## Thursday, June 05, 2008

### Two days and change

It's time to take a break from all these parties (last night was another display of drink-induced debauchery) and dedicate this weekend to some running. As mentioned, I have a ten kay on Saturday and the Need for Speed 50 mile relay on Sunday. Neither one of the races on its own is any big deal. And my plan for Saturday is to pick up a Personal Worst to add variety to my collection. It's the only way, really, to save myself for the "killer hill" that I will (presumably) ascend during the first two miles of my leg. Said "killer hill" was examined by my fourth grade class the other day in math. I presented them with the elevation charts for the first three legs of the relay. {See figures A, B, and C} Keep in mind, they are already familiar with the concept of the relay race.

Figure A Figure B
Figure C

First, we discussed what an elevation chart measures and they provided examples of various hills in nyc (Central Park was the most common mention, second only to "this really BIG hill right by my apartment"; apparently, the majority of fourth graders live very near some monstrous inclines. Who would've thought?). Next, I asked them to take a look at the three charts. I told them how the slopes in the pictures represent the steepness of the road that you would run during your leg of the relay. They all likened these charts to the heart-beat monitors they see on medical TV shows--a nice connection, considering your heart-beat skyrockets everytime you ascend a hill...

After they had scrutinized the inclines, I asked them to vote for the course that had the steepest hill. Figure B was the likely choice. Can't blame them--that puppy looks steep! They were so relieved to find out I was running the course represented by Figure A, which looks way more runner-friendly......that is, until we looked at the number of feet that hill climbs over time. We calculated an estimated 450 foot climb for Figure A and an estimated 350 foot climb for Figure B (this was after pointing out that you start the ascent at roughly 120 feet, whereas in Figure A, you start at zero). Figure C got some laughs when we calculated the biggest hill to be about 100 feet high, which is nothing to sneeze at, but these are ten year olds, and they sneezed at it. (FYI, the loop of Central Park includes Harlem Hill, which looks to be about a 100 foot climb).

There was a moment of silence while they (and I) digested the fact that I would be running up such an enormous hill. The silence continued as I had them inspect the distances of each leg. Figure C was the longest at nine and a half miles (but no major hills, they noted). Figure B was sneezed at for only being four miles long (again, it's all or nothing with ten year olds; rarely does a gray area exist). And Figure A, my leg, was alarmingly long at 8.4 miles. "Are you sure you can do that?" They wondered. No, not entirely sure, I thought while simultaneously nodding my head and murmuring yes, yes of course I can do it.

Am I sure I can do this? Probably. Will I do it with any dignity? Probably not. Did my fourthers learn something? You bet. They learned how graphs can be skewed in such a way that leads one to believe that a particular course is not as hard as it seems. They learned the importance of looking at the range of values on the axes; this can also be an area of deception. They also learned that their teacher has, once again, proved herself a nut case. I mean, they had just accepted the fact that their teacher runs marathons (at 26.2 miles a pop!), and now they are realizing that it doesn't stop there. In my defense, as a teacher, you must switch things up a bit to keep the class interested. Too much talk about marathons tends to dilute its impact. I had to throw 'em a curve with this insane relay. Needless to say, it worked. Their wide-eyed stares of astonishment translated to major kid approval. Which is crucial, considering there are only two days (and change) left to amuse them until summer.

So in preparation for this massive weekend undertaking, I've only run twice this week: a fiver on Monday and a sixer today. Tomorrow I rest (oh, and party a bit, too). Let the games begin!

D10 said...

What a great lesson. Looking at the values of the axes is important, especially when they relate to a running course. Your kids sound like a fun bunch. Good luck this weekend.

lispsugrl said...

I LOVED this blog entry. So awesome you made a whole lesson plan based on a race you're running on Sunday. Wish I had a teacher like that;-)

nyflygirl said...

woohoo...bring on the Goat Trail!! (which is in your leg.) you'll do fine-just take it easy and have fun :)

AnthonyP said...

So you are doing the first leg that starts at Bear Mountain. I'm doing that one (and hopefully a few more with the rest of my team members to get some additional miles in).

What's your start time ? Let me know if you want to meet up for some company as we climb the hill.

Jess said...

Good luck with the races this weekend!

jrunsinbrewster said...

Good luck! Don't try too hard for your PW on Saturday....