October 30, 2014

Teaching Students to have a Growth Mindset

Ever since I read the book Mindset by Carol Dweck a few years ago, the whole idea of a growth mindset has really stuck with me.  I highly recommend reading it if you haven't yet!  After reading the book, I've tried to make little changes in the way I praise and talk to my students.  For example, instead of saying, "You're great at ___!," I try to highlight effort and hard work.  Instead of talking about strengths, I try to talk about how persevering and effort is what leads to success and learning.  But until this year, I hadn't explicitly taught this kind of thing to my students.

I absolutely love using Quantum Learning in my classroom, and this year I decided to introduce my students to the Eight Keys of Excellence.  One of my favorite keys is Failure Leads to Success, and I decided that this key was the perfect way to finally teach my students about a growth mindset.  We started by watching this amazing video from Kahn Academy about how we are all born to learn:
Then, our class had a conversation about how this video connected to the Failure Leads to Success key.  The video shows a baby learning to walk, and we talked about what would happen if every time a baby fell, he or she decided to give up.  We talked about all of the times we've said, "I'm not good at ____," or "I can't ___," or "___ just isn't my thing."  Then, we made this anchor chart to help us re-frame our thinking and create a "Failure Leads to Success Mindset."
Last, we read one of my all-time favorite picture books, Salt in his Shoes.  I had the kids listen for times that Michael Jordan showed a "Failure Leads to Success Mindset" in the story, and to give me a thumbs up when they heard an example.  All in all, it went great.  I loved explicitly teaching my kids how to re-frame their thinking and inner conversations, and I have already loved referring back to the lesson with my kids when they start to get frustrated and give up.  My students even remind me that "failure leads to success" when I make a mistake during teaching!  Awesome. :)

October 29, 2014

Whole Foods Blogger Cooking Class

Hey guys!  I've been needing some new inspiration to help me revive this blog, and Sunday I finally found it!  Katie from Live Half Full invited me to join her for a blogger cooking class she'd organized over at Whole Foods Market Northbrook Sunday, and I'm so glad I did!

You guys, full disclosure, I cannot cook.  Seriously.  My smoke alarm goes off so often that I practically ripped it from the ceiling trying to disconnect.  I eat pbj or microwaved veggie burgers for dinner semi-regularly.  But I actually left Whole Foods Sunday feeling confident about my cooking!

Our wonderful instructors Sarah and Robin taught us how to make a delicious, plant-based meal.  We started with making the dough for whole wheat pasta--super easy!
Pasta Dough!
Then, while our dough was resting, we got started on a veggie-filled marinara sauce.  My cooking partner Valerie and I had so much fun chopping our veggies, including using a trick for chopping onions that Chef Sarah taught us.
Now I know how to chop an onion!  (And hopefully NOT cut myself!)

That is, I had fun until I almost immediately cut my hand!  News flash: chef's knives are HELLA SHARP!!  Second news flash: my knife skills need work.  ;)  That didn't slow me down, though.  I patched myself up with a band-aid and a glove, and got back to work preparing our sauce.  I've never made marinara sauce from scratch, and I loved this sauce.  It was packed with veggies--onion, celery, carrot, pepper, spinach, tomatoes...YUM.  If WHEN I make this sauce at home, I'm going to add some mushrooms to it too.

So bright and delicious!

Then, we got started on a dessert.  I was a little apprehensive when Sarah told us the Berry Cobbler we were making would be completely sugar free, but it ended up being great.  We sweetened it with a little maple syrup, date sugar, and of course fruit.

Next, Valerie and I worked on our salad.  We "shopped" for salad ingredients in Whole Foods and had so much fun selecting our ingredients to put our own personal touch on our salad.  We ended up adding pistachios and dried tart cherries--yum!  Then, we got to use a Vitamix blender to make our dressing.  I've only ever made olive oil based dressings, but this healthy dressing was amazing!
Speed Shopping!
I <3 bins="" bulk="" td="">

Loved the dressing we made.  I just might have to make it again!  Recipe: 2 avocados, 1/4 cup dill, 2 T parsley, 3 cloves garlic, 2 T lemon juice, 1 green onion, 2 T nutritional yeast, 1 t salt, 1/4 cup almond milk.  It made a creamy, bright dressing.
The Vitamix is NO JOKE!

Finally, we were ready to make our noodles!  Valerie and I had a great time using the pasta press to make perfect linguini noodles. I hadn't made pasta since I was a teenager, but it's always so much fun.

Then it was time to eat!  Everything was SO DELICIOUS.  My favorite part, though, was the vegetable marinara sauce.  I can't wait to make this recipe at home and to put my own twist on it!
I may be a chocoholic, but this healthy dessert rocked.

During the class, we also got to watch two quick food demos for how to use a Vitamix blender to make healthy smoothies and how to use a food processor to make cocoa date truffles.  These were great!
I had a blast at the #WFMPlantProteinParty blogger cooking class.  The best part is that I really feel confident about my cooking and feel that I could make any of these recipes at home!  For this microwave queen, this is huge. :)

October 28, 2014

Race Recap: Halloween Hustle 5K

I'll admit it--I can be a little pushy, especially when it comes to fitness.  If someone mentions in my presence that they might want to get into running or try yoga or that they're thinking about a triathlon, I become part perky cheerleader and part evangelical athlete.  I can't help it--I absolutely love helping beginner athletes get started with running and triathlon.  Well, I've been mentioning to my team at school that we should do a 5K together for the past couple years, and I was elated when I finally wore them down this fall!  Saturday we finally did it!

Here's my six-word race recap:
Inspired new runners, crushed my PR!

Ever since my huge PR at the Milwaukee Marathon, I'd had 5K PRs on the brain.  My 5K PR was two years old, and I've definitely gotten faster since then.  I wasn't sure if I was ready to go for it just 3 weeks out from my marathon, but after a speedy run Thursday night, I decided I was ready!

Saturday morning, we met up with my team before the race.  It was a first 5K for two of my teammates, two new runners and one walker!  I was so excited for them, and talking through the logistics of races helped distract me from my own PR-attempt nervousness!  
Don't be fooled by this picture--this race HURT!

I lined up with two of my teammates and my boyfriend, Joe.  Joe promised to help pace me to a PR, with a sub-27 being my goal.  Despite a dinner of raw veggies and junk food at book club the night before, I felt pretty great for the first half of the race!  However, the second half was rough!  I pushed myself to run a pace I've never managed to run before, and pushed through it when all I wanted to do was walk.  In the last mile, I realized that I would MUCH rather run a half marathon than race a 5K.  I am definitely not built for speed, and this race HURT!  I reminded myself what I told myself when I was shooting for a PR during the Space Coast Half a couple years back--setting a PR is supposed to hurt.  
I was about ready to lay down and die during our sprint to the finish line as you can see in this picture.  Yikes.  Trust me, my other pictures were even less flattering if that's possible!  I was clearly working hard!   I crossed the finish line in 26:27, averaging an 8:31 pace and coming in sixth in my age group!  I have never run that fast in my life!  I still kind of can't believe it!
I was super proud of myself, but I was even more proud of my team.  It was so much fun to share this experience!  We even wore our race shirts to school Monday and told our students about it.  I love being able to set an example of healthy living for my students!  Can't wait for the next team race!

October 7, 2014

Race Recap: Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon

...In which all of the stars align to create the PERFECT race weekend and I CRUSH my first marathon time!  You guys, I don't even know where to begin.  I have been on an extended blogging hiatus, but some things are just too special and memorable NOT to capture and share!
First, my six word race recap:
Perfect weather, perfect race, perfect day. :)

Before I get into the race weekend itself, I have to say that  marathon training was totally different for me the second time around,  I didn't feel any of the self-doubt and concerns about actually finishing the race that I did last year.  Also, I knew so much better what works for me and my body while training this year than I did last year.  I knew that I needed less miles per week, for one thing.  Instead of following Hal Higdon's plan to the letter like I did last year, I ran just 3 days per week this year and spent my off days riding my bike and doing hot yoga.  I felt so much stronger the entire training cycle.  Less running for the win!
Anyways, back to the race weekend.  Before heading up to Milwaukee Saturday morning, I proceeded to PACK ALL THE THINGS.  I am a crazy over-packer when it comes to race weekends.  Seriously, I follow "When in doubt, pack it all" philosophy.  This is how I ended up with six pairs of shoes, 4 headbands, and enough underwear for a week.  Not to mention the gatorade, bananas, and peanut butter that accompanied me.  Laugh away, but I was glad I had it all!!  Saturday was filled with hanging out with friends, time at the expo (obviously buying more headbands...seriously I have a sickness...), and so much amazing food.  I think I had the best ravioli of my life.  Could this be why I ran so well Sunday?  Probably. :)
This Swirlgear top is seriously my new favorite running shirt.  

Leading up to the race, I was nervous about the weather.  Weather.com was predicting a temperature of 39 degrees at the start.  While I know cool weather is perfect for marathoning, I was concerned that I hadn't done any running in the cold yet this season.  I must have rethought my outfit a hundred times.  Sunday morning, though, I decided to go with shorts, a tank, a long sleeve, and gloves.  This was the *perfect* outfit choice.  We rode the bus 26 miles from downtown Milwaukee to Grafton, WI--the marathon is a point to point race.  I have to say, as I sat on that bus I realized once again how truly far 26.2 miles is.  I mean, that's no short drive!!  Yikes!  Luckily the Grafton High School was open for runners to hang out in, so we were able to stay nice and warm pre-race.  Around 7:10 we headed out to the start line!
I cannot say enough good things about this course.  The first 20ish miles were through beautiful small towns, quiet neighborhoods, horse farms, and of course gorgeous fall leaves.  The weather was perfect, and I felt so strong.  You know those runs where you just find yourself loving every single minute?  Yeah, that's exactly how I felt!  As much as I loved the crazy crowds and cheering stations at the Chicago Marathon last year, I loved completely different atmosphere of this race so much too.  I grinned like a crazy person when I passed two older men playing the banjo and washboard at mile 8 or so, and every time I saw a glimpse of beautiful Lake Michigan I about lost my mind.  It was just pure, perfect running joy.
Mom & Dad = Best Race Cheerleaders and Photographers EVER.  The end.

I came into this race hoping to set a PR and knowing 100% that I could.  I mean, in Chicago, I took 5 minutes standing in line for a bathroom break within the first 6 miles!  Not to mention a few stretch breaks in those last several miles!  I knew that I'd been training so well and running so strong--I was hoping that if I had a PERFECT race, I'd be able to come in around 5:15.  I ran the first two miles in 11 minutes, and from there forced myself to slow way down to about an 11:45 average pace.  That felt SO SLOW to me, though!  After a couple more easy miles running happy, I gave myself permission to slowly chip away at that average pace on my Garmin.  And chip away I did!  I was elated when I crossed the 13.1 mark at 2:30 on the dot.  A couple of years ago, a 2:30 half was a huge, crazy dream for me!  But Sunday, a 2:30 half felt easy.  I felt so strong that I knew I was going to negative split this race, and at that point I realized that this meant I'd likely come in under 5 hours.  FIVE HOURS.  I almost didn't want to let myself believe it.
Pure Joy.

A few miles later, I saw something up ahead that I'd NEVER in a million years expected to encounter in a marathon--the 5 hour pace group!  I took a deep breath and told myself that I was going to pass them and STAY ahead of them!  Guess what?  I did!  When I realized the 5 hour pace group wasn't even in my rear view mirror anymore, realized that I was still feeling SO STRONG, and realized that I was going to finish under five hours, I about cried.  Words cannot even describe,

The real race started for me around mile 20.  At that point my goal went from sub-5 to "get my average pace under 11min/mi."  I dug deep and focused on speeding up with every mile.  I got comments from volunteers and spectators that I looked way too fresh and strong for having run 20 miles!!  As the miles ticked by, I pushed myself harder than ever.  The race was starting to take it toll by this point.  My feet hurt, I was tired, but I still felt completely unstoppable.  (And I felt NOTHING like I did in Chicago!)  I knew that there were no proverbial "walls" in my path--no one was going to stop me.  I was going to do something I never thought I could.  I mean seriously, guys, I ran my first 5K in like 36 minutes.  I don't even know myself anymore!
With the Lake to my left and my amazing parents riding along on their bikes, stopping for pictures every mile from 20-25, I cruised through Milwaukee.  I focused every last ounce of energy I had on that finish line, and tears came to my eyes when I flew past it, passing runner after runner on the final stretch.
While we didn't run together, I was blessed to spend this race weekend with my boyfriend who also ran the race!  Loved sharing this experience!

I crossed the finish line in 4:46:09, nearly FIFTY MINUTES faster than I finished my first marathon last year in Chicago.  FIFTY.  That's almost 2 minutes per mile faster.  I could not be prouder of myself, but just as amazing is the fact that I truly loved every. single. mile.  This race reminded me of EXACTLY why I run.  Alyssa left a post on my Facebook wall Saturday night, reminding me that "The race is the reward."  I kept this thought in my mind throughout the race--the race truly IS the reward.  Training is so hard and time consuming, and there are days when it's tempting to give it all up.  But the race isn't the final challenge--it's the celebration.  The gift.  And this race truly was a gift.
My amazing friend Katy came up to Milwaukee to cheer!  
How did I get so lucky to have such great friends??

Milwaukee was for me 4 hours and 46 minutes of bliss.  I tell people that I run because it makes me feel alive, unstoppable, joyful, and fearless.  This race was everything that I love about running.  As long as running continues to bring me such amazing joy, I know I'll never stop.
I've said this before, and I'll say it again: anything truly is possible if you want it and work for it.  As the band The Weepies says, "All it takes is a little faith and a lot of heart."

Tell me about a run or other experience that made you feel completely ALIVE!!!
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