Thursday, April 16, 2015

Finished....and Starting

I have completed grad school.  All assignments are done, logs are turned in, portfolios are graded and final grades are posted.  The only thing left is to formally graduate which will happen at the end of May and then they will send me my diploma.  I managed to earn a 4.0 GPA with my Masters Degree. I am immensley proud of this accomplishment.

I also took the certification test last week to get my license to be a school counselor.  I found out yesterday that I passed.  I won't get the official license until after graduation and then I have to go through the process of getting the license moved from Texas to Oregon.  But since I am not planning to be a school counselor right away I'm not really worried about that.

It feels weird to be done.  This has consumed a lot of my time and energy for 21 months.  I was either doing homework, thinking about homework or trying to work ahead on my homework so I could do other things that were more fun than homework.

Last weekend I got to do regular things without the stress of knowing that as soon as I got home I would need to get to work.

Saturday we went to do a cleanup day where we go camping in the summer.  Mostly it is raking up all the sticks and twigs that have fallen on the roads over the winter.  The camp is on the side of a hill so we were walking up and down the hill and walking.  It was a pretty good workout.  Unfortunately my Fitbit isn't working so I don't know how far we actually walked.  It was a cold morning but we warmed up fast between the walking and the raking.   We also got our tarps up over our campsite so that the next time we go up we can put up the tents on a dry area.

We were home in the early afternoon and it was a nice feeling to come home and be able to clean up and not be thinking about trying to muster up enough energy to do some homework.

Sunday a bunch of my friends were running in the Corvallis Half Marathon.  I have done this race the last three years but made a conscious decision not to this year.  Last year I had a really hard time putting in the training for it because of work and school.  This year I was doing my practicum right when I would have been training.  If it didn't work last year, there was no way it was going to work this year.

But since I didn't have any homework I decided to go support my friends instead.  The day was a bit foggy to start but as it got closer to race time the fog burned off and it was a perfect day for running.  The sun was out, the air was cool and there was a slight breeze.  I saw my peeps as I was pulling in to find a parking spot so it wasn't long before I parked and made my way to where they were stretching. The start of races that are more local are always fun because there are so many people that you know.

There are also a lot of familiar faces of people that you don't necessarily know but see at many races so you recognize them.  You give them a nod and a smile and they do the same.  A little acknowledgement that while you may not be friends you are in the same circle of running people and that makes it all good.

Tony, Kristy, Wendie and Josh (with his "Game Face" on)
I also got a chance to see my brother-in-law, Steve, before the race.  He is training for his first full marathon in May.  
Once everyone went to find their sport in the crowd to start the race I walked down the road a bit so that I could watch the start and see them run by.  It was fun to see the runners waiting for the race to start.  
There was a lot of people there to cheer on the runners!
Once everyone had taken off I walked back to my car and got my folding chair.  The end of the race was on the 50 yard line of Reser Stadium on the Oregon State University campus.  So I walked down onto the field and found a spot on the field in the sun and read a book on my Kindle for awhile.  

Whenever I participate in a run with friends or family I never get to see anyone else finish because I am always the last one to finish.  It's great for me because I have a bunch of people cheering me over the finish but not so great for me to be able to cheer on my friends.  It was fun to be shouting and cheering as they came down onto the field and crossed the finish line.  My friend Spencer finished fast and was done around the 1:25 mark (I can't remember his exact time but it was fast!)  Then Josh crossed the finish line.  He had worked hard and then went out to find Wendie so he could run with her.  Tony and Kristy finished next.  Kristy wanted a time under 2 hours and got 1 hour 59 minutes.  Evidently if you want a good pacer, Tony is your guy!  Steve came in a bit after 2 hours.  He was hoping for under 2 hours but had a calf issue develop around mile 8 so he dialed it back so that he wouldn't get injured.  
Maria, Steve and Jordan
Got the bonus of my sister and nephew there to cheer on Steve.  And my other sister and her kiddos were there too.  That made it a big family party at the finish line.  :-)

Next came Wendie.  Wendie is training to do her first Ironman in Coeur d'Alene Idaho in June.  On Saturday she did a 60 mile bike ride on the trainer at the gym.  Four hours sitting on a trainer!  Her goal for the half marathon was to have an average pace of 12 minutes overall.  She had an average pace of 11'45"!!!  She said that was a huge confidence booster after the long bike ride the day before.  She had a huge smile at the finish and looked strong.  So proud of her.  So proud of everyone!
Big Wendie Smile!  :-)
It was a very good day for my peeps and I was so thankful to be a part of it.  I had a pang or two over the fact that I wasn't running it on such a beautiful day.  However, I KNOW that I made the right choice by not adding training for a half into my schedule while finishing my Masters degree.  There will be other races that I get to be a part of.  This race I was a part of, just on the other side of things and I really enjoyed it.  

It is different being a spectator now than it was when I was a couch potato.  I have a much better appreciation for the amount of training, time and effort that goes into doing any kind of race, no matter the distance.  I'm very proud of my friends and what they accomplished on Sunday because I know they had to work hard before the race and during the race to make it happen.  
They Dynamic Duo!
Corvallis Half Marathon Finishers!!
Terrific Twosome!!
Before the race started Wendie asked if I had any other obligations for the day.  I thought about it for a moment.  I actually started to think about what homework I needed to work on.  I guess it's going to take awhile to realize that I'm really done.  When I said that I didn't have anything she said that I was going to lunch with them after the race.  

Joe was able to meet up with us when we had lunch.  He had been the official EMT during the race helping people at the finish that might have scrapes and pains and needed a little help.  As always with this crew, the meal was full of chatter and laughter.  

Since I hadn't really gotten my trail hike during the weekend, although the raking might count a little, I had decided to go on a run when I got home.  My first run since the 10k in January.  My first run since finishing grad school.  

My friend Faylene said that she wanted to go with me.  I reminded her that I haven't been running and that I would be very slow.  She said she didn't care.  I left my house and headed towards her house, the long way.  I had just passed the 1/2 mile mark and could see her coming down the road toward me.  She got closer and waved at me and the joined me as I chugged down the street.  The plan was just to run one of my 5k routes.  I had no goal other than to run the entire thing without stopping and I figured it was going to be slow and ugly.  Faylene and I chit chatted almost the entire time and I enjoyed having one of my favorite people with me.  Especially one that has been with me on this running/health journey since the first time I laced up my running shoes.  She has supported, encouraged and, on occasion been my Jillian Jr. and kicked me in the ass to push myself harder.  That's a good friend right there!  

She told me that as we were running towards each other that she didn't think it was me she was seeing me because I looked to skinny to be me!  I was wearing a running skirt and a tech shirt.  I thought that was fantastic!  Now I really didn't care how I did because I was feeling all happy that Faylene mistook me for a stranger because I was too thin.  :-)  Only a good friend can say this and have taken in the way it is intended.  :-)  
Fantastic way to get my running started again!
I ended up with an average pace of 13'34" which isn't too bad.  It isn't very fast but I have had slower so I'll take it.  Partly because it was my first actual run in months and also because it was very warm.  Almost 70 degrees and running in anything over 54 degrees is warm for me.  Faylene also pointed out that we talked the entire run.  Normally I am having to use all my energy to breath and not pass out and I was running at a nice easy pace and talking!  That's a good sign for my overall fitness level.  I was very happy about it.  

This week it has been difficult to get into a rhythm for exercising again.  Monday I was at work by 7:30 am to enter grades and then we had parent/teacher conferences from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m  It was a very long day!!  

Tuesday was Meighan's first track meet.  This is the first year she hasn't had a conflict and has been able to participate.  She is so great about trying new things and working at being better, even if she isn't very successful right away.  

She did the 200 low hurdles, the 800 and shot-put.  She had a blast! 

We got there at 3:30 and the first event she was in wasn't until 5:00 (we didn't know that at the time).  It rained, hailed, rained some more, cold wind and even a double rainbow.  
All bundled up to support our girl!
Gorgeous rainbow!!
Me and my girl.  She is growing up so fast!
After the track meet we went to Pop's Branding Iron for dinner with Meighan's besties and their parents.  I have a funny feeling we will be spending quite a bit of time with these people as we make the journey through high school adventures with our girls.  Good thing we like them.  :-)

Wednesday I had to come home for work and take Meighan shopping.  She needed a black dress for a competition she is doing and it was the only day that would work to try and find something.  Luckily we found one right away and I got her to church on time.  Then I went back home and picked up Joe and we went to the pool for a lap swim.  

I have not been in a pool for lap swim in about a year.  I have to say that it wasn't pretty at first.  

I forgot to how to breath.  Actually I forgot how to blow bubbles in the water and then suck in air out of the water.  This is not something that you should forget when trying to lap swim.  

At first I was really frustrated.  I started going down the "I suck" road in a hurry.  Then I took a moment after the first lap.  I reminded myself that it had been a very long time since I had done laps and that I was going to have to start from scratch.  I grabbed the kick board and started out by just kicking and putting my face in the water to blow bubbles.  Then I added turning my head to breath and moving my arms in strokes.  I just took my time and got used to the rhythm of swimming again.  Eventually I put the kick board up and started swimming on my own.  I was slow.  Joe was in the same lane, I was on one side and he was on the other.  He passed me so many times it was almost ridiculous.  When I had been swimming for 35 minutes I put on fins and got the kick board again and just did a nice easy cruise.  I got 45 minutes in the water and got 14 laps done.  Not setting any records but it felt really good to be in the water again.  Then I went and sat in the hot tub.  I'm pretty sure that's my favorite part of swimming laps.  I was so tired when we got home but it was a good kind of tired.  

Today I had some errands to run after work and then I had to drop Meighan off at yet another activity.  (She is one busy girl!)  When I got home I changed my clothes and got ready to go on a short run.  My puppy was very excited when she saw me in my running clothes.  So I put her leash on her and took her along.  

I decided to do a short run but to set a fast pace and see what I could do.  I had forgotten how much swimming helps my running.  Learning to regulate my breathing while I swim helps me do a better job regulating my breathing while I run.  

I had to stop once and catch my breath and get my heart rate down but I didn't stop for long.  I tried to go as fast as I could that was still comfortable (and knowing that I wasn't going to go too far).  I worked on my posture, keeping my shoulders back and more core straight, while making my breathing consistent.  I was working but wasn't feeling like I was going to die at any moment.  My legs felt great.  It was a great feeling and I was tempted to do more but decided to stick with the plan so I don't do too much too fast and hurt myself.  After two miles I walked the rest of the way home.  

I was a very happy camper when I uploaded my run.  I didn't have my phone so ran with only my Garmin watch.  Here are the results: 

Holy Crap!  
And here are my splits:
I have not run this fast for one mile, let alone two since the Thanksgiving run of 2013!  Just before I begin taking Metformin and then the following year just had a lot of struggles.  

It felt GREAT!  

It was FUN!

There was a brief moment (very brief) where I started to discount my success because it was "only" two miles. 

Screw that!  I ran one mile at 12'13" and the second one faster at 11'58"  I have not run any miles that fast in forever.  Whoo hoo!!  And it has been a really, really long time since I had a good run of any distance so I'm taking it!  

I have finished some major accomplishments this month.  

Now it's time to start working on getting some new accomplishments done.  Still deciding what those are going to be but I'm starting to get excited about the possibilities.  
Figuring out what I want next.  :-)  

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