Adventures Await… Part 2!

Wow, I can’t believe how time just flies. It’s been nothing short of an exciting and crazy start to summer for our family. Let’s just say we have lots of adventures packed in: camping trips, fishing, scouts, football, tennis, baseball, basketball, band, water parks, swimming, friends, fireworks and more!!!

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Scout camping fun with my youngest!

In the meantime, I’ve been working on something really HUGE and SCARY but totally EXCITING at the same time. It’s actually completely unrelated to running and health, but I wanted to share my latest endeavors because it has to do in part with my last post about working with kids and finally figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. (and why I’ve been so absent).

Back in March, I had an experience that lit a fire under me (it actually made me so angry and sad at the same time, but I won’t get into it here). The experience opened up my eyes to the state of our current education and the quality of the people who teach our children.

I’m someone who wants to help everyone… I know that’s impossible… but, I know I can be part of the solution! If only I can make a difference for one… or two… maybe a handful of children and their families?!

And so I started talking to my teacher friends; mostly, my Paraprofessional friends.

What’s a Paraprofessional, you ask? It’s a very special someone for many students and parents and teachers.

They are the aides in the classrooms helping the teachers. They are the ones on the sidelines who actually do much of the loving and care-giving, documenting and one-on-one guiding. They reassure students, work with emotions and behaviors across the full spectrum, they monitor in the lunch-room and they teach solutions on the playground, they talk to teachers, parents, administrators and do a ton of work behind the scenes. In my opinion, they don’t get enough credit for the massive amount of work they do for our children who need the most help in the classroom!!!

And so, back in April, I initially applied for my Paraprofesional license! A few days later, I was encouraged to apply as a Substitute Teacher which means I can accept a much broader role as an educator and at the end of May, my request was approved! The last week of school gave me two opportunities to work and I enjoyed it immensely!

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Like this just makes me even more of a Sucker!

In the meantime, I also thought about going back to school. It’s been in the back of my mind for a long time. I started working with a university whose program I really respected and one that would allow me to do a majority of my studies online during the day while kids are in school and be the soccer mom in the evenings and weekends. In the end, I’ll be able to get my teaching license and master’s degree in special education after 2 years!

There was just one problem!

My undgraduate grades were too low to waive taking the GRE and so I studied my well-rounded tushy off for 4 straight weeks into June!!! I carried this huge notebook and study guide from the library with me everywhere and was constantly quizzing myself on vocabulary, comprehension and math problems. I studied at baseball games, when I woke up, right after lunch, after dinner and into the late nights when I couldn’t sleep, on the airplane, on vacation, and in the car (my hubs was driving).

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My family was awesome cheering me on every time I studied. Mr. Dino was there to help, too!

Let’s just say remembering how to do proportions and rate word problems after 20+ years of actually learning how to do them was a huge challenge along with re-learning quadratic equations and geometry even though math used to be my strongest subject! (There was actually a word problem involving and cyclist and runner on a track and I had to figure out how many times the runner would get passed in a certain amount of time… that NEVER happens in real life, does it?! PLEASE!).

Thankfully, my 7th grader and Kahn Academy helped me with most of it!!! #humbled

The first week of June, I drove to the test site and after 4 of the longest mentally challenging hours I’ve had in a very long time, I walked away with the scores I needed!!! HIP-HIP-HOORAY! (I’ve gotten better, but I’ve always strugged with test anxiety so, this felt so great because I was about ready to take the darn thing again 21 days later if I had to).

And, today I officially sent in my official application to start school in the fall (gulp, August). I hope to find out before the end of July, but I’m excited and hopeful right now, so please cross a few fingers and toes for me.

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In the meantime, I’m now focusing on my first ‘race’ of the year this weekend. It’s a brand new 5K in my neck of the woods… which happens to conclude with a pancake breakfast! The next official race is in September – The Fox Valley Half-Marathon. I’ll start officially training in about 2 weeks, but for now, I’m kicking it off with new shoes 🙂

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The biggest sadness for me this year, though, is missing the Christmas in July 12-hour event I was hoping to join in on. My plantar fasciitis was no joke and I still have to be careful. This was our crew last year and most of them will be back!  I’ll be there as part of the volunteer crew on the back half of their race so I can cheer for them and feed them… and maybe carry them as they limp to their cars, but it won’t be the same as toughing out a longer ultra race with my compadres.

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My UBAGE gals! They are a special bunch. And yes, I mean that kind of special, too!!!

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been. And this is where I’m hoping to be headed. I plan to still blog and run, so I appreciate you all reading whenever I get a chance to digitally spill my guts to you all.

Here’s to new adventures!!!  Any new ones for you?

Love and xoxo,

Teri

Excitement Part 2! Learning To Run!

I’m on Cloud 9!

Guess who took her legs for a test drive yesterday?!!!

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I need to be careful, because running is like an addiction. Now that I’ve done it, I want to go again… and it’s going to be -1 degrees in the morning here!  EEEEK!

Truth be told, I was very nervous about getting up to a jog on the treadmill just because my physical therapist, Bethany, worked me so hard the day before. I seriously walked out of that appointment with my back hurting and woke up yesterday sore and tight.

While the ankle doesn’t hurt most of the time, I can tell it’s not very strong, yet. I’m not allowed to run on uneven surfaces, like grass or trails, or even hills!

Before she had me running, Bethany massaged the tight spots in my back and ankle, had me lightly stretching and performing a few core exercises. Then I got to run for almost 8 minutes!

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Can’t believe I started sweating at such a slow pace, but it felt amazing to feel my heart pumping again and moving! I’m going to have to really listen to my body and start slower than I’m used to.

Bethany really wanted me to focus on my running form and she watched me to make a few corrections. The 2 tips she gave me:

1.) Run like I have a string attached to my chest so it’s pulling me straight forward (not down) and then lean forward just a little. In doing so, my hip flexors will ‘snap’ back making my run more efficiently.

2.) Lengthen my stride just a touch so that I can feel my glutes working. When I do this, it also helps tilt my pelvis under my body so as not to put additional stress on my back.

Afterward, I felt great!

She had me do a new ankle strengthening exercise and sent me home with a couple bands to use for additional resistance.

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I’ll share a few of my exercises later this week. They’re great for beginner runners!

Because of my excitement, I proceeded to sign up for 3 of at least 10 runs for me this next year taking advantage of those early registration sign-up fees!

Here’s what I’m running so far!

The inaugural Sly Fox 10K. Just for fun – this race has a twist!

The Great Western Half Marathon – my first spring half-marathon for the year!  The goal will be to finish with no pain and feeling strong. I love the flat pea gravel path that’s easier on the joints. It’s a great out and back.

2015 in 2015 – A Team Virtual Run that will take my best friend, her husband, and me the whole year to complete!!! More on this later 🙂 Won’t you join us? You can do it either solo or with a team of 3.

All in all, the end of 2014 is turning out on such a high note and I’m looking forward to all 2015 has to bring. I honestly don’t make resolutions, but I know that having goals and a plan in place is what works best for me.

What goals are you excited about in 2015?