A few months ago I fell into a running challenge. Run a 5k each month for a year. I have run 5ks and finished a half marathon but taking care of myself and being fit has been a long time struggle for me. After running two 5ks in consecutive months at the end of the summer, I decided to keep it going in hopes that the challenge would keep me moving through a dark, cold, icy Maine winter.
This morning it was gray with a relatively warm temperature of 30 degrees. A few friends and I bundled up and headed to the start all relieved that there was no chilling wind blowing off the water. I made my way past the lithe speedy runners at the front of the pack. They were all warmed up, stretched bouncing up and down waiting for the start probably with visions of split times and PRs running through their heads.
We made our way to the back of the pack. The people in the back are my people. We are all there to finish. I look around and know everyone has different challenges and different goals. But, for this morning we all come together at the start.
As the race starts the pack trots off down the streets of Portland. As the crowd thins out I enjoy the view of what the city has to offer. People cheer all the runners on. One of the advantages of going slow is that I get to enjoy a view of the city I miss when I am driving through. As I begin the climb up the long hill of the Eastern Prom, the front-runners are heading down. I admire their speed and athleticism. They will likely be done before I am barely past the first mile.
The race moves on and the pack has thinned way out to a trickle of runners… well really joggers and walkers. The smiling flaggers keep calling out encouragement and I thank them for coming out.
At this point, I have been out for a while and my mind wanders to my students. I think about my back of the pack readers (this would be where my students would roll their eyes and say “Your stories always relate to reading!). The ones whose reading progress is painfully slow. Most keep plugging away even though it isn’t easy for them and/or their habits aren’t very strong.
To be honest, I feel discouraged about these readers whose progress is so slow. I keep reflecting and thinking how can I get them moving? The flaggers remind me that I need to keep being positive to my core. If my back of the pack readers sensed my frustration they might give up. It would be like if the flaggers near the end of the race were looking at their watches and sighing into their coffee clearly anxious to go home. It would have likely caused me to abandon the race and just walk back to the car. I need to remember to keep cheering on my readers and pointing them in the right direction through my teaching.
As I head to the finish line the crowd gets louder. People clap and cheer for all runners, loud music plays and the announcer calls out names of finishers. My friends are there, yelling encouragement saying, “GO! GO! GO!” I see the clock and one last push gets me over the finish line just under my time goal.
I finished. The race was a success. Spring is around the corner and I am looking forward to building more stamina and getting a little faster. As I move into the last trimester of the school year I look forward to cheering on all of my readers as they make their way towards their reading goals.