Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The End of My 15 Minutes

Monday night, I had the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the beginning of the Rays vs. Brewers game.
Waiting my turn with my special ball.
Raymond wanted a photo with us, of course.
I was wondering if anyone would recognize me after my little TV debut. One of the staff members at the park recognized me in the security line and asked if I had been on the field at the All Star Game, so I guess that counts!
No one understood this sign, so my mom was able to explain to a bunch of people that I was throwing the first pitch; apparently they were all very excited for her!
I was really nervous, but had a wonderful time. The Rays put together a really nice slideshow with clips of the All Star ceremony and photos from the trip; an announcer read my bio from the All Star Teachers website. It was just surreal to be honored in that way.

Then, I walked out onto the field, took a deep breath, and let it fly!

I was lucky; I had been worried about pulling a 50 Cent or Carly Rae, but my "pitch" went right over the plate and didn't fall short.

Matt took video...it's short and sweet and I want to watch it a million times!
video

The professional photographer out there got frame-by-frame shots that I'll probably share on Instagram once I'm given my copies. Here's a really derpy preview:

It was daunting to be out there, but also really rewarding. It was the perfect cherry-on-top to this whirlwind of a sundae.

The game was a good one with some really exciting plays and some amazing pitching. The Rays won 2-1, and on our way out I heard a group of kids exclaiming, "Hey, I think that's the teacher! That's the teacher!"
Selfie with the fam. Dave (Matt's dad) and Nick (his fiancee's son) also came to watch! It was beyond rewarding to have them all there supporting me.
The head cheerleader!
Nick surprised me with a case for my new ball! Curt Casali caught my pitch and signed the ball for me, but his signature is hidden on the other side.
I think this event ends my 15 minutes of fame; I will kindly shut up about being an All Star Teacher now...promise!

Oh, except for this...in case you missed it, the All Star Teachers were featured in the August 4 edition of People Magazine!
Page 10...there we are!
 And now, I swear...I'm done!

Are you sick of me talking about this yet? Because I'm pretty sick of myself!
ABK

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hello Again, Double Digits

Isn't it funny how distance is all relative? For a measurement that's set in stone, it sure can fluctuate. Sometimes four miles is the longest run ever, and sometimes 10 fly by.

On that same note, my 10-miler Saturday reminded me that I'm not training for a half right now. If I were, this would be one of the last long runs before taper. Instead, it's just the last long run before a step-down week and then it's back up to 12. Ten miles seems long when your end goal is 13.1, but it feels a lot shorter when you stop to reflect that it's not even halfway to 26.2. 

After my terrible run Thursday, I was sure to plan ahead for this one. I purposely forgot to check what pace my plan suggested. I chose to walk for 30 seconds at the end of each mile...I've never done a consistent run/walk like that for a long run and I'm honestly not sure if it helped, but I was able to run more and finish stronger than during last week's 9-miler so maybe it did.
Breakfast: half a Lara Bar and a small glass of cold coffee.
I froze half my water bottle the night before and added water and caffeinated Nuun (OMG the cherry limeade flavor is amazing!) so it would melt along the way and be colder longer. I packed a second Nuun (non-caffeinated Tropical flavor) along with my Buddy Fruits and a piece of gum. I was hoping that if I had gum to keep my mouth hydrated, I wouldn't chug so much water this time. 
Seriously the smartest move I made Saturday.
The run started off in almost-cool temperatures. It was 75 and the humidity didn't seem too bad. That didn't last long, but starting with good weather was much appreciated. 

At mile 7 I stopped at the park to use the bathroom and douse myself with water. By this time it was blazing out, but I only had three miles to go and I knew I'd be finishing...no need for a rescue!

I listened to two Savage Love podcasts and finished with a little alternative rock.

The run was pretty uneventful...in a good way. I have a long way to go to conquer this distance with ease and at the pace I was running it last year, but I know I'll get there.
As I was finishing up, the Saturday bridge runners were just getting started. I was able to snap a quick picture at mile 9.
I was actually really hungry by the end so I know I need to rethink what I have for dinner before a long run. I had a little foot tenderness afterward, but I had started/parked at a 7-11, so I bought a bag of ice and made myself an ice bath as soon as I got home.
It feels good to be done with my first 3-week building cycle. Next week is full of easy runs, and then the building continues!

(Oh, and a note on Monday's 3-miler...There's something wonderful and terrible about finishing a run before the sun is even up, as seen below.)
My view from the pool Monday morning.
Did you run long this weekend?
I need sock recommendations! I like a little cushion but nothing too warm. What do you swear by?
Also, if you carry a water pack (not a belt or handheld), what kind do you use and how do you like it?

ABK

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Definition of Failure

Last night's run was a failure.

I was due for a 5-mile tempo run with the middle three miles at 9:43. I ate dinner at 6:30 and went to run at 8:15. By the end of the first mile, I was covered in sweat from the humidity and suffering those rolling chills you get when your body wants to expel what you ate and is deciding which avenue would be best to get rid of it.

I immediately slowed down, determined to get five miles in even if they weren't at tempo pace.

By the halfway point, I was in agony. I texted Matt, who was at the gym, to take a specific route home so he'd pass me. He picked me up at just a little under 4.25 miles.

Sulking in the car, blasting the AC to bring down my core temperature, I mumbled, "I'm a failure."

To which he replied, "No, you're not. You got out there and tried. You can't be a failure if you try."

I have a couple opposing views on failure myself. On the one hand, failure's not a good thing; but on the other, we learn from it, and we can't grow or change without it. I tell my students this all the time, and I would be a hypocrite if I didn't apply it to myself.
So yes, my run was a failure, but I can concur with Matt that I, myself, am not.

I've reflected on the run and taken three important lessons from it. 

1. This is the second speed-workout that I did at night and got sick during. I need to do hard-effort runs in the morning.
2. I can't get cocky and expect that hard runs will be easy during the summer. I have to anticipate and plan for speed-work to be tough.
3. I hated to cut the run short and I feel stupid for doing it, but it was for the best based on how dizzy and sick I felt. It doesn't count as quitting if you plan to get back out there.
I won't let this one failed run ruin my week, and I plan to be much smarter and more dedicated to getting all three of my runs done in the morning next week. I can't bounce between evening and morning - I have to be consistent. I usually love tempo runs and I'm not going to let this one jade my feelings toward speed-work.

Spot the apostrophe error and win...pride in being able to tell when an apostrophe is being misused!
I've decided to learn and grow from this run and call it a mental workout. I've decided not to let it beat me.

How do you define failure?
Do you avoid risks (and failure) at all costs?
Tell me about a time you failed and learned from it.

ABK

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer Means...

...catching up on my reading.
My poor, dead Kindle! This was good timing to get an iPad Mini!
I'm currently reading Snow Crash, which is an older sci-fi dystopian novel my brother recommended. 
I love my iPad case. Those little owls and lightning bolts SCREAM Harry Potter! haha
Summer means unpacking boxes.
I found a bunch of old stories and drawings I did when I was younger. Hilarious.
My favorite thing to find in storage? This gem from kindergarten:
So the fact that I can exercise is the most important thing about me? Okay then.
There was also a nice little "wishing star" picture under which the teacher had written for me: "I wish upon a star for...to be a pony!"
 
Summer means getting my training done.
I'll admit, I haven't figured out all the cool functions yet, but I do like being able to see my pace just by glancing down.
Summer means eating my weight in fruit.
I have been demolishing peaches and cherries lately. That single mango is Matt's...I'm not a big fan.
There is nothing better than a fridge full of fruits for healthy snacks.
 
Summer means catching up on TV.
I read the first book and found it frustrating and slow, so I didn't get into the show. But now that we're suitably behind, Matt and I have begun watching. We like to start late and be able to just watch a series all the way through without having to wait for new episodes!

Sadly, summer is almost over. I have three weeks left, which means it's time to start planning for next year. In other fun news, I'll be throwing out the first pitch at a Rays game next week. That's sure to be interesting! I had to buy a baseball so I can practice my throwing arm!

What are you reading right now?
What's the "most important thing" about you?
 What are you watching?
What does summer mean to you?

ABK

Monday, July 21, 2014

This Week in Training

After all the excitement of the week, is it any wonder that my training suffered? Every run was tough this week because my legs were heavy, and I didn't get in any cross-training (unless you count speed-walking through airports, climbing stairs, and touring Minneapolis on foot...or building a bookshelf, which I did Friday).
That's right, I built it myself! Loading the books on was no small task, either.
But I got them done...mostly.

On Monday, I had my nice 4-miler through the parks of Minneapolis. I finished that run just as people were walking to work, so my last half mile consisted mostly of dodging between briefcase-toting business-people. There were also a lot of stops at cross-walks, which kind of took the wind out of my sails.
I wish we had parks with cool fountains, statues, and lots of trees here in my part of Florida!
I pushed my speedwork from Wednesday (when we flew home) to Thursday. I made the mistake of doing this at night. I think if I had gone in the morning, I would have been more successful. This was my first time ever doing repeats, and the plan called for 1600s at 9:12 with 800 recovery jogs. Before I even began, I went to the bathroom and was sick. (Maybe my intestines were all jumbled from airport fare?) After my mile warmup, I went to the bathroom again...with the same results. My 4-mile repeats became a 2-miler.
I shook it off and was looking forward to my long run this weekend. Saturday morning I ran my scheduled 9 miles. It was already ridiculously humid when I got started, and by the time I finished it was in the 80s. 
At 6:10 when I started the run, it was 77 with a humidity of 94%. WTH Florida.
Seriously my new favorite fuel for these shorter long runs. Thanks, Heather, for the tip!
My legs were still exhausted, but luckily I had no tummy troubles.
Post-run chocolate milk and a shot of my #RUNootd.
My biggest setback on this run was that I was chugging too much water. It was so hot and I found myself gulping down about 32 ounces over the course of the run. By the halfway point, I was cramping up and felt like I might vomit from all the sloshing. So I adjusted my plan and finished the run doing run/walk intervals.

You can see where I walked in orange on the map. (Not to be confused with the awesome orange splotches meant to protect my location haha.)
I saw a huge bunny on the run, which marks the first time I've seen one close to home (as opposed to at my parents' house or out of state)!
So yeah, this week was rough. But rough weeks make us stronger, and I'm not concerned in any way. The fact that I powered through the full 9 when I could have cut it short speaks volumes...even if the run was one of my slowest to date.

In other fun news, I made the banner of the Sub-30 Club group (which, by the way, has expanded to over 1,900 members after Runner's World Magazine published a little blurb on it!), along with a few other awesome people...
Can you spot me? (Yes, I wore the shirt on my run Monday to represent the club in Minnesota!)
The entry is here...see if you can figure out which is me!
...and Janae at Hungry Runner Girl featured me as part of her Finish Line Photos post this week!

I'm looking forward to a much more consistent week next week!

How do you deal with a tough running week?
How do you adjust a run that's not going your way?
How does travel affect your workout/run schedule?

ABK

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The All-Star Experience - Day 3

Check out my previous posts on the first and second days.

The final day in Minneapolis flew by. We met in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency at 7:30am and rode over to Target Field. We took the elevators down to the clubhouse level and the leagues divided. The AL went out onto the field from the 1st base entrance.

Here we learned that the ceremony had been practiced ad nauseam using stand-ins for all the players, coaches...and us! 
Me and my stunt-double!
It was cool to see how the All Star Game is practiced beforehand; we got to hear the announcements before they were finalized and see how the ginormous flag is brought out. (Each strip is a separate section that's bagged up and stored individually; they clip together underneath!)
You know, this ginormous flag!
The AL waiting for practice to start.
 We practiced walking on to the field. Imagine our surprise when we realized that Idina Menzel was already there and ready for her rehearsal! She was incredibly nice as we all broke ranks to take pictures; teachers truly make the worst students. Once properly chastised, we practiced walking a couple more times. Idina stood right over my shoulder during the playing of the Canadian National Anthem!
Idina just hanging out between practices.
My attempt at catching her in my selfie haha.
From the ballpark, we returned to the hotel and got ready for the All Star Parade. But first, there was a surprise! Dr. Jill Biden - yes, the vice president's wife - came to see us. As a teacher, she wanted to show her appreciation and thank us. She took photos with each of us, and then with us a a group.
She gave us each a hug and was so friendly and wonderful!
Yes, that is the World Series Trophy. Yes, it is super shiny in real life!
The coolest part? She sat on the trolleys with us during the parade and watched the game with us in our suite!
I'm getting good at these "famous people behind me!" selfies!
The AL's trolley.
Anyway, the parade was maybe the most emotional part of the entire trip. As I waved at the crowds, I barely held back tears as parents and children shouted, "Thank you, teachers!" and "You deserve this!" and "We love our teachers!" Any teacher can attest that this kind of outpouring of appreciation is unheard of. As I made eye-contact with parents as we drove by, I could see the sincerity of their sentiments. 
Click to view a video segment of the parade. I show up VERY briefly at about 50 seconds.
After the parade, we had a little time to eat and relax. I crawled into bed and had room service bring hot chocolate and coffee.

During this time, Matt was at the ballpark with some of the other winner-guests enjoying a special pre-party. When we arrived at the park, he found me as we filed through security. It was nice to get to see him quickly because my nerves were starting to set in.

In the downstairs clubhouse, we sat around and chit-chatted. It was so nice to just have a moment to sit and enjoy the company of the wonderful, talented teachers I was with. We got to work exchanging Instagram and Facebook accounts so we could stay in touch after the night was over.

Finally, it was time to line up. We waited outside on the ground level; seats of fans overhead shouted and waved. We were flanked on either side by children from the Boys and Girls Club who had been chosen to take part in the ceremony. If I leaned really far back, I could see Matt in our box overhead. We waved and blew each other kisses.
Waiting our turn. Can you spot my head?
Entering the field.
All set up on the field...for once being short paid off - I was front and center!
A cool shot of my giant head on the jumbo-tron. This must be what Godzilla looks like.
 That particular shot was the one I kept seeing on Facebook as my friends took pictures of the TV and sent them on to me!

I kept doing this weird thing with my mouth because it was shaking and I didn't know how to stop it!
As the announcer began his spiel, we walked out onto the field. I spotted myself on the jumbo-tron and did a double-take. We filed past some of the MLB's greatest players. As Idina began to sing Bob Dylan's Forever Young, my lips and chin quivered; I did my best not to cry or look totally stunned. I had a clear view of Derek Jeter directly across from me on one side, but was too intimidated to hold eye-contact. (His eyes are super piercing and even bluer in person!)

When the song ended, I felt relief. We could clap and relax a little. We turned for the National Anthem and then exited through an archway of flags held by the aforementioned children.
Leaving the field.
Once inside, we cheered and hugged and made our way upstairs to our suite to catch the first pitch. It was here that I heard I had made it on TV for a good amount of time. My phone was going crazy with Facebook and Twitter notifications.
This was a favorite...Confirmed proof that although only like three people in Scotland watch baseball, we all made it on international TV!
Feeling much more relaxed!
I'll admit, it was hard to concentrate the rest of the game. I could hardly eat, even though the food was amazing. We kept getting called into the suite for pictures. Idina came up to take photos with all of us and Dr. Biden. During the game, Jackie Robinson's daughter Sharon Robinson (who is MLB's educational consultant) came to talk to us about Breaking Barriers. Hall-of-Famer Ozzie Smith was also in our suite and Matt got a chance to meet him and get an autograph.
Us with Idina Menzel and Jill Biden.
Sharon Robinson talks to us about Breaking Barriers.
To top it all off, the AL won the game for the first time in a couple years, so I was thrilled!
We all signed baseballs for each other.
Enjoying the game.
Rachel, David and I getting ready to part ways.
Saying goodbye to Jacqui and Gina.
After the game, Matt and I spent some time in the lobby of our hotel because that's where all the players were staying. I was able to meet Chris Sale of the White Sox and Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, and we saw Robinson Cano, Josh Donaldson, and various other players. I wanted to see David Price (because, obviously, he was there for the Rays), but we never got a chance.
Chris Sale was incredibly nice!
Jose Bautista kindly took the time to sign autographs post-game.
The 30 All Star teachers; Jose Bautista; Chris Sale; Cal Ripken Jr.; Ozzie Smith. Guess which one means the most to me?
So what have I taken away from this experience (besides autographs)? That teachers aren't alone in thinking that we're crucial to the future. That there are actually those outside of education who respect and admire teachers. That I can rest assured that there are teachers across the nation (and Canada!) doing great things for their students and their communities. That maybe I need to learn to accept compliments and my accomplishments as what they are instead of trying to explain them away or attribute it all to luck.

I will never forget this experience. It will carry me through the hard days at work and it will help me to appreciate the good days. I will cherish forever the chance I had to meet these other teachers who put my meager accomplishments to shame.

I will forever be humbled and grateful for this experience. I will carry it with me always.

No questions...just share your thoughts!
ABK