Building Stamina

Saturday, I was one of over 10,000 skiers in the American Birkebeiner held in Cable & Hayward, WI.  My race, the Korteloppet, is a half marathon.

Each of the 23 kilometers was it’s own slice of life story.  A lot of thinking happens out on the trail.  It was a mental game to push myself through to the end.  The first few kilometers were plagued with “I’m so cold, Why did I sign up for this? Can I still feel my toes? Does that woman have frostbite on her face?” and then at kilometer number 5, I warmed up.  With comfortable toes and fingers, I was able to appreciate the beauty of the woods.  We had received 18 inches of heavy wet snow less than 24 hours prior.  The trees were laden with thick sweaters of white.  I was amazed that they did not shed this burdensome garb in the 20 mph winds.  The sunlight broke through the clouds and revealed a sparkly fresh winter landscape.  It was breathtaking in sight and temperature.  I was able to enjoy this crazy winter celebration.  The next few kilometers of thinking included, “This is great, I’m so glad I’m in it.”

Next came the stamina check. My legs began to tire and I thought of all the “building stamina” speeches I have given my students this year.  My ski training was like our reading. I had started out strong and had built stamina to ski easily for 3 or more hours. When I reached my goal, I had let off on the steam and skied shorter distances and quit early in the cold.  My class had worked through the “Why do we have to do this?” and built to self-sustained reading and writing for 40 minutes with joy.  I eased into interrupting this time because, “We were good at it.”  “We could handle the change to our schedule.”  After the new year, “our legs” were tired and we haven’t found our routine.  I could blame the crazy weeks broken by canceled days of school due to weather, but really my complacency is somewhat to blame.  We have not been practicing.

I saw the 21K sign and knew the end was near.  Looking into the tall pines, I resolved to take my stamina lesson to the classroom and “retrain” my students and rebuild our reading and writing stamina.  I will hold sacred our reading and writing time and keep distractions and interruptions at bay.  I look forward to March and building my own writing stamina as well as the literacy stamina in my classroom.