Race Recap: Skyway 10K

 

Back in September or October, my friend Stephanie talked me into signing up for a race lottery. The race in question was the Skyway 10K, a race that benefits military families. All you have to do is run over the Skyway Bridge. If you’re a Floridian, I’m sure you know what that is.

Not my photo.

Now, again, as a Floridian I run mostly on flat surfaces. When a race calls for a bridge, I cringe. I’m not a fan of them.

I was also not expecting to get into this race.

But we did.

I feel like I’ve spent the better part of the year feeling crummy with some sort of cold or sinus thing hanging around. Of course I used this as an excuse to come home and nap and not run. (I will use anything as an excuse to not run sometimes!) Needless to say, I was not prepared for this race. That seems to be a theme for me so far this year.

My friend picked up my bib for me that Saturday, so I had a lazy day at home. Honestly, despite the nap comment up there, I don’t get a lot of lazy days. It was nice to just hang out and do laundry and cuddle my cat.

I headed to Tampa late Saturday afternoon and got to my friend’s family’s house a little after eight. We hung out a bit and then turned in early since we had a little bit of a drive in the morning. I was super grateful for these strangers letting me stay at their house because I still get so much race anxiety, especially when I’m on my own.

I sent this pic to my boyfriend, mom, and sister of me in my favorite pre-race place.

The morning was chilly but projected to get warmer, so I opted for my new SkirtSports Pocketopia capris in Vacay and a tank top. I took a throwaway shirt that I tossed before I got to the start line because I had already warmed up. at the start. Our start time was a little after 8AM and all runners were bussed over to the start line from Tropicana Field.

Flat Ash, pretending to be prepared.

 

With Steph before the start.

I had a good start with my friends, but was having some technically difficulties. That slowed me down a bit and I eventually lost them altogether. I knew it was going to be a tough race for me because I was so unprepared. Especially for this bridge!

I did manage to keep a pretty steady walking/running pace until I got to the base of the bridge. I didn’t even try to run that thing!

It was, obviously, smooth sailing going down the bridge. The view from the top wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be, either. I struggled a bit toward the end but managed a strong finish across the finish line. (Of course!) Stephanie was waiting for me at the finish, so she and I hopped a bus back to the expo center where we had our free beer and snacks.

My pic from the top!

All the beer tickets!

To be such a young race, this was extremely well-organized. It was a cupless race and the water stops were mainly for refills. There were some heathens (me) that drank from the spigots like a water fountain and that was just fine. The expo was great, there were plenty of bathrooms, and the medals were awesome, too!

I highly suggested signing up for this race lottery if you get the chance to. The proceeds go to a great cause and you’ll be able to say you ran over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge!

Be Kind – Random Acts of Kindness Week

If you didn’t know, yesterday was Random Acts of Kindness Day. I spent the day lounging about the house being kind to myself. After a twelve-day work week and a busy Valentine weekend, I deserved it!

I’ve seen a lot of posts about this being Random Acts of Kindness Week, so I thought I’d put together some ideas of how you can celebrate it. In my classroom we have a poster that my students can earn a sticker for if they are caught doing an act of kindness. Our goal is one hundred acts. Like a lot of things we do in school, they asked if they get rewarded when they reach one hundred. I said, “Yes! You get the reward of knowing you did one hundred kind things!”

They weren’t thrilled about that answer, but I digress.

In our SkirtSports group we’ve had a ton of ladies sharing ambassador gear and all kinds of fun stuff. I love that sometimes our go-to is free things, but I also feel like there’s so much more we can do.

  • Take out someone’s trash/Bring in trashcans.
  • Mow someone’s lawn.
  • Return your/other’s shopping cart.
  • Compliment someone you don’t usually talk to.
  • Smile at a stranger.
  • Open/hold the door for someone.
  • Pay for someone’s coffee.
  • Text a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • Write a note for a coworker.
  • Clean up a mess you didn’t make.
  • Donate to a charity.
  • Go for a run with a friend.

There are just a few things I can think of that will be sure to brighten someone else’s day.

What can you do this week to make someone smile?

Slow Down

 

I’m feeling frustrated tonight, which is why this post is here at *checks watch*…okay, it’s probably late. Lately I’m feeling like I’ve just got too much going on and I’d like to pick only the things I actually like to do, thankyouverymuch.

After my hour commute home today, I sat down at my computer to work on a few things. I’m taking a couple of district courses for an endorsement and I try to get it done early-ish in the week. That means I have more time to do absolutely nothing on the weekend, yay! Only this weekend we are doing an extensive training at work aaaaaand I want all of this stuff done before then. Of course I was met with technical difficulties. That is just how my day seemed to be progressing at this point.

I’m not complaining, though. (Really.)

I love my job and I’m always looking for ways to improve as a teacher. It’s just like I said…lately there feels like SO MUCH to do. This topic is probably more appropriate for my person teaching blog, but I haven’t posted on that in a long, long time. So. Here were are.

My problem is I’m kind of really bad at time management and I forget things. I bought super cute, nifty desk calendar from my best friend Amazon and I am really good at filling things out! Am I good at reading the calendar and doing the work? Jury’s still out, y’all.

So many things to check off.

So, here’s what I’m taking away from tonight and what maybe I want you to also:

It’s okay to slow down. I got so frustrated tonight that I started feeling down on myself for not doing better on my assignments. Look, I haven’t been in school for a long time. I am trying my damn best. It is hard, especially after I spend my day trying to wrangle little humans.

Tonight, instead of hate-studying, I took a nice shower. I scrolled through social media and texted some friends. I sat down to write this cathartic blog post that doesn’t really have a point to it. Often times I turn to books, naps, or even runs to help me gather myself. Mental health is just as important as physical health and it’s so easy to forget that sometimes.

It’s not always easy to slow down. To stop and smell the roses, or whatever that means. Life is busy and we sometimes feel like we have to gogogo or we aren’t making the most of it. Sometimes it’s so nice to just…stop. I live for the weekends when I get to do nothing but curl up with a book, my cats, or my dude and just…nothing. During the school year those little moments feel so few and far between. I seriously bow to those who do it all with children. I’m so tired and I only have cats.

I don’t really know if I’m going to get my coursework done tonight. The more I sit here and write (something I like to do) the more I think that I might just take a pass on it. I should really try to take my own advice sometimes.

I should also be training for the NYC half and a pretty large bridge race I have coming up in a couple of weeks…I’ll get to it.

What’s your favorite way to relax?

Race Recap: Key West Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Key West Half Marathon race 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!

My initial post about this awesome race was promoting as a destination race, and it was totally on point. As a born and raised Floridian there isn’t much I don’t like about my state. I know there are plenty of things to not like about Florida, but you can’t deny that we’ve got some great scenery.

For this race I asked my mom to come with me for some fun mother-daughter time. She grabbed a hotel, I’m sorry motel for us in Marathon, which was still a drive for us on race morning, but worked out just fine.

We headed down early Saturday morning in hopes that we would have some time to explore Key West. It had been a while since either one of us visited! The drive was nice, though Florida traffic is an entity in itself so it obviously took us longer than expected.

Grabbing my bib was easy (besides a mistake on my part) and we were free to walk around and hang out. Luckily we’d been having some excellent “winter” weather and it wasn’t too hot. We had lunch at a little hole in the wall pub close to packet pick-up, drove around a bit, and then headed back to our motel. Again: traffic in Florida.

Back at our room I prepped my outfit, snacks, and myself. I was sorely under-trained for this race and it definitely showed on race day, but I was determined to make the best of it.

Getting ready to start!

 

A quick BibRave Pro meetup!

We arrived early to the race with plenty of time for coffee and breakfast, plus a couple of trips to the bathroom. The sun was just starting to come up as we began the race so I knew things were going to warm soon. I’d hydrated with Nuun the day before and was feeling pretty up to whatever the humidity might do.

I started off strong enough with some decent intervals. I knew I wasn’t going to push myself and didn’t really set a time goal for the race. I just wanted to not be the last person finished. Seemed like a decent goal right?

The city was beautiful as we ran down the streets and I tried to take in as many sites as possible. The buildings were all so cute and running through the neighborhoods was a great way to see all the chickens hanging out. (I mean it.)

Once we hit the beach the sun was out in full force and I was thankful I’d remembered to put on sunscreen. Water and electrolytes were available at nearly every mile along with Stinger gel for energy. I grabbed a couple, but only ate my Stinger chews while on the run.

This was a super easy and flat course and for that I was thankful. We ran on the road for the most part, but at the turnaround ended up on the sidewalk near the water. Everything seemed super organized and safe. There were a ton of volunteers directing runners and giving out water, too. For the most part I felt okay. I stopped thinking about my pace around mile six and just decided to do what my body could. By mile ten I was walking a lot and definitely struggling to finish.

All the mile marker signs had fun facts on them!

I saw a friend who’d ran the 5K downtown just as I was coming into mile twelve. She’d messaged me and I managed a wave as I struggled by her. I was texting my running buddy, boyfriend, and mom at this point so I had plenty of encouragement. By that time I just ready to finish, though!

My mom was waiting at the finish line (and took a picture of half of me) coming around the corner. I grabbed my medal, a beer, and took a break before we began our touristy things. Since we’d checked out of our hotel at 4AM I found a nice little place for brunch (and to change my clothes in) and we settled in for a little drive around the island (and all other islands before heading home).

 

This was a tough race for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve got into a race completely unprepared and I was definitely disappointed with myself. In March, Michelle and I will be running the New York City Half Marathon, so I know I’ve got to get my butt in gear.

Despite my own mistakes, this was an amazing race. The course was great, the view was perfect. 10/10 would recommend. Okay, the drive kind of sucks, but the rest was amazing.

Guest Blogger Series: 4 Months to 5K Chapter 4… Runner Down

Week 4 has not been great.

I lost a beloved aunt on Sunday.

Even so, I planned to run.

Then the cough started and I lost my voice.

Still planned to run.

Then the fever and aches kicked in.

And like that, I’m fighting a horrible bug that’s moving through the house (perks of having a toddler!)

While I’m still not feeling well I’m really thankful it’s not as bad as it could be. This is one of those moments where I have to listen to my body, rest, & recuperate.

Baby Girl had her shots yesterday so she & I are recuperating, resting, & napping.

So, instead of sharing my (nonexistent) runs this week, I figured I’d share some of my favorite all-natural germ-fighting remedies. I’m not a fan of dosing myself up with chemicals so when I’m under the weather I rely on these to get me better quick.

Probiotics

I take a probiotic every morning but when I’m not feeling my best I will take 2 in the morning & 2 in the evening. Stress & lack of sleep will trigger the gut & brain that the immune system is prone to attack. By increasing the healthy bacteria in the gut I’m giving my body the opportunity to fight back by absorbing additional nutrients & increasing serotonin (the feel-good hormones). My go-to vegan probiotic is from NOW Supplements.

 

 

 

Vitamin C

While Vitamin C does not cure colds & viruses, it does help boost the performance of white blood cells, those strong little fighters in our blood system who attack infections. When my WBC’s are in need of a boost, I cut up an orange, lemon, and lime, bring it to a boil in a saucepan with water & fresh garlic (another immunity-booster & infection fighter) and drink it down warm like tea.  Not only is this soothing to my throat, but gives my system the opportunity to fight.

 

Herbal Tea

When I reach for herbal tea there’s only one brand I grab…  T-We Tea!   T-We Tea has a great selection of delicious teas and tisanes with hilarious names and the perfect herbal/floral blends for whatever ails you.  This particular tisane selection is one of my favorites for cold busting.  Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant & anti-inflammatory to help with the fluish body aches.  Lemongrass also is a pain-fighter, while orange peel helps boost the immune system.  Chamomile blossoms are great for relaxation & sleep (much needed when sick) and carrot chips are filled with vitamins (K1, potassium, A, B6 to name a few) that help fight germs & boost the immune system.

 

Warm Mist Humidifier

I’ve been a lifelong asthmatic, so the humidifier has always been a constant in my home.  When I’m sick, I immediately get the warm mist pumping through the air to keep my lungs open and clear.  Since I’m battling the flu, using warm mist also helps to keep my sinuses clear.  What I love about this Levoit brand is that I can add essential oils on a side slot & pad to add to the healing element.  Currently, I have lemongrass and eucalyptus oil for helping to fight my fever.  At night I use some clove and rosemary to detoxify the air and surfaces around the house.  A much better & healthier option (for me) instead of spraying Lysol or using bleach.

 

 

Water

There’s nothing better than increasing your water intake when fighting the flu.  This is a number one essential for fighting any infections.  Water helps break up congestion and gives your body the energy to fight the nasty bug trying to take you down.  It also feels amazing when fighting that cotton-mouth-feverish duo that strikes.  I fill my bottle with ice cubes & drink it down.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m allowing my body and soul time to rest and heal before pushing it again.  Next week, I’ll get back to smashing my goals, not only because I want to, but because I know my auntie would be incredibly proud of me.

What are your go-to natural remedies?  Runners, how do you get back on track after a bad week?  Please reach out to me on social media @NJGardenTeacher & let me know!  (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat)

Get ready for next Friday’s update!

 

Girls on the Run (is still) So Much Fun!

The school year feels like it has flown by already, including a season of Girls on the Run! This was my third season with GOTR and it was, as always, so much fun.

For my third season, we ended up with a full team of fifteen girls. Michelle was my co-coach and it is honestly so much fun to coach with your best friend. We are able to throw ideas around pretty easily and we usually tend to agree on most things.

Our girls were a nice mixture of old and younger girls. The program is for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. Since some of our girls aged out last year, we were open to some younger ones. Also, some of them were my students from the previous year and they signed up to be with me. We also had a nice mixture of previous GOTR girls mixed with new ones. It’s always nice when you have a few girls who can help to lead exercises and discussions because they’ve done it all before.

This season was full of lots of laughs, learning about ourselves, and running. The girls were able to work together in a big way and made holiday cards for people in hospitals and veterans as our final community project. They did an amazing job all season, practicing and setting goals. It’s so cool to see young girls set and achieve (or crush!) their running goals. Sometimes it makes me jealous that they are so committed!

Last month we finished out our season with our 5K and, of course, the girls crushed it. It was so much fun to see them out on the course with their buddies knowing that they could do it. Yes, they struggled. Yes, they walked. But in the end, they finished, and it was amazing!

We also have such a great support system with our parents and staff members. Everyone was there to either  run with or cheer on a girl. It was a great ending to a great season!

 

 

Some of our amazing teachers/running buddies

 

My Kid Rocks

Once upon a time, back in 2013, I wrote this blog post.

The kids are watching… and that’s a good thing.

Let’s all take a moment to marvel at how small my kid was…

And how huge is he now…

Why yes, I AM feeling a little verklempt.

Anyway, nearly a year ago, Lucas told me that he had a dream of running over a bridge. I told him the possibility of that was real; Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge is an event that happens every year here in South Jersey.

The only catch (for him)? It’s a 10k distance. Until that point, the longest he’d raced was a 5k.

Something you should know about my son is when he sets his mind to something, he’s going to do it. Therefore, when he said he was going to run the Ben Franklin Bridge, I knew it was going to happen. We registered him for the race as soon as registration opened in May.

And then? Then we started to prepare. In April we ran the Atlantic City 7k together.

We did shorter distances throughout the summer and focused on strength training.

Once September rolled around we crept our way up in mileage. From 4 to 5 to 6, and then finally during our last training run 6.2.

He has the tendency to go out too fast and then feel crappy the second half of his run. When introducing a longer distance, I encouraged him stick with me the first time so he wouldn’t get down on himself.

Once he was comfortable with the distance, off he went. Leaving me in the dust.

That’s okay though, because he was running this race solo.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that earlier? I ran the Mushroom Cap Half Relay on Saturday and I knew my legs were not going to want to run the next day.

And I knew that he’d be ready for it. And he was.

My 14 year old (baby) was going to run the bridge and live his dream!

Mile 3, after he ran across (and back) the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

The second half of the course is through Camden – sprinting to the finish.

Bridge run and done!

I recently saw this quote on Facebook: “Prepare your kids for the road, not the road for your kids.”

Granted, it might not have been meant to take this literally but there we go.

I’ve been running for nearly 9 years now, most of his life, and it fills my heart with joy that we share this together.

Next up we’re doing the Tin Man 5k this weekend and the Philly Marathon Rothman 8k the following weekend. Who will be see there?

An Attitude of Gratitude

I don’t know about you, but lately things have been kind of stressful. I’ve noticed with a lot of my friends, in real life and social media, that life is just…rough.

I get it. I posted a couple of weeks ago about struggling with some weight gain, not wanting to work out, and so on and so forth…

Although it’s already November, I feel like 2019 has been a million years long!

It’s easy to focus on things like that, though. Being in a rut is something some people never get out of and I know, for me, it takes a lot of willpower to get out of it. I’ve been thinking a little more lately, however, about trying to be thankful instead of…meh.

Life is definitely not easy. We live in a time where all we see and hear is bad news and sometimes that is truly discouraging. There is always suffering, there is always pain…but there’s also always hope.

Why is it so easy to forget that? It’s so easy to forget to be hopeful? To be grateful? 

I mean, we moan and complain about things that disappoint us on a daily basis, right? Why don’t we do that for things that make us happy! I don’t even mean talking to people about it, or tweeting, Facebook-ing, or Instagramming it. Just us, alone. Talking to our closest friends maybe. Why is it so easy to focus on what pisses us off rather than what makes our hearts happy?

That is something I really want to focus on for the rest of 2019 and into 2020. Life is good, y’all. Any day I get to wake up under the roof I’m able to pay for, go to the job I love, and be with the ones who care about me, I should be grateful…and so should you be. I started a gratitude journal a while back, but never got passed a day. I’m going to make a conscientious effort to do it every day. Or every other day. Once a week? I’m a work in progress, guys.

So, today, Veterans Day, let’s be grateful.

XOXO

 

 

 

Meh.

I been thinking all day with what to post about, so here it is. We usually like to have our posts ready in the morning and I’m usually pretty good at that, but you can probably guess what I’m going to say about it all:

I’m struggling, y’all.

It’s normally around this time of the school year (the beginning) that the teachers start to look a little less bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and a lot more…stressed and tired as hell. Well, I say “normally” and “the beginning” but in reality we’re like that all year round. Teaching is great and rewarding, but also hard and stressful as hell. I feel like the consensus down my hallway is…tired. We’re all just tired. It’s been a rough year and it’s only October. We’ve got a long way to go.

Right now we’re in the early stages of Girls on the Run, which is two days a week. I love coaching the girls and Michelle and I have a great group this season. A few of the girls are my former students and it’s so much fun to watch them grow and learn in this program. While the girls are learning about positive body image and running their little hearts out…I’m trying to get it together.

My workouts and running have seriously declined since school started. Michelle and I were doing a good job of completing some long runs on the weekends to get ready for a few races we have coming, but that’s stopped too. Real life keeps getting in the way: families, trips, other engagements, life.

Last year at this time I was recovering from Chicago and getting my life back from six months of marathon training. I feel like I’ve taken this year off to “find my love of running” again. I’ve done a race every month this year and it’s been a lot of fun to just kind of get out there every once in a while, run a 5K, grab a medal and an Instagram pic and be done with it. We’ve got a couple of big races coming up through the rest of the year and I know I need to get my head on straight, especially if I’m going to be running a trail Ragnar in a month and a half.

I’m definitely looking forward to getting things back on track, but I’m also still trying to figure out the “how” of it all. I know it all starts with me and that I’m the only one that can control my actions. Sometimes I’d like to have someone follow me around and slap snacks out of my hands or tell me to workout or run!

It’s not always perfect, but I know I’ll get there one day. It feels like a lot of my posts are about how I can’t get my fitness life together, so if you are a struggler, just know you’re not alone!

Any tips for getting back on track? Comment them below!

When It’s Time To Heal and Grow

April Fools Half 2015

I don’t know how to start this post because I hate goodbyes. I should’ve written this a while ago but some things are much harder to do than others. Every time I tried, I found an excuse to walk away from the laptop and do something else.

When I first told the other ladies here at Scoot that I was leaving, the main reason was that I’m going to start school in January and get a B.S in Environmental Studies. It’s an online program and I’ve been told to expect to spend 20 hours a week per class. I’m really not a fan of school or homework, so I immediately felt overwhelmed by this. That said, if I want to be paid for the level of work I’m currently doing, I need this degree. Adulting is dumb. Actually, no, money is dumb. Yet, I am fortunate. I am extremely privileged and lucky that my company will pay for this degree. Therefore, it also seems dumb not to take advantage of that opportunity.

I needed to clear my plate a bit because my anxiety was already vibrating super high. I’ve always thought of myself as a bit high-strung, so this feeling was nothing new to me. Still, it’s not fun, and it’s one of the reasons I was seeking mental health help. After a summer of searching, I connected with a therapist. She’s helping me understand my C-PTSD, Developmental Trauma, and ADD so that I can learn not to feel like a clock wound too tight.  I need space to work on this stuff, though, a plan my therapist strongly agreed with.

Not really. This is just one of my favorite gifs.

One way I can make space is by stepping away from Scoot, as much as it hurts. People tell me that I’m the busiest person they know, so maybe that’s a hint it’s time to focus on a few super important things, instead of half-assing many things. I’ve narrowed those things down to the ones that are necessary and feed my soul purpose.

  • Finish the first draft of my novel
    • I’ve been working on this for years and my self-esteem can’t handle not getting it done before I start the degree. Plus, creative writing feeds my soul.
  • Begin My Childhood Trauma Recovery Journey
  • Get my First Bachelors Degree

That’s it. That’s all I have mental and emotional space for outside of the necessities of daily living. I’m learning to be okay with that. It’s not like it’s not a lot of stuff. I don’t need to do ALL the things.

I loved my time here. I made many friends and accomplished feats I never dreamed of attempting. Maybe my absence won’t be forever. Promises were made that if I do anything exciting or beautiful in that Colorado-esque sort of way, to guest post about it. If you want to follow my writing or mental health journeys, you can find me on my website, Author J.L. Perez. I’m not far away. Thank you all for your love and kindness over the years, your support pushed and inspired me to be the best version of myself.