Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Happy Sunday, Gang!

First question – HOW IS IT ALMOST SEPTEMBER?!  What the heck!

Anywho…now that that’s out of the way…..

 

As a coach, an athlete, friend, daughter, cousin, and sister….but most specifically as an athlete and coach….I find that keeping a positive attitude about the workout or practice or run or experience makes all the difference.

We’ve all seen the cliché sayings/images that read something like this:

 

Or like this:

 

And honestly, as a coach and an athlete, they’re incredibly helpful and true.  A few people who take my spinning classes read this blog – they can attest to the positive nature in which I approach working out.  Often you’ll hear me say things to the class like….

“Yes, you can!”

“Stop telling yourself no.  Change your attitude!  You love this.”

“You’re already doing it, keep going.”

“DO. NOT. STOP.”

and my favorite….

NEVER GIVE UP ON YOURSELF!  THERE IS NEVER A GOOD TIME TO GIVE UP!

This is me and my attitude TO A “T”.

I mentioned, about a week ago, about my experience with The Steamtown Marathon last year.  I have not divulged all of the details of said Marathon.  There were a lot of things were not perfect for that day.  There were a lot of things that did not go my way that day.  In fact, one might even say it was THE WORST EXPERIENCE I’VE EVER HAD WHILE DOING A RACE….and yes, Heather and Jen….it even includes the monsoon we ran in during THE LOVE RUN half marathon in March (which we are TOTALLY doing again this year!)

I find that through awful experiences, it’s important to not just accept that you are not having a great time but to see how you can improve for the future and most importantly LEARN from said experiences.  I’ll admit it.  I was incredibly defeated after the marathon.  I stopped posting on here.  I stopped talking about running.  In many ways, I stopped believing in myself.

After a few months….okay, let’s be real…more like 5 or 6 months…I finally reclaimed my stake in enjoying running.  On many runs since then, I have been able to refocus and reevaluate what I did wrong and what I did (if at all) right.

Here’s what I learned:

1.  I was WAY over trained.  Prior to the Steamtown, I had only ran 1 other marathon.  I got it into my head that I could just – Poof! – qualify for Boston.  I know, I’m crazy.  I started following a running plan that was going to make me faster and have me running like 6 times a week.  Keep in mind, many of my friends know I already do this but I am not always running the same distances….I just enjoy running – some times is 2 miles…some times its 8.  It varies.  I don’t have any real goal.  This training plan, however, had me checking times…and doing intervals.  I didn’t realize how “in over my head” I was until it was too late and I was burned out mid training.

2.  Mind REALLY DOES CONQUER over Matter.  I have witnesses than can verify this:

I broke down at mile 14.  My hips started seizing at mile 8 but I pushed through.  Steamtown DOES NOT have a half marathon, like many other marathons….there was no “stopping” until 26.2.  I turned the corner at 13.8 and thank god I had my phone on me….I called my Dad.  No answer.  I called my Mom.  No answer.  I called my sister.  No answer.  I called my Dad, again.  No answer.  I called my sister, again…..she picked up.

The tears just overflowed.  There was no stopping them.  I was walking.  Crying.  Grabbing my hips.  Becoming hysterical.  Basically, what it felt like, was the tops of my legs (you know, where they fit into your hip socket?) were grinding into my hips….BONE ON BONE.  Of course, I don’t think this was really the case…my body was just in all sorts of a mangled position.

As I turned the next corner and continued to cry to my father on the phone – who, as a side note, told me there is no shame in not finishing, especially if I am hurt – an ambulance appeared.  I ended up sitting in said ambulance for a good 20 minutes.  I calmed down.

I contemplated not finishing.  I contemplated just being driven to the finish line. One of the EMT guys on a bike offered to ride next to me for the next mile if I wanted to continue.  These are the things that went through my head:

OMG, PAIN!

I can’t stop.  I’ll be a quitter.

I always tell people to keep going – if I stop now, I’ll be a hypocrite (and yes, I realize I shouldn’t care what people think).

Mind over matter, Katie.  You can do this.

Would it be the worst thing in the world to stop?  Plenty of people don’t finish Marathons.

YES IT WOULD BE TERRIBLE TO NOT FINISH!  HEATHER AND JEN CAME UP HERE TO WATCH YOU RUN AND EVERYONE KNOWS YOU’VE BEEN TRAINING FOR THIS.  DONTGIVEUPONYOURSELFYOUCANDOTHIS.

So basically….I decided to keep going.  I got out of the ambulance.  Started running.  The EMT guy could only follow me for a mile…and I went three more miles before walking.  Found some strength….went another 3 miles.  By the time I got to mile 21 I was like…that’s it, I’m done.  But I was at mile 21!  I couldn’t give up then.

I told myself – no matter how you do it, just finish.  At that point so many things didn’t matter.  And yes, you could say it was a pride/ego thing….but I knew that I could finish.  I found a nice woman who hung with me – walked – talked – jogged – for the last four miles.  Until I finally crossed the finish line.

3.  If I had not pushed myself – just a little bit more – I would be incredibly disappointed.  I know.  I get it.  It’s okay to not always finish things, especially if you physically can not.  Unfortunately, I am incredibly stubborn.  I couldn’t help but think:

-If I give up on myself, how will I carry out other incredibly difficult tasks in the future?

-If I stop running, what does that say for my belief in myself?

-If I don’t finish, what will this mean for any task I try to take on in the future?  That if it gets too hard – mentally or physically – I’ll just say…well it’s okay, I tried.

But then I remembered Yoda:

You either do, or you do not.  Simple.

The choice was mine.  I decided to take the harder of the two.

And I was (and still am) incredibly happy/proud of my perseverance.

There are eleventy billion articles about the power of positive thinking and sports.  You can google them for your reading pleasure.

Basically, what I’m getting at is this:

STAY POSITIVE

DON’T GIVE UP ON YOURSELF

ANYTHING WORTH DOING WILL BE A LITTLE (OR A LOT) DIFFICULT

YES, YOU CAN

STOP TELLING YOURSELF “NO”

YOU GOT THIS

JUST KEEP GOING

 

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end….”

Without being too cliché……I feel that it is no coincidence that this song came on my pandora this morning on my way to work:

Indeed

Indeed

And yes, I am at school before 7am….usually I’m at school by 6:15 (at the latest)…..

With a few minor hiccups in the last couple of days, I am sad to report that today is my last day at the school I’ve been teaching at.  (Read:  I haven’t been fired, my job just ended…the teacher was out on maternity leave)

Today has been a roller coaster of emotions – thus far.  I am sad and nervous and happy and confused.  ALL THE EMOTIONS.  FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS!

At this moment, I am waiting for a few of my students to come back to school and play Just Dance with me.  Yup – you read that correctly.  Some of my students are coming in – on their day off – to play a video game with me.  It’ll be nice to end the day on a positive note.

Elsewhere – I am just trying to maintain some semblance of positivity.  I didn’t workout yesterday – a much needed rest day – but am back to running 6 or 7 miles this afternoon.  Spin class tomorrow and running again on Sunday.

Lots going on – lots to be hopeful for…..I am lucky.  Not a day goes by where I don’t acknowledge that.

Taking a detour from my typical workout post….just doing some reflection this Sunday…..

“I shall miss these things when it all rolls by…”~Dave Matthews Band

Quick question:  Who likes endings?

Here are my feelings about endings…..(in bullet point form…because it’s a bullet point kind of day)

Reasons Endings are Good:

  • They leave you feeling accomplished – like when you complete a project (ie, putting together that incredibly difficult piece of IKEA furniture with the single Allen Wrench they give you)
  • YUP

  • They create space for new beginnings – like when you finish training for a race and do that race, you are able to begin another training regimen OR just sit your but on the couch.  OR, give you opportunity to just relax.

  • How do I say this without seeming harsh….CLOSURE.

Things I dislike about Endings:

  • Sometimes, they come unexpectedly and you are not prepared for them….

  • Sometimes, we lose the things that are most dear to us….well, maybe not lose but they are no longer a daily occurance

So what am I getting at?

This week will be full of endings and beginnings.  This is my last week at the teaching job I’ve had since the beginning of the year.  I can not even begin to describe how bummed I am about it.  Don’t get me wrong – I am incredibly grateful and thankful for the experience and I have loved EVERY MOMENT of it – even the days that were trying (which there were really only about two of those).

In the last five months, my life has been incredibly hectic, insane, boring, trying, scary, happy, overwhelming, awesome, and (most of all) amazing.  While all of those were not emotions experienced at the same time – I can truly tell you I LOVE being a teacher.  I will miss my students.  I will miss the purpose that I had set forth every day.  Although it is an ending – I am hopeful for new beginnings and opportunities around the corner.

I am a firm believer in life figuring out a way to work itself out.  It always does.  One of my favorite axioms is:

My dad used to tell me that all the time when I was in high school and college.  He still, on occasion, reminds me of this.

Life is a constant series of endings and beginnings…..whether it’s with a job….relationships….friends….training regimen’s……etc.  We are all just trying our best…..

I am hopeful that my best puts me in a position where many beginnings arise from this ending.

 

It’s snowy and icy up here in the Northeast/Philly Area.  I went out for my Wawa coffee this morning and could not get my car back up the HUGE hill that I live on.  For now, it’s chillin’ at the bottom.  Dedicated for my morning coffee….that’s me 🙂

Speaking of dedication – I’d like to take a moment and reflect on this concept.

I recently read an OP/ED piece from The Washington Post Online about teaching and the dedication that many teachers have.  The title of the article is called, “I would love to teach but…”  If you have a moment – read it.  It’s long but it’s totally worth it.  The basic gist is that teachers are no longer allowed to teach anymore…and conversely, students aren’t willing to try….in turn….parents want their kids to receive a grade without the effort put in.  The whole concept boils down to the idea that “we can’t let these kids fail”.  Why not?  WHY NOT?!

Just to give some perspective about failure:

And yes, I am familiar with the concept of giving students the opportunity to improve – jesus, that’s all I want!  I want them to TRY.  I want them to WANT to succeed.  I want to help them build an innate desire to be the best they can be.  So many questions – in my mind – rise from this:  Why should I put the effort in for them if they don’t put the effort in for me?  Why do I even bother?  What is the point?  To these questions and many more – the simple reason is – I CARE.  And I care about the outcome of the youth of today.

So if we’re allowing them to learn mediocrity and teaching them that even if they don’t turn in a paper or don’t do their work they will still pass….we are basically teaching them that the real world is like this too.  W. T. F.  It’s not.

Listen.  I am not a pessimist.  In fact, my friend Paul would tell you that I am fortunate to not have experienced the worst of the worst.  And yet, even amongst some of the best students and smartest in many schools I’ve taught in – this concept of getting something for nothing still exists.

In case I’ve lost you – I do have a point to all of this……

If I were apply this same idea of mediocrity and complacency when it came to my desire to improve my well-being (i.e. my athletic ability and/or my body in general), would this work?  Everyone knows the answer is No.

You do not get six-pack abs by eating nachos, fries, and a variety of other unhealthy foods.  You do not get a toned body by sitting on the couch all day and maybe getting up to go to fridge/bathroom/etc.  You do not get a longer-life span* by willing it to happen.  And you sure as hell don’t get a perfect body(relatively speaking) without hard work.

All my life – I’ve struggled to maintain my body.  Some friends and family know the details behind that but in truth – I didn’t get ANYTHING without working for it.  I attribute my dedication and hard work to the lessons I learned in school.  If I wanted an A – I had to work for it.  If I got a B or a C or even, yes, a D….I NEVER ONCE got angry with my teacher.  How is what I did or didn’t do, my teachers fault?  I was the one taking the tests; I was the one writing the papers; I was the one studying or not studying; I was the one who did a half-assed job.  How was that my teachers fault?

And when you read these  inspiring quotes – do they only apply to education?  THEY APPLY TO EVERYTHING.

I feel as though many people are missing the concept of what real education is for.  Yes.  I love to teach Shakespeare (Billy is my man!), Chaucer, Steinbeck, Emerson, Thoreau, etc…..and I love to teach the concepts behind their writing.  But my main goal – right now – as a teacher – and I think always will be – is to teach kids to work hard, try, do their best, be kind, and take a moment to realize that they are in training for the rest of their lives.

I feel this way EVERY DAY when I run, swim, bike, do yoga, crossfit, or whatever other activity I get in to.  I am not training for tomorrow….or just for the series of races I’ve signed up for.  I am training to STAY healthy.  I am training to BE healthy.  I am training to BE successful.

I can only hope I am teaching my students the same thing.

Since my weeks and days typically end up to be busier than I anticipate, I have taken to several new habits but in the old styles I’ve done them….

For example……I still make my lunch for school…but I do it the night before.  When school started, I used to make it in the morning.

While that’s a pretty mundane example, I still realize that I am moreso a creature of habit.  I prefer schedules.  I prefer organization.  I crave order.  Mostly.

Totes Magotes

Because of this, I’ve changed up my workout regimen as well as my sleeping patterns.

On a good day – I am usually asleep by 9pm.  On a great day – I am asleep by 8:30pm.  On an exceptional day – I am asleep by 8pm.  All of these times are arbitrary based on my level of organization from earlier in the day.  So basically if I am not finished all my “stuff” – I am not in bed until after it is completed.

I used to feel as though it was necessary to do EVERYTHING all at once.  I’ve gotten a lot better at squeezing things in a various times.  For example, I love to get to school INCREDIBLY early – like 6:15 early (and as I write this I do realize I am just like my mother, who gets to school around the same time I do….different schools).  During the hour before most of the kids arrive, I like to enjoy the quiet.  I catch on any copying or grading or prep that I need to do.  This is essentially ME time.  Weird?  Maybe.  But I love sitting with my coffee, in the quiet, and planning out  my day.

Because I now coach in the afternoons – my workouts have been pushed back to start around 5pm instead of the usual 3:30pm.  I’ll be updating you all on any new playlists and revelations I’ve had during crossfit.  The first revelation I’ve had in the last few weeks – I have NO core strength and my hip flexors are weak as $h%t.

I am still running – not nearly as much as I was for the marathon.  I am also teaching spinning – which I still LOVE.

This was my latest playlist for classes this week:

Screen shot 2014-01-01 at 7.49.32 PM

My new favorite song is #10 – Hell and Back by The Airborne Toxic Event.  It’s on the Dallas Buyer’s Club Soundtrack.  I leave it for you to enjoy on this second day of the new year.

 

I’ve been gone for what seems like forever!  I wish I could promise that I’ll be back…but I can not make such promises.

I’ve been movin’ and shakin’ lately – new job – new school – new kids.  It’s busy and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

Life has been awesome and crazy and hectic.  All things I love.  All things that create stress for me.  Ha.

I am STILL keeping up with my marathon training….it’s been rough….but I’m still pluggin’ away.  I realized I might have been over training so I’ve kind of backed down on my mileage.  That being said, I still ran 34 miles last week and did an amazing 6.4 miles yesterday for my friend Kristie’s Namaste 5K

The weather was glorious!  I hadn’t run since Thursday so it was nice to get out and do a familiar route.

In the mean time I’ve been relaxing, camping, and enjoying life with a special someone 🙂

I will do my best to keep posting my fitness schtuff 🙂  Just know I am still runnin’….always!

Hasta Luego!

 

…can not STAND when people mess up ‘loose’ and ‘lose’.  THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS PEOPLE!!!

This isn’t a regular post – rather, just a post to vent a bit of my English Teacher frustrations.  Regular posts to continue tomorrow….enjoy!

Have a great Thursday!