Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Make the Change

It’s always so hard for me to open up blogger after a hiatus like this. Granted, this is definitely not my longest hiatus, but remember that time I made a goal for myself that I would write one post a week? I applaud myself for sticking to that for four months, but here I am, a month after my last post. But, May got crazy, as May typically does, and blogging was the first thing to go. And you would think that because it’s summer vacation I would be able to do this on a more consistent basis, but I took one look at my bank account and told myself that if I want to continue traveling and running (because whoever said running is cheap therapy has definitely not bought a new pair of running shoes or a new watch or the myriad of accessories that go along with this "cheap" sport lately), okay, and shopping at Anthropologie – so sue me – I better suck it up and teach at least a little bit of summer school.

So, while it was certainly no three-week trek through the beautiful country of Argentina, I managed to keep myself busy by teaching what I like to call STAAR Boot Camp. It was draining, to say the least, but I appreciated being able to stick to a regular routine. I got up to walk Mack, hopped in the shower because we’re at the point in the year where any sort of physical activity requires a change of clothes, and upon arriving home, took the pup on yet another walk before parking it on the couch in preparation to hit either the running trail or the pool. These summer temps have encouraged me to bring back the one-piece tan, but have really messed with my running training plan. But I'll save that for later.

Anyway, just because I was on the work grind doesn’t mean I haven’t allowed myself to have a little fun this summer. I cultured myself by visiting the Ron Mueck exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts (and displayed my maturity level when I absolutely could not handle the sculpture of a woman giving birth),

Natalie puts the size of these sculptures into perspective
as well as the Pixel Forest exhibit, which was much more up my alley.

I have finished reading seven books and am starting in on my eighth,

I wrapped up another season of sand volleyball with Team Practice Safe Sets (we went out of the playoffs in a most disappointing fashion, but we will certainly be back), and a couple of weekends ago one of my college roommates came to town and four out of nine members of the Clubhouse were able to reunite and spend the weekend catching up with one another. I had a lot of fun being a tourist in my own city – we ate a lot of delicious food, did a little bit of shopping, spent some time relaxing by the pool, and we even sat front row at River Oaks Theater (we had a little too much fun at dinner, whoops!) – a Houston landmark.

I have spent some time cleaning up my apartment, I’ve done a good amount of dog- and house-sitting (if you need a laugh, ask me to tell you the story of how I locked myself out of the house and had to climb the fence in the pouring rain),

I have done a little bit of planning (read: brainstorming) for this upcoming school year, and I have even done a little bit of work in the kitchen. I like to think that I’ll get these recipes posted, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here.

Anyway, now for the meat of this post. I know, I’m long-winded. But earlier I mentioned that my runs were suffering as what I think is a direct result of the weather. If you have never visited Houston, just know that summer means two things: hot and humid. And rain, which only adds to the humidity. Man, I couldn’t do anything. My heart rate would skyrocket at even the slowest paces, and I had a hard time running consecutive miles under what I would normally consider to be a moderate pace. And if I did manage to do that, I would stop and walk before starting the next mile because my whole body was just shot. I began dreading each workout – forget about the Brooks tagline to “run happy”. That was not happening. And it definitely showed on my face. I started getting inside my own head and really started doubting my big goal: Boston.

My first ever race
I did not want to take to the treadmill. I don’t know what it was, but the treadmill more than intimidated me. Actually, I do know what it was. I was scared of what the treadmill would tell me about my running ability. As much as I hated running in 80+ degree weather with a dew point almost as high, I liked having the weather as an excuse for why I couldn’t do a workout. That sounds horrible when I put it on paper, but our minds are a funny thing.

The views are nice, though
At some point I realized that I was tired of using the weather as an excuse for why I couldn't do a workout. It’s like this headline flashed across my brain: You've lived in the great state of Texas for all 25 years of your life, and there's zero chance that it's going to get any cooler. Either you're going to stop pouting about it, or you're going to have to change something. 

I was also tired of having to do an entire outfit change in the middle of my long runs that were literally happening at a snail's pace because I was so sweaty. Nobody has time for that much laundry, you feel me? Anyway, once I admitted these things out loud, and I was told that the weather outside should scare me more than the treadmill does, I decided to make the change. I pushed fear to the side and picked a treadmill at the gym. And while I am still wiping up an impressive amount of sweat, this seemingly simple change has made such a difference. Instead of feeling defeated before and after a run, I feel strong. I know that I've got a long way to go when it comes to achieving my ultimate goal of qualifying for Boston, but not only have I actually logged some good miles, my confidence in my running ability has done a 180. I’ve made a change and I’m starting to see results. I even got an "A" after reporting back on how today's workout went. Funny how that works.

Also, shout out to my girl Taylor for finally releasing all of her songs on Spotify. That was huge.

I talk a lot about running on my blog because it's a huge part of my life. It's not my entire life, but it has taught me a lot of lessons that can be applied to other areas of my life. Such as teaching and coaching, which makes up another large chunk of the Kelli Tomlinson puzzle. I have a couple of “big goals” for this upcoming school year, but one of them is that when something isn't working, make a change. If my students aren't engaged, or if they aren't understanding something one way or if I find myself doing something “just to do it”, it’s on me to do something about that. With running, the “easy” thing for me to do was run my familiar tree-lined route, knowing in the back of my mind that I had a ready-made excuse for why it didn’t go well. The hard thing for me to do was turn on the treadmill and crank out a tempo run at a pace that I hadn’t seen in awhile.

It's so easy, especially during volleyball season, for me to do what has always been done with the curriculum. It’s all right there for me, and it doesn’t require a ton of effort on my part. But I want to challenge myself to make whatever learning happens in room 327 relevant and powerful. I want them to get something out of it and not just feel as though they are doing busywork. I want them to learn how to think critically and know that it’s okay to struggle and work outside their comfort zones. I feel as though some of my high school years were wasted – I spent so much time worrying about the grade I received on an assignment that I couldn’t tell you half of what I learned in some of the most interesting courses. There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be discovered – and so many of my students are ready to take on the challenge! – but in order for that to happen, changes have to be made. That's not to say that it will always be easy. Or that progress will always be immediate. I've run enough miles to know that not all of them are going to leave me feeling like I can conquer the world. But if we want to see results, we've got to at least give it a try.