Friday, September 9, 2016

Quitter

I didn't leave the 2015-16 school year with the idea that I would not be going back to teaching this year. I left it, with hopes of a different future. The realization hit me a couple weeks later. I knew, that for my health, I would need to quit teaching. I still wasn't ready yet. I definitely didn't want to tell anyone, particularly my coworkers who were always there for me.  

I can't say it was just one reason that made me leave. Before the school year started last year, I had approached a person above me, someone that I thought would be able to help me. I told this person that I felt like a failure at my job. I was expecting them to either: tell me that I was doing the best that I could OR help me to change my circumstances (i.e. teaching with 3 preps, overlapping classes, help me to manage my caseload, help me organize my time better, give me pro-tips to help me fix it, etc.). This person, someone that I looked up to, responded by saying-- "We really don't need that sort of negativity." And that was it. From that moment on, I packed up all of my sadness, depression, and anger into my little Honda Civic and took it home with me. My journals serve as an alarming reminder of the many dark days when I was screaming out for help. I felt guilty about being negative around others. At times, I still cried in my classroom, in the bathroom, or with other coworkers due to the sheer pressure of it all, but I gave up the hope that I'd be able to change the future as a special education teacher. 

The stakes are so high in education, each one of those children is someone's baby and their futures depend a great deal on their experiences in the classroom. I wanted to be able to teach my students how to read fluently, write with clarity, and be genuinely, good people. By the end of the year, my only focus was making sure that they were caring and considerate human beings. I gave up on the tests. I wanted them to be able to read longer words and I pushed them to read on their own, but I stopped caring about what the standards said. 

I am gratified by the relationships that I had with my students. I, also, know that I couldn't prepare them to read and write effectively to the standards that would equip them for the rest of their lives. I wanted miracles. I wanted them to love reading. In the end, I'm proud of what I was able to teach my students and I'm proud of each and every one of the kids. My heart was in the right place, but I had to go.    

There is only so much I can say about my experiences. Suffice it to say, that special education, and possibly education as a whole, needs as strong makeover. It's not all about the position, It's about me too. I don't think I was cut out for being a special education teacher. I've learned that I'm WAY too sensitive for the job. I wanted to save my students, to be their hero; it's just not realistic. Sometimes, their lives suck and they are dealt shitty cards in life. I couldn't handle the fact that I couldn't fix their circumstances for them.

The moment when I knew that it was okay to let go was powerful. I was bawling my eyes out on the phone with my mom. I was screaming about every single mistake I'd ever made in my life. My mom, in a tearful, but courageous, voice said to me-- "No matter what you do in life, from now on, I will always be proud of you." I am very close with my mom. I already knew she would always be proud of me, however I needed that conversation. That conversation told me that despite, or possibly because of, all of my flaws--someone will always be proud of me. That's all I needed to let go. I wrote my resignation and sent it. I gave a vague resignation the last week in June and then spent the rest of the summer praying that I would be released from my contract. My release came about 2 weeks into August and I didn't look back. I'm not sorry for leaving.

In my mind, I could either live with one of the two ideas about myself: I'm a failure or I'm a quitter. Failure meant that I wasn't sure if I wanted to wake up the next day because what would be the point--Get up, fail, then go to sleep? It wasn't a decision that I could live with. So, I chose to be a quitter. I'm here to tell others, it's okay to be a quitter. If you feel miserable, quit. So what if you haven't found your niche yet, You will. I will too.

I wrote this in my journal and later on social media and it sums up my feelings pretty well:
Sometimes, in life, you come to a point in your journey where you realize you will have to make a choice. You can continue living the way you are or you can sacrifice what you're used to for the hope of happiness.
Do it, give up what you think you want and need, for joy. Sacrifice for happiness, do it every single time. No one ever looks back on their life and thinks, I just spent too much time being happy.


And, I am truly happy. I'm just lucky, and blessed, that I have multiple passions in life and now I get the opportunity to pursue my other life passions beyond teaching secondary students. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Becoming a Run on Thanksgiving Person

I continue to have people ask me all the time how I lost all the weight and how I've maintained it. There is no 'simple' answer. Holidays are especially hard. So how the heck did I go from starve myself all day leading up to 3 Thanksgiving dinners to running a half marathon before 10am on the Thanksgiving?

Lifestyle Change
I was walking out of the door yesterday to go on one of my first 40 degrees and windy runs this fall, my friend said, "You're the type of person that runs on Thanksgiving, you've got this." The statement stuck with me throughout my run. It's true, now I'm the person that runs on Thanksgiving. My lifestyle has completely changed since I started Weight Watchers and running, but it didn't happen over night. 

Tiny Goals
My lifestyle has changed one week at a time by making tiny goals each week. For example, one week my goal might be to run 4 days. Another week my goal could be to drink a cup of water before dinner. Then my next week could be to stock up my refrigerator with 0 points food like fruits and vegetables. These tiny goals build upon each other and lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Earn it
Thanksgiving is one of my most favorite holidays. Thanksgiving means family and food-- plain and simple. I love family and I love food. The last 2 years, I have changed the way I celebrate Thanksgiving, from the day that I overeat and literally have a food coma, to a long run day. I've ran 8 or more miles the last 2 Thanksgivings followed by family and food then shopping-- earning myself the extra points to eat all my favorites while staying in control of my eating.

Only Favorite Foods
Thanksgiving, my goal could be to avoid the foods that I don't LOVE-- like rolls, they're pretty good and all but I'm not a huge bread eater. Before Weight Watchers, I would have ate the 2 rolls before I even remembered that I don't really love them. Now, I strictly eat the foods I love because I'm not wasting my hard earned points on anything less than the best. So dinner-- Turkey, stuffing, gravy, and mashed potato mixture with some veggies on the side followed by a big piece of pecan pie will do. 

Staying in Control
Knowing myself, I've learned a lot about my relationship with food. I know that if I don't eat within about 4 hours, I'm going to get hangry. By the time I hit the hangry state, I'm already out of control with my eating. I will over eat then crash right afterwards. To stay in control, I must stay ahead of my hunger so I snack on veggies, fruits, and low points foods particularly on Thanksgiving.


My life is completely different now from how it was 3 years ago. Now, I'm a Run-to-Earn-Turkey kind of girl.


50 in 5 Completed Races:
California- San Francisco Marathon- 7/26/2015
District of Columbia- Navy Air Force 9/20/2015
Maryland- Baltimore Running Festival Half 10/17/2015
Virginia- Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half 9/6/2015
Pennsylvania- Philadelphia Oktoberfest 13.1 10/25/2015
Delaware- C&D Half Marathon- 11/7/2015




Richmond November 15, 2015

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Three Months, 4 States

Finally I'm writing again. After starting school and getting married to my amazingly patient husband in September, I spent the end of September and early October in a stress-induced sick, stupor. Turns out one of the best remedies for stress is running but when I'm so tired I can barely move, it's a bit difficult to convince myself to run. 



I've done some running, but I haven't reached nearly high enough mileage for the November 14th Richmond marathon in 3 weeks! Yikes, it might be time to look at dropping down to the half marathon.

It's been exactly three months today, since I started my 50 in 5 years goal. Since July, I have checked off California, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the District from my list of states. 


I've had to rethink my 50 in 5 goal, instead of running my dream races like Chicago, NYC, and Boston marathons, I've decided to run small, cheap, medal earning races. I'm hoping this will bring down my costs-- especially since some races are so highly priced (San Francisco was $170!!!). My latest race, today, Oktoberfest Philadelphia was only $59.




States Completed:
California- San Francisco Marathon- 7/26/2015
District of Columbia- Navy Air Force 9/20/2015
Maryland- Baltimore Running Festival Half 10/17/2015
Virginia- Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half 9/6/2015
Pennsylvania- Philadelphia Oktoberfest 13.1 10/25/2015






Saturday, July 25, 2015

50 States in 5 Years

Today is my 25th birthday and tomorrow is the San Francisco marathon, my second full marathon. Just like every time I'm about to run a race, I have the race jitters. When you're about to run a race, there are about a million things running through your head-- have you've trained enough? Are you prepared for everything? Do you have the right clothes, enough bandaids, Gatorade, and Gu (flavored, nutrient-filled vaseline-like substance)? Are you're going to make it? Then right before the race, there's this calm that comes over you, all the doubts go away. You just push it all out of your mind, shut up, and run. I'm waiting for the calm to come tomorrow morning.
Training Run (20 miles) Before and After the run.
Like most race runners-- I'm highly addicted to the rush I get from crossing the finish line. Each time, I find myself thinking of the next race I want to run. 

My next goal, is to run a race, half marathon or marathon, in each of the 50 states before I turn 30. I've been planning this goal for a while now. Luckily, there are these running events put on by running groups such as Mainly Marathons that runners can hit 7 races, 7 states, in 7 days. I'm hoping to knock at least a couple states off my list that way.


Although I have big running goals, I'm hoping that I have enough money to get to and run races in all 50 states. Races are pricey-- ranging from $40-250 per race plus the cost of hotels and food. But, I figure that I better do this while I'm young. There's a saying that I absolutely love: There will come a day when I will not longer be able to run, my body will give out, my knees will give up, my mind won't be quite so sharp, and my body will be laid to rest, but today is not that day. Today, I will run.


So tomorrow, as I run across the Golden Gate Bridge, for a bit I hope to stop thinking about my journey here-- all the training, preparation, and planning that goes into a marathon and my future with all the races I plan to run. During my marathon, I will remain present in mind and lay the future and past aside as I run in the moment. Here's to 25 years on this earth, today, and the upcoming years-- I will to strive to make them the best.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

How to Eat like a Marathon Running Weight Watcher

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm a food addict. I like shopping for, prepping, cooking, and most importantly eating food. I used to think that to be healthy, I would need to cut out all the sugar, carbs, chocolate, fat or whatever the latest diet trend of the day happened to be. So I'd spend one day eating salad (no dressing), yogurt, and a tick-tac for dessert and the next day I'd eat everything in the house and an entire bag of Reeses.


When I finally joined Weight Watchers, I realized that I really could eat any food that I wanted as long as I ate it in moderation. So I still go to seafood buffets because they are my absolute favorite but I start with broccoli, mushrooms, and salads before I move onto the buttery, shell-fish heaven on a plate. This helps me to savor the main course but still get the food that I want. Another plus is that I'm still eating with everyone else and no sitting there drooling and dreaming about having just one more plate. I can still stay within my WW points range too.

In order to be able to run for 5+ miles, it is so important to eat. You really have to eat the right foods too or you'll end up in a port-a-potty, praying, and crossing the finish line 20 minutes later than your pace group. So my biggest tip when people ask me for eating advice is to eat TONS, like literally tons, of fruits and vegetables.



Add Vegetable to Everything
I add vegetables to every single meal in some way. When we eat spaghetti, I put grilled mushrooms on top. I should own stock in the Steamables frozen food bags, my freezer is stocked to the brim with snow peas, broccoli, mixed vegetables, and whatever other veggies look good to me. Especially during the school year, I'm too tired to cut and cook veggies so sometimes I buy them already and that really makes it more convenient to eat more vegetables.




This is a quick lunch for me. I sauté peppers (prepackaged and cut), add balsamic vinaigrette, and mushrooms. Heat a wrap for about 10 sec. in the microwave then add cheese. 







I've even convinced Thomas to do meatless Mondays with me. I make a vegetable as the main dish, my absolute favorite being Poor Man's Crab cakes, a recipe from Clyde Howard's Farm, they're made out of zucchini and taste exactly like crab cakes. I make a remoulade to go on top too.






Snack on Fruits 
Snacking on fruits throughout the day has saved me so many times from afternoon, boredom hunger. I normally have apples, oranges, and bananas in the house at all times then I add in season berries, peaches, etc. You can also try putting extra fruit like strawberries or raspberries in smoothies to bulk up the recipe and add extra fruit goodness.

To eat like a marathon running Weight Watcher, you should try to fill up on fruits and vegetables. Fats, carbs, and protein are important too but it can be scary, especially for a Weight Watcher, to add those at first. There are plenty of recipes to make vegetables and fruits taste great. Share your favorite recipes in the comment section so that we can all try new ways to get fruits and veggies into our diet.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

10 Reasons Why Running is the Perfect Introvert Sport

Introverts aren't necessarily ant-social, we just recharge by being alone. We love all our friends and family but we just have to be by ourselves, sometimes. Running gives us a reason to be alone that doesn't make us feel like complete jerks.

1. Crazy Eating Habits 

No one wants to eat with us. Our crazy fueling habits disgust the average human being. We'll also probably try to steal anything that looks like it's yummy and full of carbs off your plate.

2. Long Runs

Nothing says alone time like: "Hey, I'm going to run 20 miles. See you in 4 hours!"

3. Snot Rockets & Spit

No one wants to be close to us when we're spewing bodily fluids. We're probably covered in sweat, blood, tears, mud, shit, and snot. You definitely want to stay out of our personal bubble.

4. Slow Running

We don't want to hold you back. "O honey, you don't want to run with me. I'm a slow runner, go ahead..."

5. Shoe Shopping
We're going to spend a good 200-300 miles with these bad boys. You don't want to go shoe shopping with us, it's going to take a while.

6. Prep time
I'm sorry I can't go out today, I have a long run tomorrow.

7. Recovery time

I'm sorry I can't go out today, I had a long run yesterday.

8. Less Small Talk

Introverts are notoriously bad at small talk. When we're running it's socially acceptable for us to only say the important stuff.

9. Smelliness 

My mom once looked at me after a race and said, "All runners have a smell, yuck." I proceeded to ask her if I smell and she said, "O no honey, not you." Yea right! After a run, I smell like a bag of shit wrapped in onions. Nothing says don't talk to me like smelly pit-sweat that reaches your waist and stains from substances we'd rather not know the origin of.

10. Races

But ultimately, we do actually want to be around people. We're just not that good at it. Races give us a way to be surrounded by people without the expectations of small talk and constant conversation. We get to be with others, while also having an excuse to move along or stay behind.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

So you wanna run your first race?


Recently, I've been slacking a lot on writing. But now that schools out for summer, this Teacher-Runner is hitting the pavement and blog board to prepare for my next race. Look out San Francisco Marathon, here I come.

Alright ladies and gentlemen, it's almost time to start training for the fall race season. One question I get a lot is: How do I prepare for my first race?

Quotes often turn into mantras for me while I'm running. Sometimes, I have such a hard time getting started but once I do, I feel great. Try something new, try a different race, but remember there is always a beginning and everyone has a time in their life when they were just starting something. 


Train
I highly suggest starting a training plan, most plans are 12-20 weeks long. My favorite training plans are Hal Higdon's plans. He's a long time runner and Runner's World writer. He has plans for everyone: 5K, half, and full marathons and novice, intermediate, advanced and even senior plans.

Here is a link to his 5K novice page: http://www.halhigdon.com/training/50933/Novice-Training-for-your-first-5K

Shoes
Invest in a good pair of running shoes. I highly suggest going to a shoe shop, like VA Runner, to have a specialist fit you for your perfect shoe. Sketchers might be "cute" but they're not the best for running.

Also, don't wear a brand new pair of shoes for a race.

Water, water, water

Water is so important for runners. You should make sure you drink plenty of water the day before, the day of the run, and after the run.

Other beverages: Even though some people don't believe in it, I drink coffee before every run but to be far I drink coffee like an addict. If you're running a long run or it's hot out, make sure to drink some sort of drink with electrolytes, like Gatorade, after the run to replenish your body with the essentials after you've sweat out everything.

Eat

Don't each anything out of the ordinary before your run. I ate jalapeños about an hour before my first 5K run, BIG mistake. My stomach was killing me. But obviously I still didn't learn, I ate the spiciest Chipotle burrito bowl the night before my marathon, horrible idea. Learn from my mistakes, don't eat spicy. Many runners eat pasta the night before they run.

Sleep
You will be nervous before your first run. Try to get a full night's sleep. Sleep is so important. I once heard that runners should add 10 extra minutes a night of sleep for each additional mile that they add weekly during training.

I absolutely love it when people ask me for advice about weight loss and running, partly because it gives me time to think back and reflect on my journey but mostly because I love helping other people and seeing their success. Please send me a message, email, or smoke signal if you have any questions. Thanks for reading.