Monday, June 28, 2010

Burning Out!

"Hello, my name is Stephanie. Here is a some stuff I have put together to prove to you I can be a hard working teacher slave even in the summer months. I eat, sleep, and breathe education. HIRE ME."

Today I spent 12 hours putting together an inter-thematic unit map (ITU), a detailed unit plan for the math unit that integrates into the ITU, and a summary of the lesson plans that would be included in the ITU, resulting in a 8 page document. I hope this is the golden ticket to employment. I haven't work this hard since my content area tasks for my credential performance assessment. If I get the job, do you think I'll get retro pay for this? With the sweltering heat, I feel like I have been trapped in a lesson planning sweatshop today.

Coming up with neat ways to bring different curriculum strands together is very engaging for me. I like doing it, and thats how I know I am going to the right career field. Just not when it is 103 degrees in the apartment, I have a whole other interview to prepare for (HS Math in Napa, YAY!), and an apartment to move out of in less than 48 hours. I feel like a crazy person! I don't know if I would make it through this without teacher friends calling to check in on my sanity and best friends pitching in to help move me and house me through the transition.

Mom's words of wisdom on the situation: When it rains, it pours. I wish it was raining cool refreshing water from the sky along with all the opportunities and obligations that are stacking on top of each other. Let's hope I get the job and can use all this planning next year with my students.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

12 Weeks=Second Wind!

Did I mention how great my new training program is? Today was the first long run on the new training program. I am shocked what I didn't hear sad sobbing noises coming from the knee area or feel like carpenter ants were chomping away at my ITB. Victory at last!

Now although I have long much more impressive mileage, keep in mind that now I am logging calculated, well planned mileage. I added 16 miles this week for a grand total of 193 training miles since I started training 12 weeks ago. Next week we are definitely going to hit the 200 mile milestone!

The new program is working well for obvious reasons: it is balanced. Each run is different and has a purpose. I am excited that even in my long run I came in under the training time, without trying purposefully to break it. My long run pace is about 11:30/mile, which is a full minute under the training time and only 6 seconds slower than my planned pace time for the marathon! Dedicating some runs to maintaining tempo, others to building speed, and then long runs for endurance is really helping me physically and mentally. I wish I wasn't so stubborn. Then maybe I would have taken this advice when I read all the training stuff 3 months ago, before I was having ITB troubles.I have also been cross training by hiking (5-8 miles a week) and doing lotsa crunches in the AM and PM (I am up to 100 a day!). Using a stability is helping build up my core, and I can feel the benefits when I run. 

I felt like I was in a training rut, and I now I have broken free of it. Next week will be a repeat of this week, except hills will be introduced. Lets see how hot my times are when I have to haul myself over the rolling hills of wine country. Maybe then I will think twice about the Root Beer float special when I am at the grocery store.

I'm looking to do a race in August. I can't decide if I want to do a 5k and see if I can do a new personal best for the mile, a half marathon to test my gusto for the marathon, or a comfy 10k in between. Anyone in Northern California interested? (Bestie, this is directed at you. Let's be real... you are my only reader so even though I make it sound like it is an open invitation to the thousands of locals who faithfully follow my blog, it is really about asking if you want to do another race. I bet you'll set a new personal best for yourself, with your new workout schedule and all!)...are you sold? :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

More Good Things :)

This week has been great now that I have started on my new training schedule and my ITB troubles seemed to have faded away . It is really going to improve my running; today I did my first tempo run and it really pushed me to push myself to run at my best, and I did! Today I ran a new personal best for the mile (8:24.4) and ran my usual 5 mile loop in under 50 minutes, averaging 9:57 per mile. Tempo runs are not easy for me, I have trouble regulating my speed when I am paying attention to it. My first mile, I completely missed my target time by nearly a minute. So as I pushed myself, I ended us cutting nearly 3 minutes off my time (surprise!  A new personal best!) and then finally I was able to drop down and run my last 3 miles at a steady pace of 9:24. I was huffing and puffing like a crazy person out there, especially when I had to run down a narrow path past probation workers doing landscaping stuff (scary!). One just kept doing his thing as I ran past, launching little pebble missiles at my legs with his lawnmower on the gravel path. I felt like I was being shot by a bb gun! Maybe his probation has to do with a domestic violence charge...

More good things: two intermediate jobs were posted in Davis today, and my master teacher tells me he is going to put a good word in for me. So far they are both 4th grade, which would be so much fun! I am also hopeful that a 5th grade job in the district will open up. I would love to be able to stay in Davis for a while, It is such a safe place to run. And next week I have interview #2 in Loomis for a dream job combining upper elementary and math, my two favorite things. I am pumped!

I am also very thankful to have been able to take some great hikes with some of my favorite teacher friends.  This week we hiked at Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve at Lake Berryessa, so beautiful, but definitely tough! This whole week has been full of fun and good times. I am excited to go home and see my family, but I will most certainly be looking forward to seeing all my good people again in August.

{So thanks for sticking with me on my blogging journey. Now I am reading more blogs (read: too much time on my hands), I am starting to play with mine a little more. Is the large text annoying? I am trying to highlight significant or humorous parts. Give me your feedback!}

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thoughts on The Blind Side

I finally watched The Blind Side to see what all the Oscar hype was about. It leaves me with a few thoughts and questions to ponder as I lie in bed trying to fall asleep.

I am not a fan of movies and stories where the kind white people swoop in and save the poor black people from their own despair and misery. Too much of history is distorted to portray the kind charity of dominate society in helping the down and out minorities. It sends the message that people of color are not strong enough to help themselves, they need the hand of the white man to give them a boost. Don't get me wrong, this story of Michael Oher is extremely powerful. I think the Toohey family did an honorable thing in helping take care of a young person in need. I wonder, why does America love this movie? I fear it is because the dominate culture enjoys a good white hero story. And that is where I find this movie frustrating.

America needs more people like Leigh Ann Toohey. Not only is she a strong woman who knows how to do the right thing, but she combats her own stereotypes and prejudices so she can authentically love the young person she has brought into her life. That is why this story works for me. My favorite scene is when she is at lunch with her girlfriends and stands her ground against prejudice jokes made about people of color. This is the real heroism in the movie. Self reflecting, I have not done enough to stand up against racism, classism, and all the other -isms that are routinely exploited by dominate culture. How many times I have been sitting around with friends, heard an off-color comment, and not had the courage to tell that person that they should have been ashamed of themselves? Being passive perpetuates the problems that tear apart society.

I feel that had this movie been a poor white kid instead of a poor black kid, there would have been more emphasis on how hard the white kid worked, instead of how hard the white family worked for the black kid. Perhaps I am reading into this too much? I just don't think we (read: dominate culture) value the initiate and hard work of minority cultures beyond the holiday heros we celebrate as bank holidays. Dominate culture most definitely does not celebrate this as much as it does celebrates the hard work and perseverance of white culture. Children, all children, need to have role models in popular culture that demonstrate leadership and ability of people in their own culture. Yes, white children need to see people of their own culture breaking through the stereotypes and doing what is right, much like the Toohey family does in this film, but I think it is much more important to celebrate films where people from minority cultures can see a hero that looks like them finding success without the help of dominate culture. These children need to see this, because let's be honest, there are not enough Toohey families to make this story more common place.

Overall, I liked the film. It is always nice when a good person has good things come to them. I just wish we could move away from making movies that celebrate the white hero helping colored man out and make more box office Oscar winning hits that celebrate all the amazing things people from minority cultures have overcome without the white hero. Don't misunderstand me: I am not advocating that majority culture leave minority culture to their own means. There has so much injustice and inequity throughout history, there is much that needs to be done by dominate culture to bridge the gap that the dominate white culture has created between the haves and have nots. I am advocating that more attention be given to people who have overcome enormous obstacles without the help of the dominate white culture, because let's be honest, the man has been keeping them down.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

17 Weeks to Marathon

So, this is the last week of making excuses, because the official 16 week marathon training program begins tomorrow. This week marks the end of 11 weeks and 177 miles of pre-training that has been less than successful. However, I have learned not to push myself farther than I am ready, not to stack all my runs at the end of the week, the importance of core/cross training, to take breaks to nurse injuries, and to eat right after runs. Now that real training is about to commence, I am going to focus much more seriously on nutrition and injury prevention so I can run and recover gracefully from this marathon.

So, starting Monday I am going to follow an official marathon training plan, no excuses. I am thinking of using the Runner's World SmartCoach program; it has schedule flexibility and gives me pacing guides and tempo runs to help me not only finish my first marathon, but also finish it under 5 hours. Time for good decision making and discipline! If anyone wants to virtually train with me, get yourself a schedule and lets do this!

So here is to hoping there is less excuse-making and more celebrating! It's training time baby, and I'm about to bring it!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Good Things: Late Edition

The best thing this past week? Getting an interview for a nearly perfect teaching opportunity, and then getting asked back for a second interview. I was SO happy when I got the news for round two, I cried. Seriously. It felt so good to have a principal tell me I interviewed well and for that person to feel comfortable talking with me about the next interview and where they see the position growing. I felt a real connection, and it made me incredibly happy. In fact, that time I wept tears of joy was at Mike and Raquel's wedding. No joke. I was that happy. I am going into interview two with such tenacity, there is no way they will consider anyone else. I am going to be that good ;)

Another good thing is knowing that I have made friends in the credential program that will be friends for the long haul. Connecting with people, doing what I love to do, and just being to relax in someone else's company is a blessing. On a recent hike with a teacher friend of mine, we talked about relationships and friends. We came to the conclusion that your twenties are all about negotiating and navigating relationships: realizing that different relationships serve different purposes, transitioning from the idea that everyone is either your best friend or they are not, and learning to balance near and far relationships, learning when to go the extra mile to hold on and when to let go. I have a better appreciation of acquaintances and learned to accept people for what they are without being too judgmental.

Good things coming up: cheese. I bought very tasty cheese on the coast and on Tuesday (if I can wait that long) we will feast! One is Cypress Grove's Humboldt Fog, a soft ripened goat cheese with an ash ribbon, so salty and delicious.
The other is Red Hawk by Cowgirl Creamery, a full flavored triple cream washed in brine. I am seriously considering becoming a cheese connoisseur.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

10 weeks into Marathon Training

This week comes to an end with a modest 14 miles run, adding to the grand total of 171 miles. It is very possible that next week I will reach my milestone of 200 training miles, and I am very excited about that.

The long run was pushed back until tomorrow, where I will hopefully complete 13 miles. I worry a little bit, with the heat and my right knee acting up, I have no idea what is in store for me. Yesterday's run was cut short from 5 to 3 miles, it was just too hot. No more running later in the day. Besides, running during sunrise is much more invigorating and poetic.

The knee, however, is playing tricks. Yesterday it was fine. Today, I get a shooting pain around mile 3, so I stop and stretch it out. After a few minutes I go into a jog. It is a little sore still, but no shooting pain. Pain is gone by 6 miles. Popped an ibuprofen when I got home, stretched it out, and now I have no problems. It isn't even swollen. So, what is this mystery pain? Will it appear tomorrow? I hope not, I really want to log some miles on Monday!

I haven't been giving stretching the attention it deserves. That is my goal this week. Hit the 200 milestone and make a better effort to stretch.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

No Pressure?

I was recently told that people in my program placed bets that I would be the first in the cohort to land a job... but so far I haven't even had an official interview. And this is worrisome to these people, because my lack of interviews represents to them something much bigger than my own success/failure.

Part of me has accepted the fact I might not find employment for the upcoming school year, and I have a plan B to address that. But now I feel a bigger responsibility to step up the search and find a position. No, the faculty recommendation did not go anywhere (boo), but I feel like people are depending on me to get a job, so I have to find some magic and make it happen.

What I would give to find the secret to getting an interview. I know that once I get interviews, I will have a job in no time.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Good Things: Pomp and Circumstance

I didn't expect a lot of pomp and circumstance for completing my teaching credential and advancing to the Master's program, but I am glad I got a lot of it. I can't quite pinpoint why it felt good, but it was. I love seeing my family and making them proud, and that was the biggest good thing of the past week. So many gift and well wishes. My students gave a me a copper fire pot they made, and it took a lot to not cry when they gave it to me. It feels good to know I am finally on a career path that is a perfect match.

Next year, school will pretty much be paid for, and I might even get a little money for my pocket to help with bills and rent. I am very excited to get a block grant fellowship as well as a fee waiver for my Master's year.

The final good thing is that I finally have a break to be as lazy or as productive as I want to be. Hopefully I will go get em this week with a multitude of job applications, starting the packing/moving process, and stepping the marathon training up a notch.

As cheesy as this is, I feel peaceful now the academic year has come to a close. More peaceful than I have felt in a very long time. What a good thing :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Giving myself a pat on the back

Even though I have out of town guests
and I am exhausted
my feet are killing me
I have been gorging to the point of stomach pain
and drinking enough to make my head swim
and I haven't had a truly good nights rest in weeks
I woke up early
5:30 am
on a Wednesday morning
to make my morning run
as the sun came up.

It's the little commitments that make the big picture possible.
(I bet that applies to other aspects of life too)

I had to toot my own horn. I am so proud of myself!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The whole shebang

I love a complete outfit. New dress, new white patent leather wedges, new necklace, new hair.

I feel so glamorous!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Week 9 in crazyville

This week: 2 miles of speed training, 5 miles of the right knee crying like a baby. Skipped some short runs to baby the knee, skipped the long run because mi madre is arriving this afternoon, and there is much to do for her arrival. That puts me at a grand total of 7 miles this week (lol) and 157 miles total training distance. At least I broke the 150 mark? 

Not sure if I will pull it together enough to run while the fam is visiting. They are too much fun (read: we will drink too much). But, the rest of the month looks promising, seeing as I have ample idle time. Next weekend requires another 13 miler. After all, I have to hit 15 by the end of the month!

As a side note, I have blogged about all this for 2 months now, with consistency. That in itself should be a milestone. Next blog milestone: having more than one reader.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Good Things: Keeping That Chin Up

The purpose of the original good things was bring the good juju and keep a positive frame of mind. Looking forward or reflecting back, keeping sight of what is good makes life better.

This week we are going to look forward to the good things that are coming up this week: three of my favorite people will be spending some time in Davis next week to help celebrate the completion of my teaching credential, a faculty member is going to recommend me for a job/put in a good word for me, and the last of day of school for my favorite little people will be here in no time.

My Supervisor gave me a book of poetry today by Francisco X. Alarcon titled Laughing Tomatoes (Jitomates Risuenos). The boom concludes with the following poem written in both English and Spanish:

Universal Spiral              Espiral universal

there are                          no hay
no endings                      finales

just new                          solo nuevos
beginnings                      principios

And that pretty much sums up good things for this week.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Life is full of surprises

Never underestimate people. They will ALWAYS surprise you.

( I am lucky to have good people in my life)