Get A Life

In a stack of papers called Personal.

  • May
  • 21
  • 2006

I drove out to West Valley College for the annual Run For Lupus, a 5k event in its 12th year. The Bay Area Lupus Foundation (BALF) appear to be doing good things, though I must admit that I don’t keep up on their progress. I know several people with lupus, arthritis, or cancer and curing these things seems like such an insurmountable feat. I get tired of reading the same “We’re close!” article in Scientific American every few months. Still, BALF’s goal is another worthy one, just as Team-In-Training’s is, and this run is the least I can do to support them.

Run For Lupus Wrap Up

As I made the final turn this morning, I felt much more winded than I would have liked. Somehow, my legs gained about 100 pounds each during the previous 20 minutes. Usually, I’ll pick a few people close to me and decide that I’m going to beat them through the gate, giving me the incentive to push myself for those last few feet. No one was near me this time. I’d like to tell you it’s because I was so far out in front that no one could keep up. But it was just an anomaly, kind of like the times you drive on the freeway and no cars happen to be near you. For some reason, there was a pack way ahead of me and a pack way behind. The big clock read 26:37 in green-on-black as some people punched in my number in their Palm pilots and a woman slowed me down to tear the bottom off of my bib.

At mile 1, my watch read 7:49 and I smiled to myself. There’s some slight rolling hills on this run and I run a flat course around my neighborhood. I do not hill train and only occasionally increase the incline on the treadmill when I run indoors. I typically run an 8:30 mile and I am always pleased to beat that. 7:49 ain’t bad at all for someone like me. I only started running about 6 years ago. Before that, you’d never find me running other than to get away from all those bill collectors.

By mile 2, I had been running for just over 16 minutes. Yikes! I should have been at 15:40 if I’d kept to the pace I set during mile 1. But to be at 16:22, that’s just not acceptable! Time to step it up a bit. Surely I can run the remaining mile a bit faster than my previous 2.

With 26:37 on the clock as I entered the finishing gate, that means it took me about 10 minutes to run that last mile. My goal every year with this run, though not one I pursue very diligently, is to come in under 24 minutes. This year was my fastest time yet on this course, but that’s terrible. All you runners out there, I hang my head in shame. Poor training and a rather undedicated diet carry the blame. Still, this year’s time improves over last year’s time by more than a minute. And last year, I ran about 30 miles a month in the first half of the year. I wonder what that means…

The crowd at the run diminished from last year’s gathering, likely because of a scheduling conflict with the astonishingly more famous Bay To Breakers. Running in the nude is rather frowned upon by the Lupus folk. No floats, costumes, and other than strollers, nothing with wheels is permitted on the course, so I’m sure there was more than 1 person who opted for the craziness of Bay To Breakers over the insipidness of Run For Lupus. This year, someone over at BALF forgot to look at the calendar very closely.

The weather provided the perfect setting for us. It’s never been so overcast during this run and I was worried that we’d all be out in the pouring rain. This morning just goes to show that weather announcers must have degrees in Guessology, rather than any kind of actual science. A refreshing mist hit me midway through the run, but that was the only threat of rain. Well, other than the misaligned sprinkler spraying water on us for about 15 feet.

Unlike previous years, the heat never got to me. Well, it did a little bit, but don’t tell it that. We’re in a bit of an argument, the heat and I. I don’t want it to have the satisfaction. Crumby heat.

The Chemical Brothers pumped in my ears, my soundtrack to this run going on 3 years now. “Dig Your Own Hole,” in case anyone’s wondering. Go buy it. The infectious “Block Rockin’ Beats” sets a furious pace, a good idea to offset the slow beginning to any run where people crowd up at the start. The title track and “Elektrobank” just keep the energy going, with beats sure to keep your attention away from the pounding of your feet and the air that’s growing ever so slightly increasingly difficult to draw in. Is that a hill up there? No bother, I’ve got rhythms in my head that will keep me occupied the whole way. Distraction is key.

Eating Post Run

The thing about the Run For Lupus is that, upon completion, there is coffee and strawberry shortcake waiting. They actually have it typed in on the schedule of the day’s events: “Upon Completion: Strawberry Shortcake!”

“Ah!” someone must have said, some time ago, “I’ve just finished running 3.1 miles on a crisp Sunday morning. I feel good about the fact that I’ve already put in a decent workout. I now have the rest of the day to enjoy without feeling guilty about the need to schedule a trip to the gym. Let’s see, what do I want now? Hrmm… Yes! I declare that coffee and strawberry shortcake shall be the perfect post-run meal! And let there be whipped cream upon those strawberries! And sugar in that coffee!” And the Run For Lupus saw that it was so.

I’ve always seen a supreme irony in sweaty people wolfing down strawberries and whipped cream, polishing it off with a cup-o-joe, secure in the knowledge that the entire meal negates the past 30 minutes of running just accomplished. In essence, they still need to workout for the day. After a run, I don’t really have a hankerin’ for nature’s sugar candy on top of sugar cakes with whipped sugar on top.

Coffee instead of water isn’t the smartest thing, but I am a coffee addict and can’t stay away from it. I had 2 cups while walking off the lactic acid.My only consolation there is that I drink it black, so at least I’m not pouring sugar down my throat. At least, not yet. I save that for the afternoon sugar party.

A Crepe And The Farmer’s Market

After the run, I drove over to the Los Gatos Farmer’s Market, something that takes place every Sunday morning near the post office in downtown LG. As with all other farmer’s markets, the earlier you show up, the better the selection. 9:00 is a good time to get there and the weather made the attendance even more sparse. That meant that I didn’t have to slug anyone to get my choice of broccoli or throw an uppercut while grabbing someone’s bag of loose-leaf spinach. That’s a good thing because my hands are registered as deadly weapons. Honestly. There’s a form to fill out and everything.

A crepery tent sits at the front of the market and I always walk past it, wondering about the quality of the crepes within. “Are they good?,” I wonder. “I do not know for I have not eaten one. Perhaps I’m walking past the most amazing crepes in the universe. Ooo! Look at those cookies!” And I go about my business buying various things throughout the rest of the market. “You’re missing out,” my brain sometimes taunts, then gets distracted by something else. Probably coffee.

This morning, I finally tried a crepe and I can assure you that they are not the best crepes in the universe. That’s a relief because I’d never forgive myself for walking past them so many times if they were. Let me say that running to this place is not necessary. Walking to it isn’t even necessary. Slowly crawling to it is likewise discouraged. There are better places to buy breakfast.

Their ham, cheese, and egg crepe was ok, but I was unimpressed. It was fine is all. I certainly wouldn’t stand in a long line for one of them, as happens when the day wears on and more people stagger out to have breakfast. I couldn’t even taste the egg and the ham was nothing more than a thin Oscar Mayer slice. After eating it, I wasn’t hungry anymore so it achieved its purpose, but it wasn’t anything to write home about.

My favorite booth rests at the end of the L-shaped pathway of the market, between the retired high school biology teacher who sells mussels and the folks who provide all matters citrus for the market. Live Earth Farm, for some reason, produces the best… well… produce. Carrots and broccoli are my usual order there, though I’ve bought cauliflower, radishes, and mint from them in the past. All of it has been outstanding. This is the type of food that makes you believe that organic farming is the way to go.

My girlfriend and her father would vehemently disagree with me, but I’m not much for the idea that organically-farmed food inherently tastes better than conventionally-farmed food. However, Live Earth Farm’s vegetables taste much better than anything I’ve bought at Safeway, Albertson’s, or even Whole Foods.

Sadly, this time around their carrots were a bit too stubby and small to survive past the first chomp, so I had to go elsewhere for those. It ends up that the booth just across from Live Earth Farm held on to the perfect bunch of carrots just for me. I’m shocked they even knew I was coming, but there you have it. Live Earth Farm had some great looking broccoli, so I don’t hold the carrot thing against them.

I gathered some potatoes at another booth and clipped some rosemary on my way back to the car (it’s growing all over the place in Los Gatos). Yesterday morning, Jacques Pépin made some kind of potato and onion thing. There was olive oil involved and I believe that salt was an accessory to the crime as well. I remember what he did, but I don’t know what it’s called or even an exact recipe for it. I’m just going to throw a few things into a broiler pan lined with aluminum foil and see what happens. The rosemary should make it taste good no matter how I screw it up, so I should be fine.

Click And Clack

On my drive back home, opting for the scenic Shannon-Road route over the mundane Highway-85 route, “Car Talk” entertained me as I sipped my double Americano. Yes, more coffee. I told you, already: I’m an addict and there aren’t many coffee support groups out there. Plus, I won’t admit I have a problem, just that I have an addiction.

“Car Talk” ends with the phrase, “Well, you’ve done it. You’ve squandered another perfectly good hour.” But I never feel like I’ve wasted my time listening to those guys. Last year, my Sunday routine was to drive up Hicks Road with student journals and grade for a few hours, listening to “Car Talk” and “Prairie Home Companion” on 88.5. That was hardly time squandered and today was no different. Oh, I wasn’t grading student work, but the drive was relaxing and the radio show funny.

Pulling off Hicks Road (from Los Gatos, Shannon leads to Hicks, which leads me toward home), I thought about how much I love my weekends.

What The…!?

If you’ve made it this far, you are scratching your head wondering what this entry is doing here.

Everything else I’ve written up to this point has had a rather clear educational purpose. There’s been very little of my personal life in these entries and there certainly hasn’t been an entire entry devoted to my daily adventures. I’m thinking that might be a mistake.

Be Amazed At The Truth!

Teachers are human.

Students that return after graduation to visit me find themselves shocked to see me as something other than a worker in a classroom. Too often, teachers exist on school campuses only. Teachers forever wear teacher clothes and forever say teacher things. They don’t go shopping. They don’t go to concerts. They don’t drink alcohol. They don’t swear. They certainly don’t party. And they don’t do anything other than grade papers or plan lessons.

Get a life, teachers. Even if you’re in your first year and drowning in papers to correct, get a life.

It’s important to have a balance. Sure, those of you that know me are laughing at the irony of me saying that. But I firmly believe it, even if I don’t practice it as often as I’d like to. There’s no job that’s worth every ounce of your time and energy. Even a job that’s “for the kids” isn’t worth everything you have. At some point, you reach diminishing returns if you spend even another 60 seconds focusing on your work.

Go do other things. I actually think that’s what allows us to do our jobs even better. If we don’t have life experiences to share with our students, we have no way of being dynamic enough for students to pay attention. Students already think that the classroom is the whole of our existence. Without stories of our lives outside of school, we reinforce the idea that what we teach is only necessary on school grounds. Experiences are what allow us to put our curriculum in context for our students. How else can you convince students to learn the word “expedient” unless you know that “expedited shipping” is an option they’ll run into at the UPS Store? If you don’t live your life, you have no way of showing the students that you put to use all the things you say your students need to learn.


1. Debbie says:

[5/24/2006 - 8:10 pm]

Yay! Carnival of Education!, under “Life’s Mysteries.”

2. Elona says:

[2/8/2007 - 11:00 pm]

Teachers are human. I tell this to my students all the time when they complain about their other teachers. I tell them teachers are human first and then teachers second, so don’t expect teachers to be perfect. No one is perfect. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Teachers included.