Monday, June 12, 2006

Summertime is here

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.

Three months.

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.


Scott said...


Thank you for sharing your heart TriSaraTops.

I struggle all the time with the concept of doing the best you can.. wondering whether the effort was good enough.

I really like the way you make the connection between your classroom and your IM Journey.

Running Rabbit said...

Isn't summer the BEST season?!?!

TryAthlete said...

Success in the classroom is a dual-effort thing. The students have to do their part too. You have done what you can, even going beyond what was expected of you.

Enjoy the summer and the training. Leave the students and the class behind for a while. It is time to focus on you. You're entitled to.

Eric said...

Relax Sara. You still have lots of time. Don't forget all the time between those 12 weekends to train.

I should be freaking out, I'm down to 40 days. Forget weeks or months.....double digit days!!!!!

You better take a recovery week. That is how the body gets stronger.

Call me some time to discuss the Guide to Mental Training. I've read it and wouldn't mind talking about it with you, kind of like a book club. I need to hone my mental as well.

All of your thoughts seem normal to me. Have faith and confidence in your training and body and you will do fine. Have faith and confidence in your teaching and those kids will take something from your classroom.

Stay strong my IM sister......I never had a sister before :P

trifrog said...

"The drugs. The broken homes ... The pain resonating from last year's suicide."

As one who was there 20+ years ago, yes, the teachers who made the effort did make a difference whether I ever got to tell them or not.

If definitely sounds like you are putting in the full effort in everything you do, so rest with the confidence that you also made a difference; in them and in yourself.

Cliff said...

hey girl..great post...

i agree.worrying does nothing.just do what u can..and everything will go where they are suppose to.

Joe said...

Sniff...sniff...good post.

Rachel said...

That is so cool you love your job so much. It sounds very rewarding. Lots of analogies to training too. Teaching is so important. My mother used to teach. You can make such a difference.

greyhound said...

Thank God for teachers. Seriously. We would be poorer and less human without them.

Have faith. Your professional efforts will bear fruit you won't even see, and your training will too.

"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

DaisyDuc said...

Nice comparison!

Now that school is out you can focus all your energies on your ironman! Lucky duck having that summer off!

I am sure you will be prepared for it, just as I am sure you have did your best to prepare your students!

Scott said...

As a fellow educator, I feel deeply what you have written (your poetic writing helps a great deal as well.) I have often shared my running goals and races with my students and it usually breaks down barriers that exist (unnecessarily) in the classroom situation. Your students can see through the bull$#!t and when it comes right down to it, they'll know who you are whether you want them to or not. You seem to be an excellent teacher as well as athlete. KEEP GOING!

Jodi said...

Great post Sara. I'm sure that you are an absolutely fabulous teacher! You live your life with a lot of dedication to what you believe in, and that will also pay off in your Ironman. You will do great!

Nic said...

I can tell from this post that you are a fabulous teacher. I wish you all the best these next 12 weeks!