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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My day in pictures

~OR...I'm too tired to come up with a coherent theme so I'm going to regale you with miscellaneous tidbits~

1. We're trying out a rather challenging young man in my classroom. Today was his first morning, and it was a reminder that my class this year, overall, is a piece of cake. But he made it the whole morning (and through an impromptu fire drill) without being kicked out. Granted, he wanted to be kicked out...but once I realized that, no way was he going anywhere.

2. If our contract negotiations don't come to a conclusion soon, I may end up with an ulcer. Every time we negotiate, the threat of a strike presses down like a pillow on my face. It's hard to breathe when I think about it too much. I love my job. Things are going well with my class. We have no savings on which to live if I wasn't working, and my husband's take home pay after insurance would pay the house payment and that's about it.

3. Reviewing your numbers can be fun!


(I wouldn't post this picture if you could see any students' faces.) We played number twister. Each student got four spins...one for each foot/hand. They had so much fun they didn't realize they were reviewing numbers 1-9. We were split into groups during our review time, and the other group was practicing counting using games on our Promethean board.

4. Tonight's supper: brown rice and beef stir fry with egg rolls. Mmm. And so quick that Jeff didn't get as much of a nap as he was hoping for. Not bad considering I bought half of the food on my way home from work.


5. I tried out runnign in a pair of shorts that Jeff bought while he was in California back in June. Adidas shorts, nothing fancy, but much looser than the spandex shorts I normally wear because they don't slide down under my stomach.

Nice view of said stomach. Bleh.

I was worried that the shorts would ride up, but they didn't. They were very comfortable while I ran along on J's bike ride. I may have to throw them into the rotation. I'm sure that property values in our neighborhood will be on the rise if I stop running in those short, tight shorts!

6. I'm working on helping J. learn to take off/stop on his bike on his own. The riding part he has down cold.


He's pretty determined that he can't learn it, but that's how he felt about riding a bike, too.

7. We ran/rode 1.7 miles in about 17:30. Taking it easy.

8. My little guy riding on his own!
We had a great ride until the end, when he first threw a fit about me trying to help him practice stopping and stepping off his pedals on his own and THEN threw a huge tantrum about going to bed. Had himself pretty worked up, all right.

9. 7 miles tomorrow morning, including a 5-mile tempo interval at 9:17. Yikes. I'm planning to get up about 4:15. Double yikes.

10. Given #9, I'm planning on being in bed by 9:00 tonight. 9:30 at latest. And the little boy is calling me, so I'd better go see what he wants.

This makes me laugh

photo.JPG, originally uploaded by KG123.

...for a couple of reasons.

First of all, "Louisiana Supreme" soy sauce? I wasn't aware that Louisiana is such a hotbed of Asian cuisine.

Second, the Big Lots sticker. I have a good friend from high school whose dad was always bringing home food from Big Lots. Gigantic, food-service sized cans of peaches (or some orange fruit, I don't remember exactly now) with writing in some foreign language.

"It was a bargain!" he'd say. We'd laugh, and they'd often refuse to eat it.

And now I'm married to that man. Obviously, not my friend's dad. But my husband has a deep love of Big Lots, Deals, and yard sales. After we complained enough, he did go out and at least buy some La Choy soy sauce...but you'll notice that his discount bottle is almost empty.

Hey...it was a bargain!

Monday, August 30, 2010


I ran tonight. I had two miles scheduled and couldn't quite make it out of bed this morning. Knowing it was only two, it wasn't so hard to talk myself into that extra hour of sleep. I needed it! Turned out I also needed that run today. I was feeling pretty sleepy after lunch, and on run days seems like I have lots of energy. Of course, the night before run days I'm usually in bed by 9:30 or so, too!

I felt decent and didn't push at all. Mile 1 was 9:42.2 and mile 2 was 9:41.4. The second one really surprised me because I felt slow on that leg (and that was ok with me. I'm trying to be at peace with the slower pace my easy days call for). There wasn't anything too remarkable about the run, but oh, there were moments.

I've had my moments, days in the sun
Moments when I was second to none
Moments when I knew I did what I thought I couldn't do
~Emerson Drive "Moments"

I put this on Daily Mile when I logged the run, but I don't want to forget it. There were a couple of moments where it just felt right, and easy. Normally, when I run, I'm thinking the whole time. About what hurts, or how much further, or how far I've already run, or if I keep up this pace what my time will be. Or I'm making bargains with myself about getting to the next tree...next road...next shadow. But every once in a while, I realize that I haven't been thinking, I've just been running. And everything feels right. That's where I'd like to be when I run.

During that second mile, I kept toying with run further? I could run an extra mile. I feel ok.
Then I remembered how it was last time I got competitive and started thinking more about what other people were doing than what my plan called for me to do. And I thought about the fact that I promised J. that he could go for a bike ride tomorrow, which means I'll be running along with him (and, as much as I hate whining, what sweet music it was to my ears tonight when he asked--past bedtime--if he could ride his bike and, when I said not tonight, complained "I NEVER get to ride my bike!!" I LOVE that he wants to badly enough to whine about it! :D) and thus logging mile(s) outside of the plan. So I decided that I was quitting at 2 miles and not going to worry about the people who are faster and logging more miles. I was doing what was right for me.

And then I ran an extra half mile. :D I was actually aiming for 1.38 extra, but as I ran I started thinking again that I was being stupid and turned around at .25 miles. Then, I decided to sprint the last .25 mile back. Didn't make it the whole way at a sprint and finished the last half mile in 4.25. Overall pace for the 2.5 miles was 9:31.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


We went camping this weekend, only the second whole-family trip of the year, the first being about two weeks ago. And this time, by "whole family", I mean almost my husband's WHOLE FAMILY. Two out of three sisters, six out of ten nieces/nephews, both parents, a couple of extra friends along for the ride. We tend to vacation in a pack.

We camped at Eldon Hazlet State Park on Carlyle Lake. Jeff went up on Thursday to make sure that we had campsites together, since in years past the park has been packed on weekends. Especially glorious weekends, as this one was. Suprisingly, here's what the park looked like this morning, though.

Lots of empty sites

There were lots of campers in the campground, but I've never seen this many empty sites here on a summer weekend. Ever.

We weren't complaining, though. We had a nice little area for the five pop-ups in our group.

Lakeview property View of the lake from our campsite.

photo.JPG Home, sweet home, all set up.

Jeff came home on Friday and picked up the boys and me. It was definitely nice getting to just show up and have all the work done! I had made taco meat the night before, so all I had to do was heat it up for dinner once we got there.

I took a quick bike ride on my father-in-law's bike Friday evening to scout out the 4-mile loop I'd be running twice the next morning. I had mapped it out online, but I wanted to make sure I knew where I was going. It felt great to be on a bike again, but the clouds of bugs I had to ride through were awful. Any time I opened my mouth I got a mouthful (ugh!!), and since it was almost dark and I couldn't wear sunglasses, I ended up with one in my eye. The gps on my phone didn't drop any of the ride, though, and confirmed the distance for me.

We got to hang around the campfire and make s'mores, and the kids caught some good-sized frogs near the camper.
Frogs We let them go once we were ready to go to bed.

Saturday morning I set my alarm for 7 and got up for my scheduled 8-mile run. Last week's 8-miler had a rough ending. Well, slow. That last mile and a half hurt, and I was really doubting that I'd be ready to run the HM on Oct. 3. This week went much better.

My phone's gps let me down (maybe it was being shoved in my sports bra that hampered its reception? lol), so I was really glad I'd checked it ahead of time. Since I couldn't remember where the miles were, I just ran my loop. On the first pass around, I took my dog, and he pulled me the whole time. I dropped him at the camper after 4 miles and headed out again.

As I passed the 6-mile range, I started wondering when it was going to hit. It was at about 6.5 miles last week that I kind of fell apart. This time, though, I felt OK. The last mile was a little tougher, but it was nothing compared to last week. And the time proved it: 1:17...8 minutes faster than the same distance last week. 9:35 pace, which is awesome for me on any kind of distance. :) Very exciting. Of course, I wasn't supposed to be running fast, but I wasn't really trying to run fast. I was just out there, running.

After breakfast, we headed to the lake to swim and play.


Well, the kids swam. I took a nap on the beach while Jeff got in the water. I did get up later to play soccer on the beach, though, so I wasn't a complete slug.

After lunch, my sister-in-law and I took the kids up the the campground pool while Jeff and another sister went fishing. The water felt great...and I needed to get in there just to get a little cleaned up from the run and the beach! We had supper and then more s'mores around the campfire, and then I was beat.

J. woke up at 7, and Jeff put in a movie to watch with him. I ended up taking the dog for a walk. It was gorgeous this morning!

The lake at morning

We went for a hike this afternoon. The park's trails are flat, mowed trails. Not my favorite type to hike, but better than nothing. They were really calling to me, though, as I ran yesterday. I was really tempted to take off down one of the trails, but since I had no idea on their distance I passed.

Unwilling hiker My unwilling hiker

The above trail was a pretty short one to a small fishing lake where much of the family was fishing.

Carlyle Fishing derby

photo.JPG Spectating with the pup

Cattails Love the cattails

We hiked one other trail while J. stayed back with his grandpa. He'd made the first hike unpleasant enought, and grandpa offered.

Jeff hiking

Frankly, this trail was pretty boring, so we headed back to the camper for a quick lunch and to pack up.

Playing catch

J (in orange shirt) and his cousin A. played some catch while we did the parts he couldn't help with. A. plays baseball and was very patient with J, who's not much in the catching department. He started to do a little better towards the end. After packing up, we had a quick family game of whiffleball and then headed home. We definitely packed a lot into the weekend.

Sleepy puppy...too much fun this weekend Even the dog was beat!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pint-sized training partner

My youngest has been really into riding his bike lately.

Learning to ride a bike

While this level of protection is no longer necessary, he's still not so good with the mount/dismount or watching for cars elements, so I run alongside him as he rides.

As he has gotten to be a better rider, this has gotten progressively more difficult. The kid is killing me! Tuesday, we ran/rode 1.5 miles in the neighborhood. We ran into (not literally) a boy in the neighborhood we'd met previously, and J. was very into following him. So we did, and while we were chatting with John I put in a plug for wearing a bike helmet (which he wasn't).

Wednesday morning I ran 6 miles. Wednesday after dinner J wanted to ride again, so we went out and rode .85 miles. And I was really beat and exceedingly thankful he had somewhere he needed to be and we could go back home!

Today I was scheduled for 2 easy miles--this week begins my 4 days a week running schedule rather than just 3...now I'm on for Monday (short, easy run), Wednesday (longer speedwork or tempo), Thursday (short, easy run), and Saturday (long, easy run)--and said something at dinner about needing to run. J right away piped up and suggested that we could go together. So off we went.

My junior Lance Armstrong was wearing me down, all the while spouting such motivational gems as "I can't pedal any SLOWer" and "Can't you run any faster?"...though he did redeem himself with "Good job, you caught up with me!" (this, after he took a long loop around a turnaround and I did a straight line shortcut).

After all his smack talk, then he went and fell over, totally screwing my pace for the run. Granted, he probably fell over because he was pedalling so slowly, but we are not pinning this on me, do you hear me?? He just had a very superficial scrape on one knee and was quite the trooper about it as I hustled him back onto his bike..."OK, let's finish our two miles!"

Would the mother of the year shove her child back onto his bike and make him start riding right after falling just so she could salvage her overall pace? Maybe not, but I was likely DQ'd from the running back around January 2 or so. I can live with that.

Distance: 2.22 miles
Avg. pace: 9:59
Getting to share running and cycling with my baby: priceless.


So Wednesday I was scheduled for a 6 mile tempo run. 1 easy mile warm-up, 4 miles @ 9:18, and 1 easy mile cool down. The tempo run has been my nemesis since I started this training plan in July. I have never been able to maintain the goal pace for the tempo interval. I set my alarm Tuesday night, hoping that maybe this would be the run that changed that.

Set my alarm, yes, but forgot to turn the volume back up so I could hear it. Instead of hopping out of bed at 4:30 a.m., I didn't manage to get myself moving until about 4:50; however, I was still able to eat breakfast, leash up the dog, and be on my way by 5:05. Granted, it helped that I slept in my running clothes and braids!

I have a regular route that I run in the mornings. It's almost a straight shot...1 mile away from the house, 1 mile back. That way, if I end up pressed for time, I can cut the run short and get ready for work. Also, my run starts as I get to the end of my driveway rather than having to go somewhere first.

Here are the splits:

Mile 1 (warmup) 9:31.3 Oops. Over a minute too fast. I don't do well when I start out too fast. Still, I wasn't pushing. I felt like I was taking it fairly easy.

Mile 2 8:46.6 Whoo hoo...30 seconds faster than the goal...but there are still 3 more miles to go...

Mile 3 8:57.5 Slowing down, but still meeting my goal. Plus, this was the "away" leg of the route, which always goes a little slower for me.

Mile 4 9:01.2 I was starting to hurt, had to go to the bathroom, and wondering if I should give the dog a break. "Maybe I should take him in, go to the bathroom, and then finish the last two miles..." (and if I'd gone in, I was probably finished). When I got to the house, though, and saw the time for the mile, I knew I was going for it.

Mile 5 9:05.8 Yesssss! You'd have thought I won the Olympics when I finished that mile. I was sooo happy and proud.

Mile 6 10:18.2 I walked for a little bit while I drank some water, then I got running again. Man, I was tired. I almost tripped a couple of times because I wasn't lifting my feet enought as I ran. I sure came in the house with a smile on my face, though. :)

Total miles: 6
Total time: 55:47
Overall pace: 9:17
Pace for tempo portion: 8:57

My 10K time was 1:00:33, so if I'd run another .2 miles, I'd have a new 10K PR by a couple of minutes, too. :)

All that, and I managed to get my kids and myself to school on time. :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Date night

Tonight my husband and I had a date. Well, sort of. In the end, he did, and that was just fine with me.

The man loves horror movies. Loves them. Me...I get scared at previews. Literally. During the previews for Salt, I had my eyes covered for fully half of the previews.

Yes, I have issues. I'm ok with that.

I will admit, when we were dating (and before), I would go to any movie just to spend time with him. I went to see Scream 2 and was so excited to be at the movies with him that it didn't occur to me until the opening credits that a) it was a horror movie and b) they scare the crap out of me. And yet, many weekend evenings found us at his sister's house watching all manner of gory mayhem. I'm not sure whether they were more amused by the movies or my reaction to them.

Since we've been married, I don't make it to many horror movies. I have no problem with him going. It just sucks to spend $8 to sit in a theater for 2 hours with my eyes closed and my fingers in my ears. Every once in a while, though, I feel bad and go along.

Yesterday, when reading a yahoo article on movies so bad they're good aloud, I accidentally uttered the words Piranha 3D in his hearing. He immediately suggested we go tonight, and I idiotically lovingly agreed. Fast forward to tonight, as I'm realizing that I'm going to have to stay up late-- the night before getting up at 4:30 to run--to NOT watch this movie. Bleh. And then my loving husband uttered the magic words: I don't want you to be miserable.

Uh, babe? We've been together 12 years now. When have you known me NOT to be miserable during a horror movie? I abandoned that movie plan like a sinking ship sadly conceded that I wouldn't really enjoy the movie but would still go if he was a heartless bastard really wanted me to.

Which he's not. So here I am, happily blogging away, while he's off at the movies with his sister and her friend. Not a bad date night at all! :)

With no date, I also took the opportunity to spend a little time with J., who I haven't seen much between the beginning of school and bus duty and union meetings (oh my!...I think I'd prefer the lions, tigers, and bears to the latter two!). He was all about the Wii after dinner, but instead I convinced him he'd like to go for a bike ride. OK...made him go for a bike ride. Whatever. Why quibble.

He's doing great! If he could only get the stop/dismount move down. But he's getting there. He rode about 1 1/2 miles around our neighborhood tonight. And if he's riding, you know I'm running right alongside him. That's fine when he's going at his own pace, but we ran into a neighbor kid we'd met on a previous bike ride and J. decided to follow him.

My child was quite the little speed demon. And there I was, huffing and puffing to catch up, and you can believe my heart was in my throat every time he'd take a corner at speed. Especially since once he hit a slight downslope he was out of my reach! If I hadn't started running, I'd never have been able to teach him how to ride a bike. Well, either that or he'd be more independent by now!

Either way, I got in a bonus 1.5 miles today. :) 6 on my schedule for tomorrow: 1 mile warmup, 4 miles at 9:18, and 1 mile cooldown. I haven't yet maintained the prescribed pace for a tempo run. Maybe tomorrow will be the day!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Beginning of the year and small successes

I have almost a full week of school (with students) under my belt, and I am happy to report that this is the best beginning of the year I've ever had. I've had great kids every year, but my class this year is the least significant I've ever had in terms of behavior. That's saying something; being in special education, I frequently have students with behavioral difficulties. This year, I (so far) just have kids who need extra help, individualized attention. Me.

With the kiddos I have right now, I get to teach academics rather than also needing to teach behavior, but one little guy whom I'll call Dave has been giving me a run for my money. He came to our school midyear last year as a second-year kindergartener. He had already been retained once. As we have done our beginning of the year alphabet review, he just appears checked out.

Friday, as we reviewed Aa and Bb, I asked Dave to name one of the letters. He refused to answer, and his sister (also in my class) remarked, "He's not so good with the alphabet." And she's right. In my beginning of the year testing, he could only identify four letters--after two years of kindergarten. I think he has gotten so accustomed to being unsuccessful that he's just done trying. He wouldn't even attempt to repeat a letter name or letter sound after me.

Today, as we continued our letter review, I was struggling to find a way to get him to engage. He wouldn't attempt to name a letter, he wouldn't repeat the letter names, he wouldn't repeat repeat the sounds, he wouldn't say the names with me, wouldn't trace them in the air. Just getting him to look in the direction of the smartboard was difficult.

And here's the thing. I need this kid invested in what we're doing to make a difference. I need him to participate so that he can learn. And what I don't want to do is get into a power struggle or be negative with him after he's had such a difficult time in school already. What do do, what to do?

Most of the kids were actively participating during the lesson--all except Dave and the girl next to him. As I looked at them, some little spiky ball toys
Spiky Balls kind of like these, but with faces and arms/legs,
caught my eye on my desk. I passed them out to all of the good listeners to hold. As long as they were participating, they could keep them during the lesson.

His eyes lit up. Finger was up to trace. Mouth repeating the letter name. Eyes on the board. I was out of the spiky ball toys, but I found two other small toys. After a while, I had all of the kids pass their toys to the right. He ended up with a little spiky ball alien. And while it worked as a reinforcer to keep him on task, here's what else worked today:

  • Students who recognized a letter were to raise their hand. Then, they were to whisper it to their neighbor. Dave wouldn't repeat after me, but he would name the letter or letter sound after his neighbor told him.
  • In addition to being "not so good with the alphabet", Dave is also not too interested in handwriting. However, when encouraged to write another letter to show the alien, he worked with much more enthusiasm and then pointed out his best-written letter.
  • After every letter he wrote, I asked him to whisper it to his alien, and he could tell it the letter name and sound.

I think that the difference with the alien was 1) it was kind of a cool, fun thing to play with; and 2) there's no pressure when you're telling the answer to a toy. It won't laugh at you or get mad at you if you're wrong. I'm hoping that we can build on this as the weeks go on and build his confidence so that he's more willing to participate in class. I think we can really make a difference for him...as long as we can get him to let us.

Also today, I got up at 5:25 to run two miles. Sleeping in my running clothes is a big accountability-enhancer. I was up about 3 times in the night with my 6 year old, and when the alarm went off I was really tempted to put off the run til tonight...but I was already dressed to run.

Seeing as I was up a little later than I had planned to be, I decided that I'd run on an empty stomach since it was only two miles. I was a little unsure how that'd go as I got started, but it was OK. I don't think it would have been for more than three or so, though. I pushed the pace a little but never to the point of really straining. I ran the two miles with a 9:02 average pace; my first mile was a little slower than the second.

I hope I can keep getting myself up early to run. It's such a nice way to start the day, and I feel much more alert afterwards. Who knows...maybe by the time the HM is over, I'll be a morning person! :)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Slow Saturday

There was an organized ride this morning in Mt. Vernon, IL, but seeing as that's an hour and a half away from here and I'd be going it alone, I was feeling very ambivalent about it. I told my husband that I was considering it but probably wasn't going to go. Little J woke us up briefly at 5:30 this morning (ugh), and when I had a little trouble falling back asleep I thought maybe...and then promptly fell back asleep.

So, instead of riding 60 miles this morning, I decided to go yard saling with my two guys (the older boys are with their dad) and then run later. We got going around 8:30 (way late for yard sales, but we have too much crap anyway) with the temperature at 73 degrees. As we drove around for the next 2 1/2 hours, I kept glancing at the gauge as the temperature rose to 85. Sigh...that lovely cool weather, squandered. Sigh...I'm going to have to run 8 miles in almost 90-degree heat. But hey, I was spending time with my family, and that's good too.

We didn't end up getting much. A Beanie Baby dog for J., a movie and season one of The Sopranos (which we've never seen but have heard a lot about), a box full of little toys for my classroom store (FREE!), and a book for me (Fortune's Rocks, by Anita Shreve) that I immediately started reading. Of course, when we got home it was time to eat (BLTs...mmm) and then I had to let my food settle.

And settle...

And settle...

Until finally, at 5ish (and after a snack), I started on that 8-mile run. The route I ran was 4.5 miles out and back because I was kind of planning to run 9. I was dreading the run, but the temperature wasn't too bad. I took a 32-oz gatorade bottle with me, which was a pain to carry, but I didn't have any better plan. The first two miles didn't feel so great, but then I kind of hit my stride. The numbers, however, don't necessarily reflect how I felt.

Mile 1: 9:35

Mile 2: 9:31

Mile 3: 9:24

Miles4-6: 11:21 avg. pace (Yeah, I don't really know what happened. I didn't FEEL that slow. But that's what the stopwatch says. This stretch had two big hills to run up, but I felt strong on them, too.)

Mile 7: 11:52

Mile 8: 10:45

I felt like I was taking it easy the whole time. I was never pushing, just trying to keep a nice, easy pace. I actually felt pretty good through mile 6.5 or so...yeah...half of what I need to be able to run in 1 1/2 months. Yikes.

Once I finished mile 8, I was pretty much done. I ended up walking the 9th mile home. Oh, well. Total time was 1:25:12, a pace about 40 seconds slower per mile than when I ran 9 miles on this same route a few weeks ago. Hmmm. Good thing I'm not competitive. :-/

Friday, August 20, 2010

IT's not a competition

I'm not competitive about my running. Or my cycling. Not really. Especially about my running because I just expect to do poorly and then can be happy with myself when I do better than the abysmal level I expect. :) Sometimes if somebody who has been slower than me starts to look like they're edging up on me, then maybe I start to get nervous. But otherwise, I'm not competitive. Not really.

And ok, when someone who has been riding less time than I have starts to really post some faster speeds, that might stress me out some. But I'm not really competitive about it.

Granted, I do kind of keep an eye on the paces and distances that my friends on facebook and daily mile are posting and start to feel a) anxious that they're logging more miles (not difficult) or b) excited that my pace is getting closer to theirs. I had to lay off daily mile a little when I started pushing to do more miles than my body was really ready with because I was trying to keep up/catch up with other people. But other than that I'm not competitive.

My brother has been running for way longer than I have. I know that he has the physical ability and the mental fortitude to kick my butt most any day. His friend S. has started running and cycling in the past couple of years and has lost about 70 pounds and is turning into a machine. They ran a 5 mile race together, and J. told me later, "I was going to tell him how bad his form was, and then I realized that his form was that bad and I was having to work to stay ahead of him. So I decided to tell him after the race." My brother isn't competitive, either.

In the light of all that, here's an excerpt from a facebook exchange the other day (my brother is the J. referred to here.)

J's status: ran 8.39 miles at 3:39 a.m. (1:18:16)

Friend reactions range from Wow! to What are you training for? to Impressive! to Go back to bed (from the above-mentioned S.)

J. responds: The dog woke me up with its snoring and I could not get back to sleep so I decided to do something worthwhile. I was able to sleep after the run.

Truthfully, I know that Kate has been running more consistently than me, and I can't bear the idea of her being faster than me. (BUT IT IS NOT A COMPETITION)

Me: It is DEFINITELY not a competition. (Until I can win it)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Tale of Three Runs

OK, there's really just nothing all that earth-shattering about any of these runs, but I did them. I have pictures. I have stats. These things must be shared.

Run 1:

Last week we were in Wisconsin on Wednesday. I was scheduled for an easy four-mile run. I ended up sleeping in that morning (ahhhh...so needed it!) and wasn't really planning to run, but then we got to the beach and saw this trail just waiting for me...

Look where I get to run today! =)

Hellooooo....how could I not run there? Thank goodness I had brought my running clothes, just in case. Once my husband and the kids were settled on the beach, I took off.

Now, I had been really looking forward to getting away from the heat and humidity in the St. Louis area, but Wisconsin was not cool while we were there! I ended up running in 90+ degree heat (still better than the 100's back home) around 1:00. What I get for not being an early bird, I guess.

There were some hills and some walking. But there were also some beautiful neighborhoods to run through (lots of fabulous homes for sale along Lake Michigan in Racine, WI...if you have lots of money!), and views like this one to enjoy...

Taken during run

Distance: 4 miles
Time: 41 min.
Pace: 10:11 (Not bad, considering I walked probably 3 times and stopped to take the above picture!)

Run 2:

I'm a teacher, and I've really been spoiled to have my summer relatively free to train when I wanted. I still had to work around my kids' schedules, but it's hardly the same as having a full day of work to interfere with my fun. :) Monday was our first official day. I had to be there at 8, and I work 40 minutes away. I didn't have to get up super early, though, because my boys didn't have school so there was no one else to get moving.

I had skipped my Saturday run (2 easy miles) and had kind of thought I'd add it to Monday's 2 easy miles; however, I couldn't get out of bed on time. So two it was. It was actually cool out! I felt pretty good.

Distance: 2 miles
Time: 17 min.
Pace: 8:31 Yea me!!!

Run 3:

I was scheduled for a 6.5 mile speedwork workout today. I had mapped out a route in my neighborhood so I didn't have to drive to the track. I went to bed at 9:00 last night, set my alarm for 4:30, and wore my running clothes to bed. It worked! When the alarm went off, I felt like I'd woken up on my own. Quick breakfast, and I was off.

The workout was a 1 mile warm up, then 3x1600 in 8:42 with 800 jogs, then 1 mile cool down.

It was so dark when I got outside. This is what it looked like during my first mile:

photo.JPG I ran in the street because it was so dark. We have some cracked and uneven sidewalks in our neighborhood, and I was afraid of tripping on the sidewalk. The road was just redone and is nice and smooth.

Mile 1 (warmup): 10:24 really felt like I was taking it easy

Mile 2 (speedwork interval 1): 8:31 success!

1/2 mile recovery jog: 5:49 had to walk to drink bc I was carrying my iPhone in my hand and didn't want to spill on it. I know...lame reason for being slow...

Mile 3 (speedwork interval 2): 8:57 ehhhh...a little slow :(

1/2 mile recovery jog: 6:10 yes, I realize the 1/2 mile took me almost as long as the mile. I was tired. And I stopped to take these pictures. I actually walked up to the church to get the sign clearly.

photo.JPG Getting lighter...photo.JPG Nice reminder.

Mile 4 (speedwork interval 3): 8:54 boooo....slow again

Mile 5.38 (cooldown jog): 15:29 Ohhh, goodness, that's embarassing. I should note that I stopped to drink and then stood still to take my pulse to check my heart rate (123, fyi). Even so, that's mighty, mighty slow. That 1.38 mile is what killed my average pace for the run.

Total run: 6.38 miles

Time: 1:04:14

Pace: 10:04

My pace for the first 5 miles was 9:44, even counting the interval slow jogs and warmup jog. Not a blistering pace, either, but better. Even so, I'm not going to feel bad. Managing to get up, eat breakfast, run 6 miles, get my kids up, shower, drop off J., and get to work on time was a huge success all on its own.

Monday, August 16, 2010

New school year with a side of inspriation

Our superintendent played this video for us this morning at our beginning of school meeting. Very inspirational! Enjoy. :)


Photo contest--please vote!

I entered this picture in one of Hipstamatic's photo contests. You can follow the link below to vote. You can either retweet or "like" it on facebook. Thanks!!

Go Jump In A Lake' http://hpstm.tc/scn by @kgeisen #hipstamatic


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wisconsin -- The beaches

This camping trip is an annual thing with our friends A. and K. I met A. at a retreat when we were in high school, and we went to college together for the first few years. I've known her since

photo.JPG <-----D.... looked like this---> ally dan That's A. holding him.

We saw a lot of each other when I lived in Rockford and she lived in the Chicago area, but after my ex and I split up and I moved back to the St. Louis area, we saw less of each other. And after she and K. had twins, we saw a lot less of each other. We were still the same kind of friends, but it was really difficult to spend any kind of time together. Even when they came to town, their kids were really shy and nervous around us, and they didn't normally stay long.

In 2006, one of us got the brilliant idea to go camping together. We did, and we all had a blast. With several days to spend together, the kids got used to us. And my boys are a lot of fun. They're great with younger kids.

Tommy, Daniel, and Gracie
Here's my D. between their T and G. on that trip.

After that, a tradition was born.

Indiana Beach 087
G, T, and J hanging out in the camper on our 2007 trip.

I think this is our fourth trip together. One of our requirements is that there has to be swimming nearby. That complicates things a little, but it's well worth it. Who doesn't love going to the beach?

We really hit the jackpot this trip. Racine and nearby Kenosha both have gorgeous beaches along Lake Michigan. Yes, the water is freaking cold, but once you lose feeling in your body get used to it, it feels great!

Still getting used to the cold.

North Beach
North Beach, in Racine

Brotherly love

Simmons Island Park, Kenosha

Lighthouse, Kenosha

photo.JPG photo.JPGphoto.JPG Jumping off the pier

Me and my honey

Me and my buddy

How long will it take to bury N?....

Wisconsin (Reprise)--The journey

Yes, I know it was just a month or so ago that we were in Wisconsin visiting our friends A. and K., but this past Wednesday we headed back their way. Believe it or not, though we've done quite a bit of travelling this summer, this was the first trip that all five of us were able to go on together.

Ah...the joys of kids. Before we'd even left the driveway, 16 year old N was pouting and giving everyone the silent treatment because 17 year old D got the "good seat" in the car. Yes, my high school junior and senior boys were fighting over a seat in the car. Just to make sure you have the right picture of these boys...

Nathan The Pouter Racine day 1The Gloater

And make no mistake, gloating was going on. Sigh. We were in the driveway, and I was already ready to strangle two thirds of my children. N decided on a silent treatment/hunger strike strategy and the fun was on.

At the gas station on the way out of town, J (a master of self-delusion, if there ever was one), remarks, "Pretty good trip so far!" Yes, sweetheart, the first three minutes have gone well. If you forget the fact that your brothers are making Mommy crazy.

Racine day 1
Oh, well...at least the dog was happy.

The rest of the trip was more or less without incident, other than the electrical cord for our camper dragging along behind us (luckily, it still worked!) and my husband's already documented struggles with the gas pump. We made it to our campground around 6 that evening.
We stayed at Racine County's Cliffside Park Campground. It was a nice campground. Great big sites and nice, clean facilities. There are 92 sites in the campground, and we had most of it to ourselves until Friday hit.

Cliffside park, Racine WI

Well, we had to share with the mosquitos. They were awful. Regular Off wouldn't do the trick. Even the Deep Woods Off was a little hit or miss. You really had to coat yourself, and if you didn't spray your clothes, too, the little buggers were biting through them. Not fun! We pretty much hid in our camper that first night!

A couple of notes on the campground. There are allegedly trails there (as noted in the link I posted), but there are no signs at all for trailheads. In fact, there was very little campground information posted. Wisconsin people must be more self-sufficient than us Illinois folk. :) Also, the Racine County website where you make your reservations gives directions to the campground, but the directions include a road that has been permanently closed (and appears to have been closed for over a year)! We look a little detour and found it fine, but still...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hole in one and a bump in the head

We do what we can to keep our kids safe. We babyproofed our house. We put sunscreen on our kids. Even when there are lifeguards, I stay near them or watch them like a hawk while we swim. They always wear seatbelts.
Our football player wears pads. Our soccer player wears shin guards. On bikes, we always, always wear helmets. We try to protect our kids from potential dangers. And then, one day, one of them gets a concussion playing mini golf.
In a rare moment of unanimity, all three boys wanted to play mini golf after our day at the beach.  By the time we got there, it was about 9. Despite having had a very long day and only mini golfing once before, little J did great.
He got a hole in one on the second hole, and even holding his club backwards AND swinging from the wrong side half the time, he was out-putting most of the family. He was having a blast.
Because he usually got to putt first, little J was often the first one finished with a hole. He started going ahead to scout the next hole. At one such point, big J and I were still golfing when the older boys yelled. I looked over and saw little J on the ground.
He had hopped off of a fake log onto the green, which was soaked from one of the overflowing water features. His feet slipped out from under him, and he fell backwards. I only know the details because N saw him fall. Little J was crying too hard to tell us anything.
He finally was able to tell us that his head didn't hurt, just his knees. Now, that doesn't make any sense in light of how he fell, but we didn't know that yet. As soon as we got into the car, he was complaining that his head hurt and was falling asleep.
J and I were looking at each other like "what should we do". We picked up some children's Tylenol while I googled "concussion symptoms". It's all so nebulous...difficult to console (umm...he just got hurt), complains of head or neck pain (well...he was crying awfully hard), fatigue (it's bedtime after a long day. And crying takes a lot out of you). We went on back to the campsite, still wondering what we should do.
While getting J changed for bed, I asked him again about what he hurt when he fell. His answer gave me a chill: "I don't remember falling." Which, I guess, explains why he couldn't tell us if he hit his head...because one minute he was checking out the green and suddenly he was lying on the ground hurt. (And, for those who are keeping track, you can check off our fourth and fifth concussion symptoms: confusion and amnesia. In the words of the Mayo Clinic website, "the amnesia...almost always involves loss of memory of the impact that caused the concussion."
J sleeps right next to us in the camper, so I spent the first two hours watching him breathe. Periodically he'd whimper, and then he woke up crying. We brought him into our bed with us, and he woke up a half hour later throwing up (also mentioned in concussion websites).
At this point, I called the physicians' exchange. Thankfully my doctor was on call and called me right back. He advised me to give J another dose of Tylenol and check on him in an hour. If things didn't seem right, then we should take him to the ER. In his words, "It's probably all right, but it's the 'probably' that gets you."
An hour later (2:30 a.m), J seemed as ok as you can be when your parents are rousing you from a deep sleep, so I set my alarm for 3:30 and finally dozed off. He was ok at 3:30 and 5, and he's seemed fine today. He complained of a headache this morning, but he's been going strong all day. I suspect our biggest problem is going to be keeping him reined in a bit for the remainder of the trip.
So...scary, scary night, but it all seems to be ok. It was a reminder of the unfortunate fact that we can't protect our kids from everything, not even when we're right there. I did a lot of praying last night, let me tell you. I'm so thankful that things turned out all right. And for my wonderful older boys, whose love and concern for their little brother were on full display last night.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A conversation

So we stop for lunch/gas and my cash-only husband is getting all frustrated with the pump.

Him: "I guess I'm going to have to go in and get someone to figure out what's wrong with this stupid pump!"

Me: "What's it doing?"

Him: "It keeps saying 'Waiting...', but nothing is happening."

Me: "Do you have to pay first?"

Him: "No, it doesn't say anything about it!!"

Me: "Ummm...look at that sign on the pump."