I’m BACK and Some Questions About Cadence

Last night I had a fantabulous run. Most importantly, my leg didn’t hurt at all for the first time since July, so that is big news! Unfortunately, my lower back hurt because I slept on it goofy or something, but that is a new ailment and not one that is running related given that I was coming off of three days of no running. My first few running steps hurt my back, so I took a few seconds to stretch a bit and then walked half a block or so. Then, I just ran easy until my back loosened up. Even with that rocky beginning, my overall time/pace was really good for a 4.2-mile training run on a moderately hilly course:

My mile splits were 9:59, 9:00, 8:33, and 8:43 (the last half of the last mile was a lot uphill, the whole “Legion/Cemetery Hill” if you’re local). I am thrilled with those splits, especially given that the run felt easy. I’m not sure why it was easy…it could’ve been that I took three days off, that the humidity and temps were lower, or my new method of “Flintstone running”.

I worked really hard at increasing my cadence and focusing on moving forward instead of bouncing. I also worked on keeping my cadence the same, meaning I strided out a bit more on the downhills and shortened my stride on the uphills. I have no idea if this is right or wrong; it just felt like the right thing to do to keep my rhythm. Here’s a chart of my cadence over the last 4 runs (most recent at the top):

Even though I felt like I was taking way more steps, my cadence wasn’t that drastically different. Or, is a change of 6 drastic? I don’t even really understand cadence that well. However, something was different because I ran an 8:33 mile in there and it didn’t even feel hard. I also felt like I was coming down a lot more gently on my feet. I guess I won’t know until I get some more training in and a race to really know! Our hometown race is this Saturday and I’m terrified. I haven’t decided yet if I will actually try to race it or if I’ll push Campbell in the stroller and use that as my excuse. I’m so not in race shape right now, and there will be tons of people I know watching the finish. Yikes!

What are your thoughts on cadence? Do your hometown races freak you out?

Fall Has Arrived!

I sometimes wonder if there are any other areas of the country with weather as extreme as the Midwest. We get it all–crazy hot with high humidity, tornadoes, thunderstorms, bitter cold, blizzards… We are, however, spared from hurricanes and dust storms. I guess I should be grateful. The quick changing can be hard to deal with at times. For example, just last week we were worried about getting too hot while running, with temps in the 80’s. That along with some pop-up storms. Last Sunday was a perfect day:

Here’s today:

Yep, 37 degrees right now. And if the forecast is correct, we will see a 20-degree change in high temps in just 7 days. I do realize that 37 is not that cold. Hello, I lived through record low temps last year where we had highs well below zero for most of January and February. However, after dealing with being hot for a few weeks, 37 feels downright polar.

Yesterday was the first really cold day. Chris was gone last night, so the kids and I snuggled up on the couch in front of the gas fireplace and watched a movie. I made tuna noodle casserole, which I almost never make (Chris hates tuna), and chocolate chip cookies and popcorn. That is my favorite thing to do when it first gets cold in the fall–snuggle up and watch movies. We watched Storm Rider on Netflix.

Campbell likes horses and Evan likes cheesy dramas, so it was a win-win. It was a predictable and unrealistic yet sweet story. After Campbell went to bed, Evan and I watched Divergent, a whole different kind of movie.

I read the Divergent series last spring. When the movie first came out, I didn’t go, because I did enjoy the books and movies from books that don’t meet my expectations upset me. However, since I read the book six months ago, I probably had forgotten some of the little details and I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would. Evan liked it, too, although I’m not sure he totally understood it. Since I’ve been to Chicago many times, it was fun to see so many references to specific buildings.

This morning, we are off to a soccer game (it’s up to 41 now, woohoo!), and then I need to get a run in. I have been pretty good about every other day runs, but I had yoga on my running day Thurs. and with Chris gone last night I skipped it.

I hope you all have a fun Saturday! Is anyone else experiencing colder-than-normal temps? What do you like to do on the first few cold days?

Uninspired and Being a Transparent Writer

I am not feeling very bloggy this week, but I feel part of a blogger is making a commitment to keep posting even if you aren’t feeling it. This just week I was explaining to my students that with writing, sometimes you feel it and sometimes you don’t, and sometimes, if you have an assignment due, you just have to force it out. I said this while I was modeling writing an essay for them.

I think this is one of the most important things a writing teacher can do–model writing and the method a writer uses to improve an essay. Students often think that writing should flow right out of their pen (or keyboard), in order. They think that good writers just whip things out and it’s good from the start. Some can, of course, but that is rare. Most people jot a few things down, revise, come back, revamp, add, delete, etc. many times before something is ready for grading or publication.

I show them my very first draft. I purposely make it pretty bad to start with, usually a stream of consciousness type of thing (not unlike this blog now that I think about it). If I show them a final draft, most cannot relate to me as a writer. However, seeing that I start with something not-so-impressive helps them to see that in time, essays can go from horrible to great.

Then, I do some revising while they watch me on the projection screen. I think aloud while I write. It takes some practice for them. In the beginning, when I pause, they start shouting out ideas. I explain that I’m not pausing because I want help; I’m pausing to think. I explain my struggles with words, I consult a thesaurus or dictionary, I delete and/or add large sections, etc. I change my mind a lot. Sometimes instead of talking my way through it I just write. I also work on sections out of order, write myself little notes in the margins, and flag areas that I know I need to work on later.

I spend maybe 5 minutes doing this before we move on to something else. Every few days, I show them more of my progress, and do a little writing. I typically work on one essay for all three classes of a grade level, so I don’t have much to do outside of class. Each class gets to watch me do a little part of it at each step. I always share my final draft and place it in a folder where they can look at it whenever they want, along with essays I’ve written in previous years. As their writing teacher, it’s important for my students to see me as a writer. Praise God I only teach junior high because I’m not sure my writing is beyond that level!

If you are a writing teacher and you haven’t written in front of your students, you really need to start. I think it’s one of the most valuable teaching strategies for writing teachers!