Monday, November 30, 2015

Killer Abs Circuit

Happy Monday! Can the Monday after Thanksgiving break really be considered happy? It's so hard to get back on that real life schedule, when I enjoyed five days of family, friends, food, football, and most of all, much-needed relaxation. Sure, I did a little bit of school work, but for the most part, I put the school work away in favor of other things. And I'm feeling rejuvenated. So yes, I'm going to consider this a happy Monday.

1st Annual Friendsgiving (thanks, Friendswoodians, for the idea)
And I'm just popping in for a quick post - and to say that I can't believe today is the last day of November - so that I can share a killer abs circuit with you guys. I cannot take credit for this one, as Felipe is the one who put me through this madness, but it was so good (bad?) that I had to share it with y'all.

Here's how it works. Felipe tells you that you only have to do ten of each exercise. Easy enough, right? But then he tells you that you're going to do the first two exercises (bicycle crunches and sit-ups), and then you're going to start over from the top. Meaning: 10 bicycle crunches, 10 sit-ups, and now, 10 scissor kicks. On each leg, of course. When that has been completed, start over from the top, adding in the hip raises. It's a vicious cycle, and if you can finish without cursing Felipe's name, I salute you. One thing to note is that the 10 supermans are tacked onto the side crunches. So, I did 10 side crunches, on each side, followed by 10 supermans, and THEN I started from the top. Just saving you all from a little bit of pain. Anyway, my abs were sore for DAYS after taking Felipe's class. DAYS. I'm just now able to laugh without feeling it in my core. But, that means this is a great ab workout, and it's over in less than 10 minutes. I know that I'm guilty of cutting core work from my workout routine, so I'm hoping to add it into my schedule at least a couple of times a week (easier said than done). Maybe in a few ... months ... it will get easier, and I can start increasing the reps. But from the feels of it, that's going to take a little while.

And that's all I've got for you guys today. I hope you have all have a fantastic Monday! Happy (almost) December! It's getting to be that crazy time of year, so when your to-do list starts to get overwhelming - step back, take a deep breath, and think of five things for which you are grateful. I promise your day will suddenly seem a little brighter.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Runner Sunday

 Happy post-Thanksgiving Sunday! Temperatures sure made a 180 here, as it was in the upper 70s with about 1000% humidity, and this weekend it has been in the 50s and raining. I’m not complaining, though, as I much prefer the cold to hot when it comes to running. And speaking of, here’s a little running survey to get your Sunday morning started.

National Running Day 2015
New Years Day Run 2015

Best Run Ever
I’m going to have to say the first half marathon I ever ran – in Austin, Texas my freshman year of college. It was that race, that I signed up for on a whim, that I went into with minimal amounts of training, that made me fall in love with running. And has kept me running ever since.

Three Words that Describe My Running
Calm, focused, and energetic. Do calm and energetic cancel one another out? Oh well!

My Go-To Running Outfit
Typically I wear shorts and a short-sleeve dri-fit shirt. If it’s chilly outside, I’ll usually throw on a Nike dri-fit jacket, but it’s rare that you’ll find me running in leggings. I get really hot, really fast, so I tend to shy away from them, opting to suck it up and be cold for those first couple of miles. I always make sure that I have a pair of my favorite Lululemon socks clean, my Garmin fully charged, and a Lululemon headband that goes with my outfit. Look good, run good, right?

Quirky Habit While Running
Hmm, I don't know! I'm sure I have a lot of them, but when I'm running in my neighborhood, especially at night, I often belt out the song that is playing on my Spotify. I've been embarrassed once or twice when I happen upon innocent neighbors that are outside walking. Good thing I can just speed on by!

Morning, Mid-day, or Evening
Any time! I love the feeling that comes with conquering a long run early in the morning, but lately I’ve been rocking the evening runs. Sure, it’s dark, and my risk of injury goes up, but there’s something about ending the day with a run. It allows me to think about all of the days’ events.

My headlamp keeps me safe when I'm running at night
I Won’t Run Outside When It’s
I would say when it’s snowing, but we don’t get snow here. Maybe when it’s icy? I can’t say that I won’t run when it’s upward of 100 degrees, because here in Texas, that happens on the reg. I tend to shy away from running when the humidity level is really high, but even humidity-filled runs are better than running on a treadmill.

Worst Injury – And How I Got Over It
Definitely the shin splints. And I’m not necessarily “over it,” rather, I’ve just been taking better care of myself. Earlier this year, in February, to be exact, I was in so much pain that I made myself a doctor’s appointment. That’s when you know it’s bad. But even walking up the stairs at school was causing me problems, so I knew something had to be done. I was so scared that I was going to hear the words “stress fracture” that I took nearly three weeks off of running. And I’ve limited myself to running only three times a week. They still give me trouble from time-to-time, but even my 15.5-miler didn’t cause me any pain. Success!

KT Tape helps too
I Felt Most Like a Badass Mother Runner When
Man, anytime I finish a race I feel pretty good about myself. Running is never easy for me, and I think I feel the best when I conquer an especially challenging run. When two miles in, I want to start walking, but I push myself to finish the entire run. The 2015 Austin Half Marathon is one race that comes to mind, because I have never thought harder about quitting that race before crossing the finish line. I felt horrible, was dehydrated and overheated, but I slowed my pace and finished the race, on terms that worked for me.

This one felt pretty good, too
Potential Running Goal for 2016
Cross the finish line of the Chevron Houston Marathon. When I was 13, and typing up a bucket list, I never would have dreamed that I would (hopefully) be crossing this item off my list at age 23. I absolutely hated running, and sometimes I'm still shocked that I love it as much as I do.

For my next marathon
Next Race Is
Fort Bend KIA 30K (18.6 miles, for those of not on the metric system) on December 13th. My longest distance to date. Eek!

I promise that I’m going to be better about posting. Writing brings me so much joy, and things are about to slow down big time around here. Well, not really, but with the Christmas holidays on the horizon, I can tell myself that. I hope you enjoy the rest of your Thanksgiving holiday - tomorrow means we all go back to reality. But I'll go back to reality with a full heart (and stomach). And the fact that there's only three weeks to Christmas break. YEAH.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Whoa, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this little blog of mine. And it’s not as though it hasn’t been on the back of my mind. Because it absolutely has. I feel a little twinge of guilt each time I opt to do something else in favor of writing. It’s no excuse, because life is busy for everyone, but I feel as though I’ve been moving a million miles a minute these past few months. And with a new addition to the family – more on that to come – spare time has been hard to come by. But I’m hoping I still have a few readers left after this over-a-month hiatus. And even if I don’t, I’ll still take this time to write down who and what I’m thankful for.

TXU Turkey Trot - a Thanksgiving morning tradition five years running
Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday – great food, family time, many of my friends are all in the same city, a little vacay from the chaos of high school freshmen, and the best part of all, a reason to give thanks. It’s something I should – and I really do try! – to practice every day, but I’m glad for an excuse to reflect on what I am truly thankful for. I read an article the other day that focused on the importance of choosing to be grateful, especially for the seemingly small things. I absolutely loved that reminder. It's easy to be thankful for the big, important things, but some days, it's all you have to be thankful for the chocolate chips in your morning yogurt. And now, it's time for what has turned into a yearly tradition - what I'm thankful for.

I’m thankful for a job. And not just a job, but a job that I absolutely love. I firmly believe that I get to teach the best kids (most of the time) at the best school with the very best people. It’s funny to think back to a year ago, when I was saying these things, because I thought it was selfish of me to not like my job, but not actually meaning them.  This year, I really and truly mean them. Sure, there are days where I question my sanity – who voluntarily spends a majority of their day with 15-year-olds? But I’m at a place where I love going to work each day, and that’s not something everyone gets to say. My students work hard, they make me proud, they make me sigh, they make me laugh, and just the other day I was sitting on a desk with my class of 34, reading and discussing Book 9 of The Odyssey, when it hit me that I’ve really got the best job in the world. And then there are days when you kick two students out in the first five minutes but hey, you can’t win them all.

On that same note, I’m thankful for a classroom to call my own. It may be 95 degrees and rising one day, and 50 degrees with the air conditioning blowing the next, but what a difference having your own classroom makes. And I even have a window. So I must be doing something right in the BHS world.
From a classroom-on-a-cart to...
A room with a view
I’m thankful for the opportunity to stay involved with the sport that gave me so much as a player. Being a coach is hard, and I’d be lying if I said I knew what I was doing more than half the time. But that means I never stop learning, and it has made me want to go back to each and every one of my coaches throughout the years to tell them just how much I appreciate them, and all of the hard work that they put in to not only teaching me the sport of volleyball or basketball or soccer, but for teaching me the value of hard work, a good attitude, and demonstrating good sportsmanship. I absolutely love taking off my teaching hat and putting on my coaching hat. I love to think that I can be a role model for at least one of the girls, the way that so many of my coaches were for me. My girls exhausted me and made me laugh and taught me new dance moves and worked really, really hard, and they made the long days at school 100% worth it.

Proud of my girls for owning the 90's apparel
When former players come back to visit
And to add to that, I’m thankful to work with the very best coaching crew around. To Ap, Todd, and Melissa, you guys are the greatest, and I just love working with you guys! You guys are patient with me, you encourage me, you’re always there to teach me the coaching ropes, and with all of the time that we spend together, I never get tired of being around y’all. And that’s a rarity. You guys make coaching fun!
We also take up eight seats on the bench
I think I say this every year, but this year I’m especially thankful for two healthy legs that allow me to run. Training for a marathon is no easy feat, but I am constantly amazed by my body and how it carries me to new distances. This past weekend I ran my longest distance to date – 15.5 miles – and I honestly felt as though I could have run all day. I didn’t, but I like to say that I could have completed at least one more loop around Memorial Drive. The shin splints back in February and March that kept me on the sideline for a few weeks were so hard for me, because running is my very favorite “me time.” It’s time to think and process and shake things off, so not a run goes by where I’m not grateful for two strong, healthy legs. Even if my volleyball players tell me that “I have big legs.” I’ll take them.

I’m thankful for the greatest friends in all the land. From Houston to Dallas to Corpus Christi to Austin to New York City to Chicago to San Francisco to Uganda; from teaching to accounting to medical school to banking to law school to fashion design, we cover lots of fields in lots of areas. And I’m learning that the real world makes it hard to keep in touch sometimes. Life gets in the way, and suddenly it’s been weeks since I’ve asked my friends how they’re doing, or since I’ve caught up with them over frozen yogurt. But no matter the distance, and no matter the varying interests, each one of them has given me so much – laughter, advice, hugs, walks, late night chats, encouraging texts – and I’m just not sure what I would do without y’all.

I’m thankful for the gift of travel, and along with that, new experiences. It goes without saying that teaching is a travel-lover’s dream job, and I’m thankful for the greatest summer of discovering new places and trying new things. I posted about this before, but scuba diving was something I never thought I would do. Ever. It scared the heck out of me, so when Cheyney called me and asked me if I wanted to get scuba certified with her, I couldn’t believe I was actually saying yes. But I think the fact that it was an excuse to travel to Cozumel had a little something to do with it. And I fell in love with the sport, and I hope wherever I travel to this summer grants me the opportunity to explore the underwater world. And maybe it wasn’t quite as adventurous, but I am thankful all the same for a cousin who let me invade his studio apartment in the heart of New York City. I fell in love with the city that never sleeps (don’t worry, I absolutely did), and I certainly couldn’t have experienced all that I did without a cousin who gave me a place to stay.

That gives me the perfect opportunity to segway into family. Wow, have I got the best family around. Call me biased, but I think they’re the best. From the moment we were born, my parents have always centered their lives around my brother and me. Always doing what was best for us, always redoing their schedules so that we could do what we wanted to do. And they never gave it a second thought. And I never really realized how much they sacrificed. How hard it can be to drop your daughter off for 6am basketball practice, to then pick me up immediately after school and drive 30 minutes (without traffic) to volleyball practice three nights a week. To shuttle me from Girl Scout meetings to swim team practice to YoungLife, and making sure I ate a (somewhat) healthy dinner along the way. Who put aside their own desires to take trips with me to Indiana and Minnesota for volleyball tournaments, and to Cooperstown for baseball tournaments. Who gave their kids the world, and who still give their kids the world. You guys are the greatest support system, and I’m truly not sure where I would be without you.

And remember that new addition to the family? World, meet Mack Tomlinson. My 13-week-old beagle puppy. Who has brought me more joy than I ever thought possible. Who has given me puncture wounds and kept me up at night, but who has taught me what love really is. I love being his mom – taking him on walks, playing with him, chasing after him, and giving him his forever home. When I was just beginning to think about calling him mine, my dad told me, “Kel, you realize this is a 15-year commitment, right?” The best commitment I ever could have made. He’s got endless energy and floppy ears that will break hearts one day. He’s friendly and loving and I’m just so glad he’s mine.

Yes, he's named after Mack Brown
I’m thankful for a roof over my head, a car that gets me from point A to point B, KSBJ Monday morning texts, sunshine and fall weather, health and happiness, and a God who continues to chase after me, even when he’s far from the front of my mind. For friends who hold me accountable, for warm socks and fuzzy blankets, for Longhorn football and dairy-free chocolate. 

For time to read every now and again, 

for volunteer opportunities, for traffic-filled commutes that let me jam to my favorite music, and for my beloved KitchenAid Stand Mixer. For words of affirmation and immature jokes, for mentors, and for a glass of white wine after a long, long day. For hope in a world that is so often broken, for those who fight selflessly for our freedom. 

For a wise vet who takes good care of my sweet Mack, for days when I get to see the sun rise and set, for group texts, and last but not least, for all of YOU for continuing to read this blog. I’m great about posting, and then I neglect it for a month. But your kind words about it – big and small – mean so much to me. So, here’s to a blogging comeback!

I hope you all enjoy a fabulous Thanksgiving – full of family and loved ones, friends, delicious food (wear your stretchy pants!), and football (Hook’em Horns!). Spend a little bit of time thinking about what you’re thankful for – because it's so much more life-giving to focus on what you do have, rather than on what you don't.