Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 recap

2013 was easily one of the best years of my life.

In February, together with one of my students, I won a charity dance competition at my high school for which we'd been rehearsing for months.

April was an action-packed month.  Over three days of spring break, I completed a 50 mile trail through the Pine Barrens of NJ.

I also won a long term bet with a co-worker about riding my bike to school for 100 days out of the year.

At the end of April, months of planning came together for Stevie's and my wedding at Camp Ockanickon.  Friends and family came from far and wide for an unforgettable weekend of campfires, capture-the-flag, running in the woods, dancing, plenty of drinking, and of course a gorgeous outdoor ceremony led by my uncle.

Directly after the ceremony on Chapel Island.

June was another epic month.  I ran my first Tough Mudder, two half marathons on consecutive weekends, and my first 10k trail run.

Like the wedding, months of planning came together when I then chaperoned a group of students for the first time, taking seven of them on a ten day trip to Germany which I designed and organized myself.  We visited Berlin and Munich, stayed in youth hostels, visited more museums than you can count, and sampled the culinary delights of the Vaterland at all turns.

With my students at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

In July Stevie and I headed west for our honeymoon: Alaska and the Yukon Territory.  We spent time on a cruise ship, and on buses and trains taking in the scenery and imbibing at every brewery available.

In August my sister and her family flew in from Minnesota and spent time with us in Ocean City, NJ.  Together with my stepsister and her family, and my dad and stepmother, we spent a week at a beach house together.

Using my nephew Oliver for strength training at the Jersey Shore

In September Stevie gave me an introductory flying lesson for my 32nd birthday, and in November I flew a plane for the first time.

My focus for the majority of the fall was on the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon and attempting to qualify for Boston.  I threw myself headlong into a training regimen I made up myself.  With amazing support from Stevie, I managed to balance starting my third year of teaching with the rigors of training, and prevailed with a time of 3:03:05 in November.

December brought with it more changes and projects that will carry over into 2014, such as a roadtrip with Stevie during spring break, a year long documentary that I began filming over Christmas, the setting of some very ambitious running goals, and the decision to move out of our current apartment this summer.

As cheesy and clich├ęd as year-end recaps can be, I like them because they give me an excuse to reflect and remember just how blessed I truly am.

I have no doubt that 2014 will be even bigger than 2013.  Here's to it.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014 running goals and resolutions

1. Run 2,014 miles.  Seems like a good number for 2014.

2. Make more running friends.  This will probably mean joining the South Jersey Athletic Club and going to more of their events.

3. Run a Tough Mudder with friends.  Not having friends that are into running means doing a lot of races alone.  I did a Tough Mudder last year alone, which wasn't terrible, but I think it could be fun working through it as a team with friends.

4. Run a spring marathon.  As yet undecided, but probably somewhere on the east coast in March or April.

5. Run my first ultra.  Specifically, the Dirty German Endurance Fest on May 18th.  I am a German teacher so this makes perfect sense.  I plan on doing the 50 miler that day.  Go big or go home, yes?

6. Run across the state of NJ.  I mentioned this last year, but I want to make it happen this year.  I plan to start at the Delaware River and finish at the Atlantic Ocean.  It is roughly 50 - 60 miles, so this seems doable.  I plan to buy a Camelback and throw my iPhone and a credit card in it and just go.

7. Run a sub 3:00 marathon.  This will probably be my toughest goal of the year and I'm not thoroughly convinced it will happen.  Of course, I said that about the BQ, didn't I?

8. Run a beer mile.  4 laps around a track.  4 beers.  I can't wait for this one.  

9. Complete my first triathlon.  I've been saying this one for years.  It's been an official entry on my bucket list since I wrote it in 2007.  It's time to finally make it happen.

10. PR my half marathon time.  I will probably target the Rock n' Roll Half in September for this one, and will run a lot more halfs throughout the year in preparation.

11. Streak 2014.  Nudity optional.

2014 is going to be one hell of a year, in ways you or I can't even imagine yet.


And don't forget, if you're interested in a free running book, click here and leave a comment.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Give Away - Going Long: Legends, Oddballs, Comebacks and Adventures; The Best Stories From Runner's World

I don't typically do give aways.  In fact, I've only ever done one, which was about two years ago when I got a copy of Born to Run for Christmas.  I already owned an autographed copy, and decided to give away the second copy to a reader of my blog.

In the spirit of the holidays, I want to do the same thing this year by giving away this book:

Like it says on the cover, it's a collection of stories from over the years in Runner's World. Some I'd read in the magazine, some were new to me, but almost all were fascinating, inspirational and wonderfully written.

Please know this is not some lame attempt to garner more readers or pageviews or whatever. I simply want to give back while sharing my love of reading and running, and hope this book and its stories will inspire you like it has me.

Just like last time, in order to enter this give away you do not need to like my facebook page or retweet my inane tweets or any of the other hoops other bloggers make you jump through.  All you have to do is leave me a comment on this post telling me your 2014 running goals and resolutions, and a way to contact you.

I'll write a post in the next day or two detailing my own 2014 running goals.  Let's just say it's going to be an epic year.

The give away will end one week from today on Friday January 3rd.  I'll draw a name from a hat, and then send one reader the book.  I'll even pay for shipping and handling myself.  Good luck, and thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Streak Day #29

Welcome to my roof.

Yes, I'm still streaking.  Day 29 today since Thanksgiving.  1.5 miles around Knight Park.

There have been days when the last thing I wanted to do was go out and run, even if only for a mile, but for the most part it hasn't been terrible.

For now, I'm planning to streak all of 2014.  So, once I start bumping up the mileage again, it may be a different story.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Christmas Eve gets a little hectic between racing around between NJ and PA and various friend's and family's houses and church.  On Christmas day, however, we go ten minutes down the road to my dad's house for the day.

I build and maintain the fire all day, we skype with my sister and her family in Minnesota, we eat a lot, and then we go to the neighbors' Christmas party at night.  This year I also played a game of Settlers of Catan with my uncle, which Stevie got me this year.

And speaking of Christmas gifts, I got the following from my sister:

"I thought they said rum" medal and race bib hanger!

From my family to yours, merry Christmas!

Uncle Gary, Stevie, me Grandmother, Dad, Debbie

Friday, December 20, 2013

Santa Claus is comin' to town...

Our final day before break was today.  Half day at school which included a holiday assembly. Various student singing and music groups performed, and then the teachers hijacked the assembly in a surprise flashmob.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Run Lola Run Ultra

A few months ago, a Philadelphia writer studied the film Rocky II, specifically Rocky's training montage, and deduced that he had run 30.61 miles en route from his home in South Philly to the iconic steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum.

It didn't take long for someone else to organize an actual ultramarathon to mimic the same path through Philadelphia.

Sadly, I missed the inaugural run, but may take part if there is a second edition next year.

This week in my German II class, we've been focusing on another film that features a lot of running:

Our current chapter focuses on German movies and music, and I'm trying to supplement the chapter with film clips and songs from German bands I like.  We dissect the lyrics or the words from a scene, we talk about how and why subtitles may vary from what is actually spoken, and the impact of movies and music on both German and American culture.  I encourage them to find things they like on their own, because I myself have learned a lot of German simply from finding something I like and watching/listening to it over and over.

Anyway, watching this movie, and having lived in Berlin where the movie is set, got me thinking about the actual route that Lola runs through Berlin.  The film does not have nearly the cultural impact on Berlin that Rocky holds over Philadelphia, and given the film's structure, her route is a bit more fractured than a simple A to B path.

But it sure does have me curious.  Using landmarks and street signs from the movie, could a similar race be constructed around the city of Berlin?

"Lola Ultra," anyone?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Marathon photos

I was hoping to buy at least one of my race photos, if not the whole lot of them, from the marathon last month to commemorate such an amazing race.  But to be honest, I wasn't crazy at how they came out and didn't think much more about them.

Just before crossing the finish line, I had to work my way around a girl whose two friends had jumped in to cross the finish line with her.  To the best of my knowledge, this is a huge faux pas in the running world, especially with bigger races.  If you did not run the race, you do not cross the finish line.

So I swerved to the left, just behind a guy who then took up all the space in my pictures from another angle:

And then there's this picture from mile 13:

Funny, yes, but worth spending $40?  Probably not.

And finally, here is one that I screen capped from a brief video Amy took of me in the final push to the finish:

I like this one the best, and if it was higher quality I would simply blow it up and frame this one.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

On a Tuesday night in December...

Stevie: What do you want to do tonight?
Me: Take ridiculous pictures of me cooking dinner while still in my work clothes, duh.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Movie Monday: 2013 Philadelphia Marathon

I enjoy average runners' marathon videos, especially of Philadelphia races.  Here's one I found that details this year's marathon.  A brief recap of Liz Corkum's PR race, set to some knee-slapping banjo music.  Pour yourself a moonshine and give this one your time:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday coffee date

I really like New Jersey

Let's catch up, shall we?

  • It's Sunday morning and I already have a case of the Sunday teacher blues.  I have a lot of school stuff to take care of today/this week.
  • The sweats I'm wearing in the picture?  I pretty much live in them all winter.
  • I'm still streaking.  Not sure what day it is today.  Normally I keep in the 1-2 mile range.  Today I hit 3.5.  I'm gearing up for a big 2014, so it's nice to be taking it easy for now (inasmuch as running every single day can be considered taking it easy).
  • There was another holiday party last night, this one for a Shakespeare company I used to work with years ago.  I've consumed ridiculous amounts of food this weekend.
  • Speaking of Shakespeare, I haven't acted in a show in over two years now.  A theater where I have a lot of experience is holding auditions tonight for "As You Like It," but I decided to skip it because, like I said, 2014 is going to be a big running year and I'm not quite ready to sacrifice running for the theater just yet.
  • In January I'm going to a conference in New York for German teachers all across the country.  It's going to focus on using technology to incorporate authentic resources in the classroom.  It's all expenses paid and Stevie is going to come with me.  I have to create and submit a powerpoint by December 29th, which is no fun.
  • I just bought a copy of Why We Run by Bernd Heinrich, which I'm enjoying so far.
  • I'm sitting on the couch, our Christmas tree is up, and our electric fireplace is on.  It's very cozy in here.
  • I don't watch a lot of tv but I am very excited for season 3 of "Sherlock."

Saturday, December 14, 2013

School party

Went to my school's holiday party last night.  At some point everyone in the kitchen began a spirited debate about whether or not the woman on this beer bottle is actually a size D:

It lasted a solid 30 minutes.

Sometimes I really love my co workers.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Movie Monday: Why we run

Here's a short video on Bernd Heinrich, an ultramarathoner and biologist who lives in the woods of western Maine.  Heinrich is also the author of the 2002 book "Why We Run," in which he blends the science of running with his own anecdotes of a life spent on the trail.

I will never get tired of videos like this that manage to capture the beauty and simplicity of running.  Enjoy.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Streak Day #11

Started running around 11am and was immediately caught in a snow storm.  I ran by the Cooper River and couldn't see past the white to the other side.  The snow kept getting in my eyes while running.  By the time the snow finished this afternoon, there was about half a foot on the ground.  Glad I got my run in while I could.

I ran 4.5 miles today, the longest since the marathon exactly three weeks ago.  Can't believe it's only been three weeks.  Feels like worlds ago.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Streak Day #10

Ran 3.5 miles, partially along the Cooper River this morning.  Haven't gone above 3.5 since the marathon.

When I got home, Santa was standing outside of the garden center near our apartment advertising the Christmas trees.  So I asked if I could get a picture with him.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Breakfast sandwich of champions

I had intended to post much more about the food I eat during training this past fall, but it just never happened.  I've mentioned plenty of times how training and eating must go hand in hand, so I find it very interesting to see what other runners are eating.  As mentioned, I cook and juice a lot, and here is one of the staples of my training this past fall.

Introducing the greatest breakfast sandwich known to man:

  • Two slices rye toast.
  • Two slices tomato.
  • Half an avocado, spread onto toast like butter.
  • Two slices pepperjack cheese.
  • Two pieces turkey bacon.
  • Two fried eggs.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Cut diagonally.  Always.

I'd say I ate this sandwich at least every other day during training.  Together with a banana and fresh juice, it held off hunger until after my afternoon run.  

I still haven't grown tired of it yet and just made one this morning.  This sandwich is delicious in a way that I can't do justice with words.  You'll have to make it and try it yourself.  You're welcome.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Movie Monday: The Runners

Here's an 11 minute documentary in which two guys interview runners in a local park.  In the middle of a run, the runners ostensibly let their guard down and give answers that are stunning in their poignancy, honesty and clarity.  It brilliantly intertwines running and life, reminding us of the important things in life, which don't necessarily have anything to do with running.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Streak Day #4

Ran for 3 miles this afternoon, then joined Stevie for a late night 1.5 mile run just before bed.

I love living on the main street of our town.  It's all lit up at night for the holidays and makes for a nice, short run.
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