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Wow, it feels good to be back to blogging! I know it has been awhile, but sometimes life just gets busy and that is exactly what happened around this time last year! Let me try to catch you all up.

As some of you may already know, I am a certified elementary teacher, but I had only been substitute teaching because the need for new teachers was pretty low. After the 2012-2013 school year got into full swing, I was very busy with subbing and coaching.

My love for running led me to coaching Girls On The Run (GOTR) at a local school, where I met some awesome girls and 2 other great coaches!

Here is our 2012 Fall Girls On The Run group with me (on the left) and one of the other coaches, Katie! Coach Kim was taking the picture!

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It was so wonderful to see such young girls enjoying the sport of running and learning to value themselves! I wish I would have had something like this growing up. I was so proud of every single one of these girls when they crossed that 5k finish line!

Subbing and coaching GOTR took me part way through December. Then, of course, you have the holidays. After the holidays, I had about 2 months of subbing here and there until the end of February. That is where the fun began! Seriously, the next 3 months were fun, but super busy, as I began my first 3 month long-term subbing position.

I was so excited as it was my first “real” teaching experience where it was going to be “my” class for 3 whole months. Little did I know that those 3 months were going to change my life. The people I met and the students that I worked with couldn’t have been more awesome. I had a wonderful support team, both staff and administration, and a great group of students. After the first month, I was dreading the day I would have to tell them all good-bye, so I cherished every day for the next 2 months.

Being a teacher is the most rewarding job out there! Plus, you get to meet some really awesome people too. Here I am with children’s author and illustrator Patricia Polacco.

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Yes, Patricia Polacco! How cool is that?! She came to our school to speak to all of the students. She is truly a remarkable woman! It was an honor to meet her!

As if teaching wasn’t enough to keep me busy, I was also one of the head coaches for GOTR that spring at the school I was subbing at. Again, another incredible experience and such a proud moment seeing those girls (grades 3-5) crossing the finish line of (for most of them) their first 5k.

The little girl I was running with for about 1/2 of the 5k definitely has a running career, if she so chooses. What a great little runner! My watch said 27:22 and I had to catch up to her, so her finishing time was a little faster than that! Can you believe she was only a third grader?!

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So between teaching 5 days a week and coaching 2 days a week, I was one busy and tired girl! I was getting up at 4:30 am some days, just so I could workout before work because I knew it wouldn’t get done once I got home. I was just too tired!

The weekend before our GOTR 5k I ran the Frederick Half-Marathon. It was kind of a quick decision, as I didn’t decide to run it this year until the end of March or so. I went into the race hoping for a new PR, but because of everything already on my plate, I wasn’t going to be too upset if I didn’t get it.

This was about 6.5 miles into the race and I was feeling really good. Probably because it had finally stopping raining and I was warming up again. Plus, it is always nice to see a familiar face in the crowd cheering you on!

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I really love this race and course, even with a hill in the last 1/2 mile and a dirt track finish. Despite the hill and the dirt track, I finished strong with a 7:33 13th mile, as I wasn’t going to let that stop me from hitting my goal.

I crossed the finish line in 1:44:16 and got that new PR, shaving 4 minutes and 17 seconds off of last year’s race!

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I was so happy!

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And I showed my support for Boston the entire 13.1 miles! I wore yellow and blue shoelaces (above) and a Boston sign on my back!

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After our GOTR 5k (6 days after the half), I only had a couple more weeks of teaching left. However, things didn’t slow down at all because we were now in the process of moving! We had less than 2 months before we would be moving overseas! Between the end of the school year coming up and trying to get ready to move overseas, physically and emotionally, it was tough!

Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to be moving to a foreign country, as I had never left the United States, but I was leaving everyone I knew and loved as well. Moving is never easy, but moving half-way around the world was a little overwhelming at first! The part I was dreading the most was the plane ride, but that was probably the smoothest part of our trip!

Late on June 24, we landed safely in Ankara, Turkey! Why Ankara, Turkey, you ask? Well, my husband is in the military and we received orders to go to Turkey for 2 years. We were both excited for the opportunity, as we knew that this was a once in a lifetime chance for us to travel. Little did I know how different life would be living in a foreign country. Talk about culture shock! It didn’t take long for the culture shock to hit me either. The hardest obstacle has been the language barrier, but even in the almost 4 months we have been here, I have picked up some of the language and am working on learning even more of it.

Despite the culture shock, I LOVE it here! Has it taken time to get used to it? Of course, but the things I have seen and experienced so far are things I could only have imagined before. And we are just getting started. There is so much more we want to see and do before we leave. Here is a glimpse of what life is like for us now…

This is the view from our 29th floor apartment!

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On the top of Ankara Castle with a view of the city behind me.

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Not only are the sites amazing, but so is the food! Turkish bread, which is always fresh, is definitely a favorite.

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Their pide’s are delicious as well. This was the vegetarian pide.

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And you can’t forget the desserts. Probably most known for their Baklava, but their Künefe (which we shared) was divine.

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All I can say is it is a good thing I love running, so I can afford to eat all this delicious food!

In September, we went to Turkey’s silver and carrot captial. Here we are in Beypazari.

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So far we have had a great time. We have enjoyed the sites, food, and the shopping!

Just when we thought things had settled down and we were getting back to normal, our first fur baby, got really sick. Unfortunately, on August 29, we had to say good-bye. It was the hardest thing we have ever had to do. Duke was a wonderful dog, but to us he wasn’t a dog. He was our baby! We had him for 13 years and 3 months and we are so thankful that we had him that long, but some how, it just doesn’t seem like it was long enough. He was definitely man’s best friend!

One of my favorite pictures of our sweet boy, Duke.

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He is loved and missed every day! Thankfully, we still have this sweet and silly little girl to help us through those difficult days.

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Yes, that is a treat in her mouth. Ha, ha!

In my last post, I mentioned something exciting. Well, we are training for the Istanbul Marathon! The Istanbul Marathon is the only marathon in the world where you get to run on 2 different continents…Asia and Europe. We are so excited, not only for the run, but to go to Istanbul as well! We only have 29 days until the big day.

In the meantime, this is where we have been doing our weekend long runs…

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This lake is about 2 miles from our house. It is the perfect place to do long runs, as it is about a 6 mile loop and you don’t hear any traffic or city noise. You almost forget that you are in a big city! This is where we did our 20 mile run last weekend and where we will be doing our 12 mile run tomorrow morning.

Phew…I think you are all finally caught up!

Happy Friday!

Thanks for reading!

~Brooke & Rob