Not until June 21 officially, but in my world, it's summertime.
I feel a sense of calm that is interrupted by butterflies every half hour or so. This is because of a few things: 1) today is a rest day, and I am FORCING MYSELF to take the day off. So I have lots of time to think. 2) It's June 12, which means IMW was three months from Saturday.
12 weekends. And some of those will be taper weekends.
So I'm getting down to the wire here.
Still time (deep breath, stomach is calm) but not THAT much time (butterflies).
Back and forth, back and forth....
This week I'm FORCING myself to take as a recovery week, as I've been putting in close to 14 hours for the past three weeks. Time to cut down a bit, then do my first race of the season on Sunday morning. I'm having dinner and lunch with my mom, Marie, and Barb at different times this week. Getting caught up on doing laundry and cleaning. Reading The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training, which I need some help with. Trying a few new recipes.
Trying to breathe deeply and know that I'll be fine.
I walked out of my classroom for the final time on Thursday. Locked up the file cabinet, cleaned off my desk, put all the books away, turned in my grades. It was eerily quiet. No kids around, no bells ringing, no email dinging away. The year was done, and it was time to leave.
Did I do enough?
Could I have done more?
Right before I shut the door, I thought, "You know, the next time I'll walk in this room I'll be in taper."
It made the butterflies come back for a second, and then the calm.
An empty classroom leaves me a little bit sad every year. I don't know if "sad" is the best adjective--thoughtful? Wistful? I'm not sure. You put so much into it all year...for many of my students, this is the last World and U.S. History class they will ever take in their LIVES. I take that responsibility very seriously. Did I make this point clear enough? Do they understand this concept? Do they feel they can make a difference in this world? Every day I try to do something to make the answer to those questions "yes."
But so many come with so much baggage. The drugs. The broken homes. The eating disorders. The pain resonating from last year's suicide. Sometimes I wonder if I'm making a difference at all. I know in the end that I do, but it's easy to lose sight of that on some occasions.
Did I work hard enough?
Did I push him hard enough?
Nothing I do is getting through to her.
I wish he'd stop asking me for extra credit and just do his $*%*#ing homework...
Does she really understand how important that event was for her rights?
In the end, you are left with an empty classroom. No books. No students. They are gone, and all you can do is hope that you did enough. You can't predict where they are going or what will happen to them. But you HAVE TO rest assured knowing that you did all you could.
For the record, I have no idea what I'm doing here or really what right I have to talk about Ironman for that matter. I've never crossed that line yet. But to me, I see in the empty classroom a bit of my IM journey. The 9 months of training and 5 years of triathlon behind me have led me to this point. Sooner or later the training will be done.
Put the books away.
Put your pencils down.
I probably could have done more. Maybe I did too much sometimes. Maybe a little bit of both. Sometimes I screwed up. Sometimes I aced it.
At that point, when the books are packed and the kids are gone, you have to walk away and lock the door knowing you've done all you could. Some may do more, others less. But I have to trust, just as I did on Friday, that when they walk across the auditorium to pick up their diplomas, I did all that I could for them. What happens next is hard to predict, but if I did my job correctly, they will take it from there.
I'm doing all I can. I'm learning more about myself than I ever thought I would. In the next 2 months, I know I'll be hitting some highs and lows and pushing myself farther than I ever thought possible.
So when I walk back into that empty classroom on August 23rd, I'll see a new year of possibilities. Of heartaches and joy. Of baggage and problems and success and hard work.
And I'll unlock the file cabinet, get out the books, and be ready to go. I'll trust that I've done all that I could do, because you have to. You can't worry that you needed to do more or beat yourself up, because you just have to hope and pray you prepared them the best you could so they could walk across that stage.
The rest is up to them.
And to me.