Seven Weeks to Go!

Oh, no. This is starting to get real. Back in November, signing up for a half-marathon seemed like a great idea. It was six months into the horizon, providing ample time to train and zero excuses not to be prepared. It was so cold over the winter that any thoughts of completing the long training runs were non-existent. February brought the official beginning of the twelve-week training program. It started off pretty easy, without much difference between what I was already doing.  Week five of training requires an eight-mile tune. This week’s training includes a nine-mile run.

I was excited to run seven miles, signifying completing more than half of the half-marathon distance. Eight miles represented steady progress. For my second eight-mile run, I set out on a completely different route, a huge square around the airport, forcing me to finish the run if I wanted to get home.  Next week, I can take a different way home to add an extra mile.

The run itself wasn’t too terrible. I started out struggling to find my motivation, but I was okay by mile two.  I almost immediately regretted wearing a second pair of pants. Even though it was 23 degrees with the wind chill, by my second mile, I was sweating. Many times, I considered taking off the extra layer, hiding them in a bush somewhere, and returning for them after I finished my run. I smiled to myself as I ran past the local Irish pub that we used to frequent. Even in the early afternoon of Saint Patrick’s Day, the normally quiet pub was packed. Ten years ago, Mike and I would have been there. Now, I am running past the pub rather than sitting in it. Funny how life and priorities change as we get older.  I enjoyed going a different route; it made the run a little more interesting. Instead of my normal mindless or easy audiobooks, I listened to White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. It’s interesting and informative, sharing parts of history that I had never yet heard. While it is definitely heavier than A Man Called Ove and Scrappy Little Nobody, I’m thankful for the time to exercise my mind and body. By mile six, I was tired and sore, perhaps because unlike last week’s long run that came three days after having a wisdom tooth removed, I had not taken three Advil before going out for the run. Because I was two miles from home, I didn’t have any choice but to run home. My plan to hold myself accountable worked!

I came home on Saturday afternoon feeling pretty accomplished. For a second time, I had run eight miles. Not only did I run the eight miles again, my pace was three seconds faster per mile! If I kept this pace throughout the half, I’d reach my three-hour goal. (Last week, my pace was 13:45, setting me up for a three hour and one second completion time.) I was feeling pretty good about myself until I started doing the math. Over eight miles, three seconds equals twenty-four seconds, not even the length of a single commercial. Yes, I had just run eight miles, but on race day, I will still have to run another five. I have been working so hard, yet I still have so far to go.  As an English teacher, the stereotype is that we are supposed to hate math. At that moment, it was a reality; I hated math because it let me know that I had a lot more work to do. It spent the rest of the afternoon trying not to have a full panic attack. Why did I think I could do this? Before signing up for the race, I had never even walked thirteen miles over the course of a day. (According to my Fitbit, my best day ever was walking twelve miles and change over a whole day.)  Now, I thought I could run thirteen miles… in a row! Seriously?!

The novelty of training for this is gone. This is hard! That being said, I set a goal and I am going to accomplish it. I don’t care if what I have to walk. I know there will be tears when I cross the finish line.  I will reflect and complete the process again at the Newport Half Marathon in October. This experience will become another reminder that I can do anything I set my mind to! That still doesn’t mean that I have to love every minute of it!

Eight Weeks to Go!

My coworkers and I just began our second round of Biggest Loser. I lost ten pounds during the first round, which only sounds impressive if I fail to mention gaining eight pounds between Halloween and New Year’s Day. That leaves me minus two pounds. The final weigh-in for the second round is May 7, the day after my first half-marathon. The long weekend runs should be advantageous through the contest.


Wisdom tooth removal diet!


We took a week off between sessions. During this time, I had an ear infection and unexpectedly had to have a wisdom tooth removed. As a result, my diet could be described as that of an unsupervised toddler.  I left the oral surgeon’s office and went to Stop and Shop to full the prescription for mouthwash and pick up a few items to eat and drink during the next few days. I took a picture and sent it to Mike. You can only see four, but I actually purchased five types of ice cream: two half gallons, two pints of (low-calorie Moo-licious) Ben & Jerry’s, and ice cream sandwiches. Add three boxes of Mac and cheese, and you really have a feast meant for a three-year-old.  (In my defense, I drove myself to the appointment, had a wisdom tooth removed with nothing more than some Novocain, drove myself home, and went to work the following day. I deserve all the ice cream I can fit in my mouth!)

I was able to get out for short runs Monday and Tuesday. Because I had not completed a long run last weekend, I was determined to get out this weekend. The weather is promising 12-18 inches of snow, making running much more difficult for the remainder of the week as well. Sunday was my only chance to go for a long run for at least a few days. I planned to go for at least five miles and see how I felt. It may sound weird, but my mouth had been throbbing while walking Banjo, something about walking along the road was incredibly painful. I took an extra Advil and hoped for the best. Maybe it was the Advil, but I felt good enough to

I managed to run eight miles! The sun shone, making it feel warmer, and the winds feel less harsh. I listened to a cheesy book along the way, making the miles go by easily. Towards the end, my legs got heavier and my pace slowed, but I completed the eight miles! After my strength class yesterday afternoon, I met up with BGR to complete short run.  With the storm, I will probably not get out for another run for a few days.

I’m thankful that I signed up for the half-marathon six months ahead of the event, allowing plenty f time to prepare. As I get stronger, not necessarily faster, but definitely stronger, I know I am capable of completing the race in May!

Running is a “Get To”


Banjo and I during one of our spring-like runs last week!


My students often ask if they “have to” complete certain parts of assignments. My reply is always “No, you get to do that part.”

“Get to?”

“Yes. Get to.”

When we read I am Malala, there were many conversations about the importance of education. I remind them that the educational opportunities so many students here resist are the same ones Malala and her friends are willing to fight to receive. During our Socratic Seminars, we discuss the concept of education equaling freedom. Even before reading Malala’s book, directions have always been explained as “get to” rather than “have to.”

I had to remind myself this as I am getting deeper into half marathon training. I get to do this. I get to push myself, set a goal, and complete it. I may not reach that three hour goal the first time around, but I am nine weeks away from putting a “13.1” sticker on the back of my Subaru. (Yes, I am going to order it ahead of time and put it on my car before I leave the race!)

When I tell people I have been running, many times I hear reasons why they can’t, past injuries, bad knees, etc. I get to do something that many people cannot, even for short distances. As I go deeper into training, the goal is to run at least two short runs and one longer run each week. I’ve been managing two two to three mile runs after school and completing a long run during the weekend. Last Saturday, I set out with the goal to complete at least five miles, allowing enough time to shower and get ready for Liam’s first penance at 10:30. We experienced a Nor’easter the night before, leaving 150,000 people without power. Once I got to the fields near the airport, strong winds whipped my face. I’ve run in the cold; this was a whole other beast. I wasn’t feeling well. Also, I was sick and was having difficulty taking deep breaths due to a terrible sore throat.  (A trip to the clinic Sunday revealed an ear infection.) I felt like it would be a failure if I turned around. However, running is a “get to.” If I miss a workout, it will be okay. The world will not end. I will not forget how to run. I called Mike to inform him I was on my way home.  I managed to get out for two short runs later in the week.

Yesterday, I had a wisdom tooth pulled. (Yes, it has been a week!) My goal is to try to get out and run today after work. If it happens, great. If not, life will go on, and I will get in my long run Sunday. The world will be okay. I get to run. It clears my mind, makes my body stronger, and reminds me I can do great things.

What a Difference a Year Makes!

Last night, I went to Lippett Park for the next round of Beginning Runner’s Group. Exactly a year ago, many of us were meeting for the first time. We were nervous and timid. This time, hugs and laughter filled the air.  Last night, we were the ones assuring nervous first timers that than can absolutely do this, that they will be able to run a 5k in June. All of the things that seemed unsure or impossible a year ago are part of my everyday life. I can run a few miles without stopping.  I can run (interval) seven miles… in a row!  I can set goals and know I will achieve them.

I love the support BRG provides. Without that support, I never would have been able to become a “real runner.” The thought of training for a half marathon would be as unfathomable as trying to hitchhike to the moon.  Running has taught me that I can set goals, work towards them, and achieve them.

Running has taught me to appreciate what my body can do. Every Saturday morning, I track my measurements. While I have only lost five pounds during my year of running, I’ve lost ten inches.  My feelings about food have changed dramatically; I no longer look at food as a reward or exercise as a punishment. For the first time in my life, I think I have managed that healthy, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing attitude towards food. While I would like to lose another ten pounds, my focus lies more in changing what my body can do rather than what it looks like.

Running has taught me that positive friends make all the difference. I’ve written about my awesome groups several times. I would never have the confidence to attempt a lot of my favorite memories from the past year if it weren’t for the encouragement of the people around me. I’ve stepped out my comfort zone countless times this year. I would never have done so without people cheering me on, keeping me accountable, and filling the training with laughs and conversation.

Running had taught me the importance of not just setting goals, but also being vocal about them. For years, I dreamed of being a runner. I was able to make that happen. When I signed up for the half marathon, I didn’t really tell people, still questioning my ability. Mike proudly started bringing it up in conversation with friends, “Tell ________ what you’re training to do.” Nervously telling people makes me more determined to reach this goal.  I publically set my goals at the gym, writing them down for all to see. While talking about training last night, conversation leaned more towards how excited we were to crush this goal than how worried we were about running thirteen miles.  Setting goals keeps me motivated and accountable.

By this time next year, I will have completed two half marathons. If they go well, I am going to throw my name into the New York City Marathon lottery, letting chance decide whether or not a marathon is in my cards. At this point, I would love to be able to tell my grandkids that I ran a marathon. I would love to be able to cross that goal off the bucket list. If it doesn’t happen, I will not beat myself up over it. I am too proud of what I can do to get hung up on where I haven’t made achieved (yet).



There’s a meme that makes the rounds every so often about working out not just for yourself but because your kids are watching. I love that Liam sees me as an active person.  Last Mother’s Day, his class made “All About Mom” books. He wrote that I enjoy yoga. He knows that I run and train. I take classes in the adult side of the gym while he takes ninja classes. Most importantly, he watches me try to become better. He hears me talk about runs or races that didn’t go as planned. Last Monday, I talked at dinner about my failed attempt to PR my deadlift. When I ran seven miles last weekend, he hugged me, “Congratulations. You’ve never run that far. That’s a huge accomplishment.”

We often talk about the “power of yet,” the idea that it’s not a failure, you just haven’t succeeded yet. We remember things that used to be difficult that are easy now: climbing the wall at ninja class, place value, borrowing numbers in subtraction, etc. I’m so thankful that he understands that not everything goes your way the first time around.

This week, my college’s alumni association hosted an event at the Alex and Ani Ice Skating Center downtown.  We never go out on weeknights but decided to make a special exception for a special occasion.  Our first stop was the bumper boats, a new edition this season. Liam loved them! They were a lot of fun! We were paired up with a nice group and had a lot of laughs as we bumped into each other.

The second part of the evening was spent ice skating. I had only ice skated one other time, but I grew up roller skating and roller blading so I was able to skate around pretty easily. We rented Liam a snowman to help guide him around the ice.  Because he had never even roller skated, he didn’t realize the basics. It took a few minutes to get him to realize he needed to push his skates to the side rather than one in front of the other like he as he went. Much like teaching him to ride a bike, there were a lot of steps involved that most people do without thinking.


Liam wanted to give up, but he didn’t want to leave the event. He kept at it, holding on to his snowman, the edge of the rink, and eventually skating on his own. A younger Liam would have cried and given up. This Liam kept with it, listening to feedback, watching me, and trusting that I would not let him get hurt. By the end of the night, he could on his own. He wasn’t fast. He wasn’t smooth, but he could do it.  I am so proud of these moments when he is willing to struggle.


By the end of the night, he was done with pictures!


The Splints

For years, I’ve struggled with shin splints. After even aerobic workouts, my right calf could throb for days. Stretching and consistently working out have been the two best ways I’ve prevented them. Taking long breaks from exercise then returning like no time passed always leads to injuries.  When I take classes and particpate in Rhode Runner runs, a warmup is guarenteed.  During my solo runs, I have to remember to warm up and cool down.

This past Saturday, I did something that goes against everything I’ve learned about running: I went for my longest run yet and barely stretched. Oh, am I paying for it! I am doing every possible remedy: Tylenol, ice, heat, stretches, Biofreeze, foam roller. Nothing is helping. Wednesday, I ventured out for a shorter run but only made it to just under two miles, knowing that I would make things even worse if I kept going. I tool Tylenol and iced it three times last night.I haven’t worn any of my heeled booties, sticking to my Teiks each day this week.  I don’t have a desk in my class, only a cart where I hook up my computer. While standing there, I’ve been stretching my calves as often as possible. The hope is that these steps will help me heal.

That being said, I am nervous for my next long run. Everything I’ve been reading about half-marathon training says that I should be running at least three times a week.  I’ve only been getting out twice and had to cut yesterday’s run short. While I am aware of the body’s need to recover and repair, I am also nervous about falling behind in training an missing my goal. Now that the warmer weather is sneaking in, it should be easier to fit in quick afternoon on weekdays.

Tomorrow, I will venture out with the intention of running seven miles.  If my body tells me to stop, that’s what I will do. My aspriration is to be more than halfway to my goal of running thirteen miles!

If anyone has any suggestions for aleviating and preventing shin splits, I will happily try them!


Actually Loving the Longer Runs

If you had told me a year ago that I would be going out on long runs, I would have assumed you were thinking of the wrong person. “Running” three miles was a huge feat. So the fact that I went out this Saturday and ran six miles still boggles my mind. I have to admit that I am enjoying the longer runs for several reasons.

It is therapeutic to get out on my own. The rhythm of heading out for longer distances is excellent for the mind! I can zone out, listen to my book, and the miles go by much easier than I ever imagined they could.  While I could never (at this point) cover that distance on a treadmill, I enjoy setting a course and exploring my neighborhood. Thanks to Overdrive, I can borrow audiobooks for free. I’ve managed to listen to five books in the past month and a half! Running longer distances is definitely helping my mental stamina.

Because I am focusing on distance, I run much slower on my longer sessions. During a shorter session, I aim to keep my pace around 12:30 (still not fast, but it’s where I am). For longer runs, my pace goal is at least a minute slower. In some ways, the longer runs are easier. It’s a game of mind over matter, providing another reason to just zone out and go.

I love knowing that I can accomplish these longer runs! Yes, there is a bit of bragging about being able to say, “I ran six miles last Saturday.” I’ve been tempted to post about it Facebook, but squished the thoughts, thinking of this old meme:

This is my favorite thought about enjoying longer runs:

For years, I didn’t think I would ever be a runner. So many conversations about exercise led me to this admission. I’m great at yoga, I’m pretty strong, but I’m just not a runner. Running was one of the only things I genuinely tried to be successful at yet failed. (There are lots of things I am terrible at, but I have never really tried and applied myself.) The fact that I am able to run is huge, not just at face value, but because these goals alluded me for so many years.

This afternoon, I will head out for a quick run after school. I told Mike that it would be a “short run- around two and a half miles.” Last year, that distance would have simply been a “run” in my vocabulary. The fact that I now have short and long runs illustrates my progress.  This weekend, I get to venture out for a seven-mile run. I am looking forward to knowing that I am capable of running more than half of the thirteen-mile goal set for early May.

Expectation vs Reality

This week’s creative writing class is reading Sandra Cisneros’ Eleven, a story about a girl whose eleventh birthday doesn’t go as she hoped. My students and I discuss the concept of expectation versus reality. They shared a few examples of toys and experiences that let them down. The cumulating activity involves rewriting the story through another character’s point of view. It is one of my favorite lessons.

This conversation led me to think about expectation versus reality.  Am I very far off from where I hoped I’d be?

Over the summer, I stopped at Newbury Comics to sell some of the crates full of CDs taking up space in our basement.  For non-locals, Newbury Comics is an insanely cool local chain of record stores. I browsed while waiting for the clerk to sort through my CD collection, remembering all the times I’ve visited this store over the past twenty years. I met Luscious Jackson there just after graduating high school, raced there to purchase REM CDs on Tuesday release days, and discovered all sorts of interesting things through the years. We now take Liam there to buy comic books.  I looked at myself in the reflection of one of the cases, examining the forty-year-old staring back at me. I happened to be wearing cut-off jeans, an Elizabeth and the Catapult T-shirt, and Converse, the under part of my hair freshly died pink. Quickly and inconspicuously snapping a selfie to send to a friend, I couldn’t help but think that seventeen-year-old me would be okay with how I turned out.

Teenaged me would have approved this!

The decision to become an Engish teacher was made in seventh grade. Nothing sounded better than being paid to read and write all day.  Obviously, thirteen-year-old me was very naive about teaching, thinking lessons would magically come to me, only to be delivered flawlessly. Anyone who has ever taught knows that, sometimes, even the best lessons fall flat. I’d like to think that this is what I expected. I have nights attached to my computer, long days of constantly being “on,” and constant concerns about how to better help my students achieve. I’d like to think that I am fair and my students know how much I care about them. Recently, a graduating student stopped by to say goodbye. She thanked me for pushing her, even when she didn’t want to be pushed. I love seeing my students accomplish things they doubted they could complete. Those A-Ha! moments are all we need to help keep us going. When I imagined being an English teacher, I’d like to think this is what I had in mind!

Teaching the Summit Learning Platform last summer

Parenting is another story. Mike and I were so naive about this as well. I swore that my future child would never sleep in our bed or wear all tacky character clothing. Then, said child was born. He was prone to ear infections, often waking up in the middle of the night screaming in pain. Once he had tubes put in his ears, he continued to wake at 4:00 every morning. By the time we got him back to sleep in his crib, it was 5, allowing Mike only fifteen minutes of sleep before his alarm went off.  Liam began coming to our bed around four o’clock each morning. The consensus was that sleep with a toddler in the bed was better than no sleep at all. For the first few years, it was easy to avoid character apparel. Eventually, he discovered shirts with Thomas, Lightning McQueen, and Dusty Crophopper. Eventually, it did not matter. Seeing the joy on his face when he received his first pair of light up Thomas sneakers made me understand why parents buy these ridiculous shoes.




Like many new mothers, I never anticipated how exhausting parenting can be. Yes, I love being a mother and would not change it for anything in the world. However, my mind never gets to turn off. It is constant thinking, considering, and worrying.

Did I get the Box Top off of the granola bars before putting it in the recycling bin?

Do we have extra tubes of toothpaste in the basement or should I buy more while they’re on sale?

Did I spend enough time with Liam today? Like, real time, talking, playing, and interacting?

Does Liam know is addition and subtraction families well enough? He’s going to start memorizing multiplication soon; he’s got to have addition and subtraction down before learning the more difficult material.

When was the last time I dusted the living room? or scrubbed behind the toilet?

While I wouldn’t change my life for anything, motherhood is a lot of work. Is it more than I imagined? I don’t think so. I do know that my concerns about motherhood before having Liam are definitely not the things I worry about now. I will chalk this up to being part of the adventure.

Game On!

Sunday, I set the plan to head out and complete my longest solo run: five miles! Armed with Scrappy Little Nobody downloaded from Overdrive, I set out to prove mind really is over matter.  As of this week, I am officially training for my first half marathon.  The weather wasn’t bad; it was chilly but not windy.  Two layers made it more than bearable. As soon as I got out on the road, I discovered a cut on the back of my left ankle.  I know that I need new sneakers and have been trying to get the last life out of my current ones before investing in new ones.  After a few minutes, the pain subsided.

Once I got out there, I was fine! After my last run, I played with the interval app, adjusting the intervals to two minutes of running and fifty seconds of walking. I pushed myself during the running times, but not to the point of exhaustion. The goal was to run longer, not faster. I also made a point of running away from my house, rather than doing loops that allow a quick escape to home.  I ran to the airport, fully aware that whatever distance I ran would need to be backtracked if I ever wanted to get home.  Honestly, I wanted to see the Amazon Prime plane up close. While seeing it parked almost daily as I drive by to pick up the highway, it is clear that plane is larger than many of the other planes at the airport. In an airport that mostly hosts 737s, Amazon’s 767 is a big treat. I was hoping to see it a little closer. When I arrive at the spot where it is usually parked, I was surprised to see it gone.  I usually drive by at 7am, it was now 8:30. As I was looking for it, the plane flew overhead. Attempts to get a picture of it in the air failed.  Chasing an airplane was a fun distraction halfway through my run!


This plane always looks huge when you’re used to watching Southwest jets
My feeble attempt to chase an airplane


The rest of the run was delightfully uneventful. That last half mile dragged, but once I hit the five-mile mark, I felt like I could do another mile. I didn’t, but I felt okay.

Honestly, this run was to prove that I can do it.  Once I made myself run five miles, I know that I can run six miles next weekend.

Finding My Running Mojo

Have you seen my motivation? I seem to have lost it. Recently, I went an entire week without working out.  As of this week, I am officially in half-marathon training. However, for the past two weeks, I’ve only managed one run weekly.  There are many reasons for this:

  • The weather has been terrible: bitterly cold, snowy, icy days make it tough to leave the house
  • I’ve been trying to keep a cold at bay. It’s that awful rundown feeling that you are only one bad night of sleep away from getting the full-blown cold. During the past two weekends, I’ve actually spent a good amount of time on the couch, something I never do.
  • Two weeks ago, Mike went away for work, making it impossible for me to get out for runs on the weekend since I had Liam with me.
  • We adopted Banjo last weekend and spent a lot of time getting him used to his new family and home.

Anyway, I have not been running. I’ve completed lots of other workouts involving yoga and strength training (PRed my sumo squat- 2×205!!), but have not made it out running more than once a week.  Banjo and I have been going for long walks. Because I’ve been trying to get him used to walks on a leash, he and I have only gone running once. Sunday morning, when the weather finally gets above take your breath away freezing, I will need to go out and complete five miles to stay on track for the half-marathon training schedule.  I know that once I am out on the road, I will be fine.

Usually, I love running around the airport, but I can’t seem to get my butt out there.


I have been really great about watching my diet and staying active, managing to lose a few more of the weigh I’ve gained since Halloween. Thanks to walking Banjo twice a day, I’ve been kicking but in my FitBit challenges!  It’s taken years, but I have finally stopped treating working out as a punishment for eating too much or a consequence of gaining weight.  I am actually looking forward to getting in that long run this Sunday morning!