Letting It All Go

Howdy, folks!! I’m checking on from my hiatus, and I’ve got BIG STUFF to talk about. Primarily, what are the take-aways from facing your biggest fears and failures? Like I said, it’s heavy stuff, but it’s good stuff! Some nights, you cry yourself to sleep. Some days, you tune into this weird nirvana that comes with resignation that failure might be waiting down the road. Been there before? I thought maybe so.  So here, click and listen to me drop some soul-foody truths on facing our toughest challenges.

 

 

 

Celebrate Yourself

This past Wednesday was my 35th birthday.

Yep. THIRTY-FIVE. I feel weird saying that I’m thirty-five because for most of my life I thought that people in their 30s were…old.

I’m old.

That’s not what this post is about, however. I started running when I turned thirty. I’d previously been on a weight loss journey that didn’t really require any exercise and running a 5K was just a thing I wanted to do. I’d run in high school and it was terrible, so I wanted to kind of prove I could do it. And I did.

Here I am, five years later, training for my second marathon. On Wednesday I got up early to run, spent some time at the chiropractor (because that’s what old people do), had brunch with my bestie, went to the bookstore with another friend, shopped, then had dinner with my sister. Usually my birthday makes me maudlin for no apparent reason except the ones I create in my own brain. I fought that hard on Wednesday. Because it was my birthday, dangit.

For the past few years I’ve started my birthday with a 5K. I just add on however many extra years I am onto it. Wednesday I got up and did a nice 3.5 miles for thirty-five years and it felt great. It was a strong start to my day and really helped keep my emotions high for the most part. Running is obviously a type of therapy for me, and for so many other people.

With social media it’s so easy to get caught up in the thinking that you’re just not good enough. For me, I know that I’m never going to be one of the fast runners. I’m not a person who wants to get out there and go every single day, either. I need rests. I need to sit on the couch with a book or watch television. When I have a good run or if I’m just feeling cute (Skirt Sports for the win), I like posting and sharing. Kind of like this blog post!

Actually, my run on Wednesday was a pretty normal one, though it did feel a lot better than some of my other training runs. My point is that sometimes it’s so hard for us to talk good about ourselves. We know that we sometimes put up a front on social media, and that’s fine. No one has a perfect life. But if we wait for just those perfect/awesome/amazing days we’ll never get to celebrate.

Maybe it’s not just about posted a picture with a funny caption. Make it really is about treating yourself. Not in the sense that you should go out and buy a bunch of junk, but just that you treat yourself well.

I am the queen of self-deprecation, which is ironic because my number one love language is words of affirmation. I mean, really. But by treating yourself well, I just mean to celebrate you. The everyday you. Was it hard to get out of bed today? Did you do it? Awesome! Treat yourself with a cup of coffee. Finish a book? Great! Buy a new one. Did you run? Walk? Workout? You are amazing.

I wish it were that easy, but I know it’s not. We should treat ourselves like everyday is our birthday, right?

We can at least celebrate our little accomplishments. The little things we’re proud of.

A good run.

A workout.

You put on pants one day. (I’m on vacation, okay?)

Leave me some ways you celebrate yourself. I’m going to go celebrate with leftover cake.

Race Recap: Run the Vineyards Old Country 5k

I’ve volunteered quite a few times with Good Day for a Run and every time you do, you are awarded a free race entry for your efforts! While chatting with Rachel a few weeks ago, she mentioned she was going to be at this race with the Cancer to 5k program. I put a couple of my entries to good use and registered my older son, Lucas, and myself for the 5k (there’s a 10k option as well).

There is always packet pickup before the races but doing it at the race is just as easy; that’s what I opted to do. Race management is always very communicative leading up to the race and this was no exception. There was a snafu with the shirts for this event, 2017 was printed on the shirts instead of 2018.

Good Day for a Run was upfront about this immediately and handed out the 2017 shirts while promising that we’d be able to get the 2018 shirts once they were in. I just received an email regarding this today and they will have these shirts available at three different Running Co. locations in the South Jersey area for 14 days. I found that to be a great compromise; they definitely made the best of a tough situation!

Additionally, they offer quite a few options with the shirts: men’s cut, woman’s cut, and woman’s tanks.

I didn’t really have a plan going into this race. I haven’t been training, per se, but I haven’t NOT been training. I’m going to the gym twice a week and I run when the mood strikes, but I haven’t been following a regimented training plan. I’m okay with this. It’s helping me not burn out and it’s working for now. Soon I’ll need to step up my game for races I have later this summer.

Meanwhile, Lucas has been training more regularly with running so I knew that he’d probably want to take off nearly immediately. This is a huge difference from his mentality of last summer.

Rachel drove in from PA; she’s currently dealing with a torn meniscus. No bueno. I got a text from her about 20 minutes before the race saying that she was considering not taking part because she just wasn’t feeling it. She was in her car in the parking lot when she sent this text. That’s really not her style so I put on some pressure and told her to meet me and I’d stick with her throughout the course (I might have used slightly more colorful language!).

Sending my 13 year old son ahead might have made me uneasy at other races but not with Good Day for a Run. I knew the course would be well marked and there would be volunteers at all the turns. Additionally I had a few friends that were volunteering at the race so I asked that they look out for him and make sure he was doing okay.

This race benefited Ainsley’s Angels and a large group of Athlete Riders and Angels took part in this race. They lined up first and off they went. After that group, the 5k racers toed the line, followed by the 10k racers. The first stretch of the race went through grass and vineyards. I was able to see my son ahead as we went through the first mile. Rach and I got a little nervous as we saw the 10k runners coming right up behind us, it was tight quarters for the first quarter mile or so within the vineyard. We hugged the right as much as possible to allow the 10k runners by but it was a little difficult to get everyone to follow suit.

The majority of the course was on the road and once we reached that point, the field spread out and everything was good.

Who rocks? Sean, Diana, and G rock!

There was a water station set up a little before mile 2 and the volunteers were my friends so I was able to get the update on my son. Soon after I got the text alert that he finished. Even though these races are shorter distances, they have runner tracking which is appreciated, especially in this circumstance!

We got our photograph link emailed to us later on that day and this picture captures our experience to a T. Smiling, waving, and moving! Thanks to race photographer, Chad!

The last stretch of the race was through the vineyards again. 3.1 therapeutic miles – it was so good to be with Rachel and help her through this race. When we crossed the finish line we were awarded with our Run the Vineyards wine glasses, bottle of water, and KIND bars. Each bib has a wine ticket so you’re able to enjoy a glass of wine right after the race.

The atmosphere after the races is always party-like. There was a food truck and we had chairs and picnics set up.

When they began to announce the age group awards I was only half listening because, well, let’s be honest – I never win any awards. That’s why we nearly missed when Lucas’ name was called for placing third in the M 14 and under age group! What an awesome surprise! Emphasis on surprise.

That’s my kid!

My next race is the Atlantic City Bungalow Beach 5 Miler in a few weeks. The next couple of weeks I’m focusing on the last days of school for my kids and getting ready for summer but I’m hoping to get a few training runs in before that race. Fingers crossed!

Summer Challenge(s)

First off, Happy Global Running Day! I swear it was just National Running Day, but I’m not one to argue with the Important Days Calendar. I hope you are celebrating this day with some movement! I’ll be heading off on my three mile training run soon-ish. Probably.

These days I’m having such a great time not setting an alarm and getting out of bed, that I can’t even be upset that this weekend’s long run ended in a sports bra sunburn and that yesterday’s run was more of a walk. It’s summertime and this teacher is tired!

On to the point of this post, however.

On the last day of school our admin team presented us with a challenge: a summer BINGO challenge. My School is a Leader in Me Lighthouse School meaning we teach the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to our students using kid friendly language. We also strive to live by those habits and set examples for our students. This summer, to me, is all about Habit #7: Sharpen the Saw. We spend all school year working hard and not really focusing on ourselves. Sharpening the saw is doing just that.

Our summer BINGO challenge has some cool stuff on it, and I’m excited to get started. I love participating in any type of activity I can earn prizes with. I just really love prizes. I also love challenges and trying new things…for the most part. Here are a few things that are on our BINGO sheet:

-Try and activity that you’ve never done before.

-Go on a family bike ride.

-Write a positive note and mail it to a friend.

-Eat something you’ve never tried before.

-Turn off all electronics, including TV.

-Create a goal for the summer and track it daily.

-Write a list of your unique gifts and talents.

Some others included setting mission statements, cooking and eating as a family, and celebrating goals.

I love this idea because it encompasses all parts of a person, not just the physical.

So far I haven’t completed too many of these, but I’m definitely going to work on it! I’ve started an online Book Club that’s already grown to almost twenty-five people and my anxiety is doing just fine with that, thankyouverymuch. I’ve only got one trip planned so far, but I’m hoping to visit my favorite Florida parks (Disney and Universal, did you think I meant nature?), do some fun things around my house, and just R-E-L-A-X. Oh, there’s also that pesky marathon training thing I signed up to do. How could I forget that?

Summer is the best time to get back to yourself and to find new things that you love. I’d love to hear from you about your summer plans!

Now, I’m off to celebrate Global Running Day!

What We Do When We’re Not Scooting

It’s hard to believe but Scoot a Doot has been in existence since 2013! When we aren’t Scooting our Doots, we can be found putting our time and effort toward other notable endeavors. Like what, you ask? Well…

A few years ago I got involved with the Bullock Children’s Garden at my younger son’s school. We have since moved to a different school district but remain involved with the Bullock Garden, as it’s something that is near and dear to my heart.

Therefore when my friend and gardening mentor, Sonya Harris started the Bullock Garden Project, Inc., a non-profit that assists in bringing gardens to schools, I was 100% on board. In fact, we just helped the new school my son is in with their Reimagination Garden. I absolutely love being on the board of the BGP and helping with the social media/marketing aspects. It’s not only personally enjoyable, it’s also rewarding to see the kids getting so much from the gardens that they help create.

My children during the recent garden build. At this point they’re just like – what has mom signed us up for now? Ha!

I’ve been asked (by more than one person) if I’m a teacher. Maybe it’s because many of my friends are teachers? Anyway, no, I’m not.

At least, not in the traditional sense. I used to teach Stroller Strides, which was a workout class for moms with kiddos in strollers. These days, I’m the coordinator for the non-profit Healthy Kids Running Series – Mullica Hill/Mantua.

It’s perfect because it combines two things that I love: running and kids. Oh, and being in charge. The Healthy Kids Running Series is something I’d heard about over the years (my location started in 2015 with different coordinators).

When I took over as coordinator for this spring, it became a family affair. It is not a one-person show and I have no delusions that I could do it alone. My support system consists of my family and an awesome group of volunteers and sponsors – and that’s important when you have over 250 kids to manage!

Planning for the fall has already begun and I’m looking forward to introducing more kids to the love of running!

I started a personal blog when I turned thirty. I wrote about life, teaching, books, and my new found running obsession. When I started writing for Scoot, I turned it into a blog about teaching. There’s always plenty to say about the best job ever. My feelings are all over thisgirlashteaches.blospot.com.

I also grew from that blog been writing and rambling about books for about three years. I’ve always loved to read and I also love to talk about books. I could talk about books all day. Of course, not everyone wants to hear me wax poetic about what I’m reading, so I started typing is all up. You can find my randomness at www.thisgirlashreadsstuff.com. As you can see, I’m really serious about it.

For my birthday this month, I decided to fundraise for Planned Parenthood. PP is doing work that so many women (and men) in our country depend on for their overall health. They provide safe access to abortion services as well as birth control, STI/STD screenings, cancer screenings, pregnancy tests, and treatment for a number of other health issues.


The Trump Administration is working hard to take access to this healthcare away from us. With a new gag rule, he and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar are now trying to make it official government policy. The gag rule is an attempt to take away women’s basic rights. Period. The new gag-rule announced this week would block patients from care at Planned Parenthood, and it would prohibit medical providers across the country from being able to refer their patients for safe, legal abortion.Women must be able to have agency over their bodies and be able to control their own health. We don’t live in Gilead… yet. Let’s keep fighting to make sure we never do.
Parkland. Santa Fe. Las Vegas. Newtown. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Thurston. 
This list goes on and on and on. Add these to the growing number of black men and women that have been unlawfully killed by police? It’s evident we have a gun violence problem in our country. I’m ready to change that. Don’t at me. 
For years, my main hobby was showing dogs and educating folks about responsible dog ownership and ethical breeding. It was a fun ride, but as my dogs aged and my hubby and I got sick and tired of the politics of showing, we retired and stepped away from our officer roles with the Rocky Mountain Pug Dog Club. It was time to try new things.

Me and my Archie, CH Palace’s Brocade in Blue, raking in the points!

Honestly, 97% of my time these days is dedicated to finishing my house. The other three percent is reserved for pursuing my dream of becoming a published author, and leading the writing critique group I co-founded, Tall Pines Fiction Writers. We meet every other Wednesday to support, commiserate, and provide feedback on one another’s work. I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer. I love reading and excelled in English and literature classes in school but never tried to write fiction. My boyfriend (now husband) kept telling me I should write because I love to read. He didn’t really get that the two are not the same thing at all.

In 2009, I decided to write a short story for a contest online. I sent it off, nervous because I knew my technical skills needed a lot of work.  With the help of a great editor who became one of my best friends, I won the canon category of the contest! Yes, it was a Twilight fan fiction story. Judge me all you want, I regret nothing. It sounds silly, but winning that contest changed my life. It taught me that maybe I had what it took to really be a writer. Since then, I’ve published two short stories!

There is nothing quite so special as seeing your name in print in a real book that wasn’t published by your friend’s indie publishing house.

Right now, I’m focused on finishing the first draft of my young adult paranormal sci-fi novel, and trying to learn about the publishing business. I launched a website earlier this year,  Author J.L. Perez, where you can follow along on my crazy writing adventure, and I’m on Twitter at @Author_JLPerez. I’d love to see you over there!
That’s what we’ve got going on these days! We’d love to hear about what you are up to so please, leave links for us in the comments and we’ll swing by. 

Be Cool, Sodapop

Summer! Don’t you just love it?

Okay, I know it isn’t “technically” summer just yet, but I live in south Florida. It’s the land of perpetual summer. Except when it’s hurricane season.

This week I tried a vlog to talk about how to stay cool and hydrated this summer. Apologies in advance for being super awkward.

 

I love this Cool It skirt!

Leave me some comments about how you stay cool.

America the Food-iful

I’ll go ahead and apologize for the punny title, but not for how much I love food (and America)! With Memorial Day coming up this weekend I thought I’d try and put together some fun, healthy-like recipes that you can share with your friends at your BBQs!

Naturally, I took to Twitter to ask my friends what they liked to make/eat and got a few good responses. After that I basically just texted my friends. I’m the kind of girl who brings the veggie tray, chips and salsa, or beer. I like to cook, but…okay, no I don’t.

Below are some recipes that you can try this weekend, if you just click the name! Some are healthy and some are just tasty.

Cowboy Caviar

This one’s great because you can eat is alone or with chips to dip!

Jell-O Poke Cake 

It’s colorful and delicious!

Red, White, and Blueberry Trifle

God bless America.

Oven Fried Pickles

Someone make me these, stat.

Skinny Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is pretty much my go-to for parties. I’m actually pretty good at making it.

 

Super healthy options also include fruit or vegetables. You can get creative and go all ‘MURICA if you want, too.

What are some of your favorites?

 

How Not to Burnout

I typed that title, read it out loud, and my sister laughed at me, y’all.

Maybe it’s because I am very, very bad at taking it easy. As a teacher, the end of the year is VERY STRESSFUL, OKAY?

I’M FINE.

Every year I tell myself that I’m not going to procrastinate and I’m going to do things right…but here we are again. Some things start piling up and it feels like you can never catch up. Somehow it kind of always works out.

I feel that the same can be said about training, too.

I’ve been training for the Chicago Marathon for a little over two months now and things are really coming along nicely. My friend and I are using a Hal Higdon training plan and we’re both enjoying it. As the year comes to a close it’s hard to run together, but I’ve stated before that we have plans to train together this summer. I’m definitely excited and nervous about training during a lovely Florida summer, but at least it will be character building!

One thing I noticed when I first started training was that I was ready to go ALL IN BABY. I’d also started a weight loss journey and I just knew I was going to get svelte and everything was going to be amazing.

That was clearly not what happened. I was tired. I was working out or running every single day, and I wasn’t losing how I wanted to. I got kind of obsessed with closing the green circle on my Apple Watch. It was so satisfying to close those rings! I was so proud!

I was also burning myself out. So. I stopped cross training. I realized that the running and stretching was more important than anything else. As a runner, I know that cross training is important at the right time. I love working out. I love finding new things that my muscles can do. But I hated forcing myself to do things for no reason. (Obviously being healthy is a good reason, but it wasn’t part of my training plan.)

I’ve felt a lot better since I stopped and reevaluated my workout plan. I’ve made it to my goal weight and, with my marathon training, I’m getting read to actually add cross training back into my plan. It’s perfect timing, with summer just around the corner.

Training has been an interesting experience for me. I’ve had plenty of good runs, but I feel like the bad run outnumber them. I’m out there, though. I’m moving and getting the miles in. I’m feeling strong

Except today.

Today I put my pajamas on at 5PM.

You’ve got to take care of yourself.

Ready, Set, Camp!

Last weekend, Clay and I celebrated our one year anniversary (!!) which is really crazy to think that a year has already gone by – time is weird and I don’t understand it. 
Crazy. All of that silliness doesn’t feel like a year ago. Clay and I just really want to throw our wedding again every year in celebration. Maybe we’ll actually do that some day, because it was really just the most fun day ever.

Anyways. To celebrate reaching this milestone, we decided that instead of taking a vacation or staying at some fancy hotel we’d rather go play outside and sleep in the woods. We reserved a camping spot at Westmoreland State Park, about and hour and half south of DC and on the banks of the Potomac River. When we arrived, we set up camp in record time (the upside to a small tent!), and decided that since it was already so hot out (90 degress, natch), we’d check out the trail that went down to the beach, because sitting by the water seemed like a good way to cool down a little. When we got to the beach, we discovered the best little coves, and we had one all to ourselves so we scrambled over the rocks for a while, enjoying the view of the river and the Chesapeake Bay. It was really beautiful and the perfect place to spend some time relaxing.  When we headed back to our campsite, we had to climb back up the bluff – which was a great workout (lololol), but it did make for a great picture.Once we got to the top, we decided to find another trail and keep up the hiking for a little while longer. We wound our way back to a lake where we ended up sitting and listening to bird and frog songs for a good half an hour, while watching for turtles. It was the best way to wind down and really take in the natural world.

Typically when we camp, we like to cook over the fire, but since we’re still in the midst of our adventure with RP, we prepped our food before we left home and just kept it in the cooler. However, we did stray from the RP templates a little with dessert, because we feasted on our wedding cake! It was delicious the first time around and a year later? Just as delicious. It kept really well in the freezer! It was really fun to bring ourselves back to our wedding day with that cake – so many good memories, and more added with the celebration of our anniversary.

I’m really excited for so many more years of camping and hiking and building fires and going on adventures with this dude. He’s really just the best.

Don’t Look Backwards – You’re Not Going That Way

Somehow, some way, it’s the middle of May.

I’m not sure how this happened. We were just sitting here, watching the snow fall last month (literally, it was just last month). New Jersey managed to skip over spring completely. Oh wait, not completely, because ALLERGIES are here in full force.

But yeah, other than that, it’s basically summer with temps most days in the 80s. Or raining. That’s what we’ve got going on over here. Summer or rain.

Here, for example, we were able to give out awards to our awesome HKRS runners… right before the skies opened up to a lovely downpour. Thanks to Kathleen B Photography for this picture!

At the end of 2017, I shared my race plans for 2018. Due to changes in plans and a few injuries, three of those didn’t happen. Did that stop me for registering for more races? NO! IT DID NOT. And now that the spring Healthy Kids Running Series is complete, I can begin training once more, the way I should prepare for races.

june

The inaugural Bungalow Beach Run is a 5 mile race that takes place in Atlantic City. As soon as I heard about this race, I knew I had to register!

First of all, it’s held by one of my favorites, the Atlantic City Marathon Races Series.

Secondly, the first 100 people to register get a beach towel (and you know I was one of those first 100 people!).

Registration cost was only $35 when the race opened (hello, affordable) and is currently $45. There’s day of packet pickup, medals, beer, entertainment, and THE BEACH. Plus, many of my local friends signed up for this one so I know it’s going to be a good time. I can’t wait!

august

Here’s a destination race for me – Vacation Races Elk Double. I’ll be taking a little trip across the country to join Jenn at her favorite race weekend!

I’m so excited for this for several reasons:

  1. JENN. I get my Jennifer! I haven’t seen her for far too long and I can’t wait! Not only that, but I get to spend 16.2 miles with her.
  2. Colorado. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean. If you haven’t been there, you should go!
  3. I’m bringing my family along with me! My boys are SO EXCITED for all things travel related but they’re really fixated on going to Colorado. Probably because of number 2.

So yes, I am really pumped for this and while I don’t want to rush time along or anything, I am very much looking forward to August! (And yes, I totally just copied and pasted my blurb from the previous blog. Not even going to pretend otherwise.)

I love a good 10k and I have it on good authority (aka all of my friends RAVE about this race) that The Philly 10k is amazing! This races sells out quickly each year and its piqued my interest mainly because it’s a race that takes place in Philly but not by the Art Museum. For those who live around this area, we know that most races happen on the same course, or at least a good portion of it does.

NOT THE PHILLY 10k! The course goes through South Street and Center City, which is a refreshing change! Sure it’s in August, and sure it may be hotter than the surface of the sun, and sure I might be regretting this in a few months… but for now? I’m stoked.

september

Back in 2013, Vic and Kyle ran the Bird-In-Hand Half Marathon. I believe it was then that I added this race to my bucket list. Five long years later, I have finally registered. Rachel and I needed a destination road trip and when she mentioned Bird-In-Hand, I said SOLD!

Last September we ran the Shenandoah Half together but since it’s not returning this year, we decided to set our sights on a tried and true race. Many runners, including many Team Shenanigans members talk about their love for this one so I’m really excited to experience all the hills it has to offer. Having run Ragnar PA last year also gives me a good idea of what to expect.

HEALTHY KIDS RUNNING SERIES HAPPENS MID-SEPTEMBER TO MID-OCTOBER. I’M BEING SMART (THIS TIME) AND NOT REGISTERING FOR ANY RACES DURING IT. I LEARNED MY LESSON!

october

I’m going back to A.C. and I’ll give you a hint: I won’t be doing the marathon, half marathon, or 5k during this race weekend. That’s right, it’s my favorite race distance, the 10k! I’ve run this race a couple of times in the past, both times were in the rain actually so I’m not really sure how the bodes for this October but I’m hoping for a nice fall day.

And I’m just going to put this out there: Finish Line Beer Garden.

Do with that what you will.

november

My very first road race was the Rothman 8k in 2011 during the Philadelphia Marathon weekend. While I was laid up with my broken wrist and in the middle of what I like to refer to as FOREVERWINTER, I decided that I was going to return to the race where it all began for me. After posting about it on Facebook, a good amount of people decided they’d sign up too! (I swear, I didn’t even work at talking anyone into it.)(Okay, maybe a little but they were highly motivated!)

I’m looking forward to this one because I really like this race weekend but I don’t want to do commit to training for a half (or full, for that matter – but that sorta goes without saying) around that time of year. A late November 8k is just right and since the weekend before Thanksgiving it always leaves me with warm fuzzies about running as we go into the holidays.

As always, there could be another race that comes on my radar for 2018 but these are the ones that are set in stone for now! I’m looking forward to all of them. I’ve adjusted my goals for this year, I’m not looking to PR any of these races and with my training thus far, I don’t think it’s very likely. My main goal is to get them done, remain injury free, and have a good time!