I remember when I was teaching middle school math at the ripe old of age of 25. I went out for a run with a mentor named Kenny Miller as we did almost every day. Immediately following the run that day, I was going to my first faculty meeting. I was looking forward to the insight I was bound to receive about education, how to work with some kids who had challenges and maybe there would be some talk of curricula changes and perhaps idea generation around some cool events for the kids.
Kenny was a master educator and camp director and he was also very funny and a Seinfeld addict. I must have been sharing some of my excitement and Kenny said, “You know what is amazing. Teachers are the worst listeners.”
I thought that was peculiar and then with all my endorphins cued up, a clear mind, and a post-run high, I entered my first faculty meeting. Rather than receiving inspiration I witnessed first-hand Kenny’s prophecy that teachers are the worst listeners. The meeting was mayhem. Every new idea was met with sufficient eye-rolls. Teachers, at least in this scenario, were the worst listeners.
I thought of Kenny’s line last Saturday. I was supposed to run 18 miles and with a kid drop-off at 9am, I had to get out before 5am. While we advocate to eat something before long runs, hydrate every mile and take some nutrition every 45 minutes to an hour, I had grown out of all of that. I had done some long runs with minimal water and nutrition and while 18 was the furthest I had gone to-date in the current training cycle, I just thought it was too early to eat before I got out there. Strike 1.
In addition, I brought home a single serve of Tailwind to take on my run. I also had some old Honey Stinger Chews that I could throw in my jacket pocket.
My wife Kara had just purchased me the Mighty for Christmas so I was looking forward to be being alone with my music for 3 hours in the dark and then spend the day with my kids. The recording on my Mighty said that my Mighty was connected to too many Bluetooth devices and I needed to refresh my Spotify playlists. I only understand some of those words and certainly not the message. I have yet to overcome this hurdle and the Mighty was out. Strike 2.
My wife and I have three kids and they are all teenagers. This sounds challenging but only in a first-world problem kind of way. They are mostly respectful, good kids, but their real problem is that they eat water bottles. There was not a single water bottle to be found. So here I was at 4:58am, no music, a Camelbak handheld with nothing to hold, no gels and a very limited window that was getting more limited. Strike 3.
I threw a $5 bill in my jacket, my phone (I never run with my phone), earphones (the old kind with the long wire), threw the Honey Stinger Chews in another pocket and I was out the door before 5am. Through 14 miles it was a fine run. I was enjoying the chill in the air and moving at a good clip for me. The morning was not perfect. My earphones kept falling out, and because my phone was banging against my hip, songs kept skipping and the sound was going in and out. With all the challenges, I would finish before 8am and put one of my longest runs behind me.
With only 4 miles to go I was headed for home. I started feeling nauseous. Should I have eaten? I was not going to eat then. My fingers were cold and I did not want to eat with a questionable stomach. Should I stop for fluid? Not now I was so close. Then my right knee started to ache and then really ache. Should I have stretched? Why did I go snowboarding during marathon training? Of course, I was going to go snowboarding. I love it. Should I have stretched like Renzi told me to? If my back was better would my knee hurt like this? Why didn’t I do anything I was supposed to? Who am I? I am almost 50 and I think I can outsmart or out-tough a long run. How stupid am I?
I limped home 1 mile short of the goal 18.I was dehydrated, malnourished and hurting.I did not finish a run, a big deal for me.I always finish and I deserved not to finish. This teacher learned a hard lesson about not being a good enough listener.
About the Author: Josh Levinson
Josh and his wife Kara founded Charm City Run in 2002. To read more about their story, click here. Josh is currently marathon training with the Timonium training group and Coach Katie.