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October 24, 2004

But it's a good tired

If you noticed the post earlier this month shamelessly asking for sponsors for the JDRF walkathon, you would know that today was the day. I woke to a gorgeous morning, fairly cool with brilliant sunshine, perfect for walking. After the kids left with their father to go for breakfast, I got myself psyched up by playing Glory Zone to System of a Down. Nothing like blasting the snot out of hundreds of alien ships to put me in a good mood.

I got there to the walk site a half hour earlier than we had planned, about 9, to wait for my teammates at the gate. Even though I was early, I had to park waaaaay over near the tree line in the field next to the fair grounds, about 1/4 mile away from the grounds. I just knew I would never find the van after the walk was over so I made sure to try to picture the trees near where I was. A tall, thin pin oak just starting to go yellow stood out from the rest right behind where I parked, slightly leaning over to point to my van. How convenient!

Standing at the gate, watching cars pour in, I had a chance to engage in some serious people watching. I've always enjoyed doing this, watching, rather than being the one that is watched. Funny thing about being a watcher, you see so much when you just center yourself and focus on something else other than being uncomfortable in a strange place. It allows me to study people, to try to figure out how they work, to try to gauge their body language, their mannerisms. Since I am extremely shy, to the point of it being painful, I find it easier to approach people if I know where they are coming from and what their mood is before I even try. Most times, I'll see something that will make me hold back and I find out later that it was a good thing ... being a watcher helps hone your intuitions and lets you keep your bullshit detector running smoothly and, seriously, my BD needed a tuneup.

C. showed up first and I was glad for that. Of the walkers on our team, she and I probably have the best working relationship. Another new teacher, she teaches the gifted kids using a pull-out program. We work together quite a lot in the media center, teaching her kids research techniques and publishing. As we stood together there waking up, chit-chatting (which I find I can do fairly easily with her since she gives me time to respond, something most people don't do), a couple of our kids came by with their families to register for the walk and we got some hugs and ended up having to "talk school" with their parents. The only thing about being a teacher is that whenever you go out anywhere, the mall, the movies, the grocery store (or, God forbid, the ABC store!), you have to be ready to run into your kids and their parents at any time. It is very hard to just relax and be anonymous, especially after you've worked in 4 schools in the district. You get used to it, though, or so they say.

Closer to 9:30, M., or Coach as we like to call him, arrived. He was going to bring his son but at the last minute his parents said they would babysit because they thought it might be too cold for little Z. Since he was actually our team captain, he jumped into Coach mode and tried to organize us but he had no idea what we were supposed to do - as I am fond of saying, he is a mess. The good thing about it is that he knows it, accepts it, and has a good sense of humor about it.

He was still filling out his pledge envelope when our principal showed up and our team was complete. Now our Principal, T., is a neat lady. She came into our school last year in January and had to hit the ground running. She had never been a principal before and only had a couple of years as an AP at a middle school under her belt when she came to us so most of the staff were very skeptical at first, not only of her youth but of her inexperience. Personally, I think she is going to be fine. She has an excellent strategy, though I'm not sure it's intentional, of handling people. She has this gentle way of dealing with the complaints of parents, kids, and staff alike, which allows the complainer to open up with her and be honest about their intentions, whether they intend to or not. The best thing about that is that she can then deal with the problem she is being presented with in a fair, firm way. Meanwhile, the people that think they are getting away with something soon find that she knows what they are up to and she will put a stop to it. A few more years and I think the staff will be stronger than we have ever been ... the school will run like a team like we are supposed to, not a dictatorship like we were under the old Principal. Personally, I like her because we both came into that school last year in administrative positions for the first time and it was easy to cling to each other while we got our bearings.

After registering, we wandered around the fairgrounds, got snacks, got t-shirts and warmed up before starting the walk. I wasn't sure how I would do since I haven't walked 3 miles in one fell swoop for a long time and my asthma (thank you ragweed!) has been acting up lately. My longest walks lately average 2 miles and when I walk the neighborhood by myself, I can slow down if I need to ... AND I end up at my house, where I can flop on the lawn if I want to. Walking in a sea of strangers with a team, you pretty much have to either keep up with your team members or be left behind and, since I'm the oldest and most out of shape of the 4 of us, I could see myself as the one that would be cut loose. In usual Sharon fashion, though, I was deathly afraid of being talked about later (since I like to pretend that neither my weight nor my asthma is a hindrance) so I knew I had to suck it up and keep up with them, no matter the cost. Have I mentioned lately that I don't really like to sweat? Heh.

A the walk started, there was plenty of hooping and hollering as we passed beneath the balloon rainbow at the starting gate which was flanked by JDRF volunteers that cheered us on. We landed somewhere in the middle of the crowd and got swept along by the other 1,500 walkers at a brisk pace and everyone pretty much kept that pace through the walk (the bastards ... heh). That pace was faster than I was used to and the trail was a three lap course that wound around the fairgrounds on the dirt and grass path that trucks use to drive into the fairgrounds to set up for special events so I knew I would be feeling it soon.

The four of us started out together, talking easily together about school related issues but eventually we naturally separated, paired off in twos, which was nice since we each had a chance to spend almost a whole mile walking and talking with one other person on the team. C & I spent the first mile making jokes about M kissing up to T since he had her ear. The best part was making him think we were talking about him, which is more fun than actually talking about him. During the second mile, T and I got to catch each other up on our moms ... hers is having surgery next week and is convinced that she needs to clean her house from top to bottem beforehand and it falls on T to help her. Yeah, I think we have the same mom. It is good to have someone that understands that sense of duty and responsiblity and guilt and how entangled it all is in every word without having to explain it.

By the beginning of the third lap, I was really feeling it. The temperature was creeping up and the tree line was preventing a wonderful breeze that could cool us off from reaching us so the conversations around us were getting more serious or stopping all together. Yes, I was also listening to other people's conversations ... in addition to being a watcher, I'm a listener. Part of my upbringing, I guess, of always lurking on the fringe and taking everything in, mostly to make sure I'm prepared for anything terrible that's coming my way, that has become a part of me. Luckily, M and I were walking together by this time and we talked easily about everything ... Red Sox vs. Yankees, how he met his wife, where I grew up, my social life, his son, writing grants ... anything to take our minds off the last mile and the increasing heat.

We rounded the last corner and the four of us came back together to finish as a team, just as we had as we passed beneath the balloon rainbow on each of the previous laps. As we crossed the finish line, we were given bottles of water or cups of juice, had our picture taken (I'm sure we looked just wonderful ... NOT), and we were shown to the refreshment area. As a team, we got lunch and collapsed on the grass to eat. Let me tell you, the ground never felt so good. I could have napped right there on the hard, dry grass and would have, too, if I wasn't sitting with my co-workers and about 1,500 strangers.

The conversation during lunch was light and funny ... I realized that I wasn't the only one that was hurting during the walk and that the ground felt mighty good to all of us. Over a lunch of cold hot dogs (oxymoron!), chips, fruit and water, we all realized that we were all in the same boat at school, being the new people and having to prove ourselves, which makes us work doubly hard (and triply late).

It's been about 12 hours since I got home and, I have to say, I feel really good ... until I stand up. That's when I remember that I'm 40 ... *ouch*. Oddly enough, my knee and my back feel great it's just an overall soreness that goes away after walking around for a minute or two, albeit slower than normally. It seems every time I get up to walk to the bathroom or the kitchen, I get a message in YIM and have to turn around ... not that I'm complaining (sorry for my slowness, T) ... I need the company, but it's just taking me longer to get back. It was all worth it, though ... going through the trouble of spamming friends and family for sponsors, getting up early on a Saturday, putting myself through not only the extreme uncomfortableness of such a social situation but also the physical challenge of performing while risking failure and humiliation. I have to thank everyone that supported me! You helped me raise a total of $230, of which 100% is going to JDRF.

Yeah, I'm tired ... but it's a good tired.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Prosemonkey published on October 24, 2004 2:20 PM.

My mother's daughter... was the previous entry in this blog.

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