Sunday, November 25, 2018

A Treadmill Story

As you know, I'm a dedicated masters athlete. By "dedicated," I mean I miss quite a few workouts, and in terms of "masters," I'm referring to the USATF definition of 40+.

Just to clarify that in case you thought "masters" meant "skilled."

But anyway, I went to the treadmill yesterday and I did the prescribed mileage and speed for my upcoming 10k. I felt super lucky that the Ironman World Championship coverage was re-airing on ABC. It'd make the 40 minutes go fast, watching all those inspiring endurance athletes who don't skip workouts finish something so daunting.

I was running along, virtually cheering the triathletes when a profile of an age-grouper came on. The guy, Leigh Chivers, was competing for his wife who'd died from brain cancer at age 34, and also for his baby son, who died from his own brain cancer just six months later.

Obviously, I sobbed during this profile. It was a little bit awkward to be hiccuping and wheezing while I ran, but anyone else in the gym watching that particular tv had to have had the same reaction.

Can you even imagine a brain cancer diagnosis for your spouse and then, just a short while later, the same terminal diagnosis for your child? And there was Leigh, biking 112 miles and running a marathon, all after finishing a 2.4-mile swim. He was talking about the importance of determination and positive memories.

People might want to watch the profile. You can find it here at 34:18. I'm inspired by this family. People can be pretty good and mightily resilient.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A Potential Hazard

It's the weekend again, and I now write a blog post on the weekend. Easy peasy.

So, this last week, one of my third graders came up to my desk while Spanish was happening.

"Ms. West," he said quietly, "I found a nail on the rug."

"A nail?" I said, turning away from the computer screen. "Well, thank goodness you found it. That could be dangerous." I held out my hand. I did wonder fleetingly how a nail had made it to the meeting area, but sometimes these things just happen.

"What should I do with it?" the kid asked.

I felt like it was pretty obvious what he should do with it since I had my palm cupped and ready, but I nodded at my hand to reinforce the cues. "Just give it to me."

As he dropped the item in, I realized pretty quickly that the nail in question was not the sharp metal variety, but the rounded papery top of a discarded fingernail.

"Oh," I said.

"Yeah," my student agreed. "That's pretty gross."

"I'll just put it here," I told him, standing to tip it into the garbage can. Later, when he found another one, I just offered a noncommittal comment about how people should probably put their fingernails in the compost if they happened to bite them during instructional times. I didn't bother helping with the disposal the second time around.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

A Couple of Things

I've been reading Vikki Reich's daily November blog posts, and I've been thinking: how hard could it really be to just write something here once a week?

Vikki is a humor writer I admire, and her blog is really good. So, it's not as if I'm thinking: it'd be so easy to write something like Vikki every week. No, it's just that when I read her stuff I realize blogging has a lot of value, at least to me. I love reading about other people's lives, and I like going back through the archives here and reading about my own life.

Wouldn't it be nice to chronicle a little longer? Just keep track of the mundane?

In any case, here are a couple of things:

  • We've been working on volume this week in third grade. As in, noise level. Previously, we've worked on stamina and coping skills. Those things are still high on our list of priorities, but this week I felt like a lot of people were yelling all the time. We've now worked on self-awareness around yelling. I come around and gently remind people about our goals. I say, "It sounds like you're yelling." We've achieved sporadic and marginal success in lessening the frequency of yelling.
  • Mac has me obsessed with this podcast called Six Minutes. It's a story about a girl mysteriously lost at sea and the family who takes her in. Also, it's about helicopters and bad guys and hoverboards. It's transformed our commute. Each episode is--shocker--six minutes long. If I can't listen to my new Spotify playlist that includes "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" and has my family engaged in a whole new round of mom-mocking, then I choose Six Minutes.
  • The kids and I are headed to Sioux Falls, South Dakota today for the Nike Heartland Regional race. It's a cross country fantasia with many 5k events spread over Sunday. Tonight, we'll eat tepid pasta in a Sioux Falls convention center ballroom where we'll hear from an elite athlete about running. I invited Dan to this getaway. I said, "You could come with us to Sioux Falls and watch hours of cross country races in which you'll know no one, OR you could stay home and enjoy some alone time." I think you know which way he went, even after hearing about the pool at the Sioux Falls airport hotel I've chosen.