Continuous Forward Progress

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” ~Dean Karnazes

Continuous Forward Progress

If You Give a Kid A Problem, She’s Going to Want to Think

January 19, 2015 · No Comments · Authentic Learning, edtech

Not just any problem.

Not a right there in the textbook kind of question.

But a REAL problem…

earth hurt

One that is relevant to our  lives.

One that needs to be addressed.

One where there is no single right answer.

If you give your students authentic issues to address, then they are going to want to learn.

This is something that I know. But sometimes, in the day to day of planning lessons and grading papers…sometimes… I forget.

Thankfully, I had time to reflect during the winter break on what’s been working and what hasn’t. Below, I’ve outlined my thought processes as I took a good lesson and made it into what I hope is a really good one.

I had developed a lesson prior to break where my students were going to look at the Plastic Bag Ban that happened in Santa Fe, NM. I teach science to middle schoolers in the southeast corner of New Mexico. We were going to look at Santa Fe’s decision to remove plastic bags from grocery stores and the policy’s affect on pollution reduction.  It was a good lesson on several points. It would help the students see how to be better stewards of our environment, learn about our state of New Mexico, and would require the use of research skills. But, the lesson was also a little boring.

With a little bit of poking around on the internet, I noticed several blog posts mentioning students as activists.  Research shows middle school students are far more likely to notice and act on injustices they see in the world as compared to adults. I also recalled the egocentric nature of this age group.

My ah-ha! And that quickly, the lesson shifted. Instead of  focusing on a city few students have visited, we started at home with a set of pictures I had taken around Hobbs, NM. (Click on the link to see them all.)

Looking toward Heizer

Looking toward Heizer







Next, came a discussion about what was the big deal if plastic bags are everywhere. I tweaked this presentation to make it a bit more “middle school” appropriate.

After this, we held a discussion how communities have decided to Ban Plastic Bags–Santa Fe last year, Dallas banned bags in January, and the entire state of California will be joining the group this summer. I curated the following resources to get my students thinking about how plastic bags are causing problems for our environment and what different communities are doing about it.

The Plastic Bag Debate (Folder of Resources for my students)

Finally, the challenge. I asked students to study the material I had shared and then to develop a plan that would reduce the environmental impact of plastic bags in our community.

Some of the ideas developed by my students:

  • Ban the Bag in Hobbs or the state of New Mexico–creating presentations to share with city officials to try to ban plastic bags in our community.
  • Presentations and Posters to build awareness surrounding plastic bags.
  • Clean-Up days around the community–or advertising and participating in ones already scheduled.
  • Creating Reusable Bags out of T-Shirts and teaching others how to do it.
  • “Bring Plastic Bags” Wednesday and the top class would receive a free homework pass.
  • Creating Reusable Bags and passing them out to shoppers in the community.
  • Creating a Children’s Story with a Plastic Bag villain.

FullSizeRender-8 FullSizeRender  FullSizeRender-6

I am so pleased with the variety of ideas that the students developed! We reached the learning targets I had in mind and students had the opportunity to do something good for our planet. I had 100% completion of a project of some kind.

Here are a few of the Presentations of students that used Google Presentations. I realize that not all are perfect, but as their teacher, I am pleased with the progress we are making.

Brianna and Marianna

Justin and Brittaney

Haley and Margaret



Connecting our content to authentic learning opportunities builds excitement, a sense of community and learning for all. I’d love to hear what others teachers are doing to present real problems for our students to address. And if you have any questions for me, please ask away!

Artwork thanks: Are We Still Alive by Wasfi Akab at


Teachers Rejuvenate!

December 24, 2014 · No Comments · Instructional Coaching

Teachers, you are worth melting for!

Teachers, you are worth melting for!






Teachers… We made it!

We made it to the Winter Holidays.

Although I’ve been in the teaching profession for more years than I care to admit, this past month, I caught myself feeling discouraged, wondering if it was all worth it.

I am one of those over-achiever teachers.  I work every weekend, meticulously planning lessons, making sure they tie into state and national standards. I work to make my lessons rigorous yet also engaging. I want what we are learning in science to be relevant to what’s going on in their lives as well as give my students a global perspective. I like to give feedback that makes sense to my students, so I take the time to write out detailed comments to students in their science notebooks.

Day after day, week after week, I work hard to be the best teacher I can be. It isn’t easy, as any teacher will tell you.  But, I want what is best for my students and so I make the time to do these things.

Then one day, as I was getting students ready to start a lab,  a kid mutter under his breath, “I hate this class…”


It was one of this moments when I thought, “This is stupid! Why am I trying so hard if they don’t even care?” It was a discouraging moment. In fact, I couldn’t even start the lab. I had the class put everything away, and they worked out of a science workbook for the day. It was silent. They were busy.  And it was so so easy  for me as a teacher to do.

The students also didn’t learn squat.

I have to be honest.. On this day, I wondered if I should even be teaching any more. If my best isn’t good enough for my kids, then why try?
First-Year Teaching


If you’ve ever seen this graphic, it represents a first year teacher’s feelings toward teaching. I believe any teacher can go through these series of events. Although I’m a veteran teacher, I certainly did this year.  One child’s comment certainly had me questioning what I essentially know good teaching is.

But, the difference between me and a brand new teacher, I KNOW one student’s comment does not mean that is what the entire class thinks. This student just might have had a bad day. He may struggle with reading and writing, and we do a ton of reading and writing in science. And, I do require my students to problem solve and think… some students would rather just sit there with their mind’s off.

So, although I was feeling disillusioned for a bit, the feeling did not last. I know by the questions and comments of my students that most appreciate what I am trying to do for them as a teacher. I know they would rather complete an investigation than answer questions in a workbook.

In fact, as I left for the winter break, one of my bilingual students left me a card, complete with the Olaf Snowman pictured at the beginning of this post. Ignore the run-on sentence, but pay attention to the content…


New teachers…

Discouraged teachers…

Brighter days are ahead.

Although during these dark hours of winter, it is easy to question the teaching profession, please know that your hard work and thoughtful planning is appreciated by a number of your students! So, take this Winter Holiday to rejuvenate for the last half of the school year. Relax, visit loved ones, and know that you are appreciated.

If you need more support, there are a number of places and people!

  • Your colleagues! My teaching friends rock!
  • New Teacher 911-If you’re into reading for advice, this is an excellent resource.
  • Me! Find me, Terri_Science, on Twitter and connect.



Psycho Psummer 20 Miler…Done!

July 15, 2014 · 2 Comments · running

I did it! I did it! 

photo 3-1

This post has been due for quite some time. If you know me at all, you know that I have always been happiest when trail running. Running is my passion. Running.   All.   Day.   Long.

Yet, for the past year and a half, I had not done any real running. I could use the excuse of plantar fasciitis.  I mean,  I went to physical therapy twice! Or, I could say that I moved (which I have) and there are no real trails there (which there aren’t.)  But the truth is, I was in a funk. Everything combined in such a way that I stopped running and started eating.  And, like what usually happens when that combination happens, I gained a lot of weight. And then I was embarrassed to be out running.

Thankfully, I have friends that didn’t really care what I looked like. They convinced me to run, even when I really didn’t feel like it. I agreed to run a 10K even before I could run 5 minutes at a time. And you know what? I liked it. So, I  signed up for the Run Then Wine marathon  for the end of September the very next week. I figured that having a goal when keep me motivated!

And it has! I’ve lost about 25 pounds and am continuing to run. Last Saturday, I ran the Psycho Psummer 20 Mile Race put on by Bad Ben Holmes and  the Trail Nerds.

So, here is the first of hopefully many more race reports for the year!

In a nutshell, it was a wonderful race! I didn’t fall, I stayed well-hydrated, nothing hurt, finished strong, never had any pooping issues and loved visiting with other racers and volunteers. I was happy and I can’t wait to run another trail race!

The pictures by Mile 90 Photography  are amazing! I love how the photos capture the physicality of the race… I love the intense colors and how the pics make me feel like a Bad A$$.

photo 1-1photo 2-1

My only problem is I am still super uncomfortable with my weight.

I don’t like how my belly is too big and don’t get me started on how I look from the behind…

But this race also reminded me that no one else really cared about my belly or my back. Every runner that I met and I mean EVERY runner had some positive comment. Even the super fast 50Kers made the time to tell me to keep going. Trail runners are like that.   My friends at the race never commented about how I looked. They just wanted to know how I was.

These past few months, I’ve found my passion again. I am running again… and smiling more often!

photo 1-2Thank you to my friends and family that continue to show love and support for me and my crazy obsession with running.

I still want to lose weight.

I want to get faster.  I want to be healthier. And I want to look nicer.

Running will help me get there. It’s going to take time, but it will happen.

I’m off for a run.

Care to join me?


Dusting Off My New Year’s Resolutions

May 3, 2013 · No Comments · assessment, edtech, Instructional Coaching

I came across this image last night while poking around on Facebook…


The Success Indicator was a nice reminder of traits I would like to emulate to make a happier and more productive me. I realized that it has been over four months since the start of the year and I had not revisited my New Year’s Resolutions. Today seems like a great day to do that.

For those that don’t know, below is my New Year’s Resolution Poster I created for 2013. I took a page from my sister’s book and framed a list and hung it in my bathroom. I made a second copy and it is tacked to the board right in front of my cubicle. That way, I am reminded of my goals several times a day.

I decided to use the app iCardSort to reflect on my progress. If you have an iPad, this is one of my “Top 10″ apps for learning. You could use it like flashcards. But I like how you can add an image as the background. That way, you can label any image or use any type of graphic organizer to differentiate your thinking. I went the quick way and quickly penned a graphic organizer I wanted to use and then imported the Deck.
Side Note:
A nifty trick for iCardSort. If you have a list of words, phrases, or sentences you would like to use as a deck in another application, simply make sure there is a “return” between each line you’d like to use as a card. I used the app Pages since that is where my New Year’s Resolutions were already located. You could use your email or the Notes app as well. Then, “long press” on the list, select all, and copy the text.  When you open iCardSort, double tap the screen with two fingers. A screen will pop up that says “One Card Per Line” and your list already copied there. Select done. And voila, your deck is created!
When I looked at my goals for this year, here is where I’m at as of May 2nd:
Knocked It Out of the Park!
I am really proud of accomplishing a few of my goals.

Goode Food Delivered!

 I participated in the Pound Plunge with my mom, Aunt, and cousin. I lost about 2o pounds. Even better was getting the support from my friends and family.

  1. Recycling isn’t as hard as I thought it would be! I’ve gotten my entire family involved.
  2. Since the first of the year, I have purchased locally grown produce from Goode Food Delivered. It is yummy and I know I have reduced my carbon footprint by doing so.
  3. As a result of not being able to run races, I’ve ended up volunteering almost monthly. I was able to help at the Happy Camper Scamper, Pi River Rotation Half Marathon, and Free State Trail Runs. Last Saturday, my daughter and I helped to paint a Shelter House at Wyandotte County Lake with the Trail Nerds Group. For some non-running events, my mom and I were Red Cross Heroes and I was able to judge at a Science Fair. It feels good to help others!





Fell Flat.

  1. One issue I encountered  was a few of my resolutions were in direct conflict with each other. For example, I am making my feet healthy! Turns out, I have a bone spur that in turn has created plantar fasciitis. I’ve had physical therapy and had to drastically reduce the number of miles I was running. I am slowly returning to running 3-5 times per week, but my goal of running over 31 miles will likely need to wait until 2014. I’m ok with that!
  2. I have not been a good mama when it comes to helping my kids learn to drive. My son, who is 17, has no desire to learn to drive. I’m hoping he will be ready this summer. My daughter, who is 15, I have no excuse. She is ready. Thankfully, my fiance’ has been helping her and I my promise to make sure she has her learner’s permit by the end of May. We can do it!

A Work In Progress…

I like this group of goals. For many of them, they WILL move over to the First Column by the end of the Summer.

This photo has been photoshopped. Ha!

  1. I will fit into my wedding dress. Well, this one is partly, no mainly, my stupidity. I wanted a cheap wedding dress but I also wanted to make sure I lost weight. So, I ordered it too small. Turns out, even if I was skin and bones, I couldn’t fit into the dress. Ha! It is a work in progress since I am losing weight AND I have a fantastic mom who is in the process of altering it. I WILL fit in this dress.
  2. And in less than a month, I will marry the man I have loved for almost seven years! It will be fantastic and fun as we play volleyball and celebrate getting married.
  3. My invitations turned out exactly how I’d hoped! I did not have to learn how to Photoshop because I have a wonderful friend, Melissa, who knew how to do all things creative. I still want to learn how to use Photoshop, but that can wait till July.
  4. I think we could all use time to visit family and friends. I’ve been focused on the wedding all this winter. This summer, I am planning a few day trips to reconnect!
  5. I hope to read more for pleasure when I am out of school. I have been able to read 2 books for fun. That is still an improvement from last year. Yes, a work in progress.


Things I Want to Adjust

  • Instead of saying I will measure what I eat, I want to make it a goal to eat healthier and to reduce the amount of Processed Food in my diet. By doing that, I believe I shouldn’t have to worry so much about measuring what I eat.
  • It wasn’t on my list, but my house that has been for sale for THREE YEARS, has a buyer. I will finally have it sold by the end of May. Yippee!!!
  • I want to make more financially sound decisions. Happy face!  Although my house will be sold, I will have to take out a rather large loan to sell it.  Sad face. My goal will be to have this loan paid off in 15 months.
  • Be happy and secure in my position at work. If you did not know, the position I have held this year as an Instructional Technology Specialist was eliminated by our School Board. I have been very discouraged as this was my dream job! My hope is that I will secure a position that allows me to make a difference in the lives of students and teachers as we prepare them for the future!

I’ve made a dent in my New Year’s Resolutions! When I look at the Success Indicator, I know I operate more on the “Successful Side”. Where do you fall? When you look at the list of Indicators, what can you do to support the younger generations to be more successful? To make ourselves more successful?

If you’re a teacher, did your students ever create goals this year? Have you revisited them recently? If not, take the time to do that.  Remember to model how to reflect on your goals. Feel free to share my example! I’d love to hear how your year in review is going!

May you have joyous occasions awaiting you this summer!


Artwork Thanks: Color in the Gray for my wonderful engagement photos. Maggie Johnson, my daughter, for the artsy photo of our home.

Apps Used: iCardSort, Pic Collage, and Skitch.


Lake Perry Rocks!

October 22, 2012 · No Comments · running

Another fantastic Trail Nerds Event… Another 50K Race is in the bag!





Official Time: 7 hours and 16 minutes. I think I’m getting the hang of this.






This past weekend, I had friends racing all around the midwest! There were runners in Des Moines, Kansas City, Saint Louis, and as far away as Detroit running marathons. My Facebook page got notification after notification with race updates. Loved it! Friends were out doing what they loved and staying healthy. I simply  chose to run where I’m happiest…finishing with 36 other ultrarunners on a trail in Kansas.  Oh yeah!

Saturday morning was beautiful! Sunny and cool, just warm enough I didn’t need long sleeves. I’m pretty sure Ben gave some last minute instructions but I was busy visiting with the Mudbabes! Let’s see…thanks for saying hi Bryan and Lisa and Dee and Jen and Mel and Coco and… OK, Bryan isn’t a Mudbabe but he is pretty cool. Anyone else check out the new tat? I look forward to the camaraderie and support from other trail runners almost as much as the run itself.

Oh, but the run… When I recall Lake Perry Rocks, what I remember is… well… the rocks.  Not just rocks, but rocks on top of rocks.. with leaves sprinkled on top. The first loop was wonderful. I enjoyed visiting with lots of the 1/2 Marathon runners. This was actually the first race where I actually talked with people during the race. I liked that! Dee talked about her hiking this summer, I met one of the incredible Psycho Psummer volunteers and thank you aid station  volunteers! Oh, and I stubbed my toes only six or seven times.  ON THE ROCKS!   …and a few tree roots…

  My first loop was pretty fast for me–done in three hours!


I remember getting these pics taken. I told the photographer, “You’re gonna make me run this hill, aren’t you?!?” Thankfully, it wasn’t much of a hill! And yes, this is me, running.


Notice a few things.

1. I’m looking down. It is dangerous to take your eyes off the trail on a technical terrain. Trail runners look where they are going!

2. I’m smiling. See, I may not be the fastest runner, but I am one of the happiest… Usually.

3. No one is around. One of the things I like about longer trail runs is the serenity and the time to think.

4. It’s pretty!!!

To be honest, loop two was a little tougher for me. No, I didn’t get lost. I just got in a funk. I kept stubbing my toes, I was by myself, and I think I needed some calories. The 4.5 miles to the first aid station seemed to take hours. I heard barking for at least fifteen minutes and continued to search for Regis and Luke. I was so thankful when I saw them… that I stayed and visited for probably longer than I needed to. However, I do appreciate getting my water filled, chips eaten, gels pre-opened (since my fingers weren’t working great) and the moral support. Ernst and Luke got me running again. Thank you!

As I continued running, I’d be thinking, “Have I even ran here before?” Now, I know I had. I see the pick ribbons and yellow trail markers. What I had forgotten is there are miles of running with few rocks and even fewer hills. It was simply enjoyable. Made me laugh. I was having fun again!

Have you heard of hubris? It is extreme pride and arrogance. At mile twenty-six–or twenty-seven– I had it. Hubris.  I was so proud of myself. I ran further than a marathon and was doing well. I had not fallen… Ahh…



Dang it…

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I lay in the leaves being beaten not by a rock, but a tree root. At Lake Perry Rocks… a tree root! Granted, it was the rock to the knee that had the tears in my eyes… but the tree root started it! As I looked up at the trees above me, gingerly checking out my knee, I realized, I couldn’t be done. I had to get out of the woods. So, I got up, dusted off my hands, and started walking.

Albeit, grumbling a bit. But I was moving. I started a power walk.  And pretty soon, I was jogging… then a bit faster… and a bit faster… and my smile returned…

At 3:15pm, I was cresting the hill for the finish line. I did it! 30+ Miles on the books again.

I love to run! Even if it is for one mile or two, won’t you join me?

Happy Trails.

Thanks to SeeKCRun‘s Kristy West and Kevin Gray for the incredible pictures! 






She’s Got the Look!

August 6, 2012 · 1 Comment · running

I went out to eat prior to running yesterday and I kept getting weird looks. I realized that running trails has caused some important changes in how I prepare to run. I would guess a fellow trail runner could recognize a fellow female trail runner with the following 5 criteria:

1. Trail Running Shoes


I love my Mizuno Wave Ascends! It isn’t just that they are cute…which they are.  But, even better than their adorable-ness factor, is their functionality! They are lighter than my regular running shoes and the soles keep the traction on slippery surfaces as well as rocky terrain. Each person runs differently and needs to find the shoe that fits their running. If you are running trails, find a pair  of trail running shoes that works for you!





2. Gaiters


I HATE getting rocks and pebbles down in my shoes or those stick-tights sticking to my socks. Gaiters help prevent that from happening.  Fellow Mudbabes suggested I try out a pair from Dirty Girl Gaiters. What a GRAND idea! I look cute and my feet stay safe. I also like the price at $20 a pop and all profits are donated to worthwhile charities by the ultramarthoner who creates them. Don’t let the name fool you. I’ve seen both male and female trail runners sporting these bad boys at races.






3. Staying Hydrated



Trail runners carry their water with them. For long runs, I love my Nathan Hydration Vest. It holds almost 2 liters of water plus tons of space for food, toilet paper, and what not. Whether you prefer a hand held bottle or a vest, most runners out in the woods carry their water.







4. The Running Skirt


I never thought I would actually prefer to run in a running skirt. It is comfortable and hides parts of my body that age and ill use have made not so pretty. I don’t have a favorite brand yet. Next, I plant to check out Lucy Running Skirts and Let me know if you have a favorite!







5. Hair Styles


So, my hairstyle is less about making a fashion statement as it is on being comfortable. I have these little wispy strands of hair that can’t even be tamed by a pony tail. Only with using a headband or pig tails can do I stop messing with my hair as I run. I see all manner of hairstyles on fellow Mud Babes. So, if you want to run trails, do what you want!





So, ladies, get out on the trails and run in style… or at least in comfort and have some fun !











Thanks to See KC Run for taking photos at Trail Nerds Events!





Psycho Psummer Psuccess

July 17, 2012 · 7 Comments · running

…a race report for my first ever 50K…




I always feel I have to get something out of the way.  I am a runner. I just am not a fast runner. When I look at race pictures, I realize I don’t really look much like a runner either. In fact, if I met you on the street and told you I was an ultrarunner, you’d probably think to yourself, “Riiiiight”.



But I am!

I may have been the last female to cross the finish line… but I crossed it!

It may have taken me 9 hours and 15 minutes to finish the race, but I ran and walked (and thought about crawling) the 33.6 miles to get it done.

No matter how I look, I just accomplished something I never imagined my body could do: I ran a 50K Trail Race! And you know what? I had a smile on my face as big as Texas when I crossed that finish line.


This report is dedicated to all the other runners  out there who may not think they are or can be a runner… My mantra: continuous forward progress.


My guess is if you read any race report about Psycho Psummer, there will be 5 things always mentioned:

  1. It was hot
  2. Running was involved.
  3. There were hills.
  4. Ice is good.
  5. The volunteers rock!

And my race report will be no different…

1. It was hot.

It wasn’t like we didn’t know it was going to be hot. That has been the story this summer…hot, hot, hot. My phone died a little over half way through the run but my app still captured the essence of the run.











We ran through the woods in 96° temperature for hours at a time. On a good note, most of the time, the trees provided some much needed shade. I only grumbled about the heat when crossing the dam. Never mind that it was uphill and HOT! Did anyone else feel like the dam stretched on forever??? My clothes were soaked in sweat from the time I started until I crossed the finish line.

Up until race day, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to bring a hand-held water botter or to wear my Nathan Hydration vest. Each had pluses and minuses. Because of the heat, I knew I would need to drink like a gazillion gallons of water. I could carry a ton of water in the vest but it would weigh me down throughout the race. If I carried the 20 once bottle, there was the fear of running out when I needed a drink. Then, I started to think about other items I may want: a bandana, extra food, my phone.   I opted for the vest. It was a good decision…more about that later.

Race day! I arrived at Wyandotte County Park about 45 minutes early. Along with the heat, I discovered something else while waiting on the race to start, I know people! Although I live in Saint Joseph, I try to make the trek to Kansas City (about an hour away) at least once a month to run with a Trail Nerds or Mud Babes group. It gives me a chance to meet others who are interested in something I am passionate about AND I can learn so much!

Shout outs have to go to Gregg, Bryan, Luke, Julia, Cassie, and Lisa for visiting with me prior to the race starting. I was able to get fantastic advice from the more experienced ultra runners and could commiserate with the newbies! I took to heart some of the following advice:

  • Walk EVERY Hill
  • Eat Early and Often
  • Stay Hydrated
  • Have Fun








2. Running was involved

See, this was a trail race after all. We did run. Ben Holmes, the race director, gave the obligatory last minute instructions and sent us on our way.


And see, I was running!

Over the bridge and up the hill I went. Yes, I even ran up that first grassy hill. Then we met the trail head where the mass of runners went onto a single track trail. So we walked.

The first four miles of the race there were lots of runners around. Most were talking and visiting with friends as they ran and walked the trail.



Personally, I ran alone.  I have come to treasure these long runs where I can just keep up a personal commentary in my head. In my nine hours of running, I never got bored or ran out of things to think about. I found myself slowing down when I would hear runners behind me so they could pass me. Maybe it was selfish of me, but  I didn’t want to have a conversation with someone else while I was running. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE talking to runners… Before the race, when someone is passing me, at ALL Aid stations… But I haven’t figured out how to have a sustained conversation while running for miles at a time. Perhaps in time running and talking will get easier.



As it stands, I had a great time running with my inner dialogue.

Most of my convos centered on how far I would run until I could walk a bit, what section of the trail was coming up, and what I would do at the next aid station. Not the most exciting topics but I was happy!


Another positive, I ran!

I walked some, but I also ran!

And even better, I never fell. It was a good race on that account.




3. There were hills

Oh my, were there hills. Thankfully, I have run through Wyandotte County Park before. I signed up for Psycho Psummer after I ran the Run Toto Run Winter Edition 20 miler. It was so much fun, I thought I’d try out the summer version. Then, in June, I ran a training run to see the changes to the summer course.

Although I was first a little sad that the Triangle portion of the race was removed, as I was running through my second loop, I realized how much I loved the new edition. I felt like I was running mostly downhill and it was so shaded! Nice change.

But, let’s get back to the hills… You know the hills, those THREE on the last few miles of the loop. I knew they would be a booger and so I made a point to stay positive since I knew I would probably tackle them three times. The first time through, the 10 miler leaders passed me right about this time. I remember the female leader exclaiming a vindictive toward the hills as she charged up the first. Actually, I didn’t have the heart to tell her she hadn’t really reached the 3 tough ones yet. She looked fierce and I decided she wouldn’t have a problem when she got there. When I reached the three hills, I entertained myself deciding what my friend Ashly, who was running the 10 miler for the first time, would say as she got to the hills.

The second time through, I met a woman not in the race on the biggest hill. She was just standing in the middle of it, looking up. She turned and looked at me and said, “You’re not gonna like this.” Ha! I just kept plowing ahead. I decided that the positive here is if I don’t make the time limit, I won’t have to see these hills again.  And if I did, I only had to do it one more time! During this second loop, I also came across a fellow that just sat down in the middle of the last hill. He looked defeated but he was almost done! I stopped and talked to him, gave him a GU with the encouragement that he really only had just a bit more to go. I so hope he made it.



During this second loop, I was passed by several of the 50K Leaders. I’m pretty sure every one one of them gave me words of encouragement as they sped by me. What’s even better… I’m pretty sure they meant what they said.  That is one of the reasons I so love a trail race. Whether you are in first or last place, everyone is happy to see others out running and having fun.

So for all of you who passed me by and gave a shout out, “Thank You!” It helped keep my smile in place.


I finished loop 2 just as T Garvey, a friend from Saint Joseph, finished sixth overall! I had to capture this auspicious moment!

Then, I had to head out and tackle the Psycho Psummer loop once more.





Pictures will NEVER do these hills justice.

On this last time through. I’m pretty sure I cussed.

I know I stopped and drank some water,  frowned, then walked up those stupid hills, frowned again, stopped again…

…but I kept on walking so I could finish!






4. Ice is good.

Ice Bags

I never realized how much I would love ice. I’ve established that it was hot. And, I ran all dang day long.  I put ice everywhere.. In my bra, on my back, in my hydration vest, down my shorts, in a bandana around my neck. Let’s just say, lots of my conversations with myself involved where I would get ice and where I would put it.

5. The Volunteers Rock!

Incredibly helpful volunteers is synonymous with any Trail Nerds event. There is no way I could have finished this race in the condition I was in without the help of the volunteers throughout the race. I would like to pretend that I got preferential treatment from the volunteers because I have ran with several of these trail nerds before and have volunteered myself a time or two. In actuality, they helped everyone however they could.

Here is what I remember. If I do not know your name yet, I will learn it soon. I appreciated each and every one of you!

First aid station:


Mr. Brooks was working the CowBell cheering us out of the woods. Then Xiao and Larry Long were there. Mrs. Brooks got us back in the woods.

Here, I snacked on watermelon and Nutella tortilla rolls! I love Nutella.



Second aid station:


Thank you Erica and Sarah for finding us good food to eat!  I appreciated the Facebook updates from Sarah as my phone had died. A really nice trail nerd filled my bandana with ice here. Thank you!

Boiled potatoes with salt! Who new?

My funny moment here was in the third loop and I asked where Elliott was.  He happened to be sitting not two feet to my left. Oh well, I’m blaming it on the heat!


Third aid station:


Ammanda and the angry midget, always make me smile! Thank you for your helpfulness. Brian Hay went above and beyond when I couldn’t get my fingers to cooperate. He untied my bandana, filled it with ice, tied it back on and then did the same with my hydration vest. Thank you! I had not met the third Trail Nerd… Keke? She got me Tylenol and bandaids. Yes!

Oranges and Gu Here!



Forth aid station:


More ice in my bandana, water in my vest and Gu! This was the first time I had met these volunteers. All were awesome. When I was walking away on the third loop, I was down the hill and realized I couldn’t even open my Gu Packets. I almost had to go back and have them help me. Thankfully, my teeth did the job!




My hydration vest. It will hold 2 liters of water. I am pretty sure it was filled from five to seven times during the race… I lost track.  Just as I lost the ability to use my fingers dexterously. What that means I could use them to wave hi, but attempting to untie or unzip something was beyond me. Thank you to all of you who kept me together!

Main aid station:A special shout out has to go to the Main Aid station volunteers.


I only had like 2 minutes till the cut off time, my water was empty, I needed a bandaid on my foot and I needed something to eat

. The volunteers were like soldiers on a mission! I was told to cross the finish line and wait for them.

Jen met me with a bandaid, Mel filled my water vest and  brought me food. I was able to start the third loop with seconds to spare.

You all are rockstars!






And so, I ran my 33.6 miles. No blisters, no tummy issues, and no tears! The worst injury I had was chafing where my bra strap rubbed my back.



Thank you to the runners, family, friends, and volunteers who helped to make my first ultramarathon a success. Life is good.


Media Thanks! Thanks to Rick Mayo and SeeKCRun for providing Race Day Photos! Ice Bags by xoxoryan on Flickr.


My First Marathon, the Lincoln Marathon

May 14, 2012 · 2 Comments · running

I will remember this month! May…Back in October I ran the Kansas City Half Marathon. Loved it! I told friends that I may just want to run a marathon. And so I ran… and I ran… and I ran some more! Through November, December, January, February, March and April. Just to get ready for May. In fact,  I logged over 1000 miles as a prepared for my inaugural marathon.










And on May 6th, I ran 26.2 miles through the streets of Lincoln, Nebraska with over 10,000 other participants. I was lucky enough to have my mom and children come with me.  We made a weekend out of it, trying out some great eating establishments in town such as the Blue Orchid and touring the campus of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.










Our hotel served its purpose. It was clean, had two beds and smelled ok!.My daughter was amused by the Doctor Love John’s 24 hour “Novelty” shop that sat across the parking lot from our hotel! She wanted to take pictures of it.

The night before the race, we headed to a Pastathon. I loved the fact it was free for me AND my entire family. Everything about the Pastathon was excellent! The food was delicious, the servers efficient and helpful, and the atmosphere lively. After eating, I was definitely pumped to run!









Fast forward to Sunday morning. I woke up to thunderstorms outside my window. I was ready and down to the start line by 6:30am. Now, I should point out that I will never set a land speed record. In fact, when we lined up in the morning amid booms of thunder to start the race, I was down the block, around the corner, and then some! I chose to begin my race with the 4 hour 50 minute pace group. I figured if I could stay with them for most of the morning, I could maybe finish in less than 5 hours. So, the gun went off, the runners started, and I decided to find my place in line.







You see, the race may have officially started at 7:00am, but I crossed the start line at 7:34am. There was a staggered start to help prevent congestion. I had plenty of time to post a status update on Facebook, text my family, and meet the runners around me!

What I will remember most about the race were the spectators. I’ve never seen so many cheering faces at a race! It made me smile as I high-fived all the hands of children along the way. The first half of my run progressed pretty much how I expected. I ran with the pace group, tried to eat something every 4 or 5 miles, and continued to visit with those around me. Thankfully, the sprinkles at the start of the race never turned into a downpour.  Around mile 7, I headed to the Porta Potty. Amazingly, I was able to catch back up with my pace group when I was done–around mile 10!

This was also the time when I realized that although it was cool to be in a hoard of other runners, it just really isn’t my thing. Now that the sun had come up, the puddles on the ground began to evaporate. Oh the humidity! I kept looking at the trees along the way, wishing I was under them. The pavement was a tad uncomfortable on my joints. But I just kept running…

At the half way point, all the half marathoners veered off the right and we continued on. What a difference! Over 8,000 runners were finishing up. I didn’t realize that the marathoners were such a smaller group. It made me proud of myself for attempting it. This was also the point when I was convinced that the pacers were speeding up. It was becoming tougher for me to continue running under 11 minute miles…










I tried. I even managed a smile when I heard my friend Sean Nash shout my name. But, about mile 15, the running wasn’t much fun… The sun had come out, it was hot, I was tired, and thirsty.  I run because I enjoy it.I knew that if I wasn’t having fun, then I needed to change something.  So, I slowed down, walked and ate a Gu. I drank some water and ate another Gu. Around mile 17 I  used a Port Potty once again. This section of the race was the toughest for me. Between miles 15 and 20, my average pace was around 12.5 minutes per mile. Still, I slowly began to perk up and smile again. I got to run through a park and by a pretty lake.

I got myself back on track. Running was fun again.

My trek back to the Cornhuster’s Stadium was a blast! I felt great, didn’t worry about the time…ok, that’s a lie. I didn’t worry MUCH. Occasionally, I’d look behind me to see if the 5:00 hour Pace Group was in sight. (…and it never was!) My pace for the last 6.2 miles was faster than the 6 before it! I averaged around 11.5 minutes per mile.











When I crossed the 50 yard line, I felt like a could continue running for miles and miles! My official times was 4 hours 57 minutes! (Remember the staggered start)











My first marathon is under my belt! I am so happy to have made this accomplishment!  I did it!  I kept on running for twenty six point two miles!

What  will be my next adventure? What will be yours?


It turns out, as I prepared for my marathon, I would run many miles along the bike paths in my hometown. Occasionally, I would catch glimpses of runners off the paved paths through the trees of the Parkway. Eventually, I followed them. And now, most of my runs are trail runs. In the mud, over rocks, through the spider webs….ahh what fun.

But that is a tale for another day.



A Tale of Two Trails

February 25, 2012 · 2 Comments · running

Today was a long run day. A 16 mile day. Non-runners may not understand how energizing it can be to run, let alone running for over three hours straight. But, everyone can understand contentment. Everyone can understand having a passion.

Krug to Sunbridge Conservation Area Trail Run



If I wanted to make a long story short, I probably could. My run started in the early morning frost at Krug Park. I ran up the hill, past a castle, nodded at some buffalo and headed into the woods.  I made my way over to the Sunbridge Conservation Area Trails, and then returned to Krug Park and on to St. Joe Avenue to finish my run. But, that wouldn’t be much fun! Here’s a tale of two trails.








Krug Park Waterfall



It was a morning where headphones weren’t necessary but stopping to take pictures was! I loved the first 5 miles. With 25˚F temperatures, the ground was soft but not quite spongey. Deer were out and birds chirping everywhere. The waterfall was gurgling and peaceful as I ran by. Amazingly, I did not pass a single runner or biker throughout the run.




If you look at the map above, you can see a flag right about Second Street–more about the flag later. This flag marks an unofficial exit point from the Krug Park Trails. Earlier, in preparation to a long run, I had stashed some water wrapped in my Volley’s T-Shirt. I’ve had water stolen from me on a few occasions. I had this crazy notion that by wrapping my drink in a shirt…one, someone would know the water belonged to someone and two, the shirt would keep it insulated and prevent freezing. It did the trick! Ok, the fact that Second Street is basically in the middle of nowhere and the bottle was hidden in the crook of a tree probably helped. I was just proud of my ingenuity and thankful for a beverage.

At about mile 6, I paused my Nike Plus app, and had my first pit stop.

Then, I was off on the second leg of my run, my inaugural visit to the Sunbridge Conservation Area.  Since this was my first trip to Sunbridge, I was a bit worried about getting lost. And guess what? I got lost! Kinda… I’m pretty sure I  ended up on some unofficial trails, but I could see the Missouri River the majority of the  time. And, I had my iPhone.  All was good.

By this time, the ground had become warmer and squishier. The view… stunning…

Sunbridge Trail

I ran past an old family cemetery surrounded by a wrought iron fence, and wondered who was buried there? Is it haunted?

I ran past an observation deck and stopped to admire the scene.

View of Missouri River off Observation Deck

I ran up hills and down ravines, hopped trails and ended up in a beautiful stone building. There were identical hearths on both sides of the foundation. Who had lived here?

Mysterious Foundation

Now, I want to know more and began to investigate. I wandered around the building and found a second stone foundation. What?!? Really, who lived here? I realized nothing more could be learned today so I decided to get back to running! I went to continue my run only to see trails branching out in all directions… Ha!  So, after a bit of disorientation,  I pulled out my phone to look at a map and listened for the traffic. Bingo! I was able to gradually walk/run till I could see I-229 and made my way back onto a road. From there, it was a return to the 2nd Street “Entrance”  to Krug Park and my second water break.

And, on to my next adventure! As I was gulping down water, I realized a different sensation. Oh my… I do believe this was the first time I HAD to go to pee in the middle of a run with no facilities available. Still, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. So, for the first time ever, I hid behind some trees and took care of business…and felt much better!

During this time, I had paused the Nike Plus App. Some people probably think I’m weird to keep track of my runs, but I like to see how far I’ve ran and where I’ve been. It was during my time here I accidentally stopped my Nike Plus.


So, I started a new run! For the third leg of my jaunt, it was back into Krug Park to finish the trails.









By now, the temperatures continued to rise and the ground continued to thaw. Squishy ground is now a shoe-sucking mudpit.

Krug Park Mud!




Even being as careful as possible, an inevititable slide down a hill ensued. I laughed the entire time. I had to walk/slip/slide/grab onto trees the last 1/2-1 mile, but the trail was conquered.








I was back to the Duck Pond in no time.

Ducks at Krug Park









With trails, running switchbacks plays havoc with your GPS. Most programs can’t correctly gauge your milage. Mine said I had gone about 12.5 miles. Even though I had most likely ran more than that, I wasn’t ready to be done! So, after a swish of water at my car, I was off and running again. This time on pavement. Flat, smooth (kind of smooth) sidewalk… I took a trip down Saint Joe Avenue and back. I smiled at everyone  but only  noticed stares in return.

Mud...Head to Toe


Turns out.  Mud… Head to Toe!

I love running around in the woods. Trail Runs. It’s a time to clear your mind of worries and fill it with wonder.

What an adventure! Who would like to join me?



Artwork Thanks: 2003-08-04 Ducks at Krug Park, St. Joe, MO by drboman on Flickr. All other images are my own.



Making it Matter in the Middle Years

October 5, 2011 · No Comments · edtech, Energy Challenge

Today, I witnessed something amazing.

I saw a young man, an 8th grader, walking down the hall. He was wearing this colorful “Paint the Parkway Pink” t-shirt for Breast Cancer awareness. Impulsively, I asked him about it and we held an intelligent conversation about the walk this weekend. As I continued down the hall, I saw him go into another teacher’s room saying, “I saw this last night and had to get it for you,” and proceeded to give the teacher a gift. After the exchange, he walked out and continued to the stairs, where he had thoughtful exchanges with yet another staff member and a student.

When I tell people I teach at a middle school, I receive mixed feedback. Often times, I am greeted with exclamations that there is no way they could ever teach “that age group”.









What, with their fluctuating mood swings, raging hormones, and developing bodies, chaos can sometimes appear to be king. And it’s true… This age group has it’s challenges.  The one thing I can count on is that change is a constant.

But that isn’t everything. That isn’t everyone.











The young man this morning reminded me how important the adolescent years can be.

We are at a serendipitous time, the middle school years. If you look at other typical attributes, it is a no brainer to begin looking at the big picture. Problem-based learning along with global collaborative initiatives can and should be implemented and sustained. During the middle school years, students are intensely curious and idealistic.  Capitalize on that! They thrive on interactions from their peers. Students in this age group often show compassion for the downtrodden and the environment.

In childhood, students generally think in terms of either-or or black-or-white.  I see adolescence as a time where the “shades of grey” start to materialize. Give them a problem.  Something where there is no one right answer.  You’ll be amazed with what they can accomplish.

Last year, The International Energy Challenge was developed with some fabulous connections with the Siemen’s STEM Institute and Twitter. Kristy Lathrop, Britt Gow, Deon Scanlon, and I collaborated to create an opportunity of learning for our students.

If you want to help your students stretch their thinking and soar with their results, consider joining us on our journey this year.

So I teach in a middle school…with crazy, energetic, growing, passionate young minds. I am anxiously awaiting to see how they will learn and grow this school year.

Join us on our International Energy Challenge and see what we can do together!*

Artwork Thanks: two young girls laughing behind another girls back by studiostoer and 19 – Tile! and I was tagged by connerdowney, both on Flickr

*There is a seven minute video at the Energy Challenge Wikispaces if you’d like more information.