Friday, October 28, 2011

Hillary is MARRIED!!!

There are moments in your life that just do not seem real.  They are hard to comprehend.  I had one of those moments last Saturday when I watched my friend Hillary Clarendon now Blumenthal get married. I was sitting with my other friend Kelly O'Reilly.  I became friends with Hillary and Kelly in the 7th grade at Cope Middle School.  I knew Hillary a little before middle school because of club water polo but became great friends starting in 7th grade.

I was so thankful for knowing Hillary that first day at Cope.  I was changing schools, one of the more gutsy decisions I have made in my life.  Going from private school to public.  Had I started in 6th grade it would not have been so bad everyone was new to middle school.  But in the 7th grade you were not the rulers of the school but you were not the annoying 6th graders either.  However I was all together the new girl!!  And it is not the best feeling.  I can remember my mom dropping me off at school and me thinking what in the world am I doing.  Public school- middle school. I know 3 people.  Thankfully Hillary instantly became my friend.  She soon introduced me to Kelly and we have all been friends ever since.

In middle school and in high school we did most everything together.  We have some great memories and some not so great. I mean it was high school.  Once we left for college things changed.  I went to San Diego, Hillary stayed near home and Kelly moved to Utah.  We did not see each other as much.  A few times here and there randomly.  Once in a while around the holidays.  But we never lost touch. I think those are true friends, you may not speak all the time.  However you know they are always there!!

I have included some random pictures of us through the years.  Sadly I do not have any photo's on my computer from middle school or early high school.  That was before digital camera's were a common thing to own and cell phones had camera's. Oh wait I did not even have a cell phones till I was in the 10th or 11th grade. So maybe another day I will look for even more photo's!! 
Some dance

Water Polo

Some of our friends. Hanging out at school!!

Homecoming senior year


My going away party

Senior Awards

Hillary's Birthday


Graduation Day
One of the few times we got together during college

So when Hillary got engaged I could not have been more excited for her.  We went out a few weeks later. To Baker's of course and sat for hours talking.  I knew instantly that she had found the man of her dreams and I could not have been happier for her.  We even drove past where she was going to get married at the Mitten building.  I had never seen it but heard a lot about the building.  What a place!!

I had a great time attending her lingerie shower and meeting some of her other friends from college and other walks of life.  We spent time laughing and playing funny games.  Her sister even made these great cake pop's as prizes.  Needless to say I will not mention what they were shaped as for Katieanne's sake.. But they made us all laugh!!!

The big day would finally arrive.  I was in contact with Kelly a few weeks out and since we were both going without date's.  We decided no better date then each other.  I headed over to Kelly's about an hour before the ceremony.  Said hello to her mom.  Then we headed to the Mitten building.  It was set up beautifully. As we waited Mrs. Clarendon came in and seemed a bit flustered.  Rightfully so her little baby girl was getting married today.  She looked at us and seemed so confused.  Kelly and I both said hello, and then she replied "my gosh".  "I just didn't recognize you."  Your both so grown up.  We laughed and it was the second time I was thinking I cant believe we are at Hillary's wedding.  She then thanked us for coming.  How much it meant to her and Hillary.

After that we headed for our seats.  Being that we could not remember which side the bride's family and friends were supposed to sit, we opted for the last row on the isle.  That way since I am so short I could still see.  See funny thing I always had tall friends.  Hillary and Kelly played club volleyball and all through high school.  They used to laugh at me in middle school cause we always dominated volleyball tournaments in P.E. But I could only serve underhand and I always complained that the ball hurt my wrists.  So needless to say Kelly let me have the end seat.

The wedding started.  Kyle entered and stood at the end of the isle.  Of course we were sitting on his side.  That made us laugh.  Then came the wedding party.  The poor ring bearer saw us all and panicked.  He was not heading down that isle.  His mom who was a bridesmaid came and carried him down.  Then Hillary's nephew's were the bell ringers.  They were supposed to announce the bride.  They also panicked. Rang the bell a little and never made it to the front. However they were both just so darn cute!!

Then came the big moment.  The doors opened and out walked Hillary.  She looked absolutely amazing. I started to cry, so did Kelly.

The ceremony was beautiful.  I was again still in shock this was my goofy friend Hillary.  I told my mom later there are moments in your life that you just cant believe what is happening.  This being one of those, I could not believe that we are old enough to be getting married.  That we are not in the 7th grade messing around in the locker room.  That we are no longer in high school wearing our game day shirts.   That we are adults!! It is crazy.  I guess she is one of the first of my childhood friends to get married.  So it was very surreal.  Then I had a wave of panic thinking that I have to plan a wedding. For those of you wondering we still have not picked a date but thinking Fall 2013.

During the ceremony I was quickly reminded that we may be adults (or so we think).  But that we may never truly grow up.  And I think that is a good thing.  When Hillary was saying her I do's.  She made some funny comments that were just totally Hillary.  That made us all laugh.  And I thought wow she has not changed a bit.  But while she said her I do's you could see the excitement and the true love she has for Kyle.  A look I had never seen before on Hillary's face.  It was such an amazing moment to be a part of. To see true happiness and joy.  Also made me realize just how much I love Brennan.  Once saying I do and Hillary finally getting to kiss her husband they headed back up the isle.  It was a great moment to witness!!

The reception was to be held at the Clarendon's house literally about .25 of a mile down the street from my parents.  It was a beautiful October day.  Not a cloud in the sky and so clear.  I have to admit it was a bit hot about 90.  So I did my fair share of sweating. However I did manage to get a seat with my back facing the sun.  The early bird always gets the worm.   Hillary had always dreamed of the wedding much like that of the movie Sound of Music.  I have never seen the film but Hillary has gone through multiple VHS tapes and has upgraded to having it on DVD.  So that was the theme even in the backyard and it was so cute!!  The backyard looked lovely and held to the theme perfectly. They say pictures are worth a thousand words so here are a few!! Sadly I did not get a picture of this beautiful vanity they had out full of old pictures of Hillary's parents, grandparents and family members on their wedding day.  It also had lovely photo's from Kyle's side and was draped with the Vail that we think her mother and grandmother wore on there wedding day. Such amazing history and fit the wedding theme amazingly!! 

The head table

The cake on a beautiful vanity 
The table with beautiful flowers, old books and mugs for your drinks

Once the bridal party arrived the evening began.  They had a lovely entrance for the bride and groom.
 They sat at there very cute table and it would seem that Kyle has learned how to be an amazing husband so quickly.  Shading his lovely bride from the hot sun.  

They then made the rounds to all the tables. When you arrived you found what table you were at by looking at these old window frames and your name was written on the glass. It was so cute.  Kelly and I suspected we would be seated in the back corner.  I mean were friends from high school and middle school.  Well turns out we had the Time Square of real estate.  Dead center right on the dance floor.  Dinner would be an amazing buffet fitting the theme perfectly!!
Speaking to some of her guests

I would like to point out that I had taken off my heals as not to get stuck in the grass. Bad idea for this picture!! But so great to all be together!!!

Me and Kelly at the table

The evening would then go through the normal wedding things.  Kyle and Hillary's first dance.  Very cute!! Kyle would dance with his mother.  Hillary did the waltz with her dad and then broke it down to some other great hits. I uploaded the video up of that!!
Kyle and Hillary
Mr. Clarendon and Hillary Waltzing.  Look at that concentration. I can tell you Mr. Clarendon has it down!!

Then the speeches would be given and not a dry eye in the whole backyard.  After Kyle and Hillary both took a moment to thank everyone for there help in preparation for the wedding and for coming.  And the evening would continue on!!

I have to say it was so surreal the entire time and absolutely amazing to see true love.  To see Hillary just gleaming.  Hillary has always been one of the most beautiful people I know and her wedding day was no exception. She looked absolutely stunning.  Loved her dress and Hillary when you read this wearing that brace all through middle school was totally worth it.  You had a straight spine in your beautiful open back dress. I only hope I can look half as beautiful as you when I get married. It was also such a thoughtful wedding and reception you could see just how important family is and that it was never about what things cost.  It was about being in love and wanting to start a new chapter of being husband and wife.  

Kyle and Hillary I wish you all the joy that love can bring!! I wish you health and happiness!! And I thank you for allowing me to be a part of your very moving day. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My First Olympic Distance Triathlon

Mark another crazy race off my list.  I completed my first Olympic distance triathlon.  I am sure some day I will look back and laugh because an Olympic is so short.  But everyone has to start somewhere. 

An Olympic Distance is: 
Swim- 1,500 meters (.93 mile)
Bike- 24 miles
Run- 6.2 miles 

I have to thank Brennan!!!  First because over the summer he surprised me by buying me a road bike.  And for taking the time to teach me how to ride!! I would still be riding around in the apartment parking lot!! Most likely with many more skinned knee's.  I also want to thank Brennan for convincing me to sign up for this race and supporting me all the way though it!!!  At the end of my post you can even see a video Brennan made from everything he filmed.

So as Brennan told me about two weeks ago I did panic training.  I laughed and then had to admit he was totally right.  I was not worried about the swim or bike portion of the race.  Since moving back to San Diego I have been swimming 2 days a week for about an hour and a half.  Usually getting in about  2+ miles.  Plus I figured I have been swimming my whole life and my bad swim would be many people's best.  I was worried about the bike, but not nearly as much as the run.  For starters over the course of the summer I logged a good amount of miles on the bike.  Especially Saturday's which is when Brennan and I go on our long ride.  This ride is usually somewhere between 40/50 miles up huge hills.  So when it came to panic training it was totally with running.  I ran 4 times in one week.  I started my week of training by going out and running 5 straight miles.  Basically to just convince myself that I could  finish the run portion of the race.  I also ran a few other days about 4 miles a piece.  So Brennan was totally right I did panic training.  But it eased my mind.  However next time I plan to set a training plan and stick to it!! 

So it was finally the weekend.  My nerves were really starting to get going. On Saturday we had to drive out to Chula Vista and check me in.  This triathlon was much different in that it was not an out and back course.  Meaning that the start and finish was not in the same place.  So the swim would be at the bay in imperial beach in "transition 1" I would have to get out of my wetsuit and into my biking gear.  Then would head off onto the course for my 24 mile ride.  The ride would end in transition 2 where I would get out of my bike gear and into my run gear.  Then head out for a 6+ mile loop and finish back near where I transitioned from my bike to running. So this course sucked in terms that Brennan did not get to see me race much at all.  It also made checking in much more difficult.

  So when checking in I received three different bags with my number on it.  I had to give them all my running stuff so they could make sure that it was at "Transition 2."  In that bag I had my running shoes, hat and my race bib.  After checking in and dropping off my transition 2 bag.  We headed down to the water, where the start and "Transition 1" was going to take place in imperial beach.  Once down there I got my bike all set up in the rack.

After checking in and getting my run bag dropped off and my bike set up we headed home.  Once home we again went through all my stuff again that I would be taking with us.  Making sure I had all my nutrition, water and the gear that I would need.  We also laid out all our clothes to wear for the next day.  Since I had just ordered my first wetsuit and had yet to even try it on.  So when we got home I got suited up.  Brennan went with me to the apartment pool and like an a complete dork I went swimming around in the pool to test it out!  After my quick swim, we then had a nice relaxed evening.  Eat an early dinner and were in bed by 8:15.

Sunday would come very early.  The alarm went off by 4:45 and we were moving.  I got my race clothes on and then some sweats.  Went and grabbed my multiple bags and breakfast and we were headed to the race.  In the car and driving by 5:10.  We arrived in Chula Vista at the race venue around 5:45.  My wave was supposed to go off at 7:06.  So once we arrived, I headed into the transition 1 area where I set up my helmet, sunglasses, shoes, and my watch.  I also made sure I had my wet bag ready.  Then I headed out to hangout with Brennan.  I was trying not to get nervous.  About 40 minutes before my wave and 4 trips to the bathroom later.  I head in and got my number written on me.  Then headed back to Brennan to get my sunscreen on and start getting into my wetsuit.

This is me not sure I am ready for this...

Once in my wetsuit we headed over to the start line.  At this point I was really starting to get nervous! Brennan like always calmed my nerves. I said goodbye and headed over.  I made my way to the very front of my wave.  I started a conversation with a nice woman next to me.  Who wished me good luck. I did the same to her and then I thought what the heck am I doing.  Can I finish this, will I embarrassed  Brennan if I am not out of the water first.  Then the announcer was in the countdown 10, 9, 8 and then the Buzzer sounded and we were off.

I was into the water quick.  And surprisingly it was not even cold.  It very quickly became a race between me and another woman.  I held with her till about half way and then she just started to pull away.  I was very tight swimming and was trying to stretch my shoulders out.  Some of that may have been the issue of being in a wetsuit.  Since I have never raced in a wetsuit.  I also quickly learned maybe I should have stretched or done a bit of warm up swimming prior to the race. However I did manage to pass a ton of men who went out in the waves before me.  I was the second woman out of the water.  It felt good to be racing again and to know that I was doing so well.  As I got out of the water and was running up the beach toward the transition area I was getting out of my wetsuit.

Here I come!!
Getting out of that wetsuit

 Once in "Transition 1" I found my bike and got fully out of my wetsuit.  There was a great volunteer who took my wetsuit, goggles and cap and put it into my "wet transition" bag so I did not have to worry about it.  That bag would then be put into a truck and taken to the finish line so that I could get it after the race.  I was very slow in transition but it was my first race and I thought that an extra minute was not going to make or break me.  In transition I tried to get dried off as much as possible, get my helmet on, sunglasses and chugged a whole bottle of water. Then I was off!!!

 Out of transition

 Trying to get to the mount line

Getting on the bike

Once onto the bike I realized that I was still dripping wet.  Not cool :/.  It was still overcast so that was nice, I did not get over heated biking.  Since I had such a great swim there was not many people on the bike course yet.  I had some goals in what I was looking to do on the bike.  So I just went to hammering away and trying to remember everything Brennan had taught me.  So I was a bit stiff at first but got going and was feeling pretty good.  I headed away from the ocean and toward the hills.  About mile 6 I hit a huge pump and lost a purchased water bottle.  This very nice motor cycle cop went and picked it up and raced toward me so that I would have it.  Being new to biking we were unable to get the hand off.  I then had to inform him I have only been biking about 3 months so he could keep the unopened water and I thanked him for his work.  The bike route passed by Cricket wireless amphitheater where I have seen multiple concerts through the years.  A funny little liquor store that we stopped at before the last Rascal Flatts concert that I went to with my favorite people (Brooke, Nik, Brennan & Me).  Then it started to get hilly.  I did a ton of climbing.  It felt good to see some very good cyclists not pass me till late into the bike course.  Also to have some of them laugh and joke if the hills ever ended.  Made me feel better that I was not the only one thinking that.  I just kept after it and stuck to my goal.  I knew that I was a head of my goal which felt good.  I was finally headed into the last mile and looking forward to hearing Brennan cheering for me.  There he was!! Made the pain disappear.. At least for a little bit!

I survived it... 24 miles later I showed up!!

 Getting off..

Go Go Go...

Handed off the bike and off to get my running stuff

So once off the bike as I ran into the transition area people were yelling all kinds of things.  Yelling about giving my bike to someone, then yelling my number. Which I did not understand why.  So I figured out who to hand my bike off to then ran forward where another volunteer handed my my running bag. I sat on a chair for all of 10 second to get my cleats off get my running shoes on.  Hand them my helmet clipped my race bib on and I was off again.  The nice volunteer again put my helmet, and cleats into my bike gear transition 2 bag and set it with my bike for when I was finished.  As I was running out of transition I was able to get my hat on and then get some water.  I was about a quarter mile out and realized that I did not tie one of my shoes. So I quickly stopped and fixed it and started pounding away at the run.  I just kept thinking that every step I was closer to the finish line.  At this point the sun had come out and it was starting to get warm.  The run path ran up above Otay Lake and then into the Olympic Training center.  That was probably the coolest thing.   I have been to the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs more than once but never to the one in Chula Vista.  So as I was hurting you could think of all the amazing athletes that had bleed, sweat and cried at the facilities there.  Where dreams were started.  We even ran right by the Olympic torch that was lite.  That helped me to speed up at least for a while.  Soon I was rounding the corner and coming down toward the finish.  It was such a great feeling to know that I was about to finish my first Olympic Distance in under my goal time!!!  Plus before the swim they said the run was a bit long. So it was about 6.5 miles!!

 I see the finish line!!

I am a finisher!!!

I finished and it was amazing.  I mean like any race and competition it had its dark moments.  But you come out of them.  It was overall hard but I seriously enjoyed it.  Having three different disciplines while racing was challenging and exciting.  I also realized that if I did more training it would become much easier and I could really better my overall time.  So during the winter I will start building a better base and then next summer hopefully race a few times.  I am not sure I want to move up in the distances to a half ironman or even an ironman.  Might just leave that up to Brennan for the time being and stay as his supportive fiance.

Here are my results:
*I won my age group!!! Woohoo
*15th overall Woman
 *110th overall

Swim: 21:07.5
T1: 2:42.9
T2: 42.7
Run: 58:20.2
Overall: 3:02:22.7

Check out this great video of my race that Brennan took and edited for me!!!

After the race... Sunscreen & Salt was burning my eyes!!!

All in all I think I might be hooked on this whole triathlon thing!!!
So Brennan you can totally say I told you so. Thanks for being so supportive!! Also huge thanks to my family for not thinking that I am crazy. As well as being excited and happy for me!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Half-Ironman.. We did it!!

I say we did it, but I guess I should say that Brennan did it.  He finished his first Half-Ironman!!  I feel like we both finished it because were a team.  As a team we both have made sacrifices and survived the training schedule of early mornings and long days.  I mean I got up at 3:45 just like him on race morning.

In terms of training and the long hours that was all Brennan.  An Ironman takes a great amount of mileage training and hours to be successful.  Plus a very strict schedule.  Brennan did all the training and stuck to his schedule.  I did however get in some training with him.  I survived some killer rides through North County on Saturday mornings.  We also have a deal for Brennan's long training runs.  We figure out the distance he needs to go and then come up with a designated pick up place.  This way he does not have to worry about turning around, instead can just keep running forward. Toward me.. Or so I like to think.  As for the swimming portion I give Brennan all the credit I have helped very little in the last few months. Besides a few tips we have not been able to get to the pool together. 

 It was awesome to watch Brennan dominate the Orangeman Triathlon.  
If your not familiar a Half-Ironman is a ....
1.2 Mile Swim
56 Mile Bike
13.1 Mile Run

I did no racing.. Well unless you count running to different points on the course so that I could cheer for Brennan.  It was a great day watching Brennan dominate the race as well as have some of our friends come out and support him.  Plus the race lasted close to 7 hours, so I may have appreciated our friends even more then Brennan.  I had them to hangout with all day!!
Getting situated in the wetsuit- see were a team

Having a laugh before things get serious.  I remembered the gum for him.

Exiting the swim

This is me enjoying the day.. 
Brennan enjoying the bike. Only 2 miles till transition. 

 Starting the run course
Almost to the finish
Brennan Cassidy is a Half-Ironman!!!

The group that came out to support!!! 

We did it!!! My fiance is amazing!

So we have done it, well Brennan has done it completed his first Half-Ironman and then some since the race course was a bit long.  He has another half coming up in two weeks in Arizona.  This course is supposed to be the right length as well as much flatter.

Thanks to our amazing friend Blair for all the pictures!!

I am a week away from my first Olympic Distance triathlon.  So we shall see how that goes!! Brennan gets to be the spectator at that one.. Will be an interesting twist for us. But it is always a team effort!

"You and Me Against the World"- Brennan Cassidy