Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We Are F.R.

Last Wednesday I was getting ready to leave for work. I took a quick look at Facebook and saw someone had posted a link to a developing news story that there had been a stabbing at Franklin Regional High School. My high school. I clicked on it for more information, but there wasn't any. Yet. Now I'm driving to work and my phone rings. It's my sister and she's describing the entourage of police, life flight, ambulances, etc. that she's just passed driving to her work down the street from the high school. She says that it has to be bad. I get to work. I'm watching the live feed on WTAE from my laptop while trying to get ready for my own school day. The news is getting worse. All I can think is...is this really happening? I go outside, get kids inside from their busses, thinking about kids two states away and how their lives are forever changed, thinking about my own four years of high school in that science wing where I had biology, chemistry, anatomy. I remember all my teachers, all my lab partners, all my classmates. I remember sitting in Mr. Adams' math class when I learned about Columbine, walking to Honors Speech and Comp. when my friend told me about the first plane flying into the World Trade Center. But this, this is different. There is only one high school, one tiny community that will never be the same.

I try to get on with my day, but I can't. I can't stop occasionally googling for updates. I'm talking to a third grader in my office and I can hear my phone vibrating continuously. When I return him safely to his own classroom and return to my office to look at my phone, I have a missed call from my sister and a text...call me. This is when I learn that it's so much more personal than it already was. The suspect is someone who I have met. Someone who's house I have been in when it was first built. My mother works beside his father everyday. Unreal. Everything you think you "know" about an event of this caliber is wrong. You really have no idea. You don't know what the community is like until it's your community. You might think you know that it's how the suspect was raised, or that the suspect must have been "the bad kid, the crazy kid, the kid who had no parental involvement," or whatever it is everyone thinks when this kind of thing happens. I know because I use to think those things too. Last Wednesday made me realize I actually know nothing about what's behind every other event like this.

This Wednesday, Franklin Regional goes back to school. At 7:22 a.m. the first bell will ring. Those kids and those teachers, counselors, cafeteria workers, janitors, and the administration are tasked with finding their new normal. I can't even begin to imagine what the last two months of school will be like for them...not as a student, or as a teacher. My heart and my thoughts will be with all of them tomorrow.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Marathon Monday

 

Yesterday I did the George Washington Parkway Classic. It's a 10 mile race beginning at George Washington's Mount Vernon and ending at Founder's Park in Old Town Alexandria. The majority of the 10 miles is run along the George Washington Parkway. It's a beautiful road to drive along in the spring and summertime in Washington. Pacer's closes the entire parkway for the race. The road runs along the Potomac River, making for some very scenic views. The course also starts out downhill, running from the Mount Vernon estate down to the river. The mile downhill didn't hurt my confidence either. 

some examples of the scenery along the parkway

I was feeling good for the first two to three miles. I knew I was going too fast to start, but it was hard to slow down since the beginning of the race was downhill, and I was running in a big pack of people before things started to thin out as the miles went on. During the fourth mile things started to get a little tougher. There were some major uphills along with the rising temperatures. During my training I have had very few days where I really felt like I needed water. Yesterday, I found myself desperate for the next water station. I really mean desperate. And when I got to the water stops I started taking two cups one to drink and one to dump on myself. I got to mile 5 and felt a lot better mentally. I was halfway done and the next mile was mostly downhill. I felt really pretty good for the next two miles, but I could feel it getting hotter. I found it really hard to want to run instead of walking. There was a photographer at mile 8 so I tried to look as happy and ridiculous as possible when I ran past him...I really can't wait until that picture gets put up in the next couple weeks. After I passed the 8 mile flag and knew it was less than two miles, I felt good.


Shortly after the eight mile mark you leave the GW Parkway and are running the Alexandria city streets. It was kind of a nice change of pace. This part of the course had the most crowd support of the race. Throughout the parkway there were patches of people here and there where residential neighborhoods (with ridiculously gorgeous houses overlooking the Potomac) backed up into the parkway...there were some funny people out there and a lot of kids doing crazy stuff. During the last two miles through Alexandria I walked a lot more than I wanted to, but when I look back at my mile splits they weren't really as slow as they felt at the time. About a half mile from the finish I passed a man that was approximately 85 years old. I kid you not. Apparently this guy does the 10 miler every year and walks the entire thing. Early in the race I was passed by an approximately 7 year old kid too. I think that was one of the best parts of this race...it was friendly and fun with people of all different paces and ages. As I ran across the finish, first I was handed a finisher's medal, and then right behind that guy was someone handing out bottles of water. I have never been so thankful for a bottle of water. I think the guy that gave it to me knew it too. I kept walking through the chute and couldn't get that bottle open for the life of me. My hands swell to like twice their normal size when I run. I finally asked a volunteer to help me. And she gave me snacks too. 


The finisher's medal...it was the 30th anniversary of the Parkway Classic
I found Matt and my friend Shari, who also ran the race, at the end of the chute and then we quickly found some shade until I could cool down a little bit. Pacer's had a post race party in Founder's park with some post-race food and drink. There was also a tent where you could find your official race time, and a beer tent with free beer for all the runners. The line was way too long for me to wait in, though. 

Overall, I am happy I did this race. I went back and forth about doing it for a long time. I registered on the last day possible. I only registered because I told Shari if she registered I would too. And of course she registered. It was a good way to fit in my last long run before tapering for the Pittsburgh half, I'm not completely sure I would have done 10 miles otherwise. The only thing I did not like about this race was the heat. Everything was pretty well organized except a little bit of craziness with the busses dropping people off at Mount Vernon at the last minute, but I quickly got over that. 

View from Founder's Park
This race combined with 2 weekday runs on Wednesday and Thursday, and a Saturday afternoon walk brings me to 19.54 miles this week. There's only 20(!) days until the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. I really can't believe it. I'm excited to start cutting down on my mileage in the next few weeks. I think my biggest challenge in the next 20 days will be maintaing motivation to keep doing miles.

Side note: I borrowed a lot of these photos from Swim Bike Run Photography (exceptions are the one of me and Shari and the last photo of the park) so that you could get an idea of what the course looks like. The pictures were taken at last year's Parkway Classic. I am looking forward to them posting pictures of this year's race! I will post some here if I don't look too much of a mess :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Love

{ONE}

Spring Break. I can't believe it has finally arrived. In a school year that started out as the longest fall ever, followed by the longest Virginia winter ever, spring has surely sprung. I plan to spend my break relaxing, doing miles, and spending time with my mom.

{TWO}




Front Porch Sitting. I have been spending a lot of quality time on our front porch. In fact, I'm writing this post from the front porch. Sometimes there's good people watching. The only thing that is not good is the bird action. I can't handle the birds.

{THREE}




Cherry Blossoms. It's peak bloom this weekend for the blossoms. They are so pretty! It's really something everyone should see at least once. The only thing is the crowds. It's rough, but worth it as long as you go with the mentality that you are going nowhere fast.

{FOUR}




Caitlin. Apparently it was national sibling day yesterday. I never got to post a picture of my one and only sibling, so I am taking that opportunity today.

{FIVE}

Franklin Regional. Lots of love and prayers for my alma mater on this Friday. We are FR!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Marathon Monday

It's been a little bit of a boring week in training. No crazy weather stories, no new records, just same old walk/running miles. I guess that can be considered a good thing. In numbers news, we are less than one month away from the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, 27 days to be exact. I originally signed up for this partly because I needed something else to focus on back at the beginning of the school year, and I can't believe how quickly April has arrived after such a long fall.

At GOTR on Wednesday, we did a short lesson because our weather was so awesome and got outside quickly for some extra laps. I really wanted to get in 3 miles, but was only able to do 2.67. I came home and did 2.34 more to have 5.01 for the day. Friday after school was another beautiful day, but I knew I wanted to do my long run for the week on Saturday morning, so I elected to just walk 2.25 miles Friday evening. I was hoping this would also help to loosen up my calves for Saturday morning.

Thankfully the weather for the weekend was beautiful. Sunshine and 60's. My goal was to do eight miles Saturday morning. I made sure to get up and get going somewhat quickly so I didn't somehow talk myself out of it. Like I mentioned earlier, it was a little bit boring. I thought a couple of times that I might just do six miles....I had planned a six mile route back to my house so I could get a drink because it was a little warmer than usual. I tried a lemon sublime Gu packet a little before I got back to my house. I left a cup of water on my porch so I wouldn't have to go inside. Probably a good idea so I didn't have extra reason to end my run. I just stopped quickly and finished the last 2.25 miles close to my house. It felt really good to have my long run done before lunchtime on a Saturday. On Sunday, since the weather was perfect again, Matt and I took a 3.4 mile walk on the trails in our neighborhood. This brought me up to 18.91 miles for the week.

Even though this week's runs were a little on the boring side, I did get to listen to some of the new music I added to my playlist. It did make a small difference in the monotony of the miles I was running. Next Marathon Monday should be a little more exciting. I registered for a race at the last minute! More details next week!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Love

{ONE}

A Cup of Jo. So I love, love this blog. She writes about such a plethora of interesting topics, and is super relateable. She also has great voice in her writing...I always feel like I know her even though we've never met.

{TWO}
Forever Young. I love this version of Bob Dylan's Forever Young. It plays at the beginning of Parenthood each week.

{THREE}

Perspective. It's important. Life is all about it. Keeping it. Putting things in it. I'm all about perspectives these days.

{FOUR}

New running stuff. Last weekend in my quest to find Gu, I also bought some new socks, and my fave a new sports bra. I won't go into major details, but I made a serious upgrade. And the socks were pretty good too. I hope to get a couple more pairs of Feetures.

{FIVE}

Springtime Weather! It's finally happened friends! We have made a turn for the better with warm, sometimes sunny weather. A welcomed week since last Sunday's frigid, pouring sleet run. It's been a very long winter, and now I am almost at a point where I can see some summertime light!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Recipe of the Week!

Sausage & Tortelli Soup
First of all, I don't really know what to call this recipe. I wouldn't really say it's a soup. It's too thick. There's not really a whole lot of broth. There's just really no closer word, I guess. On the plus side, this is a super simple meal. It really consists of putting all the ingredients into the crockpot and coming back a few hours later to eat. The first time I made it, I made it for crockpot Monday at work. It went over well. Then I think I made it on a snow day or something where I was home all day because it really doesn't take long to cook. It makes lots of leftovers for two people too.

Ingredients:
1 (19oz) bag of frozen cheese tortellini
1 bag of fresh spinach (I used about half - three quarters of a 8 oz package)
2 (14.5 oz) cans of Italian style diced tomatoes
1 block (8 oz) of cream cheese
1 lb. sausage (I grilled about 3 or 4 links and sliced them)
3-4 cups of chicken broth

Directions:
Grill and slice sausage. Cut the cream cheese into chunks. Place all ingredients in the crockpot, saving the chicken broth until last. Fill the crock pot with 3-4 cups of the broth. Cook on low about 4 hours, stirring occasionally. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Marathon Monday

Great things have happened this week. Great things. At Wednesday's Girls on the Run I was determined to get as many laps of my own in as I could. We started a new system this season with the girls counting their own laps. It has been awesome. They get a nice visual on how they are doing and all the coaches can be running the track at the same time to 1. get them moving a little bit better, and 2. get our own exercise in. I think it only works so well because we have a smaller team this season and we also have really good girls on our team. I'm thankful. After practice I talked my friend into just doing two more miles with me...well that turned into 3.4, so I had a little over five done on Wednesday afternoon. I wanted to go out on Thursday too because it was supposed to rain all day Friday and we had company coming to visit. I knew I probably wouldn't get any more miles in until Sunday when I planned to do my longest run ever. Turns out I wasn't as motivated on Thursday, but we still did a couple of miles after school.

Like I said I planned to do my longest run ever on Sunday morning. All week my weatherman friends kept making the weekend forecast more and more dismal. I had hope that maybe, just maybe, the weather would get itself together in time for Sunday. I was extremely hopeful and positive. It didn't work. The good news is that the decision to continue with our plan for Sunday happened so quickly, I didn't even really have time to think about it, or there is no way I would have done ay miles at all. Upon exiting my house I realized there was rain, but thought maybe it would be manageable. We were maybe about halfway up my street when the first wind gust came, and I thought we might not actually make it a mile let alone ten. Truly. We kept going. Why? I really don't know. At about mile two the rain got so much worse, and not only was it pouring rain, it was pouring sleet. I really couldn't believe this was happening. I kept thinking about how much I complain about this type of weather at bus duty, but was now choosing, on purpose, to do these 10 miles. By some miracle, my calves and other parts of my legs, had little pain, or maybe I just couldn't feel them. At about mile three I was completely soaked. My clothes felt so heavy. Every time the wind blew I swear we were running into it and it was brutal, my eyes were involuntarily crying. Miles 4 and 5 didn't seem so bad cause we had some tree protection from the rain, but we were forging some serious puddles and overflowing water from various places on a regular basis. My feet were sloshing around inside drenched shoes. Mile six was a loop back to my house where we made a pit stop for the bathroom and to change clothes and shoes. First portion, done.

Another thing I had on my to-do list for this run was to try my first running snack. Saturday I went to the store to buy a bunch of options. Before the run on Saturday I tried a few pomegranate Sports Beans with caffeine. They were good, tasted like jelly beans, really. During the pit stop I was going to try my first gel. I tried the salted carmel Gu packet. Not as terrible as expected. I would do that flavor again.


After our stop we did a big hill for mile 7, as we were doing the downhill portion we kept seeing cars stop. That's when I realized we had friends waiting for us on the trail. Two deer stood in our path. This is when I entitled the run, "The Mother Nature Run." I was getting nervous as we were approaching and they were going nowhere fast, but they did get moving eventually. Thankfully, after our pit stop the weather seemed to get a little bit better. It was still raining and very windy, but not nearly as bad as the first six miles. During mile eight I got a little confused about the route I planned so we had to take a little detour, but really I didn't care as long as all these miles were getting done. The ending of the run wasn't nearly as exciting as the first parts. Though, I think somewhere along the last few miles is when I discovered I had frozen, crunchy hair. When we finished we ended up with 10.18 miles for the day. I actually still felt good both mentally and physically, minus being wet and cold. While this weather was way less than ideal, I feel way more confident about completing the half marathon in Pittsburgh after surviving the elements and the 10+ miles.


We ended our pouring rain/sleet, 10+ mile day with a celebratory dinner at Katerina's. I think it was well deserved and I ate my entire dinner - I was so starving all day! To round out this week I did some laps at GOTR giving me 19.16 miles for the week. I also crossed the 200 mile mark this week since my training began in the fall. I'm also very pumped about my month of March activities. I did miles 19 of 31 days for a monthly total of 83.1 miles. Only 33 more days until Pittsburgh. I can't believe the days start with a three!