A summer marathon, of sorts

DSC_8381In August, I felt exactly like I was getting ready for a marathon. The planning. The clothing. The weather-watching. The nerves.

Except I wasn’t about to run a marathon. I was about to get married. Surprisingly, the two things felt exactly the same.

Most of us spend 12-16 weeks preparing for a marathon. We were engaged in December and knocked out a few of the big things by mid-January. Then in May things really started to pick up. While my marathon plan usually involves a spreadsheet with workouts, long runs and weekly mileage all mapped out, planning our wedding involved a spreadsheet with about six tabs. And a binder. Also with tabs.

As the date drew near, I remembered the race day mantras, “trust your training,” “the hay is the barn,” “you’ve put in the work.” Like with a marathon, once we got within a few days of the wedding, anything that wasn’t done just wasn’t going to be done. We had to trust we had done everything that needed to be done and that everything would be fine. The last minute coffee and donuts idea? Nixed. It would’ve been like doing some 400s the week before the race. Probably not going to hurt, but not going to help much, either.

And, instead of picking my race day outfit, I was picking a bridal gown and accessories — but with many of the same considerations: comfortable, not hot, look good. (What can I say, I don’t want to be the girl on the starting line in a horrendously mismatched outfit.)

I’m not sure how many of you have spent time in Kentucky in August, but readers of this magazine are mostly in the Southeastern U.S., so I suspect you know what the weather is like that time of year. Hot and muggy. “Wompy” is a word some of the weather folks use to describe it. I usually go with “miserable.”

If it’s so miserable, why did we pick it, you ask? It’s the same foolish idea of running a marathon in August — something you should know better than to do. Searching for a venue was just like picking the perfect race. Where is it, when is it, is it convenient both geographically and on the calendar, what’s the atmosphere, how big is it, how much will it cost?

After a lot of searching, we fell in love with a ceremony venue — the facade of a historic chapel, built in 1876 but burned down in 1954, leaving just the front wall and stairs. They only permit about six weddings a year, and they don’t do them later in the fall when we get a lot of rain and there could be a lot of damage to the grounds. Plus, all the meticiously maintained shrubbery and other plants, cared for by the local garden club, would be bare. It was August 23 or bust.

Obviously, I started watching the weather when the 10 day forecast became available. For days, it looked like sunny, humid and 98 degrees. Heat index over 100. The ceremony would be outside, but short and mostly shaded. The people who would be most miserable would be the judge (black robe), me (big dress) and Chris (suit). Our bridesmaids were wearing shorter strapless dresses; the groomsmen button-up shirts and ties but no jackets. We think those decisions make us good friends.

But, just a couple of days before the wedding, the weather started to turn to rain. There was no good option for a rain plan — you can tent a chapel facade. We’d lose getting to use the chapel, which was our favorite part. There was a lot of positive thinking happening.

Did it rain at exactly 4:55 p.m., exactly when we were supposed to start? Of course. But we adapted — much like when your marathon is going awry and you adjust your pace so things aren’t a total disaster. We had cocktails first, waited out the rain, then headed back over for the ceremony.

Before the wedding, people would ask if I was nervous. I was, but like knowing you had done all the training you could, I just had to roll with it and not fret. When it rained, everyone said we handled it well — probably from a combined total of 12 marathons and four Ironman races, we don’t get flustered when things are out of our control.

Oh, and one final way it was like a marathon? I wore wicking underpants by Moving Comfort. They were my “something blue.”

Tracy Harris Green is a runner and writer in Louisville, Ky., where she lives with her husband, Chris. She races on the New Balance Louisville team and is the Director of Communications and Development for a public school district. Find her on Twitter @tracyfgreen or at tracefh.blogspot.com.