Monday, August 29, 2011

hey! where have you been?

What's that? I've been slacking at my boring you with my life duties? So sorry; I'm a busy fella these days and it's only gonna get busier from here.

For starters, school is back in full swing and my next round of internships/field experiences are starting up. In fact I started today. I've been so fortunate in the cooperating teachers/mentors (Apparently I'm digging the slashes today) and my luck just keeps on going. I have been assigned to a brilliant teacher for the next few months and am eager to learn all I can and try my best to be an asset to her classroom.
Chalkboards, really? soooo 1988
Also, my folks have been in town so I've been soaking up the construction dust family time while they're here.
Not THAT kind of rubble. Jeez...
Finally, I took a break from running last week (only ran once) since I was staying so active with the work we were doing around the house. Since I tend to write most when it comes to running, I didn't have much to say.

I got back out this morning though for a two-miler before starting my day. It felt great, except for the odd appendages at the end of my legs...Yes, I ran in shoes (it's small 'cuz they're 'minimalist shoes'). They are ripping up the streets around here, and I don't mean like Vin Diesel in the Fast and the Furious. Construction debris is all over the place, with pointy rocks just waiting to savage my tender tootsies. I erred on the side of caution today and took off in my shoes so I could be sure to get some miles in. Turns out I could have left them at home! The route I ran was totally clear, or at the very least had alternatives to the choppy stuff. I guess that tells me I should stop being a wimp be more adventurous and leave the shoes behind so I'll get creative with my route choices. This would ensure I don't get bored as well.

Or maybe I'll finally get some of those huaraches all the cool barefooters rave about...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

remodeling the remodel

My folks are in town (it only happens once a year or so these days) so I am neck deep in renovation debris. So far we've built in a new walk in closet off the master bedroom, re-done half the kitchen (new sink and a tile backsplash). I am beat, man. The cool thing about these visits is how much hands-on work I get to do.
I don't think so, Tim

OK, so I really don't get to do much, other than observe, try to learn as much as possible, and hand my dad (the one who actually is handy) tools when he needs them. We're all better off that way, because he actually knows what he's doing. Most home improvement projects I do on my own get done at least twice before they're done right.

I did do tons of the tile work in the kitchen. If we're lucky it'll still be on the wall in the morning...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Things are looking up

I posted Friday that I was becoming really frustrated with my running progress (or seeming lack thereof). After I looked at my week's runs I realized I was making mountains out of molehills.

I ran four of five days last week! anywhere from a 1.5 miler to 2.5 miles. No wonder my legs felt dead and I thought my feet had been attacked by a belt sander! I was so frustrated with Friday's run, but Saturday's felt great, as did today. I'm still slow (10-11 minute miles), but I am getting stronger and becoming a better runner. I'm pretty psyched about it and hope to keep it going.

There's a lesson in here, both about running and about life; sometimes your big breakthroughs come right after your most frustrating days. Of course, if your most frustrating day stops you in your tracks you won't hit the breakthrough. All this is to say, when the going gets tough, keep going! It's not always as easily done as said, I know. The payoff is almost always worth the struggle it took to get there.

I'm sure, over the next year of my life, I'll need to refer back to that last paragraph many (MANY) times. I will face challenges new to me in many areas (running and professionally) and will have to remind myself to keep pushing on to make sure I get to the breakthrough.

The philosophy lecture has now ended. you may now return to your regularly scheduled business.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Rant

I feel like MC Skat Kat

No, I did not dance with Paula Abdul

My running adventure has become a game of two steps forward, one step back (Yes, I know it's a reach, but I refuse to reference a country song. Ever.). I'm making progress, for sure, but I keep facing little setbacks; little setbacks have huge impact for newbies like me. I'm only running one to two miles per run so every time I can't do it, I loser what feels like mountains of achievement, relatively speaking. It really is demoralizing.
Yes, I realize I'm being a crybaby

So what do I do? I've been obsessing over it giving this a lot of thought lately, but I'm just not sure. Am I trying to prove something to myself with this barefoot running thing? Am I too stubborn to change course, even if it is the right thing to do (Mrs. M says "yes"). Or is it that I am letting myself get too easily frustrated by something that isn't supposed to be easy because I want to be better than I am today, today? 
Anybody know a good oracle?

Maybe there aren't any quick or simple answers, I don't know. I know I want a simple answer, that's for sure. And therein lies my dilemma: do I forge ahead and hope for the best, do I take it back to the drawing board and start from scratch (I do NOT like that option...), or something in between? Any of you reading this, please sound off and tell me how you've dealt with setbacks or adversity; I'd love to hear your suggestions and experiences.

Sorry, no five this week...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I'm a bit scattered today and buried in end of the quarter projects so I think I'll just subject you (you are actually reading this, right?) to my random thoughts over the past couple of days. Lucky you.

I WISH my workspace was that organized

Random thought one: a bad attitude ruins the whole darn thing. Seriously. I played a round of golf Sunday. It's not something I do a lot of these days, so the times I do play I really look forward to. I usually go with my father in law and my wife's uncle. This time it was just my FIL and me so, as often happens, we got stuck with another pair to make a foursome. I rarely enjoy this as I'm introverted and a bad golfer so I feel both socially uncomfortable and stressed out about how bad I'm playing. Well, not this day. I played pretty well (for me) and so did FIL, which put us both in good spirits. The guys we were stuck paired with were a challenge. One was a pretty laid back, cool guy; the other, though was kind of a know-it-all and REALLY liked himself. Anyway, at some point in the round he (capt. awesome) lost his golf ball and accused me of playing his (had I done so it would have been sort of a big deal. I didn't as I am very careful about such things). I told him what I thought happened (a golfer playing another hole hit his ball. 99.9% certainty it happened, but whatever). He never got over it and his game, which was pretty impressive I admit, went to pot. The worse it got, the worse he got in an attitude/outcome spiral. It affected me for about three seconds, until I remembered I'm an adult and don't care what he thinks. I played pretty well the rest of the way in, but being shackled to Mr. PoopyPants was a drag for all of us. Even his buddy was a little put off. Lesson: Cheer up; it's just a game (most things aren't worth completely losing your composure over).
In this example, I would be Bob Barker. I'm old, see?
Random thing number two: I am a huge nerd. No surprise to anyone who has ever met me, spoken to me, seen a picture of me, but still. I'm in full school mode and my mind is totally spun up with it. I get deeply into the stuff I study in school and tend to be very active in class discussions, much to the chagrin and possible bemusement of my cohort. Really, though, the same reason B.A. BadGolfer didn't get to me is what keeps me from slowing my roll in school. I am confident enough in who I am that I don't often let others deter me. I am committed to performing at a high level AND getting a j.o.b once I finish my master's. Getting a job is predicated on performing well in school and being able to apply what I've learned. Reasoning through that learning out loud in class is my best chance to process/challenge/be challenged on that thinking. I will miss being in class when I'm done (I love the University classroom environment. I can't help myself) and dream of getting my Phd (Mrs. M has just lost consciousness. Someone please revive her after I've escaped slapping distance). I am equally invigorated to teach and be surrounded by like minded individuals along with the others that may not see eye-to-eye with me. They make the best sparring partners, in a strictly verbal sense, of course.
This picture was taken before the rest of my classmates were even born. That's me on the left. not really. He's much younger than me.

Random thing number three: I am a big, fat (seriously, you should see me) hypocrite. Even after Saturday's post, I went out today and ran. In *gasp, shudder* RUNNING SHOES! I am a disgrace. I could justify with the fact that they were "minimal running shoes" that help me maintain good form, blahblahblah; but, still, I cheated. I felt it, too. I didn't feel as good while running as I have recently for sure, but to be honest my feet and legs have felt better AFTER the run than they have in a long time. I'm so conflicted! Truth be told, the main only reason I ran in shoes is they are doing a crazy amount of road construction in my 'hood starting this week making me really concerned about the conditions and risk of injuring myself in a way that would keep me from running at all for a while. I have been advised of a construction-free route that has the same distance I'm currently running so I should be footloose and fancyshoe free again right away (though I admit to liking the aftereffects of today's run so much I fear I'll now be perpetually tempted...).
Why yes, that is my coffee mug. How did you know?
There you go. Instead of having to endure three separate entries, I've enabled you to be bored in one fell swoop. If you think about it, I did you a favor.

You're welcome.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

the Temptations of Success

NOT the Temptations of Motown
These guys were awesome, though...
I've hit running benchmarks this week. After not running with any consistency for years I had three runs of 2 miles or longer in the last seven days. Now I realize that for many of the "runners" out there this isn't very far or many running days in a week. My response to that is I'm returning after long time off and the barefoot thing has dictated a slow, careful progression of distance.

And there lies the dissonance.

Now that I've tasted success and progress, my mind naturally wants more. I also know that slipping into a pair of shoes would enable an almost instant increase in distance and speed. This, I admit, is terribly tempting.
Embrace the dark shoe side. Together we can rule the Universe Road!

The thing is, I don't want to put shoes on. Not yet anyway. i'm sure the situation will arise where shoes are the sensible option for me. I view shoes as tools to use when needed. What I don't want is to return to shoes as a crutch and all the injuries that, for me, went along with them. Before you attack, I do know that form, not shoes, is the biggest contributor to injury. I also know that shoes allow you to go farther, often before your body is ready,and introduce more fatigue which leads to sloppy form and, you guessed it: injury. I'm no expert so I'll stay out of any debate on shoe design being good bad or indifferent.

I don't run barefoot for bragging rights; I began it because I found it as a way to better my running form and reduce my injury frequency, which was the main holdback on my running success (can't run, can't build running fitness, can't get better...Always injured=not running). I keep at it because I honestly enjoy it. Running barefoot requires that I focus more on what I'm doing and HOW I am getting it done. Ultimately I believe it is making me a better, stronger runner. And that, my friends is the whole point.

I want to keep running for the long haul. This is how I believe it will best be accomplished. For me.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Five(5): Distractions

Have I mentioned that school is back in full swing for me? With school comes lots of work; some meaningful, some just silly and time consuming. I combat that with any number of distractions. These distractions also help keep me sane when the workload gets too crazy. So, in no particular order, here are my top five distractions.

1. Reading. Reading for pleasure always beats out required reading any time. I usually have a couple books and any number of magazines going at any given time. I can remove myself from the current workload in moments when I open a good book.
Man, i loved that show!

2. The interwebs. I read a lot of blogs and participate in some online discussion groups. Most are not professional development in nature (though most of the running blogs I read are written by teachers...). I also research anything that comes to mind. Google is the best thing that ever happened to me; I can enter any thing I'm thinking of and find tons of random information on that topic. I also feel it makes me a better researcher for those times I have to research for school/work type stuff.
Pretty much...

3. Running. I have fallen in love with running all over again and I look forward to my chances to go for a run. Not only does it get me away from my work, it allows me to clear my head and reset for when I get back to it. It's a twofer!
this just makes me want to

4. Family fun time! I love to take Stinky to the bookstore, or wrestle GoGo around the living room. This also drifts back to reading, since Stinky and I do a lot of read-alouds (we just started the first Harry Potter book. I don't know which of us is more excited). My family are my favorite people and I can usually be pulled off of work stuff to pay attention to them.
Yay family time!
5. TV. I am an unashamed TV fan. I tried to ditch the satellite/Cable last year and just go to the channels we could get with an antenna. Yeah. That lasted days. We aren't glued to the TV in our house, but our DVR runs hot. We record a lot of stuff and watch it when we have the time. Right now, the cable channels' series are taking my favorite spots (the Walking Dead, anyone?!) but I love all kinds of TV.
Season 2 can't get here soon enough!

There you go. How I waste time. Some would argue that this blog is a big contributor. I'm not saying that many of my posts fall on school-work days, but only because you can't prove it!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The waiting (is the hardest part)

So says Tom Petty, and I agree.

This  last year of my Master's in Teaching will be spent largely in field experience internships and, ultimately, student teaching. On the one hand I am really excited because field experience is the best way to really learn the craft of teaching, and I just enjoy the interaction with students (it is, after all, the reason I want to teach...make a difference for kids).

However, the wait for placement is excruciating. It is an anxiety filled time wondering how it'll all shake out. Will I be placed at a good school (good staff, morale, etc)? Will my cooperating teacher actually be, well, cooperating? Will my Field Supervisor appreciate my approach? Will the students respond to me in the slightest (my biggest single fear is this: the students will completely reject my presence and I will be ineffectual). For my first internship I was a wreck until I met my CT and supervisor. It was pretty good from there on, because i got EXTREMELY lucky on both counts (shout out to Mrs. Hannan and Mr. Hauge!). I've lost my amazing supervisor due to a great opportunity for him at another program, so I have to start over at square one on that front. This individual is make or break for a successful field experience and the supervisor/student relationship is a big deal. So of course I'm stressed due to my quirky and strong personality. Shockingly to those of you reading I'm sure, not everyone who meets me likes me right away.

A good field experience is built of so many factors, many of which are outside the teaching student's influence. This is what makes me the most nervous. I may have a high level of commitment and intent, but I am still building the skills required to be as effective as the student deserve. My own standards and expectations are so high for myself that I create pressure where no one else is.

I just want to do a good job.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Busy Busy

Wow. Lots going on lately, for sure. The fam has taken a couple short trips this summer (a rarity for us), which has been great. The downside to that is all our day-to-day business gets compressed into less time, making for hectic days.

Mrs. M. is already getting into back to school mode, evidenced by stacks of books and lesson planning materials scattered about the house. She's taking on a new grade level next year (Kindergarten) and has really been working hard to learn as much as she can and ensure a great year for her students. She is an amazing teacher and I can only hope that once I finish my Master's and (hopefully) get a job that I'll be half the teacher she is.

The kids are all loony around our house these days. I think they sense summer's rapidly approaching end and are somehow trying to cram all the fun in they can. It's fun to watch and a good lesson in "carpe diem-ing." We are lucky to have two clever and hilarious girls, but all that fun, clever, activity is far more entertaining than my workload from school, so I have been continually behind!

Which leads to me. I've been back in school for a month already, and Summer Quarter is killin' me. I have been the least organized I have been since high school and have been cramming all my work into the last possible day each week (actually not very common for me these days). I am staring down the barrel of a REALLY busy academic year full of internship/practicum, Action Research project, roughly 180,000 papers (I'm estimating, but probably close...), capped by student teaching and a job search. I have to find time to be a husband and dad in the midst of all this, so time management will be key, as will physical and emotional stamina.

That's where this whole running thing comes in. Running gives me the physical stamina by way of conditioning (I'm beginning to think this is part of why 85% of all the running blogs I read are written by teachers). It also benefits emotional stamina by giving me that time to myself for clearing my head and not concentrating on all the other things going on. Honestly, this is the single biggest benefit of barefoot running for me. When I bfr I can't just "zone out" like I used to just plodding along. I really have to stay in the moment and aware. This forces all the other business to fade into the background for a little and lets me reset myself. It's something I haven't really had with any regularity in a long time and I have begun to crave that time on the road (but miss the trails and woods).

So, here's to a great school year for all the teachers, students, and families out there. Make it the best you can, and make sure to make time for something you love just for you!


Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Five(5): Sappy spousal awesomeness edition

Today is my lovely bride's birthday (happy birthday, sweetie!). In her honor, the Friday Five(5) this week are five things I think are pretty awesome about my pretty, awesome wife (see what I did there? Punctuation IS fun, kids!):

1. She has a thing for nerdy guys with glasses. She admitted this a couple many years ago, but it still warms my nerdy, glasses-wearin' heart. 'Course, she also has a thing for Orlando Bloom, circa Lord of the Ring, so for all you people know I could look just like him. But I don't, so there.
You be the judge...

2. She's really (REALLY) funny. A lot of people wouldn't know this about her because she is a pretty shy, quite type. When she fires on, though, look out. She cracks me up more than anyone I know in real life (aside from my lunatic spawn...)

3. She incubated my lunatic spawn (and killed a car in the process of incubating Stinky(the elder)). I never knew what I was missing until Stinky, and shockingly later, GoGo came into my life. These two nuts have been the best, most grounding thing that ever happened to me, and without my baby my babies wouldn't be here. Thanks for the gift, yo.

Stinky (the elder)

4. She not only tolerates, but embraces my crazy. I'm kind of an odd dude (she'll tell you many examples if you offer her Stella on draft) and I really don't make any effort to hide it. My lady encourages it, embraces it and laughs at with me (OK, at me as well). Barefoot running, single speed bicycles, awesomely terrible movies, you name it; she's down and doesn't judge it. I think she secretly digs all that stuff too, in her own way. She didn't bat an eye when I quit my job (on a whim, honestly) to pursue my master's and become a teacher. She actually encouraged it and has every step since.

Which leads us to...
5. She pushes me to be the best version of me that I can EVERY DAY. That's a tough job and a tall order (a Venti order, if you're reading this in a Starbucks...) and she does it better than anyone else ever could. She's my best friend in the world, my most honest and fair critic, and my hero in many ways. I admire her more than she knows (which I should probably remedy) and really asks very little of me in return for her awesomeness. I'm the luckiest guy on earth.
no pictures do this justice....

6. (whatever, it's my blog and if I want to make it six I can. So there.) She's beautiful and digs Fugazi .My first gift to her was a Fugazi EP on vinyl (Yes; I was hip once). She didn't think I was paying attention to that story, but I was. That's when I knew she was the girl for me.

I love you Jen. Always have. Always will. Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I stomped on a piece of gravel on yesterday's run.
Daddy's gonna kill Ralphie!
 Yes, I'm finally back to running after the ankle soreness layoff (two weeks....). The piece of gravel was really pointed/sharp and hurt quite a bit, and still does a little.

That's not what got me, though (that kind of stuff happens when running barefoot); Yesterday was my first hilly run as a barefooter. So far, all of my runs have been on level ground, a path around my neighborhood park to be exact. This week we're visiting Mrs. M's sister and fam in E. Washington and I did a bona-fide road run. The addition of hills makes form even more critical in bfr and I am paying for that today. up and down can create a lot more friction on the soles and lead to blisters. I got 'em and I don't like 'em. I spent most of yesterday hobbling around on my heels, looking like an idiot. Oh well.

I'm up over a mile running now, though; so that's good progress. And, I'm feeling stronger with each run. Next up I've got to set some goals, as a consistent barefoot mile was really the only one I had.

Stay tuned for that...