Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas!

It's so hard to believe that half of a school year has already passed, along with a quarter of our anticipated time here in Hawaii. Courtney and I both found ourselves a little emotional at school yesterday as our kids headed home for the holidays. Two of my students won't be back (making 5 lost students this year), and about half of them will be with a different teacher next semester as we implement a new curriculum, so it was tough saying goodbye.

As a teacher I've grown tremendously, but I can still readily see my glaring deficiencies and the areas in which I struggle. This is truly a physically and emotionally exhaustive job - one that brings with it both joys and sorrows each day. It's also a job that never ends. I was talking to my friend Christina on the phone a few months ago and was reminded that some people, maybe even most people, are able to leave their jobs at work when they go home. My, would that be nice. My anchor of sanity through this has been sharing the experience with Courtney. It's been wonderful having a confidante going through the same emotional roller coaster every day.

I'm leaving Hawaii tonight for the first time in four months for a much-needed vacation. My redeye flight will take me to Houston via L.A. where Dad will pick me up and take me home to Hathaway. Mom has 30 lbs of crawfish waiting, and I'm looking forward to recuperating some of the weight I've lost during marathon training. From Louisiana I'm headed to Jackson Hole, WY, on Dec. 27 for a few days of skiing with Courtney's family. Then it's Atlanta for New Year's Eve with Christina and Matthew on the way to NYC for a week. Florence, SC, will be next for our engagement party and other wedding planning fun. Finally, we'll be hitting Las Vegas by storm for two nights on our way back to Hawaii.

Whew, and I thought this vacation was going to be relaxing :)

Monday, December 11, 2006


When our alarm went off at 2 a.m., I couldn't help but wonder, "Why the hell am I doing this?" I've been battling a persistent sinus infection all week, accompanied by an annoying itch in my chest that all the coughing in the world won't squelch. But we'd gone to sleep at 7 p.m. the night before, so I felt pretty well-rested, and after I'd eaten my multi-grain bread slathered with peanut butter, momentum started pulling me into Honolulu.

We left the condo at 2:40 a.m. and parked in our secret, but illegal parking spot in Waikiki by 3:30. Shortly thereafter we boarded a school bus that dropped us off at the starting point by 4 a.m. At this point Courtney and I still had an hour before the start of the race, so we used our time effectively, hanging out by the bathrooms to take care of those needs that can easily add a few minutes to your race time.

By 4:45 we'd lined up with the crowd, and by 5:20 we'd finally crossed the starting line, but I still hadn't quite gotten my mind around the fact that I had 26 miles ahead of me. This was my second marathon, but I still found it hard to grasp that I'd be running a distance that in Hawaii can easily take more than an hour to drive.

The Honolulu Marathon is the 3rd largest in the U.S. with 29,000 runners. We must've been pretty far back for it to take us 20 minutes to cross the line. We spent the first 12 miles or so running with the pack, which weighed down our mile times. Then at mile 15 my ambition got the best of me as I waved goodbye to Courtney in order to attempt to break the 4 hour barrier.

By mile 20 I really started to feel it. My lower back was killing me, my feet were bruised and Diamond Head, Honolulu's Heartbreak Hill was looming. I knew that by keeping a 9-minute pace, I could beat 4 hours, but I also knew that I could walk a bit to try to alleviate some of the fatigue. It was a really tough decision, but I decided to press on. Mile 24-25 was entirely uphill, and I ran a 9:40 - not good enough to get in sub-4. Mile 25-26, thankfully was downhill, and I ran it in 8 minutes, my fastest mile of the race. At this point, there was no quitting as I sprinted the last .2 miles to finish in 3:58:53. Courtney came in at 4:08:10.

At that final moment I remembered why I'd decided to run my second marathon. I was also reminded why 29,000 other crazy people were running beside me, and why millions run one every year. There's no feeling that compares to wanting, working and accomplishing something that on its face seems so daunting.