SOL Day 21: Runner’s High

I have a love/hate relationship with running.

I love the feeling I get when I am done. I hate the feeling I have when I start, before my breathing settles into a steady pace. 

I love the knowledge that I am working toward something – a race, fitness, or just the miles. I hate the knowledge that I could injury myself if I don’t follow the right steps. 

One thing that I really love though is the feeling of accomplishment that I have after my run. I finished an 8 mile run this morning, and it may have been the slowest pace I’ve possibly ever run. However, I am still feeling that inexplicable runner’s high. I was pretty sore when I finished (and for about an hour or two afterward), but now I’m reaping the benefits. I feel good about my run. 

This week, I am staying at my in-laws’ place in Florida, and their neighborhood happens to be right across the street from the University of North Florida. Perfect, I thought, as I started planning this run last week. A college campus, hopefully full of young runners, that I can just meander around and observe as I complete my long run on this Saturday. 

It worked out really well. The campus is beautiful, with lots of trees and trails to look at and explore. I mainly stuck to the roads as I plodded along, listening the NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour and This American Life podcasts.

Podcasts are great running companions because they take your mind off of your body and let you settle in for some storytelling. These two are my go-tos, and they usually don’t disappoint. 

The point is, running makes me feel good. I don’t look like a typical runner and I don’t care though because I know I can do it. I might not be as fast as my cousins or my siblings, but I’m doing it, and that’s enough for me. Running has helped me to focus more on what my body can do, rather than what it looks like. 

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SOL Day 12: Refresh

Even though I had to scrape ice off of my car this morning, today turned out to be a beautiful day.

School went pretty well – I was tired, but my students were mostly on task, and that’s a feat, considering today was our last day of regular classes before Spring Break. Only my first period class was a little crazy, but that’s to be expected.

What I was really looking forward to all day was my run after school. The weather was projected to be pretty nice – mid-fifties, partly cloudy – and I had nothing else going on this afternoon except for my run. That in itself was a fantastic feeling.

Last fall, when I was training for my first half marathon, I had a four-mile loop that I would run around my school. It’s a great path that weaves its way around my town of Dublin, Ohio. It’s been months since I’ve had the chance to run this route, and I missed it.

When I started running, I felt like I was settling in with an old friend. It felt so refreshing to know where I was going, where my feet would take me, but it all felt new again since it had been so long.

The first mile was easy (a lot of downhill), but the second mile was a little tough (more uphill and long stretches of sidewalk). I was ready to break for a walk after I rounded into mile three, but I kept pushing, focused on my breathing, and kept running. I hit a second wind, straightened my shoulders, and finished strong.

I love running when it feels like this, and I’m so glad that my run today left me feeling refreshed like I had hoped it would. I’ve been so tired of running inside on the treadmill, and being able to enjoy the first signs of Spring really brought back that familiar swell in my heart when I think of running.

I have seven weeks left until my next half marathon, and now when I feel like I am in a rut, I can remember today’s run. A little slower than I’d like, but that’s okay. I enjoyed it, and it made me feel amazing.

 

SOL Day 3: Running

The past couple of weeks have been incredibly stressful with PARCC testing and snow days that have thrown off my teaching schedule. Stress at school has crept into every corner of my life, and one of the corners it had infiltrated is my motivation to run.

In October, I ran the Columbus Half Marathon, which was the first time I had ever participated in a half marathon. I trained for months beforehand, and even though it was tough, I was able to complete it. I am so proud of that accomplishment, and it motivated me to sign up for another.

In May, I will be running The Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio. My brother, sister, cousin, and I will all be running this race, so I have a fantastic support group as I train. I’m nervous for this one though because the hills are legendary – and mountainous.

The race is exactly two months from today, and I am about a third of the way through my training. I am following a 14-week training plan (the same one that I did for my October race), but this time around it feels so much harder because most of my running so far has been inside.

One of my favorite parts about long runs (5+ miles) is coming up with a new and exciting route. When I run on the treadmill at the gym, I get bored. I usually listen to podcasts, but sometimes they just don’t do it for me. The monotony of the treadmill makes the run seem twice as long.

Today I had a great podcast ready (NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour was talking about Parks & Rec – one of my favorite shows), so I thought I would be golden as I started my three miles.

The first mile was fine, but after that, my limbs started to feel heavy. I felt sluggish, like my body was being weighed down with every step I took. My friends from PCHH helped nudge me along with their entertaining wit, but I was struggling.

When I hit mile two, I wanted to give up. Why was I doing this to myself? It’s too hard. I even lowered my running speed from 5.7 to 5.6 (not big drop, but it helped). I told myself I couldn’t finish. Unfortunately, I have been having these thoughts a little too often for my liking lately.

But I kept going.

I didn’t stop running, and when I finally hit three miles, I was glad I could slow to a walk. I finished listening to the podcast while walking, easing myself out of that rough run.

In the end, I finished the run. I stuck with it because that’s what I’m going to need to do when I continue to train and run the Pig in May. Some of these runs are going to be hard, like today, but some of them are going to feel incredible.

When I cross the finish line on May 3rd, I won’t care how hard the run was. I’ll be proud of myself that I’ve finished.

A Tree Grows in Columbus: An Introduction

I have been meaning to start a blog for a long time now. There are so many times when I have started one, posted a few entries, and then stopped. I have always tried to focus too much on one part of my life, like teaching or running, or else try to write about everything that I’ve ever experienced. It can be a fine line, but I think I have found the solution.

I have a lot of different cogs running in my machine, so instead of trying to separate everything out into its own piece of reflection, I’ve decided to combine them all into one organized space. I have a few hobbies and interests that are dear to me, and those are the ones I’ve chosen to focus on here.

Books: Since childhood, I have been a tremendous reader. I love all things books, and as a former bookseller and current Language Arts teacher, I always feel like I need to read all the newest books, as well as all of the classics. There is an endless list that grows larger by the day, and I’m definitely not keeping up with it. I hardly have any time to read with teaching and other after school activities, so I am hoping that if I can write about the books I read, it will motivate me to keep going when I feel like I am in a rut.

Crafts: Over the past year or so, I have gotten really into destressing through crafting. I started out last year, just before Christmas, with learning how to knit. I like to try other crafts – this year, my goal was to make all/nearly all of my Christmas presents – and I am hoping to keep up with that as well. An exciting new adventure for me is sewing. I just recently took a sewing class at a local handmade goods store and bought my first sewing machine. I am itching to get started on this new hobby. Eventually, I’d love to open an Etsy shop to share my creations.

Local Life: This is where I will post anything Columbus/Ohio-related, and considering that I’m focusing on Columbus for the title of my blog, I found this appropriate. I might include some of my favorite places around Columbus, new restaurants I try, or some Buckeye love.

Running: In October 2014, I ran my first half marathon. I am by no means a typical runner, but I have always seen this as an eventual goal, and last year I just went for it. Running the Columbus Half Marathon was one of the most rewarding accomplishments I have ever achieved. To keep myself motivated (and my butt in shape), I am currently training for the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati this May. My brother, sister, and cousin are all running as well, and I am looking forward to taking part in this family affair.

Teaching: Teaching takes up a majority of my life (and brain), and I want a space to reflect and decompress. I am writing this post on a Friday night after a long two weeks with lots of after school commitments, and just thinking about writing about it all makes me feel like a weight is being lifted off of my chest. Sometimes I am in love with my job, and sometimes I struggle, but at this point in my life, teaching is the perfect fit for me.

I feel like my life is flying by most days, but I’m hoping to slow down enough to write and enjoy it.

Always,

Rachel