Tuesday, February 28, 2012

For Chardon

I was going to write a post about my amazing run on Saturday, but that will have to wait.  Somehow it doesn't seem right to write about a run in the sun right now.

Right now there are two families suffering losses I hope I never even have to fathom.

(UPDATE, 2/28, 1pm:  And now it's three students that have died.  No words.)

Chardon is a small town on the other side of Cleveland.  It is very similar in size to Rocky River, where I teach.  Our school partnered with Chardon and sent groups of teachers there to learn how to implement their Professional Learning Communities and outstanding Freshmen Mentoring program.  I couldn't make it on the days we went since I was on maternity leave, but everyone I talked to at work was really impressed with what Chardon had in place.  Mentoring at-risk freshman.  Teachers collaborating and using data to identify needs for improvement in the curriculum.

From my experience, Chardon did everything right.

Even their lockdown was well-planned.  Their teacher, Frank Hall, showed amazing guts as he chased down the gunman.

I started to really think about this.  Things are so, SO different than they were 12 years ago when I started teaching.  And definitely WAY different than they were when I was in middle school and high school.

I had it relatively easy in high school--by then, either I didn't care if someone picked on me or the tormenting had pretty much stopped.

But when I was being picked on, pretty much daily, from 5th grade to 8th grade, I knew that when I walked out of that school building it was done. Until the next day.  Until I had to see that kid at lunch or in the hallway, and they'd pick on me for being "too smart" or "too fat" or "too tall" or "having hair too dark" or "wearing generic shoes" or insert-completely-asinine-12-year-old-insult here.

It ended at home.  I was safe at home.

This culture we've got now is scary.  I see these kids with their phones attached to their bodies like another appendage--they are always on.  Thank God, and I truly mean that, there was no Facebook or Twitter or YouTube when I was getting bullied.  Sometimes I wonder if I would have been able to come out of that as fine as I did if I wasn't able to turn it off for three years straight.  If I wasn't able to turn that bullying off at 3:08pm.

It appears that bullying was at least partially a motive.  And what used to turn into a fight after school or in the lunch room, has turned into a complete and utter tragedy.  And I'm sure everyone will weigh in on what Chardon did or did not do.  I'm telling you right now:  Chardon did everything they could.

This is bigger than us.  And it has to stop.

Prayers for the Chardon community today, and to all who feel that they are hopeless and lost.  Prayers that they are helped before they feel this is the answer.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TST Playlist: 8/100

I do not understand why I love this song so much right now.

It's just really good to run to.  Alone.  Because that's what I've been resorting to, since I lost my running buddy for the season.  Poor Ana re-tore a previously-torn ACL.  She's crushed.  I'm bummed.

So it will be some running by myself, until I can find the perfect combination again of someone in my backyard who has my pace and goals.  Any takers?

So this song has a great buildup and I had it in the middle of my little 10-minute push this weekend.  Despite the fact that it's pretty quiet, it still had me zoned out and pushing hard.

This video is so Peter-Gabriel-esque which I heart.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Survival Guide

So Coach Emily asked me how the workouts were lately, and I told her great--in fact, I was kind of hungry for a little more!

Oh, see?  I'm being all cute again.  Look at me thinking I'm in control of my time!

No sooner than I had typed that very phrase "ready for a little more," then things got INSANE.

First of all, Matt went out of town Monday through Wednesday to the eTech conference in Columbus.  He was selected to go and it was quite an honor, because he's awesome.  But I was definitely terrified about getting everyone dressed, with some semblance of hygiene, lunches and bags in hand out of the house by 7:05am by myself.  Bug's been hit or miss lately in the morning and we have mornings where he's sleepy but relatively pleasant to mornings when he's a total bear and we hear things like "NO I WILL NOT WEAR THAT SHIRT!" and then he will run upstairs and put on Buzz Lightyear boxer shorts and a paint-covered hoodie and call that stylin'.  All of which makes for very interesting mornings.

It was a 72-hour blur but I got it done.  Single Parents out there....RESPECT.  You are superhuman.

Then that obviously put me pretty far behind on not only school but workouts.  Monday night was a struggle and a battle so I needed to work out.  The trouble was that I couldn't get Bug completely in bed until about 9.  So I finished my workout at 10:15.  The good news:  now able to do FOUR whole chinups! (but still no pull-ups....sigh)  And I did some pretty fast pushes on the 'mill. But the bad news?  I was WIRED until almost 1am.  Then that threw me off Tuesday, and left me pretty much a pile of tears and exhaustion by Wednesday.

I did force myself out of the house to attend my buddy Dani's spin class Wednesday night.  I came home  a much happier person.  I also told Matt that "exercise is my crack."  Not that I know, of course.  I'm just guessing.

Thursday and Friday were spent getting ready for Bean's 2nd Birthday party, which involved 35 people (10 of whom were under 6) and lots more craziness.  I had to get all the monkey stuff ready for my little Monkey Bean.

Note: copious amounts of crock pots

By Saturday, I was in need of a fix before the party or I was afraid I might explode and turn my frosting into a weapon of mass destruction.  I set out for an hour run and FLEW!  Talk about pent-up energy.  I had to make it an even 7 miles, so I did just that in 1:00.49 for an average pace of 8:42.  That is fast for me.  Coach had me doing "10 minutes lower than tempo" and I was really hoping she meant "slower" and forgot the "s," but I manned up and decided to go faster than tempo.  Tempo for me is about 8:00/miles, and I am pleased to report that I hit the 10 minutes with an average of 7:55.  Yay me!

Boo me!  I got home at 3:30.  Party started at 4.  So much for stretching!  Or looking cute!

Quickly tried to make more food (because enough to feed an army apparently wasn't enough) and finally got in the shower at--wait for it--3:45.  Awesome.  I was on the verge of tears by this point, but knew I had a damn good run and that made it all better.  I was really hoping everyone was late but of course no one was.

They all had a hoppin' good time.

Now?  Yeah.  Now I'm staring at 30 DBQs and they're all, HA! You're screwed.

And considering each one takes me 10-15 minutes to grade, I'm all, yes.  Yes, I am.  

So it got me thinking how a few years ago, this week would have RUINED me.  I would have looked at this week as a complete and utter failure and a sign of my imminent demise.  That surely I would never recover.

But now?  I'm like, whatever.  It's February, self.  Chill.  Tomorrow is Monday, and hallelujah for that! Clean slate!  New week on WorkoutLog!  Close the book on this week.  Survival was the name of the game this week, and survive I did.  Here's my advice to anyone out there with a couple of variables--I mean, kiddies--who is having a rough week.  Meet me at Camera 2, please.


It's me. 

First of all, you're fine.  Deep breath.  This too shall pass.  

Here's why you really shouldn't beat yourself up:

Life is unpredictable, and that's what makes it great.  One lost week where you worked out less than you did at 39 weeks pregnant will NOT make or break your race in September, okay?  So just stop.  It won't.  Remember when you told your husband that if your kid doesn't play soccer at age 4 this year it doesn't mean he'll automatically get cut from the high school team?  Yeah.  It's time to apply that mentality to yourself.  Realize that when your kids are running around with pants on their head dancing, that this qualifies as one of those moments you don't want to miss.  And just laugh.  The DBQs, and the treadmill, will be there later.

Think about what you did do this week.  How, in a basement full of baby doll shoes and Tomica cars, you busted out some serious diamond push-ups and FOUR! WHOLE! CHINUPS! INAROW! (and thought about a pull-up) and on Saturday you squeezed in a seriously fast run because you were serious, yo'.  No one, and I mean NO ONE was going to take that run away from you.  So you made it count.  You poured your heart and soul into that run.  Because in the end?  That's the kind of stuff that gets you to the finish line.  Not the missed minutes here and there.  The heart and soul you put into the other minutes.  

So stop the lashings.  Close the book.  Pencil down on this week.  Tomorrow, start fresh, and remember how good it felt to be running and spinning and lifting in secret this week, just for you, just to get stronger.  Now take that strong and run with it.

And Bug...

And my sweet little Bean, too.  Happy birthday Emmy Bean--I love you.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Course Maps

Sometimes, this stuff is hard.  Just straight-up hard.  And that's the honest truth.

I stopped reading parenting magazines, because I felt like they were just sort of giving me this unattainable expectation of what I should be doing. I should be making elaborate crafts.  Consistently pushing phonics and using homemade flash cards for letter recognition.  Feeding them locally grown and harvested produce and meat from the chickens and grass-fed cows in my backyard.  And that is what you have to do to be a good mother, Amen.

(Because that's not me.)

I try. I do the best that I can.  I love my two children more than my own life, and that is the honest to God truth.  I would lay down in traffic for them.  And that motivates every single action that I do every single day in my life.  Quite simply, there was me before I had Bug and now there's me after Bug.  The same person, but definitely not the same brain.  I have been rewired, so to speak.

But I often feel, as I think maybe other moms do, that I'm not doing this right.  That what I do isn't good enough.  Unless I'm doing all of these things in said magazines I am clearly a failure.  And in no case do these irrational feelings of inadequacy pop up faster for a mother than when her kid is THAT KID.

You know, that kid.

The one screaming.  Kicking.  Hysterical.

Like, say, at swimming lessons the past three weeks.  Oh, yeah, that plan of mine?  The one to swim while Bug's at lessons?  Look at me, all cute with my plans.  Kids have a funny way of doing that.

Kids are not plans.  Kids are variables.

To be clear:  Bug loves the water.  LOVES. IT.  He would live there if we let him.  I have often posted pictures from our time at the beach and the pool.  There is no fear at all of the water.

There is, however, a power struggle.

And I, my friends, am on the opposing end.

Bug doesn't want to take lessons just because.  He's made that clear. And I've made it clear that he absolutely must learn how to swim.  He doesn't need to compete.  But he needs to learn. We spend so much time in the water that it's a safety issue.  The past two years, lessons have been fun!  No problem!

But he's decided that it's SO ON with these lessons NOW.  Nevermind the past.

Normally, this has meant dragging his feet to the pool and then not participating in all of the lesson.  We made it pretty clear that he needed to be safe and he needed to listen to his instructors.  And take part in his lesson.  The WHOLE lesson.

What ended up happening was a complete and utter public meltdown, screaming, kicking, crying, and absolute hysterics that literally radiated off every crevice in the extremely loud and not acoustically-sound indoor pool complex.  When all else failed, I walked away (which was also at the urging of the lesson director, too), because I am fully aware this is an act for me and me only.  There is no fear here.  There is a very determined little boy who is trying to find his place in the world, which I love.  But I have to change the behavior--not the spirit, though.  I am down with that determination.  That is completely okay with me.  But the behavior had to stop.

So as I stood in the doorway trying not to cry, I of course doubted everything I've ever done.  Am I doing this right?  Am I pushing too hard?  Not enough?  Why can't I just do more of what the magazines and the "experts" say?  And please, PLEASE can my kid stop making a scene?  (Which, of course, he kind of did when I walked away, after, of course, all parents and lifeguards in attendance had seen my feeble attempts to stop the meltdown)

Suddenly a mom opened the door and came up to me.

"Are you the mom of the little boy who's so upset?"

Oh no. Here it goes.  I'm going to get lambasted. Everything I do is wrong. I don't deserve to be here, I don't deserve anything.  I'm a complete failure.

(Yes, that was exactly what went through my head at that moment.  I honestly thought that she was there to berate me.  That's how sad this attitude toward parenting has become--that everyone out there is just judging, judging, judging, and--)

"I just want to say you're doing a great job.  You're doing the right thing.  All of us are in there saying you're doing the right thing; that we really admire what you're doing--"

At this point, the tears flowed. 

"Thank you," I whispered and smiled meekly.  "I'm trying...I just...I just want him to be safe, that's all."

"I know you feel like crying," she said as she hugged me, "but you're doing the right thing."

Take that, magazines.  We are all on the same team here.

I'm finding out daily what I already suspected to be true long before my little Bug arrived--that parenting is hard, that it's different for all of us, and that very often to do it well you have to sometimes have the meltdowns.  You have to say, "NO.  I know what's best for you now."  And that is not exactly an easy thing to say, especially as they get older.  I completely and honestly believe I am a better high school teacher now because I have two children.  Obviously, you don't have to have children to be a good teacher--I don't want to give that impression at all.  But for me, it really opened up a different level of understanding and compassion, especially when dealing with my at-risk students and their parents.

Ultimately, we just want them to be safe and happy.  And we're really trying.  That's all.

When I first signed up for Ironman, it was exciting.  It was scary.  It was, indeed, something I had no clue how to prepare for.

I'll never forget that first moment when I really doubted myself.  On the Hill That Broke Me.  I remember trying to ride up that hill and not being able to do it, and literally breaking down.  But what if I can't do this?  What if I'm not good enough?  What if I'm doing it all wrong?  Everyone else here knows more than me, they can get up this hill...surely they are all laughing at me.

I cried.  I cried at the top of the hill, because I wasn't thinking about the fact that I made it.  I was thinking how stupid I must look and how all these triathletes around me must think I'm the biggest weakling; that I have no business whatsoever signing up for an Ironman.

Of course, that's not at all how it is.

Triathletes are some of the most welcoming people in the universe.  This is a sport where we're all on the same course.  We all rack our bikes together in T1.  And when we see someone struggling, we help them out.  We tell them it's okay, that they're doing a great job, that if they just hang in there it's going to get better.  Just keep moving forward.

I was reminded of how similar these two journeys are standing in that pool doorway, tears running down my cheeks.  And when the lesson was over, and Bug saw me and immediately put on the act and stomped his feet and screamed "I DID NOT SWIM IN THE DEEP MOMMY!  I SHOWED YOU! I DID NOT SWIM IN THE DEEP!" and I said, "yes, you're right, and that means you have chosen to go home now instead of play" and picked up all 46 pounds of him kicking, I was glad I'm strong.  Glad I've had both that Hill that Makes Me Cry and this love that is so strong it makes me cry.  Knowing that no meltdown is permanent, that no hill goes forever.  And at the top there will always be a team willing to cheer me up or hand me a kleenax and give me a hug, depending upon the situation.

Someday, soon, I'll have a set that makes me doubt everything.  A race that will end in flop.  I'll be sitting on the side of the road, head in my hands, bike laying on the ground, wondering if I'm good enough.

And I can assure you, there will be more toddler meltdowns in the future, too.

But this girl is strong.  This one trusts herself even if I have moments of weakness time to time.  This one knows how far she's come and she's not about to stop in this race.
These courses may be different, but the finish lines are just as sweet.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

I'll Be Running for Sherry

When I first heard about Sherry Arnold, my stomach dropped.

A runner...mother...daughter...wife...and a teacher.  Went out for her early-morning run, probably so that she would get her miles in and have a nice relaxing Saturday with her family.  

Which is pretty much what I do every Saturday morning.

And one mile into her run, her life was violently, tragically, cut short.

This story has left me, as I'm sure it left many of you, with a wave of emotions.  Sadness that brings tears to my eyes and takes my breath away and makes me stop and hold onto the side of the kitchen counter for a minute or two.  Anger that this could happen to someone that seemed so giving, caring, and full of life.  An empty feeling for her daughter and son and husband and grief at the hole that is in their hearts now, that will be forever.

I didn't know Sherry.  But I feel like I run by her every Saturday morning, giving a quick breathless "hi" and a smile as we pass on the sidewalk and chase our own weekly finish lines.

I experienced a sudden, violent, tragic loss to our community in October, 1989, when my classmate's little sister was kidnapped from the Baskin Robbin's right across the street from our police station in our tiny, extremely safe town.  He told Amy that he was going to take her shopping.  For a present for her mom's promotion.  She even called her mother a few minutes after she got in his car to tell her she was home and safe and sound.

Amy's body was found in February--by a runner, early in the morning.  Her killer was never found.  And I saw what that did to a brother.  A family.  A community.  I didn't know Amy, either.  I probably walked by her in the hallway a million times.  Maybe we even stood next to each other in the lunchroom.  

Even to this day, I think about Amy and how she'd be 33 now.  I think of the amazing, wonderful things I've been blessed to do and get to do every day, the career I enjoy, the husband I love, and the children that make my world, and how Amy wasn't allowed to have any of these things.  I try to honor her memory by living as fully as I can.

I do believe that Amy and Sherry are together now, in a place much better than this one I'm in.  And it's a reminder that we all live parallel lives.  We're all passing each other in the hallway every day.  We're all getting our run in early as the sun rises so we can feel our heart beat faster and breathe the morning air and come home--home--to love and breakfast and the rest of our Saturdays.  Our lives.   

So I'll be running for Sherry Saturday.  I hope you join me.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The TST Playlist, 7/100

So I have this group of girls.  We're pretty tight.  And awesome.  At least, we think so.

We've been through a ton together--lots of laughing, lots of things not appropriate for a public blog, pancake fights, tart fights, obnoxiously-loud-stumbling-home-walks to 15 E. Vine Street, annoying sorority-rushs songs, late nights, heartaches, weddings, races, babies, and lots and lots of laughs.

These are my Nutter girls.

Cerveza and I on Bourbon Street after IM New Orleans 70.3, 2009

Me, TBone, and Jacks the night before WIBA, 2008

Okay, so sometimes our guy friends can tag along...me, my buddy Sam, and Nutter Po in the front, 10 year Miami Reunion, 2009

Po, TBone, Me, Jacks, Lush, Hedda, and Cerveza, at Jacks' wedding, 2010

Sometimes when I'm with them I end up doing things like this:

Regardless, we'd been through it all.  Everything you could go through, we did.  

Or so we thought.

Tomorrow, my heart will be with my Nutter TBone.  All of our hearts will.  Because she's been through--she's going through--something no one should ever have to do.  My other awesome buddy E posted this song a few weeks ago and immediately it made me think of TBone.  Because this song made me happy, and it made me think of all the times I have had so far with these girls, and that we've always got each other's backs no matter what.

Love you, Bone.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Well, not what I expected, but I guess better than the alternative

So the plan was to run with Ana today, then take the kids to swim lessons, then splash around all morning and grab lunch on the way home.  Grade all the AP tests during naptime, and relax with the hubby in the evening.

Here's how it went:

  • Felt like I was hit by a ton of bricks at about 7pm last night.  Passed out.
  • Texted Ana at 6am telling her I'd be really really stupid if I tried to run.  Thought about maybe swimming.
  • Woke up at 8:30am with my head throbbing and unable to breathe.
  • Realized swimming with a sinus infection would be kind of a death wish.
  • Felt sorry for myself.
  • Slept all freaking day while Matt was with the kids.
  • Missed them all a ton.
  • Demanded a Saturday do-over, but no one was really able to make this happen.
  • Threw back one more Nalgene of Emergen-C, water, or OJ/ginger ale.  Lost track of what is what since I can't taste it anyway.

So yeah.  My wonderfully planned day got shot to hell.  But I guess given a choice of this or stomach flu, I'll take this.  I'm really hoping that this means I won't get the stomach flu, even though I threw myself under the puke bus Tuesday night.  Pretty much every kid at the babysitter's got it, and now my friend's other kid AND her got it, too!

Evil evil evil stomach bug.

Speaking of Bug, he was so sweet and kept trying to give me hugs so I would "feel all better and play now."  I wish it worked that way!

Hoping this clears up ASAP because I was just starting to get in a rhythm with workouts before this week!  A toast with an OJ-ginger ale cocktail, anyone?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


Tuesday early morning swim ended up with something I never in a million years thought that I would have.

I bet Coach Emily will fall over when I tell her this.

I had MORE TIME!  Yes, MORE.  With an M!  As in, MAS TIEMPO!

So I sat there in the pool for a bit and knew exactly what I needed to do.

Bust out another 500, homies.

So I did!

Still made it to school with time to spare.  So excited!

Then, last night I got all ready to do a little evening P90X--some Ab Ripper, some chin-ups (unassisted--yes!) and pull-ups (massively assisted...but someday I will do one!), and a bit of lower body stuff.  Gave the kiddies baths, rocked Bean to sleep, and then....


Yes, that is the sound of puke.  All over me.  All over everything.


Turns out that 2 other kids at the babysitter's aside from Bean were also in the SPLAT club last night.  Which meant, of course, the inevitable.

Bug hurling from about 11pm-5am.  Me crying, changing sheets and blankets and rubbing backs all night long.  Wondering how I'm even going to begin to get un-buried from work.  And hopefully not hurl.

In the past 16 hours or so I have been hurled on no less than 4 times.  This will be a true test of my immunity.  I feel a bit like Dead Man Walking over here.  Now everyone is finally asleep, and I should really try to dig through a pile of grading.

But I can barely keep my eyes open.

Guess that means it's time to adjust the weekly workouts...and cross my fingers that I don't get this, too!

But at least I had that extra 500.