Monthly Archives: February 2009

First lessons

Today was my first day of giving lessons. It was supposed to be an easy day. My cooperating teacher asked me to jump right in giving 3 lessons (2 preps) to get my feet wet on my 3rd day at my 6-week practicum. Wednesday was scheduled to be a review day since the 3 classes either had an exam or a quiz coming up. Each class is split up into 2 X 40-minute periods and Wednesday was also the day where each class spent one 40-minute period in the computer lab. So I really only needed to prep 2 40-minute lessons. No problem, right? All I needed to do was prepare a couple warmups, some review material for direct instruction, and some worksheets for in-class practice, you know, the drill-and-kill kind. It’s math and skill building, so there isn’t a whole lot of critical thinking involved, the fun stuff. Strangely, the day went pretty much how my marathons go.

The first class seemed to go relatively smoothly despite the fact that my cooperating teacher wasn’t in the room. She had a training session to attend for the first 2 classes, so I was paired with a substitute teacher, an experienced one who taught in the same school and, in fact, the same room. Before class, we chatted a bit and I said to him to feel free to jump in he sees that things are going wrong. He told me not to worry, that I’ll be fine, and all sorts of reassuring words. On the bus ride to school I played out in my head how each class was going to go down. I had this mental checklist of things to do and I visualized myself going through each of the items on that checklist. Then the bell rang and class started. And the checklist went out the window, nowhere to be seen again. Just. Like. My. Marathons. No matter what kind of pace I’m shooting for, things happen (mostly I happen) and the plan gets ditched. Today, by the time I realized I wasn’t going through the items in my mental checklist, it was too late to go back and get on track, so I went with the flow. Luckily enough, that worked for the first class. But that was luck. By the end of that class I was feeling okay about the day. Apprehensive, but okay; the kind of feeling I get during the first 13 miles of my marathons.

The second class. Oh man. Miles 13-20, the middle miles, are the toughest miles for me during a marathon. They are the miles where I begin to think “why am I doing this?” or “this is going to be the last one” or “this is completely stupid”. The second class was miles 13-20. Due to scheduling, we began that class in the computer lab, which isn’t a catalyst for structure. Once the kids get into socializing mode it’s had to reel them back in. So once we got back into the classroom, I’d already lost them and the next 40 minutes were pretty grueling. During the direct instruction, one of the kids asked why they had to take notes on something they already took notes on a previous day. Geez Louise, man, I said this was a review lesson! (I didn’t really say “geez louise”) Later on when the kids were working on a problem set, the same kid couldn’t solve the same kind of problems he balked at taking notes on. Dude, I know you’ve taken notes on the rules for arithmetic with exponents 3 times already, but if you still don’t know the rules, then maybe writing the rules a 4th time might help. That made me realize people are really good at recognizing when they’ve seen something, but not so good at realizing they don’t understand it. And again, everything on that mental checklist went out the window.

The third class is probably the easiest of the three to manage. It’s full of motivated kids taking a high school level class in the 8th grade. They’re motivated, but they’re still kids. And by the time I got them I was mentally exhausted. Two cell phones taken away, both much better than mine. Yup, they were miles 20-26. I’m exhausted, but slogging through it.

At the end of the day, my cooperating teacher and I came up with a plan for my next day of giving lessons. We figured that I need to concentrate on one aspect of teaching, and for me, that first thing is going to be organization. So I’m going to try not to worry too much about management, behavior, etc., and only worry about organization; i.e. making checklists, to-do lists, key points I want to hit, etc. I think that’s a good plan since it’ll help me not to ad lib too much.

The really strange thing about the day was that just like my marathons, I felt kind of exhausted, but energized. Maybe it’s the slight cold I’m getting over? Maybe the jitters of figuring out a new daily routine is subsiding? Maybe I’m getting over the fatigue of that 6-hour ultra? Usually, immediately after a marathon I wonder why I’m doing these things. By the evening, I’m looking at the race calendar and dreaming about the next one and how that one is going to be the Greatest. One. Ever. I’m sort of feeling that way tonight about teaching. Weird.



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Pier Park 6-hour race report

Oh man. What was I thinking? A couple of months ago I saw that there was going to be a 6-hour run not too far from my house. The run was to consist of a 1-mile loop. Runners run as many loops as they can in a 6-hour span. I’ve never done one of these runs before. Plus, I’ll seriously consider doing any distance run in Portland. So I signed up for it, fully realizing that it was going to be 6 days after I’d finish a week of 3 marathons.

The run was at Pier Park, in the far corner of St Johns. Now, St Johns is in the far corner of Portland and Pier Park is in the far corner of St Johns. So this park was way the heck out there. I woke up at 6, got my stuf together. By 7 I hopped on the #72 bus then transferred onto the #44. I got to the park 45 minutes later and headed over to the staging area which was located in a covered picnic area in a wooded part of the park. Nice. I checked in, chatted with the co-race director, Olga, shed some clothes, and a couple minutes later, off we went.

Now, reading about someone running 1-mile repeats is way more boring than running them yourself, so there’s not much to say. I kept mental note of my mileage approximately every hour: 7, 13, 19, 25, 31, and 36. I might have gotten one more in if I hadn’t stopped halfway through to make a phone call and dawdle at the staging area every other mile to chat and snack. But I hit my goal of 10:00/mile. All in all, it was a nice training run but I’m feeling a little more beat up than normal.

Next up: nothing until April, then Peterson Ridge Rumble.

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Me at Diamond Valley Lake Marathon

One of many Maniacs at the race

Originally uploaded by jakerome.

jakerome was out there taking pictures of runners. Here’s his shot of me.

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Surf City Marathon

I think I have a new favorite marathon: Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach, California. Sure, it may be my new favorite because I barely beat my previous PR there today. But there are a few other things about this marathon that makes it my new favorite.

From reading the Runners World forums, I found out that it’s advised to show up to the event by 5:00am for the 6:50am start time. Yikes! Nearly two hours early? Well, if the veterans recommend it, it must be good advice. So I wake up at 3:45, hit the snooze button a few times, rolls out of bed by 4:00, and hit the road from my parents house by 4:15. I get to the marathon start a bit before 5:00 and yeah, they weren’t kidding. There were already a bunch of people there and a steady stream of cars coming into the parking areas. I kill about 20 minutes looking for a honey bucket, don’t find one with toilet paper (yes, I needed it), but discovered the public restrooms along the beach were open. Good thing too. After that, I take a nap in the car for 45 minutes.

After I wake up, I get all my gear together, load up the gel packs, put the race belt on, lace up the shoes, and head on down to the starting line. There I meet Philo. He’s wearing a Silicon Valley Marathon shirt and I ask him about it because I’m planning on running it this year the day after my cousins wedding (hey, if I’m going to travel to San Jose and there just happens to be a marathon I’m going to run it). We chat about Silicon Valley, Big Sur, and Avenue of the Giants. And I find out Philo is 70 years old. Holy crap! Not only is a 70 year-old running this marathon, but I seriously didn’t think he was older than 60. At the start line I also meet Sherrie, another Marathon Maniac who also just happens to be from Portland. Weird. Her master plan is to do 7 continents. Even weirder!

Even though the number of marathoners today was roughly double what was expected due to the LA Marathon fiasco, the field didn’t feel too crowded. I didn’t feel like I had to weave around runners, wasting energy on side-to-side movement. Good thing too. I planned to PR here and things looked especially good for that. Weather was supposed to be almost perfect running conditions. I also had good training runs the week before. I also packed 6 gel packs in the pockets of my Race Ready shorts so I wasn’t going to run out of fuel.

The first 11 miles went well. If anything I went out a bit fast, but I was feeling good. The 2 hills, neither of which were much, came and went with ease early on. Then we turned onto Pacific Coast Highway for an out-and-back section and hit a headwind. Okay, this will slow me down some, I thought, but no big deal, I’ll make up the time at the turnaround. I felt okay at the turnaround; didn’t feel like I lost a whole lot. But the expected boost from what should have been a tailwind now didn’t seem to materialize, or at least, didn’t feel like it did. I just didn’t feel faster. That was a bit of a psychological downer. I managed to get in some birding though as we ran by Bolsa Chica wetlands, so that was a plus. The other nice part about the course is at this part, you see the other marathoners on the out-and-back. Shouted out and got shouted at by some other Maniacs (Stevie Ray and Guillermo and a few others whose names I forgot or don’t know).

Then at about mile 17 we got into a section of the route that is probably my only complaint about Surf City. There’s a large section of the course that is run on a paved trail along the beach. Nice, eh? The problem: it’s not closed to the public. And in some places the path is pretty narrow. So marathoners have to navigate the bikers, pedestrians, and recreational runners who aren’t running the marathon. On a couple of occasions surfers carrying surfboards crossed the path in front of me and I wondered if they’d get across before I came by. Altogether though, people were respectful. On only one occasion did I have to yell “on your left” to a pair of walkers walking side-by-side.

Despite feeling good for the first half, okay for the next 5, and iffy the the next 2, things started to fall apart for the last 6. Nothing big. Just fatigue. I had to pick up a different brand of gels (Accelerade) than I prefer (Hammerhead) and I don’t think I stomach them all that well so I decided to forgo my 6th gel to prevent upset stomach and cramping and run on guts rather than calories. That didn’t work so great and I ended up doing a bit of walking. A couple of times during the last 1.5 miles two different marathoners caught me and told me things like “tough it out” and “you got it” — you know, stuff runners say to each other for motivation. It sort of worked. I knew I had 3:30 in the bag, but I really wanted a PR today since I don’t exactly have any other fast races planned this year (I’m still iffy on Eugene and even more iffy on Newport). So I gutted it out for the last 3/4 mile, tried to sprint the last 1/4 and couldn’t. But I still PR’ed by 44 seconds for a finish time of 3:28:51 Nice! Sort of. I really thought I was going to smash my previous PR, but hey, I’ll take today’s result. Another plus: I finished 20 out of 132 in the mens 35-39 age group (15th percentile). I never finished that well.

Next up: Pier Park 6-hour run on Saturday.

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