Week 3 was what we call a “down week,” which in this case means I chose to run three fewer miles than the week before – not exactly a big drop in mileage, but it also didn’t feel harder than week 2.
Part of the “down” aspect was going back to running four days this week: an easy 3.5-miler, a speed workout with 1200-meter repeats, a tempo workout (fast 4 miles with 2 easy on either side), and an 11-mile long run – the longest long run I’ve done since March 2020, right before the world shut down. Total: 31 miles.
The speed and tempo stuff went great, much faster than I was able to go last week with similar workouts. I’m attributing this to getting stronger in general, but also eating more before my runs.
Generally, I don’t need to eat much before an easy run, but now that I’m going longer and incorporating speed, I’m finding that it makes a big difference for the harder runs. I mostly do rolled oats/peanut butter/oat milk/honey before. Afterwards I have more of the same, plus hard-boiled eggs and coffee. And more peanut butter. Always more peanut butter.
The long run incorporated a return to Randall’s Island on a pleasant Sunday morning before too many people got there. Aside from the waste smell that sometimes hits you on the eastern side, it’s a lovely place to run. Not too many other runners, and probably even better when there’s not a bike race that forces you to run on the grass for a stretch.
Since I’m running this marathon in memory of my dad, every week I’m trying to find a story to write about him. Sometimes it takes me a few days to figure out what to write about. I am likely overthinking this, especially when this is a 17-week training block and I have lots of story opportunities.
I thought this week I’d write about his life as a teacher.
My dad had always been interested in language, and he studied speech pathology in college. He found it frustrating, as the people he worked with didn’t seem to improve with his help. Of course, he was only a student himself at the time so he likely had unrealistic expectations surrounding the speed of their progress.
So he switched his major to English, and, through a series of events that probably would not happen today, was offered a full-time teaching job halfway through his senior undergraduate year. The job was at Northport Junior High, where they were desperate to replace a suddenly-departing English teacher who was quitting to spend time with her husband before he was shipped off to Vietnam.
Wanting the job, my dad did everything he could to graduate early, which involved begging his professors to do extra credit and take finals early. He graduated mid-year and started teaching soon after that. He was 22 years old.
I’m not sure how far into teaching this happened – perhaps even before he started – but my dad made a point to lose his Brooklyn/Long Island accent, the one his parents and the rest of his family had. Nothing against that accent; I think he just thought it would make more sense as an English teacher if he didn’t have it.
I only ever knew my father with a standard American accent, maybe only a hint of Noo Yawker coming through during extended family gatherings with a couple of beers in him.
Mr. Scott eventually moved to Northport High, where he taught a variety of English courses and, at one point, was the department chair. He would later tell me that he hadn’t particularly liked being chair because his duties meant he couldn’t teach as much. After a few years, he stepped down as chair to and went back to teaching full-time.
As I entered Northport High as a freshman, my father and I agreed that having him be my teacher would be too awkward, so he opted out of teaching Journalism the year I took it. I took 10th grade English and Project Advanced (and whatever other courses he was teaching) with other teachers.
It was cool to see him in the hallways. I was one of those weird teenagers who liked their parents, and, fortunately for me, a lot of students liked my dad. More than once a student asked me if my dad smoked pot. He did not, but apparently my father’s supremely chill personality made some students think he did.
In 10th grade, I was unceremoniously dumped (in school) by my first boyfriend – an extremely short-lived relationship that did not deserve a second thought once it was over, but I was, you know, a teenager. I was so distraught, I roamed the school grounds to find my dad. I saw him through a window and softly knocked on a classroom door that led to the outside of the building. To this day, I can’t remember if he was in the middle of teaching a class or was just hanging out grading papers. Either way, he came out to console me for a few minutes.
My dad never officially retired from teaching, but he taught less and less over the years. He also taught at Suffolk and Nassau Community College. At some point, he was hoping to retire for good, spend time at his house upstate, visit his grandkids more often, and travel.
One thing I know for certain about my dad is that he loved what he did.
He got to do something he loved for 50 years. That’s something.