For the last few months, my life has been filled with reading and running. I’ve been reading books that inspire and challenge me, and I’ve been running a sh*tload to prepare for a marathon. Here’s an update on both.
I’m keeping a journal of the books I read in 2017. You’d think I’d want an escape, a good mystery or something to otherwise divert my attention from reality. But, no, what I’m reading is overwhelmingly non-fiction.
In the last few weeks, I’ve read two really well-written and well-researched books on education. If you have questions about vouchers/charters or how schools continue to segregate learning in 2017, I highly recommend the books above by Diane Ravitch and Amanda Lewis and John Diamond, respectively. I wish I had read books like these or had the time to read books like these when I was actually in the classroom. I think it might have informed and improved my teaching. Oh well. Live and learn.
The 700-page tome I’ve just started is A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. This book is in the news of late, because the Arkansas legislature is currently trying to ban it (along with all other Zinn authored books) in Arkansas public and charter schools. Telling American history from the point of view of the disenfranchised and marginalized is not unbiased, even Zinn admits this much. But, really, the perspective we are all taught is from the point of view of white/European, upper class, privileged males. Is that supposed to be unbiased? Oy vey. Why are legislators (undoubtedly white, upper class, privileged males) so threatened by broadening the lens through which we view history?
This past Sunday, for 26.2 miles and almost four hours, on the grounds of the beautiful Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, I ran a marathon. The race started in a full-on snow storm with temperatures below freezing and three inches of snow already blanketing the ground at 6:30am when we arrived on the race course. Our friends from Tennessee who drove to Asheville to run the half marathon, got to the start then turned around and went back to their hotel. We stayed and ran. You don’t give up so easily after months of training.
It was a small marathon, about 450 people, with very few spectators (probably due to the fact that the race charged $26/person to get onto the estate even if all you wanted to do was spectate). Needless to say, I was grateful I had trained and done all my long runs alone, because, mentally, it was tough to run that distance without anyone cheering for you and with so few people even running anywhere near you.
Physically, this was the hardest marathon I’ve ever done. I am as sore now as I was after my first marathon, which was about 10 marathons and 20 years ago. While the race started on paved roads, for about 10 miles, it moved to jeep trails. At this point, the sun was coming out, the snow was melting and the trails were muddy, slushy, and messy. The race was 2000 feet above sea level and there were several inclines of 200+ feet over, not necessarily steep but long and hard when done in mud.
Thankfully, I never hit the wall. I certainly had moments around miles 23-25 when I thought about walking, but I had a goal time. I kept telling myself, “It’s not likely you’ll make your time, but it’s not impossible either. But, if you stop, it will be impossible to make the time. So just keep moving and be open to what is possible.” It’s good life advice that I ought to heed when things are especially tough and I want to give up. Just keep moving and keep all possibilities open.
What About You?
That’s what’s happening in my world this week, reading and running. What about you? What’s inspiring you and challenging you? What are you struggling with? And what’s keeping you moving through it all?