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.

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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!

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Brent took me rock climbing…

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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.

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1st and 3rd Boston

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

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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.

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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.

PHOTOS FROM THE WEEKEND

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

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Saturday Shakeout with Bart Yasso!

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Scott Jurek at the Cliff Station on Boylston

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Picking up Ellen’s bib for her first Boston!

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Free cryotherapy at the expo

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Blessing of the Athletes at Old South Church

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Pre-Race Dinner at Antico Forno in North End 

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Ellen and Anna at Dinner

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Tatoo Station at Athlete’s Village

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All smiles with a mile to go

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Post-Race Dinner at Adlen & Harlow in Cambridge

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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 🙂

Prop. 39, Taper Time + Spring Break…Woo Hoo!

This post has very little to do with running. But that’s the point of my blog. My life is only 5% running. Part of the challenge of setting PRs is figuring out how to do it with work and life. Being a Founding Principal is a huge part of my identity. I think it’s pretty obvious that I absolutely love my job, but all I can say about this past week is WOW. I’m supposed to be in taper mode, relaxing and taking it easy. Yeah, not so much. I am so grateful for my team. They show endless support, and are so committed to our scholars and our school.

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Equitas Academy Family Day!

In September of 2015 I helped open the third Equitas school. There was demand for more Equitas schools in Pico Union. We weren’t able to provide seats for all interested families, resulting in long waitlists at Equitas Flagship and Equitas #2 Middle School. I knew opening a school would bring a variety of challenges, but I wasn’t sure what they’d be. Year one the biggest challenge was shifting to lower elementary. Kinder is scary to someone with eight years of middle school experience. I spent the year learning how to talk to five year olds, learning how to share space with our middle school, learning how to teach kids how to read, and learning how to be a boss. Below you’ll see us on the last day of our founding year. We ended the year with 100% of our scholars reading at or above reading level. We met our ambitious MAP NWEA goals in math and reading. 100% of our teachers returned for year two, something uncommon in urban education. We were cautiously optimistic about making our dream a reality, that there would be no achievement gap at EQ3.  13495396_10106686133097493_225893631786753668_o.jpg

This year our school grew to K-1. We moved to a temporary site at an apartment building half a mile from our first home. Moving is never easy, and it’s especially hard with families and kids. And our current site isn’t exactly ideal. It doesn’t handle rain very well. And this winter was particularly rainy in LA.IMG_5974 (1).JPG

Our classrooms often leak and flood. Ms. Vega had to move her classroom to a cold ballroom attached to our site one morning. Teaching out of an old, cold, echoing ballroom with no whiteboard and no internet access is not ideal. That’s why we call her gritty Gabby.

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Here she is holding chart paper, trying to teach her writing lesson. It’s really hard leading a school, and putting your teachers through this. But we knew it was temporary. Just one year. IMG_6160.JPGFall of 2017 was when our shiny beautiful facility would be ready, but you know how it is with construction. It’s never ready on time. In late December our builders shared the bad news that our site wasn’t going to be ready until Fall of 2018. unnamed.jpgSo the next dilemma was finding yet another temporary space to house our growing school. Next year we’ll serve K-2. We decided to apply for a Prop. 39 placement, requesting 12 classrooms for one academic year. We were granted the space at a nearby elementary school, just half a mile from our permanent site. Rent is affordable and the site is in our community. Although sharing a building isn’t ideal, we’re a “find a way or make one” kind of school. We’ll make it work. Well, not everyone is as optimistic about our co-location. Our partner school got a little cozy at their site, understandably they used the extra space due to lowering enrollment for parent centers, art classrooms, computer labs. I’d probably do the same thing if I had extra space, but we’ve been forced to be resourceful with very limited space. Over the past few weeks we’ve had several protests, community flyering, union members and parents attending our meetings, all speaking out against us moving into their space. There’s a facebook group against us, and an anti-Equitas hashtag. 17757562_1851343015117425_1418557927574231745_n.jpg
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Again, I get it. Nobody wants to give up space, but we’re both publicly funded. And less space doesn’t mean programs have to disappear. At Equitas we’ve never had and likely never will have computer labs. Our yoga teacher doesn’t have a classroom. She hopes for clear days to teach on our patch of grass. Our first year we didn’t have a playground. Our Special Education staff members share my office. We don’t have a teacher’s lounge. This is how I feel when asking the district for space…. beggin.gif

This week got very interesting. At our monthly Cafecito (Coffee with the Principal) parents expressed fear. They shared they’re scared to wear Equitas sweaters in our community. They fear their students attending a school where they’re not welcome. I told them I felt confident we could resolve the conflict. I told them this was the time to unite as a community. Pico Union cannot be divided, and we cannot teach our students to hate. I see this experience as an opportunity to work collaboratively, show our students we can work together, and to teach acceptance and kindness. Maybe I see the world with rose-colored glasses, and don’t truly understand the district/charter divide, but I’m not going to contribute to the problem. We can and we must work together.148879-full.jpg

Thursday evening during a protest at my school I was at LAUSD’s headquarters in Downtown LA meeting with the Local Superintendent, Equitas’ CEO and COO, other district employees, a School Board representative, and the Principal at the school we’ll be housed at next year. Our CEO and COO worked incredibly hard to schedule the meeting. Thank you for all your hard work in making this happen. At first it felt a bit hostile. But as the meeting progressed, it felt more positive. The Principal hadn’t gotten any information regarding our co-location. He was asked why he hadn’t been communicating with his families, and he responded with “Communicate what? I haven’t gotten any information. All I know is through rumors.” For whatever reason he was under the impression we were coming with middle schoolers. He was rightfully upset about 7th and 8th graders sharing space with his elementary school students. He also had no idea the deal was done, and thought there was still time to negotiate. He also thought this was a longer term deal. He didn’t know we’d be in and out in a year.

Our CEO and I expressed over and over that we recognized we were guests, that we were grateful for any and all space, that we’d collaborative as much or as little as he requested, and that we were willing to share some of our resources. He warmed up to us, and the meeting ended with a commitment to work with our families to understand that it is our responsibility to model positive co-existence to our students.

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Outdoor Community Meeting

He asked to check-in with Malka and I after the meeting. We exchanged contact information, and I’m so grateful that he invited me to visit the space. The next day I lyfted to the school, hid my face, and made my way to the main office. I appreciated the Principal’s professionalism, and he was so kind in spending time showing me the space. The students at the school clearly love and respect him. I was amazed at how many names he knew considering it’s a school of 1200 students. He’s built strong rapport and I was impressed with how his language was so student centered. He stated “These classrooms will be most comfortable for your Kindergarteners” and “This space might be best for your recess and PE.” There was no talk of inconvenience towards adults, and this made me feel hopeful and excited about collaborating with him.

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Our Amazing Team

There is much work to do, but I’m glad there is some sort of resolution as I head into Spring Break. Knowing I’ve connected with the Principal and we’re both committed to professional and positive co-location will allow me focus on visiting Michigan and Ohio, and making my way to Boston for the marathon next weekend.

Although I’m an Equitas employee, this experience has made me realize just how much we need support as a network. We’re not given space, we have to fundraise for it. Our per-pupil funding is less than that of traditional public schools. We rely heavily on grants and donors. Despite less funding, Equitas Academy is a top performing network in Los Angeles. This might make little sense, but yesterday I decided to become a reoccurring donor to Equitas Academy. I’m giving $50 a month to support a cause that I know is making a positive impact and is closing the achievement gap for it’s scholars. Why wouldn’t I give to the cause I care about most? I ask you to join me in becoming a donor at Equitas Academy. $50 a month can help build a classroom library, help us provide free uniforms to families who cannot afford them, and can help us purchase classroom materials and supplies. Bigger gifts can help us with providing stronger professional development for our teachers, provide more programs for our students, and secure space for our growing network. I didn’t start this post intending to ask for your support!

So now I rest for a week, take my mind off my #1 passion, my school, and shift focus to my two other passions, running and family (yes Alaina, you’re family). It’s time to rest, eat, foam roll, stretch, relax, see family, and re-energize so that I can come back to school on April 19th ready to finding off the 2016-2017 year strong. Spring Break started with a bang, at MB Post with Alaina and Cecilia. Cocktails during taper time is a great idea, right 🙂 IMG_7133.JPG