Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pants Wearing Pants

portrait by a professional artist 8th grader
One of my students drew a picture of me every day for two weeks, so eventually, I started brushing my hair more nicely and making sure my outfits matched.

I entered the school building today to the tune of a 7th grade boy telling his friends he beat me during warm-up laps in our morning workout. His back was turned, so as I walked by I added, “Mrs. Little is slower than my grandma,” and darted into the copy room.

These days, I am hanging out with a pretty rough crowd. They all wear neatly pressed uniforms, say things like "yes, ma'am," read in Latin, and have clean-cut hair. But don't be fooled: They are tough. They provide a new honesty to my life and training—letting me know when my diction is unclear or my cultural references have expired, informing me when I look happy or unhappy, drawing accurate sketches of my worst hair days, and having selective memories for the days they beat me in anything (sprints, repeats, out-and-backs, warm-ups, trips to the water fountains, or tying their shoes. Any victory will do.)

There are only a few weeks remaining before the World Championships in Steenbergen, Netherlands. There will be 350 runners on the starting line, with thirty-seven nations competing. I am excited, and I'm nervous. I am training as much as I can in quantity and depth, without compromising more important things—time with my husband and with several flocks of ducklings (my students and athletes).

(during a comma usage quiz)
Student: Mrs. Little, did you write this quiz yourself?
Me: Yes.
Student: And you’re running a lot these days?
Me: I guess so. Why?
Student: Oh, no reason. All of your sentences are about types of cakes, and I figured there must be some reason why you’re so hungry.

Texas has many lovable qualities:

1-the people
2-the food
3-the ubiquity of zoos and aquariums
4-the weather

It never gets too cold in the winter. In New Jersey winters, I would often triple-layer my pants to stay warm. A panoply of pants. A pant-oply. Texas has been more of a singular-pants venture, and there is greater freedom of movement when my pants are not wearing pants. My winter training was unhindered by unsustainable (for me) cold weather, so I didn't need to do as much mileage rebuilding at the beginning of Spring as usual.

I run 2-3 times a day (short runs). It's called prepositional running--when training has to happen before things, between things, and after things.

I lift twice a week, and do longer runs plus cross-training (basketball and tennis) on weekends. I rest when I need it. I train consistently, but (excepting weekends) each run is only between thirty minutes to an hour-fifteen, and often with my students. This means, I have to focus on pushing myself harder each time I’m out alone. My focused intent is to extend the length of my stride, which shrunk down a bit because of so many years on technical trails in minimalist sneakers. And I am perfecting the fine art of quick changes from school dress to running clothes in the stalls of the students’ restroom, using my prep period for speed work a few days a week.

It’s a bit of a hectic schedule, and sometimes I have to step back and breathe or take some time off. But my legs feel sharp, and I’m adjusting to a new life with great people in a wonderful place.

I am writing this in study hall. The last time I was inattentive in study hall, the 8th grade girls put a magical pony sticker on my Physics book and named me Queen of all the Ponies. True story. Teaching 8th grade is an exhaustion I have never known. I have run for 48 hours before, so this is saying something.

Two weeks and two days until I fly away to Steenbergen. David is coming with me. I can’t wait. Go U.S.A. and happy trails.


  1. Go Sabrina! The temps dipped in CT overnight, so this morning I was wearing pants over pants. TRUE STORY.

  2. I love hearing about your experiences running, which fascinate me as something I do not understand does. Your stories about the students, however, is liking reading something out of my own mind, so they are my chickadees in the same way that they are your ducklings and it is so refreshing to hear another's viewpoint on them.

  3. No WONDER I have been so happy today. I shoulda known you had posted yet another amazing, amazing blog entry. I love how the universe works.

    P.S. I hope the World Champs is amazing, Sabrina!!!

  4. Just wait till summer, you may re-consider the Texas weather niceties...but for an early season goal, yes! Best to you at World's, and glad you're finding balance with ducks and ducklings and David is not lost either:)

  5. PREPOSITIONS. And intensive student-care exhaustion. These things I understand.

    How you maintain your sheer awesomeness remains a mystery. A beautiful, awesome mystery. #gradingbreak#youunderstand

  6. Great picture. And... that's a fine drawing also :)

    Speaking of Texas, you're cracking me up like Liza Howard. And for that matter, like Dakota Jones. And Crazy Fast Dave. So regardless of whether you win races -- which you have a habit of doing -- you are on the humor podium.

  7. I LOVE teaching 8th grade girls. They are at once innocent, snarky, naive, scared, loud, curious, loving, bossy. At least mine are. :-)

    Sending you huge energy vibes as you and David embark on the next $abrina adventure! Have fun, run very fast.

  8. I apparently need to stop whining that I don't have enough time to run/train around work ~ you are amazing!