Friday, May 31, 2013

RW Streak: Week 1

I am so pleased with how this week has gone! I've never done a streak before and I was a little nervous, but having made the commitment, I knew I would stick with it.
Day 4: I rediscovered my appreciation for the treadmill.
The first few days, I got up early and did outdoor runs. When I re-enrolled at LA Fitness, I did a couple runs there. I'd forgotten how refreshing the treadmill can be! Plus, I didn't have to worry about summer storms getting in my way. I purposely kept my mileage on my runs low; I was worried about the lack of rest days.
Day 5: ready to rock!
 But rejoining a gym means I'm also doing full-body workouts. It's amazing how quickly strengthening and weight-lifting can impact runs. Today, for the first time in a long time, I had a run that just felt good. It didn't feel like a chore. I wanted to go farther, rather than cut it short at the bare minimum distance of a mile.
Matt and I partake in a post-workout stretch.
 Part of this was that I slowed my pace. I'd forgotten that sometimes, pace comes second. I allowed myself to start slow and build the speed on the treadmill, and I kept the top speed slower than yesterday's. The result was a longer run that left me happier, satisfied, and stoked for tomorrow.

Another benefit of being a gym member again is that it motivates Matt to go. He loves working out, but he has a very physical job. When he's tired from working, it's hard to get him to the gym. My going guarantees he'll find the energy and get himself out there.

Doesn't he look manly stretching his quad?
The last week of school, a student generously presented me with a gift card to Fit2Run, my favorite running store. I happily spent it this week, purchasing what are now my all-time-top-choice running shorts and my first BIC Band.
New favorite shorts! Please excuse my unruly hair and unruly floor. I'm a mess.
Much better! At least the BIC Band can tame my hair.
I love how these shorts come in different inseam lengths, aren't spandex but aren't "fluffy" (suffering from too much material), have a wide waistband that's comfortable and flattering, and include three pockets. Definitely worth the splurge!

We finished this week with dinner for Kim's birthday at Mad Fresh Urban Bistro.
I like living where she chooses to vacation!
Next week, Matt and I are going to be spending some time at his dad's timeshare. It's a huge family event. Matt has promised to run with me while we're there. I hope to stay motivated, even with some travel and beach time thrown into the mix.

How has your week been?
What is your favorite piece of running clothing/accessory?
Can you believe it's almost June?!


Thursday, May 30, 2013

At the Ol' Ball Game

The best thing about summer has got to be the fruit. So many berries are in season and on sale! I love when cherries cost $4 instead of $7.
Gone in 60 seconds
 Matt and I went to a Rays game (my first of the season) last night. It was our first time at the Miami Marlins' stadium, and boy was it empty! There are all kinds of issues going on with the Marlins, due to their manager. (If you're a baseball fan and enjoy some snarky commentary on the whole Loria business, read more about it here.)
Let's play ball!
The stadium was really empty, even for a mid-week game, and the Rays fans outnumbered the Marlins fans 2-to-1. Very, very odd to be a fan of the away team and be in the majority!
The Transformers were there for some reason.
The stadium is really cool. There are refillable popcorn stations, self-serve froyo, lots of Latin food, and gluten free options!
I rarely drink these days, and usually my limit is one. But I had to splurge and have a second beer last night because the novelty of having GF beer from a public establishment still hasn't worn off for me. Needless to say, by the end of the night I was taking all kinds of pointless photos and screaming for the players using ridiculous nicknames I'd created.

The game was relatively uneventful. The Rays scored two of their three runs in the first inning, and the final score was 3-1 Rays. But the turnover between innings was faster than I've ever seen, so for an uneventful game, it certainly wasn't boring.
Matt and Ryan discuss important baseball-y things.
We had nice close seats, so I got to see the players warmup. Usually we're in the nosebleeds, so that was really cool.
The Rays take the field for the final inning.
Because of the long drive home (resulting in a late night) and the two Redbridge I consumed, I opted out of an early morning run. My run for the fourth day of the RW streak will be in just a little bit, as I'm set to head to the gym around lunchtime. Here's hoping it's not too crowded at mid-day!

What teams are you loyal to?

How is your RW running streak going?

What's your favorite snack to have at a sporting event?

What's your favorite thing about summer?


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Once More a Gym Member

I'm not a huge fan of cross-training, but I'm learning to take it seriously. For one thing, I know the summer months are going to drive me indoors for some runs on the treadmill. For another, if I want to remain uninjured through this run streak and, more importantly, through my marathon training, I'll need to really work on building up my strength.

So, I've reopened my gym account and headed over there tonight for a late-night workout.
I'd already run today, so I did just a couple minutes on the rowing machine to warm up. I've never used this before! I was pretty proud of myself.
This may be the first time I didn't wear my running shoes to the gym.
I did mostly core work, some light leg work, and upper-body lifting. I did my planks and stretches. I took it pretty easy, but was happy to get some weights in.

After the workout, I had a Luna Bar and some chocolate soy milk. I can have regular milk, but Silk is so tasty AND has more calcium than regular milk! Plus, protein!

I'm feeling great about the run streak so far! I'm going to do just a mile again tomorrow, then start building up at the end of this week. No rest days means low mileage, but I'm starting to get bored/antsy with the distance. It has been nice, though, to just roll out of bed and out to a perfectly calculated path, without having to drive to a starting point.

This was some much-needed motivation today.

How is your week going so far?

Do you prefer the treadmill or outdoor running?

Do you like going to the gym?


Monday, May 27, 2013

RW Run Streak Day 1

I don't plan to do a running update for each of the days of the running streak, but as today was the big kickoff, I felt a post was due.

I got up at 6:15, the first time in months I've successfully pulled myself out of bed early for the sake of running. But I knew that if I tried to wait until later, I'd be too likely to miss the run. Matt and I have plans this evening for a barbecue with friends to observe Memorial Day.

I have a lot of family and friends who were (and still are) military, and I have a lot of respect for people who sign up for that life. It can't possibly be easy to decide to sign up for a life of service, to be willing to put your life on the line, knowing that so many people will never understand what you experience. It's not that Americans are ungrateful for our service men and women, but I think we're so removed from the wars being fought these days that we almost come off as unconcerned. I don't say it enough; I am in awe of those who go into service, and am saddened that so many have lost their lives fighting in the name of our country.

I kept my run short this morning. The streak calls for at least a mile a day for 39 days; because there are no rest days, it makes sense to run shorter and slower for some of them.

As my feet hit the pavement, I thought about those who run into the arms of their loved ones after months of deployment; I thought of those who suffered injuries and amputations in battle and had to relearn how to take even the simplest steps; I thought of those who will never run again.

The moon was still out, the air cooler than I had expected. The sun wasn't quite up yet, and there were only a few cars on the road. It was a nice run; tomorrow I'll go longer. I felt like lead today, but still wish I'd done more than just a mile.

38 days to the end, I should be all set to begin my marathon training schedule without any hangups.

How do you observe Memorial Day?

Are you doing the RW Run Summer Streak?


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pardon My Streaking

Given that my first day of marathon training is set to begin July 7 and I'm still just getting back into it after a few weeks off, I've decided to participate in the Runner's World Summer Streak.

My streak will need to be edited a bit due to summer traveling and jury duty, but my goal is to run 34 of these 39 days. (I know that's not really how a streak is supposed to work, but I like to make my own rules!)

The streak begins Memorial Day, and that's an easy enough day to begin. I'll be traveling for a wedding in mid-June, so depending on flight times and my parents (who are in charge of our travel plans), I may miss a day or two that weekend. (It's also possibly the last time I'll ever be in town to see my grandparents, so obviously visiting with them trumps running.)

On July 2 I have jury duty, so depending on how that works out my streak may be interrupted. (Although I'm off for summer and may seem like a perfect candidate, I'm thinking my tendency to have an opinion on everything and to immerse myself in news and political debates might get me rejected.)

This will be the first streak I've ever even tried participating in! I'm trying to be realistic about it, but I'm feel pretty enthusiastic right now. I'm excited and ready to go!

In other news, Matt and I sold our Hummer (his business car) for a Mini Countryman. I hate car-buying, but we did a lot of shopping around and ended up with exactly what we wanted and the best deal possible.
Out with the old, in with the new!
We got the new car yesterday and are head-over-heels in love!

I could barely contain my excitement on the ride home!
The car is eye-catching, good on gas, and spacious enough for Matt's business. It's the perfect exchange.
It may not be yellow, but it definitely stands out!
What's the longest running streak you've ever done?

How do you balance travel with your running schedule?


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Protein Bars and the Gluten Free Lifestyle

Up until recent years, if I was looking for a convenient, portable, filling, and healthy bite to eat, I would find myself wandering the cereal aisle searching hopelessly for granola bars that weren't full of wheat, barley, and oats. Eventually, some companies began putting out nut bars, which are great...but are somewhat lacking in the texture and flavor departments.

These days, protein bars line grocery store shelves in abundance; many of them are labeled GF, and some of them are tasty to boot! Now if I'm in the need of a quick snack before a workout or a mid-morning nosh between my 6:00am breakfast and 12:49pm lunchtime, I can easily grab one of many varieties.

For a long time, I was loyal to Lara Bars. They come in over a dozen flavors and they are ALL 100% gluten free!

I'm partial to the fruit flavors, but the carrot cake and cashew cookie are fantastic, too!
The only problem I ended up having with Lara Bars is that they can taste a bit acidic. (But, I found this feature refreshing at 4am before a run; the flavor is bright and sharp, and helps to wake me up a little bit.) I love these because a quarter of a bar can easily prep me for an early-morning run without weighing me down or doing anything funny to my digestion.

Another pro of the Lara Bars is that they are purely made from fruits, nuts, and spices. They have about 4g of fiber per bar, and 5g of protein.
Three ingredients, and it really tastes like cherry pie!
When I felt a little overdone on Lara Bars, I began trying ThinkThin bars. I was wary, because these have a more usual protein bar consistency, which I sometimes find unpleasant - too sticky and dry.

I also hate their name. It just seems like empty marketing to me. 200 calories isn't exactly a "thin" snack. But, I've had some luck with these.
I'm definitely a fan of this flavor!
All the bars in this brand are also GF, but they're pretty hit-and-miss on flavor and consistency. I've had the most luck with the "smooth" flavors, like peanut butter and chocolate fudge. The cookies and creme flavor was awful and gave me heartburn the moment I swallowed it. The chocolate covered strawberry flavor is okay, but tastes artificial.

If I'm in the mood for an indulgent, candy-coated bar, I'll grab one of these. And don't get me wrong; I LOVE the PB and chocolate fudge flavors! But they're not for an early morning workout, and I'm not willing to try the other flavors based on my experiences with the cookie and strawberry. These bars also have a lot more ingredients than the Lara Bars.
That's a long list of ingredients, for sure.
The pros for ThinkThin bars, though, are worth noting. They're filling, chewy, and easy to find in stores. Plus, they have 0g of sugar and 20g of protein! This probably explains the taste factor. I make sure to stock up on them because sometimes, they're just the bar I want.

Finally, I decided to try a bar everyone raves about, and very quickly learned why. The Luna Bar is supposedly designed with women in mind. I don't know about that, but I do know that for under 200 calories you get the indulgence of a candy bar and the full-but-not-too-full feeling you get from a protein bar.

These babies are tasty; even the mint and cookie flavors aren't chalky!
Luna Bars are completely GF, including the cookie dough flavor, and don't leave that dry/crumbly protein aftertaste I associate with whey protein and the like. They're chewy. They're chocolatey. They're scrumptious!

Now, a word of warning. These are NOT morning bars. They're great for a mid-morning snack or a pre-run or pre-gym bite in the evening, but they're way too sweet to be eaten first thing. I mean, that's just my opinion, but as someone who makes sure to eat at least one serving of chocolate daily, I think that's saying something.
Luna Bars boast 12g of protein and 3g of fiber. Their ingredient list is a little lengthy, but the ingredients are all pronounceable and dairy free.

I have yet to find an honest-to-goodness granola bar made from GF rolled oats, but until then, these will definitely suffice. I'm thankful that the market has expanded to the point that I don't need to eat a PayDay and hope the protein outweighs the sugars and fats!

What is your favorite protein bar brand?

What do you snack on pre-workout?


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The End Draws Nigh

This is mostly a teaching post, but I saw this little beauty and had to share.

Gotta love the play on Hamlet's famous soliloquy.
Tomorrow is the last day of school for the students. It's been quite a year. On the one hand, I feel like it took me longer to get my feet under me, but on the other hand, I feel like once I developed a rapport with my students, in some ways it's gone beyond the rapport I've had in past years.

My board has been constantly filled with notes this past week. Last night we had the 8th grade ceremony to send them off to high school; seeing the kids dressed up really solidifies that they are now high schoolers. When they first came to me in the beginning of the year, they were just glorified 7th graders; I saw them grow into 8th graders; now they're 9th graders.

It's such a huge transition, and the main reason I love teaching this grade.

I am so grateful for the notes they've been writing me this week, and I can't wait to read their year-end survey about their thoughts on my class. I'm thinking my scrapbook is going to need a few pages added.

I was enjoying this little article from Buzzfeed about how you know when you've been teaching too long, and had to pull a few to share.

How many smiley faces, ampersands, and uses of "ur" have I had to correct? Probably a million.
The bottom line with grammar is that it's kind of inherent. You need to read a lot and practice writing to get the hang of it; teaching it is rarely successful on its own. I'm all for this kind of...ahem...gentle correction, though.

(I recently asked a student if she had a grudge against apostrophes, because she never uses them.)

I am the master at this.
It's so hard to tell students when they're flat-out wrong, but I don't believe in letting them get away with ridiculous answers, either. They're not going to learn from their mistakes if they think their mistakes are right answers!
This this this this this this this.
My students are perhaps too young to really understand the difference they make in the lives of their teachers, or the fact that the reason we come to school in the mornings is for them more than anything else, but this is the truth. If I know I've somehow impacted a student; taught them something they'll remember for life; or introduced them to a genre, author, or book they'll cherish forever, then I know I've done my job.

(Prime example: A student wrote me a letter and had written the number "5", remembered my rule about writing out numbers under 10, and crossed it out to fix it...And it wasn't even graded!)

I'm ready for summer break, but I'm going to miss this group of kids. I've done what I can with them, and now it's up to them to go into the world of young-adulthood, set goals, aim high, and...use the force, or whatever.

Finally, here's a little something to leave you with a smile. I use this as a mnemonic device in writing: how to remember that "a lot" is not a single word:
Click here to read all about the lovely Alot! Hilarity ensues.

Tell me about a teacher you'll always remember.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Back in the Saddle

My cough 90% gone, I decided to bite the bullet and finally go for a run today. I have been three weeks off running, and was really itching to get back out there.

A few factors didn't cooperate, most notably my lungs. I'm still congested and coughing up phlegm, so I wasn't surprised to struggle in that regard. I was planning to do two miles, but then the rain set in. I purposely chose a route close to home so I could easily return if my body wimped out.
Just the right amount of stormy, and the rain blessed me with cooler temperatures, too.
I fully expected to be a wreck today, given that three weeks off can really set a runner back, and had accepted that this run might not be great. But I completed it in 9:48, and ran more than half of it between 8:50 and 9:07. (Given the short distance, that's not so impressive, but I'm feeling oddly proud about it.)

In the end, I was out of breath, rained-on, and exuberant.
Check out that *glow*
There was something beautiful about running in the rain. I felt cleansed of some of my hang ups and excuses that have been weighing me down this month. And when I plugged the run into Nike+, I knew I'd made the right decision when I saw this:

If I had allowed May to slip through my fingers completely, I would have missed my goal of "no blank months" this year.

I have a long journey ahead, even to start building up to a solid 4 miles, but I've been there before and I'll get there again. Today, I'm feeling positive.

How would you describe the feeling of a first run back after a break?

Do you like running in the rain?


Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Big Step

Friday, I felt pretty much back to my old self, which was a good thing considering I was expected to dress like a turkey-fashionista and strut my stuff on the runway.

(The point of the Trashion Fashion Show is to promote environmentally friendly choices and lifestyles. The students create outfits made of recycled/reused materials like bags, soda cans, napkins, etc. to fit the chosen theme. This year's theme was holidays.)

Do you spot Baby New Year and a leprechaun behind me?

I danced to "Turkey Trot" and delivered a few lines to my screaming'd really never know I'm an introvert. Being a teacher brings out the show-woman in me, I guess.

I had breakfast for dinner last night, and a hearty breakfast this morning, as my appetite is finally coming back. I definitely think breakfast foods are my favorite.
Dinner last ketchup, because eggs and ketchup grosses me out. Just lots of butter, cheese, and an Udi's hamburger bun!
GF rolled oats, cinnamon, honey, banana, peanut butter, and chocolate chips. Yum!
But two pieces of news that actually matter to running are:

1) I'm now the owner of a shiny new domain name. In the interest of being easier to find/remember, my blog can now be found at I guess this means I'm truly committed to the blog for at least another year!

2) I sat down, chose a marathon training plan, put it into my reminders, and added each run to my calendar. Oh my gosh. I'm using Hal Higdon's Novice 2. I think I could do the Intermediate, but I've been off running for three weeks now and I felt more comfortable with a step down.

At this point, I'd be crazy to forget to begin training but the reminder provides an official starting gun, so to speak.
Britt was going to run this one with me, but the date changed and she has a scheduling conflict now. I am going to have to really motivate myself to get up early, especially for the 7 and 8 mile runs during the weekday, when I have to be up for work so early.

Even if you're not into a full marathon, Higdon has so many training plans. Check them out here.
So now it's real. I'm going to take time to really evaluate why I'm doing this before training actually starts, because I want to be in the right headspace. I know training for a full is mostly mental, and that's always been my greatest weakness; I have a lot of work to do to get my mind ready for 26.2.

What is your favorite meal of the day?

Which marathon training plan do you swear by?

Do you have any fun events scheduled on your calendar for this summer?


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hi, Kids

Late last night my illness hit a peak, and Matt had to bring me to the ER for an emergency dose of antibiotics. It's all a lot less exciting (and WAY more expensive) than it sounds. In the interest of not being a zombie, I took the morning off.

(I counted the minutes until I could go into one feels guilt over missing a day like teachers do. If ever there was an excuse to take a full day, surely a late night ER visit is one.)

Anyway, remember two posts ago when I wrote this?:

When I got to school today, this was on my board:

Notice the quotation marks, the use of "the", the winky face...I'd make a darn fine detective.
So, unless coincidences really do exist, I have a few lurkers out there. If that's any of you kiddos, thanks for leaving me such nice notes to pick up my mood after a long night.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On My Radar

Just because I'm sidelined for the time being doesn't mean there's not some running stuff out there worthy of a mention. (Health update: today my voice is gone. If the timelines of past colds are anything to go by, I'll be feeling 90% better by Monday, so hopefully May won't be entirely run-less.)

Things on my radar right now:

1. Caffeine helps alleviate pain symptoms. Suddenly, ingesting caffeinated chews and goos during races makes a whole new level of sense. (My source for this one is this article; not always reliable, but certainly amusing.)
YES! Another reason to be addicted to this stuff!
2. Evan Longoria, nearly-everybody's favorite Ray, participated with his girlfriend in the Miles for Moffitt, a walk/race to raise money for the Moffitt Cancer Center. When I was fifteen, I spent a harrowing day there being probed and tested by extremely friendly and caring doctors. Luckily, everything turned out fine for me, but cancer is a bitch (pardon my French - I get a little zealous about it) and I can always get behind a race meant to support its destruction. It's just a bonus that a big name brought in some extra publicity.

Miles for Moffitt founder Karen Dalton with Longoria and girlfriend Jaime Edmondson
3. Runner's World posted an article today via their twitter on gluten sensitivity. As someone actually diagnosed with Celiac, I nearly shouted "Hallelujah!" when I saw this article. Don't get me wrong; I love that gluten sensitivity is in vogue right now. It means easily accessible GF food for me. But it's pretty frustrating to hear so many people SWEAR that cutting "most" gluten out of their diet has done wonders.

To me, it's all or nothing. All I'm saying is: if you think you're gluten sensitive, GET TESTED. Cutting out gluten if you don't need to isn't any healthier; lots of GF foods are TERRIBLE for you, and you can't get the added benefit of, say, whole grain wheat. (Stepping off my soapbox...)

Click here to read the full article.
In other news, I gave Matt whatever I have. Hey, sharing is caring, right?

What other sports (besides running) do you follow? Baseball...minimally...and mostly just to keep Matt happy.

How do you get your caffeine boost?

Do you follow any special diets, either by preference or necessity? As someone forced to be GF, I am adventurous and will try anything I'm not intolerant to; I stopped being a vegetarian shortly after my diagnosis.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Like Clockwork

Maybe I should tattoo a reminder to my forehead so that I stop forgetting that May is my least favorite month and I shouldn't let my expectations get out of hand.

Seriously. Every May, travel, work, and the final push to the end of the school year result in summer colds, mood swings, and general physical ailments.

At first, taking a week off from running for the DC trip seemed great; my sore toes stopped feeling sore, and I thought I was marginally caught up on sleep.

I was wrong to be so optimistic! I was sick enough today that my kids kept telling me, "Mrs. K, you sound really sick." At least I wasn't getting the whole "You look really sick" thing. Maybe they're saving that for tomorrow.

This is how I've spent the last week:

Sick in bed with Archie.
Dinner in bed.
Filling and refilling the garbage can. #noshame
 But, of course there are pick-me-ups along the way:
The kids drew pictures for me after we played vocab-review-pic-charades.
Teacher Appreciation Week made me feel appreciated.
Mucinex finally makes a medication that WORKS for me!
Orange juice and ice cream is full of vitamin C, good for a sore throat, and tasty!
And I got to go home for Mother's Day to see my parents and Charlie.
Speaking of Mother's Day, I had a good one. Matt and I drove up to see our respective moms, and it was really nice to just hang out with my brother and her and eat lunch. My dad showed me his latest surgery scars, including the one for his partial-knee-replacement. (He prefaced the x-ray show-and-tell with, "If you keep running, this will happen to you!"...He's a golfer.)

I was not an easy kid to raise. My mom is seriously a saint for dealing with and supporting me through everything. As I get older and see my friends with kids, I appreciate even more all the things my mom did for me, especially the daily minutiae, like laundry, nose-wiping, late nights, and dinner preparation. My mom was a champion for me and my sister when we were young and she was learning how to feed us gluten free foods (in the days before pre-made GF everything)...

She cooked two dinners a night, one "regular", one GF. She made sure our friends, friends' parents, and teachers knew what we could or couldn't eat. Seriously, heroic.

When I picture her dealing with my childhood asthma, my eczema, my emotional instabilities, I feel pity and deep pride. She got through it all with grace, and I like to think I am who I am today in great part because of her.
Fun fact: we share a birthday and are basically twins.
For those of you with or without kids, those of you who see Mother's Day as a little tedious or fraught with emotion, please read this. You are not alone.
How has your May been so far?
What's the best thing to do/eat/drink to kill a summer cold?