Giving Back Pays Back

In the past decade, there has been a huge decline in volunteers.  I see it in schools where it is almost always the same parents helping at events.   I have also seen it at my sons’ activities when, at the beginning of each soccer season, emails were sent to parents, searching for  volunteers to step up and coach their child’s team; this also happens in hockey, baseball and other kids’ sports.  I regularly see this in the running community when race directors send out requests for volunteers, and usually more than once, so that their races can run smoothly.

Often volunteer work is  filled by high school students who need to complete the 40 service hours required for graduation but we all need to do it.  I get it: we are all busy and it’s hard to find time for other people when you can barely find time for yourself.  But, speaking from my own experience, volunteering is one of the best things that you can do for yourself.  You are making a difference.  You are helping others.   And no matter how much you had to juggle things around to do something that you may not have really wanted to do in the first place, if you are at all like me, you will always finish feeling good.   And, if you’re really lucky, it will come back to thank you later.

Years ago, when I registered my youngest (9 at the time) for soccer, I responded to one of the mass emails searching for a coach.  I hadn’t planned on coaching  but I was going to be at the field anyway, I knew soccer and I knew how to work with kids.  Somebody had to coach and it made sense for me to step up.  Besides, it gave me a chance to spend time with my son; I knew that, as a 9 year old, his days of wanting to hang out with Mom would soon be coming to an end.   But we spent more seasons at soccer together than I expected.  What started off as a fall commitment lead to winter, summer and a few more years of soccer coaching until it just wasn’t cool for me to do it anymore.

My soccer coaching is now two years behind me.   There are some times when I have been thanked through smiling faces, handshakes and thank you cards, and others when I have been ignored.  But that’s okay.  For me, coaching was about spending time with my son.  And it was about giving back.  Only this year, did I realize home important that giving back really is.

Now in Grade 9, my son has been unleashed from the protection of a smaller local elementary school to the openness of the high school years.  While I think I raised both of my kids to do the right thing and make good choices, I worry; all parents do.  Who will his new friends be?  What will he do in his free time?  Where will he hang out?   There were – and still are – so many unknowns.

Last Friday night, he asked if he could sleep at a friend’s house.  Of course, I hesitated.  I recognized the last name, but not the first.   I asked where the boy lived – just in case – but it was a different area.  “He’s a new friend.  We hang out together.”  This led a drill of questions and answers, resulting in the mutual decision to drop him off and meet the family; if I didn’t feel comfortable, we would go home together.

When the door opened at his new friend’s house, I said, “I know you.  I use to coach you soccer.”  The teen looked at me and replied, “Oh ya!”  We went inside to see his parents and faces lit up.  We all recognized each other from our U10/U11 soccer days. The family had moved and the boy had changed his first name to one that reflected his cultural heritage.  Suddenly, the stress of my son’s sleeping over was gone.  I knew this family.  I knew that my youngest would be fine.  And, so I returned home relaxed as I could see that my son was hanging out with good kids.

This was the greatest thank you that I have had in all my years of coaching.   It made me grateful for the Saturdays and evenings that I spent on the pitch, being a part of my son’s activities and meeting new people.  And it reminded me that this is why we, as parents, need to get involved with our kids when they are younger.  Dropping them off at a game, practice or activity is not enough.  We need to physically be a part of their lives.  We need to see who our kids gravitate towards, watch what they do and listen to what they talk about.  We need to influence them to do the right thing.   Coaching let me do that with my son.  I realize now that my work as a volunteer helped influence my son in making the right decision.

So the next time you are asked to help out, think twice before you reply.   It’s not whether you have the time; it’s about whether you want to be a part of something that really matters to you.  So get involved.  It can do you more good than you will ever realize.

 

Not A Race Plan

After months of watching friends and strangers race while I was sidelined,  and consequently dealing with a bad case of FOMO, I was able to finally toe the line at the Hamilton 10K.  I had kept quiet about this as it wasn’t really suppose to be a race.  I wanted a fast paced run, faster than I had been doing on my own but not at a true race pace.   I wasn’t ready for that yet.  I hadn’t done any kind of speedwork at all and I wasn’t physically or emotionally ready to put myself out there.  But psychologically, I needed to start racing.   I needed to see where I was at in terms of my own fitness – to establish a baseline to build on – and I needed to rebuild some confidence in my running again.

On the morning of the race, Dave was about to put Zeda on a leash when I asked him to stop.  “Can’t we just leave her at home this time?”  “Well, what I am suppose to do when you’re running?”  “Wait for me.  Cheer me on.  Socialize.  This is my first race in over a year and a half.  It’s my first race since I’ve been injured.  I just want you there for me.  I need you to look after me today.”  And he did.  We got to Confederation Park and Dave kept me company while I warmed up, walked me to the start line, held my bag and gave me a good luck hug.  The rest was up to me.

I had what I thought was the perfect race strategy.   I was going to start at an 8 minute/mile pace, bring it down to 7:50 for miles 2 and 3, and push towards a 7:40 pace or whatever felt right for the last half of the course.  Based on my training, I figured that I could run 10K around 48 minutes so that was my goal.  If I could get between 47 and 48 minutes, I would be happy; if I could go under 47, I would be really happy.  As luck would have it, the wind picked up in the days leading up to the race, resulting in a particularly chilly and windy morning.  Regardless, I still felt that a 48 minute finish was a reasonable goal.

Picking up the pace as I get closer to Mile 6.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I ran my first mile in 7:11.  “Slow down, Cynthia.  That’s too fast.  You’ve got to fight the wind for the last half.”  So I did -by a whole second; I ran my second mile in 7:12.  I wasn’t tired; I felt good.  But I knew it was too fast and I didn’t want to blow up in the last half of the race.  I was able to pull the pace down to 7:21, then to a 7:23 for miles 3 and 4.  Perfect.  I knew that I had lots left to give for the last two miles, even with the wind.  Mile 5 was my slowest (7:33), exactly as I expected, but I changed gears again and ran mile six at a 7:25 pace, finishing the last 0.2 miles in 6:54.  Pacing was all over the place but I was thrilled with my result – 45:26 for a 12th place finish on the women’s side and 1st in my 50-59 age group.   I did not expect that at all.

Thirteen months ago, after tearing my hamstring, I didn’t think I would ever be able to run or race again.   But I wasn’t going to give up easily.  Instead, I spent hours each week cross-training, mostly cycling and yoga, to keep my cardio strong and develop different groups of muscles.  In the summer, when I started running again, everything came together and now I feel fit, really fit.   I feel ready to set some goals.  But the logical side of my brain takes over and tells me “Wait!  You’ve been through a lot.  You need to slow down a little.  You need more recovery time.   You need….”

So I listen.  But the bar has been set and I am physically and psychologically ready to lower it a bit more, even if it means doing so slowly and cautiously.  I have everything in place – a solid level of fitness, time to take a deliberate and cautious approach,  help from my coach, chiropractor and physiotherapist and, most importantly, support and encouragement from my husband.  I am not just going to chase my dreams; I am going to catch them.

 

STWM: Giving Back

pc: C. Bedley

I am always impressed by anyone who can run a half-marathon in 1:15.  But if you can do it in a banana suit, you have earned a whole new level of respect.  On Sunday, at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, American Melvin Nyain did just that.

I spent the morning marshalling at the marathon and was stationed at the 13K point. As expected, the first groups of runners came through about 40 minutes after the start.  There were two groups of competitive men were followed by a third group of men pacing elite women, who were being chased by the second group of elite women, followed by a banana.  Yes, the fastest marathon women in the world were being chased by Melvin Nyain who was dressed in a banana costume.  When he crossed the finish line, Nyain broke the world record for running a half-marathon dressed as a fruit (1:15:35).   This is one of the many things that made me smile last Sunday morning.

As a runner, I am grateful to the many volunteers who drag themselves out in the early morning to help at races.  It’s quite simple; without them, races simply wouldn’t happen.  So it’s important that I give back when I can.  My running club always helps at the Canada Running Series races and the STWM is one of my favourite events to work.  This year’s races attracted  25 000 runners which included a field of elite runners (and several Canadians vying for a spot in the 2020 Olympics), costumed runners like Nyain who were trying to break world records, and thousands more hoping to BQ, achieve a personal goal, target the finish line, or check off a life goal.  Whatever their reason, the runners made the day a fun one for volunteers.

Aside from cheering on friends and strangers, there were many highlights to my morning:

  1. Seeing the first group of elite men come into sight. Fluid and graceful, they left me feeling wowed.
  2. Watching the elite Canadian women run. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of national pride as they raced towards their ticket to next year’s Olympics.
  3. Cheering on the banana man.  “Go, Banana!” And, yes, I actually did yell this.
  4. An end of the pack runner who ran up to me and quietly asked, “Can I give this to you?”  I looked at her hands, expecting to see a card asking for money or giving me some information on some charitable organization.  But she was holding an empty gel pack; she didn’t want to leave it on the road.   “Sure!” I smiled.  How could I say no?
  5. Cheering on my friends as they passed me.  It was such a sea of runners that I felt bug-eyed looking for them a few called my name before I spotted them.  I absolutely loved cheering for them, getting high fives and sweaty hugs.
  6. Seeing the costumed runners, especially this one from “Game of Thrones.”
  7. Seeing the very last of the runners and walkers come through, emphasizing that the marathon is truly a race of commitment and perseverance.  For them, it isn’t about how fast or slow you are; it’s about getting the job done.  It’s about finishing what you started.

The best part of the day, though, was hanging out with my high school friend, Anya, whom I have kept in touch with but haven’t seen in  over 30 years.  When I heard she was in Toronto, I sent her a message to see if she wanted to marshall with me on Sunday morning and she jumped at the chance.   This shows how strong the running community is; we encourage and support each other, whether we’re friends or strangers.    We’ve all been on a race course and benefitted from the virtue of strangers so it is important that we take the opportunity to give back.  And if you can do it on a day when you see a man in a banana suit chasing a group of elite women, you’ve had an extra special day.

The Shift

For the past few months, I have been on a bit of a hiatus.  A busy fall has taken away the time I need to blog and it has been hard to find a focus.  Sometimes, my mind has been bubbling with ideas about running, cycling, yoga, coaching, and active kids.  But other ideas pop up, primarily focussing on the environment, mental health and education.  While I am no expert in any of these areas, I want to voice my opinions.  I want to be heard.  So it’s time that I change direction.

My primary focus will continue to be fitness but I am also going to use my space, Cynsspace, to share other ideas.  This is a shift that I need, a change that will help me share the things I am passionate about, develop my writing/blogging skills and have an opportunity to connect with readers.  This a a chance for me to grow and I’m pretty excited about it.

Chasing a dream.  Now watch me catch it……

Changing Gears

“You always want to climb the mountain but, once you get to the base, you don’t go any further!”

A few weeks ago, Dave and I were riding and he wanted me to start getting more comfortable in the big cog.  You know; the one at the front of the bike, the one that connects to my left handlebar, the one that I use when I am on the flats or downhill and want to go faster.   If my description did not make it clear enough, I will: I don’t understand the mechanics of shifting between gears.  Well, I didn’t at the beginning of the summer.  Slowly, it is starting to make more sense.

That’s right.  I am almost 56 years old, learned to ride 2 wheels when I was 7 and I have never figured out gears.  Yet, I can ride a bike fairly well and have been doing just fine with the small cog – until now.  Since I am now able to play outside again – after months of only being on my windtrainer and not running at all – it’s time for me to change gears, literally and figuratively.

Dave has been more than supportive as he has been coaching me back to riding on the road, and he has been teaching me how and when to shift gears.  It just doesn’t come naturally for me.   One day, he kept yelling at me “Big chain ring!  You need to get in the big chain ring!”  I didn’t understand why.  Then he yelled, “You always do this!  You want to climb the mountain but, once you get to the base, you don’t want to go any further!”

I thought about that comment for the rest of the ride and he was right. I want to ride my bike but I don’t want to use all of the gears.  I am quite comfortable spending  my time in the small chain ring.  I’ve been too afraid to explore the other side.

When we got home, I told Dave that I needed to know the science behind gears.  “I just don’t understand the mechanics.  I need a lesson.  I need to understand gears so that I can change them properly.  I can’t do it intuitively like you can.”  So we sat down at the kitchen table and Dave explained the math (not science, yay!) behind it.  He drew the chain links and the crossover between gears, explained how they add and why the difference between each gear is not the same….Slowly, gears started to make sense.

My goal for the summer was to get more comfortable on my bike.  I’ve only been at it for a few weeks and I know that I am improving.  I am feeling stronger, more confident, and I’m shifting in and out of the big cog without being told – most of the time.  I need more practice – a lot more practice- but I will get it.

 

 

Hindsight

As I look back and reflect on my last year of not running, and as I think about the emotions that I went through and the steps that I took to repair and heal my hamstring, I hope that my experiences will help another who might be dealing with the same kind of injury.

First and foremost, you know your body better than anyone else.  If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  Looking back, I realize that I missed the warning signs.  Now, I know that the most prominent signal that something was brewing was the pain that went through my butt every time I sat down.  The ischial tuberosity hides under the glutes so, when you sit, the glutes move and you are on your sit bones, or the ischial tuberosities.  I always attributed the discomfort that I had while sitting to not having a lot of fat.  Similarly, I attributed any tightness or discomfort that I may have had through my hamstrings and butt to finishing a tough run (or race) or to a higher mileage week.  Not once did I imagine that my right hamstring was gradually fraying, which resulted in a 50% tear.

Secondly, stay positive.  In the past 10 months, I have worked with my family doctor, 2 sports medical doctors, an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, a chiropractor and a few physiotherapists.  For the most part, my visits with each of them were positive but there were times when I left feeling down.   Some days, anything from a doctor’s silence to a comment such as “That’s unfortunate” or “I hope this will help you” would scare me or send me into tears and leave me wondering “Will I ever be able to run again?”  I had to believe that I would heal and that any fitness lost would be regained.

And so I followed my gut.  While I knew that my tuberosity would heal, it took months to find the right treatment, primarily because I had to wait almost 4 months for the correct diagnosis. It was my GP, not my sports med doctor, who booked an MRI for me, and that had a 3 month wait.  I had just started to run a week before my appointment and thought about cancelling it, but something still seemed off; my gait just didn’t feel right.   My son convinced me to follow through with the MRI as it would give me more information about my injury.  He was right.  The hamstring tear turned out to be deeper than we originally thought.  It was the MRI that led to one sports medical doctor’s referral to another who specializes in hips and to a different physiotherapist, one who targeted strengthening the glutes and hamstrings, followed by another who realigned my pelvis.  And when the physiotherapists gave me exercises to do, I did them no matter how boring they were or spastic I felt.

During my healing and recovery, I focused on what I could do, not on what I couldn’t.  I spent hours each week on my windtrainer so that I could hold onto my cardio; within a 10 month period, I had ridden more than 3000 miles. I worked on my core and upper body  while strengthening my hamstrings and glutes by heading to the yoga studio 3-4 times a week (sometimes more).  I started swimming again and, by June, I was pool running to start rebuilding the same muscles that I use when I run outside.  I set goals that were achievable and I met them almost every single week.

Separating the platelets in the centrifuge.

But it still wasn’t enough. I had done everything that the doctors and physiotherapists had suggested but my right leg just didn’t feel strong whenever I tried to run.  So I followed my gut again and went back to the hip specialist, who proceeded with platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy  at the end of June. Ultimately, it was the PRP injection that had the greatest impact on my healing.   The doctor had cleared me to run only 3 weeks after the injection, not after the usual 8 week period, and, for the first time in almost a year, my legs felt strong again.

Back to Chasing My Dreams

In the past year, the most valuable lesson that I have learned is to listen.   I learned how important it is to pay attention to my body, to what feels right and what doesn’t.   I listened to my professionals and followed through with their advice. If my gut told me that things still weren’t right, I went back again and again until I  found the right form of therapy.   I never gave up.  Yes, I got frustrated and, yes, sometimes I cried, but I also believed that I would eventually heal and get back to chasing my dreams.

 

 

 

 

Finding Humour in Self Love

When I first heard the phrase self-care, I thought it referred to things that I do to look after myself: eat properly, get enough sleep, go to the dentist, relax….It wasn’t until recently that I realized that self-care, or self-love, means so much more (see image above).   Like you probably are now, I went through the examples under each domain and questioned where I fell in my own self-care.   There are many that I do, some fairly regularly and others when I put time aside for them.  During  the summer months, for example, I commit to “designated service acts.”

One of my annual summer projects is collecting towels and bedding for animal rescues and shelters.  Some of the items go to our local humane society; I also collect for a friend who takes things to a farm sanctuary.   This summer, another friend of mine was looking for a new home for her old bedding and towels, and I offered to collect them for the farm.

When I went to pick them up, she had not one, but five, garbage bags of linens.  I was grateful but, at the same time, I was in a bit of a panic because I didn’t know what to do with them.  I was already purging through my own home and had bags of items to go to different organizations; I had no idea where I could put these five.  So I texted my farm sanctuary friend.

“I have a lot of donations for you but our house is already a disaster since I’m doing my summer purging.  Do you think I can bring them over now?  Dave will kill me if I bring more stuff inside.”

Thankfully, the response was “sure” so I headed over.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I started giggling.    I was moving 5 heavy garbage bags into her apartment building and, truth be told, I hadn’t even looked inside them yet.  Maybe there was more than just the towels and bedding inside.  What will her neighbours think?  Will rumours start?  Will little old ladies talk about “those girls” who quietly snuck in heavy bags with “heaven knows what” inside.    My imagination went into overdrive.

Before carrying the bags inside, we cautiously opened one of them – just to make sure that it had sheets and towels.   Then, we carried the bags inside, trying not to  trying not to draw attention to ourselves as we moved them into her apartment.  That’s when it hit me.  “Carrying 5 garbage bags inside is nothing.  Wait until you have to take them back outside,” I said.  “That’s going to look even more suspicious.  That’s when your neighbours are really going to talk.” And we quietly laughed again. Well, we may have actually snorted a bit because we really did not want anyone to notice us.

On my way home, I thought back to the examples of self love.  “Cleaning out (purging) and acts of service (donation)” are easy (usually) to do and make me feel happy.  Sharing that time with a friend makes it even better.  Unintentionally, I was speaking self-love.

It doesn’t take much to look after yourself.  Take a look at the list again and ask yourself “How do you speak self-love?”

Graduated

It’s been a full year, almost to the date, and it looks like I am finally finished dealing with a torn hamstring.

I had a follow-up visit from the PRP injection with my sports medical doctor yesterday.   He typically wants a gradual return to exercise and a visit 8 weeks after the injection.  But I needed more information.  I was tired of  waiting for answers.  I didn’t want to play any more guessing games.  I needed to know: am I healing as expected or do I need a second injection?  Am I doing too much too soon or is my fitness where it is suppose to be ?  I need guidance because, let’s face it, I don’t do well on my own.  I don’t always recognize the signs of trouble brewing and I certainly do not want to end up back at ground zero.  So I asked, maybe begged, and he agreed to see me after the 4 week point.

I truthfully didn’t know what to expect.  I was a bit worried that he would want to start to treat the left tuberosity, where there were some minor tears, because I am noticing that side more than my right.  So my son drove me to his office – just in case he was wanting to do another PRP injection.   Dr. Bentley asked me a few questions and he examined by strength and movement.

“Your hip is jammed up again,” he commented .  I felt my shoulders sigh.  “You’re going to have to keep up with physio or Chiro care – probably twice a month – to keep your pelvis aligned.” I had already been prepared for that as a life-long need; I know that it has helped and I know that I am going to need regular maintenance.

Then I asked my questions:

(1) Is my left side sore now because my right is stronger and I am just hyper-sensitive to what is going on with my hips?  “You’re in tune with your body,
he said. ” You’re quite aware of what is going on so, yes, it’s a bit of both.”

(2) Is this tightness, the achy-ness that I have just part of aging?  Dr. Bentley smiled.  “You’re getting older.  And you’ve have some issues with your hips.  But it’s not like your severely arthritic and your hip is waiting to shatter.  You’re going to be fine.”  So, yes, I need to get use to feeling sore.  Fortunately, I am in a line of work that doesn’t let me sit for too long; for me, being busy and active is key.

(3) Do you think I’ll be able to get back to distance running?   Dr. Bentley told me that more is better for me, which ties in with the “don’t sit still” approach that I have adopted.  “You’ll have to cut back in intensity,” he said. “You can train the same way during each session but not as often.”  Basically, I need more non-running days to give my body a break from pounding the pavement.  Instead of running 6 days a week, I’ll have to run 4 or 5; double-run days, I’m fairly certain, have become a thing of the past.

“You’ll have to keep up with physio,” he repeated.  “But I don’t think I need to see you again.  If something changes, just call me and set up an appointment.”

When I got back to the car, I said to my son, “I have graduated.  I am all done.  He doesn’t need to see me again.”

Graduated

“You’ve graduated?” he asked.

“Yup.  I suffered, I researched, I did everything I was expected to do, and I have passed. I am done with rehab.  I have graduated.”

When I got home, I celebrated (of course) with an easy 3-mile run.  Last night, I started my plan of training to train and today, I can begin to start chasing my dreams.

 

 

Feeling humbled

I like to see myself as a healthy person.   During my injury, I have been on my windtrainer for about 100 miles/week and I make it to yoga 3 or 4 times a week.  When I am not injured, I am running – a lot and well.  I feel strong.  I feel fit.  But when I get into the water,  I am quickly humbled.

I am not a good swimmer and I am finding that frustrating.   Years ago, before kids, I was in the water five times a week – slow but able to swim 1600 metres without stopping and strong enough to swim over 5 miles a week.  During that time, I taught myself how to breathe bilaterally; during the 20-odd years away from the water, I managed to forget everything that I learned.

Leaving the pool – and sporting the wet look.

So here I am, 55 years old,  trying to relearn old tricks.    For the most part, I think my strokes are good, but I am slow.  With practice, I have figured out bilateral breathing again by slowing down my stroke and focusing on the count: 1, 2, 3 (breathe), 1, 2, 3 (breathe) and so on.   Now the crawl is a little easier, and I might even be a smidge faster, but I still feel completely out of shape when I swim from one end of the pool to the next.

I’m trying to stay positive, though.  I’m swimming again, and I have swum more in the past 6 months than in the past 20 years.  That’s progress.  Also, I am intentionally keeping my distance at the low-end for now (500 to 750 metres) while I focus on breathing and skill, and I am getting it – more progress.  I still have goals in sight;  by the end of the month, I hope to be able to swim 1000 metres and, if things go better, swim more than 100 metres without feeling like my lungs are going to explode.

Commitment: a new lock for the pool.

For me, swimming is hard.  But other things have been tough too: running after an break (like pregnancy or an injury), cycling in cleats for the first time, getting into a crow position in yoga.  Swimming is just one more challenge to add to my list of things to accomplish; I have done it before and I will do it again.  It may take me a while to get to where I want to be, but I will get there.

 

Life in the Slow Lane

Tuesday was the first night that I went to run in  the pool this summer.  I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of crowds.  Now that we’re into the first week of summer holiday, a lot of kids have no real bedtime so it was quite likely that there would be a lot more of them at the Y than during a school night.  Also, it’s been really hot in southern Ontario so I figured that the pool would be insanely busy.   I played it safe and aimed to get into the water at 8:30, after swim classes were over and around the time when most kids should have been heading home.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I walked onto the deck and saw about 20 women in 3 or 4 lanes (I tried not to count – or stare) as they waved their arms around during what I thought was the end of their aquafit class.  As the music seemed to be too “pumped up” to be the end of any fitness class, I asked one of the lifeguards when it was over.  8:45; 20 minutes away. “Great,” I thought.  “It’s a good thing I have my swim cap and goggles.  Now I get to do some lengths while I wait.”  My thoughts were full of sarcasm since doing lengths was really the last thing I wanted to do.  But I did – maybe 500 metres worth – until the music softened, signalling the end of Aquafit.

As I walked on the deck to my bag to trade my cap and googles for my running belt, a group of boys catapulted into the pool running area.    I figured they were about 13 years old and as I counted them (yes, I did count this time), I recognized 2 from school.  The group was trying to hide in the top corner of the pool, laughing away.  “Really, guys?” I thought as I took out my buoyancy belt.   The names of my two students were being yelled loudly by their friends, without a doubt to draw attention to them and embarrass them, but the boys’ giggles had already done that for them.  I shook my head and laughed.  “Just what I need – the boys I taught to see me in a swimsuit.”  I had a flashback to my Grade 8 year when some of my friends talked about seeing our geography teacher water skiing – in a bikini [gasp!].  I figured I was safe in my one-piece speedo.  The buoyancy belt, though: that was sure to be a conversation piece.  I had never been more grateful that cameras were not allowed on deck.

I climbed into the pool and started to run.  Within a minute,  all six of them swished past me and headed back to the security of the wading pool at the other end of the deck.  I was safe to run on my own.

I’m pretty sure that I’ll see kids from school at the pool again this summer.  That’s one of the joys of teaching in the community you live: you run into kids and their parents a lot.  And now it has given me a new superpower; I can clear a section of a pool just by standing in it, leaving the whole area to me.