Year Two.

Friday marked the end of my tenth year in education and the end of my second year as Principal at Equitas Academy #3. It was an exhausting year, and in many ways was much more challenging than our founding year. Our school doubled in size, we moved to a less than ideal space, and we worked with a far more difficult group of Kindergarteners. Despite all that our team finished the year more united than ever. Our academic results were even stronger than the 2015-2016 academic year. We rose to the challenge. Here are some of my principal life and runner life highlights from the 2016-2017 academic year.


Our growing team at Summer Professional Development.

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Alaina and I with our returning scholars and new Kindergarteners on day one.


I ran the Ventura Half Marathon the Sunday after the first week of school. I won the race in 1:24, a PR at the time.


Later that month we were challenged to recruit families to come with us to City Hall for the public hearing for our permanent facility. Cecilia, our School Operations Manager, recruited 70+ families in less than two days.FullSizeRender_2.jpg

Our future home.Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 6.26.48 AM.png


Our kindergarten class this year was, to put it nicely, needy. October was rough. This is how we deal with challenge. Impromptu love notes in the work room.

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Because of how well the Ventura Half went, I decided to go for a sub-3 at Long Beach. I was in disbelief when I crossed the line in 2:58.


Chapter books with our 1st graders.Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 6.17.52 AM.png

First batch of rain. Leaking from the light.

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 3.36.41 PM.pngCommunity Meeting had to be moved indoor. It was virtual for the next few months.

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 3.39.37 PM.pngLater that month we hosted a Fall Festival at school, planned by the amazing Gabby Vega.



This happened. Still not quite over it. A lot of fear and tears in our school community.


Mama and Papa came to LA for Thanksgiving. Here we are driving around LA in convertible.

Staff Thanksgiving PotluckFullSizeRender_4.jpg


Yup, still not over the political mess.


The rain continued. Ruined our Winter Festival. Commonwealth (our building) was a hot mess, both inside and out. LA is not equipped for rain. Leaky classrooms, outdoor lunch tables, puddles. I love rain, but it was really hard having multiple classrooms out of commission and having kids eat lunch in their classrooms for weeks. IMG_5974.JPG

No rain on this day! Won the Santa Monica Christmas Run 10K in 39-something. IMG_6034.JPGSpent the holidays in Michigan with all the nieces and nephews!



We find out our building won’t be ready in the fall and apply for space at a district school. Telling the families was no fun.

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This trip was much needed. Went to Dallas with Alaina and spent the weekend at Deloitte learning all things leadership. Especially loved their treadmill desk 🙂


Running Mom Kathy got married. Of course we went for a run morning of the reception.FullSizeRender_8.jpg

Spirit week at school. This kiddo somehow found a way to wear a wig everyday. IMG_6180.JPGIMG_6182.JPGFullSizeRender_5.jpg

Alaina, Cecilia, and I drove to Long Beach in torrential rain for a Chinese Take-out Cooking Class.FullSizeRender_12.jpg

Yup, still raining. FullSizeRender_11.jpg


100th Day of School = 100 Years Old Spirit Day

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 6.20.24 AM.pngRan the Surf City half on Super Bowl Sunday. Ran a 1:23, and finished 3rd.FullSizeRender_10.jpg

Women’s March in Downtown LA.
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Visiting Carmen in Palm Springs.

Kara Goucher at the LA Marathon Expo.FullSizeRender_14.jpg


We accepted placement at an LAUSD District School, and faced weeks of protests both at our site and the Equitas flagship site.

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 6.27.51 AM.pngSpring Break in Michigan and Ohio. Here we are in Magnolia, Alaina’s hometown.


And in Ann Arbor, MichiganScreen Shot 2017-06-25 at 6.21.29 AM.png

Boston! 2:58. Was hoping for a PR, but the conditions weren’t great. Ran a smooth and controlled run. Loved every minute of the race. Maybe a little too excited at mile 25?FullSizeRender_17.jpg

Spending $180,000 on furniture for our permanent facility.FullSizeRender_18.jpg


NYC for Rexetta’s 1st Birthday

IMG_7713.JPGFullSizeRender_23.jpgEQ3 Team Retreat in Palm Springs.


Dinner with my Columbia besties!


Joined Excelencia’s Board. Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 4.13.21 PM.png


Brent runs a 3:40 at the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Marathon!


Mustache Day.


Placed 3rd and ran sub-6 pace at the LA Galaxy 5K. LAGalaxy.JPG

Last day of school sign language performances.

IMG_8104.JPGErica with a Kindergartener who scored a 200 on the MAP test. Those of you in education KNOW this is a big deal. We ended the year with 91% of our 1st graders and 98% of Kindergarteners reading above grade-level. We surpassed our MAP goals with 93% of scholars meeting or exceeding their math goal, and 84% meeting or exceeding in reading.

I wish I could say I have the summer off. The principal life goes year round. (Although  I’m pretty excited about getting to work at 8 instead of 6:30) Summer is a time to reflect and plan. It’s a time to set new goals, to prove we can strengthen as we grow. Happy Summer 🙂

Mix It Up May

It’s hard to believe it’s been just over a month since the Boston Marathon. It feels like so much longer! Yesterday I ran a 6:45 pace for a few minutes. There’s no way I could have held that pace for 26.2. Traditionally May is a month to mix it up. School has been my biggest focus. February, March, and April were big training months, meaning I was rushing home after work to run, strength train, stretch, eat, and sleep. This month I’ve spent more time on finishing the school year strong. I took my team to Palm Springs for a work retreat, went to New York for a school workshop at Achievement First, and have been hiring next year’s additions to our team.


The EQ3 Dream Team!

In my running world, I’ve averaged 30ish miles a week and have tried a bunch of new cross training classes. Easier said than done. I love working towards a goal and spending Saturday morning exploring the city. It’s no fun feeling like I’m getting slower, but I know this is good for me. I have the rest of my life to train. Slow and steady wins the race, right?!

Here’s how I’ve been mixing it up…

We had our first ever Talent Show at EQ3. Our scholars took the event so seriously. It was adorable! IMG_7679.JPG

We finalized our furniture order for our permanent facility. Feels weird spending $180,000. Thank you Walton Family Foundation!


Brent took me rock climbing…


Workin on my upper body and core strength at Coreology. It’s humbling. Very humbling.

logo.pngls.jpgWe celebrated Rexetta turning 1 year old!IMG_7713.JPG

I joined Excelencia Charter Academy’s Board and survived the LAUSD Capacity interview.Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 8.08.46 AM.pngAlaina and I went back to Yoga and Mimosas at Malibu Wines.18319334_1872959282962173_8968698514493380850_o.jpg

I went to Palm Springs with these lovely ladies.FullSizeRender-3.jpg

Alaina was very excited to work with me…IMG_7565.PNG

I won a 10K here in Playa del Rey, but learned that you can’t run easy three milers for a month, sign up the night before, and expect to run a PR. 40:20. Was annoyed that I didn’t run sub-40, but I’ll take a win. I’m the one in the front fixing my hair.

LATS17XX00083 (1).jpgMy Transitional Kindergarten group and I have been working on our sight words.

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 8.35.23 AM.pngVisited Achievement First Crown Heights in Brooklyn, NY. Lovin the school signage.

And yesterday I picked up the pace. It was fun to run fast! Strange to “only” run 7 miles on Sunday, but they were quality miles. Loved Stride Fitness Studio in Pasadena. Think Soul Cycle for runners. They give you a heart rate monitor, have fun music, motivate you through intervals. In my opinion, speed on treadmills is WAY better than on the track. I loved the vibe at Stride. Preferred it to Precision Running and Mile High Run Club in NY. It was less intimidating, more inviting, more technical with the heart rate monitor, and they send you an email with your stats after class. I will be back! Wish it was a little closer, but Pasadena isn’t too far on a Sunday morning.IMG_7804.JPGScreen Shot 2017-05-29 at 8.27.02 AM.png

It’s almost JUNE! Ahh. Next weekend we’re heading to San Diego for Brent to run the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon. We’re turning into that annoying running family. I’m so excited to be a cheerleader, and can’t wait to see what he accomplishes! That race has a special place in my heart. My first BQ 4 years ago, and Ellen’s BQ last year. RnRSD.jpg

Have a Happy Memorial Day!

Boston Marathon 2017 Race Review

Boston, you’ve been so good to me. I love the Boston Marathon tradition. I love the city support. I appreciate the challenging course and the late start. Boston finish times are hard earned. I don’t care to run other marathons. The Boston Marathon is the marathon for me, and my third time was a charm. I feel so blessed. This was my 12th marathon. I don’t expect a cheer team, so it was a nice treat to have support from Brent, Mama, and Papa. I was also so happy to experience the race with my best running buddy, Ellen. Races are always more fun with her! I trained for a 6:40 pace, hoping for 55 degrees, a tailwind, and race day luck. Race day wasn’t ideal, although it could have been worse. Easter Sunday in Boston was 83 degrees. I started the race at 10:00 am and it was already 70 degrees in Hopkinton. The course provides little shade and isn’t known to be a fast course. It’s crowded and waters stations are war zones, again another reason I love Boston. I love the idea of killing it on a tough course.


1st and 3rd Boston


Ellen, Kristine, and I on the bus ride to Hopkinton


Not a woman in sight in Wave 1 Corral 4

What I started the race I got into a 6:45 flow. It just felt right. I knew 6:45 translated to more like a 6:50 official pace because of tangents and water stations. I knew with the heat running any faster could become a suicide mission. I knew I’d be happy if I held back in the early miles. I spent the extra time dumping water on my head at water stations and drinking 1-2 cups every mile. My 6:40 pace goal got officially readjusted in my mind at mile 5. I wondered if I was giving up, but reminded myself to respect the distance and go with my gut feeling. My legs were trained for 2:55, but today wasn’t the right day.

It paid off. I ran nervous until 15. I really don’t understand how people go out too fast. I’m always soooo scared. I hold back during miles 1-15. During these miles on Monday I questioned why I run marathons, fantasized about giving up on my running lifestyle, and thought about taking it easy and being compliant with a sub-par performance. I talked myself out of that funk, told myself I’d be so upset if I ran complacent, and made a sub-3 race plan on the spot. This race was all about proving I was a sub-3 marathoner.

At mile 16 I enjoyed a downhill, and when I hit 17 I felt PUMPED. The men around me were dropping like flies. I was passing them left and right, and I thought to myself “Just a Sunday morning Beverly Hills 9 miler left.” I maintained my pace throughout the Newton Hills even though my quads were starting to tighten up. When I saw Mama, Papa, and Brent and the top of Heartbreak Hill I gave them thumbs up so that they knew I was OK (a Mama always wants to know her baby isn’t hurting). Brent yelled “I love you so much” and I cranked it up a notch and started running 6:35s. I hit mile 23 and reminded myself I just had a lazy 3 miler left and started talking to myself like a crazy person. I used my sister Carmen’s mantra saying “Come on! Come on!” over and over again. A runner stayed with me for a full mile while I talked to myself, so I guess he appreciated the free pump up talk.

At 24 I calculated that as long as I ran a 7 minute miles I’d hit sub-3, and it was at that moment that I realized I’d hit my second sub-3. Long Beach wasn’t a fluke. I did it on a hot day, on a hard course, with more pressure. I’m proud of myself for adjusting my goal mid-race. I averaged a 6:47 pace for 2 hours 58 minutes and 54 seconds, and I couldn’t be happier. 83rd woman out of 11973. The marathon is a distance to be respected, and I know I made the right call. I felt the benefit of my training, I felt the strength in my legs, and I’ve never been happier running 26.2.



So what’s next? A break. No marathons until MAYBE Boston next year. I’d love to concentrate on speed. I think I have this whole endurance thing down, but my legs need to learn to move faster. They just don’t know how to move faster than a 6:30 pace, so maybe so a half marathon or a 10K? I have my whole life to run, and women peak well into their 40s. There’s no pressure. No need to set another lofty goal now. I’m gonna take it easy, do more yoga, fatten up, and spend more time with friends and family. It’s been a crazy 2 years of marathoning. Time for a BREAK from high mileage.



At the Runner’s World Pop Up Shop with Bart Yasso!


Saturday Shakeout with Bart Yasso!


Scott Jurek at the Cliff Station on Boylston


Picking up Ellen’s bib for her first Boston!


Free cryotherapy at the expo


Blessing of the Athletes at Old South Church


Pre-Race Dinner at Antico Forno in North End 


Ellen and Anna at Dinner


Tatoo Station at Athlete’s Village


All smiles with a mile to go



Post-Race Dinner at Adlen & Harlow in Cambridge


Visiting Lindsey and Baby Carter Tuesday morning

Race Nutrition

  • Salt Tablets
  • Pretzels I saved from the airplane ride to Boston
  • Salted Caramel Gus (I think I’ll pass on ANYTHING salted caramel for a while)
  • Water at every station and dumping water on my head too

Boston Tips 3.0

  • I said this last year…DON’T TRIP ON THE RAILROAD TRACKS IN FRAMINGHAM. I did it again this year.
  • Train on rolling hills. It’ll prep your quads.
  • Plan for a war zone at water stations. Possibly consider carrying a small water bottle for the first few miles.
  • Use the corner porta-poties at Athletes’ Village. The line is shorter.
  • Have FUN and think about what an honor it is on the run on such a historic course
  • Pack light. You’ll get a ton of freebies at the expo! This year was especially good. Thank you Clif and Kind for all the bars!
  • Go to Alden & Harlow in Cambridge after the race for dinner. It is so so so good. Like top 10 restaurant worthy!
  • Go to the Blessing of the Athletes service at Old South Church. Even if you’re not particularly religious, you’ll enjoy it. It is such a cool service with a blessing, prayer, and bagpipe procession!

I had such an incredible time in Boston, and I can’t wait until I’m back there again. But I also just love being a principal and was so excited to see the kiddos and staff today. It was fun being Marathon Cristina, but Principal Lowry is back and ready to end the year strong 🙂