Back on My Feet is a non-profit that promotes the self-sufficiency of individuals experiencing homelessness by engaging them in running to help build confidence, strength and self-esteem. The organization was founded in Philly and has chapters in more than ten American cities. Back on My Feet members begin by running and gradually earn job and finance management training, moving their way through our program until they reach employment. (Click to find a chapter)
My CLARE Foundation Running Buddies
I’ve been running with Back on My Feet since November. I learned about Back on My Feet through Lesley Brillhart, a friend who taught at KIPP and now works with Back on My Feet LA. She included a note in our school weekly bulletin encouraging us to support the new to LA organization by joining one of the 5:30 AM run groups. 5:30 AM is early enough for anyone but an educator’s schedule. The absolute LATEST I can arrive to school is 7:00 AM. My amazing carpool buddy/BFF/co-worker Alaina, now a runner, joins me twice a week at the CLARE Foundation site in Santa Monica. We have quite the system. I pick her up at 5:15 AM, and we’re in Santa Monica in ten minutes. We warm up, huddle up, set out for our runs, then go straight to school. Alaina drives my car to school so that I can change while we’re driving and be ready to welcome students into the building for breakfast. Don’t worry, I use PLENTY of wipes, spray and deodorant. Yeah, it’s kinda gross, but it’s SO worth it to be involved with this incredible organization.
Back on My Feet has reminded me what a powerful impact running can have on your life. It relieves stress, is a great way to meet people, and teaches you that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. The organization is making an incredible impact on the lives of resident members and on its volunteers too. Back on My Feet has improved my speed tremendously. One of the members has really helped our entire team pick up the pace. Today was his longest run yet. He’s rocked 5 and 10K’s in the past, but today we set out for a new distance. 10 miles. The Long Beach, Downtown and Santa Monica groups all came together this morning at Palisades Park in Santa Monica for a 10K/10Miler. We decided to run together, and set the goal of averaging roughly a seven minute mile pace, and we DID IT! Miles 7-10 were hot, but we kept encouraging each other and pulled through finishing 1 and 2.
Celebrating a great run at Road Runner Sports in Santa Monica
Road Runner Sports in Santa Monica then hosted a post-run party with food, freebies and a raffle. Brent (the hubster) and I just bought new running shoes there. We love their shoe dog that helps you find the PERFECT pair of running shoes for your feet. Live in the LA area? You should definitely check them out for a pair of good running shoes. Brent and I are spending a lazy afternoon on the couch, I then have a group meeting with my Columbia group (more on that later) and tonight we’re walking down to the beach and The Tripel for dinner. We can’t go more than a week without The Tripel.
Nothing beats stress like an evening run. Being a dean at a middle school in South Los Angeles is challenging. My days are unpredictable. I might encounter angry parents, students being sent out of class, power outages during 90 degree weather, overwhelmed teachers, subs who didn’t show up, a jammed photocopier, students sharing trauma from their personal lives, students who forgot to take their ADHD medication, cockroaches, bullying, defiance and temper tantrums. This is my seventh year working in education. Despite the stress, I love my work. There are days I wish I didn’t have to wake up at 5:10 AM. I often wish I could work uninterrupted behind a computer, but the truth is I can’t imagine working anywhere else. Education is the civil right issue of our generation, and schools are where we can make biggest impact on the lives of students living in low-income communities. Working as an educator in the inner-city requires tenacity. After a hectic day at school I relieve stress and re-energize by going on a run. I love lacing up my running shoes, grabbing my iPod and running out the drama from the day. By the time I’m done with my run I am ready to cook and enjoy the rest of my night. Running is my therapy, and makes me a happier wife. Today I wanted to take you on a tour of my after-school six mile run in Playa del Rey. For dinner Brent and I made Chorizo Tacos with Pickled Red Onion (sounds fancy but super quick and easy to make). What is your evening routine? How do you de-stress from the day?
THE BIG HILL
The reward at the top of the hill
1 Mile into the run
Playa Provisions (Brooke’s new place!)
The bridge to the marina
UCLA’s Crew Club
The turnaround point for a six miler
Tiki Mermaid: Many KIPP memories made on this boat
Heading back to the water
Back on the bridge
Where I check my form
My best friend Alaina’s apartment
The last hill
The home stretch
Post run stretch spot
The Laguna Hills Memorial Day Half Marathon is a fun family running event. They have a half, 10K, 5K and the most adorable 1/2 mile race for kids. Ellen, Jackie, Gisele and I ran the half decked out in USA gear. This morning Brent decided to sign up for the 10K, and my friend and co-worker Krystal ran her first official 5K.
The half marathon was hot and hilly. Don’t sign up for this race expecting to PR. It’s not crazy hilly, but the hills are rolling throughout. I felt pretty good for the first 10 miles, but my stomach bothered me for the last three. Not sure if it was the sun or something I ate but I definitely wasn’t feeling great at the end. I finished in 1:34 and was pleasantly surprised to have won my age group. I was the 5th female to cross the finish line which feels kinda cool because I made the website leaderboard. Woo hoo! Gisele finished in 1:36 (she ran a 3:05 at Mountains 2 Beach Marathon yesterday, so this was a shake out your legs kinda run for her), Ellen finished strong with 1:47 which is AMAZING considering she wasn’t feeling great and Jackie ran a 1:51, finishing with a huge smile on her face. Brent had a great race too! He averaged a 7:30 pace for the 10K which is incredible considering he just got back from a trip London where he did very little running. He also beat his time from the El Segundo 10K from a few weeks ago.
I felt happy and positive throughout the race, but my legs did feel a little heavier than they usually do when I’m racing. I’m thinking it was probably because I didn’t do any tapering. I did a hard track workout this week and broke my rule of not running the day before a race. I couldn’t NOT go to Lululemon Run Club! (Fun fact: We saw Hilary Duff after Run Club yesterday) Because the course was hilly I didn’t have a goal time. I just went out to have fun and didn’t really look at my watch. I ended up averaging a 7:05 pace. Gisele might have me converted to being a watch free runner one of these days. It really is more fun and less stressful that way.
The Lululemon Run Club Paparazzi
I am SO proud of Krystal who finished her first 5K today. She started running in March, and she’s worked her way up to running three miles after school on a regular basis. Doesn’t she look so happy! She’s totally converted. I’m sure you’ll see her here on future posts running 10Ks and halfs. As I type she is texting me about wanting to run the next race. Oh racing endorphins!
Instead of brunching in LA, we decided to drive down to Laguna Beach (any other MTV Laguna Beach fans out there?) We ate at The Deck overlooking the water. It was so beautiful. Spending time in Laguna Beach really feels like you are on vacation.
Thinking of running this race?
- Great community/relaxed feel
- Scenic Course
- Cute t-shirts (they’re not tech, but sometimes you just want a nice cotton tee)
- Easy parking at the start
- Easy shuttle back to the start after the finish
- You can register on race day
- Inexpensive compared to many other halfs
- The 1/2, 10K and 5K all started at the same time which was nice, but the bathroom line was crazy long. We started 4 minutes late and had to weave past everyone who started towards the back
- Not a fast course
- Limited freebies, although that seems to be the norm now
- Did I mention lack of bathrooms?