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When the Team Challenge Half Marathon folks mentioned last month that I would be getting a visit from the Cranky Fairy some time midway through training, I offered my usual whatever-head-nod and mentally dismissed it. The joke is on me because the Cranky Factor set in something fierce this week. In isolation, the events leading up to this Friday evening seem miniscule. But the convergence of them all in one week: not good.

  • The grading load grabbed me by the throat with one hand and punched me with the other. Usually, I can count on a smattering of students dropping each class by weeks 4 and 5 of the semester. They’re holding out this time around. Good for them. Bad for my terrible ability to grade more than 8 essays in a day.
  • Some time Wednesday morning, an email conversation between me and a student began venturing into the Land of No Accountability. “Why do I have a 56 percent?” Do students really want me to answer that question? And why don’t they know the answer? Despite my responses, which included cliche and trite phrases like “keep trying!” and “I’m your biggest cheerleader in here!” the student demanded I provide answers. It’s Friday night, and I just KNOW there is an email waiting in my inbox with a response from the wretch. I abhor the days when one student can hijack my focus away from 140 other students.
  • Laura is gone. Not forever. But just this week. She’s the Planner of All Things Blue Valley West. Really, they need to hire more people. How can one person plan, organize, help with, and facilitate so many events? This week is homecoming week. The game is tonight. The dance is tomorrow. And there’s a cornucopia of events spilled throughout the week.
  • I haven’t been able to read for pleasure in weeks. Might seem silly, I know, but reading for pleasure is the equivalent of going fishing for some people. Or gambling. Smoking a cigar. I yearn for it. I’ve been trickling through the pages of Catching Fire for what seems like over a month. Special thanks goes out to the never-ending stack of assignments to grade. I’d also like to thank the college for its insistence that I serve on committees; the Guardian Angels Church website that I told myself was a good idea to create and maintain for them; and the premiere of shows like Parenthood, X-Factor, Revolution, and Touch.
  • The running. Yes, I’m still keeping to the half-marathon training schedule. This week, my runs stretched from 3 miles on Tuesday, to 4 on Thursday, and 6 on Saturday. The arch on my right foot hurts. My back feels like it’s trying to turn itself inside out. I can feel muscles breaking down and rebuilding in places I didn’t think I had muscles. I chafe. I get chased by dogs. Cats hiss at me from sewers. A high schooler nearly impaled me with a football when I ran by the football field outside the Civic Center. And the hills. Oh, the hills.

I’m so exhausted after each day at work that all I want to do is melt into the couch. But I see the donations slowly coming in to support me, and I know that I wouldn’t be letting myself down, but I’d be letting down my team and all of the people who have donated and who have said they will donate. I need to shake off the Cranky Fairy dust. As F. Scott Fitz whispers to me on my runs: Tomorrow I will run faster. Tomorrow I will stretch out my arms further. With my boat against the current, I will beat on.

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