As a teacher, there is a lot of opportunity to reach out to the kid community and enhance a life or two. Whenever I get this awesome opportunity, I usually find that the side effects can often enhance my own life as well. This past week, I've been training a former student (who I'd like to consider my "protege") to run her first road race. Up until this year, she was too young to run in organized races, and instead ran short cross country races and competed in track events for our school. She is a naturally talented runner--a graduate of my After School running program--who can finally take her show to the big leagues.
So today, I had the honor and privilege of running with this amazing young runner. I certainly was nervous (what if she gets hurt? could I keep up with her? what if I lose her in the crowds? i hope she has fun. i hope her mother doesn't want to kill me when this is over...), but also terribly excited. The end result was more than I could have imagined--for both of us.
I warmed up for today's four mile race with a 2 mile run to the start area. My main objective upon arrival was to find my student, so I headed directly to our designated meeting spot. We took our places at the start, and I tried to explain the bottleneck that we were about to experience. Our plan was to move together quickly into an opening, but not to dodge dangerously. Gradually, we'd find a rhythm, I assured her.
After speeches, the national anthem, and a horn, we were off.
First mile: bottleneck as expected. I was terrified that some big person rushing to get ahead would knock my small partner down, but she maintained a vertical position and stayed right by my side. We weaved a bit, but not too much. Our first split was 8:27.
Second mile: With Cat Hill out of the way, we kicked it up. We were passed by Flyer jb24 , who offered a cheer as he sped by. We glided into mile two at 7:47.
Third mile: Once we were past the halfway point, the rhythm returned. Aside from a few, "How're ya doin's?" I didn't say too much. This mile ended in 8:10.
Fourth mile: With only one mile to go, the end was near. Luckily, this mile featured a lot of downhill portions. So we cruised. As we reached the turn to the transverse, I mentioned that now was the time to "give it all ya got." And, after glancing at my watch, I realized that picking up a new PR was strangely a possibility for me. In an all-out sprint, we crossed the finish line (7:36); me nabbing a PR by 8 seconds, and my student scoring an excellent time for her first race--not to mention earning a first place finish in her age group!!
All in all, a terrific race! I am incredibly proud of my student for her outstanding performance today, and grateful that she helped me set a new PR. ("did u break ur record???" she wanted to know in a followup email). My total time was 32:02.
As I jogged the couple miles home, I thought about how great it is to be able to combine two things I love to do (running and teaching, that is). Not only did this race offer priceless compensation, it also revived my running routines. Training with my student earlier this week gave me a fresh perspective of Central Park. They might have been the same roads I usually run on, but instead of flooding my ears with whatever was on my ipod, I was treated to her highly entertaining stories of Upper School life. It might have been just what I needed; after signing up this week, I will soon start training for this little jaunt through the 5 burroughs!!