December 31, 2011

Goodbye, 2011!

Long Run = Perfect end to the year...
It's been quite the year.  Wishing you a safe and happy new year's eve, whether you're going out on the town or curling up on the couch with a movie and a friend like me, and a blessed start to 2012!

December 30, 2011

Race Junkie

I already talked about a few 2011 races in my 11 in '11 post the other day, but I felt it was necessary to dedicate a post just to my 2011 races, since I ended up running 12 of them!!!  Granted, they were mostly 5Ks (after my summer of injury and a summer half-marathon-that-wasn't, I went 5K CRAZY to fill the distance racing void!), but there were a lot of good ones.
Weirdest Venue: Definitely the 5K my friend Katy and I ran through a corn maze! This one was fun, but I don't think I need to run another corn maze race...holy sharp turns!  Sorry, ankles...
Most Bizarre Theme: Hands down, this was the squirrel-themed 15K Lauren and I ran in June.  That was also probably one of the prettiest races I've run--a total small-town race, it was on a running trail through fields and farms.  Loved it!  Loved running with Lauren too!  (This race should also get an award for best outfit.  Lauren and I not only had matching tank tops and glittering tiaras, but also had inspirational messages on our backs.  LOVE.)
Dig Deep to the Finish: This was for sure the Trick or Treat Trot 10K.  My IT bands tightened up like CRAZY, the wind was blowing, and it was cold.  I still finished and with a faster-than-expected time too!
Sorry, no pics of this race!
Most Emotional:  Is anyone else an emotional runner??  During a tough run, I could cry at any given moment, and not just tears of pain!  This award goes to the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon. I think I cried like 100 times during this race, mostly from the "In Memory" pictures and sayings on the back of people's shirts!
Can you tell I'm an emotional basket case in this picture?  I'm about to either collapse or burst into tears.  Thanks for spectating, Older Brother!
Cutest Race Ever: This one definitely goes to the Girls on the Run 5K.  Tiaras, pink, cute medals, and running the whole thing with a 10 year old?  Yes please.
Obv this isn't the 10 year old I ran with--it's one of my lovely co-coaches, Melinda!  
"Holy #&^% my @*& is FROZEN!": Oh gosh.  For sure the Cross Country Challenge 5-mile run Katy and I did.  Umm no one told us that we'd need to wade through a freezing RIVER!  (Okay, it was a stream, but come on.)
Proudest Moment: While I am super proud that I finally dragged myself through a half-marathon, I think this one goes to my 5K PR in May, mostly because I remember how strong I felt the last mile, and looking down at the "average pace" on my garmin and realizing I'd be able to finish faster than I'd even hoped.  Love finishes like that!
Muddiest Race: Duh, Atlanta Muddy Buddy!  Loved racing this silly race with College Roomie.  (Cross Country Challenge is a VERY close second...)
Best Overall Race: This had to be the Chicago Lung Run 5K.  I just loved this race for a number of reasons: perfect weather, wonderful running buddy, gorgeous scenery (love the Chicago lake front path!), felt great the whole time, AMAZING post-race swag including cupcakes...oh, and it was my first race back after an injury-filled summer.  BLISS.  (Confession: I totally almost peed my pants while pushing to the finish at this race...please tell me I'm not alone in this one!  I'm sure the ONLY reason I was able to hold it in was because my teacher bladder is so well trained to HOLD IT!  TMI???  Sorry...)
5Ks: 6
5 miles: 2
10Ks: 1
15Ks: 1
1/2 Marathon: 1
Muddy Buddy: 1 :)
Total: 12

Race Plans for 2012:
4/28/12 Kentucky Derby Half-Marathon
5/26/12 Soldier Field 10-Mile
7/29/12 Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon
11/25/12 Space Coast Half-Marathon

What was your craziest/weirdest/hardest/proudest/fill in the blank race of this year?

What are your race plans for 2012?

Come on, be honest...have you ever peed your tempo shorts (or ALMOST) while racing?

December 29, 2011

Author's Purpose (+ a vlog!)

Author's Purpose is one of those things that I think should be so gosh darn clear and easy, but that many of my kiddos still struggle with.  This year when I taught it, I added in some hand gestures and chants to help the ideas "stick" in their heads.  While my results still weren't 100% successful, the majority of my class really got it.  First, I started by telling a story about my crazy muddy trail (or any other humorous story).  Afterward, I asked the kids if I told them that story because I was trying to teach them something.  Hopefully they are all in agreement that no, that was not why I told it!  Then I ask if I was trying to convince them to think or do something.  Nope!  I share with them that I just told them that story because it was fun and I wanted to share it with them.  Then I share the author's purpose PIE anchor chart:
I keep it mostly blank at the beginning, and we add in different examples of each text as we discuss them.  Then, I teach the hand gestures for each purpose.  For that, I made this little video!  Okay, PUHLEASE don't make fun of me...I've never made a video for my blog before, but I couldn't think of any other way to share the hand gestures with you!  Here goes nothing...
I totally slipped into a "teacher voice" during that...I swear, it's involuntary.  Okay, you can stop laughing now.  Seriously.  I practice those gestures with the kids at least a couple times the first day and then throughout the week.  I heard once that in order to really cement something into the kids' long term memory, you have to review it once within 10 minutes, again within 24 hours, and again within 7 days.  10/24/7, MINIMUM.  Finally, after we've practiced the gestures, I share a bunch of articles I've pulled from kid-friendly magazines.  I'll just show it around, and then will read the beginning.  Kids will think about it, and then will respond with the gesture that matches the correct purpose.  After some practice with THAT, the kiddos break up into groups and work together to identify the purpose of another article.

After this introductory lesson, throughout the week in shared reading we read a variety of texts and, in addition to practicing other comprehension skills, work together to find the author's purpose.  

Do you use hand gestures to teach in your classroom?  I never did before this year, but our school is really working this year to boost engagement and hand gestures are an easy way to hook kids into lessons and then to help them really remember the content.

Any tips for teaching Author's Purpose?

December 28, 2011

11 in '11

I'm excited to be linking up with teacher blogger Hadar @ Miss Kindergarten to share some of my favorites from 2011!  Here we go!

11. Favorite movie you watched: I really can't remember all the movies I saw/watched in 2011, but I did love The Help.  Loved reading the book too!
Harry Potter 7 Part 2 was also about my love affair with Harry Potter here. :)

10. Favorite TV series: I have a bunch of favorite TV series, but the new one I discovered in 2011 that I totally fell in love with is Glee.  I think I watched the first two seasons in about two weeks in May...needless to say, I didn't get a whole lot else done!

9. Favorite restaurant: I don't know if I have a favorite restaurant from this year, but the one I go to most is definitely Panera!  Not the most exciting, but in my opinion you just can't beat the tomato mozz panini & side salad combo.  YUM!

8. Favorite new thing you tried: YOGA!!!  I had dabbled in yoga in college and gone to a few classes in 2010, but I really fell in love with vinyasa and hot yoga about five months ago.  I started going to 1 or 2 classes a week and have kept it up ever since.  I love the good stretch, the strengthening workout, and how quickly you can see an improvement with a consistent practice.  LOVE it.
In very close second, third, and fourth place, other new things I tried this year were coaching Girls on the Run, being a vegan, and of course foam rolling. :)  Guess it was a year of trying new things!
7. Favorite gift you got: This year for Christmas my parents registered me for the Soldier Field 10-Mile Run.  I was thrilled!  The race isn't until Memorial Day weekend, but I'm excited.
6. Favorite thing you pinned: OMG how can I pick just one??  
^Most useful (source)  I keep copies of this in my sub binder for subs to fill out.

Other favorites... :)

5. Favorite blog post: Here are links to a few of my favorites...
Teaching Posts:
Running/Life Posts:
Other Silliness:
Snake Terror 2011
4. Best accomplishment: Surprising myself over and over again as I ran distances I'd never even dreamed of before while training for my first half-marathon last February.  Unfortunately due to injury it was my only half-marathon for the year, but I look forward to going for a PR in spring!
Still smiling after a very sweaty 10 miles in July...

3. Favorite picture: College Roomie and I after finishing the Atlanta Muddy Buddy!

2. Favorite memory: How can I choose a favorite memory for the whole year??   I'm going to go with crossing the finish line at the Disney Princess half marathon with my Dad and Brother there cheering me on. :)

1. Goals for 2012: Start grad school, PR in a half-marathon, sub-30 5K, and try a tri :)

December 27, 2011

Dos & Don'ts for a Wonderful Winter Break

1. DON'T open that bag of school work, at least until the last hours of break.

2. DO let yourself get caught up in a pretty great book.  Feel free to ignore anything and anyone that has the audacity to try to interrupt your reading.
LOVED this book! (source)
3. DON'T think about the calories.  

4. DO take on a craft project...
(Finally attempting to fill some of the white walls in my apartment!)

 5. DON'T be afraid to skip a workout or two in favor of things like shopping, family time, or just laying around on the couch watching Mad Men..
6. DO still make time for running, even in cold, winds, or on Christmas morning.
Bundle up!

7. DON'T feel obligated to change out of your pajamas at a reasonable hour.  (Let's be real, I was in mine until 2 today...)

8. DO surprise yourself.  Like I did today by running what I'd planed to be an easy 3 miles in under 30 minutes, a personal record for me!

9. DON'T take down your Christmas tree too early. 
(Even if it's miniature and undecorated like mine!)

10. DO watch plenty of Christmas movies, preferably childhood favorites. 
Can't beat original Disney Christmas cartoons...

11. DO indulge.

 12.  DO spend every waking minute that you aren't on the couch watching Mad Men with friends and family.
Yes, our scarves are all tied the same way...we may have just looked at a Pin to learn a new way of tying them...I know, we are the coolest...

What are your Dos and Don'ts for Winter Break? (Or just for the holiday season if you don't get a winter break!)

December 20, 2011

Pin There, Done That!

First off, I am borrowing the title for today's post from Megan at Fit Crafty English Teacher.  Megan has shared a few of her Pinterest projects on her blog recently, and since I FINALLY made one of the many DIY projects I've pinned on Pinterest, I thought I should probably share it!  2 or so years ago, before the days of Pinterest, I decided I wanted to make a framed pin board for my bedroom to hold and display jewelry.  Since I'm not the craftiest, this idea did exactly what most of my grand ideas do--stayed an idea.  Once I discovered Pinterest over the summer, though, I remembered this project when I saw a bunch of different examples of jewelry boards during my hours spent browsing pins...Like these:
None of the frames I saw were EXACTLY what I wanted, but they got my wheels turning with ideas of my own.  So, what's an un-crafty girl to do with an idea?  You guessed it: share it with mommy and daddy.  Yup, I showed my pins to my parents and explained what I wanted to do.  Thankfully, I have parents who love projects!  My dad found an ugly GOLD frame in the back of our basement that he stained to have a pretty brown-gold antique look.  I bought a yard of fabric, some batting, and some cork.  Mom and I wrapped the cork board in batting and fabric, and I had my very first experience using a staple gun to secure it down.  Next was the lace fiasco...I decided I wanted to attach lace to the board like the top picture so that I could hang earrings from it.  Only problem was that all of the lace I found at the fabric store was too delicate.  Mom produced a yard or so of bright blue lace from one of her many crafting drawers, and we proceeded to soak it in bleach and then tea to take the color out and give it a pretty cream color.
Before & After: 
 Mom sewed the lace onto the fabric by hand and dad secured it all inside the frame, and voila!  The finished product:
I hung the necklaces and bracelets from pearl-topped straight pins (like the kind for boutineers), which you can get at any fabric store.  Earrings are hung from the lace.  I love the way it turned out!  Once we finally finished, Dad commented that the whole project went down like something of a relay with all of us working on different parts, and that none of us could have made the whole thing on our own.  I feel though that my contributions ended up being pretty minimal in the end...Thank goodness for crafty parents!

December 19, 2011

Hi, Winter Break...I've missed you. :)

First, a moment of silence for all of the poor teachers and students who have another day of school tomorrow... You have my deepest sympathies.  Thankfully, we ended school Friday.  (And not a moment too soon!)  After my 6 mile run Saturday morning, I proceeded to spend pretty much the rest of the weekend laying on the couch and eating cookies.  You know, to make up for the physical activity. :)  But seriously, yesterday one of the girls from my book club hosted a crazy awesome cookie party with her sisters.  You may have been to a cookie party before, but this was no ordinary run of the mill cookie party...not only was there a theme and craft tables, but it had a cookie contest!  Guests sampled each cookie and voted for their favorites.  This was no easy feat!

(And this was only the beginning...)
Our other book club member and I tried to taste all of the cookies, but half-way through I was about ready to curl up on the couch and fall into a sugar coma!  We managed to push through, though, all in the name of Christmas and cookies!
My black bottom cupcakes didn't win a prize, but Book Club Friend's butterscotch "Woosie" bars did!  YUM!  You'd think I'd be all cookied out after that day, but today my mom and I baked even more cookies...I have no pictures because we were way too hard core to be bothered with documenting the baking process...I think we prepared 6 different doughs, although we only baked 3 today...after finishing those, we were both ready for a break and a nap!

Don't worry, a midst the cookie madness I did manage to squeeze in a workout.  My dad came over last week and set my road bike up on an indoor bike trainer so I can ride indoors this winter.  (In other words, if I am too lazy to drag myself to the gym AND too lazy to drag myself down to the fitness center in my complex that is mere steps from the lobby of my building, I really and truly have no excuse for working out this winter.)  We had the trainer set up at my parents' last year in the back of my dad's basement work room, and riding it back there was more boring than watching paint dry...At least at my apartment there's really no other place to put the bike but smack in the middle of my living/dining room, which means I can watch tv or CHRISTMAS MOVIES!  It's still boring, but much more tolerable.
^That little upside down bin is a make shift step stool because I can't get on my bike without tilting it...


What's your favorite Christmas cookie?  My favorites are peppermint candy cane cookies and ice box cookies.  YUM!

Favorite Christmas movie? Tough one!  Well, I will always adore Mickey's Christmas mom and I were talking this morning about how when I was little I always used to quote the line from Daisy and Donald, " 'My eyes are closed, my lips are puckered, and I'm standing under the mistletoe!' 'You're also standing on my foot!' "  So great. :)  Also love Love Actually, Santa Clause & Santa Clause 2 (NOT 3...), Home Alone, and of course A Christmas Story!

Favorite indoor cross-training?  LOVE swimming and yoga!  But I have to admit, this whole bike-without-leaving-the-apartment thing has its perks...

December 17, 2011

Snowy Run

Season's first official long run in the snow: CHECK!  6 quiet, peaceful, snowy miles through the forest preserve.  I think I'm going to like this winter running thing...
Exactly. :)  

December 15, 2011

The Run That Almost Wasn't (and that ended up being pretty darn awesome)

You know those loong sleepy days when the last thing you want to do that night is put on your running shoes?  Today was one of those days.  We actually had a great day at school, but by the time I got to tutoring at 4, I was about ready to put my head down on the table and pass out.  Plus, it was a cold and windy tundra outside.  The whole afternoon I was debating whether or not I was going to go for my run...I'd packed my running clothes and planned on heading out for a few miles between tutoring and dinner at my parents' house, but the more the wind picked up, the more I thought about hitting the treadmill back at my apartment before bed...or not running at all...

Believe it or not, I decided to cut the excuses, mostly because I reminded myself how much I LOVED my "Christmas Lights Run" last week. (aka running at night in my parents' suburban neighborhood and admiring christmas lights)  To keep myself from backing out, I texted one of my best friends who just got back in town for winter break and asked him to join me.  Yay for running buddies!  My wonderful friend Scott is WAY faster than I am (he finished our Turkey Trot light years ahead of me...), but as he's nursing an injury, he was up for an easy few miles with me at my pitiful pace.  (You know someone's a real friend when they're willing to slow down their pace like crazy to run with you!)
Post-Turkey Trot
A run that I'd been DREADING ended up being pretty awesome!!!  Not only did the winds back off a little (until of course we found ourselves trapped in a wind vortex towards the end of the run...), but the Christmas lights were beautiful and the conversation was better.  We ran an easy 3.5ish miles while catching up about school, work, running injuries (obv), and potential upcoming race plans...only to finish at my parents' house and find spaghetti and garlic bread waiting for us.  PERFECTION.
So far my plan to keep running outside this winter is going well!  We'll see what happens when the serious snow starts... :)  In other happy news, LAST DAY OF SCHOOL TOMORROW!!!

Would you slow down your pace to run with a friend once in awhile? Personally I'm sooo slow that the opportunity doesn't come up too often!!!  And I never really expect anyone to run as slow as me!  So it was a nice treat :)

Do you run outside in the winter?  Last winter I ran outside a total of maybe three times, so I definitely set the bar low in terms of topping that this winter! 
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