Sunday, October 23, 2011

Run Like Hell 5K rehash

This morning I did the local Halloween costume 5K. I did not dress up. Unless you count me being a runner as a "costume," 'cause that case could be made.

I'm more excited than I look here, I swear!
 The race runs through the great city of Portland, Oregon, and we had awesome weather. It was in the mid 50's and sunny (an October miracle, for those of you blessed my drier climates). I had been waffling all week over whether I'd run barefoot or in my running sandals. With weather like this I couldn't pass up the chance, so I did it (foot)naked!

I started at the way back of the pack. a.) because I'm slow and it's demoralizing to get passed by 8-year olds dressed in full giraffe costumes, and b.) It's a crowded race and I didn't want to get my feet stomped on. Nice thing about starting at the back? You get to be the one who passes people; double points for every "awwww, man, that guy just passed me and he's barefoot!" (I got two or three of those bonus passes. W00T!)
That's me in red, passing Fatman and the Green Lantern/Hornet Collective
Racing is no fun without fans, so I brought some with me. The super-awesome Mrs. M. and my two kiddos came down to watch/cheer/take pictures. It was awesome to hear the "Go Daddy" chants from the sidelines at the start and finish.
 GoGo muggin' for the camera

Stinky doin' her thang. I fear for her teen years...
I felt pretty good throughout the race. The first chunk is up a long, gradual incline, so the initial pace (for me) was pretty slow, with lots of runner traffic. The one thing that bugs me about these "event" races/runs are the blockades - groups that run three and four across, taking up the full width of the course. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that people are out there doing something active, but it makes it hard to keep an even pace going. I spent as much time running side to side as I did moving forward at times. Whatever, We were all having fun, so no harm no foul. 

After a short but very steep run-up, we leveled off for the return back to the finish. well, what do we have here? I see bare feet running up ahead! I'm not alone (I know there are other barefoot runners, kids, so chill; she was the only other one I saw today)! As I caught up, we chatted for a second. It was kind of cool to bond with a fellow loon during a race. Alas, she was faster than I, so our alliance was short lived.

What goes up must come down, so the last third of the course is a slight downhill. Downhill running is still a weakness for me, as far as barefoot goes; I feel wildly out of control and uncomfortable when I follow all the suggestions I've read. I've got to work on this, for sure, because I did slow down some. I should mention here that Portland has some of the worst paved streets I have ever seen or run on. It was like running on gravel in most cases. As a result my feet were a little tender by now, but nothing I couldn't deal with.
Making the turn into the finishing straightaway!

Making the last turn I had a good bit left in the tank, so I was able to kick into gear for a strong finish. This has been a goal of mine, to not be completely flagged at the end of a run. I want to stride across the finish, not stagger. Plus, it feels good to kick it up:) Unofficial time of 30:30 by my stopwatch. Not too shabby, if I do say s myself!
Post race revelry. Feelin' good.

 I'm pretty happy with my result. It helps serve as a baseline, since this is really my first race as someone who takes running seriously. I can make goals and plans now based on an authentic result and have built a basic foundation as a runner. Next task is to work on my form and some core strength to support (bad pun!) that.

Next race will be the Turkey Trot in the Tri-Cities on Thanksgiving morning. I will be sub-30 minutes; mark my words...

Friday, October 21, 2011

....And, I'm back

OK, kids; slump is over! Here's why:

First, I think I've finally gotten into my groove as an instructor. My last two lessons have been the best I've ever done; I still have a long way to go to where I'd be "happy" with my lessons, but for where I'm at in the learning process I'm doing pretty darn well.

The lessons were Writer's Workshops on supporting with detail, using Lucy Calkins's small moments narrative strategy. The better of the two lessons was yesterday, when we focused on using the five senses to help  stretch the moment and bring it to life for the reader. Those second graders blew me away with the understanding they displayed in their application of skill in writing. I decided to give them a story starter prompt so I could assess their application of the lesson skill instead of their topic selection skills.  It's early in the year, and our classroom is filled with some VERY reluctant writers (who have just this last week become excited about writing), so neither my mentor teacher nor I have really pushed or challenged them on writing choices; we've been mainly focused on comfort with writing a coherent narrative and the writing courtesies of punctuation and capitalization (NOT as simple as you adults reading this think...). Today, though, I saw such eager writers that I decided it was time. When I saw students resting on ideas like "it smelled good" I challenged them to go further and tell me what "good" smells like. Each and everyone of them rose to the challenge and painted rich word pictures to describe the flowers. My favorite was "the one flower looked the prettiest but smelled bad to my nose. It smelled of cinnamon." He revealed to me in our conference that he does. not. like. cinnamon. At all. It was hilarious. I was so proud of my kiddos, and it totally got my mojo back for teaching!
Yeah; I don't get it, either. Cinnamon is awesome. Especially in roll form

It didn't hurt that my mentor teacher was extremely complimentary of my teaching style. I think allowing myself to be goofy and a little weird (y'know, be me) when I'm teaching has really opened the kids up to me. It doesn't hurt that I lovelovelove this group of kids. they have the biggest hearts of anyone I've ever seen and just cannot wait to learn. It really makes it fun to go in and learn with them.

Thanks second graders! You made my week:-)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I got the funk

not THAT funk

I woke up today simply not feelin' it, as the kids say. I don't know what the deal was with me, but a lot of thinking just caught up with me. I've been going at full speed for  quite a bit lately and I think I finally hit the wall.

It was not fun to be in my head today. Here's a sampling of my thought process:

a. My running form sucks (worse than i even originally thought). I ran in shoes TWICE last week which caused my knee to go berserk (reason A-1 I went to barefoot running in the first place).  I have a "race" this weekend, so achy bits are not helping my motivation. I'm kinda feeling down about my running progress overall. Mrs. M. is probably calling me an idiot right as she reads this, but I still feel like I'm on a plateau that extends for miles in all directions.
Yep; that's about right

b. I don't know why or how, but I was totally fish out of water in my internship today. It was like I was going through the day in a third person . It was also the first time since I began this journey that I thought, just for a moment "am I really cut out to be a teacher?" I shook it off, but it was a terribly disconcerting few hours in my headspace. 

c. School has been crazy. There are about 3500 different projects, each of which is THE. MOST. IMPORTANT thing I have to do over the next six months, on top of student teaching, day to day classes and responsibilities. I feel buried every time I even think about school work. Ugh.
Almost there...
All in all, I have to think this was the bottom of a low spot, and I'm sure to climb out of it directly. There is so much I have to be proud of and thankful for that I can't let a single day take the wind out of me. I just have to make sure I'm not a complete downer to everyone around me in the process of sorting it all out...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Days are getting shorter, runs are getting longer

It's fall. Here in the NorthWet (not a typo) that means we get about 45 minutes of daylight each day, all of it filled with rain.
I'm sooo excited

While sane most people retreat to the warm confines of home and sip coffee while predicting the next indie rock phenomenon, others don headlamps and rain jackets to keep running. Up until this year I was a happy citizen of the former category, and have the iTunes playlist to prove it.  
Not the next big thing...Can't pick 'em all

This year, though, things are different. I want to run. Heck, I NEED to run. I have been consistently increasing my miles and really want to keep it up through the crappy season. I've signed up for a 5k at the end of this month, am eyeing one for November/December and have set my sights on a Spring half-marathon. I've found that having specific goals keeps me motivated and on track. Especially once I've paid the registration fee. 
Those paper numbers aren't free, ya know

So yeah; I've become one of "them." I have my headlamp, my screaming yellow, reflective trimmed rain jacket and, well, still no shoes so far (but we'll see how I manage as it gets wetter and colder). I've even thought of coming up with a *shudder* training plan (I KNOW, right!? who is this guy?). I have no delusions of grandeur; I just want to test myself and see how well I can do. 

We'll see. Next time we'll talk about how running and teaching go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


It's been a while since I've posted, and even longer since I've posted anything meaningful (have I ever written a meaningful post??). So first the highlights, then we get down to bidness:

Yes, I'm still running. Barefoot, even. I'm up to 3.5 miles at a time, and adding more mileage each week. I'm also still learning to teach. I've been spending a lot of time in the classroom getting experience and mentorship from an A-mazing teacher (I'll talk more about this in a later post).

Now that that's out of the way, it's time to get serious. Let's talk about yearning.


  [yur-ning]  Show IPA
deep longing, especially when accompanied by tenderness orsadness: a widower's yearning for his wife.
an instance of such longing.

Thanks, Dictonary(dot)com!

Everyone has some sort of yearning. Maybe it's a yearning to be better, faster, fitter, more loved, more loving, more fulfilled, anything. Face it; Everyone desires something with their whole heart. I try to fill the holes in my soul with running. Truth be told, I'm a pretty fortunate guy, so my yearnings are small and mostly centered around being a better runner/superfit dude (I really want to be "that" guy!). At times that fortune makes me feel a little guilty and lately is one of those times.

I have a friend who is going through a tough time. Loss of a relationship/heartbreak sort of thing. We've only just reconnected this year after too many years out of touch (Thanks, Facebook!), but she's one of my favorite people in the world. So, yeah, she's had her heart broken bruised by a guy that promised more than he ever could was willing to fulfill. Additionally she is bravely grieving in public (thanks again, Facebook...). I say bravely, because it takes serious cojones to face your fears, insecurities and feelings of ownership for such a loss in public. I think she's helping tons of people, though, because she's gonna come through this just fine and all the world will see it and know that they too can overcome heartache and douchebags to find a happy place.

Yay for that, but I know that doesn't help the yearning she's feeling right now. How do I know she has a yearning? She's shown it in her words and expressions of grief. Plus, if we're all honest, we have to admit we all yearn for something. I think right now she's yearning for honesty and answers. I don't know if she'll get that, but I hope she does. She deserves it. Even if she doesn't get that, I know she'll get peace in due time. Her friends and loved ones have that well in hand. She'll get her Prince Charming, too, for sure.

As for the guy that put the hurt on her: You used to read this blog, but I doubt you have the stones to read this post all the way through. I know who you are, Karma knows who you are, and you're lucky I have a strict no naming names policy on this here bloggy blog. Either way what goes around comes around, so I hope you know your day will come. Enjoy the now, because you've earned your turn to yearn. 

Yep; I'm a little angry over this.