4th of July 5k race Recap

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blogging to give you a race recap! And to wish all of you a very happy and safe Fourth of July. This used to be one of those holidays that I was all “meh” about. In the last few years, however, I’ve changed my tune. The 4th is one of my favorite. (No pressure to buy the perfect gift, beautiful fireworks, and all the summer foods I can eat. Sign me up!) This time last year, Stephen was in Afghanistan. This time three years ago, he had just come home from his first deployment.

Gratuitous welcome home picture from 2012.

Gratuitous welcome home picture from 2012.

When my alarm went off at 5 am, I let Stephen keep sleeping as I tip-toed out of the bedroom.

The Up and Running 4th of July Run starts at 7:04 on the dot (so appropriate, right?). That meant leaving my house before the sun came up to make it across town. I had plenty of time, and got to spend a good half hour chatting with my Wear Blue buddies.

wear blue

Jennifer, seated, just came back from a DENTAC deployment to the Pacific! Welcome home, Jennifer!

My hope for the race was to beat last year’s time of 25:30. With marathon training, I’ve been doing lots of speed work (read: 2x a week). However, I didn’t consider the fact that I haven’t been doing much (read: zero) hill work. I guess I tend to be a greedy ambitious runner. If I’m racing, I want to place or PR. My 5k PR of 24:21 is 3 years old (!), and I haven’t come close to it since the day that I earned it. (Maybe I was body snatched during the race.) Yet some part of me thought that maybe I could go sub 25 today.

Mile 1: 8:08

After a stirring rendition of the National Anthem and the countdown to begin, I took off like the dickens. I mean, I hauled my cookies like nobody’s business. It took me a quarter of a mile to realize I had probably gone out too fast as I was hitting a 7:00/mile pace. That will only lead to crashing and burning. I tried to reign it in to as near to 8:00 as I could. Of course, then the hills appeared. Some of the people I had passed in the initial starting sprint had already passed me right back. I knew I wouldn’t PR, and I doubted I could even beat last year’s time.

002

Mile 2: 8:16

I ran a little slower, but I actually felt good during this mile. Perhaps because it has more of the downhill. :) I even walked a bit to hit the water stop before I continued on. I have yet to master the ability to run and drink, and I needed that water! It was actually cooler out this morning than I anticipated. It didn’t even make it to 80 while I was on the course. The cloud cover was a nice touch too, but that means humidity – my nemesis! 50% humidity plus hills = way more challenging than I was prepared for.

Mile 3: 8:26

I’m convinced that the final mile of any 5k is mental. I repeated over and over in my head “One more good mile. Just one more good mile.” I also used this time to puzzle over the fact that my half PR was on a hilly course. How did I do that? I felt like I was sucking, but I was still passing people. I thought I might have been going fast enough to at least beat my time on the course, but I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t quite seem to figure out the math – all my brain power was going toward convincing myself not to quit.

finish

The final .25 is uphill (damn hills!). I gave all I had left and ended up with final .1 at a 7:26 pace.

My stats:

  • 3.1 mile finish time: 25:17
  • Average pace: 8:09

13 seconds faster than last year and good enough for 4th in my age group. I was immediately disappointed. I feel like I’m faster than I was last year, and I worked a lot harder than “just” 13 seconds faster. Alas, the clock doesn’t lie. Stephen reminded me when I got home that my goal isn’t a 5k PR; it’s a marathon PR. #Truth. The next race I run will probably be the 10 Miler in the Heat, another repeat race. Once again I’m going to aim to beat my time from last year. I’ve got plenty more marathon training between now and then to prepare me. But I’m keeping my eye on the real goal: Twin Cities.

I want to once again wish everyone the happiest of holidays. Thank you to all those who have fought for our freedom. If your loved one is in harm’s way, know that I see you and I’m praying for you.

Westbound: Zion National Park

We said adios to the Grand Canyon at dawn, and hightailed it to Zion.

tusayan to springdale

We had big plans to camp, but all the reserved sites at Zion were booked up. That meant we had to arrive as early as possible to see if there was space available at the first-come locations. Even though we made it through the park gates at a time we thought was pretty early – 10 am – it took forever to actually get to the dang park! The road winds back and forth down thousands of feet before you get to the good stuff. When we pulled up to the tent camping site 45 minutes later, it was all snatched up. In a very un-us moment, Stephen and I drove from hotel to hotel looking for vacancy. We got turned away at a few places before landing on a La Quinta in the center of town. I didn’t really like Springdale, the town at the edge of Zion. The prices are ridiculous, customer service sucks, the buses aren’t as good as at Grand Canyon, it feels like everything takes forever to get to. Still, the beauty of Zion is undeniable and it’s worth putting up with all the other stuff.

The drive into Zion.

The drive into Zion.

The Narrows

We had two full days at Zion, and we opted to participate in two big hikes. The first was The Narrows. The trail is a slot canyon following the Virgin River for miles. Much of it is in the water in varying depths and on slippery rocks. After the 40 minute bus ride from the visitor’s center to the trailhead at the Temple of Sinawava, we were anxious to get started.

Here we go!

Here we go!

Visitors have the option of hiking all the way down the river over the course of two days, but it requires a permit. Only 6 are granted in advance and 6 more the day before. We were pretty tempted, but instead did the round trip known as “Bottom Up.” We started early and with a handful of other hikers. As the day went on, it got more and more crowded. I didn’t mind so much as I felt safer with so many other people around. (Other than a rowdy group of boys that were throwing rocks and jumping into the water raucously.)

The water was a cool 60 degrees. It was a little jarring at first, but once we got moving, it felt refreshing. The canyon, being mostly in shade, is also relatively cool. I was wearing a new pair of pants that zip off at the knee. It turned out, they were water-resistant pants! How convenient! The trail, even though it’s nice and flat, is really slow going. I took care to be cautious on all the slippery parts. Even with my walking stick, which is strongly recommended for this hike, it was tough. Stephen and I stopped a few hours in to eat the lunches we had packed. It was so nice to sit in this narrow canyon on a dry rock eating my PB&J. After lunch, we pressed on. My favorite part was a section of deep water. It was as high as my shoulders, forcing me to swim-walk briefly with my backpack floating behind me.

narrows1

Bottom Up hikers are only allowed to go 5 miles before needing to turn around. There was no way to know how far we had gone, though. My Garmin was useless in the canyon, and there weren’t any kind of markers. We ended up hiking out for 4 hours before turning around and heading back. The sun was now overhead and beaming through in lots of places. The closer we got back to the beginning, the more crowded it was. Apparently, lots of families with small kids just hike up a mile or two and hang out and play. The return trip was a bit faster, and our total time was 7 hours and 15 minutes. I have no idea if we went 10 miles or not.

As soon as Stephen and I got out of the water, we were hot, hot, hot. The wait for the bust and 40 minute ride back felt forever long. It was heavenly to get back to the hotel and shower!

Observation Point

Even after our exhausting day at The Narrows, we decided we couldn’t miss the chance to hike Observation Point. We had originally planned to hike Angels Landing, but after talking to a park ranger, we set our sights on Observation Point. It’s higher, going up 2,000 feet, and significantly less traveled. Stephen and I would guess that we saw maybe 50 people total in the five and a half hours we spent on the hike – by far the least busy of anywhere we went on the entire trip.

Only a mile in, on a flat portion. We saw another couple coming down and they graciously took our photo!

Only a mile in, on a flat portion. We saw another couple coming down and they graciously took our photo!

The trail is extremely steep (it has to be to get you up that high!) but instead of gravel, it’s mostly stone. Thankfully, I felt completely confident in my hiking shoes. The hike varied between shade and sun. Just when I would feel like I couldn’t take the heat any more, we’d turn a corner and find some shade or a nice breeze. I was patting myself on the back for all the water I drank. It was easy to forget to drink in The Narrows because of the cool water and shade. This hike, not so much.

The view from the top of Observation Point is unmatched.

The top!

The top!

We spent a good hour at the top enjoying the view, shooing away the chipmunks, eating lunch, re-applying sunscreen, and working up the nerve to go back down. I had been taking note all the way up of the places that I knew would frighten me on the way down. I definitely had some shaky legs. The first mile took me forever. I figured going slow was my best option, and I tried not to look over the edge. Halfway down I was finally able to exhale and woosh through the final miles. We clocked more than 8 miles total on the hike. I felt pretty badass (and sweaty!) by the time we were back safe at the bottom.

Next up: Moab, Utah for Arches and Canyonlands National Parks!

Westbound: Grand Canyon National Park

The first leg of our westbound extravaganza started in El Paso, Texas and went all the way to the south rim of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

ep to tusayan

This was the longest day of driving. Even with all the time spent in the car, the drive wasn’t too bad. The constantly changing scenery kept me interested almost the entire way. I was stunned by all the trees in Arizona. I expected to look a lot more like El Paso. Stephen and I stayed at the Holiday Inn, which we loved, in Tusayan. Tusayan is just a mile outside of Grand Canyon and about as close as you can get without actually staying in the park. (That’s an option too, but you have to plan more in advance than we did.) We arrived while the sun was still up, and got our first good look at the canyon.

grand canyon

Breath-taking!

Hikes

Rim Trail Hike

Maricopa Point

Maricopa Point

The word ‘hike’ is kind of used loosely here. The Rim Trail is a paved sidewalk that follows the rim for miles. We went all the way from Mather Point, which is right near the parking lot, to Maricopa Point, about 5.5 miles. We were able to stop at shops and restaurants along the way. (None of the other parks that we visited had restaurants inside the gates.) This was very convenient when dinner time rolled around! The trail goes a little farther along to Hopi Point, but we liked the views at Maricopa and stopped there. After the sun went down, we hopped the free shuttle back to the visitor’s center.

Ooh Aah Point

Stephen enjoying the view.

Stephen enjoying the view.

This one was a real hike! The trail is gravel and steep with switchbacks winding their way down into the canyon. The round trip hike was less than 2 miles, but it lasted for almost an hour and a half. The trail continues down into the canyon, but I was too chicken to go any farther. (I’m not a huge fan of the combination of steep trails, gravel, and no railing. No, siree!) Don’t let the peaceful photo fool you. There were people all over this trail (and everywhere else on the Grand Canyon for that matter). Any peaceful, isolated photos you see have other people cropped or photo shopped out. I was particularly impressed by a group of Amish women on the trail. They were hiking the dang thing in dresses with tights on!

Other Activities

Sunrise & Sunset

Sunset. The view here is from Maricopa point looking west.

Sunset. The view here is from Maricopa point looking west.

This was my only must-do item on our visit. We woke up really early the first day we were there to catch sunrise. Totally worth it! And we just went back to the hotel and napped afterward. :) It was chilly but not cold at sunrise. I loved getting to watch the canyon come alive with color. As for sunset, we saw this at the end of the Rim Trail Hike from Maricopa Point. Apparently the next spot down, Hopi Point, has a better view. That worked out well for us, though, as there was hardly anyone at our sunset spot. I think we lucked out by stopping where we did. It was serene! Sunset wasn’t nearly as cold, but it was windy. I had to hold my hat on my head!

Condor Talk

The National Parks offer multiple free activities day in and day out. I was determined to get in at least one. Although this might be a little dorky, I loved the condor talk. We sat right near the rim and listened to a ranger talk for 30 minutes about California Condors. One even flew right over us! Sadly, these giant birds (their wingspan is 10 feet!) have been flirting with extinction. At one point, only 22 condors were alive. The population is now up to over 400, but only half of those live in the wild. This also got me thinking about a future as a park ranger. I may have started referring to myself as Ranger Amy afterwards.

Helicopter Ride

helo

The cherry on top of our visit! For 30 minutes, we flew over the Grand Canyon! It was mighty scary. (I experienced some utterly terrible turbulence on a recent flight, so I’m especially skittish in the air lately.) I dug my hands into anything I could hold, which was mostly Stephen’s knee. Even so, I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I took it all in. While we hovered high above the Colorado River, we listened to an audio tour in our headsets. So much information – I love me some facts. Most of my pictures of the canyon came out crummy from the copter, but the images will forever live in my mind. And I vowed to keep my feet on the ground for a while upon our landing! (Foreshadowing: this wasn’t the last time I went airborne on this vacation.)

Next up: Zion National Park!

National Park Hopping

I spent the last 11 days driving around the great American South West with my husband, seeing the sights, hiking the trails, photographing the mountains, and having the time of my life! This has been (dare I say it?) the best summer of my life. I know 2,000+ miles in the car (which equates to more than 40 hours) doesn’t sound ideal. For me, it was perfect. And don’t worry – there was plenty of time spent on foot.

vacation

We hit the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, and spent one night in Albuquerque before returning home. I plan to recap all of our adventures at each National Park, but for now, I wanted to just share some general information.

Visiting National Parks:

  • It’s not very expensive. You can get a week pass for a car full of people for only $30. (That’s less than a trip to the movies!) Active duty military members can get a free year pass that includes up to three dependents. We were able to get it the first time we pulled up to the gates at the Grand Canyon. It took less than 3 minutes. The more popular parks (like Grand Canyon and Zion) will check your park pass every time you enter. Smaller parks, however, don’t seem to have the man power to do so, meaning you could potentially get in for free. Keep in mind, however, that the restaurants in and around the park are muy expensivo. Most of our meals were in the $50 neighborhood. It helps if your hotel has a free breakfast. (Although hotel prices were outrageous, too.) I’d also suggest buying groceries before you get to whatever park you are visiting and packing your lunch each day. We did this on the days of our long hikes, but we both wished we’d bough groceries in El Paso. (Grand Canyon groceries = chaching chaching.) On the flip side, many establishments offered a military discount. Stephen got 20% off a shirt he bought in Moab. 20% is a lot!
  • Plan in advance. This wasn’t an option for us, and as a result, we didn’t get to do any outdoor camping like we hoped. The parks book up months in advance and the first come first serve tent camping was full early every day. I also think our hotels might have been cheaper if we’d booked further out. In Zion, we were lucky to get a hotel at all – many places had no vacancy when we arrived!

National Park Fees

  • Stop at the visitor’s center first. Every park has a visitor’s center (with varying hours – be sure to check online!). There you can get free maps (if you didn’t already get some at the entrance gate) along with firsthand information about the park. This was particularly helpful to us when we visited Arches. We told a park ranger that we only had one day to visit and we weren’t sure what to see. She got out a map, wrote all over it, and basically made an itinerary for us. It was awesome!
  • BYOWB. The parks don’t sell any bottled water, but they do have free water refill stations. If you don’t bring your own water bottle, you can buy an overpriced one at the visitor’s center. Otherwise, you’re stuck just hitting the water fountains, which aren’t always near where you may be hiking.
  • Summer = Busy & Hot. This was the best time (or maybe the only time) that we could make this trip happen. That meant accepting the fact that the parks would be busy and the temperatures scorching. I said a few times that I thought the parks would be most enjoyable in the fall. It wouldn’t be 106 degrees outside nor would all these other people be in my pictures. Parking at the Grand Canyon was scarce, the buses were way overcrowded at Zion, and we were advised not to hike between 10 am and 6 pm at Arches and Canyonlands. If crowds and/or heat are deal breakers for you, that’s something to consider.
Hiking The Narrows at Zion National Park. This is the least busy the hike was. By the end, it was a zoo. At least the strangers provide a sense of scale.

Hiking The Narrows at Zion National Park. This is the least busy the hike was. By the end, it was a zoo. At least the strangers provide a sense of scale.

  • Each park is beautiful and has something different to offer. Grand Canyon is the best for families as it offers such a variety of activities. You can simply stand there and enjoy yourself or explore the harder hikes. The park has a ton of restaurants within the gates and a very easy (free!) bus system. Zion is where you should go if you want a challenge. It offers multiple strenuous and unique hikes. Both Stephen and I agree that the two hikes we did there (Observation Point and The Narrows) were our favorite. It’s famous for a hike called Angel’s Landing, but that was way too hardcore for us. Arches is perfect for a short visit. You can see a lot of it from your car (perfect for when the temperatures soar), and the harder hikes aren’t really that hard. If you are jonesing for some night photos, this would also be your best bet. Caynonlands is the place to hit for back country camping. It didn’t sell out months in advance like the other parks, it’s huge, and it’s close enough to Moab to get any gear or last-minute items you might need.

Y’all let me know if you have any questions. I feel like a bona fide expert at this point. :) I’d love to hear about other National Parks you would recommend. We need to put our annual park pass to good use!

Amy Reads: Spring

My reading speed took a dip with all the end-of-year craziness at school. Now that school is out, I’m back to being a reading machine! I’m determined to pack in as many books as I can before I go back to work at the end of July. On to the books!

1. Boxers by Gene Luen Yang (Graphic Novel) { 325 pages}

boxers

Short version: This book is the companion to Saints (which I read in March) telling the Boxer side of the Boxer Rebellion.

Long version: 4.5 out of 5. I really like this author’s style and the topic. I already knew that from reading Saints, but Boxers is also interesting. I dig the idea of telling two sides of the war in two separate, overlapping books. I sympathized with the characters in Saints. Then I sympathized with the characters of Boxers. That’s the complexity of war, I guess. Having read Saints first, I preferred that book, but both are excellent.

2. Yes, Please by Amy Poehler (Memoir) {329 page}

yes

Short version: Amy Poehler shares hilarious anecdotes and tidbits for life advice in the way only she can.

Long version: 4 out of 5 stars. Poehler is just so damn fun. I especially liked the stuff about when she was young and then up-and-coming in the business. To be as successful as she has been, she had to be determined. She intermixes the personal stories with her own random thoughts. I just enjoy her writerly voice. I was a little bit less interested in the Parks and Rec specifics because I don’t watch the show. (Please don’t stone me.) If you are a fan of that show, this book will be a 5 out of 5 for you.

3. Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori and Rom Brafman (Non-Fiction) {206 pages}

sway

Short version: A reader-friendly explanation as to the psychology behind decision making.

Long version: 3.5 out of 5 stars. This book is a collection of vignettes paired with the science behind the why someone would do what they did. For instance, the book opens with the story of a seasoned airline pilot who made a really bad (and sadly, deadly) decision to take off in bad weather despite not getting clearance from air traffic control. It made me re-think why I do what I do, but most of the book wasn’t memorable.

4. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (YA Fiction) {192 pages}

stargirl

Short version: The rise and fall of a new student in high school.

Long version: 4 out of 5 stars. This book was both painful and beautiful, probably my favorite book combo. The book is told from the point-of-view of a quiet student, the one who is intrigued by the new student (aka Stargirl), but also scared for her. I could def relate to being the bystander, not knowing what to do as you watch someone crash and burn. Spinelli is a YA master, and I can see why he’s been so successful. Stargirl is 15 years old but as relevant as ever.

5. A Matter of Souls by Denise Lewis Patrick (Short Stories) {186 pages}

matter of

Short version: Stories of black men and women over the centuries.

Long version: 3 out of 5 stars. I liked the idea of this book and the writing was beautiful, yet the execution was kind of boring. I wanted to like it more than I did. I appreciated the variety in the stories. I even liked that there wasn’t a thread to tie the stories together other than their humanity. It just wasn’t the book for me.

6. Coraline by Neil Gaiman (YA Fantasy) {162 pages}

coraline

Short version: A young girl goes exploring in her home and finds herself battling her evil Other Mother in an alternate world order to get back to where she belongs.

Long version: 4 out of 5 stars. I think Gaiman is one of the most original contemporary writers out there. He just looks at the world differently. For a children’s book, this story is scary as hell. I may have had to sleep with the light on after reading the ending about the creepy hand. Chills!

7. Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez (YA Fiction) {272 pages}

death dickinson

Short version: Frenchie Garcia tries to recreate the night that changed her life.

Long version: 4.5 out of 5 stars. Talk about a title and cover that will grab you! This book is similar in feel to John Green. It’s a mix of 13 Reasons Why and Paper Towns. (This book is way better than Paper Towns, though!) At first, Frenchie annoyed me. As I got further into the book, I saw why she was the way that she was and I was intrigued. I wanted to know if she’d be able to find her way out of her funk and back to happiness. Some have said that this book glorifies suicide, but I disagree. To me, it shows the pain that is left afterwards and is a safe way for young adults to explore the topic. Reading this also made me realize that I need more Hispanic authors in my life!

8. How I Made it to Eighteen: A Mostly True Story by Tracy White (Graphic Novel) {160 pages}

eighteen

Short version: A look at the year Stacy Black spent in a mental hospital recovering from a nervous breakdown.

Long version: 3 out of 5 stars. I appreciate when authors make themselves vulnerable, which is definitely the case here. White lays out all her struggles and insecurities. Every so often she would include a page that had a question at the top (“Is Tracy in an unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend?”) followed by four paragraphs responding in the voice of her four friends. I didn’t like this style and honestly couldn’t figure out what it added to the story. (Everyone already knows you should dump his ass!)

9. The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason (Mystery) {450 pages}

rule of

Short version: Four college seniors step into a hornet’s nest of lies, deception, blackmail, and violence as they investigate the meaning behind an ancient text.

Long version: 5 out of 5 stars! This is actually a re-read. My brother lent me this book a decade ago. I remembered loving it but not much else. I was happy to see that I hadn’t over-hyped the book in my mind and it stands the test of time. I love the setting of the final months before graduation, as everyone’s lives are on the precipice of change. I love how smart the book is with it’s riddles and answers. And I really loved the ending.

10. Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo (Historical Fiction) {208 pages}

Private_Peaceful_t_jpg

Short version: Two brothers are forced to join the fight during WWI, and the ending is tragic.

Long version: 4 out of 5 stars. The story takes place during WWI, but I don’t know that it’s a war story. It’s more a story of the bond of brothers. Each chapter starts with the time of day and our narrator dreading 6 am, which is creeping closer and closer. Then he switches and jumps into the backstory, starting all the way before the war even started. We eventually find out what is happening at 6 am, and, yeah, it’s sad. I dig a sad story, though.

*

Total books read so far this year: 22

Total pages read so far this year: 5,526

Twin Cities, Here I Come!

Happy National Running Day! I kicked off my day with a sweaty 7 mile run. Seemed appropriate. Hopefully wherever you are, the weather is nice enough for some miles.  Now I want to dive right in to some running talk!

I’m officially signed up to the run Twin Cities Marathon on October 4th!
I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so...so scared!

I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so…so scared!

I mentioned before that I was kicking around the idea of a fall marathon. After my hiatus from distance running and being bitten by the marathon bug when I volunteered at the El Paso Marathon, I sat down and thought long and hard about a great many options. Things I knew for sure:
  1. I wanted a fall marathon. I’ve read that these are ideal for Personal Records because you train through the heat of the summer and (probably) race on a cool day. My current full marathon PR is from a spring race, but I think that’s due to where I was in my running life and the fact that my only fall race was my very first.
  2. I wanted to race during a particular window of time. Since the school where I teach is year round, we get two weeks off during the fall. That gave me three possible weekends to work with.
  3. I wanted a mostly flat course. Even though I’ve done well on hills before, the majority of my training here takes place in flat areas. I don’t want to battle inclines (or descents!).
  4. I will go anywhere in the contiguous US.
All those factors combined to lead me straight to Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota.
A good looking course!

A good looking course!

The race takes place smack in the middle of my time off, so I can arrive days early or stay days late. There’s no rush. (I’m even considering extending the trip a bit to hop over and visit my family in Michigan.) The race is billed as the most scenic urban marathon. A beautiful course was not a requirement, but I love that Twin Cities is unique in this way.
According to the race website:
This point-to-point course begins near the future location of the new Minnesota Vikings Stadium in downtown Minneapolis and finishes at the Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul. The course winds around four beautiful lakes and along both sides of the Mississippi River. The course contains a few rolling hills; but with a starting and finishing elevation of approximately 840 feet and no climbs over 100 feet long, it’s nothing you can’t handle. The final stretch races past the clanging bells of the Saint Paul Cathedral and downhill onto the spectacular view of the State Capitol and the finish line!
tc
I feel 100% about my choice and I can’t wait to run it. That said, I’m really freaked out. I’m committing myself to a huge goal. (<–That’s always scary.) I don’t want to just run the race, I want it to be my best race EVER! That’s a tall order when there will be a lot out of my control (as there is with any marathon), and I’m going to far to get it. I’m keeping my PR goal conservative by only aiming to take 5 minutes off. That’s not too much to ask, is it? (My current PR is 4:24:54. I’ve got my heart set on a 4:19 finish.)
My fears:
  • Bad weather on race day
  • Travel issues
  • Injury during training
  • Perfect travel, perfect weather, perfect health, but no PR (not the worst thing ever, but it would be disappointing)
Training starts later this month and even though I feel mentally ready, I’ve already hit my first speed bump: knee pain! It came out of nowhere, and I think it was related to my shoes. I’ve since bought 2 new pairs (I know – I’m ridiculous). I’ve run a few times since getting the new shoes with no issues. Fingers crossed!
If that wasn’t enough, I also signed up to run the Austin Marathon in February. I am in fact crazy. I know what I’ll be doing for the next 9 months: #marathontraining! 

School’s Out!

The bell rang at 12 noon yesterday! That’s all she wrote for the 2014-2015 school year! This has been one of my favorite years as a teacher, but I’m just as happy as ever for summer to be here. I’m channeling my joy into sharing a few happy school/summer things. Bon apetite:
  • Summer plans:
southwest adventure
Stephen and I are planning a legendary trip! If the stars align and it all comes together, we will be taking a tour of the southwest hitting multiple national parks over the course of two weeks. It’s kind of intimidating to plan something so massive. However, I know that if it all works out, it will so worth it. Plus, I’ve been itching to explore more.
  • That crunchy log-on sound.
During the last few weeks of school, we read excerpts from the book Spare Parts. At one point it references a dial-up modem. I got a good laugh out of trying to explain that to 13-year-olds. It’s hard when they don’t even have house phones (and the internet is on their phones) to describe that in the olden days, you couldn’t be on the phone and on the internet. The internet didn’t float through the air. When you double clicked on the internet, it took a solid 5 minutes before you could actually do anything. One kid, with a look of horror on his face shouted out, “What if it was like that today?!” I’m fairly certain the students still have no idea what a dial-up modem is.
  • It’s good to have goals.
This is probably too advanced for me. A girl can dream!

This is probably too advanced for me. A girl can dream!

I’ve got two big things on my to-do list this summer. Numero uno: I want to exercise regularly. That should be easy with marathon training. I’m mostly hoping to rev it up so that when school gets busy, I’ve got a good habit developed. Numero Dos: practice braiding my hair. I need an option for bad hair days that doesn’t look like I stuck my head in a blender. Considering how many bagillion Youtube tutorials there are, I should be able to figure something out. Of course, I’ve made it 30 years without being able to braid. Can you teach an old Amy new braids?
  • Kids say the darndest things
Me: You know what segregation is, right?
Student: Yeah, that’s when you flood the yard with water.
{Long Pause}
Me: That’s irrigation.
  • Great Strides
GS 2014

GS 2014

Great Strides Dallas was supposed to be today. (For any new reads: Great Strides is the big fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. My brother-in-law, Ben, died as a result of CF complications two years ago, so it’s a cause near and dear to my heart.) The walk was cancelled due to rain. Boo! I’ve attended every walk since 2011, but I wasn’t able to make it out there next year. Hopefully I’ll be back in action next year. If you want to donate, you still can. Stephen’s fundraising page is here.
  • Zzzzzzzs
After Wear Blue this morning, I napped my ass off. It’s going to be a good summer. :)