Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Last Week's Workouts

After a disappointing training week, I was happy to have one of my best weeks since May.

Monday, I used NTC to work on my core, glutes, hips, and abs. 
The alignment workout was much harder than I expected.
Wednesday I went for a run; I had to cut it short because I started to feel sick. I've been making a habit of stopping at the water stations on the golf course and running my wrists under to help cool me down; it's been helping, but Wednesday was not a good day.
I was aiming for 3.5, but called it a day at 30 minutes.
Friday I finally made it to four miles. I was so happy to be back up to four; I decided that no matter if I had to walk or take lots of water breaks, I would get the mileage done, and  I did.
I took it really easy, walked when I needed to, and generally just enjoyed myself on this one. After Wednesday's run I really wanted to finish no matter how long it took.
I was planning to run Sunday morning but Matt and I had a family emergency Saturday and we didn't get back to town until pretty late. (Everything is okay for now.) So instead I ran in the evening. Kristin had done 8 in the morning, but she joined me for the second half of my run anyway. She really helped me push through. 

I chose a 2.6-mile shaded loop that I really like, and I ran it twice. I'm sure I would have quit early if Kristin hadn't been there. This was also the first run since April or early May that wasn't just a romp around the golf course; it felt really good to be back on an actual route. And I forgot what a difference shade makes!
It's funny how I can feel so accomplished after 5 miles...distance is all relative, I guess, depending on how we're feeling.
I completed the first half at an easy 11-minute pace, but then needed some walk breaks during the second half of the run.

As far as my runs go, I definitely earned an A this week. I played it safe but still boosted my mileage, and I'm feeling really accomplished. Overall, taking cross-training in mind as well, I'd say I get an A-/B+. This week I'm going to dedicate myself to two days of cross training along with my three or four runs.

How was your week?
What tricks do you use to keep cool in the summer during a run?
What's your favorite at-home cross-training activity?


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer Running & Marathon Pace Thoughts

I am blown away by the supportive comments on my last post, but not surprised. You guys are the best. Thank you.

Lately I'm juggling two different but related decisions regarding marathon training. The first - running in the summer - is more immediate because I don't actually start my real training plan until August!
It's always nice when the first race-reminder shows up in your email!
Regarding summer running, I'm beginning to remember why I like to run in the morning during summer. Afternoon runs are totally tricky to plan. 

If I go in the early evening, the sun is still strong and the humidity and temperature is insane. For some reason, my heart rate goes nuts and I get really dizzy in the heat, even once I've acclimated to summer temps. If I run in the early evening, I have to play it safe and really slow down - no speedwork for sure.
Last night I finally conquered 4 miles - my longest run since my break in May - but I stopped to drink water multiple times, which ended up slowing me down and making me sluggish.
If I wait to go in the later evening (and still feel motivated enough to go), I'm almost definitely going to get rained out. I don't mind running in a little rain, but heavy rain with lightning is a deal-breaker, and lately that's been our daily weather.
Every. Single. Day.
So the dilemma now is turning myself back into a morning runner. Having a partner to meet with would work best, but it's been hard to get on the same schedule as my running buddies. I need to be better about going to bed earlier and just getting up when the alarm goes off, but we all know that's easier said than done.

The second thing I'm wrestling with right now is choosing a marathon plan. Right now I'm stuck between two from Runner's World. One is the "Break 5:00" plan and one is the "Break 4:45" plan. (I know taking 41 minutes off my last marathon seems ambitious, but hear me out.)

Here's the issue: I know when I'm actually training and being diligent, the paces on the "Break 5:00" plan will seem too easy; however, the "Break 4:45" plan doesn't have a "snapshot" I can check out before committing, and the "Break 4:30" plan (which I only looked at for reference) sets paces that are definitely out of my league for a full.
I know easy runs are meant to be easy but 12:09 just seems far off my usual pace.
I'm pretty sure an overall pace of 10:18 isn't achievable for me (yet) for a full, but even these easy-run paces seem low.
I guess this comes down to whether or not I buy into the "slow down more than you're used to on easy days" mentality.
Because there was no snapshot of the 4:45 plan, I used the McMillan Calculator to figure it out. I think a sub-11 pace is doable if I really put in the work.
I think I can achieve a 5-hour marathon. I think I would have last time except for some extenuating circumstances. Now that I know what to expect and know how to change my training for the better, I think 5:00 is a really solid goal for me. But the plan just looks...almost too easy. It's like I don't believe these paces will get me to that goal!

Do I aim for the 4:45 plan (go big or go home) with the caveat that I know I'm actually aiming for 5:00, or do I use the 5:00 plan with the understanding that I may not be pushing myself hard enough if I use it? (I mean, the paces for 4:45 vs. 5:00 aren't that different really...)

Or do I buy both and create my own plan using their prescribed runs and paces for guidance?!

I'm probably over-thinking this, and I have time to really decide what's best for me, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

My Favorite Photo (Trigger Warning)

Let me be up front about this...I don't really know if I want to be writing this post. It's been swimming around in my head for ages and I know it's a topic that could create hope or change or empowerment for some people, so I should post it.

But it's also really private. Not to those who have known me a long time, not really; but it's not something I talk about much even with them. And while I do share a lot of my life here on the blog, there are some parts that I try not to delve into.

Still, I feel like sometimes being brave means putting things out there, and I've been wanting to put this out there for months. So here it is.

This is my favorite running photo.
It was taken after the Space Coast Marathon as I sat, recovering and crying a little, covered in glory and friends and flowers, sporting my brand new medal. Victorious.

The words on my arms are words from my sister, who wrote me a heart-wrenching good luck card, and Matt, whose usual blunt encouragement leaves no room for disagreement.

And those words, scrawled on my arms before I set off to do something totally life-affirming, something that epitomizes strength and determination, are written over dozens of self-inflicted scars.

You can barely tell in the photo. Most people don't really notice them in person, or if they notice, they have the tact not to ask about them.

But I see them. When I look at this photo, my eyes zero in on this strange meeting of my greatest time of weakness and my greatest moment of strength.

When I look at this photo, I see what my life was and what it has become. I am so grateful; I am humbled; I am in awe. I created those scars during a time in my life when I never imagined I could ever have the strength to turn my pain into something worthwhile. And here they are, obscured by words that prove the simple truth that, yes, I was able to do just that.

I don't know where my running will continue to take me, but I do know that it has already impacted my life in so many ways, and this picture is just one example of how completely I have changed...in part thanks to this sport and all it has given me. This March was my 10th anniversary of being..."clean", I guess you'd say. Some days are harder than others, and on those days, I run.

I know running has changed many of my runner-friends' lives for the better. Do you have a story to share?


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Last Week's Workouts

If I'm going to get myself on track for marathon training, I should probably be more committed to my weekly workouts.

I rested Monday and ran 3 miles Tuesday. Wednesday I did another session of squats and full-body using NTC (I need to do a post about NTC sometime...eventually). Although I planned to run Thursday, it stormed just as I was planning my run, so that was ruined. (A con of not having a gym membership right now.)
Tuesday's run...As you can see, I'm starting to feel a little more myself lately.
Friday we drove up to Sarasota...no running.

Saturday morning I ran around my parents' neighborhood and had my first good run in awhile. My pace was steady. Even though it was hot and humid early in the morning, I still felt stronger. I felt confident. I seriously can't seem to have a bad run in their neighborhood.
I look super derpy (this was nearly at the end of my run) but I wanted to show the pretty view!
I wanted to repeat that performance Sunday but stupidly set the alarm for weekdays instead of weekends and slept too late; by the time we got home that evening, it was too late to run. (In summer in Florida, midday runs aren't an option for me.)
I didn't run Sunday, so here's a picture of Matt finishing his 10k SUP race Saturday.
So last week was seriously pathetic. I'm giving myself a D+...Some of the missed workouts weren't really my fault but I could have been better about making them up. It's not that I'm not motivated, but the summer heat and the freedom I have to stay up late and sleep in make it really hard to follow through. 

At least we had a good weekend. Matt had a race and got to do a SUP clinic with his paddling idol. We saw my dad and his for Father's Day, and both my brother and sister were in town so I got to see the whole family.
We got a little more exercise after dinner walking my parents' dog. He was very interested in the deer.

This week I'm going to focus on getting to bed earlier and scheduling workouts ahead of time so I know what I want to accomplish and don't feel as free to back out.

How was your weekend?
What do you do when weather interferes with your workout plan?


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Versatile Blogger Survey

I am so excited that Meg tagged me to do the Versatile Blogger Survey because it's been awhile since something like this has come around. I love filling these out because I end up learning things about myself I hadn't realized before.

1. What is something people might be surprised to learn about you? My mom and I share a birthday! I always tell her I'm the best present she ever got.
One of my favorite pictures of my mom and me.
2. Have you ever met someone famous? I've met a few famous people...Most recently, I met Jill Biden, Eric Stonestreet, Cal Ripken Jr., and a few other baseball players during the All Star Game weekend last summer. I also met Sugar Ray when I was in high school and was a little surprised at how tongue-tied I got!
With Ironman himself.
3. What is something you hope will never come back in style? Mall bangs! I can respect a resurgence of '80s styles, but the hair is just bad.
Sorry, DJ, those bangs have got to go.
4. What is one thing on your travel must-see bucket list? This is tough, because there are some places I'd like to see again, but if we're talking places I haven't seen yet, I'd have to say New Zealand! If the photos of it are this breathtaking, I can't imagine how it must look in person!
I mean...how can you look at this picture and not want to go there?!
5. Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life? Probably Natalie Portman or Emma Watson. They're both brilliant women who have rocked the normal bodies, brown eyes, and brown hair nature gave them instead of going all Hollywood on us. Plus, Watson's activism is really admirable.
If you squint really hard, I could pass as their less glamorous sister!
6. Who is your favorite Disney princess? I have to say Belle. Even when I was little, I always identified with her the most - I loved that she was the only brunette princess, she's smart, and she doesn't take sass from any man!
Hipster Belle knows what's up.
7. What would you sing at karaoke night? "Don't Stop Believing'...I'm totally a cliche, but at least I embrace it.

8. Who would you want to be stranded on a desert island with? For my sanity, Matt. For my survival, Cody Lundin.
You know you've got a legit survivalist on your hands when he refuses to wear shoes...ever.
9. What is your biggest pet peeve? I have a ton of pet peeves (what does that say about me?!), but one weird one is people who talk really slowly or repeat themselves a lot. Why can't people be efficient speakers?!

10. What clothing item/accessory/shoes do you have way too many of in your closet? I own WAY too many jeans (well over a dozen pairs, and that's after donating literally 20 pairs this year) and cute-shoes-I-bought-on-a-whim-but-never-wear-because-they-pinch. Honestly, I rotate the same six outfits or so...I have no clue why I own so much stuff.

Now, I'm going to tag a few bloggers! 

Answer any of the questions above!


Friday, June 19, 2015

Five Confessions

I've never done a confessions post before, but I love reading them! It seemed about time I jumped on this trend.

Confession 1: On summer break, I regress back to my teenage years and sleep late. Really late. As in, nearly noon. I don't think I'll ever be an early riser!

Confession 2: I'm a slob, but I'm an organized slob! You know that episode of FRIENDS where Chandler opens Monica's secret closet and it's a disaster zone? That's pretty much how I live my life...Mess. But I know where everything is!
Confession 3: People tell me they're jealous of where I live because of the beach, but I actually hate the beach. It's hot, dirty, and takes a lot of work. And honestly, I kind of hate water in general. I'll jump in our pool after a run, but otherwise I rarely go in the water.
When I do get dragged to the beach, this is as close to the water as I get.
Confession 4: Sometimes I wish I had majored in biology. English is my true love, but sometimes I wonder what my life would be like now if I'd followed my other true love.
This could be me! (And if you don't know the story behind this hashtag, read up. It's ridiculously awful with a wonderful ending.)
Confession 5: Click-bait headlines, like the ones that start with a question or the word "why", drive me nuts. I also hate listicle titles, although I'll admit I sometimes get suckered into reading them.

Are you a late-sleeper?
Do you ever regret your college major?
Do you have anything to confess?


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Being Likable is Overrated

I had to laugh (kind of) when Kristina posted about being "too aggressive" in a work meeting because I'd had this post under construction when I read hers. (If you haven't seen it, go read it! She tackles this topic eloquently and with, perhaps, more relevancy than myself.)

Over the last few years, I've been making the purposeful choice to not care what people think. This seems to be working for me; the result has been that my confidence has grown. It has made me a better teacher, a more honest friend, and a more dedicated hobbyist. (Seriously, once I stopped caring about what other people think, my running improved and so did my writing.)
One of the biggest mistakes new teachers make? Wanting the kids to like them.
Are there times I have to compromise? Sure. I work with administration and the curriculum team and that often means interacting with teachers that aren't usually on my grade-level team. Sometimes I have to swallow my personal feelings and be nice and likable because, as someone in a mentor position, that's kind of my job.

Are there times I'm worried I'll get myself into trouble? Of course! I've definitely found my voice over the past couple years, and sometimes it means speaking out pretty bluntly about what's going on at our school or with education in general.
But I've found that I'm happier. There's a freedom to being honest. I like knowing that my integrity is intact because I refuse to just smile and make nice when something is bothering me. I feel stronger. And if it means I'm not buddies with everyone, that's okay. I don't believe in burning bridges for the sake of burning them, and I know there's a time and place to lay on the charm, but I also know the people who can handle me are totally the right friends for me.

So what had me thinking about this? I read this article the other day and it really resonated with me; it confirmed for me that the path I've chosen to take is the right one. We often silence ourselves or defer to others in an attempt to be liked, and honestly? Being liked isn't always worth it. When being liked is all we strive for, it makes us passive. I don't want to be passive. I can deal with not being liked.

I'd rather be respected.

Do you spend time worrying about whether people like you?


Monday, June 15, 2015

This Week In Workouts

It feels really good to be active again! I mean, it feels sore, but good. A couple posts ago I reflected on my goals for the year and Janelle at Run With No Regrets brought up a great point - she grades herself weekly to kind of stay on top of how she's doing. That definitely goes along with the whole "timely feedback" thing we teachers are supposed to follow for student grades.

So I decided to grade this week, my first week fully back working out after my break, and see how it went.

Wednesday was my first run back. I worked Monday, and Tuesday we drove up to Orlando for dinner, so this was my first real chance to get out there. I did two painfully humid miles, but was totally happy to be RUNNING!
Thursday I used the Nike Training Club app to get in a full-body workout. I forgot how much I like the convenience of this app...but I do wish it worked on iPad so I would have a bigger screen to follow.
Yes, that medicine ball is 4lbs. Don't laugh at me!
Despite some major DOMS, I was determined to run Friday. I convinced Matt to run three with me. Again, the humidity was killer, but I already noticed some improvements in pace and breathing from Wednesday.
I stopped to take a runfie while Matt did pushups on this run! He caught video of us finishing, too, which you can watch here.
I rested Saturday, then dragged myself out of bed Sunday for my first morning run in a long time! (I can't call this a long run yet.) Kristin had 8ish miles to cover, so I met her for the last 3.3ish. Despite the cooler temperature (75), the humidity was no joke (92%!), so we took it nice and easy.
Runner milestone: a giant bug flew into my mouth and nearly down my throat! Luckily, I was able to hack it up. BLECH.
You have to start somewhere, and I'm very happy with this week. It set a good standard for my summer. I know my runs were painful and at times really slow, but that's just part of starting over. I'm still feeling confident that I'll be ready for marathon training in late July/August, and I feel like making progress slowly in the summer is best, so I'm really okay with keeping my runs short right now.

All things considered, I'd have to give this week an A! I fully completed every workout that I had planned and stayed positive despite the obstacles. I'd call that a success.

How is your summer starting out?
When do you officially begin training for your fall race season?
Would you rather run in heat or humidity? I prefer a dry, hot run to a super humid one!


Saturday, June 13, 2015

All Star Reunion

When Chad, the All Star Teacher for the Nationals, posted in our Facebook group that he'd be in Florida for family vacation, I knew I'd try to make a trip to Orlando to see him. When it turned out that Paul (from the Red Sox) was also going to be in town for his 10th wedding anniversary, and that David (the Marlin's teacher) was willing to drive the four hours from Miami to see everyone, my mind was totally made up.

I never thought twice about making the trip.

We had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory at Mall At Millenia. It was awesome to see everyone; we caught up on school this year and life in general. It was like no time had passed! It's funny that just three days spent together over the All Star weekend last summer was all it took to create lifelong friendships. We're looking at planning a big reunion for everyone next summer when the All Star Game is in Miami.
Paul, David, me, and Chad - reunited!
Seeing everyone made me nostalgic for last summer. Some of my favorite moments were meeting Jill Biden, riding in the All Star Parade, and of course, being recognized on the field pre-game.
Meeting Dr. Biden!
Getting ready to lead the All Star Parade!
All 30 of us on the field pre-game as Idina Menzel sang "Forever Young."
Chad asked us how our school years went given that they began right after our big trip. I took a moment to reflect. I think the experience gave me a much-needed shot of adrenaline. I had just finished my 5th year teaching and was on the brink of wondering if I'd be staying in the classroom much longer. I came back from Minnesota refreshed and empowered; I felt like I wanted to make a difference and truly live up to the award I'd been given. I think being named an All Star Teacher really helped me make this year as positive and successful as it was.

To read the All Star recaps in full, click here, here, or here.

I still wish that every teacher out there could receive this kind of recognition; we deserve it, and it's rare. We work to secure the future of the country as a whole by supporting, motivating, and caring for our students...on top of teaching them all that's in the curriculum. I don't mean to toot our own horns or anything, but teachers are pretty amazing.

What is your favorite memory from school?
If you could nominate a teacher (or colleague) for a teaching award, who would you pick?


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Running & Food

Wednesday, I ran for the first time since DC. It was my first outdoor run in three weeks. All the work I'd done in April to acclimate to the change in weather as Florida summer loomed was completely lost in that time.

To call Wednesday's run rough would be an understatement. My first mile wasn't bad - I actually ran it in 9:56 - but I walked quite a lot of the second. I had a side-stitch the entire time and had trouble breathing smoothly. I had a couple dizzy spells toward the end; my body seriously hates running in the summer.
At least there was a breeze...a really hot, aggressive breeze.
I know I'll get back in shape; in fact, I'm not at all discouraged! If anything, I'm feeling even more determined to get back to where I was.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying breaking out of the comfort-food-sleep-obsessed pattern I've been in since May. Being active, for me, naturally leads me to eat better. Honestly, I have the worst sweet tooth and would survive on frosting and cookies if my body would let me. Our meal at the Cheesecake Factory this week (when I caught up with some of my fellow All Star Teachers...more on that in another post) was my last hurrah...I'm finally junk-fooded out and ready to eat healthy again.

I've been adding egg whites to my oatmeal to add protein and substance, which keeps me fuller longer and helps me feel more satisfied.
Chocolate chips in my snacks/desserts help me feel like I'm indulging without totally destroying my hard work for the day!
I'm leaning toward vegetables and lean proteins for lunches, yogurt and fruit for snacks. I'm determined to learn how to cook tofu because some nights I just blanch at the idea of eating meat. (I go through cycles of being totally repulsed by chicken and beef. Isn't that weird?)

I'm feeling pumped and really optimistic about the next few weeks! I'm finally feeling mentally ready to run again, and I know physically I'll be there soon!

 How is your summer-acclimation going?
What is your favorite healthy meal?
Do you like healthy foods, or do you have to force yourself to avoid junk?


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Another Year Ends

Teachers are in the weird position of thinking about the year in terms of school. While most adults grow out of the "May is the end of the year" mindset, those of us who work in schools know that time is measured a little differently.
This year ended on a high note. I never got to the point where I was pining for the end. If anything, I was kind of in denial! The year seemed to end abruptly, a rug pulled out from under me, and before I knew it, another year of teaching had come to a close.
My empty classroom, ready to be painted, waxed, and polished for a new year.
Years like this are a gift. If I'm sorry to see them go, if I'm enjoying myself on those last days, it means my students were wonderful. I was lucky this year to have such great kids.
Some of the teachers transforming cafeteria 1 into a nightclub.
We sent them off with a beautiful ceremony and fabulous party. There were tears the night of "graduation" and more tears on the final day of school. Some of these students have been at our school since kindergarten; they truly felt at home there, safe and cared-for. The hallways were home; the teachers were family. I don't like to see my students cry, but it's gratifying to know their experience in our classrooms was such a positive one.

At the ceremony, I was completely blindsided when I received the Teacher of the Year Award from the Optimist Club. I was too dazed for it to all sink in, but the short version is that I was chosen from among teachers at all levels and in all schools in the district (and possibly SWFL).
A parent got this shot of me accepting the award. I had to give a little speech on the fly...Definitely nerve-wracking!
I've added this honor to my small (but growing) collection of awards that remind me everyday that I'm making a difference and impacting lives.

More moving still were the cards and thoughtful gifts I received from my students. They truly touched my heart. I won't soon forget this group.
I don't want to post photos of the kids at the dance, so here's one of Dan (the other 8th grade ELA teacher) and me pretending to gossip about the students at the dance.
This summer I'll be catching up on some reading for work. I have a few big ideas I really want to implement next year and I need to start planning! 
Summer reading!
 Whoever said teachers have summers off?
I'm sad to say goodbye to this year; I'm glad I have the summer to mourn a little bit...and to grow excited for what's to come.

What is your favorite memory from school?
Did you have an 8th grade graduation?


Monday, June 8, 2015

Check-In: 2015 Goals

My computer flashed the blue screen of death a few days ago and refused to turn back on. Today, as I randomly tried to troubleshoot it, doing all the same things I've been doing all week, it suddenly decided to work! Who knows how long this will last, but for now, I'm glad to be back!
At the beginning of the year, I set some lofty goals for myself; I'm a little afraid to do a check-in. May leaves me feeling pretty beat up and washed out; I barely ran at all because my energy levels were naught. Still, I think facing those shortcomings will help me get back on track faster.
1. I started out strong this year, but after my last half marathon my workouts really suffered. I know the last two months will just be a blip on the radar in the long run of running - because it's a lifelong endeavor - and I need to accept that I took this time off and move forward.
2. I actually kept up with this for awhile, but my real plan was to add cross training into my year slowly. Now that school's out, I plan to attend yoga on Thursdays (one of my colleagues teaches for free in the local park) and try some barre classes with my runner friends. I'm looking into joining a gym again, too...I want to cross train in a way that will actually help my running.
3.  I'm really behind on this goal, as I haven't been doing any speed work. Once I'm back on track with being consistent, I'll add this back in. (My marathon plan this fall also incorporates very specific speed work, so I know that will help.) I usually save this goal for fall/winter races anyway!
4. Speedwork. See above!

Over all, if I'm being honest, I'd have to give myself a C on working toward meeting this year's goals. I was trucking along nicely until April; I know I'll get back to it. I plan to finish this year with a solid, hard-earned A!
How are your 2015 goals coming along?
How do you get back on track after life happens?