the swim to the bike was kind of slow (5 minutes), but my transition from bike to run was much better (2 minutes). I ended up doing most of the swim on my back. The water was a little cold (~65 degrees) and I had a hard time catching my breath. I felt pretty good on the bike, other than the sore butt. My new tri shorts don't have as much padding as my regular shorts so I got a little sore around 6 miles. I felt pretty good about the run. I walked about 12 minutes of the 38. I'm a little sore right now and I have a feeling I'll be hurting pretty bad tomorrow. I had a great cheering section. My parents joined Mandi and Nicole and Megan were there to cheer on a few people. Plus Tina was there as a volunteer and cheered me as I came out of the water. And the coaches from Team Playmakers cheered us on and there were volunteers all along the route cheering people on. Overall I feel great and I loved the race!
Even though I haven't been working out as much as I probably should, I think I'm making progress in the pool. I only swam 1 day last week (forgot my stuff on Thursday and was recovering from a bachelor party on Saturday). This week I made it to the pool both Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday I did 7 lengths of the pool, 1 more than I had been doing. Granted, 2 of those lengths were with the kickboard and I still had to rest at each end of the pool, but I still consider it progress. Today the pool was busier than normal and I had to share a lane with someone. I didn't mind sharing space, it just made the water a little rougher than normal. I suppose that's good practice for race day when there will be lots of people in the water and lots of wave. I started with 2 lengths without a break and then did 4 more lengths with breaks at each end. I struggled toward the end of a couple of those, but overall it felt good. Sadly I don't think I'll be able to swim on Saturday because I have an awards thing to go to and then we're heading up to Frankenmuth. I also need to get in some more running. My last run was up to 10 minutes of running with a 5 minute warm-up walk and a 5 minute cool-down walk. I felt pretty good after that. I think if I can start running more consistently I'll be able to improve pretty quickly. I'm also hoping that the weather has left the cold crappiness behind so I can get on the bike more. I want to ride with the group rides for the tri club. Sadly I misplaced my bike rack so I won't be able to join them until I find it.
I kind of fell off the training wagon this weekend. Friday was my rest day, so that was planned. I was planning to swim on Saturday and maybe run. Neither happened. One of the student groups I advise sponsored a service project on Saturday, so I spent the morning/early afternoon spreading mulch in Lansing parks. By the time we were finished I was beat, so no swim or run. Then Mandi and I went out to watch the game Saturday night. I ate a bit too much and drank a little too much beer, but it was worth it. Sunday I spent the day cleaning the house and working on projects. I really should have hopped on the bike for a bit, but it didn't happen. And I'm not sure I'll get in a workout today either. I didn't get up early enough to get on the bike before work and it snowed a bunch so I don't see myself running tonight. Not to mention we're going to dinner before heading over to the Breslin to watch the game tonight.
I didn't waste my rest day though. The grad student in our office is a swimmer, so I talked to her about some training ideas. She explained to me the kick boards and the other flotation thing that holds up your legs so you can focus on your arms. I'll be spending a good chunk of my pool time focusing on drills using the kick board and the floaty things so I can improve my stroke and get used to keeping my head under water during the stroke.