Saturday, June 30, 2012

Always look for the positives in life

Recently, my dad told my sister, "As long as 2 of the 3 things in your life are going well, you're pretty lucky." (My sister claims he stole it from her coach, but I'm giving dad the credit)  Basically, he divides life into three sections: family/friends, profession/education (school or work) and running/athletics.  As long as two of those things are going well, you're living a pretty darn good life.  

This past week, my 3 of 3 became 1 of 3 and I freaked out.  My Achilles flared up just a little, but enough for me to panic.  Every single month this year, something has caused my running to suffer... in May it was the whole banging my knee on the door frame issue and in April it was being sick with bronchitis.  I was pretty pumped that I was 20some days into June and no real issues, but then my Achilles felt funny.  Not bad, just funny.  I took a few days off of running to solve this issue.  However, during this time is when I received two of my "sorry, you didn't get the job, you finished in second place but we only have one job" calls.  So, I was an emotional wreck for a day, until I ran again and realized that I have a pretty darn good life.  Who cares if I don't have a job? I'm working on getting it.  Who cares if I can't run right now? I'm healing my body.  I have fabulous friends and a phenomenal family that love and care about me, what more do I need??

As some of you know, I've been searching a lot for a teaching job.  To date, I've had interviews in 4 different districts (5 technically, but I don't count one for reasons that only family know of).  In 3 of the 4 districts, I have been 2nd place....which is great.  2nd place is always something to be proud of, whether in a job search or in a race, but it's not 1st.  And, unfortunately, in the state of Illinois at least, 1st place is what I need to be.  

Every single phone call where I get the news that some other candidate was selected contains a part where I am asking what I could do better for future interviews.  The principals seem to stumble over this question and each one has told me that there was really not much I could have done differently.  "Maybe provide an example for every single question; I know you did for most, but maybe do it for all instead? I know the teachers like that."  That's most of the feedback that I've received.  The other part of it is that I don't have enough experience, which is frustrating because I can't get more experience if I don't get a job.  

I am very lucky in that the most recent district that I interviewed at has given me some good advice on how I can really WOW everyone for the next time around.  I was even told that if it was solely based on personality and had nothing to do with experience, I would have had the job easily.  Unfortunately, I have to work on making it sound like I am super experienced as I am competing against candidates who have 20+ years of experience.  

So, I've changed around my resume, I've revisited all of the questions that are typically asked and even have written flashcards to quiz myself with the questions (with then the "proper" response on the back as well).  

While teaching is 100% my #1 priority in life right now (yes, even wedding, house and running have taken the back seat to teaching), I do have to remain focused on everything else.  Ryan and I are getting married in 3.5 months, we are hoping to have our housewarming party in 2 months and I may possibly be racing a HUGE race in 3 months (Ryan is for sure; I am only if I do not get a teaching job).

The plus is that if I don't get a full-time teaching job, I will be GOING WITH RYAN TO FRANCE TO REPRESENT THE U.S. IN THE DUATHLON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!

That being said, my focus is currently on building up enough strength and speed to have a great opening 10k so that I can help my US teammates (and myself) get into the lead or chase bike pack.  Doing this will help all of us out in terms of placing high in our race.  The end run is just an all out run, every man/woman for themselves.  My teammates are some of the best duathletes in the U.S. and I feel honored to be racing with them (if, of course, I get there:)). 

If I end up getting a teaching job, the training won't be going to waste as I still plan on doing a fall marathon.  If I do compete in Worlds, then my marathon time might suffer a bit, but that's okay because it's the WORLD FREAKING CHAMPIONSHIPS!!! (although I do still plan on bettering my performance from last fall)

The last thing that I feel that I really need to write about is the car accident on Tuesday.  My summer job is to take kids to practices.  Not just any kids and not just any practices.  I take two 14-year-olds to their Elite Triathlon team practices (and I take a 10-year-old to his sometimes too).  These kids are the next group to get to the level that they are provided scholarships (for school) and the opportunity to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado.  Their former teammates competed for a spot on the Olympic team this year-- how cool is that?  That's how good these kids are.  

Back to Tuesday night... the coach for this team is very good about making sure the kids are safe.  She comes from a swimming background, so when the kids bike in St. Charles, she travels around on car to make sure everything is good.  Well, Tuesday night things weren't good.  I was in charge of riding with the stronger kids (20+mph average for the 38mile loop), which I didn't mind at all:) Well, 8 miles into it, one of the newer kids got a flat tire.  Lucky for me, Ryan taught me how to change a tire the Saturday before Father's Day, so I taught the kid how to change his.  We kept calling the coach (always bring a cell phone when you're biking fyi) to tell her she no longer needed to come look for us as we changed his tire and were heading back in....she never picked up.  We were a little upset until we got back and found out why:  she had been in a car accident. 

She was possibly (no one knows for sure, just the police guessing) looking at her phone (she has an iPhone, so might have been looking at the GPS on it?), rolled into a ditch, was ejected from the front windshield due to not wearing a seatbelt and the car possibly rolled over her.  The result? She broke her pelvis in two places, fractured a vertebrae, lacerated her liver and kidney, had to get a few staples in her head and on her legs, and has road rash pretty much everywhere.  She was airlifted from St. Charles to a hospital in Rockford.  The doctors told her she is so lucky to even be alive.  Thank God she is, because these kids need her.  The parents have stepped up with helping in practices and I am administering workouts now as well, but I really can't emphasize the need to wear seatbelts and ignore your cell phone while driving.  

After this all happened on Tuesday night, I really got to thinking: I am living this incredible life.  I have so many good things in my life, why am I getting upset over a job?  Granted, yes, teaching is my dream job, but still...soooooo many other positive things going on in my life.  Time to stop letting the little things get to me.

*Always look for the positives in life*

PS I'll do a running/biking/swimming recap next was kind of a down week with my Achilles.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Workouts and job search recap

This week has been stressful on multiple levels.  My body was stressed with three workouts this week (yay for getting back into shape) while also starting a new core routine; my brain was stressed preparing for interviews; and my relationships with Ryan and my mom were stressed from me being stressed!

I try not to get too stressed about things and really just believe that everything happens for a reason and that God has a plan for me.  This week, that was really hard to do.  I want more than anything to be back in the classroom, full-time, with my own group of students.  It kills me that I decided to go on a different career path from last June through April, but I needed that to be where I am now.

The job hunt is hard.  It taxes you in so many ways... I don't think I've felt this tired in a long time, and I honestly attribute my tiredness to preparing for interviews (and maybe an increase in mileage and workouts:)).  I mentioned last week that I had second interviews in St. Charles, Barrington and Grayslake.  Well, two have called back.

This morning (while working on our house, actually), I received a call from Barrington... the person who got the job had experience in the same type of position.  This position was a Math Strategist, which is basically a teacher who works with the lower achieving students in bringing them up to par.  My biggest reason for going into teaching has always been to make a difference in my students' lives, so this position would have been perfect.  Unfortunately, I didn't have that "interventionist" type experience that this other candidate did, so didn't get the job.  The principal did say if anything opened up, I'd be sure to get a call, but I do have to realize that is a long shot at this point so that I keep pluggin along.

The principal at the St. Charles school I've been interviewing at is incredible.  From what I've seen in my three interviews, he is everything I could ever want from a principal.  I went to a graduation party this weekend for one of Ryan's cousins, and another cousin's fiance actually used to work for this principal (he was the one who hired her) and she couldn't say enough good things about him.  This just further confirmed that it would be a dream job to get.  Well, I could tell right away when the principal called that I didn't get the job.  He had a rough time kind of getting it out; "I just can't believe I'm calling to tell you this because I feel so so terrible..." last time I didn't get the job, it was because the team leader felt a better connection with the other final candidate (it literally came down to the two of us and the principal and APs couldn't decide)...this time, I finished in 2nd place again, but due to not as much experience. It's nice that I'm not getting jobs due to lack of experience, but still frustrating because it's something I can't do anything about.  I'm just disappointed because it really is a total dream package.  He told me that if anything came up this summer, he'd call right away, so I'm hoping secretly that something does.

The final school (Grayslake) has yet to call, so I know that probably isn't good.  This seemed like such a good fit too because it was JUST like what I came from, teaching in Woodstock for two years. 

On the bright side, I received a call from Cary Junior High today for a screening interview tomorrow.  I am very excited about this because we just moved to Oakwood Hills (basically Cary).  So, prayers thrown my way for tomorrow at 1:40pm would be fabulous.

Onto running... just a few workouts this week...*insert sarcasm*

Tuesday was 400 repeats.  10-12 and I completed 11.  It was a hot day so I wanted to be careful... I could tell I was getting hot with the drop in my times (1:19 to 1:22), so stopped at 11. 

Thursday was one of my favorite tempo workouts: 3mile tempo (3min jog) 2mile tempo (2min jog) 1mile tempo.  Not sure why I like it so much, but I do.  It even felt super easy.  I did this one on the treadmill too since it was still pretty hot/humid and windy out. 

Saturday was my least favorite of the week, partly because I didn't think it'd be as hard as it was.  2minute @3k-5k pace (1min jog) 1minute @3k-5k pace (30sec jog), 30sec @3k-5k pace (30sec jog) and then repeat again 5-6times through.  Luckily, it was overcast on Saturday morning, but the humidity still made my breathing definitely more labored.  I just did 5 sets as I could tell I was tiring, and I've never done this before, so next time I'll do all 6.  Plus, I wanted to give myself enough time to actually make myself look nice for my friend's bridal shower:)

Sunday I ran my longest long run in over two months: 14miles!!! It was the perfect day for it too.  Barely any wind, was nice.

We also did a good amount of housework on Sunday, so it was a pretty good weekend. 

Running is what's really getting me through these interviews.  I don't get too stressed before the interviews, just moreso during the waiting to hear back process.  I'm hoping this is the last week that I have to interview, but I know that everything happens for a reason and I feel like I'll have a great group of kids that I can be a positive influence on and will truly change their lives...when the time is right.  Selfishly, I'm hoping that time is this summer:)

Thanks for all of the thoughts and prayers throughout this past week...if you could keep them coming a little longer, I think I'm getting closer to landing a job and could use all of the help  I can get!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

When it rains, it pours

Boy is that saying true for these past two weeks. (running recap follows)

As many of you know, as crazy and passionate as I am about running, I am even MORE crazy and MORE passionate about teaching.  I've wanted to be a teacher for pretty much my whole life (I pin point it at 3rd grade because that's when I remember really writing things on "what I want to be when I grow up").  Any time I hung out with my friends, we'd inevitably play "school" and I would usually be the teacher.

When I was a freshman in high school, I created a running camp for the middle school students at Lundahl (where I went to middle school) and did this my sophomore year as well.  I tutored students my senior year (through NHS), throughout college and even moreso now that school is over.  I honestly can't get enough of teaching.

I recently left my job where I was a rep for an auto software company.  Basically, I would go around to different car dealerships throughout the US and teach car sales staff how to use my company's software program.  The program helps the salespeople keep track of customers, and helps the managers and higher ups keep track of how their employees (and dealership as a whole) are doing.  Pretty sweet gig, and I ordered a lot of awesome food.

However, when I would do a "seminar," I would always get some variation of, "you should be a teacher."  My response was always along the lines of, "tell the state of Illinois that" (in case you live under a rock, the state of Illinois is pretty much crumbling in every aspect).  Illinois is one of the worst states to want to teach in (Wisconsin and California are the only other two close), and I know many people who have moved out of Illinois to find a teaching job.  It's really sad and frustrating, so when the opportunity arose to take this auto software job, I jumped all over it instead of having another depressing summer where no teaching jobs were available.

Flash forward to last week.  I was fortunate to get an interview in the St. Charles school district.  It's one of the better districts in the state AND the town itself is expanding, which basically means I wouldn't lose my job due to cuts.  It came down to me and another candidate and they just couldn't decide.  Long story short, I didn't get the job, but do have another final interview for that school this week.  The principal and two assistant principals really seem to be on top of EVERYTHING and I really liked them and the school quite a bit.  I also got called back for an interview in Barrington.  Growing up, Barrington was always my "dream district."  I'm honestly not sure why, but it was, so when I got my first interview there, I was ecstatic.  To get a second (final) interview there just made my week.  And finally, I had an interview last week in Grayslake and just really connected with the principal and assistant principal.  Their middle school is VERY similar (demographically) to where I taught for my first two years, so it'd be a great fit.  I met one of my (potential) teammates and two content area mates today and really liked them, too.

SO, if you're reading this, if you could say a quick prayer that one of these opportunities works out, I'd really appreciate it.  My life would truly be complete if I was teaching!

Since I've been preparing quite a bit for these interviews, running has taken a back seat.  I did do a 60mile bike ride with Dad and Nic (brother) for Father's Day and that was fun, but I've only had a few quality workouts during these past two weeks.

After the Batavia Du, I gave myself until Wednesday to recover.  My workout was

4sets of:  200@race pace (200jog), 200@race pace (400jog), 800@race pace (400jog)

If that seems easy, do it.  I don't even mean that in a mean way; I thought it wouldn't be too bad myself, but BOY was I in for a treat.  I'm not sure if it's the 800 or just the speed of the 200s that exhausted me, but that recovery never seemed long enough (which is crazy because I was tempted to cut down all recovery to 200 jog when I first wrote the workout!!!).  In the end, this workout made my butt pretty sore for two days.  Nice.

Saturday, I was able to get in a longer run with some tempo-like miles in the middle.  It was hilly, but I'm glad because I wanted a challenge.  I ran 13 miles and felt pretty good; still out of shape, no doubt, but I've only been back for a few weeks now.

Sunday was the bike ride.  Dad got tripped up in the guy's tire in front of him and took a tumble (I freaked out), but luckily he just has a few "battle wounds" and is alright.  Quite the scare for me.

Tuesday was my next hard workout day: 400s.  I planned 10-12, but it was REALLY hot out.  I jogged over to the track (Naperville North HS just redid their track--heck yes!), drank some water, did some drills and strides, and got started.  My original goal of having all 400s be under 1:20 worked for the first 4, but once I hit 1:22 for the 5th one, I knew the heat was getting to me.  I told myself I would try for the 12, but if my times started to slip more, I needed to be done.  Safety is ALWAYS more important than finishing a workout or race.  I finished 11 and decided to be done as my 10th and 11th were 1:22s.

Tomorrow I have more of a tempo type workout, so hopefully that'll give a good recap.

Stay hydrated, running friends!  I can't stress that enough!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Today confirmed everything.

Today was the Batavia Triathlon/Duathlon.

Ryan and I found out earlier in the week that we made the Worlds Team for Duathlon which takes place on September 22nd in Nancy, France.  The overall winners of Powerman Alabama automatically qualified and the rest of the athletes chosen were resume based.  I thought for sure with all of the girls that beat me (thanks to my lovely slow bike split!!!) would be chosen over me, so I honestly forgot about it.  Until Tuesday when the Worlds team coordinator called me.

At first I was planning on not accepting; if I got a teaching job, there's no way any school would let me take that much time off (two days) and, more importantly, Ryan deserved a spot wayyyy more than I did, so if he didn't make it, then I shouldn't have either.

Luckily, Ryan got a call the next day saying he was chosen as well:)

So.  Here we are.  About 15 weeks out.  Ryan had signed me up for the Batavia Duathlon because he does the Tri and also works the event for PowerBar.  I haven't ridden my bike since I banged my knee (too much pain), so about a month.  Well, I guess all of the time off worked out alright for me because I ended up doing just fine.

The Batavia Duathlon consists of a 2mile run, 14.7mile bike, 4.1mile run.

GOALS: my goals were to go sub 12 for the 2mile run, average 20mph on the bike and be sub 6:20pace for the 4.1mile run (at the time I hadn't calculated what that needed to be for total time). And I wanted to win.

WHAT WENT DOWN: The duathlon had two separate "heats"...presumably a "fast" heat that started right at 6:30am and a "slow" heat that started at 6:35am.  I only say this because of the dramatic difference in how the races started.  Bibs 100-175 were in the "fast" heat, bibs 176+ were in the "slow" heat.  I was bib 191.  A fellow pro duathlete was racing in the "fast" heat and said I should see if I could just start with them (my thoughts exactly as everyone knows it's easier to run a race when someone is pushing you to test your limits).  The race director said I couldn't because of the way they set up the race.  So I literally ran the first 2miles alone, just trying to catch as many people as I could from the first group.

I ran a 12:05 for the 2miles.  Not what I wanted, but for only running 21 days at this point and having one speed session in that 21 days, I'm okay with it.  Plus, I ran it all alone and then had to weave through a few clusters of people on my way back.

For the bike, this is where it got interesting.  Since I had NO idea where I was in terms of place (all of the faster females were in the first group), I knew I had to just hammer it as best as I could on the bike.  I surprisingly did just that.  After struggling to clip in (yes, I seriously struggled), I powered up the first hill and immediately started catching people.  I was pretty pumped.  I decided my new goal (in addition to the 20mph goal) was to not let anyone pass me.  The tricky part in this was that the triathletes were trickling into transition to get their bikes as well....some of these being SUPER fast bikers.  However, with my two goals in mind, I just kept a positive attitude and cruised along.  At one point, I was riding 28.6mph!!! Woo hooo!!! My first 5mile segment, I averaged 20.6mph...nice.  New goal was to stay around 21-22mph for the next 5mile segment...until we went into the wind and up a few "hills"...20.9.  My remaining 4.7miles were over 21mph average, so I ended with a 20.8mph average.  I'll take it.  Oh, and only one person passed me. Two other guys tried to, but as soon as they did, I repassed them without looking back.  The person who did pass me must have been maintaining the same speed the whole time because I consistently saw him the same amount in front of me...and eventually passed him right away on the second run.

The final run went well.  I missed the first mile, but the second mile was a 6:06 (yeah!) and the fourth was a 6:24 (yikes!)...overall average of 6:18.  I'm not sure why, but I was pretty disappointed in that.  I still can't figure out why that doesn't make me happy.

The best part of finishing was printing out my and Ryan's results.  We had both won overall for our races!!!!!

At the awards ceremony, Ryan received a Timex GPS Watch for winning the Tri and I received a Bell helmet (really nice I guess) for being the overall female Duathlete (12th overall).

Even though it was great for us both to have good days, I'm much happier about the fact that we are both HEALTHY finally.  Ryan's back (hurt while jumping on trampolines) and my knee (door issue) are better and we are finally ready to start this season!

Hope everyone who raced today stayed hydrated!!!! That's the most important thing that we all seem to forget about once in "race mode".... enjoy this hot day :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Back and ready for more! Miracle Drug in Tart Cherry Juice

Well...I'm back.  Almost a full month after banging my knee on the metal door frame, I can say that I'm successfully back in action and ready to train again.

Since the Palos 1/2 Marathon, I had tried running a few times (based on Physical Therapist recommendations as to when, what to do in place of running, etc.).  The pain level on a scale of 1-10 had been at 10 for quite awhile... I literally couldn't run from one end of the parking lot to the other without just about bursting into tears.

***SKIP to next starred section to skip my "high pain tolerance" example***
I feel like I have a pretty high pain tolerance:  my freshman year, I told my coach that I thought I might have something more than shin splints; I had shin splints all throughout my senior year in high school, but this was more painful so I knew it couldn't just simply be shin splints.  My coach promised me that it was, and that was that.  Well, I had been telling my parents how bad it was getting--I couldn't put a BEDSHEET over my legs because it hurt my shin.  Yeah.  Unbeknownst to me, my dad emailed my coach telling him that he thought I had a stress fracture.  A week before Cross Country Regionals, my coach talked with me and was disappointed that my dad told him the pain I was in despite him (coach) assuring me it was only shin splints.  He said I would have to sit out of the Regional meet to kind of make up for it, but that yes, he would let me get an x-ray.

I had never really been to a hospital before besides to see my sister after she was born and my dad after knee surgeries, so being in a hospital was weird for me.  Truthfully, I didn't even know what a stress fracture was.  I had heard people talk about them and knew they were injuries but I didn't really understand what they were.  Well, I was about to find out.

The radiologist put the x-ray on that bright white screen and pointed to a spot on my fibula.  "How long have you been running on your hurt shin?" he asked me.  I told him about a month or two, but it's probably just shin splints.  "Well, I'd say if you had run on it for a week or two longer, you would have broken your bone."  Umm, what?  I almost broke my bone?  I asked him what this meant for me...was my season over? Would I be able to run track?  I have to run so that I can maintain my full scholarship here, buddy--my parents have two more kids to put through college and if I'm not going to school for free, it's gonna be an expensive next few years for my parents.

All of those thoughts came racing through my head, some out of my mouth as well.  The radiologist brought in my assistant coach (who was the person who had recruited me, not my coach who wrote my specific workouts).  On the car ride back to campus, my assistant coach told me that I might still have hope for outdoor track, but that he was sure I'd be redshirting indoor.  I was okay with this as it still meant my scholarship was safe.  However, my parents and I had a long talk over Winter Break (they were pretty mad that I almost broke a bone to say the least) and I ended up transferring schools.  I continued to get stress fractures throughout college until my now fiance started coaching me.  College running just wasn't for me.

***So, that is why I believe I have a high pain tolerance....although I'm sure I'll feel differently after I experience child birth (not for a few years!!!).

To have the pain be an immediate 10 was pretty devastating to me.  Yes, I picked up swimming and was working out with one of my best friends now because I wasn't running, but I selfishly just wanted to be able to run.  Finally, the Monday before Memorial Day I ran and gave the pain a 2.  My PT said to run on the treadmill the next day (the reason for the 2 instead of 0 was because I felt my knee a little on the downhill).  Well, that got the 2 to a 4, so in frustration I decided I would take a few more days off.

Enter Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.  I actually felt good until I stopped running...that's when the pain sensation kind of hit me.  I was telling Ryan's Aunt Kathy about it, specifically how it almost felt like it would get "stiff" right away.  She told me about her Uncle who had real bad arthritis and no medicine helped.  He started taking Tart Cherry Juice (stopped taking his meds) and is pain free.  She said she told her daughter's teammate, recovering from an ACL surgery, to try it...same effect, no pain.  I figured what the heck and bought some ($9.99 at Meijer).

MIRACLE DRUG??? Heck yes.

I ran 6 pain free miles on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  Shoot, I even did a pain free workout on Wednesday.  Directions are to take a shot in the morning and a shot at night.  No joke, I didn't take my shot on Friday night and felt a teeny tiny reminder of my former knee pain on Saturday morning's run.  Crazy how good this stuff works.

I am so ready to take on the Batavia Duathlon this coming Sunday.  I have been feeling GREAT and can't wait to have a real race to look forward to!

Congrats to everyone who PR'd and/or had a great race at Roselle Run for the Roses.  What an impressive group!!!