Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Last Gasp of Summer

Back To School (8/52)

Image by a bored chica via Flickr

I don’t understand the hype about New Year’s Day. For me, my year hasn’t begun in January since I was four years old. For me, the year begins in September and likely will for a long, long time.

This is the last week before school gets underway out here. We start officially the Wednesday after Labor Day, but teachers report this Thursday. I, however, will start on Monday with building leadership meetings and parent meetings on Tuesday. Wednesday is a mandatory furlough day as part of the budget cutting at the state and district level – teachers are not allowed in the building and were told to not work from home (Seriously? When has a teacher not worked from home?)

So, this is the last bit of summer for me. And while I’ll miss not setting my alarm and taking the dogs for walks in the middle of the day when it’s not so busy out, I am actually looking forward to going back to school for a few reasons:

  1. This will be my 6th year of teaching and for the first time, I actually know what I will be teaching in the fall. I’ve taught at a few different schools, transitioning from one to the other during the summer. Even the two years I taught back to back in the Bronx, I didn’t really know what I was going to be teaching in the fall until I walked in the door the first week of September. I’ve never been able to plan out my first few weeks and set up routines that will help me throughout the year.
  2. I’ve been in trainings all this week and also a few weeks back and I’m excited to actually try some of the new things that I have learned about literacy.
  3. I’ve been dreaming about my students. Because I teach special education, I will retain almost all of my students that I had last year. So, as I’m learning these new literacy techniques, I have specific kids in mind with whom I plan to use the new strategies. They are on my mind a lot lately and I find myself missing them.
  4. My diet wants me to go back. Seriously, I am terrible at trying to stick with a specific food plan when I am at home all day. It’s too easy just to grab something, usually simply because I’m bored. I gained only three or four pounds while on vacation which I shed as soon as I got back, but over the course of the whole summer, I haven’t really lost anything more that I’d lost in June. A regular schedule and having the food not be as accessible should help me get back on track.
  5. Running Club! A group of colleagues and I go running at least once a week. While I don’t mind running alone, it’s so much easier with someone else there to push you and to keep you company. (By the way, it’s only 13 weeks until the Seattle Half Marathon!)

So, I will enjoy my last full day of freedom today. When my alarm goes off on Monday morning, I won’t be terribly happy about it, but only because I hate waking up, not because I’m not looking forward to going back to school.

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Resolution Scorecard

Exercise: Overall my goal was to exercise more, but specifically I had mentioned that I wanted to get back to doing pilates and begin a running program.

I was pretty successful at the overall concept of this goal, but not the execution that I set out. As with most exercise goals, I did well for the first few weeks and then started to slip back into my old ways. March was a rough month, but I rebounded in April and went to the gym steadily up until the past two weeks when I started getting too busy (back at it this week though). I even went to the gym enough times to qualify for my health insurance gym reimbursement. It was pretty sweet to get a $200 check just for going to the gym.

Scuba ended up being a pretty powerful motivator. When we signed up to go on our trip to NC I realized that the trip was going to be much easier if I could get into better shape. I also figured that if I had to be on the boat at 6am, I better start getting myself ready to be up and functioning at that time. And so began my 5:30am gym visits. It’s a bit rough, but I do enjoy getting up in the morning and having some time to myself before I run right to work.

I had a lot of trouble starting a running program. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to find a good stride to get into that didn’t end up hurting me for days after. I eventually gave up on that and focused on the elliptical and the circuit gym. I bought some new gym shoes this past weekend and am going to try running again to see if it’s any better. As for pilates, if I go to the gym in the morning, I just don’t seem to have the energy to do pilates when I come home at night. Just the same, I would still like to get back into it so I might try again once I’m back to my normal gym schedule.

Cook: I made some progress on this but not as much as I had hoped. I haven’t gotten into the routine of making the big meals on Sundays so I could have leftovers, but I do seem to be making dinner a bit more during the week. I’m also getting better at including some more side dishes to have a more balanced diet. Still lots of progress to make on this front, but I imagine it’ll wait until the fall. Cooking in the summer is no fun in a small kitchen with no ventilation.

Patience and Temper:  Wait….this was a goal I made? Well crap. Ummm….I haven’t made much progress on this front…..because I had forgotten I was trying to make progress on this front. Oh well. Maybe next year, but I doubt it.

So, my scorecard ends with one resolution pretty successfully kept, one moderately there, and one forgotten. Given my history with resolutions, I’m a little proud of that.

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Commitment Issues

2008 Seattle Marathon Runner

Image by bufferchuck via Flickr

I’m not a commitment phobe, really.  I usually can make choice and stick to my choice, whatever it is. But there are two events on the distant horizon that I am having a hard time committing to: a 10K race at the end of August and a Half Marathon at the end of November.

Let me explain: I’m what most would consider a beginning runner.  I was a sprinter in high school and mainly ran the 100 and 200M races. After that, I left most sports behind for a very long time. A couple of months ago, I decided to get back into a running program.  I found a Couch to 5K program that I liked, modified the first couple of weeks since I was a little beyond that, and have kept to it pretty well over the last 7 weeks.  I’m a little over four weeks out from my first 5K, the Puget Sound Race for the Cure. I’m looking forward to it and I think I’m ready since I basically ran a 5K tonight (I only walked for four of the minutes, and I’m not sure I needed to do that!)

This whole thing started when a couple of colleagues from school started a running club. I thought I’d join as a way to help motivate me and to get some social time in as well.  Little did I know that the end result was to run in the Seattle Marathon the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  Well, the marathon or the half marathon, depending on your personal level. There are even some people in our group who plan to walk the half marathon.  I know I’m not ready for the full marathon. I could train for the physical part of it, but I’m pretty sure I’m not ready for the mental part.

So, I get this email today from the Seattle Marathon people. I’d signed up on their email list so I could know what’s going on.  But, today’s message left me a little rattled. The early bird registration deadline for both the marathon and half marathon is May 31st. After that, the price will go up.  Now, I’m a sucker for a good deal, but I’m struggling with the idea of committing to something so far out. It’s non-refundable, so once my money is in, it’s gone. If I back out, I don’t get a dime back. Now, $65 isn’t a huge amount, but I still can’t bring myself to fill out that registration form.  I’m not sure I understand why, either.

The other race, the 10K associated with the Seattle Marathon and in part to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair that brought us the Space Needle,  is at the end of August.  I figured it would be a nice halfway point for my training and a way to judge how I’m doing for the half three months later. But I still can’t register for that one. There’s something holding me back.

Maybe it’s my lack of experience. I haven’t even run my first race yet – what if I hate it? What if I’m not good enough? I’m not used to these sorts of doubts. I guess that’s part of doing something new – I don’t know if I will do well or if I will enjoy it.  Maybe I just need a good kick in the butt to go on an sign up for at least one of the races.

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Getting my groove back

Last October, I had this thing figured out.  I was doing great.  I was in a groove.  This week, I decided it was time to reclaim that groove.  Turns out, my groove could probably have waited until we had two or three more warm days.

I went running on Saturday, and it was going so well.  Yes, there was still some slush, and the puddles were big, but I told myself, “This is hardcore.  Be hardcore.”  It was, of course, a bit of a lie.  If I were really hardcore, I would have been running all winter, like the other crazies in my neighborhood.  Apparently, I’m not cut out for hardcore.

It all started out so well.  I’m using a 10k interval training program.  I was finishing the final minute of my final interval.  Then, disaster struck; I smashed my baby toe on a granite obelisk.

Say what?

Yes, a small granite obelisk. Picture a miniature Washington Monument in granite next to a patch of ice.  To this picture, add me and my dog, thinking we’re doing quite well.  It’s a recipe for disaster.  (In fact, adding me to any picture involving any small amount of physical danger is always a recipe for disaster.)

This injury hasn’t put me off my Vibram Five Fingers!  Even though my toe is complaining, I still think these are the best shoes I’ve ever run in.  They are the shoes that actually got me running in the first place!  How can I abandon them now?  I actually went out on Monday and bought myself a new pair.

Aren’t they pretty?

So my groove?  I got it back for all of a half an hour.  The rest of the week I’ve been nursing a throbbing foot, decidedly grooveless.  I got a taste, though, of what I had achieved last Fall.  Once I’m healed, I’m gonna go chasing that groove again!

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Res-o-lu-TION!!!!

(title should be sung as “Tradition!” from the musical “Fiddler on the Roof”…because that’s what popped in my head as I was sitting down to write my post today).

So Isabel’s post yesterday kind of took the wind out of my sails. Generally, I don’t make resolutions either. While I agree with Isabel’s stance of making a change when you’re ready and not just because it’s a new year,  if I want to be honest about it, my reason for not making New Years resolutions is because I know I’m not going to keep them, so why set myself up for disappointment? With that kind of attitude though, it’s hard to get anywhere. So I’m going to go against my normal practice and make some full on resolutions this year. Here goes:

Exercise: Quite possibly the most common New Year’s resolution. And quite possibly one of the most failed New Year’s resolutions. However, I feel I have a leg up on my exercise resolution. Several weeks ago, I started doing pilates and I’m really enjoying it. Unfortunately, with the craziness of the holidays, I got a bit off track in the last two weeks. I’m back at it THIS WEEK, rather than waiting for next week.

My other fitness-related goal is to start running. Here too, I have a bit of an advantage. I already told a friend I would do a 5K for one of the Breast Cancer charities this year. It’s one thing to go back on one of my resolutions, but it’s an entirely other matter to not uphold a commitment I made to someone else. I hope this commitment will be the motivation I need to get into a regular running program. But to help keep me in that frame of mind, I started reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougal.

Cook: I’m beyond tired of my dinners of pasta and garlic bread or cereal or PB&J. It’s time to start expanding my repertoire, and maybe even get to a point where I have multiple side dishes with my entrée. It’s a crazy notion, but I think it might be just crazy enough to work. I’m going to shoot for making a big dinner on Sunday, and have enough for lunch and leftovers for a day. If I can do that, and 2-3 more meals a week, I’ll be happy.

Patience and Temper: I’m not always a patient person. I also have quite the temper. I’m going to work on reigning in both this year. I know I’m not going to turn into Mother Theresa overnight, but if I can keep myself in check a quarter of the time more than I’m doing now, I’ll figure that’s pretty good progress.

I think that’s a good start. Like I said before, I don’t make resolutions so because I know I’m not going to keep them. I think these are pretty reasonable, and certainly attainable. I think the one that has the highest chance of failing is the cooking resolution, but I should be able to handle three meals a week.

To keep myself honest, I’ll use one of my free posts in a few months to report back on my status.

For all of you who make resolutions, good luck fulfilling them! And best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy New Year!

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Creature Features

I’m a creature of habit.

My life, and in particular, my mornings run on the power of routine.  When I was in high school, waking up for the day was a real challenge, just ask my mother, whose job it was to wake me up.  I would drag myself out of bed, get dressed and rub the sleep out of my eyes, then drag myself downstairs for a bowl of cereal before going to school. 

Unfortunately, an adult can’t function this way.  Well, an adult that has a job, at least.  And now, it’s not just me, I have a dog who really appreciates a walk in the morning (and I really appreciate not having to clean up doggy messes) so I have to get up a little earlier.  So I designed a morning routine that allows me to walk the dog, wash my dishes and still have time to sit and have a cup of coffee or two before I have to leave for work. 

But I also have some bad routines.  I got myself into a cycle of inactivity.  Yes, I walk with my dog, but for a long time, I wasn’t doing any other regular exercise.  I’ve been slowly gaining weight and feeling more and more sluggish since I left college. 

This year, for some reason, I decided to change.  There were several catalysts for this change.  Lots of people I knew were competing in marathons, triathalons and bike races.  My mom started a ‘boot camp’ class.  I read some great books on the biomechanics of running.  My feet started feeling itchy and ready to hit the road, a completely unfamiliar sensation. 

I started out slow, irregular and unsure.  I was running but there was nothing making me do it.  Then I realized I needed some reason to run, or at least to get started.  I signed up for a 5k this month and began a training program to get me ready.  I bought new shoes, I bought a watch to time my runs, and I started blogging about it.

Vibram FiveFingers Sprint, my awesome running shoes.

I made it part of my routine.  And it worked.  I’m getting to the point (I’m not there yet) where I like to be out running.  I like how I feel when I’m done, but it’s still a challenge to get myself going.  But, three times a week, I take the dog and hit the path. 

I still get passed by almost every runner, but my endurance is building; I’m running 9 to 10 miles a week.  I still have a hard time motivating myself out the door, but I do it, and I’m almost always happy I did (that one day, in the rain, was pretty freakin’ miserable, but otherwise, it’s been mostly good).  But more than that, I feel like I belong out there, running with the runners. 

It’s just what I do.

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