I've started this blog to document my journey running while balancing motherhood, and eventually if I'm lucky enough, my next pregnancy.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Keeping My Crazy in Check

So I'm sure I'm not the only one, but I'm feeling a little pre-race anxiety. The only problem, I'm still 17 days away from race day. What can I say? I'm a planner and like to start everything, including my worrying, early. So tonight (and probably for the next 17 days), I need to chill myself out.

Things I think I might do until the race to keep my crazy in check:

1. Run. Duh. I am not running tonight because my legs feel like jello, which is probably why I'm a little jittery tonight. I need to run. Not just to train, but to relax.

2. Drink an Oktoberfest Beer or Pumpkin Ale. Yum...

3. Eat a cupcake from Icedgems.

4. Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies for my students (almost all 28 kids got a C or better on their last Catcher in the Rye quiz. I'm super proud of them). I'm sure I'll sample a few just to make sure they're okay for the kids to eat.

Gee... I'm seeing why I need to run such long distances to make a dent in my weight loss...

5. Make a new playlist for my half marathon.

6. Take a yoga class (and realize just how inflexible I actually am!)

7. Dress up all cute when I go out to lunch at Fogo de Chao with my hubby on Friday. (Yum... meat on a stick! Again, see why I need to run so much. All I can think about is food!)

8. Hang out with Pickle. He's just the coolest little man ever and no one makes me happier.

9. I might need a few more ideas. Maybe you could help me out? I'm playing it cool... I'm getting a little messy and I know it's going to get worse next week.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bad Running Karma or Bum Knee?

So I'm not sure what happened tonight. I started out doing the right thing by the running gods. I knew I wouldn't get a run in tomorrow because I have Back to School Night- a night despised by teachers because it makes for a never-ending day and night. I won't get home from work until 10 p.m. There's no way I can run after a day like that. So I decided to get my run on tonight, even though I was exhausted.

By the time I got to the gym (which I chose because I didn't feel up to running in the rain), it was already 6 p.m. and almost every treadmill was taken, including my favorite. So I took one of the treadmills at the front of the gym, one of the treadmills that makes it feel like everyone is staring at your bum while you run.

About 10 minutes into my run I felt a sharp pain in my knee. I knew this felt different from anything I've ever experienced, so I stopped immediately to walk. At first it was hurting to put my weight entirely on my right leg. But after a few minutes of walking, it was fine so I felt it was safe to try a slow jog. Everything was cool and there was no pain in my knee, so I sped up. (Is that what a phantom pain feels like or is it the real deal? I'm freaking out because I'm only 3 weeks away from the Baltimore Half.)

I was grooving and totally in my zone and all of a sudden the treadmill came to a screeching halt-- without me knowing it and I kind of stumbled over my feet. Apparently I had pulled the emergency stop magnet off the front of the machine. (Is it just me or is that a serious design flaw? Why would anyone put the emergency stop button, let alone a magnet right in the way of a runner's hand so it can be hit by accident?) I started running again after reseting the machine and less than 5 minutes later, I had the same problem.

I decided the running gods were trying to tell me something and that I should stop for the night before I broke my neck or hurt my knee.

Anyway, I'm a little freaked out about the knee pain, and I'm not sure what to do three weeks out. My knee isn't swollen and doesn't hurt right now. I do feel it creaking a little when I'm going up the stairs, though. Not running isn't an option. I'm determined to get a better time on this half marathon. Besides, I will go crazy without running (or I will drive those around me crazy. Either way is bad.)

Any advice or reassuring words that this utter panic is totally normal (is it?) are greatly appreciated.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Keepin' It Short

1. I met up with Erin G. from The Making of a Runner at the NCR Trail for our 12 mile long run today. We kept it really slow and easy-- both of us are having a few aches and pains-- but we finished all 12. Neither one of us wants to get injured three weeks before the race. It was a lot of fun; neither one of us stopped talking the entire 12 miles, with the exception of a sprinting interval. We both knew if we talked then, we would have collapsed.

2. I earned my cupcake today. It was a Caramel Apple cupcake with bits of apple in the cake and caramel drizzled all over the icing. Seriously, Christine at Icedgems in my baking soul mate. Pickle was ecstatic to get another cupcake and ate every last crumb (with the exception of the crumbs he dropped on the floor. But I think he would have eaten them if I didn't clean them up before he got to them).

3. Pickle and I are going to meet up with some friends later this evening while the hubby is rockin' Annapolis with his band. Truthfully, I don't know how I'm going to make it. I am so tired, I don't even have the energy to put on make-up, let along be social, but I'm going to do it. What's the worst that could happen? I get tired and go home? Piece of cake (mmm... cupcakes).

Off to nap (which is a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon). I hope every one has a perfect day!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Foodie Friday

This is my favorite day of the week while training... the day before a long run (with the exception of Cupcake Reward Day. A girl has to look forward to a treat after pounding out miles on pavement). Enter beautiful, perfect, and tasty pasta. Yum...

What I really want is some homemade lasagna. Pickle loves the homemade sauce and houses it. But I figured the obscene amounts of cheese the recipe calls for wouldn't be good for a 12 mile run.

I wish I would have had time to stick my normal carbo loading meal: Lemon, Mint, and Zucchini pasta with a little bit of chicken.

Instead, Pickle and I got hungry and didn't have enough time to go home and cook. We had errands to run and my hubby was out at band practice (yeah, my husband's a rock star) so there was no one to rescue me and get dinner going. I took Pickle to Noodles and Company so I could have my tried and true back up meal of Japanese Pan Noodles with Grilled Chicken. I am proud to report that my little man (usually a little monster when out to eat) was positively the best little date ever for a Friday night. He was cuddly and gave me multiple smooches throughout dinner.

Top that, hubby. You're a pretty awesome date, but I've never seen you gush over me like Pickle did. :)

And for my last food tidbit, tomorrow is Cupcake Day! I can't wait!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mantra Monday

I had difficulty falling asleep last night. It shouldn't have been an issue; I was exhausted! But my legs were so tingly and achy from running, I just couldn't settle down. After what seemed like two hours of just laying there waiting for sleep to hit me, I found the book my husband has been reading lately. It's called Learn to Relax: A Practical Guide to Easing Tension and Conquering Stress.

The book automatically opened to an exercise on muscle release called the Dissolved Body. I remember something like this from when I religiously went to yoga. I went through the process and then fell asleep. It was a perfectly relaxing sleep (with the exception of my son creeping into our room and crawling into his sleeping bag-- he's been having some issues lately with being afraid at night). I plan on trying this again tonight, but thought it might be particularly nice for runners. Forgive me for copyright infringement (I'm an English teacher. I know better!)... but hopefully you'll love this so much you'll go purchase a copy. :)

1. Lie comfortably in a warm room with your eyes closed. Allow your body and mind to slow down for a minute or two, by remaining still and quiet.

2. Keeping your eyes closed, take your attention to the toes of one foot. Clench the toes tightly for about five seconds and then relax them. Do this two more times. As you clench and relax in this way, imagine your toes turning to liquid, which gently flows around you. Now clench and relax the other foot, turning that to fluid in the same way.

3. Continue to work up your body, tensing and releasing. Do your shins, then your thighs, buttocks, stomach, chest, back, hands, forearms, upper arms, shoulders, neck, jaw, cheeks, eyes, and brow.

4. Your whole body should now be free to flow. You visualize this while keeping your attention on the center of your forehead.

5. Now try to tense and relax the movement in your mind: let your thoughts float to the surface and watch them dissolve and flow away.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Must Run... Because of Cupcakes

Today I fell in love. (When you read this, honey, know that you are my first love, and I will always love you. But you're going to need to accept my newest love...)

A cupcake shop opened up down the street from our house... it's on my running route. Once again, the running gods have answered my prayers. The first time I saw it two weeks ago, I almost fell over. I was in the zone running, and then I felt a gravitational pull towards the shop window. I stopped and stared. A case full of gorgeous iced cupcakes glowed while calling my name. I tore myself away from the pull, knowing that controlling myself around cupcakes is impossible.

But today, when I ran past the shop (sweaty, disgusting, ready to keel over), a woman was walking out. With a deliriously happy smile stretched across her face, she said, "It looks like you earned yourself a cupcake". I took this as a sign.

Once I finished my 9 miles, Dave fed me (which was amazing, honey. Before the cupcakes, I had planned to blog about your awesomeness. A Philly Cheese Steak Omelette is something to behold, but a homemade cupcake... ). I took an ice bath which felt amazing on my legs, showered, and got ready for cupcakes. When I walked out of my room, Pickle said, "Mommy, you're all dressed up". That's right. I got dressed up for cupcakes. I take them seriously; I want to feel sweet and dainty while I eat a cupcake. What's so wrong with that?

When Pickle and I got to the shop, Icedgems, the owner and her daughter waited on us (I totally forgot to get their names; I was too giddy over cupcakes). The shop itself is adorable.

Pink Polka on white walls, with little cafe tables. It's a perfect place for a little Mommy and Pickle time every week. That's right, every week. If I'm going to run, I want a cupcake every weekend.
Anyway, the spread of flavors was perfect-- there were traditional flavors, but also Peanut Butter and Jelly, Peanut Butter and Chocolate, Rocky Road, a chocolate cherry flavor (I forgot the name in my cupcake induced stupor), KitKat, and my choice today, S'Mores. Pickle had a Vanilla with Vanilla Buttercream frosting. As soon as I took my first bite, I was in heaven. Pickle was pretty happy, too.
I talked with the owner for a while. She was so nice, exactly the way I'd imagine a person who makes cupcakes all day. She told me they use all organic milk and eggs from local farms. So while I may be eating a lot of calories, at least I'm eating good and natural ingredients. I was pretty proud of myself; I limited myself to one cupcake. Don't look at me that way. What, you don't believe me? Okay, so I helped Dylan, but he wasn't eating his. I only took a few bites to get him more interested in his (truth be told, he was doing just fine. I just wanted to try it. It was the most delish vanilla cupcake I've ever eaten).

They also make cupcakes (and cakes) for parties. Pickle's birthday is coming up in November, and I see cupcakes in my... I mean, his future. And they have a cupcake truck... I'm hoping and praying that the running gods will answer yet another prayer for me and the truck will be sitting at the end of the finish line at the Baltimore Running Festival. What more could 12,000 runners want?

I've decided it's time to buy one of those "Will Run for Cupcakes" necklaces I've been seeing on other blogs. Yup, I'm going to have to run off a lot of calories with IcedGems down the street. :) If you live in the Baltimore area, you need to make your way to 213 Main Street in Reisterstown. Or, check out their Facebook page if you live in Maryland. The IcedGems cupcake truck makes its way all over.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It Seems Destiny Likes Me After All

So I didn't post on Tuesday, and here's why. I was pissed. I'm talking lightning shooting out of my eyes, breathing fire on anyone who dared speak in my direction pissed.

It didn't start that way, though. I had the day off work, which was awesome, and had planned to take a run with Omari and his kids. His boys were going to ride their bikes around Centennial Park in Columbia while I jogged with Pickle in the jogging stroller. Before my sweet hubby left for work, he showed me how to get the wheels off the stroller so I could pack it in the car and bandaged my gross injury on my back (from my sports bra digging in during my long run last week). Everything was perfect in the morning. Until I went to go get dressed for our 9:30 meet-up with Omari and his kids.

While I was upstairs, Pickle decided to play with the front tire of the jogging stroller. My son is very mechanically inclined for a 3 year old, but mostly, he's mechanically destructive. I came down stairs to him with the tire in one hand and the rod to the tire in the other. We were already running late, so I picked up what I thought were all the pieces and threw them, and Pickle, in the car.

When I got to the Park (after driving for 25 minutes) for our run and began to put the stroller together, the front tire wouldn't stay on. It became apparent that at least one piece was missing. Omari's kids were already riding around the lake with their grandfather and Omari was ready to run, and there was no way I was going to be able to do it with a broken stroller and a crazy 3 year old. I was so angry with Pickle. He kept screaming that he wanted to go for a run, and when I say screaming, imagine the noise of a shrieking banshee; that's more along the lines of his scream.

I went to a nearby hardware shop with the hope they'd have the piece we needed (even though I had no idea what it was). I was told it was a specialized piece and would need to go to a bike shop. By this point, it was already 10:15. And Pickle was still screaming because now he was getting hungry. I decided to scrap running Centennial Park then, and knew I needed to take Pickle to daycare. I was just too angry and couldn't bring myself out of it, especially because the banshee screaming was continuous. Apparently Pickle really wanted to run, too.

So while we were driving home, I called my hubby (don't worry. I have a Bluetooth). I was feeling like the world was against me. I told him the whole story and he just rolled with laughter. Somehow, that made me laugh. He told me that the way things were going down was just too comical. And he was right. So for the next few minutes, I was feeling a little better. (By the way, I love that about my hubby. He always knows how to make me feel better. Laughing is a sure cure for me... at least for a little while.)

I dropped Pickle off at daycare, and drove over to the track. In 1 hour, the temp. jumped from 70 to 85. The sun was blazing and I forgot to put on sunblock. Great, I thought. This meant I was going to get toasted. I felt my anger rise again. And since I was already kind of angry and hating the world, I decided it would be best to do speed work. That really makes me a hateful person.

But punishing myself a little brought me out of the angry funk. And on the way home, I was feeling a lot better. While I was driving, I could see a turtle dove sitting in the road ahead. I figured it would fly off as I got closer. It didn't. I hit it. Turtle doves mate for life and I had just taken out someone's spouse. And then started to cry (the last time I hit an animal which was in high school, I was sad for days).

I got home and had to start preparing dinner; my brother and his fiancée were coming over for dinner, and I promised to make homemade lasagne. At the time, it was only 1, and dinner was at 6, but sauce takes a while to make. While I was rushing and throwing ingredients into the pot, Omari called. Here's our conversation:

O: So do you want good news or bad news first?

Me: You may as well start with the bad; I'm in a really pissy mood.

O: Well, after you left, I ran 11 miles.

Me: (silent pause... thinking and this is bad how?) How is this bad news?

O: Well, I'm just saying that's as bad as it's going to get, which is good news. So the good news must be really good.

Me: (thinking everyone must really hate when I get all Polly-Anna, because I'm a little annoyed by his optimistic outlook)

O: So here's the good news. I just got an email from the Baltimore Running Festival. I'm in the Half Marathon!

I was so excited. Especially since just a few days before, I was having anxiety attacks about not having a running partner/motivator this time.

And now it seems Destiny sent another runner my way, Erin (read her blog here). She and her running friend, Katye (read her blog here), were running near Omari and me during the Maryland Half. Oddly enough, we all remember talking with each other. Hopefully, Erin and I can run together before the race and then keep each other company during the half.

Warning... here comes Polly-Anna... again. I guess when things start getting me down and the world piles up on me (even if it's the most ridiculous and simple of things), I have to remind myself that it'll all even out in the end. The running gods have decided to smile upon me-- except my running shoes are still wet from Thursday. I'm hoping the running gods can help out with that before my 9 miles tomorrow. :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Three's a Charm When Thursday Sucks

So I just have to explain to all the non-teachers how bad my Thursdays always suck. I teach high school, which I love, and I teach three preps- Honors English 10, Team Taught English 10 (a Special Ed. inclusion class), and Mythology-- all of which I LOVE teaching. However, Thursdays suck serious butt. At our school, we have 90 minutes classes on Thursdays and Fridays. So on Thursdays, we teach periods 1, 3, 5, and 7 (on Fridays we do the even period classes). It just so happens that I don't get any break or planning period on Thursdays because I teach all the way through. It's exhausting; I'm not a teacher who sits down in a chair all day. I'm on my feet, bouncing around, darting across the room, basically doing whatever I can to ensure my kids are awake and learning. So by the end of Thursday I want to collapse. And without a planning period, I become somewhat of a monster and am very short fused with kids (and with my husband when I get home). It's not pretty.

The fact that I made plans to run on a Thursday after school with my friend Omari and our colleague (and hopefully new running buddy) Nicole shows my complete and total insanity on any average day. Multiply that by 10, and that's what I am after teaching three different subjects in one day without any breaks. Even so, I still got dressed for our run. And the three of us hit the roads around our school, which is really tempting fate. I mean, I have pissed off A LOT of kids in my 10 years of teaching through either giving them a bad grade, calling home, not writing enough positive comments on their essays... who knows. There could be kids who don't like me just for not smiling at them while passing them in the hallway. It would be easy for said angry students to just let their little sedans drift over to the side of the road and take me out. (Actually, I have really great kids. I'm just kidding. I know they wouldn't hit me with their car. They might dose a chocolate bar for a joke (okay, not really on this one either), but they would never hit me.)
We ran a 4.75 mile loop, surviving three dead deer, toxic fumes from decaying dead deer (and just so you know, I have never smelled anything worse than these two to three day old dead deer rotting in the sun), honking horns (most of which were our colleagues and students), and torrential rain. I've run in the rain before and I typically love it. But this was insane. This was some Forrest Gump rain. In case you forgot (put on your best Forrest Gump voice): "We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin' rain... and big ol' fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath."
When the wind blew, the rain pelted our faces like little bullets. It hurt! But here's what made it all worth it (sorry, I'm going to be a Polly-Anna again!):
I had great company. Omari said, "We're gonna look back on this and say, "Remember that day we ran like crazy people in the rain"?" He said this, of course, right before the heavens decided to open and dump buckets of water on us. All we could do was laugh and smile the more rain we faced. Nicole, my other running partner today, kept this amazing bounce to her step, even at the height of the down pour. At one point she raised her arms Rocky-like to suggest how great this was, without sarcasm. She was our cheerleader, fitting since not only is she a teacher but was also a professional cheerleader for an NFL team. When I wanted to just throw in the towel and walk, they kept me moving, bringing me to my fastest 5 mile time, once again. When we made it back to the school, we got some odd looks from both students and staff. We were drenched. Here's what we looked like:

I have to say, that run, while challenging physically since both Omari and Nicole are both faster than me, was a true pleasure. I was in serious need of a run with good company.

So yeah, Omari was right. I am going to remember this run.

Now if I can only figure out how to dry the puddles of rain in my running shoes...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Finding My Motivation

I had kind of a weird experience this afternoon. I was driving with my son to the grocery store and I had an anxiety attack while thinking about my upcoming half marathon. It was the same kind of feeling I get the morning of a race (I know all the runners out there know what I'm talking about)--topsy turvy stomach, racing mind, out of control heartbeat--but a little worse, which is strange, especially given that my race is over a month away; that's never happened before. I'm pretty sure it's because I realized that I was going to have to run this 13.1 miles all by myself this time.

I ran the last race with my friend Omari and he was great company and motivation. We spent the entire race gossiping, swapping stories about our spouses, and asking/answering odd questions. My favorite from our conversation: What would you do if you won a million dollars and one of the stipulations was that you had to give away at least$10,000 to charity? I was having such a great time talking with Omari, I didn't turn my Ipod on once and the race didn't seem all that long.

But this race will be different. Omari is still more than 300 down on the waiting list. I don't see him making it into this race. So I'll have to be my own motivator, and I guess that's what scared me so much. Given that I was already panicking about the race, I was not looking forward to my long run today. I felt lethargic and lazy all day; it seemed like it was never going to stop raining and I contemplated just scraping my long run. But at about 4, the rain cleared up and I got my lazy butt dressed (which included wearing my Spibelt! I found it, thank God!).

I hit the pavement and hated it... at first. The first mile was torture. I was so angry I had to run. So instead of doing my usual run 1 mile, walk 2 minutes, I decided to just keep going for as long as possible because I just wanted to get it over with. I went 2 miles without my usual little break. I forced myself to take a break because I was worried I'd burn out. But this pattern continued the entire run. With each mile, I kept telling myself, "Wow. I feel great. I guess I'll just go a bit farther". And before I knew it, I was more than half way to 8 miles and right outside my gym (thank God! I have such a thimble bladder!)

The rest of my run was great. In fact, two awesome things happened.

1. I ran 5 miles five minutes faster than I ever have (by over 4 minutes).

2. I realized that if I keep the same pace I was keeping up to 6.6 miles (and after too) for the whole half marathon, I will have shaved about 20 minutes off my last finishing time! I'm not running at lightning speed and I'm certainly not going to win any races at this pace, but I'm beating my former self and that is pretty exciting.

Well, I guess three great things happened. I realized I just may be okay all by myself, that maybe I've been motivating myself all along and just didn't realize it.

Although one bad thing did happen: My sports bra's clasp dug into my back so bad it was bleeding when I got home. Ouch! (But I'm kind of proud of my new battle wound, so I guess it isn't so bad!)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

All Points Bulletin

MISSING: Grey Reflective SpiBelt. Last seen 1 week ago on lying sweaty on the dining table after owner threw her there after a long run.
Owner has released this letter:

My beloved partner,

I don't know where you are or why you are gone-- have you have just run away from me? Are you are just lost? Are you are broken?-- but regardless, I miss you terribly and want you back. Runs just aren't the same without you. I must have you to survive training for a half marathon. Today I ran without you... it was so upsetting. I didn't have a place to carry my key and had no other option than to shove it down my bra. Now my boobs have key imprints and scratches all over. I also didn't have the comfort of having my Clif Shot Bloks right at hand and now realize I so needed that while running against the wind and all uphill for an entire run (how is that even possible for a run to be entirely uphill??).

For so long, you have kept many of my belongings safe and I have taken you for granted. I have thrown you on the floor, packed you until you seem you will explode, allowed 3 foot tall monsters to treat you like a toy, but now I see. Now I see how perfect you truly are. I only hope it isn't too late for us. Please come back to me. I have neglected you and not treated you with the respect you deserve. I promise I will no longer let anyone, including the 3 foot tall monster, hurt you.

And in case the 3 foot monster who might have taken you can read this (which is a stretch given he doesn't really know his ABC's yet), I'm watching you. If you know what's good for you, you will return her before this Sunday when I have to run 9 miles and desperately need her.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

It's a BEAUTIFUL DAY! (cue U2)

Today is going to be a good day!

It's gorgeous outside right now, a perfect 61 degrees. I think I will take Dill Pickle out in the jogging stroller today since I only have 5 miles to run. My jogging stroller is conveniently located right next to the front door, and for the past few weeks, he's been blocking the door before I leave for every run saying, "Take me. Can I go? Can I go for a spin?" It's been so ungodly hot lately that I just didn't have the energy to run and push an extra 50 lbs around town. But today, I don't think I have the heart to say no to him. He loves going out for a run with me, and I kind of miss him pushing me to go faster while he screams, "Weeeee"!

After that, I think I'll make some stuffed mushrooms. I've never made them before, so I'm not sure how it'll go, but my hubby loves anything with mushrooms and we're going over to a friend's house later today and I need to bring an appetizer.

So that brings me to the next reason today is going to be great. We get to hang out with great friends (including Dill Pickle getting to hang with one of his favorite little dudes, Lucas) and learn how to make Israeli flat bread pizza. I'm super stoked about learning my friend's flat bread recipe. :) Here's a picture of what he usually makes... I'm drooling just thinking about eating it later today! (What a perfect treat after running!)

So the weather's good, no work tomorrow, and hanging out with friends today... yeah, today is definitely a beautiful day in every way!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Why Teaching is a Little Like Running

One of the things I love most about running is the high I get after a good run. It's wonderful and it lasts for hours. My runner's high makes me feel like I can conquer anything. And one of the greatest things about the runner's high is I can control it (mostly). I know if I run, I'll more than likely get the high.

Teaching also has a high-- a high unlike anything I've ever experienced (insert druggie jokes as you wish...), a high so great that when I get one, I'm usually giddy and giggly for hours. I have a need to tell everyone how great life is (it's probably pretty annoying to be around a teacher in the middle of a high). But the teacher's high can be illusive. There's no guaranteed or expected time of it's arrival. Sometimes I can go months without having one... those are usually the roughest months of the year-- right before Spring Break, sometimes at the end of a marking period when parents get a little... uhem... overly involved, or before the end of the school year. It's kind of like those long runs when you run out of steam and no matter what you do, you just can't gather enough energy to pick up your feet. Too long without a teaching high and a teacher feels worn down, burned out, ready to give up. You can tell when a teacher hasn't had a high in a while. They walk a little hunched over; they don't look kids in the face when they pass in the hallway; their voices are always on edge. Everything sets them off.

Today, I got two teaching highs back to back. Yesterday, I spoke with a student who was a behavior problem from day one. I decided to just be honest with him and tell him like it was. I told him, "Ya know, you kind of act like a butt head. It's a shame because your pretty smart. I really wish you wouldn't act like that because I think we'd get along in class a lot better." He nodded and left. Today, at the end of the day, he handed me an Organic Green and Black's Chocolate and Cocoa bar and said he was sorry. What made this present even more special is the fact that yesterday I wrote and read an essay to his class as a model for an essay they'd later write. In it, I told the class that I was addicted to and loved both coffee and chocolate. I didn't even make the connection between the essay and the chocolate he gave me until a while after he left.

Right before that, I had to kick a student who has anger management issues out of class for losing his temper and yelling and swearing at me for telling him not to talk while I was talking. Even after I spoke with him in private he was pretty fired up. But about 20 minutes after school was over, he came back to my room and asked to talk with me. Not only did he apologize, but he also told me this was the first time he ever went to someone to talk an issue out after he made a mistake-- he was calm, collected, and very mature the entire time. He was grinning from ear to ear and kept saying this was a lot easier than he imagined. He shook my hand and when he walked out the door, he was so proud of himself; that was so wonderful to see.

I don't know if people who aren't teachers really understand how big those two moments are for us teachers (and for those kids). These both seem like pretty simple things to most people, but today I saw two kids starting to make positive change in their lives. It's such an awe inspiring thing to witness. It makes me feel so hopeful for their future, so proud of their progress (and we've only had a week of school). Teaching highs remind me that my job isn't always about teaching literature... sometimes it's just being with kids while they learn how to become mature adults. A teaching high can last for seconds, minutes, days, weeks-- it all just depends. Mine is still going strong. And it makes me feel like I can change the world, that I can and am really making a difference. I truly love my job and am so blessed to teach kids.

Happy Friday everyone. I hope you find your natural high this weekend, either on a long run, hanging out with family, or just doing something you love.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

New Shoes and Looking Forward to the Runner's Nod

My sweet hubby got me new running shoes today (okay... to be totally honest, he just picked them up. I told him which shoes to get. I had a coupon for $20 off so I got my ASICS GT 2150's for $80! But he did pick up some of my Wild Cherry Shot Bloks on his own. I was surprised he remembered they were my favorite, but besides being a really sweet and attentive husband lately, he is probably used to seeing my empty wrappers after I empty the contents of my sweat soaked Spibelt on the floor. Yeah... I'm that messy.)

I love getting new shoes, any new shoes, but running shoes especially. The first run in new running shoes makes me feel like I'm floating, like I'm in the movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and just running in mid air. Here's what I think I look like in my new shoes.

And having new shoes reminds me that I have invested myself in this sport, that I've invested in my health. (I always laugh at the fitness magazines that claim running is a sport that requires little investment. After the $100 shoes, the good sports bras, the socks, the anti-chaffing lotions, the winter gear, the running shorts, shirts, pants, or absolutely adorable and must-have-them-to-run skirts, race entries, and watch, running becomes pretty pricey!)

I originally had a 5 mile run planned tonight, but Thursdays are a particularly difficult teaching day for me. I don't have any planning periods and teach every single class period; and since I teach on my feet and jump/run/pace/flitter around in attempts to keep my students' attention, my legs just aren't going to carry me anymore tonight. So I've decided to go to bed right after posting this (I realize it's only 8 p.m., but man, I'm really tired) and get up at 4:30 to get my miles in. I know I'll be excited to put on my new shoes which will hopefully help me out of bed. It's cooler that early anyway;I love running in the dark (especially early morning dark because I don't have to worry about the man/men in the windowless white van stealing me off the streets. I still have to worry about spiders, though...). And to top it off, I love being in my neighborhood's early morning run club. When you pass someone running at 4:30 in the morning, you know they are super dedicated to running. There's nothing better than the runner's nod-- that's the nod hello, usually without words that says, "I know you're hard core. Just like me. No one else is crazy enough to get up this early otherwise". Truthfully, those 4:30 a.m. runners are usually flying past me, but they still give me the nod and it makes me feel really good to be a part of their club. I can't beat them with speed, but I can join them with heart. :)