Friday, September 27, 2013

8 Days till The USA Marathon Championships

With only 8 days left until the biggest race of 2013 for me, I sit patiently in a city that has given me so many great memories - Houston.  The reason for my trip to Houston starts in the summer, a time when I thought my life would revolve only around running and not teaching. Boy was I wrong. I'm here in Houston for training, but not the running kind; the kind needed for a new teacher who has entered the Independent School system. You can call it Professional Development, and I'll call it a life changing experience. You see, I got hired as a Physical Education teacher at Manzano Day School (private school) and have fully embraced this new lifestyle. Let's rewind...

It's spring time, and I'm actually finishing my first year as a classroom teacher, a day I never thought would happen. 180 days in what you would call a school or learning environment, a safe haven, a place for growth. Well, it was the excact opposite and I was ready to leave and never look back. I was going to "run" away from that place and not have to think about that school again. Well, I did, and I searched for something else. And as luck would have it, a dream position opened at a very impressive school that I applied for a year earlier. MDS was hiring a P.E. teacher and I got it. I was a bit afraid of the expectations and how "perfect" everything seemed, but as time pasted everything is falling into place. 

So back to Houston. I'm here because I needed to see how our school is connected to other successful schools in the Southwest and what learning is suppose to look like. And it looks joyous! 

The school, the kids, the parents, the other teachers and staff all make this job a great environment.  And more importantly make me a better person. You can even ask Arlene (my girlfriend); since signing that contact with my school, I have found NO excuse not to wake up before the sun rises and hit the pavement. I have no reason to sleep in and dream of a better school to be at. I can leap out of bed with a clear focus on making the 2016 trials, while other athletes sleep in and rest all day.  I can gain inspiration from amazing kids that I'm around everyday, and return that favor by accomplishing a goal that I want more than anything - to make the Olympic Trials Standard as a full-time teacher! The only barrier I had was myself, and now I have everyone in my corner helping me along this path.
From Houston Hobby airport after my last day of Professional Development. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Skagit Half Marathon: 19 days from Twin Cities Marathon

After coming back from the Skagit Half Marathon in Burlington, Washington with a 1st place finish and a decent time of 1:06:47, I can honestly say I am ready for Twin Cities.  Granted, I would've liked a quicker performance at Skagit, but nevertheless, I am content to be running pain free and focused on the target at hand.

Just as the title says, we only have 23 days left until the Twin Cities Marathon.  And for marathon training, that's nothing.  "The hay's in the barn" is what my old coach - Steve Scott would always say.  So from this standpoint, there isn't much work to be done, just maintaining fitness and staying healthy.

So I will recap a little bit on the Skagit Flats Half Marathon:

The town of Burlington is about 1 hour north of Seattle, and has a small town charm to it, mixed with strip malls and suburban shopping centers filled with familiar shops such as Starbucks, KFC and your local Albertson's.  The race starts at the High School and heads west, but on race day, there was so much fog in the air you didn't really know which direction you were going, but that was a good thing.  I did my usual early morning shake-out run, then a hot shower, breakfast and headed out to the race with a coffee in hand.  The weather was perfect and I was ready to run fast, but I was a bit worried as the first mile had course arrows along the sidewalk... this made me nervous, as I didn't want to be racing on sidewalks that dipped every 10 feet for a driveway.  However, once the race started we followed a police car that cleared the traffic on the road for about 2 miles.  After that point in the race, it was all farm land with a brief house breaking up the open fields which were being swallowed by the foggy air.  The race heads out for about 6.5 miles, then comes right back.  It was pretty much flat with an ever so slight incline heading out.

Skagit Marathon and Half Marathon Start.  Perfect Conditions
Coming back would have a nice little decent, but nothing too noticeable.  Then once you get within a mile of the high school, you venture through the neighborhood, into the school and finish on the track.  It was pretty straight forward and I didn't really have anyone to run with the entire time.  I was fortunate enough to have 4 people on the lead bike for me, but after the 6.5 mile turnaround, I only had 1 bike, and they weren't really "pacing" me, just leading me throughout the course.

8am was the start time and I took off by myself with an easy 5:02 opening mile.  My second mile was 4:57 and I basically stayed around 4:50's-5:10's till the turn around.  Now, I wasn't quite sure if the turn around was exactly half way, or just the correct distance out to make the round trip equal 13.1 miles, but I hit that point in 32:21, and was attempting to figure the math out...  I thought that I had enough time to be under 65 minutes and hit the qualifying time, but I was wrong in many cases.  All in all, it was a great effort and time trial.  On to Twin Cities and whoever shows up.