How Bad Do You Want It?

Los Angeles is beautiful, even on a cloudy day. After yesterday’s wet 23 miler I was craving an easy no plan run. I took off from my apartment with my book and went exploring.

Screen Shot 2017-02-19 at 6.17.18 PM.pngI’m about an hour from finishing How Bad Do You Want It? Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle by Matt Fitzgerald. Emily recommended it last week on our long run. We all know the best athletic performances come from the mind, not the body, and Matt Fitzgerald helps us understand how we can improve our mental fitness. He defines mental fitness as “a collection of coping skills—behaviors, thoughts and emotions—that help athletes master the discomfort and stress of the athletic experience, mainly by increasing tolerance for perceived effort and by reducing the amount of effort that is perceived at any given intensity of exercise.” He does this by sharing engaging race stories from elite athletes. It’s a great read, and can help you with your mental toughness whether you’re a runner or not.

512BGGaYFVVL._SX331_BO1204203200_.jpgHere are my top 5 takeaways. I could list hundreds, but I’ll stick to 5 🙂 

  1. You’ll aid your performance if you prepare yourself to feel terrible during a race. The flow state, that amazing feeling when you’re working hard but it feels maintainable, is real and often occurs when you accept that the experience is going to be painful.
  2. You’re better off training with a group and competing around a crowd. Thank you audience effect!
  3. Time goals are the way to go. Apparently my chipping away at time vs. going for massive PRs works! You’ll feel more confident in your goal because you feel more certain and that translates to a higher level of effort.
  4. If you obsess over a goal you risk choking. Stay in the moment and focus on the specific task at hand.
  5. Your attitude in life is the attitude you bring to your race. The happiest runners who continued racing beyond their 30s are all joyful and positive people. Think Deena and Meb. No coincidence.

This week was a heavy training week. I’ll definitely think about this week’s 6:15 paced mile repeats and the 10 mile run with 5 at a 6:40 pace when I’m charging up Heartbreak Hill in April. Confidence in training brings confidence on race day.

In my non-running world I’ve been trying to stay dry.

On Friday Cecilia, Alaina, and I braved the storm and went to Chef Tech Cooking School in Long Beach to learn how to make Chinese Takeout. We hit up Beachwood Blendery before class. 

Ellen gifted me a Green Chef box. So far we’ve made the Asian Rainbow Salad and the Patatas Bravas. I was worried they’d taste a little too healthy, but they were both filling and flavorful. Thanks Ellen!

And tomorrow is another day of rest. Back to the grind on Tuesday.

Surf City Half Marathon Race Review 2017

Yesterday Ellen, Peter, and I drove down to Huntington Beach to run the Surf City Half Marathon. Ellen and I ran Surf City three years ago while training for the LA Marathon. It was fun to be back! My goal was to chip away at my half marathon PR, and creep into the 1:23 range. I knew I’d have to maintain a 6:20 average, and I had been doing a bunch of speed work at that pace so I knew it was possible. I didn’t feel nervous leading up to the race, but when the announcer gave us the five minute warning I got those pre-race butterflies in my stomach in anticipation of discomfort. Ellen is coming off an injury scare (SO GLAD SHE’S OK!) so she was going to run the race easy. Easy ended up being 1:40, which is still really fast! Peter was just out for a good time, finishing in the 1:45 range.

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Lately I’ve been working on my mental game. I always wonder if I can dig a little deeper. People ALWAYS tell me I don’t look like I’m working hard. Yesterday I wanted to work on noticing discomfort, accepting it, and digging deeper. I ran the first few miles at about a 6:15 pace. I wanted to go out hard and see if I could hang. Right away I made a friend on the course. We chatted a bit and ran side-by-side for the first 4ish miles. She ended up pulling ahead around the 5 mile mark and finishing 3rd overall female in 1:22. She ran a strong race, and I’m grateful she was there to motivate me.

I stayed in the 6:15-6:20 range until about mile 9 when the miles caught up with my legs. This may sound really weird,but I got a little excited and thought “This is my opportunity to prove to myself that I am gritty!” I tend to run conservative and don’t usually have to dig myself out of a hole. I reminded myself that runners frequently talk themselves out of a funk and told myself that this was my opportunity to fly. I thought about how great it would feel to finish knowing I’d given it my all. I didn’t allow myself to panic when my pace slowed to 6:24, 6:27 and 6:34. I share this because I don’t think runners often share their mental strategies, and we know running is a very mental sport.

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With two miles left I did some calculating and knew if I maintained roughly a 6:30 pace for the remainder of the race I’d PR. I convinced myself I’d be so annoyed if I crossed the line in 1:24, and although my legs were starting to feel like jello I managed to bust out a 6:18 and 6:16 with the final .19 in 5:37. My final time was 1:23:24. 4th overall female out of 5999 women. There’s nothing like the feeling of a PR!

After the race I met up with Peter, Ellen, and ran into Kristy at the post-race tent. Woah the post race tent was AMAZING! Clif Bars for days (love those new nut filled ones), Clif set up a coffee food truck with free lattes. I had the Chocolate Peanut Butter Latte and the Chocolate Hazelnut Latte. Perfect post race recovery 🙂 Ellen and I also didn’t have to wait long for an very thorough post-race massages from Massage Green. Ellen needs to keep those calves stretched out. No more injury scares allowed. I don’t think I can handle training for Boston without her!

We had such a fun time! I think I might need to make this an annual Super Bowl Sunday race. You should too!

Pros:

  • Flat course
  • Start and finish near the Huntington Beach Pier
  • Post race expo was awesome! So many samples, free massages, great energy, delicious lattes!
  • Magnet on the back of the medal
  • Option to get your bib mailed to you for an extra fee
  • Lots of post race food (bananas, protein bars, oranges, lots of water)
  • Love the purple long sleeve shirt

Cons:

  • The course is kinda boring. Pretty much an out and back on PCH. Made it mentally challenging.
  • Long drive from LA (although it wasn’t too bad on a Sunday morning)

From racing back to reality the next day. Here is one of my favorite photos from my scholars from the past week. Nathan passed his Lexia level and his classmates were there to celebrate with him. Love the teamwork.

Have a great week!

Courageous Principals

Last weekend Alaina and I had the opportunity to travel to Deloitte University for their Courageous Principal Training. I wasn’t sure about going. It’s hard to miss a day of school, but I’ve been feeling in need of some motivation and Teach For America Los Angeles paid the flight and training fee. I’m going to sound dramatic, but the experience was so inspirational. I went in skeptical, thinking “What does a consulting firm know about being a principal.” Turns out strong leadership is strong leadership regardless of the industry. Deloitte University was glitz and glamour to the extreme. Made my wonder why I don’t work in the corporate world.

Deloitte University was out of control! There were 16 stocked pantries on the residential floors. Each one was named after one of the Deloitte offices and offered a specialty snack based on that region.

Saturday night after our panel dinner Alaina took the Tour de Deloitte (I promise we weren’t the only ones ) and visited every themed room. Over a mile of walking! A little disappointed the LA room had vitamin water. I guess tacos would have been a little hard.

Alaina snapchatted the entire experience…

And that was just the beginning of all things free at Deloitte. Kind bars for days.

Afternoon pretzels. Why not?

My beautiful creation from the breakfast bar.

 Not feelin the insane breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet? Grab a salad or a sandwich.img_6365.jpg

Hate cold water? Ambient it is.img_6349

And the gym. Ahh! The foam rolling section (yes, there was an entire section devoted to foam rolling) had different lengths, pressures, had sticks, trigger point balls. It was beautiful, and the perfect spot for my morning runs. Saturday morning I did a 3 mile tempo at a 6:15ish pace followed by a few 800s, and Sunday morning I ran an easy 8. Easy is always a bit faster on the treadmill because I’m so ready to get off. Ran it at about a 8 minute mile pace.

They also had these amazing treadmill desks that we used during our breakout sessions. Oh, and yes, that’s me holding a free almond milk latte from the Starbucks.img_6361

Here I am with my partner in crime 🙂 

Enough about the free stuff. The training was more than just living it up, but it was nice to be spoiled for a weekend 🙂 I was also just amazed at how intentional everything was. The campus was an operational masterpiece!

OK so the training. It was 120 administrators (about 95% Teach For America Alums) from all over the country for three days. We were told to bring a challenge we were currently facing, and through the curriculum, role-playing, collaboration, and networking you worked towards an action plan for tackling that challenge. The entire weekend of discuss, reflect, process, repeat can be summarized with this…

EQ3 is growing, and we are challenged with maintaining the momentum of the success from our first year. We saw a slight dip in our academic data during our winter testing. It was nothing alarming and we could easily blame other factors to this dip (moving, leaking facilities, behavior, scholars enrolled in October, doubling in size). But rather than blame our poorly designed temporary site or our more challenging bunch of Kindergartens, we need to act with urgency to decide the future of EQ3. We have the right people int he building, we have the opportunity to eliminate the achievement gap for our scholars, but we need to act now.

I haven’t been clear on my role as the principal of a growing school. My time wasn’t being used well at school. In my founding year it was possible to lead snack and lunch, support with multiple reading groups, and take on after-school tutoring. We’re about to be a three grade level school. My job is to have a strong pulse of the school. I need to be visible, interacting with stakeholders, getting a global view, creating a vision for the school, and monitor our progress towards school goals. I’ve been in the weeds because it makes me feel like I’m contributing and leading by example, but it’s hurting my sense of balance. I’m coming home, running, and doing everything I haven’t been able to do at school because I spent the day running around. This also isn’t giving me the opportunity to share best practices and push instruction. I’ve messaged this revelation with my staff, made adjustments to my schedule, and working with this lens made for an incredible week at work. Every component of my day felt purposeful and I focused on coaching my team in meeting their goals, rather than trying to do it for them.

Here’s what a typical day looks like:

  • 6:30-7:00 One-on-one with one of my teachers
  • 7:10-7:25 Morning huddle with all staff
  • 7:25-7:4o Morning arrival (greeting scholars with handshakes and interacting with parents)
  • 7:45-9:30 Parent meeting block
  • 9:30-11:00 Reading Groups (I’ve downsized to leading just 1 group so that I can visit other classrooms for the other hour)
  • 11:00-1:00 Previously was lunch duty, now is sitting in on grade-level meetings, observations, responding to emails
  • 1:00-3:30 Leadership Meetings, Executive Team Meetings, One-on-one meetings
  • 3:30-4:15 Dismissal and cleaning up any issues from the day

I can look at my schedule and know that everything is a valuable use of my time. And I doubt anyone made it this far into this post, but the process of writing this out is really helping me 🙂 My challenge directly related to Alaina’s challenge which was to create a streamlined intervention program for our scholars. It was amazing having her there as a thought partner. I’m so lucky to work with the dream team.

What is your business chemistry? I’m a guardian! I didn’t agree with methodical but Alaina goes “Seriously, can we talk about your marathon training plans!?”

On the flight back we were rerouted to San Diego. I’d like to think it was because of the protests but apparently it was a Delta system error. Here we are mid-flight when we found out we were going to San Diego. Sadly there was no time to hit up San Diego breweries 😦 IMG_2729.JPG

Even San Diego was protesting.

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We ended up getting home and eating dinner a little after 9:30, which made the 5:10 wake-up call no fun, but the energy from the weekend fueled me through the week.

Woah. That was long. Been wanting to reflect on my experience since I got back. Super excited to cross that off my list of things to do. #guardian #methodical