Monday, May 31, 2010

Vermont City Marathon Race Report

I'm going to give you the written race report here with some photos, and then there will be more photos coming as everyone comes back from Vermont and emails me the shots they got on the course. We had a whole crew of photographers and cheerleaders out there for us, and the whole day was very well documented.

We arrived in Burlington the afternoon before the race (Saturday), went to the expo, checked into the hotel, and explored the city a little bit before meeting up with everyone for dinner.  We ate lots of salad and pizza at American Flatbread, walked a few blocks to check out the starting line and the infamous hill at mile 15.  Here is a shot of all the runners with their partners who came for support, except for  Christine's husband Keith, in the bottom right corner, who also ran the marathon!

Friends Angela and Matt came out with Sandi and Suzanne, and offered up much love and signage on the course.  One theme that runs throughout this post is how much we were all supported throughout the race, and Angela and Matt were a big part of that.
Everything was laid out and ready to go.  I went to bed around 10 and slept well until about 3:30 and then got really nervous and had to get up.

I tried to eat enough calories but could barely choke down one bagel with peanut butter and a banana.

At 6:30 I met the girls in the lobby and we went down to the start.

The course started in the middle of town and consisted of 4 loops that all met back in the same spot (picture a very confusing looking clover pattern).  Therefore, it was extremely easy for our supporters to see us a lot on the course.

When the gun went off, they were blasting U2's "Where the streets have no name" and the crowds were so loud and inspiring.  Yes, we cried, and started running.

Part 1, miles 0-3.5:  A loop through a residential area of Burlington.  We looked at this as our warm up and took it easy. At mile 1, I heard people screaming my name and looked to see my friends Nancy and Alan and their kids with signs for me.  I had NO idea they were coming.  They have family in VT, and decided to surprise me.  Amazing.  I was feeling fine.   At the end of this loop, I was with Suzanne, Christine and Amy, and Jen and Susan were just ahead of us.

Part 2, miles 3.5-8:  An out-and-back on a closed highway.  I had heard this was the hardest part of the course because it was isolated from the crowds.  It started out fine and it was great to see the pack leaders cruising past us.  It was at this point that I started (yes, already) to feel like this day was going to be harder than I thought.  I must have looked visibly hurting, because Suzanne and Christine surrounded me and wanted to know what was going on.  They talked me over a hurdle by reminding me how the course was broken down.  "You just need to run to the top of the next hill and then it's only 2 miles until Sam is waiting for you."

The second half (the "back: of the out-and-back") was a steady climb up hill back into town.  I had started the race without my camelbak, because Sam was going to have it at mile 9 if I needed it.  I really needed it.  The water stops were not coming soon enough, the sun was beating down, and I was hot and thirsty.  I had a few really low moments on this stretch (the other theme that runs throughout the whole day).  I kept thinking that if I just pushed through it, I'd get better.  And I would get better, and then a few minutes later, I'd dip back down.  I basically went from feeling like I had no energy for 5 minutes to feeling okay for 5 minutes and back and forth like that for hours.  I found Sam just past the mile 9 marker, put my camelbak on, and we started off for the next 6 miles together.

Part 3,  miles 9-15:  a loop through residential areas and along the lake.
Sam was a sight for sore eyes.  As we started off, he said:  "How are you doing?"  I said:  "not good."  I made it pretty clear that I wasn't feeling like talking, but I wanted him to talk to me to distract me.  He told me about his morning since I left him, told me some stories about Skyler and Reed, and was really encouraging.  He handed me bites of banana and told me how proud he was and kept putting his hand on my back.  He did everything right.  He was exactly what I needed.  Every mile marker we passed, he'd say:  "See?  11 miles done."  "12 miles.  You got this!"  "13!  You're half way!"

This loop went through a really nice neighborhood and then onto the bike path along Lake Champlain that offered some much needed breeze and cool air.  (It never got above 75, by the way, but I was still hot).  I had my name on my shirt, and everyone was so friendly and encouraging.  They were not just saying"Go Emilie," but "Emilie!  You are looking GREAT!  You are amazing!"   It was the warmest, kindest group of marathon supporters ever, and it was like this the whole way.  There were kids handing out water, families with hoses and sprinklers,  supportive signs everywhere you looked.

At mile 14, we came off of the bike trail and back into town to the bottom of the Battery Street hill, a 6-block climb, and the biggest hill on the course.  At the bottom of the hill was a huge group of Taiko drummers.  This minute that I was going past them was the total highlight of my run.  The drums were so loud and awesome that you could feel the beat in your chest.  I had planned to walk up the hill, but I couldn't help but run for the first half with those drummers.  My sister-in-law Lisa used to play in a Taiko drum group in Japan, so in my mind, she was there drumming me up that hill.  Just past the drummers, I saw Nancy and Alan again with their signs for me, and I stopped to hug Nancy and sobbed a little.   Half way up, Angela and Matt held up a sign that said:  "EMILIE MANHART YOU CAN DO THIS!"

  Sam and I walked the last 2 blocks to the top and then we were back at the center of town again.  Sam told me later that at this point that he wasn't sure I was going to make it and he was nervous about leaving me.  But I asked him to get my ipod all straightened out, plugged myself in and said:  "I got this.  I'm fine."  I kissed him goodbye and ran on.

Part 4, miles 15-26.2: a loop through neighborhoods and then back to the bike path along the lake.
The first problem that I ran into here is that I thought I had passed mile 16 with Sam.  So, I was running and running and waiting to see the 17 mile marker.  Instead, I ran and ran and ran and then finally got the mile 16 mile marker.  Ugh.   The next thing I had to look forward to was seeing my friend Jeffrey, a friend from Michigan whose wife's family lived on the course.  He had told me they'd be out front cheering.  I knew they were somewhere between 17 and 18, and I finally got there to find them sitting on lawn chairs and yelling and cheering, with signs posted that said: "GO EMILIE and FRIENDS FROM MAINE."  I waved and blew kisses and kept slowly trucking along.  After about mile 19, things started to get pretty dicey.  I would stop to walk through a water stop and I couldn't will myself to start running again.  So, now with 7 miles to go, I was walking for about 1 minute at every stop.  My goal time of 5 hours was flitting away, and I didn't care anymore.  I knew there was a downhill turn onto the bike path at mile 21.5, and I made the mistake of thinking that once I was there, I was basically home free.

Wrong.  I turned down that hill onto the bike path, and I basically wanted to die.  I could not believe I had to run for 5 more miles.  I stopped having any fun, I hated everything about running a marathon.  I thought it was stupid and pointless to put myself through this.  I felt so sorry for myself.  Everything hurt.  I could not drink water and gatorade fast enough, and my mouth was totally parched.  My eyes were heavy that I knew if I sat down for a minute, I would fall right to sleep.  I needed to eat something, but I couldn't stomach the thought of any food at all.

I started to bargain with myself:  run for just a little bit and you can walk for a minute.  Just run to that next tree.  Just run to the place on the path where the shade begins.  Just run to that acorn on the path.  I thought to myself:  if I just laid down here, I could rest, and I might not ever see my friends or family again, and I frankly didn't care.  I have laughed about it since, but the fact is I would have done anything to stop running.  Being alone on this bike path for the rest of my life was a price I was willing to pay.

I had written "DEFINE YOURSELF" on my arm.  I thought it would inspire me when times got tough.  HA!  When I got to the mental place that I was in, nothing was doing it.  I didn't care about my time.  I couldn't make myself care about anything.  I only fantasized about sitting in the car with Sam driving back to Maine.  I kept looking at my arm, and once in a while I'd think:  "Oh man, I'm supposed to be defining myself!" and I'd start to run.  So all this time that I was so miserable, I somehow kept moving forward and eventually I came to mile 23.  And right past the water stop, I saw Suzanne standing there.  She should have been miles ahead of me, so I knew something was wrong.  I touched her on the shoulder and when she saw me she dissolved into sobs.

She had totally been there for me in the early miles, and even though I was so sorry she was struggling, I was so glad to have a purpose again and to be able to help her out.  I grabbed her hand and we started to walk.  I told her I'd stay with her for the next 3 miles, and we'd make it together.  She cried about what a hard run she was having, and I totally commiserated.  I squeeze her hand and tried to distract her by telling her some stories.  I also tried to tell her that my muscles in my calves were cramping up, but it came out: "My sisters are stuck."  I acknowledged to myself that I had officially lost my mind, and kept moving on.  Pretty soon, we were able to start running.  And about half mile later I was once again ready to die.  I told her to go on and I'd be right behind her.  I told her I was going to walk the rest of the way.

Once I saw her run ahead of me, I of course changed my mind.  I dug as deep as I could dig, and I started to run again.  I made it to 24.  I walked for about 2 minutes.  I made it to 25.  at 25 1/2, I could see the finish area and people were lined up along the fences cheering us in.  I could feel the end, so I ran.    Sam was standing right before the mile 26 marker, but I didn't see him.  In the video of me running by, he yells:  "GO EMILIE!  ONLY 2.2 to go!"  What he meant was .2 to go, and if I had heard him say 2.2, I either would have died right there or punched him in the face.  I could see the finish line just ahead, so I really picked it up.  What I thought was the finish line was somebody's idea of a cruel joke.  It was a huge banner that said:  "You're Almost Done!"  I had to turn the corner and run some more.  I saw Nancy and Alan, and then as I stepped over the last timing mat, the announcer said:  "EMILIE MANHART FROM HAMPDEN, MAINE!!!"  5:19.  I put up my arms in a little moment of victory/ utter relief, bent over to catch my breath, and then sobbed in Sam's arms.  Suzanne was right there; she had finished 4 minutes ahead of me.  Then Christine and Susan came over.  Lots of hugs and crying.  I got my medal.  I cried some more.  Amy and Keith were just a little bit behind me, and soon everyone had crossed the finish line.

 I tried to stay up on my feet because I always get really dizzy and nauseous when I sit down after a long run.  I got some food.  Sam took off my shoes and put my flip-flops on my feet.  I ate a few orange slices and drank some water, and then laid down on a stack of wooden tables in the food tent because my back was seizing up.  I stayed there for about ten (???) minutes until I felt like I could re-join the world and my personality started to resurface.    I didn't know what to think about what just happened and why it was so hard.  I had nothing in particular to blame for it. There is no real reason why I didn't finish under 5 hours like I know I could have.   It just wasn't in the stars for me to have a great race.    Either that, or this:  running 26.2 miles is right at the very edge of what is possible for me physically and mentally.  The distance is humbling and overwhelming.  I bow down to the marathon.  I will never under-estimate it again.

Starting to feel human again. 

The Marks family and all of their loving signage!

I hit the friend lottery with these girls.  I'm so proud of everyone. All 3 first timers finished strong, and all 4 of us second timers got best times (Jen and Christine by A LOT). 

Christine and Keith:  the proud marathon couple!!                      

I can't say enough about how much Sam helped me out this weekend.  He made sure that everything was about me and the marathon.  He was supportive and proud and happy for me, and there for me at every single turn.  And he might even have a marathon in him for next year. 

After everyone started to disperse, I took a beautiful ice-bath in Lake Champlain, Sam went to get the car, and we started the drive home.  I replayed the race in my head for all 6 hours through the mountains and back to Maine. 

Today as I write all of this, I am both happy and very teary.  I also look very hilarious walking up and down stairs.   I'll be back soon with a little video that captures the whole experience and some more reflections after I let it all sink in.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

(sneak peak) marathon #2: check!

We're home!  And we did it!  I have A LOT to say about this race, and I will write out the whole race report tomorrow, and it will be long.  The course was beautiful, the weather was great, and all 7 of us finished.  But of course, there is much more drama than that.  You name it, I went through it today:  joy, elation, frustration, heart ache, misery, love, support, crying, exhaustion, chafing, blisters, pain, cramping, nausea, and back to elation and a little delirium (see photo).  It was so so hard and humbling, and crossing the finish line was amazing.  Despite pretty much falling to pieces during the last 5 miles, I finished in 5:19,  an 18 minute PR.

I'll be back with tons more stories, photos and video.  I'm going to drink a beer and get to bed.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

We're here!

Lake Champlain, Burlington, VT.  One block from the starting line.
Runners ready!

p.s.  why is it that we don't live in Burlington?

goal setting

We're on the way to Vermont right now, but I set this to post automatically.

At the beginning of the year, I asked my Outdoor Lit students to make a list of 25 things they wanted to accomplish in the next 15 years. They had to reserve 5 things on their list for things they can barely dare to dream that they could accomplish (like learn 3 languages, fly an airplane, complete an ironman, star in a movie... because who knows, right?). I also asked them to choose one that they would try to complete by the last day of school, and we made little goal signs and posted them up on the wall.

God love 'em, they went big. Most of them accomplished their goals, and all of them are at least in the works:

Outdoor Lit GOALS:
Get certified to become a lifeguard {check}
Learn to cook 25 dishes {check}
Break 2 school records in swimming {he came sooooo close}
Climb Tuckerman's Ravine on Mt. Washington and snowboard down {check}
Learn to play a musical instrument {in progress}
Conquer stage fright {check:  she sang a duet in the talent show}
Sing in front of an audience {in the works}
Learn to play guitar {check}
Learn to juggle {check:  the boy never stops juggling}
Record an album with my band {check, AND, his band signed a record deal}
Rebuild the engine of a car {check}
Read 100 books {check: he was finished by December}
Read all of Kurt Vonnegut's novels {check: she finished the last one yesterday}
Train for and complete a half marathon {her race starts on Sunday at the same moment that mine does, and she has trained impeccably}
Run my 2nd marathon and improve my time {fingers crossed!}

I'm a huge believer in making goals and announcing them to the world, which I tried to pass on to these great kids. They are seniors, off to make their mark on the world, and I'm really, really going to miss them.

I think the fact that they chose that Mary Oliver quote for the back of their Outdoor Lit shirt proves that they got the point.

Friday, May 28, 2010

weeks 1-18: check!

                    374.6 miles.

I swear, this is my last post about the marathon before the marathon.   Wait, did I mention that I'm running a marathon this weekend?

Okay, so I'm all ready to go.  Packed, tapered, hydrated, rested, psyched.

With lots of help from my two girls Zoe (student) and Grace (former student), I have a great playlist of all new music on my ipod. (Everyone needs a Zoe and a Grace.  I say to them:  I need to know what my new favorite songs are, and they provide.  Every time.)

When I started talking about wearing my ipod during the race, my marathon friends said:  what, are you going to tune us out?  do we talk too much?

I don't know where they got the idea that I might need a break from all the talking.  Maybe it was after our 21 mile run when I finally sat down and said:  OH MY HOLY GOD WHEN ARE YOU EVER GOING TO STOP TALKING?  These girls (specifically Christine, Susan and Suzanne)... you should hear them.  Running along bouncing from topic to topic to topic.  I can do that for a while, say 10 miles, but eventually I need to focus internally and I can't keep up with their chatting ability.  Like at mile 19 of our longest run, when Christine says:  "Okay, new topic.  Cats!"  And they go on about their cats, and kitty litter, and cats that died, and cats that pee all around the house, and cats which point I find my ipod and turn it on.

I jest.  Have I mentioned that I wouldn't have made it through the training without these friends?   Even though I can't keep up with the chatter, I love how much laughter accompanies us on our runs.  It has been known to happen that some of us have stopped running to double over in laughter. I'm sure we'll get a little bit of that on the marathon course too.

Here is the marathon plan:

On Saturday morning, Sam and I are dropping our kids of at Kimmie's and driving 6 hours to Burlington.  We will arrive in time to go to the Expo, pick up my race packet and timing chip, check into the hotel, and then meet our party of 16 for dinner.  All 6 of us runners are accompanied by our significant others plus some friends.  We will eat at American Flatbread Pizza in Burlington, and then go off to our separate hotels to settle in for the night and go to sleep  for insomnia and nail biting.

Sunday morning, the marathon girls are meeting up at 6:30 am to head for the starting line.  The gun will go off at 8 am and we will start running.

I prefer to think of the marathon in thirds,  as 2 nine mile runs with an 8.2 bonus run at the end.  That way, I don't get to mile 1 and say:  "25.2 miles to go!"  My plan is to stick with the girls and (we think) a pacer that the marathon provides, at least for the first third of the race, miles 1-9.

During my 2nd third (miles 9-18), Sam will join me for a 5 mile chunk just like my sister did in San Francisco.  If he can run me to mile 17 or 18, I can handle the rest on my own.  If I stay with the girls the whole way, I'll be thrilled, but at some point, I have to run my own race and may not be able to keep up with them.  I am not anxious about running the last third alone if I have to.  That is where my ipod will come in handy.  On the course, there is a turn at mile 21 that puts us on a gradually descending bike path to the finish line.  If I make it to mile 21 feeling reasonably okay, I know I will make it home.

My only remaining fear is the heat.  The forecast is for high 80s.  For girls who trained in 40 and 50 degrees, this is not good news.  

Positive vibes and cool breezes at 8 am eastern time on Sunday morning, please and thank you!  Here we go!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

On a 97 degree day in May

At the top of Acadia Mountain with my friends.

 Echo Lake.

Just as we finished dinner, the ice cream truck!

Other activities not pictured from our May heat wave:  sleeping in summer jammies, soaking in the baby pool, washing the car, running through the sprinkler, popsicles on the patio, and my favorite:  sleeping with a fan.  Sweet summer, we're so happy to have you!

What's for Dinner?

It is crazy hot here.  I don't remember a Maine spring like this before.  It was 97 degrees yesterday and the day before.  It's cooling down slightly right now with a lovely breeze, but we are all still feeling a bit wilted from the heat.

In the spirit of easy, summery meals, here is a nice one because the only cooking is the quesadillas.

The salad is kind of the main course in this meal and the quesadillas go on the side.  Sour cream and salsa are for dipping or dolloping.

Garbanzo Avocado Salad with Lime:
2 cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed
1 can of black beans, rinsed
the juice of 1 lime
about 6 scallions, chopped
2 avocados chopped
1 large handful of chopped cilantro
1 tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Throw it all in a bowl and mix.

I would also add if I had them:  corn or red or yellow pepper.

My kids love quesadillas, but instead of bean salad, they ate strawberries, carrot sticks, and apple sauce on the side.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

a few isms

Skyler:  "Mom, is the mop that you have a regular mop?"
Me: "Yeah, why?"
Skyler:  "Well, the tv told me that the regular mop doesn't actually clean your floors.  It just pushes the dirt around (she makes a circular motion with her hand for emphasis).    The tv said that if you buy their mop, it will actually clean your floors. "

In Reedo's words:

"gramote patrol" = remote control
"pressing game" = video games (that he has only seen someone else play)
"smoothie bachine" = blender
"special smoothie bachine" = juicer
"up pants" = shorts
"up shirt" = short-sleeved shirt
"rolly stairs" = escalator
"meat!" = bacon

Reed, standing at the (turned off) stove, counting the burners:  "one, two, three, five!  Five smokes!"

POM Wonderful!

The company POM Wonderful sent me a case of pomegranate juice to blog about.  I was thrilled because I love the stuff but it's pretty pricey, so I rarely buy it.

The kids knew not to touch the cute little bottles in the fridge because they were "mommy juice."  They would have plowed through all of the bottles in one day if I hadn't done some monitoring.

I didn't end up making any exotic savory dishes or sauces with it.  We just drank it, and it was good.

I find the juice a bit too intense to drink alone, but I'm not a straight-up juice kind of girl anyway.

We mixed it with seltzer water and lime wedges.  Actually, this is my favorite way to drink it, so I made a lot of these "mocktails."

We mixed it with coconut water.  Coconut water is all the rage these days, billed to be the all-natural alternative to gatorade, full of electrolytes and vitamins.  I wanted to like it so badly, but I thought it tasted weird.  It's really good mixed with POM, but what isn't?

We mixed it into smoothies.  This one was POM, blueberries, a handful of kale, frozen banana and frozen strawberries.

And we made pomegranate lemonade!


I saved one last bottle for a post-marathon pomegranate cocktail that Sam, an expert drink mixer, will surely mix up for me.  Cheers, and thanks POM Wonderful!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

craig's arm.

Everything I can do.

It's marathon week, and I'm kind of out of control.  A lot of people have said to me:  "You must not be as nervous this time since this is your second marathon, right?"  Well, could someone please tell my adrenal glands that I've done this before?  They seem to have forgotten. 

I'm nervous, yes.  I'm not nervous because I don't think I can do it, I'm nervous because when you work so hard at something for so long, and spend so much mental energy on it, you want it to go well.  You are especially vulnerable to let down or heart break if things don't go as you want them to.  Everything is kind of riding on one day.  So, yes.  Nervous.

Here is what I can do.  I can sleep well, stretch, and rest.  I can listen to all my favorite running songs in the car and bounce around in my seat with excitement.  I can wear my Nike Women's Marathon finishers necklace as I have since May 1st.  I have everything that I'm wearing on race day already laid out on my dresser.  I can drink at least 72 ounces of water a day  (my water bottle x3).

I'm eating as clean as can be, no empty calories.  Everything I ingest has to work hard for my body.  I'm popping vitamins and probiotics and immunity boosting everythings.   I've been using this Green SuperFood powder for a while, but making sure to get it daily now. 

Here is what the label says:  Amazing Grass Green SuperFood is a perfect blend of alkalizing greens, antioxidant rich whole food fruits and vegetables, immune boosting support herbs, and friendly pre & probiotics.  

1 scoop in almond milk is really tasty and offers up several servings of greens.

I can drink green juice.

I can drink carrot/orange/ ginger juice.

I can drink Kombucha!  My friend Sarah turned me on to this sparkly tea.  Here is what the company says about its drink:  Our Kombucha is delicately cultured - some liken it to fermentation - for 30 days. During this period, essential nutrients form like active enzymes, viable probiotics, amino acids, antioxidants and polyphenols. All of these combine to create an elixir that immediately works with the body to restore balance and vitality. Kombucha has been used for hundreds of years throughout the world as a daily health tonic.

At first I didn't like it because it has a slight vinegary taste.  But I got used to it, and now I kind of crave it.  I like the Gingerade flavor best.  It's really bubbly and it makes me a little buzzed because of the fermentation.  The label says it will restore balance and vitality, so I drink it right up.


Then there are the old stand-by friends. 
If it says:  "Immunity Boosting," I'll take 3.

And lots of dinners that look like this.  That's whole wheat mushroom ravioli with roasted beets, squash, parsnips and asparagus.  Hello, carbs!

And most of all, I can visualize myself having the race that I know I can have, and think positively.

"Now bid me run, And I will strive with things impossible, Yea, get the better of them."
-Shakespeare  from Julius Ceaser

Monday, May 24, 2010

my silly loves.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Week 17: check!

And that's pretty much a wrap!  Our last long run was 8 miles on Saturday.  Once again, we did it in two groups.  I ran at 6 am with Jen because she had a tennis tournament to play at 7:45.  The rest of the girls ran a bit later, but we all did the 4-mile loop at City Forest two times. 

It was wonderful news to hear that Amy, 2nd from left, ran 8 miles pain free after taking almost 3 weeks off of running (but doing all of her miles on an eliptical) because of tendonitis in her feet.  We are all so relieved that she now plans to run in Burlington.  It was really important to all of us that everyone made it to the starting line!

On the schedule, we have three short runs of 4, 3 and 2 miles left and then we leave for Burlington.

I really wanted my last long run to feel victorious and freeing, but for whatever reason, both hips and quads ached for the whole thing.  There is no real explanation for this, as I only ran 11 miles during the previous week.  I just don't want to hurt on the marathon, at least not for the first half.  I'm toying with throwing caution to the wind and taking some ibuprofen on the morning of the race.  I'll see what a restful week does for the state of my quads. 

I remember this feeling from the last week of training right before the SF Nike Marathon too:  my legs are as muscly as they have ever been.  I'm aware with every step I take that I have really changed things up with all this running.  When I'm just walking around, I love how solid my legs feel.  Is this okay to be telling you?  It's just that it's so true. 

One more week.  Please don't let me get a cold, develop a cough, eat the wrong food, trip on the curb, fall down the stairs, or strain my back.  If I could just lock myself into a padded room with only water, vitamins, green smoothies, a massage therapist, and an endless supply of carbs, I would do it. 

So, we made it this far!  I'm very proud of all of us, and very, very excited.  There might be a few posts this week that mention the word marathon.  Stay tuned. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Yoo-hoo! I'm over here on the WD!

One of the Health Editors over at Woman's Day Magazine asked me to write a post about my favorite afternoon snack, and it went "live" on their website today.   What's my favorite afternoon snack?  I give you 3 guesses.  Actually, I give you one guess.    Here it is!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Documentary about Will and Poetry Out Loud

Christy Hartman, a student at the SALT School for Documentary in Portland, Maine, created a documentary about my student Will and our work with Poetry Out Loud.   She worked on it over the past few months and the final product was just presented this week in Portland. 

The story, including two nice sound clips of Will reciting poetry and talking about the poems, and one clip of me talking about Will, is beautifully done.  Reading and listening to it will help you understand the whole Poetry Out Loud experience, one of the most important and treasured aspects of my teaching job.  The story also captures a lot of what makes Will so amazing.

So, I guess what I'm saying, is I really want you to check this out.

 But first, you can watch this little teaser:

What's for Dinner?

Cheater Homemade Pizza:

If you have the time and energy, make your pizza dough.  If you are short on either, pick up a ball of whole wheat pizza dough from your grocery store, like we often do.  It really does make a nice crust for pizza, and it makes for way fewer dishes to wash.

This week, we topped our pizza with a base of sun-dried tomato and garlic spread, a few cups of sauteed baby spinach and onions, kalamata olives, goat cheese and a sprinkling of mozzarella.

And baked it at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until it looked like this:

And then we sprinkled it with a few dashes of hot sauce (which I use on almost everything), especially good when your hot sauce is named after a Red Sox player.

And then we ate it.  And then, after all those onions, garlic, hot sauce and olives, we kissed a lot.
And no, in case you wondered, my kids wouldn't eat this.