My One Word for 2018

Over the past few years I’ve heard about choosing a single word for a New Year’s focus, instead of a long list of resolutions that could potentially bomb after the first few weeks.  I don’t usually fall into the failure category of my goals, but simplifying things sounded appealing. The question was, what word should I choose?

I mulled over some words that others had used . . . faith, believe, courage, brave, love, joy, heal, forgive, be, cleanse . . . but I wanted something that stood out to me. My inspiration came when I was pounding out some miles on the treadmill at the local Y during Christmas break. Interestingly enough, I can get some of my best ideas when I’m running.

~ STRENGTH ~

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So, why strength?

Strength can fall into many categories. Looking ahead at 2018 I know I have some goals and some potential challenges and the common thread through it all was STRENGTH.

  • Health – As a runner, I need to be in good health and plan my workouts accordingly to ensure I don’t injure myself. Easier said than done, obviously, as last year I struggled with knee issues on top of IT band issues. Although I was lucky enough to PR in my last 1/2 marathon, I need to rebuild my base and start over after a lack of training at the end of 2017.
  • Diet? Yep. Maintain a healthy one! I believe in moderation, none of this drastic stuff. Just healthy unprocessed food.
  • Relationships – My children are growing up which brings parental relationships to a different level. I don’t have a good relationship with my ex although not by choice. As a new wife and stepmom, I will need strength to integrate families.
  • Work – I teach 3rd graders as well as serve on the Leadership Team and am State Assessment Coordinator for my building. State testing is right around the corner!
  • Faith – You might think this should be my word but my relationship with God is super important to me. My faith needs strength to continue to commit my life to Christ and maintain His will as my focus.

Yes, STRENGTH is a word that will work well for me.

Did you choose a list of resolutions? Or did you also choose a single word? Please share what you did!

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Tis the Season

I must admit that although I love Jesus, I find the holidays to be a bit of a downer. Well, maybe not a bit, a lot might be more like it. How can I possibly be feeling funky at the most wondrous time of the year when my Savior was born? Hmmm. . . I don’t know. I honestly struggle to interpret the emotional roller coaster I’m on at this time of the year.

Life itself continues to be a challenge but things have changed, mostly for good this past year. The relationship that began the year prior blossomed and I’ll be marrying this wonderful man next week.  I did some traveling to Sanibel Island with my parents and children as well as Colorado and Nebraska.  I accomplished many things – 3 half-marathons and a personal best, hiking my first 14’er, moving not once but twice, volunteering in a new section at church  – just to name a few. Challenges? Knee issues running, significant ocular migraines, strep throat, relationship issues, my oldest son moving not only out but out of town, family/friends death and health issues, my youngest son’s back issues from weight lifting . . . But I prefer not to dwell on the negative. Or at least I try not to anyway!So, what does one do when they’re struggling? Although sometimes difficult to let go, God’s got it. Even though I can’t put into words why I’m crying, He’s got me. When I want to sleep and never wake up, He’s holding me in His arms. When social media is too overwhelming, He gives me the strength to focus on what matters. When those that I love make poor decisions and my heart is hurting, He’s there. God is good.

I’ve mentioned before that God speaks to me through music. I was mesmerized by Tenth Avenue North’s song, Control that I heard about a month ago. I can’t seem to get enough of it! Here are some of the lyrics:

I’ve had plans
Shattered and broken
Things I have hoped in
Fall through my hands
You have plans
To redeem and restore me
You’re behind and before me
Oh, help me believe
God You don’t need me
But somehow You want me
Oh, how You love me
Somehow that frees me
To take my hands off of my life
And the way it should go, oh …
I pray that you’re able to give God control of your life. If you’re struggling with the holidays like I am, lean on Him. He cares for you. He wants you. Allow Him to fill the voids in your life. He’s got you.

A Refreshing Trip to CO

When the wedding invitation arrived in my beau’s mailbox, I’ll admit I was a little nervous about attending. “Let’s wait and see what the schedule looks like,” I remember saying. I wasn’t looking for excuses really, but something about going to a wedding that involved the family of my beau’s ex was a little nerve-wrecking. Good news was that his ex wasn’t going to be there. Although divorce shouldn’t sever the ties of previous family relationships, my situation, unfortunately, seems to have gone differently. I was genuinely happy that my beau still has relationships with his ex’s family. Once it looked like the trip was going to be a “go”, we planned some activities around the upcoming celebration of love.

Day 1: After many trips to Keystone, I had driven by the shadowed mass on the I-70 of what is Pike’s Peak but don’t recall having actually gone there so the drive toward this particular mountain was incredible. I’ve always wanted to run the Pike’s Peak Ascent but my schedule has never permitted it due to timing of the school year. Some day, perhaps! We arrived after about a 7 hour trip to Colorado Springs and after checking into the motel (great price through booking.com!), we decided to check out Garden of the Gods. This particular location was also listed on my Bucket List board on Pinterest! Inspiring, to say the least! I can’t help but feel closer to God in the mountains, particularly when you see such wondrous sights such as these!

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Day 2: Our morning began early after having purchased tickets weeks ago to ride the Cog Railway up Pikes Peak. We had to be at the depot by 7:30 AM. Of course, I hadn’t planned on having strep throat and still being on antibiotics for this trip either, so although I had wanted to HIKE Pikes Peak, that wasn’t going to happen on this trip.  I wanted to get to the top so the railway was the way to go. Again, the views were spectacular! I was elated that I didn’t get altitude sickness on the way up (I can be prone to that based on my history) and we were both trying to stay hydrated to ward off any potential problems, so much so that Mike couldn’t wait to get to the top and was first in line for the bathroom! The conductor did an excellent job with her commentary on what we were seeing and puns and made the 1+ hour journey up (and back) very enjoyable.

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Day 2 continued: The wedding was also this day so after heading back down the mountain and visiting the gift shop (of course!) we rested before getting ready for the wedding. It was a lovely ceremony and you could just feel the love and contentment between the bride and groom. I felt very accepted and there was no discomfort at all.

Day 3: This was the BIG day! We had planned to hike a 14er (a 14er is a mountain that exceeds 14,000 feet. See What are 14ers?)and carefully chose Mt. Bierstadt as my beginner mountain. Mike had hiked a couple of 14ers many years ago so this wasn’t new to him but he hadn’t hiked this one yet. We got up at 4:30 AM to drive 2 1/2 hours to the trail head (from Colorado Springs to Georgetown) to ensure that we were down below the tree line prior to any potential storms coming in during the afternoon. I had my Garmin on to see what the mileage would be like but it died at 6.4 miles after several hours on the trail despite having been fully charged prior to departing. The book that we referenced said the trail was a 6 miles round trip hike that should take about 6 hours so I’m curious as to what our actual mileage was since we were beyond that and weren’t even down yet!

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The trail started through willows and then got to boulders. Due to my running, I would consider myself to be quite fit yet my legs were screaming at me to stop because they were so tired of climbing! When we got to the part where we could actually see the summit, it was easier to keep going. A second wind? Perhaps. The end was near! Well, the TOP was! We still had to hike down.

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The view from the top

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Another view from the top. The clouds were starting to gather and you could see lightening off in the distance therefore we didn’t stay on the top as long as we would have liked.

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Tired was an understatement but WOW! what an accomplishment! We hiked a 14er!

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This was the “official” marker of having made it to the top – a cardboard sign! Yep, had to take a picture.

Going down was tough and Mike twisted his ankle more than once. The parking lot seemed a long, long, long way away and we got rained on a couple of times as well as lightly snowed upon. We did pack adequately though, and had plenty of fuel and water to make the trip, for that I was grateful. After spending about 7 hours hiking and getting up predawn, we crashed that night!

Day 4: Since we were in Georgetown , just down the road from where I spent many days in Keystone, I wanted to show Mike the place I love so much so the next day we headed in that direction. After showing him where my parents’ town home used to be, we walked around Lakeside Village and then walked to River Run, sharing stories of my experiences as we went. After shopping at the Silverthorne Outlets following our walk (I took advantage of the savings and did some Christmas shopping!), we headed back to Colorado Springs.

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Day 5: That night we stayed at the Air Force Academy (cheap lodging!) and toured the chapels in the morning. They were absolutely incredible! The larger chapel was Protestant with a humongous organ in the balcony. Below that was a Catholic chapel and Buddhist and Jewish chapels. What an amazing place!

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I only had a week left before I headed back to the classroom for meetings and I can’t think of a better way to wrap up my summer. I accomplished things I hadn’t done before, admiring God’s incredible works and spent precious quality time with the one I love. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I was very glad that I went!

Turkey Trottin’ 2016

Last year when I ran this race I called it The Longest 10 Mile Race EVER and swore I’d never run it again. It wasn’t even an option this summer either, when I was comparing races with my new running buddies until I heard that they had changed the location and the route and since it was during yet another one of my training cycles, I thought, “Why not?” And if I was one of the first 2,000 runners registered, I’d get a free turkey. And who couldn’t use a turkey? (Okay, so maybe that’s not the best reason since my daughter is a vegetarian! Oh, and I still have last year’s in the freezer.) I’m glad I did.

So, prefacing the race was more family/teenage drama. I woke up the morning of the race sick to my stomach, with a thought racing through my head that I hadn’t in the slightest entertained.  I mean, I TRUSTED my daughter, yet why would this thought not go away? Something wasn’t right. Hmm, before the race I confirmed what I knew to already be true.  After the race, I double-confirmed it. Great thoughts to run on, trust me. Grrrr. . . .

We were all lined up in the chute for a good 20 minutes before they told us that we could go back inside due to a delay. Well, I’ll tell you that the real feel temperature was 25 degrees that morning, and standing around waiting for the horn to go off for that long wasn’t the most pleasant. It took a while for my toes to thaw out for I’m sure those guys in tank tops and shorts were feeling it much worse than I was!  Turned out there was a high risk situation somewhere in the area that may  have impeded our safety. Thanks to the race directors for keeping us all safe!

Going into a race there’s always many variables that you usually don’t have any control over.  Weather is one of them, particularly the Kansas wind.  Fortunately, even though the past few days had been gale force winds, it had died down significantly for the race. Yes, it was cold, but at least the sun was supposed to come out. I had a goal for this race knowing that my past two races were 1:32 and 1:31 so I was hoping for around 1:30.  I’d been training well and as long as my IT band didn’t act up again, I felt confident that I would meet it. Due to shuffling back inside and out to the starting line, I lost my fellow runner buddies but I figured I’d meet them on the course somewhere (I only saw them in passing in the last mile:(). All the waiting and the cold even made my MP3 player die before I hit the first mile.  I don’t always run with music, though, so I knew I would overcome yet another challenge this morning. One of these days I should record all of the thoughts that go through my head when I’m running a race.  It’s actually quite comical!

It was a beautiful course with nicely placed water stations that I took of advantage of. I managed to maintain a fairly consistent pace and crossed the finish line with a time of 1:27:18, nearly a 4 minute PR! Yep, I was a happy camper!

Now I’ll need a new goal if I run it again next year.  I haven’t signed up for any other races yet, either, so I’ll need to figure out what’s next! I find having a race on the calendar definitely holds me accountable, as well as running with my group.  I’m going to have to up my mileage a little, too, if I’m wanting to finish 2016 with my goal of 1,000 miles!

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Why do all of my race pictures make me look like I’m dying?  Maybe the photographer should hold up a sign saying “Smile!” as I wasn’t expecting pictures!

Prairie Fire 2016 – My 2nd Full Marathon!

Wow, have I been excited about this upcoming race! I trained hard this summer with a Fleet Feet running group that took my running to an entirely new level.  I looked forward to TNT (Tuesday Night Track) and even made it to a few of the Joggers & Lagers on Thursdays!

One weekend on a 19-mile long run, my knee started giving me issues at 17 1/2 miles. Really? I’d already done 17 1/2 miles and now I’m having issues?! I hadn’t done anything weird, just running on a gradual incline with other runners toward the next traffic light. Hmmm. A slight discomfort on my outer right knee and before long, it had gotten to the point that I couldn’t even walk on it. I limped/walked/jogged back to the store and spent the rest of the afternoon icing it and taking it very easy. That Monday, I headed to a recommended sports Dr. who confirmed it was my IT band. Thinking I had caught it early enough, I was good to go and didn’t have any issues, even after a subsequent 21+ mile run! Whew! I still had a few weeks until race day so . . . .

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Some of the M2 group after our course preview day of 21+ miles. It was foggy that morning and we were drenched!

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Here we go! At the Expo the day before the race. Super excited!

Prairie Fire Race morning brought fabulous temperatures with clouds and little wind. I couldn’t wait! I lined up with my some of my regular running buddies, targeting a 4:12 goal (my PR was 4:42 but I know I had trained much better this time around!).  We were doing great and I was keeping pace until about mile 12 and the knee twinges came back. By mile 13 I was back in the same boat I had been several weeks earlier. ARE YOU KIDDING ME????? I seriously could have just curled up into a fetal position at the side of the road and CRIED, I was that upset! But, a quitter I am not, so I plodded on, alternately walking/jogging/running.  I still had over 13 miles to go!

Running is most definitely a mental sport.  When the rest of my group had continued on without me and then another one of my friends had passed me by, my mind was spiraling out of control. I had to be my own cheerleader to continue on so I put in my earbuds, focused on each step, and vehemently told myself that I had no choice but to finish this race.  And by doing so, hopefully I didn’t do any permanent damage to my body (cross fingers). With my Garmin as my guide to keeping my time in check (I did NOT want to be any slower than 4:42, God willing!), I crossed the finish line with a time of 4:40:17. A PR! I headed for my parents, whom I had spotted on the bridge awaiting my arrival. I was also lucky to find my Dr. who had a tent set up so he could work wonders on my dumb IT band.

My official stats from the website: 

Place Bib# Name City/state S Ag Pace Div/Tot Time
===== =====
301 624 Deb                            44    10:42 15/36 4:40:17

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Even though by this point my knee was in agony, I made sure I semi smiled for a somewhat decent race picture. I must have known that the next ones wouldn’t good!

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My running pal, Brittany, and I. We trained well together. She had an awesome race, finishing at 4:12 and tying for first place in her age group!

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My not-so-pretty finish picture. The exhaustion and agony was REAL, people!

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My 2 medals and my Finisher tech shirt

I took a week and a half off from running, which was brutal. When you’re so used to this as your stress release and you’re unable to do it, you can go crazy. The leaves were starting to change and the temperatures were perfect, which was a tease. Then again, I had to put a brace on my knee to help control the pain and I couldn’t even walk properly, never mind run! 

What now?  Well, I’m a 2nd time marathoner, which is a pretty cool thing.  I have since signed up for the winter training session to help with accountability to enjoy more time with the people I’ve met who enjoy running as much as I do. I have signed up for a 1/4 Half Marathon race next weekend (6.55 miles – a 1st for me – and didn’t want to overdo it) and the Turkey Trot 10-miler in November.  The goal for the winter training session is a 1/2 marathon on New Year’s Day, one I’ve run in the past, although at this point I’m not yet sure if I’ll actually be running that race or not.

And what about another marathon? Well, I’ll be honest and admit that I’m not sure if my body is meant to run those lengths of distances. That being said, though, if I can run 1/2 that distance with such an awesome time, and with the proper training, of course, then why not?

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Finish All Books on W.A.W. List – check!

It’s only been a week since I went back to school with meetings galore and I’m already missing the feel of a book in my hands and my head in another world of stories.  I have a tendency to get lost in the author’s characters and their lives and this summer was no different!  Our school librarian did another book club of the William Allen White Children’s Book Award 3rd-5th Grade Master List for 2016-17 and this summer I attended all but one of the meetings.  I did, however, read ALL of the books!

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I didn’t start in any particular order although I didn’t want to overwhelm myself by choosing several novels to read in a 2 week time-frame before our club met. That would be mean of me to hog all of the books!  I’ll give you a run-down of each title based on the list.

 

  1.  El Deafo by Cece Bell – This was an interesting book format like a comic book.  It told the story of a girl who had a hearing disability as she went to school and made new friends. Visually pleasing and a well-told story.
  2. Life on Mars by Jennifer Brown – Although this story was a little hard to get into it, once you did, it was a great read. I learned things through the characters in this story that I didn’t know about space.  I would think this would be easier for a 5th grader to read than some of my 3rd graders.
  3. The Map Trap by Andrew Clements – Ahh, who doesn’t like a book by Andrew Clements? Frindle is one of my favorites and this one ranks up there with it. I would love to be able to read this during Social Studies when I’m teaching about maps!
  4. Absolutely Truly: A Pumpkin Falls Mystery by Heather Vogel Frederick – This might be my favorite on the list.  Great characters, great story, and who doesn’t love a mystery? I would say that this one is also targeted to a higher level reader.
  5. Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord – I really got into the characters of this one – friends and multi-generational with photography, lakes, loons, and canoes. Refreshing summer read.
  6. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin – Dare I say that this was my least favorite?  Not because it wasn’t well-written because it was.  I think it hit a little closer to home based on a student experience of my own that I had had. The title was catchy and I loved the way the character focused on homonyms.
  7. Hello, I’m Johnny Cash by G. Neri – Written like song lyrics, this book was good. I had previous knowledge of Johnny Cash as my son loves his song “Boy Named Sue” and I’d seen movies about this infamous “Man in Black“.  In this story I learned some different facts that I didn’t know before!
  8. Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell – A very inspiring book of a gal who followed her dreams.
  9. Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with Great Whites of California Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy – I not only read this book during Shark Week but I was also going to San Francisco this summer!  Alas, I didn’t see the Islands or any sharks on my visit but I sure learned a lot by readings this book!
  10. Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh – Usually when you hear about desegregation you think of Rosa Parks. I enjoyed learning about a different family and their struggle from a different view point.

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So, not only can I recommend these books to my own students, but I also completed a “review” for the library!  I mean, how I can expect my students to read them if I don’t?

P.S.  I not only read these 10 books this summer but 12 other novels. Now do you see why I’m missing getting lost in my fantasy world?  Time to get back to real life!