Sunday, April 27, 2014

Walking on Sunshine

This morning I ran almost seven miles in Sand Run Metropark.  It was beautiful, hilly, and fast.

This morning I saw eight deer.

I'm not going to write about those experiences.

This morning I joined some of my students to participate in the Medina Walk out of the Darkness Suicide Awareness Event.  A large crowd showed up at 9 am on a chilly but sunny morning to walk 4.5 miles.  That crowd raised over nine thousand dollars.

Most of you know I am an English teacher at Medina High School.  This year I am teaching a Blended Learning Rhetoric and Composition class.  Blended Learning is a combination, or "blend," of face-to-face classroom instruction and online instruction.  Part of the philosophy that I embrace about Blended Learning is that it facilitates community involvement.  I want my students to strive to be good citizens of their school, their community, their state, their country, and their world.  If you'd like more information about Blended Learning, check out my shared blog on the Blended Learning Journey in our school.

I'm getting to our walk in the sun in a minute. If you can hang on, I'd like to show you part of our community project: a video to promote suicide awareness:

I can't watch that without getting a little teary-eyed.  Teen suicide has knocked the tar out of our community in the last year and a half, and my students decided they wanted to do something about it. Along with bringing community members together to film this video, they raised five hundred dollars and donated it to the Battered Women's Shelter of Medina.  This community walk was a way for us to think about those we lost and talk about ways we can contribute to the solution.

We walked for 4.5 miles through streets, parks, and neighborhoods, and we talked.  I try not to lead my students, in class and out, because I want them to learn to lead themselves and others.  I try to listen rather than talk.  This was a perfect opportunity for me to listen.  The students talked and laughed about Prom.  They poked fun at each other and at me.  Then, as often happens on walks or runs, they got serious.  One student told me why she was glad that she took my course.  She told me what she learned and how it made her feel.  Another told me that she felt that our class had bonded more than any of her other classes at the school.

Every one of those students told me that they were so glad to get up and walk together in the sunshine at nine in the morning.

It was perfect.

Bright smiles, glowing faces

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lunging the Turtle

This morning I attempted a divided twelve-miler.  Shall I break this one down?  "Attempted" means I didn't reach twelve miles; "divided" means I did seven miles with Leigh, took a gel, changed my shirt, and finished the rest with the Towpath Turtles.  "Twelve" means. . .wait, why am I parsing this? Are you dwelling on my pain?  You're a sadist, aren't you?  AREN'T YOU?

Ok, I've settled down.  Let's move on.

It was a gorgeous morning, perfect temperature for running in a simple long-sleeved shirt and either capris or tights.  I chose to run at Lock 29 in Peninsula, which is a common starting place for runners and bikers.

Beautiful shot of the Cuyahoga River at Lock 29

 It is also a common ending place because of its proximity to The Winking Lizard, one of the best places I know to blow your fitness on beer and wings.

I have written about Leigh before in my post called "Pace?  Isn't That a Salsa?"  She is still about half my age and at least forty pounds lighter than me (see, I've lost weight or hyperbole since that post!), and she still kicks my ass.  I had a plan, though.  This time I brought my phone, and I made sure to take pictures so that she would have to slow down or stop.  I am tricky, all right.  Here is my first shot:

Say hello to my leetle friend!
This is the first deer we saw on the path.  She didn't even want to move when we came up on her.  She just looked at me like, "Please!  You're in MY HOUSE now!  YOU move!"

Leigh and I had a great talk (I made sure she did most of the talking--I am tricky, all right), and we kept the pace at around 10:20. . . except when we didn't.  Anyway, we had a fun run together in a beautiful environment; I was thankful to be able to run, and I was thankful to run with her. I kept thinking, Well, I will make sure to run more slowly in the second part of my run.


I was excited to see the Towpath Turtles today as I haven't run with them in quite a while, and four of us got caught up in conversation, and, well. . . I had to resort to my stalling tactic:

Look, Guys!  A bale of Turtles!

They didn't fall for it, so I had to run extra fast to catch up to them. . .and so it goes.  Jen totally took advantage of the situation after the turnaround and sprinted past me, calling back, "I've got to do this while I can!"  Thanks, Badass.

In short, I came up short--11.67.  I didn't even have the energy to push it to 12, and geez, I end up making up that distance by going back and forth in front of my house ALL THE DAMN TIME!!!

Lesson learned:  Do NOT go too quickly on Long, Slow Distance Day.  

Finally, I leave you with Mike Polk's Easter message (if Mike Polk OR Easter offends you, don't watch this):

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Running with Integrity and Responsibility

My simple definition of integrity is the act of doing what you say you will do.  Responsibility is assuming consequences for your actions, good or bad.  I have interacted lately, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly, with people who show precious little of either quality.

Are you feeling a twinge?  Are there times where you haven't followed through on something you said you would do?  Are there times you have denied responsibility for your actions?  

Before I continue this post, I will tell you upfront that I am not going to speak specifically about the interactions I've had with people who lack integrity or fail to show responsibility (except for if it's about my kids or my husband--I am TOTALLY calling them out).  I am going to speak in general terms about situations in which I often encounter these problems.  If you find you are angry, or you feel that I am calling you out. . .maybe you need to think about your actions lately.

I am a teacher, so I am quite used to lack of integrity or responsibility.

Usually, these lapses from students don't bother me because students are kids, and kids are stupid still growing and hopefully learning from their mistakes.  I became a teacher because I like kids, and I want to help them be as great as they can be.  Adults, though, they are another story.

Stephani (you ask), what does this have to do with running?

Well, ask yourself if you know someone in these circumstances--better yet, ask yourself if YOU have done this:

1.  Have you ever scheduled a group run and then didn't show up or cancelled because you just didn't feel like going?

2.  Have you ever announced to everyone you know (Hellooooo, Social Media!) that you were registered for a race, slacked on the training, and then backed out of the race?

3.  Do you ever skip runs for no good reason and then wonder why you can't improve?

4.  Do you neglect cross-training and complain about getting hurt?

5.  Do you eat too much and complain to everyone that you don't understand why you haven't lost weight?

6.  Do you injure yourself and, against the advice of everyone you know AND your doctor, continue to run until you get REALLY hurt?

7.  Do you complain about your bad luck when it comes to any of the above circumstances?

There have been times when we all have compromised our integrity in some way.  That is why responsibility is so important.  Own up to the consequences of your actions.  Admit that your behavior can often determine what happens to you, good or bad.  Did your peeps ask you how you PR'd that race?  Don't say it was luck; tell the truth.  Your hard work and determination are what helped you to PR.  Do you make time to work out as often as you need to?  Don't brush that off by telling people it's because you aren't as busy as they are; tell the truth.  You realized that your physical and mental health are important, and you made it a priority in your busy schedule.

When we force ourselves to examine our lapses in integrity, we strengthen our responsibility muscles, and that exercise will in turn build our integrity.  Remember, Peeps:

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

It's a Beautiful Day!

I have FINALLY experienced a sunny Sunday long run!

For too many weeks now I have seen gorgeous Saturdays, and I wake up on Sunday morning for my long run to this:

I am so stinking tired of Ohio winters.

Today was a glorious ten miler with my favorite running peeps.  Debi stuck with me from beginning to end, and we were able to run a bit with Teresa and Deidre.  It was almost like old times, except I wasn't complaining about my husband (love you, Mon Petit Chou!) this time.

My legs ache in all the right places.  I look forward to recovery yoga tomorrow (love you, Rodney Yee!), and I plan to do the legs-up-the-wall pose later today when I think it will most embarrass my daughter.

Even better, MyFitnessPal tells me that I will have room for a Candy-Bar-in-a-Cup, otherwise known as some sort of mocha java thing, when I meet my friend for coffee later.

Candy Bar in a Cup!

For those of you who are wondering, "Where the hell is Stephani?  Who is this cheerful person?" just remember that I am under the spell of the runner's high, which I explain in this post.

I love you, Man.

Have a great week, Running Peeps!

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