Monday, December 20, 2010

The Wedding......Marathon Style and a Geocaching Honeymoon

Kris: I've been trying to figure out how to break apart the pages and pages of content floating in my head about our trip and finally decided I'm going to try to consolidate my thoughts as best as possible into ONE post with just a couple pictures and a link to the whole album.

(good luck, right Honey?) :)

Mark: Right........

Kris: We had so much to do in the two days leading up to our 6am flight out of MSP we collectively got MAYBE 8 hours of sleep.  We were SO tired but SO excited when we got on our flight.  We arrived in Vegas and to our hotel around 1pm, high-tailed it downtown to get our marriage license and then primped and prepped for a fancy dinner.  Our boss, Jeff and his wife Janna, gave us a wonderful dinner at Mesa Grill (yes folks....the real Bobby Flay Mesa Grill!!!!).   It was fantastic to start our Vegas vacation with an evening just to ourselves with a few fancy drinks, entrees and desserts :)

Mark: By far the best dinner I have EVER had!! Thanks Jeff and Janna!

Mark showing off his sweet new hat he bought for the trip :)
My pre-dinner martini at Mesa Grill
Kris: Friday was the start to a very exciting but very busy and somewhat stressful weekend.   We were up and dressed in our wedding garb and at the Venetian by 6:45am to be part of a chilly live news segment about the marathon, the Running Elvi and the Run-Thru Wedding.   We got to meet a few other couples that all had such fun stories and look silly running in place while the LV version of Ma Rosko interviewed a few of us live on camera.

Mark: Kris fogot to mention how cold it was. By comparison to back here at home it was balmy, but standing around in just our running outfits at 7am was just cold.

Friday AM at the local news segment about the wedding
Kris: Friday afternoon we scurried to the Expo (unfortunately no nap as we had hoped!) and picked up our race packets and nabbed our bracelets to get into the Sunday night After Party for the first 5,000 runners to stop by the Wynn booth.  I was a bit anxious to get those FIRST and then come back to look at everything in the Expo.

Mark: What Kris is leaving out is that we had to be in line before the expo opened and as close to the front of the line as possible to get the VS After Party, at least according to Kris that is. The funny part is that late in the afternoon, they still had plenty of bracelets left.
Kris:  We splurged a bit of money to get sweatshirts and RnR jackets.  We figured this would be our one big purchase for the weekend.   And yeah.....over $300 in apparel counts.  One of the most exciting moments was when we got to meet Mark McGrath (granted it took me a minute to figure out who he was).  Mark: Let's be honest honey, I had to tell you who Mark McGrath was. Kris: He was super nice and was so excited for us to get married during the marathon that instead of one Snickers Marathon Bar (he's a spokesperson for them) he gave us a whole box!  He will also likely be in our final wedding video as he was kind enough to say a few words of good luck to the camera when our videographers from Forever Films (Charlie and Mike) showed up.

Then, almost simultaneously Mark's dad got into town and he, Charlie and Mike showed up at the Expo.   We walked around and took some fun video, then it was off to a fabulous dinner with Mark's dad at Canaletto restaurant at the Venetian.   We even had a fun, VERY Italian waiter named Mario :)

Then we took a long bus ride down to see Fremont Street in the evening and were very lucky to get there just in time to see the Queen Tribute.   Mark was jumping up and down like a kid in a giant candy store.   It was loud and bright and so much fun to people watch.  Mike and Charlie even got some great footage of a Dale Ernhardt impersonator dancing with a trophy.    I do wish we had a few extra $$ to ride the zip line that went down through the Fremont Tunnel during the show.

Mark: Kris is right I was super excited that of all of the Freemont shows that we could have seen, it was the Queen show, I LOVE Queen!!

Meeting Mark McGrath at the Expo
Fremont Experience during Queen Tribute

Kris:  Saturday was up EARLY to get going to Hoover Dam.  Unfortunately due to VERY large parking ramps, we had a bit of trouble finding the car but even with the late start, we had plenty of time to check out the Dam, get some great video and photos and even do the Power Plant Tour.  Before we left the area, we quickly crossed the border into Arizona to get a Virtual Cache and then walked out on the new Memorial Bridge.  I had to admit, that was a bit scary being over 800ft in the air over the Dam.   What an amazing view though!!

Mark: An amazing view that Kris refused to even stand next to the railing on the bridge and would not look down to the river. I was kind of funny.

(l to rt) Mark and Kris with our videographers Charlie and Mike
Kris: The rest of the day consisted of attending our pre-race meeting for all the wedding couples (about 30 getting married and another 30 or so renewing their vows), then off to a buffet dinner with my parents as they just got into town.   I will say though a highlight of our day was FINALLY getting to meet our friends Brandon and Theresa.  We have been connected only by following each other's blogs for quite some time now so getting to meet in person, then run the few few miles of the race together and hang out at the after party was a blast!  (You two to ya from MN!)

Mark: We were running late getting back from Hoover Dam and walked into the pre-race meeting a little late, granted we underestimated how far the convention center was from our room, and the convention center was in our hotel. I agree with Kris, Brandon and Theresa are awesome! I am looking forward to seeing them during their trip back to Minnesota in the spring.

Kris:  Race morning was a little stressful making sure we had everything in line and everyone had what they needed but when we arrived our meeting was the start of a party!  The Running Elvi and Wedding couples met in the same area to take group photos and rock out to Elvis music.

Mark: It was fun to take turns with the other wedding couples taking pictures with the running Elvi.

Pre-Race Photo with the Running Elvi
Kris: Unfortunately the camera we usually carry during races took a tumble and we didn't get any photos along the course.  But we did get some video and so did Charlie and Mike so once that is done you will get to see more of the course.   Running the first half of the marathon on the strip was so much fun and the group ceremony went beautifully.   Here's a link to the local news that captured the ceremony live.  If you look very closely, you can just see us, we are up very close to the reverend's podium, just to the right and in front of the "Run Through Wedding" banner.

Mark: I have to be honest I was sort of expecting the ceremony to be a little cheesy but it was really nice, beautiful flowers and they gave every bride a bouquet.

Kris: I won't dwell on it here but I'm sure my personal blog will continue to have a lot about my physical/mental struggle with an IT issue that has stopped me in my tracks more than once and caused me to have to take almost two weeks completely OFF from running leading up to the marathon.   I got in two therapy sessions with a physical therapist before the marathon that I know helped me survive the marathon.   I was hurting, but not like it had been in the previous weeks.   My endurance was down from not getting in all my long runs and mentally that was hard for me to overcome.   We had to walk a lot more of the second half of the marathon than I wanted to but we got through it.  Hand in hand we crossed the finish line for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. Kuhn.   Charlie and Mike tipped off the announcer to who we were so they called us out just as Mark went to scoop me up and give me a big kiss.  We got an "aw!!!" from the crowd so that was a very sweet moment for both of us.

Mark:  Kris does not give herself enough credit, she did great on the course. My legs were very tired by the end of the marathon and when I picked up Kris I had the briefest moment when I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to keep standing. (That would have been bad to fall down while holding Kris) The vast majority of the wedding couples ran the half marathon and just a very small handful, 3-5 couples ran the full marathon. Besides the fact that I picked up Kris across the finish line, I think some of the "aw!!" was also due to the fact we were the first full marathon wedding couple to finish race.

After crossing the finish line, I was scooped up for a kiss :)
 Kris:  I couldn't get the smile off my face from finishing but as my teeth started chattering from the cold, we grabbed our mylar blankets and quickly spotted our friend Mike LeSage and his wife and friends.   They were also in town from Minneapolis to run the half marathon.   They were sweet enough to bring us a bottle of champagne and as we stood there chatting, our glasses kept getting re-filled and we quickly polished off the bottle.   Let me tell ya, after finishing a marathon and having very few calories left in the system we were feeling nothing but GOOD (and tipsy).   It was great :)

Mark: Not only did they bring us a bottle of champagne but they also got us a very nice set of champagne flutes to toast our wedding and finish with.

Kris:  Again we had very little time so no nap to catch up on sleep.   Just a quick shower, a chilly ice bath and then off to dinner with the parents at House of Blues where we managed to inhale everything that was set in front of us.   Then we left to go to the after party at the beautiful club at Encore called XS.   Not a place I think I would typically want to go to but considering it was filled with nothing but runners celebrating their victory, it was pretty sweet!   I was still battling quite a bit of stinging pain in the left leg but it was a blast to hang out with Brandon and Theresa and down a few free drinks.   Well ok chatting with Theresa while watching Brandon work the pole was right up there with the free drinks in terms of entertainment ;) lol

Mark: The club was open from 7-10 just for the runner after party and the first hour was open bar so that was fun and explains the two fisted drinking. I need to find more reason to wear my new hat!

Kris:  Monday morning was another fabulous buffet for breakfast before we said goodbye to everyone and headed out on our own for our "honeymoon" vacation touring the countryside and geocaching our way in a rental Jeep.   I think this trip has thoroughly solidified our decision that our next vehicle needs to be a 4-door Jeep Wrangler so we can go off-road geocaching and bring the dogs and our bikes :)

Mark: I have been thinking about getting a Jeep for awhile and this was the perfect oppertunity to really get a chance to test drive one. Our rental was a 2 door and it was great but we definately need a four door.

Kris: Our first day started by zipping up to Utah to fill in another state of geocaching.  Then as we came back through Arizona and Nevada, we were going farther and farther into "Open Range" territory so it was a lot of open road, open land, no cities and lots of cows.   Right after we got started on the Extraterestial Highway, we pulled over on the road, turned off the Jeep and just stood outside the vehicle.  I think that was the quietest, darkest moment I have ever stood in.  It was amazing.   There were more stars in the sky than I think I have ever seen and even without the moon, it was surprising how much the stars lit up the ground.   We saw a couple shooting stars and even a UFO! (ok well maybe it was just a test rocket or "something" from the nearby Air Force base but seeing a light moving across the sky and them promptly do a 180 was a bit freaky for a second or two)  Standing in the middle of the road under that beautiful sky was surreal.   And how often do you get to steal a smooch standing in the middle of the night on the ET highway? ;)

Kris:  To summarize our accomodations on Monday night....uh....let's just say after getting there and realizing we had NO cell service, NO WiFi, not even any TV connections, then seeing the rough necks behind the bar and the local guy drinking at the bar telling us about all these crazy big things he's done in his life (including a stint as a competitive accordion player), we carefully ate the sandwiches we ordered, went to our room in the divided mobile home and promptly got ready for bed by curling up in our clothes with the lights on.   In hind sight it wasn't that bad and the owners are actually really appreciative of the geocaching community bringing business to our area.   The rooms were just a bit.....well....rough at the Little A'Le'Inn.

Mark: Yeah the Little A'Le'Inn was not as bad in the morning but Kris is right, it was more then a bit creepy checking in as late as we did, especially when a inebriated "Agent 51" was shareing stories with us. No idea what if anything he told us was true but his claim about driving a Jaguar was true, there was a Jaguar XF in the parking lot. I really can find us some awesome cheap lodging!

Kris:  We got up early the next morning and had the most amazing geocaching day.  (I'll try to spare you and summarize....)
  1. 104 caches total with about 50 of them from the ET power trail. 
  2. We hid a cache in Rachel, NV
  3. Were carefully watched as we neared the entrance to Area 51 (the "camo dudes" drove by us 2x and parked looking right at us while we were taking pictures)
  4. Drove 110 miles to the nearest gas station,
  5. Got a great view from a rest area that only the Jeep could take us to,
  6. Picked up the oldest cache in Nevada and
  7. Saw wild horses out playing and crossing the roads
Mark: We also got to give the Jeep a good test drive. On the way to the olest cache, it was about 20 miles off the main road on a "minimum maintence" road that kept getting worse and worse the farther we drove. I actually put the Jeep in 4x4 for the trip out because it was REALLY muddy and I wanted to make sure we did get out, again no cell service to speak of.

Wild Horses roaming in Nevada

Mark at the location of the oldest cache in Nevada (GCF9)
Kris:  Tuesday night we made a rather lengthy drive to get into California and spent the night in Death Valley.  It was much too dark for us to see anything driving down into the park.   And when I say down I mean we were driving downhill for about 20 miles.  Waking up and seeing the mountains was amazing.  It's such a beautiful area with so many places to explore, one day was definitely NOT we're planning to go back for a much longer stay :)   We picked up a couple virtual caches, an earthcache and one traditional on the way out.   Our main goal in going there was to get the virtual cache at Badwater (which is the start of the infamous Bad Water Ultra Marathon.  Getting the park caches also put California on our geocaching state map :)

Mark: The virtual cache at Badwater is the lowest elevation cache, -278 feet below sea level, in all of North America. We also got our highest elevation cache during the trip as well, over 6000 feet. Death Valley is definatly on the list for a future anniversary trip..

Kris:  On the way back to Vegas we had to stop and scrub off the Jeep.   Believe it or not we had to sign that we would NOT be taking the vehicle off-road (seriously?   It's a Jeep people.....) so we spent about $12 to avoid the $250 penalty.

Mark: That was the best $12 investment I ever made! ;)

Kris: It's so hard to summarize our trip but there was my attempt :)  The whole experience was fantastic and one-of-a-kind and while it's hard to be back at home and back to our insanely busy routine, I'm very happy and lucky to now be Mrs. Kuhn ;)

Mark: And as much fun as we had, and as tough it has been to be back here in MinneSNOWta, I am very happy to have a Mrs. Kris Kuhn in my life.



Friday, December 10, 2010

Pre-Wedding Details - written Nov 20th (late posting)

(so I KNOW this is a late post as I am starting the blog posts for our post-wedding updates.  I just realized I never finalized the content on this one with Mark and had him post.  Ratz.....  But I think it's still worth posting and stay tuned for our post-race posts that should be up in the next few days)

Kris: Again I have gone much too long since I've posted anything so a quick recap to get you caught up. Weight loss has been going pretty good. Kind of hitting another plateau lately at 140-141 but that means I'm down 15 lbs from the beginning of the year.

As for training.......below is a picture from the Monster Dash 10-mile (Oct 30th)

And here is a picture of our backyard, two weeks later, Saturday Nov 13th

Kris: So how do you think training have been going. Shitty, shitty.... 1) because of the slippery, snowy trail conditions and 2) because my IT band has been giving me serious trouble, especially when slipping or trudging through snow.   Mark has been amazing trying to keep me from freaking out but.....I'm still freaking out. I've been taping, stretching, rolling, Adviling and havent run more than like 5 miles in two weeks. Yesterday we went out for a 12 and I thought everything was feeling pretty good. But again, mile 5 my IT started to freak out. Inside my head I was just pissed but we continued the 12 miles, stopping about every mile for a very quick stretch since it was really cold out and we didn't want to cool down.   And now this morning my entire IT band is on fire. running until Vegas :( :( :(   I don't want to further injure myself and I have done enough training that I have the endurance.  I don't want to hobble through my wedding so it's off running until Vegas. I'm a runner, take away the run in me and I'm miserable but I know it's the smart thing to do. It's potentially going to cause me to slow my overall pace and probably struggle a bit more through the last few miles but I'm counting on adrenaline to carry me though and the ultimate goal for me is to successfully finish my first marathon as Mrs. Kuhn, hand in hand with my husband, and celebrate our new life together (not on crutches ;)

Kris: Here's what I have so far and THANK YOU!!!!! to our animal babysitters while we are gone, Marks' brother Michael and good friend, Steve.
  • Just found out we get to be part of a series of LIVE segments that will be done the Friday morning before the race for the local FOX news :)   All I know so far is that we need to be in our wedding attire and show up by 6:45am at the Venetian.  Fun!!   I did ask and I will get the links so I can post them here for you all to see after the race.   But for any of my Vegas readers we may have.....get your morning coffee and watch for us! :)
  • Finally get to meet our blogger/runner friends Brandon and Theresa!  They will be running the half marathon.   Kick tail you two! :D
  • Thanks to a generous wedding gift from my boss, we will be having a really nice dinner out together one night.
  • Saturday evening we will likely be spending with the videographers
  • Sunday - RACE DAY!   We only know so far that the marriage couples will be in Wave 14 and you can sign up to "track" us here: Keep in mind our first split time will look really slow since we will be stopped for the ceremony :)

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