Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dancing with the staff

At my school we have an event called Dancing with the Staff.  Modeled after Dancing with the Stars, it involves students teaming up with teachers and dancing to different songs.  One of my students actually asked me to participate, and for some reason I said yes.  I'm not very good at dancing, you see.

Here is me in my classroom today practicing the routine:

Yes, I am supposed to be wearing 80's sunglasses.

Even worse, the song we are dancing to is some crazy pumped up German club song (which would explain the fist pumping going on in the picture).  It is all I can do to keep up with the dance moves my student has choreographed.

Here is the song, if you're curious/want to start your own fist pumping party with your friend Hans:

The show is this Wednesday in the school auditorium.  Stevie is coming and bringing several friends.  Nah, no pressure or anything.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Master of the Pizza

I was at it again tonight:

I made a chicken pesto pizza tonight from scratch.

  • dough made from half wheat, half white flour.
  • cheese: parmesan, mozzarella, gouda and colby-jack.
  • chicken coated with salt and pepper, cooked then shredded.
  • onions.
  • roma tomatoes.
  • pesto as sauce.

It wasn't quite as good as the barbecue chicken pizza I made awhile back, but this was certainly close.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Movie Monday: elite stair racing

Article from The New York Times last week about stair racing:

There is actually a community of elite level stair racers out there.  With little prize money to be had, though, they spend a lot of their own money to fly around the world and race up the world's tallest buildings.

There is still so much that falls under the general umbrella of running that I fail to understand.

And here is a video from last year's Empire State Building Run Up to give you an idea of what it's like:

Friday, January 25, 2013

100 days of riding my bike: update

All three of my readers may recall that last October a teacher bet me that I couldn't ride my bike to school 100 days this school year.

I am at 58 days and counting.

I should be one six-pack richer by April.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A bad day for running minimalists

If you know me, you may know I don't go in for trends.  It's why I will never go on a Paleo diet or be seen planking on a fire hydrant, or join Twitter, and it's why I have no regrets the year the macarena came out.

And don't get me started on Vibram Five Fingers and the importance runners today place on avoiding a heel-strike running form.  As I've said before, if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it.  With so serious injuries to date, I'll continue heel-striking away.

If you're new to the debate, here is a brief intro: When wearing a shoe, a runner's foot tends to land on the heel, roll forward and push off from the toes.  People have come to blame modern running shoes for this change in running form as we tend to land on the middle to the front of our feet when barefoot.  Our ancestors had neither the fancy shoes we have now, nor the injuries that plague runners nowadays. The running shoe must be to blame, and so an industry was born.

Here's an article from the New York Times today that cites a study in which that very wisdom is contradicted.  Apparently there is a tribe of distance runners in Kenya that are primarily heel-strikers.  In addition, a study conducted at the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon found 94% of runners were heel-strikers.

The jury is still out on this one, it seems, and in the meantime I'll just keep doing what works for me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Teaching is like running a marathon

Speaking of teaching, I came into school today to find this in my mailbox:

It's a flier that advertises pre-made, movie-based lesson plans for teachers to buy and use when they need a break.  Stressed out from teaching?  Pop in a movie and relax!   While watching thousands of sweating, cursing, defatigable runners in the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon, Judy Sugarman thought to herself, "huh, teaching is kind of like this."  Nevermind that she has probably never run a marathon herself; a marketing tagline was born.

"Once the race begins (and some of us would call it a rat race), we don't have time to catch our breath... You have little or no time for yourself and your family."

Having run 9 marathons and with a few years of teaching under my belt, it got me thinking how alike the two activities actually are.  Training for a marathon can be physically exhausting, naturally, which coupled with the loss of one's free time, can lead to mental and emotional exhaustion.  One will certainly find the latter in teaching, but I wouldn't call it physically demanding.

During marathon training, you have an out.  Don't like it?  Hurt yourself?  Can't deal?  Drop out.  You will suffer a bruised ego and maybe lose money if you've already registered, but that's about it.  Quitting a job or profession is much harder.  Don't like it?  Oh well, any number of circumstances may prevent you from moving on.

Marathon training, and the marathon itself, are singular activities.  But teaching is a community of influences and annoyances and rewards and incentives from the size of my classroom to the entire nation.  How well I run my marathon may not determine the fate of America, though some politicians will make the same comparisons with my teaching, my school and my coworkers.

Perhaps it would have been more apt to say "teaching is like training for a marathon." Because it's in the training period when dedication and obsession bleed into other areas of life and threaten to take over.  That's kind of how I felt last Monday.

Marathon training.  Teaching.  In the end they are both long roads with excruciating highs and lows, where reward is neither a right nor a certainty, and shortcuts only making it longer.

Monday, January 21, 2013

On angry running

For those of you who like to bitch about how teachers get summers off, may I kindly remind you of the work we put in during the school year.

I have the day off of school today, but I've spent the majority of it at the kitchen table grading tests and papers.  The end of the marking period coupled with midterms has made me struggle to keep up.

Getting stuff done at the kitchen table next to a giant mural of the world

I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for this gig, so I won't complain too much, but it doesn't make days like today any less miserable.

So I went for an angry run tonight.  Four miles in the freezing cold darkness turned into something of a tempo run.  It was nice to get outside for a bit and feel the pain of the cold and to get my mind off of work for awhile.

Now excuse me while I go look up margarita recipes for this summer...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Time for the Tough Mudder

Time Magazine, proving to be a bit slow on the uptake, has an article in this week's issue claiming that "obstacle-course racing is taking off."  Really, Time Magazine?  What is it, 2011?  Mudruns exploded ages ago and you're just now writing about it?

I only have two mudruns to my name, but hope to tackle a Tough Mudder this June.  The very first Tough Mudder was a mere two hours from me, but I didn't hear about it until afterwards.  The next few times it rolled around it kept selling out before I had a chance to register.  Which means I should probably register soon...

The article also describes the cult-like following that Tough Mudder enjoys.  Will it truly live up to the hype?  We shall see...

In the meantime, here's a link to the video about the author's Tough Mudder experience.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Learning how to use the Garmin

I've taken the Garmin out for a spin a few times.  I need to dedicate some time to the instruction manual because right now all I can get it to do is record my time, distance and pace on this basic screen.

Went out for an easy 5k this morning and enjoyed being able to see exactly how many miles I run.  It'll be nice to not be dependent on a specific, pre-designed running route to hit the day's miles anymore, or to have to estimate the miles run based on my time.  Now if I want to run a five miler I can just go run wherever I want and know exactly when I'm finished.

And hopefully I'll be adding fun charts and graphs to the blog soon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


People used to make resolutions this time of year, but most scoff at them now on account of how few people keep them.

I remember my new year's resolution for 2005.  It was the über-clichéd "I'm going to get fit" resolution that leads most people into ridiculous gym contracts.  I was annoyed with myself over a five year lapse in fitness and decided to reclaim the athletic ability and accompanying body I'd had in high school.  So I buckled down and 11 months later I ran my first marathon.

I like the idea of resolutions because I like the idea of self improvement.  I try not to beat myself up if I don't follow through, and in the meantime I like giving myself specific things to focus on.  

I also like the idea of creating inspiration from within.  In this day and age inspiration is everywhere, but instead of getting caught up in false prophets of inspiration, just be your own inspiration.  I think it's fine to draw inspiration from others, but in the end I want to be amazed at the feats I accomplish and let them fuel future successes.

With that said, here are my resolutions for 2013:
  • Read more.
  • Write more.  Not just on this blog, but in my journal and stories/plays/novels.
  • Keep up the fitness.
  • Make a serious effort at Boston this fall.  No half assing.
  • Run a Tough Mudder.
  • Consistently work on my relationship and future marriage with Stevie.
  • Be my own inspiration.
Happy New Year, folks, and here's to reaching our goals in 2013.
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