Thursday, August 27, 2015

And Greater Success...

As my daughter goes off to begin her freshman year at Hope College, she is the last of my children to go. I began this blog just after she had gone off to the MHSAA's State Cross Country meet her freshman year in high school. I had the goal of doing an Ironman in mind which I eventually did. I've now left teaching after 21 happy years and I'm no longer coaching Cross Country either. Much has changed in my life since I began this blog. But as I reflect on what kinds of success there are out there, I count my daughter's college entrance essay as greater than even completing Madison in 2013. I'll let my daughter's words be the final entry for this blog.

Katherine Helder
Advanced Composition
1st Hour
Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
"26.2. These running stickers are displayed everywhere. Most people know what they mean, but they don’t actually know what they mean. My fourteen-year-old legs, however, learned one unforgettable day.
     I remember the moment when my dad told me about himself crossing the finish line of his first marathon his sophomore year of high school. He left me with that thought after he tucked me in one night many years ago. My mind was blown at that point, but not enough to stop me from dreaming my first dream of a marathon freshmen year of high school. This was just a spark of my competitive side.
    The emotions of actually running a marathon had not set in when I signed up for the race. They did not set in many months after signing up. How could I be nervous for something that was so unknown? Though the moment they did finally set in could not be more clear: lunch time, a couple weeks before the race.
    One day, at school, I decided to sit at the senior table with some friends, which was nothing out of the ordinary. Most of us were on the cross country team. Being the youngest, a freshman, I really looked up to those girls. Soon the topic of my marathon came up. The words still play back through my head. If the captain of the basketball and soccer team doubts me, how could I not doubt myself? In that moment, the emotions hit me.
    “Never again, never again” were the words in my head the last half of the race, promoted by the pain shooting up through my feet.

Dad stayed by my side though, beaming as he was actually living the day his own daughter joined him in his passion. He talked me through the toughest moments, one being the thirteenth mile mark. A thirteen-mile race was all I had ever achieved up until that point. I persevered with my dreams, reputation, prayers, but mainly my dad, in mind. After over five hours of mental drive, the finish line came around the corner. There I exerted all I had left, which was not much, but enough. The medal was then placed around my neck as I struggled to stand; followed by the hug and support from two of my best friends. I had conquered negative words, my dream, and a marathon.

I have yet to experience a better moment than being medaled after the race. The feelings are inexpicable and something I will never be able to relive. The marathon achievement is not what makes that medal so great, though. It is the many worthwhile things that seeing the medal will remind me of. I conquered self-doubt, and had growth of mind. But the most important thing to me is the hours that make up memories between my dad and me. It is a bond that will last a lifetime. Those bonds are what we are to treasure; not the accomplishments, but the relationships formed along the way. Because someday I may no longer be able to run, but the relationships and memories are something that can never be taken or replaced."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


In Fall 2013, When I got back to my classroom at Everett High School, I was a little wilted on the Monday following Madison. So I explained to my students why I was mostly not moving much that day, since usually I do move around the classroom quite a bit. One of my students that year, Juan Ramirez, did a little feature story on me in the Viking Voice, Everett's school newspaper. I was quite flattered by both Juan's interest and my friend Chad Sanders' (Journalism teacher extraordinaire) Photoshop interpretation of my first 140.6 event.

You can read the specifics of the race by clicking on the article.  Of course, although I didn't do much of the actual Ironman itself with Kurt (minor exception being a few miles of the marathon leg, where we were both Ummm... walking, although it was his second 13 miles and my first 13 miles...) it was a heck of a way to turn 50. I'd recommend doing an Ironman to anyone who enjoys the experience of attempting something rather difficult to see what you're made of.
Me and Kurt (right) about to get into Lake Monona for the 2.4 mile swim leg
It was late, and everyone was sleeping but, my daughter Katie made me feel like a conquering hero upon return to Michigan with this cool sign greeting me on the garage door!