At this time of year, I actually watch my posture decline. My shoulders slump inward and I pitch forward like I'm walking up a hill, with my head cast down. It's awful. I hate to be dramatic, but this time of year is difficult. I know what you're thinking--I'm a teacher. I get summer off. I should be dancing around, casting trails of confetti behind me as I celebrate. And I will, soon enough, but the weeks leading up to that are difficult. The kids are crazy. 8th graders go through their own version of senioritis. They figure out that punishments aren't as effective because they're heading to the high school next year. Hey, what can we really do when they won't be back in the fall? I mean, we can hold over a punishment for really serious infractions, but most of them aren't serious. Instead they're just upsetting on a minor level. Disrespectful. Frustrating. They stop doing work. They stop listening. They're immature and not quite capable of making rational decisions, so when you ask why they didn't turn in their homework, they might respond by flipping you off behind your back or being outright rude in response. Plus, the end of the year brings about standardized test results. These come with disappointments and pride. I had kids pass the test this year WHO HAVE NEVER PASSED IT and oh yes, I am proud of them. Then I had kids pull a low score when I know they could do better, when I know they must've just screwed around and not taken it seriously at all. That's a hard pill to swallow and it's hard to hold your shoulders up straight when thinking about this.
On top of this work-related slump, I've been going through a running slump. I'm not sure why. I've been having a difficult time acclimating to the warmer weather. I'm tired, just plain tired. I'm adjusting to the new migraine meds. Whatever the reason, I just haven't been feeling it. I've been feeling it so little that I've been needing to take an obscene amount of walk breaks, like before I even reach a mile. What is THAT garbage? Every time I'd go out, I'd think, "Okay, this is going to be different. This is going to be like it used to be." And then before I knew it, I'd be gasping for breath, even though I was running slower than I used to run and then I'd be walking and fighting back tears and angrily cursing myself. It's been frustrating, to say the least.
Last night, I went to bed early. I started to feel the beginnings of a migraine. The temperature dropped by about twenty degrees, which tends to bring on a headache. I had a run planned in the morning before work, so I didn't want to mess around. I took the new medicine my doctor prescribed and was passed out in bed by 8pm. I woke up at 1 and still had a migraine. I knew that if I had even an inkling of a migraine, I couldn't risk a run in the morning. I couldn't risk pushing myself over the edge. I woke up at a little after 4 and felt great. The medicine worked and I felt so peaceful. My alarm went off at 4:30 and I got up, dressed, stretched and headed out the door. It's so grey and quiet at this hour of the morning. I did a two minute warm up walk in the first mile... I'm sometimes really bad about warm up walks. I know they're important, but I usually just want to jump right in. This morning, I just enjoyed easing into it. And then at .2, I started a slow, easy run. I kept thinking, "I don't want to over think this. I know I just started, but this feels really good." It did. It felt right, for the first time in a long time. I hit the mile marker and smiled, because I didn't want to stop. I kept going. I had to stop briefly, for about 20 seconds, at 3 miles because of traffic and I panicked that I wouldn't be able to start again, but I did and kept going until I had to stop again for traffic after 6 miles. My middle 3 miles were all sub-10 minute miles. Every time I'd finish a mile and my watch would flash the average pace, I was in disbelief. I didn't feel like I was pushing that hard and yet, I was able to keep going, something I hadn't been able to do at a much slower pace just a few runs ago.
I finished so happy. I needed this. I took a quick shower, threw my hair into two wet braids because I didn't have time to dry it, and headed off to deal with a bunch of crazy 8th graders. In spite of this, I was smiling.
Because, here's the great thing about slumps... they don't last forever. They can't. What pushes you down must eventually let up--or you eventually find a way to push it up.