#RaceInParadise, that’s what they call it. And it’s beautiful.
It was nearly two years ago now when I dropped the idea to my friend Naidymar that she should do the Half Ironman in Puerto Rico. “You should sign up! Go race in your home country! I’ll do it with you!”
That was basically the initial conversation. And it led to a race.
There were two reasons for me pushing to do this event:
- I had seen a bunch of the videos and marketing for IronmanPR online. The course looked absolutely gorgeous, and tough. And I was already pretty much sold on it.
- Naidymar is Puerto Rican. She is a dear friend. And I truly believed she was tough enough to train up to complete a half even though she had JUST got into cycling.
Looking back in a group chat we have with several friends that was the first time I actually said something. The original thought was to do a relay, but that quickly changed to each doing our own race. Things slowly progressed from there.
So when I got a text message from her saying “I’m signed up!” my reaction was both “Hell yes!” and “Shit! Now I gotta figure out logistics for that race…”
“Guys.. we’re gonna do the Princess Half.. and we’re gonna dress up.. as princesses”
That was pretty much how things started. And three years later here we are.
To say that the idea of #PrincessMen grew into something we would have never foreseen is obvious. To find ourselves welcomed so warmly by so many two years after that first run in 2015 is still a shock, but way more fun now!
After the first race two years ago we watched posts online over social media quickly questioning “WHO were those guys!?”. During the second race in 2016 we were greeted by “I was hoping to see you guys!” followed by topping Buzzfeed’s Best-Dressed list from the race. Haha!
Read about our first year here
Or, read about the second year here
Now in our third year, and back to our original large group (plus a couple new faces) we were met with “I joined the Half Marathon just to meet you guys..”
Consider that for a moment. Several woman out there not only considered, but signed up for, paid, trained, AND COMPLETED a half marathon and credited us with getting them there.
Shelly was just one of several ladies who posted comments like these online, or told us in-person during the race.
And while I’m proud that our antics and humor is encouraging anyone to get out and run/walk and improve their health and lifestyle – THEY are the ones that put in the work and finished the event.
And they should be incredibly proud.
Ragnar Trail Relay – Lake Tahoe 2016
So this was one of the three main races I was hoping to complete this year. (The other two were Escape From Alcatraz Tri, and Half Iron Michigan that I opted out of in favor of a full Iron in December)
Ragnar was first introduced to me through a buddy of mine in Florida. He had brought up the possibility of doing a relay with our group out there in the Keys. But that was the road relay. Ragnar has two styles of races. Point-to-point road running, and multiple-loop trail running and camping. As I looked at the two different options I found their Tahoe race that immediately appealed to me _because_ it was in Tahoe and I knew it would be hard.
I’ve lived and trained in Tahoe two different summers for Ironman Tahoe. So I knew exactly what this race would require from me.
But I didn’t know enough people to assemble a team on my own. And frankly, at the time of this writing in July, I have competed in 11 races that I can think off the top of my head. Ragnar didn’t look like it was in the cards for me.
And then I randomly found a team last minute..
Everyone calls this race a “bucket list” race. Personally I think that term is ridiculously cliche and can’t stand it. I would prefer just to say “Yeah, it’s definitely one you should try and do if you’re interested”. And there’s currently a solid argument to be made that the 40% increase in cost this year is due to every triathlon writer calling this race “bucket list”.
I had first heard about Escape from friends. And then looked it up online back in 2014 for the 2015 race. I entered the second drawing, but was not selected. However I did get selected to race in the 2016 race in the next drawing that was held.
Reading about the race online was interesting because you see everyone’s underlying panic when they ask questions in forums or discuss it online. I didn’t consider the race distances to be difficult lengths. It was a 1.5 mile ocean swim in the Bay, 18 mile ride through San Francisco, and 8 mile run – including a beach section.
But my background with triathlons includes Ironman Lake Tahoe – so I now compare nearly every race to that one. People were particularly scared about the water, but when I lived in SoCal before recently moving back to the SF Bay Area I would train in the ocean. So waves don’t really bother me, nor does the salt.
And when it came down to the actual race, I knew I would have a fun time racing with minimal struggle throughout the day if I wanted. My goal would be 3hr 30min. And when race day came around I managed a 3:35:06
My day shooting Sammy Hagar.
So it was a phone call somewhat out of the blue. A good friend of mine, and fellow photographer, down in LA reached out to me on a Wednesday to see if I would be around that weekend. I was momentarily caught off guard because he knows I no longer live in Southern California. But it turned out he was asking if I would be in the San Francisco Bay Area and available that weekend.
He said he might have a lead for me on a project he knew I would dig.
And after a few various emails that afternoon, and confirmation the following day, I was booked to shoot Sammy Hagar for AXS TV and Mercury Insurance!
Growing up I had listened to Van Halen, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and all those classic rock groups with my dad. So I knew of Sammy and his music.
This would be awesome.
About a week ago I got to spend a couple days in Gilroy with Kevin and Nichole to photograph their wedding!
I want to say the three of us first met at Ernesto and Sarah’s wedding… but I could be wrong. We might have met at another wedding before that and I’m remembering incorrectly. I’ve had the opportunity to shoot for several couples within the same group of friends – which is very cool but makes it easy to lose track.
Either way, it meant that I saw Kevin and Nichole a couple times before they reached out and asked me about shooting their wedding for the two of them!
Ironically months before the wedding they moved down to SoCal, where I had been living, and I re-located back up to the the Bay Area. So instead of needing to travel for this wedding like I first thought, it was the bride and groom that had to make the trip up to the Bay.
Kevin and Nichole’s weekend was beautiful. The weather worked out great – warm but not scorching hot like the week leading up to it. Their venue in the foothills in Gilroy was lovely, and Nichole and her sister Tammy had everything planned out, made up, and ready to go when it came to decorations. Ok, to be fair the girls said they finished all the arrangements/etc in the days leading up to the wedding, but that’s normal and their work was so good you’d think they did it professionally.
So, for those ready to scroll through the Przybyla wedding.. Read on!
I have a couple hundred images from weekend to share with you all!
As usual, I saved a lot of info for the captions rather than typing it all out here..
The Lanza Wedding.
I just returned home to California from Joe and Erin’s wedding out in Jersey. At I have to say spending the last three weeks with these two was a blast. Yep. Three weeks.
So let elaborate a bit more on who I am for those who might just know me as “Joe’s California friend”. I’ve known Joe for 13 years. We did the Disney College Program together. Ironically, while we knew each other somewhat during that 9 months at Disney, we moved in different social circles. So we actually never hung out. It wasn’t until a few months after returning home, and re-connecting online as all us former-lifeguards did to keep in touch, that was when Joe and I realized how much we had in common.
He’s been a very dear friend of mine ever since.
And while many friendships since our days at Disney have changed, I would quickly point out that Joe and I have only become better friends over the years.
During my many trips back out to Florida I stayed with Joe over half of them. And on those trips spending most of the time sitting around talking was pretty much the norm.
Joe would joke with me that “Your room is always available” about his guest room in his apartment. And when him and Erin recently bought their house, one of the spare rooms they both refer to as “John’s room”. It’s funny, but also very sweet.
But what the most fun part of the entire Lanza wedding as a whole? In any aspect?
That’s easy. It’s having been part of Joe’s life, and now Joe-and-Erin’s-life, long enough to go from those college-years-conversations with Joe about “I don’t think I’ll get married, John” to “Things are pretty serious with Erin, man..” and eventually “I’m going to propose.”
That was very cool.
And I love Erin – she and Joe are great together. And to be part of their wedding weekend (and entire wedding month pretty much) was great. But before I get into all that, let’s have some fun and take a stroll down memory lane. Shall we?
I have the most extensive photo record of our circle of friends since ’03… so this’ll be fun to zip through real quick ;)
What do you say, you guys ready to scroll through tons of photos?
How about you, Joe?
It’s already been a year since our appearance as the #PrincessMen at the Disneyworld Princess Half Marathon weekend in Orlando. And while this year was much smaller than last year in terms of the size of our group, it was arguably a race we were looking forward to even more.
(For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, check out my huge writeup from last year here: Princess Half 2015 )
Planning this year’s race was somewhat tricky in the sense that, well, Life happens. And what I mean by that is 50% of last year’s group wasn’t going to be attending. This was a huge disappointment for me because I knew how much the other runners were looking forward to our return. As I wrote last year, a lot of ladies out on the course found extra energy to continue running and paced with us for a portion of their race. And I knew they were looking forward to us coming back again.
…we even made Buzzfeed this year
So Buzzfeed reached out to me several days after the race. We were featured in the Top 10 list of Best Costumes from the race. We came in at Number 1! How awesome is that! Thanks for the support everyone! We’ll be back to full-strength in our numbers next year!
…and on the topic of the smaller-group thing…
Half the group
This year we would be missing Charming, Mulan, Anna, and Beast. For various reasons they couldn’t make the race work with their schedules. Whether it was due to travel during that timeframe. Scheduling and simply not having time to train. Or in the case of Charming, running elsewhere in the race and not with us this year.
So this was going to be the group.
Smaller, yes. But we were still going to have a great time.
Two week ago while most people were focused on Thanksgiving and which sales they were going to hit up the following day, I was with Maria and Tri as they were rehearsing their wedding here in San Jose. Then, two days later, on Black Friday while everyone was shopping or laying around sleeping after the Thanksgiving holiday we were all at their wedding.
So I wasn’t originally quite positive on how exactly Maria and Tri found me. At first I thought it was simply through Maryann, their wedding coordinator and an old friend from high school. Turns out that Maria is the sister of my friend Manny – also from high school, and someone who I’ve been to a couple weddings with over the years. Ha! That turned into a funny conversation the morning of the wedding when I finally put all that together.
Maria and Tri actually live in SoCal, and even though I had been living down there timing just never quite worked out to meet in person. Maria joked that in the weeks leading up to the wedding she became mildly concerned that no one had heard much from me. Whoops! I was actually caught up in the middle of an unexpected move from LA back to the SF Bay Area. But still was looking forward to their wedding and ready to rock it out.
Maria and Tri put on a lovely ceremony in San Jose, followed by an absolutely awesome reception – I’m pretty sure their families danced the entire night as soon as the music started.
Anyway, I have hundreds of photos below for all of you to check out. Whether you missed the event or just want to relive it, I hope you guys enjoy this recap of Maria and Tri’s wedding.
And, like usual, I’ve saved a lot more comments for the captions below..
The Riker Wedding this past weekend was only my third wedding that was local here in SoCal – and it was awesome.
Joel and Jenny got married on Saturday on a yacht in Marina Del Rey. And surprisingly there were no “I’m on a boat!” jokes – at least none that I heard.
So I met Joel 12 years ago. We also both worked at DisneyWorld (like Ryan who’s wedding I shot last week). And even though Ryan, Joel and me all worked at the same place, Joel and I were in different social circles. He told me last summer he always thought I was quiet. I’m actually far from quiet, but Joel was in a supervisor/coordinator role when I worked there. So.. that’s my reason for never really talking to him. HE was the quiet one doing manager-ish stuff back at Base at the water park we worked at. So we never really got to know each other.
Last summer at some point I was referred to him by our mutual friend Theresa. Theresa was a lifeguard, too, and even though I was a guest at her wedding years ago I took some photos for her while in Washington for her and Scott.
So somewhere along the line in planning Theresa referred me to Jenny and Joel, I met them very briefly last summer, and they later got in touch with me about shooting their wedding.
And here we are now.
The new Mr. and Mrs. Riker are married, and I have 450 images of the whole celebration to share with you!
Click past the break for a ton of images of Jenny and Joel’s weekend. I saved more comments for the captions as usual. So I hope you have some time to kill, because there are a lot of fun moments to enjoy below!