“I’ve got more.”

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As a teacher of writing, l often ask nine-year-olds, “Who cares?” at the end of their writing pieces. It’s cold, but it’s meant as an entryway for reflection. If someone reads, how will it matter to them? I should ask myself as well. About writing, of course, but also about life. As 2015 draws to a close, I ask myself, “Who cares?”

Teaching is hard. Sometimes it’s very hard. My 2014-15 school year had me wondering if I wanted to continue this line of work. Teaching is a job where you don’t always get out what you put in. Some years just take, and take, and take. Some years I feel empty in the end, like I didn’t give enough. But one joy of teaching is being able to try again. To start anew. To find yourself again,  to see the promise in new faces, and give more to the next group. I’ve got more. I know that because I haven’t taught to the point of passing out yet.

As that school year ended, my running life began again. I needed to run away, and I found something to carry me on to the next year with renewed purpose.

I used my end-of-year gift card to buy a new pair of running shoes and some shorts, and I ran. I put in 150 miles over the summer. Those miles helped me focus on something that I’d been missing. Me. I got to know myself again on the road. I found out something. I’ve got more. One more mile. One more lap. One more stride. One more whatever. There’s always something left in the tank. I haven’t passed out running yet.

As a dad and husband, I have to remind myself that I have more for them too. More patience. More time. More love.

After a hard day at school, or many long days at home over a break, there is still more I can give them even if I have to dig deep to find it. Being a family man has yet to cause me to lose conciousness.

“I’ve got more,” is carrying me through my life. If every person in the world weren’t getting tattoos, I might emblazon my body with the phrase. That simple phrase that ran through my head running hard around the corner of Columbia St. leading me to push harder when I so badly wanted to slow down changed the way I look back at my year. It’s changing the way I look at my life.

“Who cares?” Maybe you do. Because I’ll bet you’ve got more too.

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A running life again

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I am a husband, father, teacher, and neighbor. Most of the things I do in my life are for others, and that’s ok, but running is for me.

I probably always thought of myself as a runner. I can remember people saying I was fast when I was a kid. I proved it in the annual mile run at school. I ran all over the place. You couldn’t stop me.

I ran track and cross country in high school. I won a couple of medals. Then I grew up. I stopped running. For close to twenty years, more than half my life, I haven’t been a runner. I have spent more time looking for those medals over the last five years than running.

Now, for the last five months, since the first day of summer vacation, I’ve been a runner again. I hope to be a runner for the rest of my life.

When I was a runner way back when, I learned everything I know about hard work and dedication from my beloved coach, Yvonne Grimes. I never stopped thinking like a runner throughout my life by setting goals, succeeding sometimes, but mostly failing. Never stopping. Never quitting. Now that I’m back on the road, trails, and track, I am all about making the most of every run and getting faster, getting fitter, and having fun.

I didn’t realize it all those years, but the hard purple-faced workouts in the heat and prepping for a race with tingling fingers on a frigid morning are the things I’ve been missing. These are things that make running great. They are the times when you actually ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” These are the times you smile to yourself and simply answer, “Because you’re a runner.”

Now that I am finally a running adult, I cherish every second of my runs. The warm ups (maybe not stretching yet), the excruciating intervals, the hills, counting my cadence, and pushing toward the finish of a workout, of a race.

In the past five months, I have had several runs that went beyond my intended goals. A twenty minute run went five minutes longer. Ten minutes longer. A two mile run became a three miler. After a four mile Sunday morning run, I did a four mile Sunday night run. “You’ve got more,” I literally say to myself. And I do have more. That’s the fun. How much more?

Eventually, all runs must end, and it’s a good thing they do. I am usually greeted by my little girl yelling, “Daddy’s home!” as I enter the back door. She then fills me in on whatever she and her brother and mother have been up to since I ran off.

Maybe the reason I’ve become a running adult, more than the fitness and fun, is because I have people to run for and a place worth running back to.

Since high school ended, I have wasted my running life. I figure I’m only about half-dead, so I’ve got a lot of running ahead of me. I’ve got more.