Wednesday, May 30, 2012

First Run Back

Well, I just got back from my first run/walk really since April  Over a month.

I really, really, really hope that's enough!

But Coach Emily put in the plan, "IF YOU HAVE PAIN DISCONTINUE IMMEDIATELY!!!!"

She is totally not usually a SHOUTY CAPITALS  or multiple exclamation points user.  So I know that she meant business.  For realz.

The plan was to do this:

Walk 7 minutes
Jog for 3
Walk 4
Jog 4
Walk 2
Jog 5
Walk 5

My first thought, I have to admit was, man, look at that.  Look what I've become here.  Look how much fitness I've lost. 

But then I quickly smacked myself upside the head and decided to get over it and get it done.

I have to admit, I was scared.  So scared that last night I freaked out to Matt.  I even got a little teary and said, "What if it still hurts?  I just want ME back."

Yes, I am TST and I am aware that running (or really, racing and tris) have become such a huge part of me that I've felt lost the past month.  Restless.  Cranky.  Bloated up like a balloon.

Not me.

So the thought of it still hurting?  And having to DISCONTINUE IMMEDIATELY!!!! (?)  Well, that was enough to throw me into a few irrational minutes of sniffling.

I set out and held my breath a little.

And let me be clear:  I sucked.  Big time.  I felt really slow and large and lethargic.  But I still felt so good to be out there.  Working full-time with a 4 and 2 year old, I've really relied on my little runs as my quiet time and my sanity saver.  Aside from missing my race, I missed that.  Probably more than the race, actually.  So I went out with no other noise besides my feet on the pavement and my breath.  I needed to hear that, and I needed to hear myself think.

(In case it hurt.)

Well, the good news is, it didn't hurt.  It felt strange, and tight a bit, and definitely different than my right achilles.  But it didn't hurt.  So I'll take that as a step in the right direction.  Even if it was a small, slow, kind of bloated step.

It's not a cranky step anymore.  And that's good.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Up again

First, I sincerely thank you for some thoughtful comments after my last post.  I really appreciate it.

Things are looking up.

Went to the service today, so the worst is over with that.

Got word that I get to try a run as early as Wednesday.  My fingers are crossed and I'm trying not burst at the seams with excitement.  Running, I miss you.  Oh how I have needed you this month, for sure.  Pretty please, can you come back to me?

Two more weeks at school, although this one will be a little crazy.  I'm presenting in front of quite a few of my peers in the NEO at a conference on Thursday.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous.  But I'm excited about what I'm sharing, which is a pretty amazing project my APUSH students have been doing with Cleveland Historical.  They are making content for the app, and I'm seriously impressed with what they are churning out--especially on a short timetable.  These guys never cease to amaze me, and that's pretty awesome.

Along with grading and trying to close out the school year,  I'm packing up my classroom.  Especially fun when it's 87 degrees in my classroom, like it was on Friday.  But when the construction is done, we'll have air-conditioning!  Yay!  Too bad I won't ever be 9 months pregnant in the hottest September on record again, but I digress.  Anyway, we're all moving rooms due to renovations, so I won't be in 221 anymore...sniff sniff...Bean was born on 2/21 and I'm partial to that room number since I've spent the past 12 school years in it.  But I came across this little gem while I was packing:

It's a scrapbook that my freshmen and juniors put together from my first year teaching at Oak Hills High School.  After a long week of thinking about this profession and how it can break your heart sometimes, I really, really needed this.  Reading through the letters made me happy.  And laugh.  There was even an empty pack of pretzels in there with a note saying "sorry!  they were just calling my name" because one kid asked to go to the bathroom and instead went to buy pretzels at the vending machine and I REAMED her for it.  It definitely made me smile.

The-Year-In-Which-They-Were-4-And-2-And-I-Taught-Full-Time is almost over, and I'm definitely ready.  I'm exhausted.  It took its toll on me, physically and emotionally.  I know in part my injury is due to the fact that I haven't sat down or really had a real, true rest day of just rest since last August. 

And true story:  I was nominated for two pretty big honors: the National History Teacher of the Year Award and the Martha Holden Jennings Master Teacher Award.  I found out this week that I didn't receive either one, and I was a little bummed about it but after I found out about Dulcy I quickly got over myself.  I know, just like in triathlon, I am way, way, WAY too hard on myself sometimes all the time, so more than anything it was just really nice to know that someone noticed that I work my tail off day in and day out.  Honestly, that was better than actually winning.  That, and that yellowed and faded photo album full of pretzel wrappers and misspelled letters.  

The trophies are nice and all, but that's not why I got into this profession.  Or this sport.  Which is a good thing, because I am rarely winning them.  But knowing I give it my all and every once in a while having someone acknowledge it...or even just say "thanks?"  That's what keeps me going.  

I might have said goodbye to my race last week, and I may be saying goodbye to 221, but I know that the journey is more important than what room I'm in or what race I missed.  

Cheers to the end of one year and the beginning of the next.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Class of 2003

I always felt partial to the Class of 2003.

They were my very first freshman at Oak Hills when I was a first year teacher.  We were all freshmen, together.  When they graduated, I felt like part of me had made it, too.

This morning, I got an email with the subject line:  "Student, Class of 2003" and I knew it would be bad.  I hoped it wouldn't be too bad, but I've seen enough of these emails to know it's never good news.

I saw who it was, and my heart sank.

There are a few students I've met in the past 13 years that I can say I know, without a doubt, will change the world.  I've been lucky to have a few.  Ones that I knew would go so far.  They had so much talent, and confidence, and dreams up in the sky and I just knew they would make it.

Dulcy was one of those.

I immediately teared up and had to pull it together for the last 10 minutes of class.  A student asked if I was okay, and I said, "No...not really."  And I told them, because I figured they might as well know why I was shaking.

You never quite get used to going to funerals for students.  They sit in my room, every day, for 54 minutes.  We laugh, we get frustrated, we figure stuff out, we think some more.  Sometimes they drive me nuts.  Sometimes I drive them nuts.  And then another June comes, and another round of scantrons and a picture I take in the back of my room and then the door shuts and it's over.  They walk out the door, and they move on.  And I wish them well.  I always wish them well.

I decided I'd better do something productive during my planning period, which was the next one.  We're in the middle of renovations and we have to pack up our rooms.  That's it!  I'll mindlessly put books in a box!  I can do that!  I can totally do that!

Except I had no packing tape.  I had to get packing tape from the office, and I was all red and puffy and snotty.

So I pulled it together and headed to the office.  I asked for the tape from the secretary in the main office...the one who sent the email about Dulcy.  She looked at me and I knew she knew I was upset.  And I asked for the tape and then I started to feel the sting in my eyes, so I said, "I'm's just the email....I...I'm pretty sad."

And I thought I'd be okay.

But she looked at me and said, "Yes, when her cousin came in to tell us the news and arrangements, she wanted us to tell the teachers, and she said she knew Miss Arcaro was her favorite teacher, and...."

And that was it.  That was the moment I sobbed in the main office.

I grabbed the tape and apologized and ran off to get it out.  And then pull myself together, because another round of kids were coming into my room when that bell rang...a life I lead by bells, by hundreds of kids coming in and out of my life, each one having an impact and each one teaching me something.

I will always remember Dulcy and her smile and her voice and her desire to change the world, and how she was well on her way to doing just that.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Yesterday Came and Went

The race I registered for and worked my butt off for was yesterday.

Yesterday morning kind of sucked.  Ironically, I slept in and came downstairs to make some coffee at--wait for it--8:42am.


(The race started at 7:00)

But I know I made the right call.  This injury thing was more serious than I initially thought or wanted to believe.  It's been 3 weeks of not running and I am just now feeling like I am almost back to normal.  I don't feel pain up stairs or on my tiptoes, and I actually had to run after Bean as she took off down the street (girlfriend is FAST) and I felt no pain.  So there's progress!  And some hope.

On the bright side, I've been swimming pretty well, am back on the bike without pain (and had a couple of great rides lately, even if they were only 20 miles or so) and my upper body is getting jacked (ha! relatively speaking of course) from all this P90X baloney.  I hate it, but I love it.  Or something like that.

And this weekend I got to hug and squeeze my new niece and nephew who are the CUTEST BABY TWINS IN THE UNIVERSE and yes, I'm serious.
Proud Cousins Bug and Bean
Today I put my money where my mouth was and wore my prom dress to school.  The deal was that if my kids raised over $100 for an awesome charity, Girls With Sole, I'd wear my prom dress to school all day.  Each class had a minimum of $10 and I had to have at least one class hit $100.  At the time, there were 3 days left and my biggest donation from one class was $4.47.  Needless to say, I was pretty confident I'd be safe.  But they really came together in the name of charity public humiliation.  Good thing I'm a good sport!  So it was 1995 in Room 221.  I almost played them some Ace of Base to get in the real spirit.  You don't remember this little gem?  I distinctly remember blaring it the day after prom in a convertible as we drove around a state park and thought we were awesome:

Oh Swedish '90s bands.  You're cute.  I love you. But what is that dude DOING in this video?  Is he dancing?  Does he smell something funny?  OMG, what is HAPPENING HERE?  And is "the sign" the same as that weird symbol that Prince used to call himself?

But sorry, no pictures.  You'll have to take my word for it.  I'm pretty sure a few pictures are probably bouncing around the twittersphere and instagram.  Just look for the fool wearing blue sequins (although I don't have the dye-to-match shoes anymore).

Turns out my classes brought in the most money!  So I'm proud of them.

My AP kids are working on something kind of amazing right now, and my World kids are humoring me but really wishing it was June 7th.  And man, could I ever use a good, hard run.

Soon, right?  The worst part is over, and the sun still came up.  I didn't spontaneously combust.  And I'm getting excited to get this thing better already so I can start bricking and tri-ing and doing what I love to do.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

T1 to T2

I'm a little sad.  Seriously.

But happy, too.

I just sold my very first road bike ever....the bike that took me on my first MS 150 tour, which then led to me thinking, "wait a minute...maybe Ironman isn't completely insane..."

And then the bike that got me to the starting line--and the finish line--of my first and only Ironman.

It's WAY too big for me (I know this now--it's a 56cm and I ride a 52 for crying out loud), doesn't fit me at all, and I've been passing it around to friends and throwing it on the trainer here and there.

But it's definitely got a lot of miles in it.  And my friend Laura, who is a tri-studette looking to get back into tris, is also about 5"11'.  It fits her perfectly.

It's time to say goodbye.  But I can't help remembering all the miles.  All the hills.  The falls, the occasional tears.  And sometimes swearing.  Getting lost, getting flats, getting 9 years of memories and stories and miles on that bike.  I bought it when I was just starting out in this sport.  I clipped on my handlebars and clipped in some pedals.  I remember riding it that first summer, thinking, "this is the single best purchase I've ever made," and falling in love (after a few bumps in the road and breakups) with triathlon.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
True dat.
I was single.  I was 25 years old. The road ahead of me had a million twists and turns and I didn't even quite know which route I was going to take or which finish line I'd be heading towards.  But I had one badass new bike, and I was ready.

It's got a lot of good karma.  I hope it brings her lots of adventures.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Something Else Dawned on Me

So you know what?

I've been doing quite a bit of running, biking, swimming and thinking lately.  And I think I've come to the realization of something.  Again.

I'm a triathlete.

I'm not a runner.

Now, let me get a few things straight, though, before you all pounce on me.  I do like to run.  I love to run, actually.  And I like to do races (as you probably know) and I like to run with people but I don't like getting hurt.  

No, that sucks royally.  I'm literally losing my marbles over here.

And the more I think about it the more I think that tri training in the winter/early spring is NOT, like I have thought the past two years, impossible.  In fact, I think it may be my lifeline.

Because yeah, running is efficient.  It's quick, it's out the door in two seconds with my running shoes on and nothing else (I mean GEAR, people.  Bike, pump, tubes, goggles, etc.  Clothing is ON TOO, pervs.) And even at the height of marathon training, I'm still "only" working out, maybe 8 hours a week.  You know?  Versus the 15-20 hours a week I put in during Ironman training.

Side note:  OH boy.  I just got the shakes there.  Even when I do another Ironman someday, I won't be putting in 20 hours a week again.  A) I don't have that kind of time and B) for what I'm trying to do (finish smiling) I know I don't need all that.

But I digress.

The point is that even at *only* 8 hours a week or so of running, my body can't do it.  Not the type of running I want to do.  I want to go fast.  I want to push my limits.  But given that I pretty much am the poster child for how NOT to recover, that hasn't ended well for me the past two springs.

No, I'm definitely a triathlete.  I need that mix not only mentally but physically.  And I get the greatest joy from putting all three things together.  I just do.  I can't really explain why I enjoy it so much more except that perhaps I have a dose of what I like to call "exercise-induced A.D.D."

I'm kind of REALLY kicking myself for this whole deal, because it will knock me out of a few early season tris (I think).  Unless things change soon, I shouldn't even think about doing the Maumee Bay Olympic.  Sprint, maybe?  But definitely NOT the oly.

But, I think I've learned a lot over the past two years here.  And if the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, well, then, I bought a one-way ticket to Crazytown.


But I'm hopping off this train RIGHT NOW thank you very much.

I anticipate next year's race schedule to look quite a bit different than what I've tried to do the past two seasons.

Change is good.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

On The Bright Side

Since I'm not racing in 10 days,

1.  I'll get extra snuggle time with sweet little new twins niece Layla and nephew Logan when they come to visit.

2.  When they come visit, I don't have to worry about Saturday night's meal.  Pass me the BEAN BURRITOS, baby.  With a side of margarita.

3.  My toes might actually look nice the first month of the summer, instead of all falling off and me painting my nubs.

4.  More time to swim, lift, and do yoga.  Because right now those are basically the only things I can do.

So I went for a ride Sunday and about 6 miles from home, I flatted.  Of course, with nothing in the back, because Bug had taken the bottle with all my goodies and put it in the back of his Jeep.  Fail.  I sat down on the side of the road and someone ran by me and waved.  I waved back.  Then I cried.

Made it home, which was good.  Then decided the universe hated me and I should probably just stop for now.  Had a fire with some s'mores with Matt and a nice cold one and felt a little better.

Speaking of Jeeps, did you know that Stormtroopers like to drive Jeeps?

And 4 1/2 year old boys are pretty much the coolest, funnest, awesomeness people ever.  In case you were wondering.

Keeping the chin up,


Sunday, May 06, 2012

The Learning Objective

"What is with you?  Didn't you get hurt before Cleveland last year?"

This was the message a good friend sent me last night when I was trying to make my decision.

Yes.  I've been injured exactly twice, and both times were this time of year in preparation for Cleveland.

Okay:  the task of today's lesson is to analyze WHY.  In honor of the APUSH test in 6 days, let's do it like a DBQ.

"Analyze the reasons why TST has had the only two major injuries of her running career during Spring 2011 and Spring 2012.  Use the evidence from the period 1993-2012 to evaluate your answer."

Now, if this were an actual DBQ, there would probably be the trainer's list of stretches for me and a picture of me calling time-out on the mound at age 16 to stretch my hamstring.  This is a reminder that I have had hamstring problems that were pretty severe since about 15-16 years old.  They have always been tight--especially the right.  And it was so bad that in the middle of games I'd get shooting pains in my back and have to call time out on the mound to stretch.  The hamstring pulled on my lower back and the pain was excruciating.  I remember it pretty vividly.

Then, it would most likely have some training logs from my early 20s.  Showing that yes, indeedy, I can handle high volume.  I did everything right, all the time.  Rest.  Massage. Ice baths.  Nutrition was questionable, but only because I was still in the happy-hour-turns-into-2am phase of life.  Other than that? I did everything right.  No injuries.  Ever.  Even through Ironman.  High volume, no problem.

Then we'd move into the past 4 years.  And we could maybe list the training logs but include sleep and recovery.  What we'd see there is that I haven't slept more than 5-6 hours per night consistently since 2007.  That's not an exaggeration, it's a fact.  Having kids turned the worrywart that I am into the hyper-sensitive, unable to ever sleep worrywart.  This is reality.  I'm working on changing it, but it's been five years now and it's just kind of become the new normal.

There is no massage, as childcare for 2 kids is more than our mortgage.  I just can't justify massage like I used to.  There is little to no ice.  There is little to no rest or sitting down, and not enough stretching.  From September-June, there is especially no sitting and many hours standing in poorly supported shoes.

Then we'd see a sample of my learning objectives for my courses and maybe a few pages of the high-stakes exams in March and May that very soon may become the foundation of my paycheck here in this state, along with the lists of IEPs and 504s that are also pretty detailed and legally binding (as they should be, to ensure everyone gets a fair and equal education).  We'd see the burden of that serious responsibility lies upon the classroom teacher.

We'd also see the results of my long runs and pace work and see that yes, I absolutely can run a 3:40 marathon and can absolutely run a half marathon in the low-1:40s.  There is no doubt at all in my mind, and also no doubt when I look at the evidence of the log.

And it would be clear from examining the evidence that the spring is not the time for me to try an aggressive running goal.  

This would be what the thesis statement would have to say.

We've already established that I can't dog my goals.  I've done 4 stand-alone marathons and I don't even know how many stand alone half marathons--6? 7?  Doing these races "to do them" is not fun for me.  I'm past that phase and I can't really go back anymore.

So what I need to learn after examining all this evidence is that:  I'm 34.  I am prone to hamstring issues.  I have a lifestyle that I absolutely love and is amazingly rewarding and I would not trade ONE PART of what I do every day.  But it is not conducive to me hitting high, aggressive running goals in May.  It's just not. This is the reason I have told my teammates I can't do TTT, because I know that I won't be ready.  February-May is the hardest part of my year.  I need to start realizing that at 34 and having a history of hamstring problems, it doesn't mean I can't do it EVER.  But it means that doing it in May is just unrealistic and not worth the headache and injury that I have gone through the past two seasons.

When was my best marathon?

Columbus.  October.

When was my best half-ironman?

Rev3 Cedar Point--September.  And that was 6 months postpartum, for crying out loud!  But most of that training was done without school.

If I want to have the results that I know I am absolutely, 100% capable of, I need to time things up better with life.

In conclusion?  February-May should be survival mode.  It should be building a nice base in all three disciplines so I can get stronger in all three.  And then, when one of the biggest sources of stress is on hold for a few months, well, THEN it's time to ramp it up.  I'm still really crazybusy in the summer, but I can sit down.  I am not up until almost midnight with Matt grading papers together every day.  I'll still be tired, but not as tired.

Okay.  So that's the lesson we can take away here.

Boy, am I ready for that test to be over on Friday.  For now, I'm going to get ready to head out on a nice solo ride and enjoy the sunshine.  And then tomorrow maybe I'll swim.

And the world is still spinning.

Saturday, May 05, 2012


I really wanted this to work out.

I poured my heart and soul into this for the past 3-4 months.  I made it all the way to the end.

But I'm doing the research.  A nodule on the achilles is nothing to mess with.  I've had 3 very knowledgable professionals tell me that this race would be a risk.  A risk of a ruptured achilles.  A risk of surgery, of crutches, of all summer lost.  All season lost.

The thing that kills me the most is that I know I would have done it.  I would have hit my goal.  I know it in my heart, and that's what hurts the most.  And I know that I brought this on myself and did too much in Tennessee, and then never stopped once I got home.  I wanted the mountain.  I wanted to keep up.  I never had time to sit down.

I never made time to sit down.

So I'm allowing myself to have a good solid 15 minutes (okay, half hour) of tears tonight, chased by a margarita (hey, it is Cinco de Mayo, after all).  My run today didn't go all that well, and in my heart I know that running the race in two weeks is not a good decision.  Because I might make it okay, but there's a pretty good chance that I wouldn't.  I'd either rupture it during the race or I'd be so injured afterwards that I'd be out all season.

Either way, I wouldn't be able to keep up with these guys.

What it really comes down to is, why do I do this?  To push myself, yes.  But to live the lifestyle.  To be active.  For them to see me active and to know that it's good for you.

If I set out two weeks from tomorrow and tried to run a 1:42 half marathon, what would happen?  One of two things:

1.  I'd do it, and then be pretty injured afterwards.  I'd hobble around for a month or two, and then try to get back into Rev3 training.

2.  I'd rupture my achilles mid-race and need surgery, effectively ending my season, my summer, and my ability to have moments like the ones pictured above for at least 2-3 months.

The best case scenario here is option 1.  But that would still knock me out at least for part of the summer.  

You guys, I think I'm not going to start this race.

And I'm sitting here, sniffling and snotting all over myself.  But I know that I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I knowingly put myself in a boot and on crutches two weeks from tomorrow for the rest of the summer.  

Part of me feels like I have wasted everything.  So much time down the drain.  So many miles, pointless now.  

But I'm trying to remember that every run has a reason.  I have a crap ankle right now, but I've got some serious fitness and am leaner than I have been in a while.  I know that I have gained a good amount of speed.  The runs I did were tough, mentally and physically, and I made it through them.  All of them.  

I climbed a mountain for the first time ever.  Yeah, it probably was the trigger, since the pain started the next day, and I was undertrained, and yada yada yada.  And yeah, I am effectively now learning my lesson.

But you guys, I climbed a mountain.
And HELL no, I don't regret it.

 I'm going to see what the doc says on Tuesday, but unless someone can tell me there's no chance of a rupture, then I can't do this.  I can't take that kind of a risk for something that in the long run really doesn't matter outside of my head.

So I'll cry like a good old fashioned toddler meltdown (and I see my fair share of those) because I can't have something I want, and I'll cry and get it all out until I'm exhausted from crying and need a big hug.  And instead of a blankie, please pass me a margarita.

Because tri season has officially begun, for real.  I will be spending a lot of time in the pool and on the bike now, thank you.  And I'll remember all the work I did this spring and channel it to the half marathon I'm planning on killing in September.

Friday, May 04, 2012

The TST Playlist, 12/100

This week, this has been on repeat in the car, with me singing at the top of my lungs.  Often.

I know that things can really get rough when you go it alone,
don't go thinking you gotta be tough and play like a stone

I told you about all those fears, and away they did run
You sure must be strong and you feel like an ocean made warm by the sun

The Ankle Games

It's like the Hunger Games.  And my left achilles is Katniss.

Hopefully it will make it to the end, too.

Haven't ran since Sunday, which means I've been on a steady diet of carbs and feeling sorry for myself.  It feels much better than it did on Monday, and my students have gotten a kick out of me wearing an ice pack on my ankle during lectures.  I went to see my ART guy today and he was positive, but still realistic.  When I told him Coach E wanted me to run 45 easy, then assess and if I felt good do 45 more with some 3 minute pushes, he said, "Um, no.  I don't want you to do that."


He thinks we can still get to the race, though.  There's definitely the start of some issues/injury, but he thinks I can still do it.  I'm heading back Tuesday for some more work on it.

I just hate to think I've come so far for nothing.  But I know it's not nothing...I've built up some great fitness and there will always be another race.  I know.

But it sure doesn't make it feel better.

Trying to stay positive over here...gonna meet my superawesome friend Laura tomorrow morning for a nice easy 45 with maybe a trainer ride after as suggested by Coach E.  And I'm trying to remember that I've done all my long runs, all my hard runs, everything is in the bank.  I just thought I could put a few more deposits in before I needed to withdraw, but hopefully I've got enough saved up to get me there.