Friday, July 20, 2012

3 YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TOO LONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First, play this song while reading the blog post!!!! The perfect music, coming off the plane in Minnesota 5 weeks ago!!! It's from the "Da Vince Code," beautifully written by Hans Zimmer!!!!!!:)

July 15th, 2009, boarded the plane from Minneapolis Airport and wouldn't come back to a Minnesota summer for 3 years!!!!!!!! Granted, there was a visit after 1 1/2 years, but those who live in Minnesota know there isn't anything like a Minnesota summer!!!!!! So after 3 long years of being away from green grass, lakes at the perfect temperature, and EVERYONE outside on bike paths, running, or just walking around the neighborhood, it was time to REVISIT MINNESOTA IN THE SUMMER TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And that meant SHAKOPEE SUMMER TENNIS!!!!!!!!!:):):):):):) I had mixed emotions about what that was going to be like, after being involved with Shakopee Tennis for 17 years of my life, it was a nervous type of feeling!! But nonetheless boarded the plane in New Delhi, with Shubhra, and in a short 32 hours we would be stepping off the plane, together, in Minnesota during the summer!!!!  We arrived and was met by my mom, dad, sister, Cindy, and my sister's boyfriend Dusty, who I physically met for the first time!!!  The very first time Dusty and I met, it took maybe 5 seconds to figure out we had the EXACT same sense of humor!!! Because at the moment I went to shake his hand, we BOTH were thinking of the scene in Tommy Boy "brother's don't shake hands, brothers gotta hug!!!"  Needless to say he was good to go in my book in record time!!!:):):)

Now the reason for an early appearance in Minnesota was for Grandma's Marathon Weekend, something again I haven't done for 3 years!!!  Not only was I planning on just running, but running for ACS's Charity Runner and raised over $1,000 for their charity!!!! So that felt awesome!!! We arrived in Minnesota on a Wednesday afternoon, so that gave me a couple days to quickly get over jet lag and get into a normal Minnesotan routine again!!  That Thursday morning we started off to the cabin and Duluth (this was before the floods, luckily) and took the whole day to drive around Duluth, visit UMD AND THE RED COUCH (PE majors know what I'm talking about), and of course around Canal Park!! Whole thing gave me shivers and a couple tears!!:):)  We finally arrived at the cabin, again not being at the cabin since the July 4th weekend a week and a half before heading off to India, so that also was pretty emotional and special!!:):) We spent all day Friday relaxing and that night getting into "marathon mode"!!!!!! That of course meant dad shaving my head!!!!!!!!!!! Hey it's a tradition!!!!!!!!!

Saturday morning it was Grandma's Marathon time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now of course the weather reports from the night before predicted cloudy skies, some chance of sprinkles, and NO sun what-so-ever!!! We get to the bus that will take us to the starting line and of course no clouds in the sky, a beautiful sunrise, and could feel the humidity rising as we waited around!!!  Arrived at Grandma's starting line at 6:30am, and waited around until 7:45am, STARTING TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Again, it was a pretty emotional 3 minutes with the Blue Angels fly by and the American National Anthem!!!!!! THEN COUNTDOWN 3.....2......1....BAM, gun goes off and 36th Grandma's Marathon is off and running!!! Not knowing where my pace would be at since I've been training at about 7,000ft higher than sea level, and Grandma's is basically sea level, maybe 100ft. higher, my goal was 3:05 and the first couple of miles felt really good and pushed it a little and set my new goal at a sub 3-hours!!! A mistake I would later regret!!  By the half way point I was right on pace for a sub par 3 hour marathon, which I was a little nervous if I could hold that pace!!! All the way until mile 20 I was feeling on pace and strong, but then my body felt a little over exerted and that's where the pace began to fall, rapidly!! I was running at a 6:50 pace for the first 20 miles, but then out of no where ran a 7:32, so I pushed the next mile back to a 7:00 mile!! But that was apparently my last stitch effort, because then it was a 7:35, 8:14, 8:46, and my final push for the finish line it was a huge struggle but at no point at all did I walk and finished Grandma's Marathon at 3 hours 12 minutes and 2 seconds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Granted not my goal time of 3:05, BUT took 18 minutes off my personal best, and now I know exactly where I'm at!!!!! Seeing this was my first actual focused attempt at a marathon since 2008 Grandma's (my personal best)!!!!  No more will I let that much time between focused marathons!!!!!!:):):) SO THAT FELT GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND AFTER I CROSSED THE FINISH LINE, TEARS BE A FLOWIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:):):):):):):):):) After 6 months of training, and all the built up emotion of Grandma's and being back in Minnesota and Duluth, they just came FLOWING out after the finish!!!!!!!!!:):):)

We left Duluth that Monday, NOT AFTER A VISIT TO JAY IN GRAND MARAIS!!!!!!!!!!:):):) That was an awesome visit to see Jay, former Woodstock staff, and see what his new digs were like!!! Not gonna lie, they were awesome!!!:):):)  There place is like a 5 minute walk to Lake Superior, and the nature trails they have around there were beautiful as ever!!! Previous to visiting, I've been to Grand Marais twice, so that was fun to see that town again!!!!! Jay seemed to be liking the place and that was the main thing!!!:):) I wish I could have stayed longer to see him in action on fixing up old bikes, something deep down I've always had a passion for but know NOTHING except for riding them!!!!! LAME!!!!!!!!!! Maybe, in time, there will be a place for repairing bikes!!!!:):):):)

After a SUCCESSFUL visit to Duluth and Grandma's Marathon our next stop was back to the cities and SHAKOPEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:):):):):) Time had passed enough, and enough was enough it was now time to visit my home, the Shakopee Tennis Courts!!!:):) Buuuuuuuuuuuut my body wasn't having it, because the next morning I woke up and pretty much almost vomited 4 times and was pale as the killer monk from Da Vinci Code (yes, I loved that movie and the blog post kinda revolves around it)!!!!!!!!! Soooooooo my visitation to Shakopee Tennis would have to take a day layover in my mom's bathroom!!!!!!!:):):) BUT Wednesday morning came, went for a run and then to the Shakopee Tennis Courts, where I saw my tennis crew at it again!!!!!!!!!:):):):):):) Hugs all around, none from the students because after 3 years who knew all the ones I taught would go on to bigger and better things, so knew none of them, but DEFINITELY KNEW THE COACHES!!!!!!!!!!!:):):):):) Just kinda walked around, not really knowing what the heck to do, for the first time EVER, soooooooooooooooo that felt out of place!!!!! But after that lesson was over talked with my old friends and began the joking around and bruising once again!!!!!!:):):):)

Throughout the next couple of weeks being back, spent time seeing old friends and doing various awesome things...............LIKE GETTING MARRIED FOR A 3RD TIME, SEEING THE NEW TWINS BALLPARK (TARGET FIELD), AND SPENDING A DAY AT VALLEYFAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:):):):) So not knowing how Shubhra would hold up spending time with the entire Luukkonen clan and some of the Olson clan, but she held her own!!!!!!!! Now, usually a couple gets married and that's that!!!  Well we had our official wedding July 9th 2011, right after I returned from Bandaarpunch!!! Then we had the official government court marriage down in Dehradun, and then this one was a kinda renewing vows ceremony so my side of the family could witness us all dressed up!!!!!:):)  We had a beautiful ceremony at the University of Minnesota arboretum, with my family and friends!!!!!!  My mom was the head pastor, so that was really special, especially when I tried to make her cry throughout the ceremony, but I think in the end, looking back at that I made her laugh more than cry!! So plan failed!!!!!! I don't know how, saying stuff like "ooooooh here come the tears........... uh oh someone's about to wet her face.......with tears!!!!!!!!" Either way, she emotionally leaked a little close to the end, which put a big smile on my face, and all throughout that Shubhra was giving me the smile of death!!!!!!!!!:):):):):)  Then we had a wonderful dinner after the vowing ceremony and showed a little slide show of India and got to answer question!!!! OF COURSE PLAYED THE HINDI VERSION OF FINAL COUNTDOWN IN THE SLIDE SHOW!!!!!!!:):):):)

Hey the quest for The Final Countdown in all nations will never end!!!! So far I'm up to 3!!!!!!!!!!! Britain, USA, and INDIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!:):):):) Anyway slide show was a big hit, everyone was in AWE of Woodstock and where we lived and worked!!!!!!:):):) Then we all said our goodbye's and our final wedding ceremony was over with!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So mark up ANOTHER day of emotions, seeing Target Field for the first time and passing the Metrodome along the way!!!!! From past to present!!!!!  However, can't lie but got most emotional passing the Metrodome!!! I'm sorry but no matter how great Target Field is, all of my memories and Minnesotans memories will be forever with the Dome, just like the older generation will have the old Met Stadium!!!! 2 World Series Championships, Homer Hankies flying non-stop during the playoffs, and the LOUDEST stadium ever created!!!!! I remember the '91 World Series and they were measuring the decibel level during Kirby Puckett's Game 6 home run and it reached around 115, they were comparing that with a jet engine!!! IT WAS AWESOME!!:):):):) Anyway hopefully Target Field will have similar memories down the road, ESPECIALLY A FREAKIN WORLD SERIES VICTORY!!!!!!!!!!! That would be nice!!!!!!!!!!:):) But the game was AWESOME!!!! We won 4-1 and got to experience a great night OUTSIDE watching my favorite baseball team with my favorite people under the stars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:):):):):):) Of course after the victory fireworks went off, which was equally as awesome!!!!!:):):)

Next big adventure would have had to been the morning of July 4th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was the Red, White and BOOM Half Marathon!!!!!!!! Except, the day before the administration of the race decided "for the best interest of the runners" it would be in best interest that the half marathon would be changed from a half marathon (13.1 miles) to a 5 miler!!!! OUTRAGED, a number of us runners e-mailed that decision and asked if they could allow the runners who wanted to run the half marathon to run the half marathon!! Of course they responded with a general e-mail to all of us, giving us some bullcrap about heat and making the best decision for the health of the runners!!!!!!! Either way, I was running the half!!! Morning of the race, ran the first mile on the 5 miler/half marathon route, but then when the turn left to continue on with the 5 miler route came, I went straight instead!!!!! Which is the half marathon route!!! I look behind me, and of course no one else decided to do this, sooooooooo I was the only runner that day competing in the half marathon division!!!!!!!! Granted it was hot, about a 95 heat index by 9am!!!!!:):):) But finished the half with a 1:45 time, not my personal best, but in that heat I was pleased!!! AND showed it to the race officials, that on this day of Independence you cannot tell us what to run and not run!!!!!!!!!! BAM!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU GOT AMERICANIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:):):):):):):):)

Later that week SAW DAVE WIEBE AND THE FARLEY'S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! With Greg, Devan, Kate, and LAURA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:):):):):):):):) All former and current Woodstock staff!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT WAS AWESOME!!!!!!!!:):):):):) Now at first I saw Laura, Kate, and Greg at some Guiequilla Mexican restaraunt, because Laura couldn't make the next meeting on Saturday!!!! So that was SO awesome to see Laura and everyone else at a non Woodstock location!!! Oh and by the way, huge difference seeing these guys driving!!!!!!! At Woodstock it's walking everywhere, NO ONE owns their own car, unless they're over 40!!!!!:):) And then the next Saturday saw the Farley's (all 3 of them) and Dave Wiebe and Kate and Devan and Greg at one of the many beautiful lakes in Minnesota, Lake Calhoun!!!!!!:):):):):) Greg of course, with his GPS, got freakin lost for an hour and was yelling on the phone (which yes was very hilarious) and of course when I saw Greg he swore off driving forever in Minneapolis!!!!!!!:):):):) Then after hanging out at the lake for a bit, we went off to get some dinner at some fancy Gastro-pub!!!!!!! It was an AMAZING evening with friends who I wish were all still at Woodstock!!!! But, life is life!!!! It's all about getting back together every once in a while!!!!!:):):)

Throughout the weeks after that it was full of Valleyfair, Arby's, movies at home, tennis lessons, and just hanging out with friends and family!!!!!!!!!!!!:):):):):):):):) It was amazing how FAST this break went!!!!! There were some days I wished time would slow down so I could really soak in all of Minnesota, and then there were some days where I wanted that Woodstock routine again and couldn't wait to be back!!!! Either way though, I look back now at break and there is nothing I would have changed!!!!!!! I think I did everything I wanted to do, granted didn't get to see everyone that I wanted to, but in that short of time I had to have some down time and actually enjoy a vacation!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Minnesota will always be "home" in my heart no matter where I am in the world, and yes you can say home is where you make it, but you know, sometimes there's that one place in the world, that no matter what, whenever you go back you think......... I'm home!!!!:) 24 wonderful years of my life were spent there, shaping who I am, spending time with the people I love most, and doing things only true Minnesotans would understand and creating some of the most special memories ever!!!!!!!

It's funny to hear and read what people say about not being home in so long and oooooooooh man I miss home so much, and they live like a 3 hour plane ride away!!!!!!!  I just want to smack people like that!!!!  And then it amazes me whenever I go back and hang out with friends who, themselves, haven't seen each other since the last time I was home!! It just baffles me that they are about 4 hour drive apart, and it takes me coming back from India for them to see each other!!!!!!!  Living in India has definitely given me an entire new perspective on truly appreciating the time spent with people!!!  Do NOT take that for granted at all!!! And honestly, if you live within 4-5 hours of someone and you haven't seem them in 1-2 years because life is "too hectic," well that's crap!!!!! Take a weekend, schedule it in your planner and go visit each other!!!!  It should NOT take someone coming home from India to finally make time!!!!! Good gracious!!!!!!!

I cannot wait for the next 1 1/2 years to fly by, and once again be in the nice COLD, -40 degree below weather of Minnesnoooooooooooowta!!!!!!!!!:):):):):):):):) Until then, HAPPY SMILING AND SUMMERING MINNESOTA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:):):):):):):):):):):):)

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