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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tempo Issues and A Personal Fix

Yesterday, I went to the gym to do my tempo run. It would have been impossible to do this outdoors given we had a surprise snow storm of 5 inches this week (which really isn't that much, but it is a good amount when you aren't expecting it after several 70 degree days) so the sidewalks are, again, covered.

My plan was to run 3 miles at tempo, but 5 miles total. However, after just 1.5 miles, my legs felt like they weren't going to carry me. In fact, my form felt way off. It felt like I was tripping all over myself. I stopped running at 1.5 miles and began to walk, feeling completely disappointed in myself. And then I remembered something I read about visualization on MomOf3's blog. She said you have to practice visualizing yourself being successful in achieving your goals in order to cross the marathon finish line. I'm not running a marathon, just a half, but I figured I'd put her advice to good use.

So I imagined myself cranking up the speed on the treadmill and running without feeling any lead legs, without any aching body parts, without any doubt. While I was visualizing this, I imagined a determined look on my face. And I promised myself that as soon as I hit 2.0 miles, it was time to stop visualizing, start running, and finish the tempo run strong.

And so at 2.o miles, I did exactly what I pictured. I cranked up the speed, picked up my pace, and breathed my way through the last three miles of my tempo run. And wonder of wonders, I felt great! The lead legs were gone, and so was all the doubt. In fact, I probably could have kept going (I kind of wish I would have, but my husband was finished with his workout and I didn't want him to have to wait around for me. In hindsight, he would have been fine; he likes to stretch for a while).

So while my tempo run may not have been 100% successful, I feel a lot of happiness in the fact that I pulled myself out of my rut, got my mind right, and finished as strong as I visualized. I'm going to make visualization a part of my regular training schedule because it's important, as Momof3 said, for me to be as mentally strong as I am physically strong.

Tonight I'm off to TRX Suspension training. I'm a tad nervous... I'll report back how it goes.

And on another note, I got to meet Pulitzer Prize winning author Edward Jones this week. He came to my classroom (so it was just us and him) and answered my students questions about literature and writing. I hope to write more about this later this week because it was a very cool experience to share with my students.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Kicking Out Negative Thoughts

I went for a nice long run yesterday with Katye and Erin yesterday. I had 8 miles on my schedule, but we did 10. We took it easy, mostly because we haven't all run together in over 2 months. We ended up spending a lot of our "running" time walking instead so we could catch up. It worked out perfectly for me, though. My training schedule says that my long run miles should be between 12:57-14:29 (don't forget I'm a penguin. :)). Our run was just over an average pace of 14:29, so I don't feel guilty for walking so much. After our run, we got an Auntie Anne's pretzels. Seriously, there is nothing better in this world than a pretzel after a long run (ok... I lied. Cupcakes. Cupcakes are way better than a pretzel after a run. In fact, I promised the girls I'd bring some cupcakes from IcedGems on our next run date).

I realized over the past few days that I have less than a month before the National Half Marathon. And in typical me fashion, I'm a nervous wreck about this. It's not like I've never run a half before. This will be my third. This is the first time, however, that I have to finish in a certain time so I'm not swept up by the penguin-killing, slow runner race-ending wagon. At the Baltimore Half (my 2nd), I shaved over 20 minutes off my half time in less than 5 months, so I assumed I wouldn't have a problem taking 13 minutes off my half time to finish in the required 2 hours 30 minutes (although it seems the course will be open for 3 hours). The problem is I'm just not sure if I'm going to be able to run the entire race at an 11 min-11:30 min mile. I've been following my training schedule and keeping up with speed work and tempo work, but I worry whether or not it's enough. I did have to scale back for a week and a half a while ago due to runner's knee. I guess I'll just have to let go of this until the day of the race. Part of me says that I'll be fine; I'm doing everything I can to improve my race time. And I know I'll get out there on race day and do my best, and whatever that best time is, it is good enough. But there's another part of me that says this lingering hip/hamstring tightness is going to hurt my race time and that taking it easy on a long run is a bad idea (I fight with myself to keep at the recommended pace. I start to feel guilty that I'm not doing enough and need to go faster in order to really improve).

Like I said, I just need to let go off all the negative self talk and stay positive.

In that spirit, here's my training schedule for the week (and my plan is to rock it).

Today (Monday): stretching and strength training (I'm a day off my normal schedule because I did my long run Sunday instead of Saturday.) I was going to just jump back on my schedule, but I'm a little concerned about my right hamstring. It is SUPER tight and I feel it pulling my back out of whack. I'm just going to stretch it out and do a little strength training.
Tuesday: 4 miles pace
Wednesday: 45 min. tempo
Thursday: Should be a rest day, but I'm trying TRX at the gym for the first time and am super excited
Friday: 3 miles easy
Saturday: 9 miles
Sunday: strength training and stretching

Miles planned for the week: about 20

What do you do to stay positive and kick the negative thoughts out of your mind?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's the Simple Things

A list of the simple things I love to help me remember life is pretty nice even when I feel like it isn't.

Simple Thing #1- My husband's sweatshirts. I steal them from him after he's worn them, and I wear them to bed. I feel so cozy in them and the way they smell reminds me of him and how much I love him.

Simple Thing #2- Silly things my son says. He's always making me laugh. I have an example in mind, but I think for the sake of my son (and for my own devilish ways), I will keep it private (until I feel the need to embarrass him in front of his girlfriends in 10-15 years).

Simple Thing #3- This is kind of the same as #2, but... Pickle is potty training and when he's on the potty or in the bathroom taking care of business, he asks me to stop talking because he needs to think. Kind of cute.

Simple Thing #4- My dad has always been a great and sweet man, but since he's become a grandfather twice over, he's really softened. Lately he's even called me by my childhood nicknames several times, names I haven't heard since I was about 12. And it makes me smile.

Simple Thing #5- I love weddings. A lot. I've told my husband several times that I want to have another wedding (with him, of course) because it was so much fun. Well, my little bro is getting married in September. And I've been looking at pictures of wedding gowns and flowers and flower girls and ring bearers, and can't get enough of them.

Simple Thing #6- Cupcakes. Enough said.

Simple Thing #7- 50-70 degree weather in February (yes, 70! Friday is going to be 70*!), especially after a winter of record cold temperatures.

Simple Thing #8- Silly and accidental puns. So today in our 10th grade English teacher's meeting, a teacher told this joke (we were in a very odd and silly mood. I wonder if it's a full moon...). "A man was driving down a quiet country lane when out into the road strayed a rooster. Whack! The rooster disappeared under the car followed by a large cloud of feathers.Shaken, the man pulled over at the farmhouse, and rang the door bell. A farmer appeared.The man, somewhat nervously said, "I think I killed your rooster, please allow me to replace him"."Suit yourself," the farmer replied, "the hens are round the back."
To which I replied, "That is so foul." And I'm not witty. It was a total accident, but a really goofy pun. We dorky English teachers in the room laughed for a while, nonetheless.

Simple Things #9- Phone calls and texts from my mom wishing me a happy anything-- birthday, Valentines, Halloween, Easter...

Simple Things #10- The random spontaneous moment that sometimes happens and changes my mood when I'm having an off day.

What's your simple thing?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Seriously Bummed... Hug a Teacher, Please...

I spent an amazing weekend with my girlfriends in Philly laughing in our pajamas, eating, and watching Sex in the City II (a truly disappointing movie-- bad fashion and horrific writing). I was excited to come home to my guys, but was EXHAUSTED and just couldn't get my long run in. My plan was to do it today... until the day from hell hit.

On my way to work, I hit a deer (or a deer hit me). My car was undamaged; apparently I have an angel on my shoulder. But I can't say the deer made out so well. I'm sure the deer's legs were damaged, but making her situation even worse, while she was trying to run away from the road after we collided, she jumped off a bridge. I hope her passing was as quick and painless as possible. I was pretty shaken up and had to pull over to collect myself. I absolutely love deer and was so upset to hurt one. Once I got myself together, I was back on my way to work, but I was already a few minutes late.

After work today at our staff meeting, I got some bad news. Actually the whole school staff got some bad news. There are some serious financial issues in our county and it looks like our teaching contracts are not going to be honored (for the third year in a row). Except this time their talking about some damaging actions for our family. They have a few options on the table-- a 5% cut in pay, a 3% furlough, a 20% increase in our insurance contribution, and a certain reality, a 2% contribution increase to our pension (even though we're already rated as the 49th WORST state teacher's pension in the United States). If all of these options happen together, we're talking a 10% decrease in my salary which would be devastating to our family. I don't know how we'd make it, honestly.

And adding insult to injury was the comments from the county members and the media about our "cushy" jobs and pensions and the fact the fire and police union are lobbying against us. I always felt we were on the same team.

Anyway, I got home and started to get ready to run, but I just broke down and cried. I'm scared about my family's future, and I just feel completely unappreciated.

I didn't go to the gym to get my run in. Instead, I stayed here with my guys and they started to make me feel a little better. And then I opened an email from a parent. I won't give all the details, but she wrote to thank me for helping her daughter. It's rare that teachers get these letters of appreciation, and honestly, we could really use them right now. So if your kid has a favorite teacher or a teacher who has really helped your kid (or you), please let it be known. Most teachers I know do their job out of love, but it doesn't hurt to know others see and recognize our hard work.

Seriously, go hug a teacher!

(and tomorrow I'll get that run in!)