So the school I teach at engages populations of students from two very different yet challenging communities. About half the students hail from North Preston, which is the largest indigenous community of black people in Canada.
I've enjoyed my year at the school, and one of the brightest spots is how I've been able to forge really positive and warm relationships with many of the students from North Preston. There are many students from this community who arrive with the expectation that things will not go well due to negative past experiences. I haven't been perfect, by any stretch, but the hard work to build a shared normal has even paid off with students who may not be the most academically engaged but have come to appreciate the structure and support I provide.
One kid (who we'll call Ricardo, for anonymity's sake) has been talking smack all year long about how he can beat me at whatever we happen to be talking about in class. Until a little while ago, that was generally basketball (which he is pretty good at), hockey or football.
But about 10 days ago he told me how old I was and that he'd cream me in a running race.
Now I haven't REALLY run in years- I go for a run every once in a while, but I'm not dedicated like I used to be when I trained for half-marathons in Montreal. But I couldn't help myself. He bet me that he could beat me straight up in a race. So I agreed to race him if I could pick the distance. He grinned and said sure.
I told him we'd run 10km the last day of school for bragging rights once and for all. He shook on it, and I have been training since.
Tonight I went for the longest run in ages, the longest since training for the demi-marathon de Montreal in 2002 with my friend Matt. I ripped off a 7.5K in just over 42 minutes at an average heartrate of 180 BPM.
Here's the route I ran:
Be afraid Ricardo. Be very afraid. I'm going to run you into the ground... :) And this old man will get to call you a loser AND get back on track with running.
Who knew petty competition could be such a great motivator? LOL...