Archive | June, 2016

progress

16 Jun

When I found out that I was teaching Kindergarten LEAP this year, I would be lying if I said I was not a little apprehensive.  LEAP is a sheltered English program–basically it’s a classroom of English Language Learners with a regular classroom teacher all day and an ESOL (now ENL) teacher for 2.5-ish hours every day.

 

I have been teaching since 2006.  I have never NOT taught middle school (hey hey double negatives).  This marks my first year not having big people.  Or even medium people.  I have Kinders and 2nd graders.  And change makes me nervous.

 

I have loved every most minutes of it!  It’s been a great change of pace–one of the things that I love about ESOL is that what I am teaching is constantly changing.  It allows me room to grow professionally and challenge myself with new grade levels, curriculum and students.

 

Today we took our Kindergarten class to Springdale Farm for the second time this year.

 

The first time we went was late September.  We had a very small class (we started the year with like 12 kids and then gradually added more throughout the year and lost some and we’re up to 21 at this point).  The kids in our class were almost all brand new to the country–within the past couple of months.  They were tiny and scared.  There were tears daily from some of them.  They rarely spoke.  That first bus ride to the farm was SO quiet.  The kids had very little to say–many of them were still in their silent period.

 

Today, the difference was remarkable. Even having added new students (some within the past 2-4 weeks), the bus was noisy.  Kids were asking questions about the animals and the farm–not just to me, but to the woman giving us the tour.  They were excitedly pulling me around and telling me about the things they saw.  On the bus ride home, we sang songs until they all fell asleep (well 14 of the 20 anyway)…

 

And as I sat there, with a kid sleeping on my lap and another one resting on my shoulder, I couldn’t help but be unbelievably proud of the progress my kiddos have made.  Not just in their ability to speak, listen and use their English, which is HUGE.  But they are reading.  Tapping out words.  They know their letters and sounds.  They are writing simple sentences.

 

To have a front row seat for this kind of learning….it’s so special.  I don’t know if we will ever have our own kids…it makes me so sad to think we may not get to be there for our babies’ growing and learning.  But I am incredibly thankful that I get to be there in this way to watch these kids and help facilitate their learning.  It’s the best part of teaching–knowing that you are responsible for these little people, watching their minds growing and changing.

 

I have one more week of teaching.  And then I will be done with my tenth year teaching, and my third full year teaching ESOL. It’s been a really great year for me professionally, and I am already excited for next year!

 

progress

cheers to a year of progress

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So…What’s next?

9 Jun

I don’t really get taper tantrums (at least…i don’t think so).  I actually kind of enjoy the laziness of taper.  But recovery after a big race…man this shit sucks.  I get antsy to run, but also know my body needs deserves recovery time.

 

Today, I am sitting here on the couch…thinking about going for a run…knowing that I should wait.  Everything feels ok (leg-wise) and has been pretty good for a couple of days. My chafe is almost gone, my heel blisters are healing.  But there are things that are out of whack still.  My face is breaking out like crazy.  I’ve had a raging, borderline migraine headache.  I am not sleeping normally yet–I am exhausted, but for some reason not sleeping through the night.  My appetite is off and on.  I told myself a full week of no running before I even attempted a run.  And I am sticking to it…

 

So instead of running, I am scheming up next running endeavors.  I created a spreadsheet of sorts to research fall races.  I had a few goals when looking at my options:

  1.  50k-50 miles is going to be my fall focus.  I believe that getting faster is important before stepping up in distance.  Of course, faster is completely objective.  I have no idea what I define as fast.  But I know that I am not there.  I did not feel fast on Saturday–I felt sloooooowwwwwww.  Maybe faster isn’t so much to do with a pace as it is to do with a comfort level.  That’s not to say that I expect to be comfortable during an ultra–because that would just be silly.  But I do expect to feel in control and strong.  At Virgil, I felt amazing.  Saturday I felt anything but.  Which tells me I’ve got some work to do before I contemplate stepping up to a 100k or *gasp* 100 miler.  After Virgil, I said I could never imagine those distances.  I can honestly say now that I can imagine them…sometime in the future…maybe.  But for right now, I want to focus on working hard to get faster, to get even more comfortable on the hills, to improve my mental game.  Also maybe training in black trash bags so that heat doesn’t bother me.  I kid…I kid…kind of.
  2. Challenging courses are cool–but it’d also be really cool to see what I could do if I trained this hard and then ran an “easy” (hahaha ultra hahaha easy haha) course.  P.S. It is challenging to find an “easy” course…so this is a wish-list item that I am willing to compromise on.
  3. I do not want to be driving for more time than I am running.  So if we take my time from Saturday (because dear, sweet Baby Jesus I don’t want to run a slower 50 mile now..forward, faster progress, people), then we’re looking at races within about 6 hours of us.
  4. Going along with the driving distance comes lodging–races that we can camp beforehand get bonus points because if we’re paying to drive, PLUS paying for a race entry, PLUS paying for lodging, the cheaper the lodging, the better.  Also I love camping.
  5. I do not want to spend a fortune.  With entry fees climbing all the time, I am not interested in an expensive race that offers things like special food (I don’t really eat aid station stuff anyway, I bring my own so I KNOW I have what I want/need) or fancy swag (that I will likely not use).  So a race that costs more than $100 ($2/mile for a 50 miler) is almost always going to get tossed out.  There are still affordable races out there…so why pay more than $2/mile?
  6. If I stick to my recovery plan…the next couple weeks of June will be recovery/easy miles, then we go to Ireland, and I will likely not run much.  So I won’t start real training until mid-July, meaning I’d ideally pick a fall race in October/November to give myself enough time to actually complete another training cycle and have more than a month or so of training before tapering again…Sadly the 50 milers (and a couple 100ks) I’ve seen that looked promising so far have fallen in September…and I’m not sure that’s enough time to train…

So those are my criteria.  I have still not decided for sure on a race…there is more research to be done.  I haven’t seen any 50 milers that I am super interested in for the fall…so I might opt for a 50k, which would be good in terms of focusing on speedwork moving forward.

 

No matter what I decide, the ultimate goal (as of now) is to train hard for a fall race and then roll that training over into training for Cayuga next spring.  That course, man…what an amazingly beautiful course.

 

So that’s that.  If you know of a good 50k or 50 mile race that is in October/November, that is <6 hours from Rochester, that costs <$100, and that is relatively easy (although not too flat…I mean…hills are so fun and all), let me know so I can research it and get it on the list of potentials!

CT50 Race Report

5 Jun

Wow.  I can’t believe I finished my second 50 miler.   And I can’t believe I am able to mostly walk completely fine the day after.  I certainly can’t believe I PR-ed after what I am still struggling (despite a lot of reasoning) not to see as a less than stellar performance.

 

Short version report:

Course was absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful (I knew it would be).  It got really ridiculously hot.  I thought about quitting very early on when I realized it was not going to be my day.  Except I hate when people quit, especially if I quit, especially early on in what is going to be a long day for everyone–a lot can change from mile to mile in an ultra, so I feel like I owe it to myself (and to Eric, who is always there to crew my dumbass and give up his time and energy for me) to see it through to the end, even when that end doesn’t go as planned.  My nutrition was off, my hydration was off, my stomach was off, I was off. But I battled through.  I ended up finishing the race with an hour PR on “not my day.”  I guess I’ll take it.

Long version report:  

We went to bed relatively early and listened to drunken idiots in the campsite across from ours.  Somehow when we camp at Ithaca we end up next to the drunken disasters.  They finally went to bed around 12 or 1?  They had left their light and radio on, but it was kind of soothing.  I slept off and on until about 4, when I got up to pee (I’d hydrated a ton knowing it was going to be a hot race day.)  I couldn’t go back to sleep so I just laid there, thinking about how pretty everything was going to be and getting geared up mentally.  We got up, got ready, and got to the start.  It was uneventful.  I almost cried again at the start, but then a group of people were hanging out chatting, and I snapped out of it.  It felt like we stood there forever before we could finally actually get moving.

The course is basically an out and back with a lollipop loop on the end (at least, in my head that’s how I picture it).  Over the 50 miles, you climb about 10k (so it is a very challenging race–which is the usual for any race put on by Red Newt Racing and Ian Golden).  I think about half of that elevation comes on stairs, many of which are old, busted, broken down.  This description makes the course sound awful, but it is actually the most scenic course out there–the whole day you run around the gorges and next to waterfalls and through beautiful, lush forests.  There’s beautiful single track, the Finger Lakes Trail, and fields (god I hate fields, but we’ll get to that).  Honestly it’s a beautiful course-as Sean put it last night, it’s the perfect course for one loop so you can see it all and be done. But we were crazy and had signed up for a 50 miler, so the route had to be completed twice.

Section 1:  Old Mill

The start of the race went out hard.  It was a perfectly cool morning.  I ran the entire section, which shocked me because there is significant climbing over the 3.1 miles.  It was uneventful–the usual pack spreading out and everyone finding their spot in the conga line.  There was a bag piper on the trail and I almost started bawling because the last time I heard bag pipes was at Eric’s dad’s funeral.  I managed to hold it together and made it to Old Mill aid station, grabbed some new water bottles even though I’d only drank a sip or two, and cruised right back out.

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Section 2:  Underpass

The next 4 miles were rolling. I realized people were flying, and I wanted to make sure I ran smart in the first half, so I tried to slow myself down a bit. I was really worried about the heat later in the day, and I also knew that 50 miles is a long way to go–I kept looking at people flying by and thinking to myself “either there are going to be some incredibly fast times today or there is going to be major carnage when people blow up later.”  (Scotie would find me on the course later and tell me that both ended up happening–there were some speedy times, but also a lot of crashes, including 72 DNF’s…almost a third of the field…and 45 DNS’s)  Going down Lucifer’s Falls stairs in this section was scary–it was so steep and I started to get dizzy, which pissed me off because I’d done so much training on stairs.  My stomach started rumbling, so I ate some fruit rollups and made a mental note to eat more.  There was also a creek crossing in this section, and the cold water felt so lovely on my already-tired, already-beat-up feet.  The rocky sections of the course, along with the water crossings, would really tear my feet up over the course of the day.

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Section 3:  Buttermilk Falls

I blitzed through the aid station, ran through a short field, and found myself at the major creek crossing.  I carefully picked my way in, expecting thigh deep water. I finally found the middle and the water was to my boobs!!! The photographer was there on the other side and laughed at my expression.  I didn’t care that it was cold (it actually felt wonderful–I was already overheating by this point), I just hadn’t expected boob deep water.  I climbed out and continued through another field.  This section was THE WORST!!! There were a ton of field sections, none of which were very long, but the grass was tall and tickley (and probably tick-y…apparently Ithaca is overrun with ticks right now because they were EVERYWHERE).  I hate running in grass and fields, and it was already sunny and the fields were just holding all that heat in.  I started thinking about how much this section would suck a little later in the day when it got hot, but then told myself to shut up and stop being negative.  We ran a short while and then got to Lick Brook.  I’d never been there before, and the climb out of it was intense.  Sweat was just pouring off me.  I started to get frustrated by my perceived lack of progress, but then I realized that this climb was a baby compared to Virgil.  And I had made it through Virgil just fine, so I’d be fine here.  I put my head down and kept climbing.  I think this section was when I started tripping all over the place–I kept catching myself, so I never actually fell, but I realized I was going to have to be a lot more careful.  Coming off a road crossing, I heard someone scream “Yeah, Shme!!”  I couldn’t place the voice, but Sean had caught me.  We ran together for a mile or so, chatted.  Sean looked super strong and told me he was aiming for a 12 hour finish.  Fuck.  He looked way stronger than I felt, and I had hoped to be in the 11 hour range.  I reminded myself to run my own race and worry about me.  Sean left me to run ahead, and I covered the descent into Buttermilk.  It felt so good–I had run it before with Mertsock last year, so I knew exactly what to expect for the final mile or so.

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Section 4:  Back to Underpass

I was in Buttermilk briefly, it was good to see TrailsRoc people there (Thanks, vollies!! You guys consistently rock it out at aid stations!!!), and then out quickly.  I knew I was going to be walking up the stairs along the gorge, so I grabbed some food and started out.  I was so hot.  I kept drinking water, but I couldn’t get enough.  I stopped at a bathroom and filled my bottles with water and kept moving. I heard someone yelling my name again, and O’Brien caught me. All this getting caught by people was starting to wear on my mentally, but again I kept reminding myself to run my own race.  We ran together for a while down Lick Brook this time, and it was nice. Then I bit it HARD.  I supermanned down the trail, then popped back up, realized I was just really dirty but otherwise unscathed and kept moving.  Coming back through the deep creek crossing again was delicious.  I tried to rinse as much dirt off myself from my tumble.  I wanted to linger, but knew I needed to keep moving.  It was getting hot and I was slowing down from it.  I hung with Eric for a minute, chugged ice cold pop, almost puked it back up, changed bottles again, and headed back out.

Section 5:  Back to Old Mill

I think this is around when I started feeling sick to my stomach.  I was sweating profusely and smelled awful and the trails were starting to get crowded with people looking for swimming holes and shade.  I wanted to apologize to everyone I ran by for how disgusting I was.  I kept moving.  O’Brien went by me.  I put it on cruise control and just power hiked the climbs and ran the flats and downs.  People were still flying–I was running 10s and 10:30s on flat sections and people were blowing by me like I was barely moving. Climbing back up Lucifer’s Fall’s stairs, I kept tripping.  What the hell is wrong with you, I thought to myself.  Went through the creek crossing again and noticed my shoes had a lot of grit in them this time and it was rubbing badly. I got into a really bad place mentally, and I never really recovered the rest of the day.  Looking back, it is impressive that I pushed myself through another 30ish miles.  I texted Eric partway through and told him I was going to just drop at the halfway point.  He told me to get to the aid station and we’d reevaluate.  We never actually discussed dropping.  But it was in my head–I was so hot and uncomfortable and felt like I was not running well and it was so early in the race.  What was the point of putting my body through any more of this?

Section 6:  Back to the Start/Finish

My feet started to feel very torn up, and I knew I was going to need to change shoes.  My legs had started some weird crampy thing, but I didn’t know what to do–I had taken salt twice already (normally I’d take 2 salt tabs the entire race), had been drinking 20-40 ounces of water between each aid station (they were only 3-6 miles apart), and was cramping and had perpetual cotton mouth.  WTF.  This section was mostly downhill, so I made some decent time.  When I popped off the trail, I had to round the field to go back to the start/finish line–it was all exposed, and it was so hot.  I went through the line, then popped into the bathroom.  I didn’t think I had to go, but with all of the drinking I’d done, I knew I SHOULD need to.  I peed brown.  Not good.  I sat down on the tailgate, and we changed my socks and shoes–it is AMAZING how much better you can feel with just a simple footwear change.  I also changed shirts because I was sick of smelling, then I was off.  I finished the first half of the race in 5:35:xx.  It was decent–I had wanted to run around 11:30:xx for the race, so this seemed like an ok start.

Section 7:  Same as 1, up to Old Mill

I hiked every uphill at this point–I didn’t even attempt to run.  This section went relatively quickly and I don’t remember much about it.  I passed a guy who was struggling on a climb and I was like, “just think…we never have to do this climb ever again if we don’t want to…every part of this race now could be the last time if we want.”  We both laughed and I kept plugging along.  I came into Old Mill, I think this is where I saw Valone.  I didn’t stay to talk–I knew every minute I wasted in aid was going to be 2 or 3 minutes at the end of the day.  I chugged some cold pop, it almost came back up, grabbed new water bottles, and kept moving.  On my way out, I grabbed a Twizzler (one of my favorite candies), but I spent much of the next section feeling like it was going to come back up.

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Section 8:  Same as 2, back to Underpass

The creek crossing felt wonderful on my feet.  At this point, I was so hot that I wanted to just lay down in the creek. But I kept moving. I was still stumbling all over the place, and this section seemed to have a lot of trees down.  Every time I’d get moving, another tree was in the way.  The first time through, I’d awkwardly hurdled most of them (I wish I had video of my hurdling technique–if it looks as ridiculous as it feels then it’s gotta be a mess) and I kept stopping to go over them because I was scared I was going to bite it and really hurt myself.  I came into Underpass, chugged pop, grabbed new water bottles and kept cruising.  I had not been looking forward to this next section of trail, but knew I had to do what I had to do.

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Section 9: Same as 3, back to Buttermilk

I ran out of water a couple of miles into this section (I think) and stopped in a bathroom to refill water again.  I kept telling myself that each climb was the last time I ever had to do it again.  There was a gigantic tree down here.  The first time through, it was tricky but fine.  This time, as I heaved my body up and over, I literally groaned.  The fields felt terrible. I was pretty sure I was dying.  A lot of fast 50 milers were coming back, and they all looked strong but like they were working, which made me feel moderately better about the fact that I felt like a piece of shit at this point.  I caught up to a guy (or he caught me…I don’t remember), and we were running together when I bit it again.  Another hard fall.  Another time I lucked out falling in a section that was not very rocky, so I ended up just covered in dirt, but not actually injured.  I got to the final road crossing and the cops that were there were like, “you ok, can we get you any water?” They had brought a cooler of water and ice, which was really nice of them.  I told them I was good, that it was just another mile or so downhill in the shade.  I cruised down to the aid station and cursed about how hot I was.  But at this point I knew I was turning around and heading back to the finish line.  I also knew that I could hike the last half marathon (what I had left) and still make the final cut off.  So no matter what, I was finishing this race.  I was pissed because I figured there was no chance in hell of a PR, but did some math in my head and decided I could come in just under or very close to my time at Virgil.  And really at this point I didn’t care too much–I just wanted to be done.  At the aid station, Eric handed me a bag full of potato chips and instructed me to finish it.  I had not been eating much all day, and I’m sure part of my struggle had to do with poor nutrition.

 

Section 10:  Same as 4, back to Underpass

At this point, I was on a little island, which was nice.  I prefer suffering during a run alone.  My feet were really hurting–I was pretty sure there were some serious blisters on my feet, but I didn’t think I wanted to bother changing shoes any more.  Just get to the finish. I had to climb over a massive tree again (I think it was this section).  I selfie video-ed my climb. As I finished my video (which makes the tree look much less impressive than it actually was), I looked up to see a guy coming my way, looking at me like I’d absolutely lost my mind (to be fair, I was selfie-ing my way over a fallen tree in the middle of a 50 mile race)…he said he thought he was going to get pulled at the next aid station.  I said sorry.  At the downhill through Lick Brook, I caught a guy.  He was hobbling, we talked briefly.  He said he was going to DNF at the next aid station.  I told him to just hike the rest–7 more miles after the aid station.  He said he’d think about it.  I caught another guy partway down.  Passing people made me feel better–this was what happened at Virgil, too.  I started catching people on downs.  That put a little pep in my step (stress on little).  At the aid station, Eric threw a bag of ice on my back.  I didn’t even flinch, I was that hot.  Bonnie was there–she had seen Sean go through and then waited for me.  She grabbed ice cubes and started rubbing them on my neck and shoulders.  I was so hot.  Did I mention that yet?  I also noticed in this section that I was barely sweating any more.  My clothes were bone dry.  Things were getting really bad.

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the bane of my existence…hot, open, grassy fields…

Section 11:  Same as 5, back to Old Mill

This section was a grind–I felt awful, I was getting really upset with my time.  I felt like a failure.  Just as I was about to text Eric to apologize for making him crew his loser wife, that I was never running again, that I don’t know why I ever thought I was capable of this kind of shit, Scotie poppped out of the woods.  He asked how I was doing, and I actually almost broke down in tears.  I managed to mumble that I was fine, just hot.  He hiked a bit of an uphill with me, and I was thinking about how he is this incredible ultra runner and was probably like what is this girl doing right now walking. But then we hit a beautifully flat section and I started running, and he ran for a bit and then went a different way.  I caught a couple more people here, then cruised into Old Mill aid station.  Eric and the Valones were there.  I wanted to leave my pack–I was sick of having it on.  But my stupid bib was on it, and I didn’t want to wait around for it to get unpinned and repinned to something.  I threw on a tank top against my better judgement–my underarms (arm fat?) were already starting to chafe a bit, but Eric told me it’d cool me down to ditch the sweaty, filthy (from my fall) shirt I was in.  I threw my pack back on, grabbed my half finished ice cold bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper to carry with me and started to run.  3.1 miles were all that stood between me and the glorious finish line.

Section 12:  Back to where it all started.

I was really moving now.  This section (in this direction) played to my strengths as a runner, particularly at the end of a race.  People I’d been passing were complaining about their quads being destroyed.  Mine hurt of course, but it was manageable, so I kept going.  I think I was mostly just tiptoeing down the trails…I’d imagine it looked a little something like this (and in fact I heard people hiking on the trail laughing and I can only imagine it was at me and my ridiculous “running” form).   I passed a few more people, including one woman–the first woman I’d seen in hours.  I thought for sure she’d go with me (we’d played leap frog very early in the day, but she passed me and I didn’t see her again til now), but she didn’t.  I kept looking over my shoulder, determined not to get re-caught, but I was golden.  I hit the final descent, passed two more runner guys who told me to go get it, and cruised through the finish line to cheers and cowbell.  I thought I was going to puke or at least dry heave, but I didn’t.  I thought I was going to cry, but I don’t know if there was any liquid left in me.  Shockingly, I managed to pull off a 12:15.  Eric found me sitting on a picnic table with my head between my legs trying not to puke.  He helped me take off my shoes so my poor, mangled feet could breath.  Then we walked back to the finish line and friends and beer.

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The Aftermath:

I went to the bathroom to change clothes.  I took out a wet wipe to clean off the dirt.  It was everywhere (including inside my bra wtf) from my two huge wipe outs.  As I wiped my body, my rib cage started burning intensely.  I almost yelled.  I looked down to find two huge “wings” of chafe from my pack. I have no idea how I didn’t notice it when it was actually happening.

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My under arms were also burning.  FML.  I had been so careful to Two Toms all the places I normally chafe before and during the race…but I had not covered my ribs because I’d never chafed there before.  Moral of the story: Just Two Toms your whole body from now on.  I managed to redress myself and stumble back to our little TrailsRoc crew at the finish line.  I chugged a huge water bottle and cracked a beer.  We stayed for a bit to cheer more people through, then went to Chipotle for guac and chips, which was the only thing that sounded edible to me at that point.  We spent an hour or so reliving the adventures at the TrailsRoc cabin and campfire, then went to bed.  I couldn’t believe how well I was able to walk!!! After Virgil, I could barely move without pain. The lack of pain made me feel better, but then I started to consider that maybe the lack of pain was because I hadn’t run hard enough.  I couldn’t sleep because of the chafe–my whole upper body was just on fire.  It started to lightly rain, which soothed me to sleep, but then we had a downpour for a good long time and I was up again.  I drifted back to sleep again after, but we were all up early–and packed and out of camp by 8ish.  I’m a little more sore today, but really just if I sit for too long–once I get moving, I am ok. I am obviously tired, and I am super hungry.  My feet hurt (I did end up with some blisters *sigh*).  My chafe hurts (I just told Eric I’d rather have run another 50 today than have this horrendous chafe to deal with).  I am disappointed in a way with how things went down yesterday.  I am not happy with my performance, certainly not happy with my mental game.  But I finished the race, and I am otherwise unscathed.

The Negatives:

I don’t know what happened with my hydration.  Something was off for most of the day.  I took more salt tabs than I ever have before (pretty much 1 every aid station), drank 20-40 ounces of water between aid stations and still couldn’t keep up.  I stopped sweating partway through the race.

The heat really got to me.  Eric thinks some of it was just in my head.  I joked after the race that I used to hate hills, so I trained on hills to get ready.  So maybe I need to train wearing black plastic trash bags on my body to train myself to handle the heat. I think from now on I should stick to races in the fall when chances of a cool day are higher.

My nutrition was also off.  I’m not even sure what I ate all day–a ziplock of chips, maybe 12 fruit roll ups, and one Twizzler–I’m pretty sure that was it.  I also drank 20 ounces of Mountain Dew.  That is probably not even close to enough calories for 50 miles…I just couldn’t stomach anything.

The Positives

  1. I have the best husband/crew ever.  I am so thankful that he not only allows me to run ultras, but comes with me to crew me.  Knowing I’m going to see him at each aid station makes getting through the tough sections so much easier. Being able to count on having my stuff at each aid station…not having to rely on volunteers or drop bags…is comforting.  When you know you’re going to be out there for the whole day, and you don’t know what’s going to actually happen–how you’re going to feel, how you’re going to perform–having something you can count on, like a solid crew, becomes indispensable.  I owe him a million and one thanks.
  2. I finished.  And it was still an hour PR.
  3. I am stubborn.  My Opa used to call us kids dickköpfig because it means stubborn in German.  That stubbornness is what got me through yesterday.  I was not prepared to mentally suffer the way I did…I stayed low from around mile 20 on, while hitting some really REALLY low points along the way.  I’ve never been that low for that long, so it was interesting to find myself in that place.  I guess this was a good training exercise in that way…at Virgil I had myself a day, felt strong most of the race, and so I didn’t really know how I’d be able to push through low points.  Now I know that I can do it.
  4. What a gorgeous course.  I mean for real.  I could’ve taken pictures all day long…

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What’s Next?

This got too long.  A what’s next blog will be what’s next. 😉

 

that whole refugee kid thing

3 Jun

I’ve struggled for a good way to put this all into words for over a month or so now.  I was just not going to write about it, because then it would just go away–a forgotten plan.   Except people have been asking about it.  And I’m tapering, so I have extra time to think and a sink full of dishes to do, so here I am typing instead.

 

So first of all, to catch you up-to-date if you haven’t been following along: Eric and I had decided to move forward with the process of fostering some unaccompanied refugee kids.  I’d go back and find links to the blogs where we discussed our reasons and motivations, but I’m too lazy.  Suffice to say that the opportunity fell into our laps–it was not something we were seeking out.  In fact, in all of our previous talks about growing our family, fostering/adoption had kind of left us both at a standstill of mixed emotions, thoughts and questions.  But when the opportunity presented itself, we felt compelled.  We were both excited.  So excited that we spent the weekend after we sent in paperwork rearranging the house to make a comfortable bedroom for two kids (because we wanted siblings or at last 2 kids with the same language background).

 

We were committed to this process.  We knew it was going to change our lives in amazing, unforeseeable ways.  We went to get fingerprinted.  We had doctor visits (Doctor: “Do you have a drug problem?” Me: “Umm…no?”).  We had to be PPD tested (which led me to muse that apparently having a child of any kind, even non-biological, is going to involve needles…).  We had friends fill out recommendation letters and forms.  And we scheduled classes.

 

And then a couple of days before they were supposed to start, classes were not happening because there weren’t enough families.  So we were told we could complete the coursework on our own.  Perfect.  Except then a couple of days later we were told that they were going to wait to see if they could get more families and have classes.  And we started to get a little nervous.  Because this is a huge decision, and we needed to feel comfortable that things were organized and well-run. We insisted we wanted to stick with the agreed upon plan of books on our own so we could hopefully welcome some kids into our home and our lives over the summer, when we could get situated before school started.

 

We had our first ever face-to-face meeting.  It did not go well.  We felt uncomfortable.  We were given a case file that we had questions about (questions about the big things, like “if we get a child who has a history of sexual abuse, what kinds of counseling are available thru your program or are we responsible for setting that kind of thing up ourselves?”).  We were made to feel like those questions were a problem.  When I pulled out a notebook where I’d been writing down our overall questions about the program, I actually got an eye roll.  Apparently questions are a bad thing?  You’d think they’d be happy that we were giving this so much thought, really wanting to do things right.  When I mentioned we needed to go home to talk about the case file and the program, I got a cold blank stare.  Apparently discussing things together was a problem.  We were told we didn’t want two kids–we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into and one was going to be more than enough for us to handle.  We were treated as though we were idiots, incompetent, children ourselves.

 

When someone is condescending, I tend to get angry, but also to start to believe that maybe I am less than (self-esteem issues–working on it).  Like, oh shit maybe we ARE in over our heads and this was a really stupid thing to ever think we could do.  Eric, on the other hand, just got angry.  Either way, we both left feeling that the meeting went poorly, that the woman hated us, and that this was pretty much a done deal.

 

I opened the books that night to see what we’d be learning and that was the nail in the coffin.  Books written for a child–if the woman we’d met with had been condescending, these books were downright insulting.  An analogy about learning being a road trip–questions were fuel stops, tow truck stickers to put in the book where you “break down” so you can discuss your questions later.  It was painful.  It was ridiculous.  We both have masters degrees and work with children from backgrounds of trauma every day and THIS is what we are expected to do “so we are ready”????  Meanwhile, a 16 year old who hasn’t even graduated high school is taking home her baby with just a car seat check before leaving the hospital.  Dafuq?  We knew there were going to be hoops to jump through, that the system needs to weed out the bad guys and make sure kids who have already had fucked up lives were able to have good, stable ones in a foster home.  But this…this was insanity.

 

We spent the night talking about how to proceed.  We were going to email the woman we’d met with, but she sent an email before we could…asking if she could put us down for taking the “child” (I added the quotation marks because he’s 17!) whose case file we’d looked at.  The one that had left us with so many questions, and the one we’d said we weren’t really interested in (a 17 year old…on our application we’d clearly stated we wouldn’t want kids older than early teens, and we’d been told in our initial meeting that children who were younger and siblings would be a possibility, and had asked this woman about it, and she’d just beat around the bush and never actually answered the question).  Eric responded with some questions about the program, namely the possibility of younger kids.

 

And we literally never heard back.

 

So that’s that.  It’s sad.  It’s shitty (for us, but especially for the kids sitting in a camp right now wondering when they’ll get out).  It’s par for the course when it comes to us trying to grow our family.  We’ll leave it there for now.  Maybe I’ll write another day about domestic fostering and adoption. But for now, just know that we aren’t sure either of those are options we are interested in (and/or CAN especially financially) pursue.