Race Recap: Chicago Marathon

So. Last Sunday I ran a marathon. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise as I feel it’s all I’ve been able to talk about for the past few months. When I signed up to run the Chicago Marathon with a charity team, I knew I had to do something different than I did when I ran the Space Coast Marathon in 2016. Basically I knew I had to train. If you’ve followed my journey you know I started training earnestly this summer. I live in South Florida, so it basically sucked. I learned so much about myself, what I could do, what I needed to do to take care of myself, how hard marathon training is.

BUT – it definitely paid off.

 

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Post race pic, but I thought I’d start with something happy.

 

Last Thursday I took a half day off work and my mom, sister, and I got ready to fly to Chicago. It was typical hot weather here on the Gulf Coast, with a few showers. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 5:00 and we ended up being delayed until 6:50. It was about 8:30 Chicago time when we landed and we ended up taking a shady cab to the city. I’m not going to go a lot into the city and trip because I feel like there’s so much of the race to talk about, but we had a great time. It’s been sweltering down here recently and the change of weather was nice. Even if it was rainy and cloudy, it was better than suffocating in the heat. A true testament to my taper diet was the fact that I had to try on all my jeans before I packed to make sure they fit. Don’t worry, I also packed leggings…just in case.

We did the sightseeing thing Friday and Saturday, making sure to see the good stuff. We walked the streets, rode an architectural tour boat, and ate some good food. On Friday I met Michelle at the expo so we could pick up our packets. We also picked up some t-shirts, headbands, nuun – the essentials, ha! A lot of you also know that I signed up with the American Heart Association and I finally got to meet the team leaders at the expo. It was nice to talk to them about my story and to finally put a face to their names. I reached my fundraiser goal a week before the race, so that was a huge weight off my shoulders!

Saturday night Michelle and I planned to meet at the hotel restaurant for some last minute carbs, only to find it was closed for a private event. We took the opportunity to go to a pizza place around the corner to grab a slice (okay a whole pizza) and drinks. Beer and pizza seems to be our pre-race ritual, so this was spot on. (We did not get deep dish as it would have taken an hour to cook and I was starving.)

After dinner I went back to my room to prep and make sure everything was ready to go. And to set up my Flat Ash pic, of course. I went to be early, knowing I wouldn’t sleep well. Every time I woke up it felt like I’d been asleep for hours, until my alarm finally went off at 5AM. We’d planned to meet at 6 for breakfast and a walk to Grant Park. Our hotel was full of runners doing the same thing so we hung out a little bit in the warm breakfast area before getting ready to brave the cold.

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I know I said the cold was a relief, but not really when you’re running in a skirt and tank top. Michelle’s brother walked with us to the start line and we parted ways as we got ready to enter our corral. The crowd was already huge and it was only 7AM. Our start time was 8:35! We filed into gear check with everyone, sloshed through the mud, stood in line for the porta-potty, and finally shuffled into our corral. The energy just waiting to start was intense. Everyone was in sweaters and ponchos, taking pictures, and having a good time – in the rain, by the way. I met two Skirt Sport Sisters and chatted for a few minutes before we got shuffled up to the start line.

Our wave finally let out at almost 9AM. It had stopped raining by this time so I’d shed my poncho but kept my sweater for a while. We started out slow and steady, keeping a good pace with everyone around us. I chucked my sweater around Mile 1 because I was starting to warm up. About that time I – literally – ran into my Internet Friend Maura. We’ve known each other on Twitter for years and had been keeping up with each other’s training these past few months. I joked that we would “run” into each other and we did! (She also crushed Chicago, by the way.)

I’m not sure when it started raining again, but I seriously regretted throwing my sweater and poncho when it did. It got cold quick and didn’t let up for a while. Besides the rain, the course at the beginning was great! When you read that there are 1.2 million spectators you can’t really visualize that. But when you finally see all the people on the sidelines it gets a little overwhelming! The first few miles seemed to go pretty fast, even if my running wasn’t that fast. We made sure to stop for water and Gatorade and kept up with our fuel. Seeing so many different parts of the city was so much fun and the people at each turn were different in so many ways.

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At Mile 8 I met another Internet Friend with her amazing sign. We hugged for like two seconds then I ran away.

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By this time it had stopped raining, but I was definitely starting to slow down a little. We’d been running full (kind of ) speed and my body just wasn’t used to it. At Mile 13 my mom and sister were on the sidelines with hugs and a super fun sign for me. (Captain America is my favorite superhero so my mom had a nice Chicago resident make a sign for me.)

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Technically this is an after pic, but whatever.

A little after 15 I started to slow down a lot. I told Michelle to go on without me. I was sad we were getting separated but I just couldn’t keep up with her pace. My hips were killing me and there wasn’t enough BioFreeze in the land to make it stop.

Going on by myself was tough, but I managed. I set my phone to do intervals so I could take some walk breaks. I knew I had to keep a 15:00 pace so every checkpoint I peeked at my app to make sure I was scheduled to finish on time. We had chosen not to track through any running app (I usually use Nike Running) because we were told the GPS would mess up and we didn’t want to kill our phones, knowing we’d need to find everyone at the end. I let my sister and Mer know that I was on my own (and Twitter). Everyone’s encouragement was amazing and I knew that I had to get through it, if not for me it was to not disappoint others. I hate doing that. As we continued to move through the neighborhoods some of the crowds got smaller, but they were still enthusiastic. By this point pedestrians were trying to cross the street in the middle of runners, which I didn’t really care for. I know that life must go on, but some of them were a little reckless. My legs weren’t working that well and I didn’t want an injury when I was so close!

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I remember texting Mer when I was close to the end and visiting one last BioFreeze station. It was basically something like “I just BioFreezed my butt” to lather up my hip. I’m usually pretty modest, but I was dying. At some point it started to sprinkle again and I’d kind of lot track of where I was, mileage wise. There were bananas on the course and I ate a couple in the last few stretches. My friend Lily was tracking me and tweeting my progress, and Mer was texting me encouragement. Without them I probably would’ve ended up walking and not caring about my time. People around me were struggling, but there were still so many people behind us. I always makes me feel better knowing that I’m not the only one suffering!

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When I hit the Mile 26 mark I almost cried. Mostly because there was a big hill at the end and I wanted to die. But also because it was over. As I rounded the hill to come into the finish a girl next to me was crying. I told her “You got this!” and she said “I know, I’m just so happy!”

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That’s a marathon, y’all. It hurts and it sucks. It takes six months of your life and then suddenly none of it matters because you’re there and you’re trying not to cry or throwup or quit. It’s hard. I admire people who do more than one every couple of years. Whether you’re Sir Mo running your sub 5 or you’re me and my crew struggling to keep your 15 minute mile. You’re awesome.

So, back to the race. Coming across the finish line I felt a lot of emotions. I felt strong, tired, hungry, and delirious. Michelle was waiting for me right after medals, so we took pics and got our free beer. We sloshed our way through the mud to get our gear and WALKED DOWN THE STAIRS to get out of Grant Park. My mom and sister were waiting with the crowd outside and we grabbed and Uber with Michelle and her brother. It was fun piling into someone else’s car all gross and smelly for once.

Everything after that is kind of a blur. I took a nice Epsom salt bath while my mom went across the street to grab me food. It was still early in the day, but I stayed in my pajamas and ate a cheeseburger and fries in bed. I answered all my texts and tweets, assuring people that I was still alive in some way. After it all I managed to pack my suitcase to prepare for leaving the next day. I even walked to the Nike store the next day on my own, albeit slowly. My flight was excruciating to say the least. I got stuck with a middle seat and we were pretty much confined to our seats due to turbulence the whole flight. There were some inhuman noises from me once I was able to stand up.

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Once we got home Monday afternoon I didn’t move from the couch. I elevated and binged Brooklyn 99 while my sister brought me things so I would stop moaning and groaning every time I got up.

Everyone at work this week has been amazing. They are all so congratulatory and don’t care how long it took you or if you walked any of the race. Sometimes the kids ask “Did you win?” and you just have to laugh. This past Wednesday my class talked about setting goals and it was really perfect timing! They’d known all year that this was my goal and it was something I got to share with them. As far as my race goals are concerned, I was really hoping for a sub 6. I ended up with a final time of 6:26 and some change. While I didn’t reach my goal, it was still a 33 minute PR! I’m pretty proud of that.

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BioFreeze cheers from my people.

If anyone is thinking about running a marathon, I’d definitely look into Chicago. The course was amazing, the people were great, and the city is beautiful. Even if the runners totally destroyed it.

Thanks to all of you for following this journey and all of your kind words!

Don’t ask me if I’m ready for another one.

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Girls on the Run is So Much Fun!

At the end of last year I was out on a run (and probably complaining about it on Instagram) when I got a message from a parent from my school. She mentioned that students in her class at the local university were coaching Girls on the Run as part of a class project and thought it would be something I’d like to do at our school.

I had heard about GOTR through social media and a few other things, but hadn’t really thought much about coaching or getting involved. I coached Cross Country at my school last year and that was my first experience with coaching anything, so I was interested to see what GOTR was all about.

We got in touch with the director, met with my principal, and applied for our school to become a site for GOTR over the summer. I also learned that a new teacher we’d hired was previously a coach and would also be interested in coaching…and Girls on the Run was born at my school.

Coach Ashley and Coach Randee in our matching shirts!

There were some logistical things to work out (still are) but we wrapped up our first week on a positive note and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season!

If you’re wondering what Girls on the Run even is, here’s a little information for you about their core values:

  • Recognize our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making
  • Embrace our differences and find strength in our connectedness
  • Express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions
  • Nurture our physical, emotional and spiritual health
  • Lead with an open heart and assume positive intent
  • Stand up for ourselves and others

Now, I’m a second grade teacher and the program is for 3-5 and 6-8 grade girls. I love these values and everything GOTR stands for. I believe it’s something my school tries to instill in all of our students and I’m so glad we got to bring this program in to help empower some of our girls.

I was nervous about whether or not we would have girls sign up, but we actually had so many that we had to bring in another coach and waitlist some girls for next season. A lot of these girls I’ve known since they were either in kindergarten or second grade, and some of them are my former students. I love the fact that some of my girls signed up because I was the coach, but I truly hope that they learn and grow from this program. What we’ve seen so far has been a lot of fun. The girls are eager to learn and participate in the lessons (even if I’m still learning them too!), they are already helping us problem solve (because it rains in Florida every afternoon), and they are learning how to encourage others. They had fun running inside last week when we had to move for rain and made the most of it!

It’s been one week. Two days! I am so looking forward to seeing these girls grow. I know there are some who will only enhance themselves and their own values, but there are also those that struggle. The older girls are getting to points where everyday is a challenge and there’s always something new to discourage them. Some of these girls are doing a lot of activities and are already learning to make choices about what they are good at and what they want to do. Some of them just need to know that someone is there for them to lend them a positive outlook on life.

The program allows girls to set their own running goals each week as they increase their time spent running and build up their stamina. So far our running has been minimal, but the girls are still having fun and setting goals for themselves.

Kyndall kept us (me) entertained while running and exceeded her run goal.

Presley set a goal and exceeded it. She’s a rockstar!

I’m already loving seeing these girls and their passion for running and fitness, and it’s only been one full week. Like I said, I can’t wait to see what these girls can and will do. I feel privileged to be their coach.

Road Tested: Nuun Immunity

Disclaimer: I received Nuun Immunity to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

As a teacher staying healthy is pretty much key to do, well, anything. I was really excited when BibRave offered the new Nuun product Nuun Immunity to try! I try all kinds of things to keep me healthy (like crossing my fingers and using hand sanitizer abundantly) during the school year and I was stoked to try this.

I was a little wary of the flavors at first, I’ll be honest. My favorite Nuun is the strawberry lemonade, so that’s normally all I buy. When the citrus and blueberry tangerine showed up, I wasn’t so sure! I tried the citrus first and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It reminded me of the lemon-lime flavor I’ve tried before. It took a while before I mustered up the courage for blueberry tangerine, though. I’m not a huge fan of blueberry for reasons I’m not sure about. It grew on me, though. I even tossed it to a co-worker who said she was feeling a little icky last week and she liked it. So, two thumbs up here!

I’m also at the end of my marathon training (AW YEAH IT’S TAPER TIME) and have been drinking Nuun Immunity the day before my long runs and during my long runs to keep me hydrated. I’ve found myself feeling great during most of my runs, even in the South Florida heat. Some of the days are just sweltering and the extra boost from nuun definitely helped get me through some challenging miles.

For the most part, I’ve felt strong and healthy! I can’t say that I’m always one hundred percent because teaching is like bathing in germs, but I’m grateful for the extra boost that Nuun Immunity has given me! And I’ll be taking it to Chicago with me, so stay tuned!

Check out www.nuunlife.com and use HYDRATEBIBPRO for 20% off! Enjoy!

Countdown to Chicago

Hey! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve jumped on here to share some nonsense. First off, I’m super thankful for the Scoot Chicks and all the amazing things they’ve been sharing. Since school started I don’t feel like I’ve had much to share or much time/energy to do said sharing. As I type, I’m sitting in my pajamas wondering if it’s too late to make coffee. (It totally is.)

Here’s the thing though: CHICAGO IS IN EIGHTEEN DAYS!

I know, I’m freaking out also. I’ve kind of been documenting my training progress here and on Instagram. This past weekend my running buddy and I ran out longest run of our training we’re officially in taper territory now.

To me, this means a couple of things:

  1. I can reclaim Sundays.
  2. My legs will stop hurting everyday.
  3. It’s time to amp up the anxiety.

I haven’t been looking forward to weekends for a long time. Maybe that sounds crazy to some of you who loooooove running, but I am so ready for a little break! My weekday running has seriously been slacking, so the weekend long runs are always challenging. We had a fun (LOL) 18 miles last weekend and this weekend was our 20 miler.

I usually get up about 3:45 on Sundays. Yes, that’s in the AM. Marathon training in the summer months in South Florida has proven to be brutal. I’m pretty sure we’re ready for anything Chicago has to throw at us.

This Sunday was a bit of a dress rehearsal. I wore my American Heart Association tank and my Skirt Sports Jette Skirt in Holiday Print. I got a new pair of Brooks Ghosts before my 18 mile run and I’ve fallen in love. We’ve both been wearing hydration vests for fueling during long runs.  (Did I mention it’s hot here?) I won’t be running Chicago with it, however.

5AM. Ready-ish to rock.

We’ve been doing intervals of two-minute run and thirty-second walks and pacing pretty steadily. We do get off sometimes, but for training purposes we’re mostly worried about the mileage. Once we get to Chicago the adrenaline is going to be pumping and we’ll be ready. I really think that Michelle and I have learned a lot about ourselves from this training. We know that we’re capable of running a marathon, since we’ve done it already, but this feels kind of different, I guess. We’re running a lot smarter than we have in the past and I’m feeling really good about our progress. And we’re having fun. In the end I think that’s what matters most.

We’ve been using McD’s for their bathrooms…and also their OJ.

This weekend started out strong. The route we’ve been using is a little different than what we started with some shorter runs, just because we know we can get the mileage in with no guessing. There are multiple stops on our way for potty breaks and if we need a little boost. I’ve been experimenting with different fueling and trying to find something that doesn’t make me sick afterwards. Lately I’ve been using Stinger Chews and those seem to working well! I always carry a bottle of water and nuun to keep me hydrated also. I like the new route because it’s a little more lively and there’s a bit more to see. I definitely feel safer than I’d been feeling in the past couple of weeks.

I always snap a pic at my alma mater. #GOEAGLES

Once the sun came up on Sunday all of my strength seemed to leave me. Michelle and I both could only think about how heavy our legs had started to feel at about mile 12. It was brutally hot and we still had so many miles to go. A week before our 18 we bailed out early due to knee problems (her) and stomach issues (ew, me) and it was a smart thing to do. There was no way we were doing it this week, though.

SEE YA REAL SOON, CHICAGO.

After I made Michelle take this pic at a bus stop she told me to, and I quote, “Get your ass up and let’s go.” My biggest motivator!

 

We stopped for sodas at about 17.5 miles and the extra sugar kicked helped a little. It wasn’t as great as it was the week before, but it was still fun running down the road with cups of loud ice. Once we made it to the park where we do our final mile, we’d both shed our vests and shirts. We were literally dripping sweat and praying we didn’t run into any students at the park while we were running in our sports bras.

H E L P

So, we finished the 20 miles. It happened and it’s done. It definitely wasn’t the best but I know it won’t define Chicago for me. I’m excited about the course and everything I’ll get to see up there. My family is planning a mini-vacation with a lot of fun things crammed into a few days before and after the marathon.

I’m nervous but also pretty excited because I truly feel prepared for this race. I haven’t been this prepared since I ran my first half marathon and stuck to my training. It wasn’t easy, but we made it! Stay tuned for the recap and to make sure I survived!

Race Recap: Rampage 5K

When I posted about some upcoming races a few weeks ago I mentioned I might sign up for a 5K or something in the midst of training. Honestly, I love race bling so when my RBF and another Skirt Sister/coworker starting talking about signing up we just went for it. The Rampage 5K was part of a summer series put on by a group that does a lot of races in the South Florida area. Their events are always fun (if not always well-organized) with fun swag and good courses.

I picked up my packet on Friday after school. This group is infamous for running out of shirts and I wanted to make sure I got a good one. I live about forty-five minutes from the race site, so I went to bed fairly early Friday night. Being back to work full-time is kicking my butt so it wasn’t that hard. If you follow me on Instagram you saw my fun Saturday morning video asking “When will I never not run on a weekend?” I’m feeling pretty good with my marathon training but, wow, do I miss sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday!

My friends were already at the race site when I got there at about 6:40. We took a quick trip to the bathroom and then headed to the start line for a picture. I was excited to run a race, but also that it was only for three miles. Most of my weekend runs are in the double digits now so a 5K sounded really great.

Skirt Sisters at the start line!

I’m not normally the type of person to set goals for races. Sometimes I’ll plan a pace I want to stick to but most of the time I just want to finish and not throw up. This was one of those races.

The morning was already muggy, as it as has been for most of the summer. I’m used to starting to my runs before the sun comes up, only this race had a later start. It was definitely steamy and my glasses kept fogging up if I breathed or turned the wrong way.

Once we got going it was a fairly simple run. The course was easy and smooth, with a lot of nice scenery. I’d done two other races at this park before that were ten-milers so I was pretty familiar with it the park. There were a couple of times when we had to veer off the sidewalk due to puddles but then I just ended up stepping in mud. By the time Michelle and I hit our first mile I knew we were making pretty good time. Our first mile came out at about 10:40 and I almost laughed! That’s a pretty fast time for us and I was totally ready to slow down and save some energy. It definitely didn’t happen though! We kept pushing through, enjoying the scenery and the morning. I slowed down to take a few pictures of the nature we were running through. I love living in Florida but I’ve come to realize that you either run through a swamp or on concrete. There also might be critters living…anywhere.

Don’t you want to run by this?

There was one iffy part where we had to run on a boardwalk that I definitely took my time on. I’m clumsy and the boardwalk was definitely slippery. I’ve also been working my butt off for Chicago and wasn’t looking to injure myself five weeks before. After that it was smooth sailing! My legs were feeling great despite the fast-than-usual pace. The only problem was the humidity. Usually I don’t drip sweat into my eyes for at least seven miles!

As Michelle and I came turned into the shoot for the finish line Ali was waiting to take a picture of us, since she’d already finished.

All smiles here!

After we finished we all checked the results, just for fun on my part. I did well enough in the results, but I’m not in it to win it. I race mostly against myself. Once I stopped my Nike Run tracker, however, it told me that I smashed my previous 5K record! I’ve been running for over five years now and it always feels like I’ve gotten slower, so it was exciting to get a 5K PR of under thirty-five minutes.

Skirts and medals! Medals and Skirts!

Once we’d take our final picture, the three of us headed to Skillets for breakfast. I’d only been there once before but I was dreaming about a waffle and bacon and coffee the whole morning.

So worth it.

For a last minute race, it was a nice little surprise. I’m glad we decided to just go for.

And, honestly, it was a nice warm up for Sunday’s fourteen miles.

Chicago, here I come.

A Day in the Life Redo

A few weeks ago I posted my “Day in the Life” as a teacher during summer vacation. It was from random stuff I did on a Saturday and it was a lot of fun!

Now I’m back to work and life is decidedly not as fun. I’ve been back to work for a couple of weeks, but this past Friday was our first official day of school. (I don’t know why.) I figured I would wait to get into the groove to do a new post, but here I am!

I started off strong on Monday with taking pictures and was really looking forward to sharing what an actual day for me looks like. I usually get up around between 5:00-5:30 on weekdays. Sometimes my alarms start going off at 4:45 and that’s just because I like to snooze. I’m not really the type of person who works out that early in the morning an I don’t like running in the dark, so the mornings are usually pretty chill.

On Monday I actually had enough time to make breakfast that wasn’t a protein shake mixed with too much coffee.

Yes, I do drink my coffee out of a Disney Princess mug most days, thankyouverymuch.

I have about a forty minute drive to work everyday, so I try to leave by at least 6:15. I’ve done well so far this year! Okay, fine. It’s only been five days.

Traffic sucks, but sometimes you get the sunrise and the water. *heart eyes emoji*

I like getting to work early because it helps me feel like my life is kind of together before my kiddos show up. We open our classroom doors at 7:45 so a good chunk of my time is prepping what I didn’t do the day before or, like, talking to my friends. I’m very good at procrastinating.

I’m pretty much ON from 7:45 until about 11:25. Our meeting is packed with English/Language Arts, Social Studies, centers, Science, repeated bathroom breaks, me telling students over and over to sit down, me drinking coffee and silently running my hand over my face in frustration…

Well. It’s only been five days, right?

Monday wasn’t really anything spectacular. We go to lunch and recess for an hour. Sometimes I have lunch duty but this week I’ve been outside for recess where it’s 90 degrees but feels like the surface of the sun. Lunchtime is the twenty minutes I get to interact with my teammates while we all try to stuff our faces with food.

 

A quiet moment alone with my coffee. Remember what I said about Disney Princesses?

After we melt our faces off at recess, the afternoon goes by quickly. We have silent reading time, where I catch up on emails and enjoy actual silence, and then math, which I do not enjoy. I know, I’m the teacher. I still don’t like it. At 2:00 my students go to the special area classes. Don’t ask me what class they went to, I don’t even know what day it is. After specials its dismissal (EVERYONE GO HOME) and, yeah, that’s it.

Since the year is still so fresh I’m not involved in any coaching or afterschool tutoring just yet. I know those days will come when I’m not leaving school until late afternoon and I’m fighting traffic, but I’m okay with it. I like to be prepared for the next day and if that means staying a little later, that’s fine with me.

This Monday, however, I had to take a quick trip to my chiropractor. I’ve been going since this summer and I’m liking it a lot. They are helping me “get my head on straight”. *ba dum tss*

My doctors do a supply drive and partner with my school to help students in need.

 

Helloooooo.

I decided to step a little out of my comfort zone and stop at the local park to get in a quick run before I headed home. I haven’t been getting many miles in during the week and my long weekend runs are suffering. My plans were thwarted when I started getting texts about…many things. There are no pictures because I got distracted and upset about things I can’t really control and gave up on my run. I did manage a good 1.5 miles, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. Sometimes Mondays are like that and you’ve just got to roll with the punches.

Eventually I made it home for a shower and dinner around 7PM. I did some meal prep on Sunday so that was easy to take care of. Most days I bring work home from school to do while I sit on the couch and watch TV, but I don’t have much to grade at the beginning of the year.

This year is definitely going to be an interesting one. I’m teaching Gifted/Cambridge students for the first time in my teach career. This also means that I have to take five district classes to become certified so, yeah, life is about to get busy.

I’ll still be taking selfies with my coffee cups, though.

A Day in the Life: Ash

I feel a little weird continuing this series when I’m on summer vacation. My days are by no means scheduled and I rarely…do stuff. I run. I workout. I watch a lot of television (all 187 episodes of One Tree Hill, a whole season of Runaways, and I’m almost done with season two of Jessica Jones). So.

I chose Saturday to document since I actually had plans to do things with my sister. First on the agenda was a 12 mile training, but without my running buddy and any motivation whatsoever I ended up only doing five and calling it a day. Training is hard, y’all.

Hydrate!

After a quick (second) breakfast and a shower my sister and I headed out for the day. I’ve been doing Weight Watchers to keep me on track with eating/training and I usually weigh-in on Saturdays. This week’s weigh-in was as bad as I expected from being away on my mini-vacation to Michigan.

A little shopping always make me feel better, even though that’s probably not a good thing. We stopped in at AC Moore because I wanted to see if I could find some stuff for school. I”m always on the lookout for bargains or just fun stuff to use in my classroom. All I really found were some discounted Sharpies, which was kind of fine.

I didn’t buy this.

Our main goal was actually a trip to Goodwill since they have sales on Saturday. My sister and I are big on donating to local stores, but we also love to peruse, too. We’ve found some great deals and we just kind of like seeing what kind of trouble we can get into.

FOUND: Jeans. Blouse. Blazer. Dirty Goodwill mirror.

After Goodwill we took a trip downtown because my sister needed to pick something up. I, apparently, needed gelato. And coffee.

 

It should be no surprise that I love either of those things. As we left the coffee shop, we stumbled up on a weird “Open Shop” kind of deal and decided to try it out. It turned out to be 4,000 square feet of antiques and knicknacks. it was amazing! There were little sections for all kinds of vendors to sell their treasures. It was definitely a place we’ll go back to.

One man’s trash…

My sister really only had plans to visit Goodwill but since I was actually out of the house I decided to keep going. I was in search a pair of flats for the upcoming school year so we went to the mall. I don’t venture to the mall often, honestly. It’s loud and there are too many people there. I usually only hit a few stores that I can get into from the outside or that have a straight path to them. Of course, when I’m looking for shoes I’ve got to check out allll the stores. I have small feet so it’s not often I actually find shoes that fit in any actual store. I came up empty in my search and ended up ordering a pair online while we ate greasy mall pizza. (Food also makes me feel better after a rough day.)

By the time we’d left the mall I was pretty much ready for a nap. Life is rough when you don’t do much during the day and then do a few things in a short amount of time. I’m sure you are all rolling your eyes at this point, but seriously. This is my life! Once we were back at home I settled in to what my sister calls my “nest”. It’s where I do my watching, reading, and where I’m writing this blog right now. Stella joins me sometimes to look out the window.

I I didn’t really do much 

I did end up falling asleep, but I got up at 5:30 to run that morning so I didn’t feel bad about it. The rest of the day was spent lounging around, reading, doing laundry, and (if you follow me on Instagram you know this) cleaning out some clothes. Summer makes me simultaneously restless and also sloth-like.

I’d love to revisit this in a couple of weeks and show you a day of classroom setup and other fun teacher things, but for now this is all I’ve got. Hey, at least I got dressed and left the house?

Unsalted and Shark Free

About this time last year I got a late night text from a friend showing off a shiny diamond ring. I was so, so excited for my friend and couldn’t wait to hear all of the details. I knew that the wedding would be in Michigan since that’s where she’s from, but I also knew that it would be a small affair. Needless to say I was happy to be invited! I love this girl and couldn’t wait to celebrate her special day.

Fast forward to about a week ago when I was packing a bag and preparing to travel to Michigan. Though my family went on many road trips when I was a kid we never made it to Michigan, so this was a first for me. I got up dark and early on Saturday for a flight to Atlanta and then to Grand Rapids. I’ve traveled alone before so I wasn’t too worried about layovers and flights and things. Once I got to Grand Rapids, however, things got a little hairy. I rented a car for an hour and a half drive to the small town of Pentwater. I get extreme anxiety when driving, though, so I was a little worried.

I did okay, though. I mean, I’m alive and that’s all that matters! Once I got to Pentwater my main priority was a nap. I had been up since 3AM and was in serious need of rest. I love traveling and seeing new places, but it’s totally exhausting sometimes.

Once I was rested up I took a drive into Pentwater and walked up and down the…street. Because there’s only one. It was warmer than I expected. (I’m from Florida. I’m used to melting.) It’s a cute little town that sits on Pentwater Lake and Lake Michigan. I love a good view of the water and Pentwater didn’t disappoint. It also had some adorable shops and touristy places to check out.

Of course I found books.

Also I found some amazing coffee gelato.

After I toured the town myself, I went back a little later with a friend and her husband that arrived a little after me. We had dinner at one of the pizza joints in town (there were a few) and then headed to the state park to mee the bride and her family after the rehearsal dinner for a sunset on Lake Michigan. It was beautiful!

No filter needed.

After the sunset we headed into town for drinks at a basement bar. This was a new experience for me as we do not have basements in Florida. 🙂 I was exhausted after a long day of traveling and was so ready to climb into bed. I guess this is the part where I tell you I took workout clothes and got up early for a run, right? Well, you know I didn’t! I did get up early, but that’s just because of my internal teacher clock. After a quick hotel breakfast I…took a nap. Now, I know what you’re thinking. I’m in a brand new state and I should be exploring! But I was also on vacation and I’d been feeling a little down lately. Some extra rest was just what I needed.

This was wedding day, so there wasn’t a ton of time to explore. My friend Cristi and her husband Jose were staying at the same hotel so we ventured out together again. We tried a little coffee shop in Pentwater and did some shopping before driving to Hart and finding a cute little brewery for lunch.

Cristi and I enjoying the view in Pentwater.

After our little excursion I had enough time for a power nap before getting ready for the wedding. The bride’s family has an adorable cabin which is where the wedding took place with a gorgeous view of the lake. It was a perfect setting and a beautiful ceremony.

Florida friends with the beautiful bride.

Ice cream themed tables.

Michigan brew with a view.

Monday was my last day in Michigan so I drove an hour south to where my friend Jenn was staying with some old friends. (All of my friends that I spent time with in Michigan are friends I work with in Florida.) Jenn and her family/friends rented a boat in Spring Lake, so I went out with them for that Pure Michigan experience. It included a boat ride, some choppy waves, and a floating trampoline!

I, of course, had to do a little SkirtSports photo shoot.

I jumped off a boat and swam to that. Go me.

Bumpy selfies with Jenn.

After a great day on the lake with friends (and friends of friends) I made the trek back to Pentwater to get ready to leave the next morning. I was flying out of Grand Rapids at 6:45 and had to drop off my rental car, also. This is the part where my anxiety kicks in and I don’t sleep, but at least there was no traffic when I left at 3AM! The drive was smooth, security was a breeze (besides me leaving my license at security), and my flights were on time. My layover was in Detroit where I landed at gate A73 and had to hustle to A9 to my next flight back to Florida.

I loved being away for a weekend and being able to do a little exploring while celebrating a good friend. I didn’t workout while I was away, but technically none of those days were running day so I didn’t feel too guilty about it. Sometimes you need a break from all kinds of stuff (even if you’re on a vacation as it is), even marathon training. I’m getting back in the habit now and also getting into the mindset of going back to work. I’m saving my “Day in the Life” until my day consists of something other than Netflix and large amounts of coffee.

Michigan is a beautiful place and I’d love to go back and visit and see what other trouble I can get into. There doesn’t even have to be a wedding!

Chasing the Races

Most of my posts have been about how I’m training for the Chicago Marathon, because that’s my main focus right now. There aren’t a lot of other races in the area to sign up for during the summer in my area and that’s kind of okay. I’m focusing mostly on training and have a lot of long runs coming up, so I don’t have a lot time on the weekends to run races. Honestly, if I don’t have to run, I’m not going to. That’s just the hard truth of it. I love running, but I’m in training mode and I’m not looking to go out just for fun. My rest days are sacred, even if some of them have cross training mixed in.

Other than the Chicago Marathon (did you know I was training for that?) I have a few other things scheduled for the fall that I’m pretty excited about!

At the end of the month I’m running a Ragnar Chase the Moon Challenge with my running buddy Michelle. Basically we’re going to go out and run 6.7 miles “around the moon” and hope that some crazy folks are running it with us. It’s Ragnar’s challenge to run and help raise money for The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp while we’re doing it! To sign up was free, but Michelle and I both bought the swag and made a donation. I love swag so it was a no-brainer.

There might be a few 5Ks that pop up in August and September. I’m also started a chapter of Girls on the Run at my school, so that’s definitely going to keep me busy. Last year I helped coach the middle school girls’ cross country team and I’m really looking forward to working with some younger girls with this program.

October is THE BIG ONE. It’s going to take a lot of planning to get to and from Chicago with my family. It’s definitely exciting but I’m also nervous about traveling to and running in a state and weather that I’m not sure of. I know what to expect from Florida. Well, sometimes. (During my first WDW half marathon it was 35 degrees and that was no fun at all.) I’m also still trying to raise money for the American Heart Association. I have amazing friends and family who are helping me out with that.

The weekend after Chicago I get to go and celebrate the Food & Wine festival at Epcot with some colleagues like we do every year. It’s our way to “Sharpen the Saw” and bond and also eat and drink our way around the World Showcase. If you didn’t know, the Food & Wine festival actually ends its run…with a run. Or, rather, a series of runs: 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, in true Disney style. Michelle and I did the Wine and Dine 10K for the first time last year and had a blast, so we’re going back for seconds this year. It’s at the beginning of November and after we’re definitely planning on visiting the festival before it goes away for another year.

In December things are going to get really interesting because I’m doing my second Ragnar race. Last year I got to meet Mer and Cam and get up close and personal while we slept in a van together in Pennsylvania. It was a great experience and sooooo out of my comfort zone. This race is a little closer to home, and it’s a trail race. (YIKES.) There’s also camping. (DOUBLE YIKES.) I’m excited, though. So many of my fun and new experiences are earned through running and it’s been such a fun journey.

That’s going to get me through the rest of the year and 2019 will be here before you know it! We’re already looking to a half in February and I’m sure there will be some fun things in between. I love the running community and I can’t wait to get out there and get sweaty with a bunch of strangers. It’s crazy that I started running on a whim five years ago and now I feel like a part of an amazing community.

What races are you looking forward to this year?

The Road to Chicago

Happy Independence Day/Wednesday! I hope you’re all having a nice holiday/week/summer/day/whatever you’re doing. This past weekend my running buddy and I did our longest run yet for our Chicago Marathon training. It was a tough one, but we pushed through with a good, steady pace. (Even if we did get a little lost and almost had an encounter with an alligator.) Marathon training during the summer definitely has some challenges, but it’s going pretty well. You can listen to me ramble about it below.

High of 90? We got this.

 

Sorry for the TMI. Don’t you just love running?

Post run refreshments are a necessity.