Last weekend was an emotional one. Sunday I saw my best friend finish her first 100 mile race while simultaneously my dad was rushed to the hospital. Five exhausting days later and it is the first time I can actually sit down and reflect on Julie's accomplishment. I had been with Julie pacing her on her last two 100 mile attempts both ending shy of 100 at 75 miles and 60 miles.
Julie, along with Margaret, were my crew and pacers at last years PEAK 500 mile attempt. I was able to complete 400 miles despite being very sick due to these amazing two women. I would do anything to help either of them, and this past weekend it was seeing Julie to a finish. Her husband Dave, Our dear friends Michael and Crystal and myself teamed up to pace her through the difficult 30+ hours of trail running as her three children cheered her on. Actually, it seemed by the end of the race EVERYONE was rooting for Julie to finish. Finish she did...the last person to cross the finish line with an unofficial finish over the 30 hour cutoff, but we all agreed a spectacular finish nonetheless. We had thrown money in to buy her a special Ghost Rail 100 buckle and she received a ceremonial railroad spike for her determination and grit.
What makes someone run 100 miles despite excruciating pain and exhaustion? I am not sure I can explain it...even though I do it myself. It is probably the same reason that makes a student put in 100% to ace an exam, or rewrite a paper until he or she feels it is their best piece of writing. Or a child shooting baskets for hours in their backyard practicing until their parents call them in for dinner. Or a teacher taking the time to drag a bagful of papers to Panera and spending eight hours on a Saturday reading and commenting on their students' writing. It is the inherent desire to make a commitment and regardless of the difficulties stick with it until they have done their absolute best.
How do we teach a child to follow through on their commitments? I think the more important question as educators is are we allowing our children the opportunity to achieve great things? Or are we failing to give them these chances because it requires that we, as well as our students, give 100% of ourselves? What is your level of commitment? Do you make promises and follow through? Do you walk away when the going gets tough? Do you make excuses? Blame others?
I think it is good practice to ask yourself those questions when you see a child struggling....
Are you REALLY committed?