August 18, 2012

Back to School

I started back to school this week, but students don't start until Monday. That first week back after summer break is always a shock. Many people often ask me how I fit marathon training into my schedule as a teacher/coach. Here is a little sample:

Wake up at 3:25 a.m.
Out the door for run by 4:00 a.m.
Return, shower, etc. and out the door for school by 6:30.
Teach, teach, teach, teach until 3:20 p.m.
Cross Country practice with high schoolers 3:45-5:15ish.
Home, dinner, shower, school work, collapse into bed.

Tuesday and Thursday nights, I run with the club. Those are my "double run" days. I realize that I COULD run in the evenings after cross country practice, but honestly, I don't have near the energy in the afternoon. Plus, I have a finicky stomach that works a lot better when it's empty. I do run easy with the kids when they have easy runs; if they have workouts, I time, encourage, etc. Things get dicey when we have weeknight meets or PTO. (I'm the PTO teacher liaison for my school.)
Update on my class...

Last year I had a very special group of demons darlings. I've blogged about that situation before, and I'm so relieved to have a much smaller and (by reputation) nicer group of children this year. I also have the inclusion class. For non-educators, this has to do with mainstreaming. In the past 10 years, most schools in the country have turned to a partial or full inclusion policy for special education students. This means they are no longer in a separate or "special" class. However, IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) are still honored with an aide, special education teacher, or general education teacher modifying or accommodating the curriculum. I have 9 students with special needs in my class this year. Two require individual full time aides, and for the others a special education teacher will be co-teaching with me for 2 hours a day. Meaning, I could have as many as 4 adults in the room at one time. Their "labels" (I'm really sorry for the use of that word; I hate it, but it is commonly used in education. These are children, not packages of meat!) vary- Downs Syndrome, Aspergers, mental retardation, Oppositional Defiance, and general learning disabled (some delayed development). On top of that, I have 11 average functioning children for a classroom of 20.

I know this year is going to be extremely challenging for me. I've already had to make a lot of accommodations to the set up of my classroom to meet the needs of all the students. It's going to take a lot more flexibility in lesson planning and the teaching of lessons than in years past. I do love teaching special education children, though. While you have many days that make you want to beat your head against the wall, there are just as many days where you watch "regular" students learn compassion and watch them become leaders and helpers. There will be the day that I've taught the same skill to a child with MR 500 times and he FINALLY gets it. More importantly, the smile and confidence that accompanies that skill. It's a greater challenge than a "regular" classroom, but the rewards are greater, as well.

And my training:
So, the marathon is less than 8 weeks away. I'm kind of on the fence with my confidence level. I've been successful with the new workouts this training cycle. I feel that my body has definitely been challenged, but I've been able to handle the workload without getting injured or too beat up. That gives me a lot of confidence.

BUT... I have raced like crap. I know I haven't been training for 5Ks or 2 mile races, but a non-sucky race here and there wouldn't hurt. I also don't have the mileage base going into this marathon as I've had in the past. In the past, I've peaked right at 100 mpw. This time will be 80s? I put a question mark with that b/c while I've been following coach's workouts to a "T", I've been a adding a LITTLE bit of mileage in the form of doubles or a couple miles here and there. I also don't look too far ahead at my Training Peaks calendar. Still, though...

Time will tell, I suppose. Here some key workouts I've done recently that I feel fairly good about.

*6 x 1000s with an average of 3:41
*16 mile progression run 7:45 working down to MP
*18 mile run with last 4 at 6:43
*And a mini RR...
  The 2 mile record for my age in AL is 11:58. If you notice, last spring I ran 11:53. The problem was that the race was measured with a wheel, but fees were not paid to have it certified. Booo. So, Tues. night our club had their local summer picnic with 2 mile race. It IS a certified course, but rarely can anyone PR b/c of the weather. I still had my hopes and went out and hit the first mile 5:56. Then I suffered. 6:10 to finish in 12:06. Normally, I would kind of upset about this, but that's faster than last year, indicating PROGRESS! Well, b/c a 2 mile race is not enough of a workout, I had 10 minutes of on/offs to do AFTER the race. Yep, I am a masochist (and so is my coach).

While the above workouts don't look like anything spectacular, I want all of you to imagine something for me. You are about to go running and you stop by your coat closet and pick out your heaviest coat. You put it under running water until it is fully saturated. Then you put it on and run in it during 80 degree temps. THAT, my friends, is what Gulf Coast heat and humidity feels like. My temps are always in the 80s (even when it's dark) and humidity is above 90% at 4 a.m. In fact, this morning we had a cold spell. It was 77. So... yeah, I feel like I did something in those workouts. :)

Onward and upward!


  1. Wow, some really impressive things going on with your training! And what dedication. I can't imagine getting up that early. As a teacher, I felt like it was early enough that I had to get up to be at school by 7:00...there was NO way I was getting up any earlier than I already was. I've never been able to perform well in the mornings when it comes to training. Although, I do know how exhausted I was at the end of a teacher day with regular ed kids, so I can imagine how exhausted you must be after a day with so many special needs and then coaching! Super woman!!

  2. You take twi showers a day? Couldnt you forego the one in the evening? That sounds exhausting! Your class makeup sounds challneging but it sounds like you are up to it. Thanks for explaining the inclusion thing. I work in the education industry and knew about this, but didnt understand how it really played out.

  3. Hi, Elizabeth!
    Keep in mind, inclusion is done differently in each state. I think that's the main idea in all states, though. Also, I MIGHT could forgo the other shower in the winter, but NOT in the summer. It's close to 100* in the afternoon here, right in time for loading children into cars and buses and for XC practice. There's no way I can get into bed that sweaty. It's so bad here that we basically start sweating the moment we walk outside. Haha.:)

  4. Woman of steel-I agree with Amanda there! I so admire your dedication and discipline. You are providing a great example to those athletes and students: you want something-go get it, even if it isn't easy.

    And 77 degrees?! unfair ;)

  5. Anonymous8/19/2012

    I just have to say -- I love reading the tidbits of teaching and coaching experiences you share here.

    The 3:25am wakeup is some true blue commitment! Your level of motivation is such a good kick in the rear for me. I don't know how people run in the south in the summer at all. I think I'd just become a swimmer...

  6. Would love a bit of heat, our winter just doesn't want to end and the week ahead is rain rain rain... and I'm also training for a marathon, so I might try and get up at 05h00. Not easy when the bed is warm and it's dark cold and wet outside!!!

    Nice set of 1000's.

  7. I am super impressed. No more complaining from me when my alarm OCCASIONALLY goes off before 5am. 3:25?! Wow.

    Don't worry too much about those short races. The fitness necessary for a 5k is totally different than fitness for a marathon. It sounds like you have had many confidence-inducing workouts. Don't forget about those. Remember, the mental component of racing is almost as (or maybe even more) important than the physical component. You CAN do it!

    Do you have any half marathons coming up? I like that distance as a fitness test for full marathons.

  8. You are a rockstar! I am there with you with the getting up early, and with the stomach working much better when empty.

    Awesome workouts this week!! You have some big PR's coming. :) And doing what you are doing in that heat and humidity is going to pay you back HUGE when it cools off and you are flying.

    Good luck with the class this year. I hope it is an easier year for you than last year. My Noah will be high level special needs when he goes to elementary school and I so hope he has a teacher that appreciates him for who he is and what he CAN do and can add to a class and not just see his challenges. I am sure you will be GREAT for all of your students.

  9. Wow!! I have NO idea how you do it! Are you drinking mad cups of coffee??!! ;) rockstar!!