A marathon gets used in analogies a lot, and for good reason. A marathon is 42kms, not a short distance for a drive, let alone to complete on your own two feet.
I have no idea what percentage of people will finish a marathon in their life, but it won’t be many. That’s also when I frequently take stock of how amazing it was that Terry Fox ran a MARATHON EVERY DAY THAT HE WAS RUNNING ACROSS CANADA.
When the marathon analogy plays out, whether we are talking about making it to the end of this COVID time, or getting through to the end of a school year with +32 weather in the forecast, or trying to do both of those things simultaneously (hello Monday, here’s looking at you!) the basic understanding is that it’s friggen hard.
Often we think of the middle as the most difficult part of the run. In the beginning, you have lots of energy and are feeling good. By the end, you can see the finish line. You can power through because you the end is in sight. The middle is usually the tough part: muscles cramping, breath hitching, pace slowing.
The middle is hard, no doubt. But there is a rhythm in the middle too. It’s a one-foot-after-the-other mentality that can take the focus off of the other pains…you just settle in and do it. You get slower and everything feels harder, but you’re still moving forward.
The end might be easier in terms of seeing the goal, but the problem is that you’ve got nothing left to give. Nothing physically. Nothing mentally. Hopefully you’re still moving, but at this point, sometimes it’s just too much and you feel like you might quit.
Last week, I had a terrible run.
I stopped with a kilometer to go to make some adjustments to my shoes. Started up. I stopped again. Adjusted some more. Started up.
Nothing that I did worked, and so the last 300 meters were walking.
With my shoes off.
In my sock feet.
On a gravel road.
It was deflating and frustrating, for sure. It was not the ending to the run that I wanted. But I made it home, and it was the farthest that I have ever gone. Ever!
I’ve problem solved my running issues for the last month. Talking to people, tying the laces differently, getting metatarsal arches, new shoes, annnnnnnd although each gives a slight reprieve, I finally needed to admit that I needed help and made an appointment with a podiatrist.
As I was walking in my socks, I thought about how it was a perfect metaphor for our first full-time COVID school year. We are all in our sock feet by now. We’ve stopped a few times and now we’re walking. We can see the end, and we are still moving forward. But it’s taken a toll and we are definitely going to feel this later when we have a chance to ice that foot and roll out the sore muscles.
Everyone I know has worked so hard problem-solving all the issues this year presented: heavy decisions that had to be made for safety, learning new ways of connecting with our students both online and in the room together, and so much, much, much more.
The May long weekend is often the last signpost of a school year, interspersed with track meets and year end activities, that show we are almost there. Although we don’t have those events, the muscle memory in our bodies knows that is where we are. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m tired.
So if you’re down to your sock feet like me, make sure to connect with your colleagues and others around you for support over these next few weeks. Ask for help if you need it. Most importantly, take time to take care of yourself…and we’ll see this through to the end together!
Have a great week everyone! Stay cool!!
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