Sunday, September 13, 2009

Juggling Knives

Organize a club century ride for a thousand people, move my classroom to a new school, new grade level, do a half ironman triathlon- sure, but at the same time? Maybe not.

Last year when I agreed to direct the Golden Apple, Westchester Cycle Club’s annual public event, I figured it was a good way to give back to the club that has given me so much. I thought it would be a great learning experience, and utilize my administrative skills. I thought it would be fun, but I knew it would be a huge amount of work, especially when the wife of the guy who had been doing it for the past 10 years hugged me and thanked me for giving her husband back.

This spring, I learned there was an opening in one of the other elementary schools in my district at the 4th grade level, one of the few I have not taught before. After 12 years at Edgewood, I thought it would be good to change. Plus, I had just earned my administrative degree, and I figured working with another principal and staff would be good experience and move me toward an administrative position. So, I requested to move and was granted my wish. I packed up 27 boxes and said goodbye to familiar surroundings and old friends.

Although I knew my focus would become the bike, I still wanted to do the Toughman Tri this year and signed up in early January. I did a sprint tri in San Francisco in the spring, but I didn’t sign up for any others. I did a lot of riding, as you know if you have been reading my adventures, but I was not doing a lot of running or swimming. I did a half marathon in the spring and it nearly killed me. Every time I would run, something would hurt and riding was so much more fun…

Fast forward to the last week of August. I was in my new classroom, unpacking and setting up. I painted the bulletin boards a fine spring green, got a blooming orchid and fragrant gardenia, a new rug and curtains. I fielded calls from the Port-o-Potty folks who had not gotten their check and were threatening not to deliver, made emergency calls to Metro North to find out about some emergency construction being done at our event site, and arranged to have 600 pounds of ice delivered. Not surprisingly, time for riding had been scarce, and by Friday when my friend Nick called to ask if I was going on his ride, I wanted to cry. “I don’t think I can. I have to pick up the cue sheets at the printer.” A true friend, he offered to pick up the printing and promised not to drop me on the ride. I finished up in my classroom and put my bike in the car.

As I was flying down Rt. 100 I remembered how this all started. I love to ride. I love to push my body hard and feel the blood pumping through my veins. I love the wind on my skin and the feeling that I am a part of everything going by. I love the people who love to ride- they are my people.

I realized by the beginning of August that there was no way I was going to be able to do the full half, as I had not put in the time for the run. I figured I could still do the bike, but I needed to find a relay team. Four years ago, I walked into the teacher’s lounge and said to my friend and colleague Bevin, “Let’s to a triathlon!” She said I was crazy, (not an unfamiliar accusation) but agreed. She and her husband and I did our first triathlons that year and fell in love with the sport. For the past couple of years, they had some injuries that had kept them sidelined, but I gave her a call. They agreed to do the Toughman with me.

The Golden Apple was sweet to the core. I look at the photos and see many smiling people and feel glad. It was exhausting and beyond stressful, but gratifying and indeed, a great learning experience.

My first week of school was smooth. There were problems, like when the school secretary walked in and announced I had a new student on Thursday morning. “Well, that is wonderful. I will call the custodian and see if he can find you a desk. In the meantime, honey, why don’t you sit here in my chair?”

The Toughman was…tough, but that’s the way I like it. It was also great fun. My goal was to push myself as hard as I could because I knew I didn’t have to run, and I figured that would be good training for my upcoming 1240km. I did push a very hilly 56 miles in about 3 hours. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t do it faster, but when I got home, I noticed my brake pads were rubbing. That would explain why my thighs were threatening to cramp up at the end.

Sometimes we find ourselves juggling knives, trying to make it all seem graceful and effortless while desperately avoiding bloodshed. This time, the magic was there. The applause was loud. I feel very lucky, and blessed.


Anonymous said...

Great juggling act!!
Did you see me in my umbrella hat and orange hands @ Underhill?

kttrue said...

Yes I did! You guys marshaling in costume were wonderful! Thank you.