I’ve been MIA recently

Image Credit: https://www.betterlisten.com/blogs/news/just-keep-moving#.WRUhhevyuM8

     I don’t quite know where to go with this blog or running lately, and I fear that I will have to call this blog “Jenn Keeps Moving” or something of the like. At the beginning of the year, I started working out with a trainer at YouFit near my apartment. All good stuff, I wanted to increase my strength and add muscle in order to make me a stronger runner, and I chose this because I didn’t want to injure myself by working out alone, lifting something too heavy and causing permanent damage.Well, that is exactly what I did. One Monday while on a 2:1 training session with a stranger and my trainer, I think I did a deadlift improperly.

Who knows, because on the next day I was in debilitating lower back pain. It came on so suddenly and so sharp, and not even the next morning. I taught all morning and it didn’t start until after 2 pm. I came back to my office to finish grading essays and planning for the next week, and as I got up to go to my second job outside of town, my back started to throb. It hurt so much to even walk, sit, stand, you name it. I didn’t pay attention, thinking this was just a sprain, etc, and I needed to get to my tutoring student in Gwinnett County. I got out there and sat down at the cafe I usually go to wait until he’s finished with work and the pain did nothing but get worse. I took some Advil and this did not help. I’ve never had a kidney stone before, but those that have described it to me have said it’s worse than death and I thought for a brief moment that I had one of those.  I called my student and canceled our session and almost crashed my car driving home in traffic. I got a ticket for driving in the Peach Pass lane that day and I didn’t even care. I would eventually give up my second jobs because of the ongoing pain.

     Image credit: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nike-Men-039-s-Dri-Fit-Not-Running-Sucks-Running-T-Shirt-White-/141520167576

     And not to mention, I haven’t run in over three months. It sucks. Not running sucks. But running with lower back pain that radiates downward with each step of pavement pounding sucks worse. I eventually went to the ER that night — because I don’t have insurance and a high deductible thanks to an MA degree in a field where I am virtually unemployable in this country now. I’m paying a bill I can’t afford, and I had to beg the county physician to see me even though my financial aid had expired. I’ll comment more about my ER experience in another post because that requires a whole other set of details that I don’t care to get into right now. When I did eventually get scheduled for an X-ray (because my insurance won’t cover an MRI) they found the following:

Procedure: XR LUMBAR SPINE AP AND LATERAL

Clinical Indication: Pain Following Trauma

Comparison: None.

Findings: AP, lateral and spot lateral radiographs of the lumbar spine show slight disc disease with endplate osteophytes at L2-L3 and L3-L4. Vertebral body height, alignment, and disc spaces are preserved. There is no significant facet overgrowth. SI
joints and psoas margins are distinct.

Impression

Impression: Slight L2-L3 and L3-L4 disc disease with endplate osteophytes.

Let it be noted that when I made this public, everyone’s reaction included some variant of “but you’re way too young to be dealing with this.” So I have that going for me. The bottom line is, my body is falling apart. I’m still in pain currently as I type this and I have an appointment with a chiropractor on Monday, May 15th. I’m skeptical of chiropractors, but I will do anything at this point. I’m already stretching and Yoga-ing at home daily.And I make sure to get 8K-10K steps in daily. I’m a pretty active person. And my back feels better when I’m active, just not running.

I will walk the Peachtree Road Race this year, and I will do it with pride. I signed up with in-training long before I hurt my back and it sucks to walk in the back of the pack with them, so most Saturdays I really just don’t go. Plus my car died so Saturdays I’ve been dealing with the unwanted process of finding a new/used one. That sucks too.

I, fortunately, have my job at GSU in the Intensive English Program (which I LOVE) but I have no idea how much longer that will last since our numbers are so low this summer.

All I can say is this too, shall pass and move on to survive another day. Hope you are reaching your fitness dreams this month. Someone has to. How do you cope with a stressful situation? What is new in your world? Share some love.

Image credit: http://www.lovethispic.com/image/132744/i-will-survive

Ultimately, these are first-world, very white wines (whines) and I will get over them. But for now, I will mostly just have to vent and move on.

Thanks for listening (reading)!

Jenn

One step forward

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I finally have a day off and my foot felt slightly better so I thought I’d give running a try with a couple loops around my apartment complex this afternoon. After one loop–roughly a half mile, the pain started again so I thought I’d drop into my apartment’s gym to finish off the workout. I did that and got on the elliptical thinking that this would be a better option since it’s lower impact, and finished 30 min on the elliptical no problem — I know I could have put the intensity up a bit because I left a little still in the tank. I guess I have to start back slow — I finished 2.5 miles and did some upper body (chest, lat pull down, biceps and triceps weights) and my foot hurts worse now, so racing on Thursday is probably out of the question. I really do want to have a good 2017 running season now that this MA stuff is almost behind me.

I do realize how much better I feel — physically, emotionally, mentally, and just generally more me-ish when I’m active, even if only for 30 minutes a day. I also have to cut myself some slack — my life is different now, and I’m not always going to be able to run 8 miles a day. No, I haven’t been distance training, but it’s OK because I can do SOMETHING. I have such an all or nothing mentality sometimes. Just do some pushups or situps at home if I don’t have time. It’s about accountability — but I find myself doing these mind games with myself and psyching myself out. I’m back though — and that’s what the blog is about.

Exercise, water, good food, sleep, repeat. Let’s see how long this lasts.

A little late to the party, but here’s my latest race

you-got-this

Metaphor for running and for life.

October 23, I did run the Atlanta 10 Miler — and I didn’t worry about time. Time in running tends to make me anxious, and since I run to alleviate anxiety it seems counter intuitive. So if you really want to see my time, I trust that you will look it up on the ATC website, but spoiler alert, it wasn’t as fast as last year and you will just have to deal with that.

bling

I haven’t been distance training, so much of this race was taken with the approach of I’m going take it easy and enjoy the scenery and get some fit bit steps in. I did intervals but I can’t tell you how I did them. Mostly walked up steep hills and ran down them.

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I do this entirely for the bling. Right? What else is there?

I took lots of pictures, and you can see them here:

https://goo.gl/photos/tToQTU81rUk9UsaXA

I’m upset now because I did something to my foot not running, and now I can’t run for a few weeks. Which means I’ll miss my favorite Thanksgiving Day race, but I wasn’t planning on doing the half anyway. I had downgraded to the 5K because I haven’t been distance training and something is better than nothing. Now I can’t even run the 5K if I want my foot to be OK for a good 2017 running season. So like the country, I’m going to write off this 2016 as a sort of crappy running year and hope for good things in 2017.

But I love when I see things like this at the end of the day.

fit-bit

In other non running news, my MA paper was accepted by my first reader this week and I have a presentation date of December 2 at 1pm. Shit is gettin’ real — which is probably why I haven’t been running as much. You have to make sacrifices, right?

I’ll come back with a goal post for the start of 2017 when I have them. Aside from the MA and my amazing IEP students, I’m ready to write of 2016 as a shit year and start fresh.

3 more miles for August and a 5K race report

It’s amazing what you can do when you have a 5K pushing your ass. It’s also amazing that in 34+ years of walking and running I still haven’t learned to use my feet without the occasional mishap. I mean for crying out loud — this shit happens way too much — about 0.3 miles in my foot found a reflector thingy on the road and I went down. And by went down, I mean knee first, then stomach — I’m surprised I still have all my teeth. More ego bruised than anything, I brushed myself off — pushing away the nice stranger folks that stopped help (never doubt humanity on a race course) and kept pushing on. Challenging course — found myself walking up most of the mile 2 hill but still averaged a 12:18 per mile pace which is to be expected for this time of year and the amount of training I’ve put in.

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Battle wound! (Looks way better clean than before clean!)

 

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The route:

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Total mileage for August: 8 miles as of 8/6.

And a running (or lack there of) update…the one where I talk about that big 60K person race in Atlanta

I know it’s time for an update, both on here and the blog, and there will be one soon — promise.

I’ve been trying to pump myself back up onto the running bandwagon as of late, and maybe I need encouragement or maybe I just need to kick myself in the ass and stop making excuses.

In the process of trying to do so, I always find it helpful to look at past performances and find reasonable goals to achieve. In the past, this has worked. I’m finding this harder and harder to do as I continue down the path to my MA. Everything is telling me to sit my ass in the chair and WRITE MY MA PAPER but after a day of teaching all I want to do is SLEEP. I used to see running as something to do in my spare time, but I realized that lately, I haven’t had spare time to deal with.

Such is life.peachtree-logo

 

Image credit: http://www.ajc.com/s/peachtree/#running-news

I’ve been finding myself going back to old races, looking at old times lately — trying to see if I can be anywhere near that for this year’s PTRR, and I don’t think it’s doable. I just really haven’t been training hard enough.

But I do think data is good – and record keeping is something I just don’t do enough of for one reason or another. AND I FIND IT SO FUN WHEN I GET INTO IT.

So here goes: Jenn by the Numbers.
I finished Last year’s PTRR (2015) in 1:15:17 and the year before that (2014) in 1:18: 54. This year’s Singleton 10K in April of 2016 I did in 1:13: 19 (11:48 min/mile). This was done with minimal training. (Running three days a week, no strength, some light stretching on rest days and yoga once a week.) These numbers tell me that although slow, I am making progress. I do have to remind myself that progress is slow, but I just started running seriously again in 2013 and three years is not a lot of time. I don’t have crazy amounts of time to put into this hobby/sport, but the little time I do is worth it. Baby steps.

Goal for Peachtree 2016: Beat last year’s time or come close to it. And don’t beat myself up if I don’t do it. HAVE FUN and BE ACTIVE.

I may have to walk some of it — and that’s OK.

More to come later. Off to tutor linguistic stuffs. 🙂

The one where I talk about something else besides running…


power of teaching

Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/311944711664285198/

 

Leaving Classroom South this morning after teaching my Extensive Reading IEP course at GSU,  I went out the side door and stumbled across some young folks experimenting with soda bottles. Being the sucker for experiential learning and kids that I am, I stopped to ask the one adult I saw present what was up. We don’t usually have kids this young on GSU’s campus. I caught a glimpse of her name tag. Her name looked familiar; her face looked more familiar. Couldn’t place where I knew her from, but I kept talking. I was probably nervous rambling, but it energized me to see high school youth teaching elementary youth about carbonation and such — while watching bottles explode, so I kept talking. I figured out that she was a former teacher from Fernbank Science Center, the STT program in ninth grade. I mentally told myself that she isn’t going to remember me from that, then I remembered the independent study neuroscience class I took with her my senior year. She wasn’t going to remember me from that either. I told her I was an alum of STT and her face lit up. I didn’t tell her about the other class — she asked what I was doing now. I sheepishly told her I am an English teacher and Applied Linguistics MA student at GSU. She smiled and tried to make me feel more comfortable. I think she said “I consider linguistics a science” and mentioned that her neighbor worked in my department. I left the conversation awkwardly at this point, but I had so much more I wanted to say.

I wanted to tell her, “thank you” first of all. I’m bad at things like this. I wanted to tell her I still have my electron microscopy pics of the pig’s heart cells I took in her class at Fernbank Science Center. I wanted to tell her also that I gained an appreciation for attention to detail by doing assignments such as these and having these experiences. I wanted to tellher how much about the brain I learned in her class in 12th grade, and how much about headaches I learned during her research project and how much self-confidence I gained during the presentation I did in her class even though I hated presentations. Then the memories started flooding back. She told me that I was too quiet once (those that don’t know me from HS don’t know that I was painfully anxious). She told me senior year that she didn’t think I had much to say until started interacting on the message board — I’ve always felt more comfortable expressing myself in writing. She told me that “I finally came alive” I think were her words. I wanted to tell her that I’m not actually as dumb as she thought I might have been back then, and how much more reflective I have become. Hers was the first class with an online component I took, ever, in my life. Back in the days of WEBCT. I’m dating myself now. But that medium made me realize that I could contribute — even if I didn’t want to talk in class. Hers was also the first elective class I took in the sciences — after my failed AP Biology fiasco that same year. She gave me faith in myself again — in learning at my own pace. I saw a human brain for the first time!

When I think about it now, so much of that year shaped who I am today, as corny as that sounds. Even though I rejected a career in the sciences, I didn’t reject a career in education — even after many trials and tribulations. Many of my beliefs about education and exploration (of language or other subjects) came from that year — and her brief class in neurobiology. When I think about it, I became an elementary teacher because I wanted to instill the love of discovery in young children. I wanted to share my delight in learning new things by experience with them. I do it at my pace, and I wanted to make sure that they understand that learning at one’s own pace is the right thing to do, despite what society tells them.

I guess I’m writing about this experience today because it solidified for me, why I’m doing what I’m doing.

 

To the future teachers of world: your voice makes a difference. Your actions make a difference. If I can remember something small from 20 years ago from a teacher I saw maybe twice in a month, that’s the power of a teacher. You have such incredible power — use it for good. Your students may hate your subject, show that they hate you because of it, be quiet because of crippling insecurity, but regardless, they are taking it all in. You just never know what it is they are taking in, and you may never know. Dr. Fiore will never know (unless she reads this blog post) what went on in my head after my interaction with her this morning, but and I will just have to live with that. She was simply doing what she loved, back then, and now.

 

As I move through this journey we call life, I realize my world gets smaller and smaller. Even more so with the internet. I have the power to google her name. I have the power to learn that she has since moved on from Fernbank, to become a science methods instructor for early childhood in the College of Ed at GSU. But what does that tell me really? That we have more in common with each other than I previously thought? Why does that help? 

 

These are just some thoughts of mine…

 

This experience got me thinking, too, about my Science Methods course during undergrad. It wasn’t great, but it was good enough. It’s so hard to find teachers to teach these courses, and Jamie (can’t remember his last name) got us thinking about ways to engage young learners with experiences, not textbooks. It got me thinking about how he was really an artist at heart — and how I ran into him years later at the art festival in Piedmont Park, doing what he loved.

 

Have you ever had such an interaction? Have you ever had a teacher shape your thoughts and experiences in ways you didn’t know until years later?

 

Tell me about it! Comment below!

 

Just keep moving…

I haven’t posted in a while, but only because I have nothing really to report. Since the last post, I’ve been running on a fairly regular schedule but not distance training. I completed the Atlanta Track Club’s Hearts and Soles 5K, with not a great time but an idea of where I need to do and the work I need to complete before the Peachtree Road Race.

I was happy to boast a 10:59 chip pace per mile for the Hearts and Soles 5K, with an overall chip time of 34:06. I know this has to come down if I want to do the sub-30 5K before the end of the year, but until then I will just bask in the glory that is below an 11-min mile for 5K — and work on the rest later.

 

one mile at a time

 

Photo credit: http://pages.teamintraining.org/los/nikesf13/tinycatherine

 

Coming up (this weekend) I will be running (or walking or moving) in the Publix Half Marathon. I decided to do this back in January. It seemed like a good idea because the Track Club bought it and it was the cheapest half I’ve ever done. But life got in the way, and I have not run more than 7 miles consecutively since the last half last November. Oh well. I will probably do the first 10K at race pace (11:30 or something close) and walk/run interval the other half. If I finish in 3 hours I will be thrilled. I am in no way ready for 13.1 miles, but it  will be a nice day to be outside and enjoy a good walk around the city. So I go.

The following weekend, I will do the Atlanta Women’s 5K for the first time ever. I’ve heard good things about this race. Only women, supporting each other, and a challenging but pretty course through Chastain Park. Stay tuned.

I still have to fit in all the academic stuff I swore I would do over spring break but didn’t. All that stuff for the research assistantship just keeps piling up. But it will get done, because writing is like running. One mile, one word at a time.

Ashes and Dust: On Not Running

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Image credit: http://runforyourlifecoaching.co.nz/when-your-running-simply-sucks/

I realize in starting a blog called Jenn Keeps Running I should actually post updates about me and running. The truth is, though, that I haven’t been doing much of that this month. I live in Atlanta and grew up here, and because of this, I hate cold. The race I was going to do this weekend was cancelled for a threat of inclement weather. There was visible ice on the ground and I didn’t leave the house. I haven’t even been motivated to go to the gym except for a few yoga classes. The Hot Chocolate run that some friends did was this weekend and not liking for-profit races and having done this last year and not liking it, I opted out this year and hung out with friends from church instead. But I know that I feel better when I run three times a week. I know that I need to do this.

And I know what you are thinking. These are all excuses. Excuses! They are, and they always will be. Truth is, I didn’t sign up for training with the ATC this Spring because of aforementioned hatred of running in the cold and a number of other reasons. This year is the year of the 5K and I don’t want to be running distances. The track club put all of their runs inside the perimeter and I think it’s ridiculous to drive to run more than I will actually run. Bottom line is, I’m lacking motivation this month, and I’m not doing what I said I’d do. I only rediscovered running a couple of years ago because it’s a good outlet of stress and calories. I discovered this awesome community (a few years ago) but have become somewhat disenchanted with the community as of late. Maybe this is a cry for help. Maybe this is just me posting for accountability. But I have to run more than once a week if I want to get better. But who said I have to get better? The track club has this (somewhat unhealthy) obsession with faster times and more elite athletes. It’s starting to bug me a bit and take some of the fun out of what was once a little more fun. What if I don’t want to be better? What if I’m just stuck in a rut? I feel like my running shoes have been accumulating dust lately.

Bottom line is, I’m lacking motivation this month, and I’m not doing what I said I’d do. I only rediscovered running a couple of years ago because it’s a good outlet of stress and calories. I discovered this awesome community (a few years ago) but have become somewhat disenchanted with the community as of late. Maybe this is a cry for help. Maybe this is just me posting for accountability. But I have to run more than once a week if I want to get better. But who said I have to get better? The track club has this (somewhat unhealthy) obsession with faster times and more elite athletes. It’s starting to bug me a bit and take some of the fun out of what was once a little more fun. What if I don’t want to be better? What if I’m just stuck in a rut? I feel like my running shoes have been accumulating dust lately. Thank you for listening to my whining. I will eventually snap out of it, probably when the cold weather decides to come to its senses. Until then, I’m going to say a bit FU to the cold because this is my blog and I can curse if I want to.

How do you set goals when you don’t want to stress yourself out?

Have you ever been in a similar situation?

What do you do to get yourself out of ALM (acute lack of motivation), for lack of a better word?

What do you do when you feel yourself sinking into a deep, deep hole?

What motivates you to do something you know is good for you but you just can’t seem to find the energy for?

 

Some of my art

Over the holidays, I got crazy and creative and really practiced my crochet and paint-mixing skills. I am an absolute beginner painter, so I’m really just getting used to mixing acrylic paint and feeling how it feels with different brushes on the canvas. My grandmother was really creative and talented when it came to painting, so I figure some of that talent has to be in me somewhere. Crocheting is just something I do to relax while watching TV and it keeps my hands busy. I usually make an afghan with my squares, but enjoy the repetitive nature of making squares. I am really proud of how even my stitches are in these pieces.

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Cameron (BF) got me a desk easel and new paint for Christmas and my birthday. I like using it.

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More crochet!


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Happy New Year | Jenn Keeps Running

Happy New Year

Happy New Year | Jenn Keeps Running

What better way to start the year than with a race? And a PR. A few of us over at the Atlanta Track Club do the Resolution Run every January 1st. My goal was to get under last year’s time, and I did just that. I love this race because most of the people I run during the year with do this race too and it’s always fun to see familiar faces on the start of a new year. Chip time for 4 miles: 46:03, or an 11:31 min/mile. It’s about a minute faster than the 4-mile race that I did over the summer.