Christmas Travels and 2014 in Review

It’s been over a week since I posted (what a surprise!) due to travelling and spending non-internet time with friends and family. I’m copying Heather and doing a one-sentence-per-picture post to catch you up on all my activities over the past week-ish.

Traffic on I-70 is never a good time. 
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I convinced Mom to take a post-workout selfie after our gym time on Christmas Eve.
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As we made this year’s Christmas cards, J and I realized we had basically no pictures together, so we took one before church on Christmas Eve.
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I ran by a Christmas tree farm (sorry if you can’t tell that’s what it is. My fingers were cold) on Christmas Day, in lightly falling snow. So festive.
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On the other side of the mountains, we spent some time with J’s family… including this adorably ornery nephew.
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And now we’re back home, spending the last bit of Christmas break relaxing and catching up on stuff at home.

In other news, WordPress sent me an e-mail with my blog’s annual report today, and I thought it would be fun to share that with you. Enjoy!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

What was the best part of your Christmas?

Any fun plans for New Year’s? I’ll be at home. I’ll probably be in bed by 10. I don’t mind at all; it feels good to be home, and it’s so cold that I don’t want to leave the house. I’m a grandma.

If you’re a blogger, what was your favorite post of 2014? I think mine would have to be this one, even though it didn’t make the top-five list in the WordPress report.

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Festive Fitness Playlist and Workouts

It’s almost Christmas! Hooray! That means there are only a few days left to enjoy Christmas music, so you’d better listen to it all you can… including while you work out. But  you can’t listen to that slow stuff while getting sweaty, so here’s a playlist of upbeat, festive songs to get you moving.

Festive Fitness Playlist

Did I have a little fun with Picmonkey? Yes, yes I did. Because I’m on Christmas break, sucker.

Do you need a workout to go with that playlist? Check out some of these from some of my favorite bloggers:

Christmas Carol Speedplay via FitAspire

12 Days of Exercises Workout via Meg Go Run (because a festive playlist needs a festive workout)

Pre-Feast Workout via Wrecking Routine (Brooke made this as a Thanksgiving workout, but I’m pretty sure we’re all doing some feasting this week, too)

Bodyweight AMRAP Workout via Trainer Paige (no excuses!)

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

Any upbeat Christmas songs I missed? I really wanted Garth Brooks’ “Call Me Claus” but I couldn’t find it on iTunes. Lame.

Weekly Workouts 12/15-21

It’s Christmas break, baby! My apologies to those of you who have to go to work the next couple of days. I don’t, and it’s awesome, although a snow storm is messing up my Christmas travel plans. Oh well. You can’t win them all.

This was the last week of school, so there was not a lot of blogging done, but it was another solid week of base building.

Monday: 

I got up at 4:15 so I could get in my entire workout (7 miles plus 30 minutes of strength work), as the high school band and choir concert was scheduled for that evening. Halfway through my workout, I got the call that school was cancelled for the day, thanks to this:
photo 1 (13)
S
o I got up early for no reason, but it was nice to have it done and enjoy the rest of the snow day.

Tuesday:

6 miles of hill intervals. Again in the early a.m., but this time, no snow day.

Wednesday:

The concert was rescheduled for 7:00, but since Wednesday and Thursday were finals days, I figured that I wouldn’t have to stay as late as usual after school, so I could come home and get in my run and strength training between school and the concert. Too bad I forgot that I had a meeting after school. I managed to do another 7-miler, but no strength. Oops.

Thursday: 

I got up early to make up Wednesday’s missed strength session, and then in the evening was the fun run I accidentally organized. About 25 people had said on Facebook that they’d come, but Monday’s snow and ice were refusing to melt (rare for Colorado… normally it melts off in a day or two). Most people decided not to run in the dark and on the ice, so there were only five of us (and two walkers). But it was still fun, and hopefully next year, we’ll get better weather and more participation.
photo 2 (15)
We started by saying hello to Santa (a.k.a. our friend Donny), then ran 4.5 slow  but fun miles. I ended up with 4.75, as Jaylin’s knee was bugging her and caused her to walk, so I backtracked and caught up with her again after I finished. photo 3 (10)

Friday: 

40 minutes on the spin bike and 30 minutes of strength at the gym

Saturday: 

7 easy miles… although they weren’t that easy, as I was dodging ice and snow the whole time.

Sunday: 

15.1 miles, pretty much exactly like the day before. I couldn’t run the country roads (too much snow piled on the shoulders) or at the park (they don’t plow it), so I was limited to running the town’s streets/sidewalks (most people had shoveled, at least). In case you haven’t gathered this from my blog’s name, this town is not big. In order to get in my 15, I literally ran up and down almost every street in town, some twice. It was not the most exciting run of my life, but it’s done.
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A hot shower, warm sweatpants, fuzzy socks, and cocoa were the best things ever after this run.
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Totals: 47.2 miles, 1.5 hours strength training

The name of the game this week is “just get something in.” And then next week, marathon training starts!

Have a wonderful Christmas!!

What are your holiday plans?

Any tips for running on ice without hurting myself? This might be a loooong winter training cycle…

Weekly Workouts, 12/8-14

Can you believe it’s already the middle of December? This month is flying by. It’ll be 2015 before we know it. It’ll also be marathon-training time soon, so that’s exciting. This week was just another week of base-building. Here’s how it looked.

Monday: 

6.5 easy miles and 30ish minutes of strength training. It was SO HOT in the gym. Seriously, I thought I was dying. Here’s a bunch of nasty sweatiness for you. You like it.
photo 1 (12)

Tuesday: 

5.5 miles of treadmill hill intervals. They were short (30 seconds with 1-minute recoveries), but steep and fast. It was hard. I hope this is making me strong and fast, because otherwise these hill workouts are just a suckfest.

Wednesday:

I never run outside when it’s dark because I almost always run alone, but Jaylin and I got together to preview the course for our fun run this coming week. I enjoyed our run and wish we could do it more often. Thursday night should be a great time, though!
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When I got home, I did 30 minutes of basement strength training.

Thursday:

7 miles easy, finished with some short and quick “hill” sprints.

Friday: 

35 minutes on the spin bike and 30 minutes of weights.

Saturday: 

6.1 easy miles. We had to be in Denver by 9, so I had to run on the treadmill to avoid the darkness. Weekend treadmilling is lame.

Sunday: 

14.3 miles. You know how some runs are awesome and everything feels great? This was not one of those. It was hard and unpleasant. But it was also my longest run since September and I got it in before the wind and snow came, so it wasn’t all bad.
photo 3 (9) photo 4 (7)

Totals: 43.9 miles (I hate it when I’m not paying attention and end on a .9. Now I want to go run .1 miles), 35 minutes cycling, 1.5 hours strength

And now I’m going to go eat some soup, address some Christmas cards, and cross my fingers for a snow day tomorrow. (Just kidding; a snow day at the start of finals week would not be a good thing).

Is it snowy where you are? 

Tell me about your most fun workout recently. 

Why I Cancelled My Subscriptions to “Health” Magazines

I used to subscribe to several women’s magazines — Fitness, Health, Women’s Health, Shape — and would occasionally buy others off the newsstand at the grocery store or airport. For a long time, I simply thought of those magazines as easy reading that had some good health tips. But I’ve changed my mind.

I keep a box of magazines in my classroom. I use them for various lessons, and my students can grab one to read if they’re done with an assignment and forgot their usual reading book. One day, I was packing up some magazines at home to add to my box at work. As I looked at the aforementioned magazines, I thought, ‘I’d better just recycle these. I don’t want my students reading them.”

These magazines often have articles about sex, but that wasn’t what concerned me for my students. No, I was more worried about articles with headlines like these:
fitness health shape1
womenshealth

Do you see a theme in these articles? Of course you do. “Be skinny and toned to be sexy. Lose body fat to be hot. Exercise to become gorgeous and desirable.”  And, most disturbing at all, “Lose weight so you can love yourself.”

Now, I don’t have a problem with people working out for aesthetic reasons, and honestly, that’s probably one reason that most of us exercise. But I don’t want my vulnerable 15-year-old students to think that the only reason or the main reason to work out is to be “sexy.” I don’t want them to get the message that health is second to appearance. I want them to realize that health is important for its own sake.

And I want them to accept — to love — their own bodies, regardless of if they look like those in the magazines.

My kids already see such messages everywhere they look. I can’t stop them from being bombarded with such messages everywhere else, but it didn’t have to happen in my classroom. And that got me thinking:

If I don’t want my kids reading these articles and being told that “sexy” and “healthy” are the same thing, and we must be “sexy” to love our bodies, why was I subjecting myself to those messages? Sure, I’m an adult and can better filter those messages, but reading those articles and looking at those perfectly Photoshopped bikini bodies is not healthy for my perceptions, either.

I don’t need to read articles that suggest that to be happy, I, like Elizabeth Banks, need to be not just healthy, but “hot.” I don’t need to see hundreds of pictures of “sexy” bodies that mine will never look like. And so I cancelled my subscriptions to all those magazines.

I haven’t missed them at all.  I don’t have much time to read magazines, so when I do, they need to be worthwhile. A magazine full of Photoshopped bodies and declarations, implied or explicit, that I need to be sexier are simply not worth my limited time.

What do you think of women’s health and fitness magazines? Do you read them?

That Time I Accidentally Planned a Fun Run (and Weekly Workouts 12/1-7)

Yesterday, J and I were having a nice, leisurely morning, making a plan for the day over coffee, and I said that I wanted to drive around and look at Christmas lights. That reminded me that I’ve heard of running clubs doing Christmas light runs, and I wondered if anyone local would be interested in running around and looking at lights sometime. I posted a Facebook status and got a couple of interested replies, so I figured we’d pick a date and a general route, just running around at whatever pace for whatever distance, based on whoever showed up.

A couple of hours later, J ran some errands downtown, where he bumped into some friends of ours from the radio station. He mentioned my run idea, and they said that if we did it the same night as one of their other events, they’d provide hot chocolate when we finished. They even suggested a name (“Beat the Holiday Bulge”) and suggested that we also plan a one-mile loop for kids.

When J told me all of this, I said, “Wow, this is turning into an event!” A little while later, my friend Jaylin texted me and asked if there was anything she could do to help. And this conversation was had:
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And thus, the Beat the Holiday Bulge Festive Fun Run was born. J and I did our lights-looking drive last night. I created a Facebook event, Jaylin shared it, and as of right now, we’ve got at least 21 people signed up to run. If they each donate $5, that’s $105 for the local food bank. Not bad for a randomly planned event!

If you’re local (or feel like taking a random Thursday night road trip to the plains), come join us December 18 at 5:30 in Fort Morgan’s City Park. It’ll be a good time!

This is where we start. it's much less blurry in person.
This is where we start. it’s much less blurry in person.

In addition to planning this fun run, I did some exercising this week. Here’s how it went:

Monday:

4 miles easy and 20 minutes of strength training. I went to the gym, since I needed a couple of machines for my strength routine, and they were having their holiday open house. They had a DJ, so that made working out a little more fun than usual. And they were snapping pictures, so I stole this one from their Facebook page.
photo 1 (11)

Tuesday:

5.5 miles of “hill” repeats. They were hard.

Wednesday:

4 miles easy and basement strength training. I took a super artistic photo for Instagram when I was done.
photo 2 (13)

Thursday: 

6.2 miles — 45 minutes with a few short, hard hill sprints at the end.

Friday: 

I cross trained two weeks in a row! Crazy talk. I did some intervals on the spin bike and then lifted for 25ish minutes. And I was inspired by a sticky note on the paper towel dispenser in the gym bathroom.
photo 3 (8)

Saturday:

5.5 easy miles as I planned a tentative route for the newly-planned lights run.

Sunday:

12.5 miles. It was flippin’ gorgeous out today. I wore shorts and was wishing I’d worn short sleeves, too!

Total: 37.7 miles

This coming week should be  little higher mileage, which is good — marathon training starts the week after Christmas, so I need to keep building my base!

And that’s all. Have a great week, friends!

I can’t think of a good reader question. Tell me something interesting. 

10 Things I’m Looking Forward to in December

As it is for many people, December is one of my favorite months. Sure, December can get a little stressful as we bounce from activity to activity and try to wrap up the first semester of school, but for the most part, those activities are fun and festive, and so many once-a-year things happen that it’s impossible to not get excited. Here are a few of the ones I’m most excited for this year:

december things

1. Christmas break. Duh, right? (And before you get all snarky about how teachers have it easy with their time off, please remember that I also make literally half as much money as the average person with my level of education, mmkay?)

2. Seeing family. My parents and grandparents live 6+ hours away, so we don’t get to see each other very often. I’m excited for some quality time and catching up.
2010-04-17 14.49.26Here is a picture of my mom and me that is clearly not from Christmas, but this post needed a picture here.

3. Snowshoeing. This one goes with #2, as we generally only snowshoe when we visit my parents. But maybe we can squeeze in another adventure sometime over break. And maybe some of my blogger friends who snowshoe way more often than I do will want to take me other times this winter (hint, hint).

4. Secret Santa at work. This is just a little thing, but I enjoy it so much every year. We do our exchanges the week before finals — the week that we’re desperately trying to get kids to pay attention to anything . They’re grumpy, we’re grumpy… and a little gift from a Secret Santa makes for a nice little pick-me-up.

5. Cookie-baking festivus/90’s music dance party with Sarah. We did this last year, and it was so. much. fun. that we have to do it again!
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6. Christmas concerts. I love going to the high school band and choir concerts, especially at Christmas. They’re just so festive, and it’s fun to see kids shining in a different setting than I usually see them.

7. College field trip. I arranged a college-tour field trip for my seniors, and I’m excited/nervous to see how it goes. I hope they get something out of it!

8. Christmas movies. Elf, It’s A Wonderful Life, Fred Clause, Peanuts Christmas, Rudolph… from the classics to the not-so-classic, I love all the movies, especially when I watch them with a mug of cocoa in my hand.

9. Christmas music. I know some people hate it, but I like a lot of Christmas music. And if you wondered, this is my all-time favorite Christmas song:
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10. Time to write. I feel like my blog posts… when I even post… have been lacking substance since school started. I’m hoping that over Christmas break, I can take the time to sit down and put some thought into what I write and make it worthwhile. I also intend to write a few letters to legislators over break, but this blog is not for politics, so I won’t get into that now.

I could list more things, but 10 is the magic blog number, right?

What are you looking forward to this December?

Favorite Christmas movie? Song?