February 27, 2013

Running Book Review + Giveaway!

I recently had the opportunity to review The Ultimate Beginners Running Guide: The Key to Running Inspired by Ryan Robert.  (Check it out on amazon here--it's only $4.99 for a kindle edition.)  This book delivers exactly what its title promises--it lays out a step by step guide for beginner runners and covers topics like form, footwear, warm ups/cool downs, target heart rates, nutrition, and even confidence and motivation (it is, after all, a guide to running inspired!).

I really liked the way the chapters were broken up.  There is a ton of content in this book; it literally covers almost everything a new runner would need to know.  Robert does a nice job of breaking each content-packed chapter with headings, but what I most appreciated was the bulleted summary at the end of each chapter recapping the main points.  I don't know about you, but it drives me crazy when I'm trying to remember one particular tip or suggestion for a book and I have to skim the whole darn thing to find it.  These summaries would be really helpful for a beginner runner referring back to the text during training.

Robert includes several "visualization exercises" in the book.  Some people might think these things are kind of cheesy, but I think visualization can be a completely valid and important exercise for runners.  Since I'm not a new runner anymore, I don't really need to visualize myself putting on my running shoes and running down the block anymore, but I totally use visualization when I'm training for a big race.  The night before I'll try to visualize starting, running, and finishing the race before I go to sleep, and I really think it helps.  The visualization exercises in the book could be really helpful for someone who is JUST getting started with running.

Another really cool feature is that the book includes an appendix with training plans for literally every level of beginner runner, from complete couch potato to active beginner to 50+ runner.  Robert also lets you download these training plans in pdf form for free, which I thought was pretty cool.

Typically, I tend to prefer my running books to be part advice/tips and part memoir/narrative, ala The Courage to Start or The Non-Runner's Guide to the Marathon for Women, but this book really does a great job of giving a new runner nearly everything he or she needs to know to get started.  Definitely a quality book and at 115 pages, it was a quick read.

Now for the giveaway.  Ryan Robert has graciously offered to give away digital copies of The Ultimate Beginner's Guide: The Key to Running Inspired to 3 Juice Boxes + Crayolas readers!  Are you a tired teacher needing a little pep in your step?  A brand new runner looking for tips?  Or a seasoned runner who needs to work on form and nutrition? (cough, me, cough...)  See how to enter below...

Leave a separate comment for each entry...

  • Be a Juice Boxes + Crayolas follower, and leave me a comment letting me know! (Mandatory)
  • Leave me a comment letting me know why you want to win this book, whether it's for you or to share with a new runner in your life who needs it! (+1 additional entry)
  • Share this giveaway on your blog, FB, or twitter and leave a comment letting me know (+1 entry each)
That's it!  Easy peasy lemon squeezy as we say in my 3rd/4th classroom. :)  This giveaway will close at midnight on Saturday, March 2nd, and I will choose a winner the following day using random.org.  (Seriously, how is it almost MARCH already??)  

Disclaimer: I was provided a digital copy of this book by the author for the purpose of writing this review.  I was not compensated in any other way, and all opinions expressed are my own. :)

February 26, 2013

Race Recap: Disney Princess Half Marathon + Florida Getaway!

I think it should be mandatory for every teacher to take a couple of days off and get away for a long weekend in Florida just before state testing.  Seriously, this weekend was a godsend.  It did get off to a bit of a rocky start though...remember how I accidentally bought plane tickets for the wrong weekend and had to buy new tickets last minute?  Well I WISH that were the end of my travel woes!  I had a delay getting out of the airport in Chicago thanks to a snow storm, and when I finally made it to Dallas where I had a layover, I found out that my connecting flight was delayed SIX HOURS.  My god.  Six hours in the Dallas airport (where I got to listen to a soundtrack that went between easy listening music and god awful country--this Chicago girl is NOT a country music fan) = my personal hell on earth.  All I could find that was vegetarian was some greasy Chinese noodles and veggies.  Luckily I just bought a Kindle so I at least had plenty tor read!
Needless to say, I was more than relieved when I *finally* made it to Florida!  Saturday morning my sister in law and I headed over to the race expo.  I was so happy to be there with her this year instead of with my brother and dad like last time--I actually had someone who wanted to visit every single vendor and debate which tshirt had the best slogan at the One More Mile booth!
Princess Belle & Princess Merida!
I swore I wouldn't spend any more money on this trip after buying my second plane ticket, but I threw that plan out the window within 5 minutes of entering the expo :)  I snagged this tshirt:
I also met the lovely Shannon!  She is just as sweet in person as she is on her blog and has the cutest Southern accent.  The princess race was Shannon's first half--way to go, girl!!
After the expo we spent some fun time hanging out at the hotel with my sweet niece (and playing with clementines for longer than one would have ever thought they would be entertaining!!).
Sunday morning our wakeup call came at 2:30am.  Ouch.  My sister in law and I were running with a few of her friends, so we all met up together at the hotel and headed over.  The race started at 5:30 for corral A, but the shuttles bused us to the starting area at 3am, so we had a bit of a wait.  It was so nice to be with a group--I ran this race by myself last time and was pretty bored waiting around for so long!  Too much time = crazy nerves!!

When the fireworks and fairy godmother finally set us off at the start line, we were pretty pumped up.  I promised my sister in law I would stay with her and her girlfriends for the entire race, even though they run a slower pace than I normally do, and even though she urged me to run my own race.  I wanted this race to be a fun group adventure and to support my sister in law in her first half, so I stuck with them the whole time.  To be honest though, I don't know if I could have gone any faster!  It was CRAZY humid out, and I'm not sure my training in sub 30 weather prepared me for that!  We were all soaked within the first 2 miles and pretty much immediately dehydrated.
It was a tough race even with the slow pace, but we all made it and crossed the finish line holding hands.  Woohoo!
The toughest part may have been walking around Disney all afternoon on tired legs and no sleep!  But hey, I'll power through anything if it means I get to ride Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion. :)  We spent the morning at Disney again yesterday before I headed home to Chicago last night.  Here's what Chicago welcomed me home with today:
Oh Florida, I miss you already. 
Race 1 of 2013: DONE!  On to the next!

February 21, 2013

Have you seen this tired teacher's brain?

You guys, I think my brain fell out of my head sometime between the report card comment writing and proofreading, trying to cram content into my math lessons to cover the 100 topics we haven't taught yet before state testing in two weeks, and working on prepping for two days of subs while I'm in Florida.  I spent the good part of my evening yesterday spread out here, on my classroom floor, in a mess of copies, post-its, 10 pages of sub plans, and a box of Girl Scout cookies...

Further evidence that I officially have no brain left?  Oh, buckle up--it's a good story.  Tuesday night (after a crappy, long day--seriously, aren't all days following a long weekend terrible?), I was sitting in my 3 hour grad school class--already on the verge of a breakdown--when my brother texted me asking me to send him my flight confirmation for the weekend.  (I'm going to Florida to visit my brother, sister-in-law, and niece and to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon Sunday.)  2 minutes later, my brother messages me on gchat saying, "WTF, this says January."  Folks, when planning my trip to Florida for a FEBRUARY half-marathon, I booked a flight for a weekend in JANUARY.  And didn't notice.  WHOOPS.

Knowing I was in class (and probably moments from curling up in the fetal position), my wonderful brother called the airline and booked me a new flight.  Unfortunately Flight #2 set me back $400+ more dollars which, added to my original ticket (that I can't get a refund for--seems they don't give refunds for things that fall under the "dumbass mistakes" umbrella), makes this one expensive flight to Florida!  Oh and instead of a direct flight I now will be enjoying a 4-hour layover in Dallas.  Annnd will be taking off during a snowstorm it seems...Yikes.

My whole family agrees that I officially an not allowed to book my own airline tickets anymore, and probably shouldn't even be trusted with a credit card in general...Honestly, I'm not even sure I can handle flying alone after this.  Hold me.
Boarding passes for the CORRECT day and Race Waiver--check!!

I'm trying to stay positive and see the humor in the whole thing--it really is kind of hilarious.  Thank goodness I was able to get last minute flights at all and on the dates I'd planned too!  It definitely could have been worse!!

Oh well.  I ((somehow)) made it through the week and in 24 hours I will be with this girl:

And in 60 hours I will be running here:

And everything will have been worth it :)

February 18, 2013

Shaking Up Test Review

Hi friends--it's been awhile!  I've been trying to let go of technology and unchain myself from my computer a little bit more these days, spending more time with books instead...that, and things have been crazy busy.  But what else is new!  I took a break from blogging for awhile because I just didn't have many ideas for posts, and I feel like no one cares to read my mindless ramblings when I have nothing to say!  But in the past few weeks I've finally had some ideas for a few posts, mostly classroom related things.  Today's is just a quick one!

I don't know about you, but I struggle with how to make review for math tests effective and meaningful for the majority of my class.  It feels like for most tests there are a handful of students who would benefit from some serious review and reteaching, and the rest of the class just needs a bit of practice.  In the past, I'd spend a full class period reviewing a ton of concepts, but we all know that's not exactly best practice.  One of my favorite strategies is to do a guided math format (I run guided math most days) and have the kids not working in my group complete a Math Scavenger Hunt.  Sound complicated?  It's actually the opposite.

I write up between 8 and 10 math problems like the kind that will be on our test on individual index cards and tape them up in "hiding places" around the room--on cabinets, bookshelves, the sides of desks, etc.  Then, I have my students travel the room with their math notebooks and their "Brain Buddy" (aka math partner), find all of the review problems, and answer them in their notebook.
In the mean time, I pull groups of students for guided group review.  I start with the neediest kiddos, then at the end pull bigger groups of kids who have finished the review to correct their answers and reteach as necessary.  My kids are well-trained in how to work quietly and efficiently with their partners, and of course I clearly set my expectations before we start.  The best parts of the scavenger hunt are that not only are the kids completing test practice problems, but they are actively moving around, engaged, and it takes next to no prep on my part--no copies, just writing up some problems and taping them around the room.  AND I am able to work really closely with the kids who NEED me!  So much better than a worksheet.
In other news, I'm heading off to Florida on Friday morning to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon with my sister in law and a dew of her friends.  This will be her FIRST half, and I couldn't be more excited for her!  Disney Princess was my first half a few years ago, and in spite of some injuries, it truly was magical. :)  I can't wait!

How do you make test review fun?

What have you been up to lately???  I've missed you guys since I dropped off the blogosphere planet...hopefully someone still reads this!! :)
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