The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Walking, Walking, Walking

At the end of last year, I had an idea: I’d like to participate in the Illinois Marathon’s 5k event. And while I’m at it, I’d like to see a group of intermediate students from Wiley do it, too. I was inspired by other teachers who had done this with their classes.

The biggest hurdle, for me, is that I don’t actually run. Way back when I was in high school, I started experiencing something my family doctor referred to as “throat spasms.” Pretty much, I would start coughing uncontrollably, my throat would close up, and I would black out. Not much fun. At first it would happen for apparently no reason at all. I could be sitting still, walking, running, biking, eating, reading, or watching a show. If I was awake, there was a chance I’d have a coughing fit. I found that drinking lots of water would help stop them, but they would still happen. Then I got to the point where they would only happen when I tried running, even if it was a very short distance. Not when I walked, no matter how far or how long, nor when I biked. Just when I was running. So I pretty much abandoned running as a mode of transporting myself from place to place.

But I’ve wanted to see if I can build up the strength to do it. I’ll take my dog for a walk and run short distances with him. Sometimes I can do an entire lap around the block. But most of the time I just walk. Lots and lots of walking. And biking. (Well, when the weather cooperates, which hasn’t been very much lately.)

I mentioned this goal to my students this year and many were excited by the idea. For P.E. in the morning, we will often go outside and walk or run laps around the sidewalk that surrounds the large front yard of the building. Because of the clothes I wear for work, I walk with my class, but several students choose to run. In the process, we’ve all gotten very good at walking long distances this year. This has been good for us, because today was the annual PTA Walk-a-thon fundraiser event!

My students had 40 minutes to walk as many laps around the front of the building as they could. I told them my goal was for each of them to walk 20 laps. (The fundraiser has recently been going toward getting interactive whiteboards in the building and I want all of us to get them sooner than later!) I also told them that they had to do 5 laps before a water break and 10 laps before they could get an Italian ice. (Alas, the official PTA rules were 2 and 4, respectively.) I also joked that if students did 50 laps they would get a car (but, when asked for more details, I admitted it would just be a picture of a car, drawn by me) and 100 laps would get them an iPhone 6 Plus (also just a picture). Fortunately for me, none of the students got quite that many, so I didn’t have to scramble to produce the joking prizes I’d suggested.

Many students did walk 9 or 10 laps. A few did 11. A few more, who arrived a few minutes later because of different reasons, only did 8. But all of them walked for the full amount of time! We also had a parent join us! My students logged a total of 196 laps! With the 5 I did and the 10 that the parent did, our class had a total of 211 laps! This is roughly 70 miles! (I told my class earlier today that each lap was about a quarter mile, but I checked the math again and I believe it is closer to a third.) This isn’t the greatest distance of any class of mine, but I also have fewer students this year than I have had before.

All in all, I was quite pleased with our performance. Whether we set a record for the school or not doesn’t even matter. What matters is that we were walking, walking, walking!


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