Thursday, February 25, 2016

A List: My Favorite Albums

This was a hard one - I can't remember the last time I purchased a whole album! As such these are pretty dated, but they're the ones that come to mind!

Billy Joel: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II

Soundtrack: Walt Disney's Beauty & the Beast

Soundtrack: West Side Story, Original Broadway Cast

Soundtrack: A Charlie Brown Christmas
And here's the album that plagued my classroom for months on end:

We never got past three. And that time included Memorial Day weekend. >Sigh<

Friday, February 19, 2016

A List: Things That Make Me Feel Healthy

Another weekly list! (I promise I'll get back to the marathon recap soon, for those who have been asking!)

  • running
  • sleep
  • dates with my hubby
  • girlfriend time
  • good habits
  • helping students get excited about fruit salad!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A List: Ways in Which I Can Love Others

And this week's list...
  • listen
  • remember their stories
  • send a note - snail mail!
  • share pictures
  • accept them as they are
  • start each day fresh
Student connection tip: have you tried Remind? This is a double-blind texting service tailored for education. You set up a class, provide your students with a link, and they sign in to your class with their phone numbers. You can then send them reminders and other messages, without you seeing their number or them seeing your number, and you have a record of all exchanges in one place. It's a great service!

How is this relevant to this week's list? Occasionally I send out a "Throwback Thursday" message to my former students, to connect with them and show them I still think about them and care about them. Often it's just a photo to remind them of fun times past!

Friday, February 5, 2016

A List: Things I Am Grateful For

Taking a pause in the marathon talk for this week's list and a classroom management illustration!

  • a wonderful marriage
  • a safe, comfortable home
  • good health
  • great friends
  • happy pets
  • a job I like
  • the electric kettle in my office
  • memories like the one below
As we all know, towards the end of the school year there are "one or two" students who like to start trying to play it fast and loose with the rules. This door in the back of my classroom opened up onto a fire escape. Students were not allowed to be on the fire escape, so they were not allowed to even open the door. A few decided that rule wasn't applicable in warmer weather. So, I posted this sign:

Suddenly it was no longer a problem. How about that?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Things I Learned about Team in Training (or "Why if you're going to train for a marathon you should RUN with TNT!")

I'll admit it, the idea of running with a charity and having to meet a fundraising requirement scared me. A LOT. I thought I had nowhere near the social capital needed to raise that kind of money. So I first entered the lottery for the Chicago Marathon... and I wasn't selected... and I was devastated.

It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me, because it gave me the push I needed to join Team in Training. This wasn't just a random charity choice to gain a bib - my husband lost his mother to multiple myeloma while he was in high school, so raising money to fight blood cancer was personally meaningful to us. And hey, their jerseys are purple, my favorite color :).

Here are some things you should know about TNT:

1. It IS a TEAM.
While I joined before the training season began, I wasn't able to attend any of the group runs until more than a month after they began. As you can probably imagine, I was pretty nervous walking up to a group of strangers I'd never met to join them during their sixth or seventh week. But from the very first moment, I was part of the team. I have never been part of an organization with that kind of immediate acceptance, it was amazing.

2. You have oodles of fundraising support.
The Chicago chapter is divided into four teams: City, North, West, and South Suburbs. Just for our team we had two mentors dedicated to fundraising help. They worked with you to draft letters and come up with ideas, and even posted links to team members' fundraisers on their personal Facebook pages. Other team members also offered lots of helpful advice and shared their ideas, and some would even offer to join up if they were doing something they could use help with. You are not alone!

3. The running support is unparalleled.
Oh boy, where to start? First of all, you are given a training calendar with distances and workouts for the entire season. All of the long runs are planned and coordinated for you. The routes are planned out, with water and gatorade stops along the way. Each team has two coaches (and alumni coaches who join in here and there) who pop up constantly along the trail to run alongside, check in on you and talk you through all sorts of running strategies.  Four of the long runs are "All-Team" runs, meaning all four teams meet and run together (meaning you don't get very far at all without running into a coach!). And note, these coaches KNOW what they're talking about. In addition to fluids there are all manner of fuel and supplements provided along the way for you to experiment with at the all-teams, and there is always food at the end of the run. You also receive regular emails from your coaches with tips and advice for running strategies, nutrition, injuries, various "what to expects," etc. there was a private Facebook page for team members to encourage each other, post tips, plan parties and social events (yep!), and so on. Plus everyone of course cheers each other on and encourages each other during the runs. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that I cannot imagine doing this on my own after experiencing this incredible level of support. And as for the marathon itself... well, I'll have to write about that in a separate post!

4. Running for a cause, with a group, takes the experience to a whole new level.
Training for a marathon under any circumstances is amazing, but knowing that you are making a real difference by doing it is an entirely different thing. Each week before the long run there are "Mission Moments," when someone shares their story of why they are/who they are running for. As you fundraise you see your amounts and the team's amounts go higher, every dollar another dollar to fight cancer... and you and your new friends did that together!

5. Your involvement doesn't end at the finish line.
Whether you choose to run again the next year or not, you become a TNT alumni. The events and social outings continue after the season. In December alone we chartered a bus to Lincoln Park for Zoo Lights, and had a Christmas Eve morning run and breakfast. Team members train together for other events, or just meet up for a casual run and coffee. And of course, the fight against cancer carries on.

Want to support me in fighting blood cancer, and gain resources for your classroom at the same time? Check out the fundraiser I'm currently running!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Things I Learned Training for My 1st Marathon

Somehow four months have gone by and I still haven't written about the Chicago Marathon! This ends now. I'll break it down into a few shorter posts; I'm more likely to get it done that way :).

Before I started working toward the full marathon, the longest race I had ever run was a 5K (3.1 miles), and the farthest distance I had ever run was about 4 miles.

1. Train with Team in Training
Or another charity that you have a strong connection to, but I'm obviously bias toward my own. The combination of running for a cause and the sheer amount of support you receive makes for a phenomenal experience! I can't imagine what it would have been like to do it on my own. In my next post I'll write about Team specifically.

2. Even if you follow all the rules, you still might get injured.
I suffered from some pretty serious hamstring issues throughout my summer training. Was it caused by overtraining, lack of stretching, inadequate recovery time? No, it was caused by weeding. Weeding, people. Seriously. Pay very close attention to your activities outside of running. Stupid weeds.

3. Having a running buddy is amazing!
Up until my first group run, I had always run alone. Then at the beginning of that first run I started chatting with another lady on the team, and we instantly clicked! Having someone to share all of your stories with over those long miles not only makes the run itself more enjoyable, it is extremely cathartic. Every issue or event you've had on your mind over the course of the week gets worked out on Saturday mornings, and you get to be on the listening end for someone else as well. Great mental health workout!

4. You can never have too much Body Glide.
Chafing. 'Nuff said.

5. You will be absolutely amazed by the number of cheerleaders you have in your life.
Regardless of the number of people you think you have in your social network (real life and otherwise), you will be absolutely floored by the sheer number of people rooting for you. People you see regularly but don't really interact with - people at work, people at church, etc - will come out of the woodwork with their good wishes. It's overwhelming. And then of course there's social media. People who donated to the fundraiser I offered through this blog were so kind with their comments, it was truly heartwarming.