Education Opinion

On Being a Teacher and a Runner

By Ilana Garon — November 07, 2013 1 min read
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This past Sunday, I did something I’ve never done before: I ran a marathon. New York City’s, to be exact. I completed it in 4:14.57, which wasn’t quite as fast as I wanted, but still a pretty good time.

My students were very interested in the marathon, and asked me lots of questions about it in the days leading up, such as, “Are you going to win?”

“No,” I told them. “I am definitely not going to win.”

“But why?” they asked.

“Because there are Olympic athletes in the marathon, and they’re going to win. It’s their job to win marathons.”

“But you could beat the Olympic athletes!”

“No,” I told them. “The fastest woman I know personally runs a 3:27 marathon, and even she’s an hour away from beating the Olympians. There’s no way I’m going to beat them.”

And they said, rather indignantly, “Well, maybe you would if you had a more positive attitude!”

When I was training, I couldn’t wait for the marathon to be over so that I wouldn’t feel pressured to work 20-mile runs into my weekend, and then feel guilty if I only made it 17. But it also represented a terrific and unexpected way to bond with members of our school’s Girls’ Cross-Country team, many of whom are in my 2nd and 4th period classes. I’d walk in at 8:20am and immediately be accosted by girls, saying, “MISS! WE’RE SO SORE! WE HAD TO RUN SO MUCH YESTERDAY!” And I’d say, “Really? Me too!” And then we’d compare notes. We’d talk times, distances, speed drills, techniques, recovery food, and basically gab about running until class started.

This Tuesday, when I came back from the day off I took after the marathon (since I couldn’t walk), I brought my medal into class. I passed it around so that everyone could see that I had, in fact, finished the race; the kids were disappointed to learn that it was not real gold. And then it was business as usual. At the same time as my marathon season finished, my 2nd and 4th period girls ended Cross-Country; they’re now going into Winter Track season. They’re really excited, because apparently this means fewer long runs and more sprints. And though I, too, share the relief of being done with long runs for a while, I’ll definitely miss our morning running complaint sessions.

I guess I’ll have to find something else to train for, preferably in time for Spring Track.

The opinions expressed in View From the Bronx: An Urban Teacher’s Perspective are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.