One month ago, I did something I have not done in four years. I went back to work, tutoring five mornings a week, two hours a day. I was understandably nervous on my first day; not only have I not formally taught in four years, but I would also be teaching a student who had missed an extraordinary amount of school due to his lack of desire to attend. His seeming apathy made me nervous. My nerves were compounded by the fact that this was the first time in my career that I would not only have to struggle to get myself up, dressed, and ready for the day, but also be responsible for getting my daughter, Lucy, up, dressed, and to school two more days than she had previously been attending, and thirty minutes earlier than she had previously been arriving (feats, which on the best of days were difficult, due to her inquisitive nature and lack of urgency on her part).

            On my first day of work, I rose early with butterflies in my belly. However, these were soon tamed, though not eliminated, by frantic morning preparations. Lu excited about the prospect of attending school five days a week, as opposed to her normal three, was blessedly up early and eager to walk out the door, helping me by getting herself dressed and brushing her hair and teeth. Before I had to ask the customary three times, she had donned her boots, slipped into her coat, and grabbed her hat and mittens. Picking up her lunch box and slipping on her backpack, the two of us walked out the door in record time.

            After situating Lu at school, I kissed her goodbye, jumped into the car, and looked at my clock, happy to see that I was five minutes early; allowing me time enough to grab a soul-soothing coffee on the work.

            The craziness of the morning left my brain little time to mule over the anxiety simmering below the surface of my calm exterior. However, as I drove toward work the butterflies once again began fluttering wildly. They worked themselves into an incredible frenzy when my boss ushered me into a back closet, which was designated as my workspace, its location picked specifically due to the resistance I was told I would most likely encounter from my student. After arranging my materials, I walked to the front lobby in order to await my student, armed and ready for battle.


            I am not a winter runner. When the temperature dips below forty and snow starts to cover the ground, I move indoors and make the painful adjustment from terrain to treadmill. Even with access to a treadmill, my mileage drops of dramatically during winter, while my cross training and lifting increase. I simply do not have the mental capacity to run unmoving on a treadmill for more than thirty minutes or more than one to two times a week. My boredom gets the better of me. My brain begins to focus on every painful twinge; every second creeps by excruciatingly slow. Sometimes, I make it through my treadmill runs, feeling triumphant. Other times, I slam down on the stop button, unable to bear the mind numbing “thump, thump, thump” of each step a moment longer.

            Winter in Vermont is normally harsh. Moreover, long. Meaning my time indoors tends to drag like my treadmill runs. This year, however, has been an exceptionally warm winter. Unfortunately, the constant fluctuation in temperatures, combined with snow and rain, has left a thick layer of ice on the grass, sidewalks and roadways preventing my normal cross training on snowshoes. This combined with my new work schedule and winter full of constant sickness, has zapped my motivation leaving me little time and less desire to spend time in a sweat and germ filled gym.

            However, two weeks ago I was given a gift that allowed me to do something I have not been able to do in four months, run outside. It just so happened that the weather, which rarely cooperates with my schedule, awarded me a day of sun and temperature in the low forties on the one day of the week that Lu spends the entire day at school, as opposed to the half days she attends the other four days of the week.

            Upon leaving work, I immediately high-tailed it home with every intention of spending some time out of doors. After eating lunch, I quickly changed into my running clothes and strapped on my running shoes. Stepping into the delightfully blinding sunshine, I could not resist the desire to run. However, I had barely run at all in the last four months and did not know whether I could make it a mile, much less the 3.1 miles that comprised my normal village route.

            My nerves began to twang as I adjusted my iPod and fidgeted with my earphones. This feeling was familiar. I was having prerace jitters. I was worrying about my condition, whether my mind and body would carry me through to the end of the mileage. Pushing play on my iPod, I stepped off the curb and into the road, preparing to battle through a very long and painful 3.1 miles.


            The battles I prepared to fight on my first day of work and on that first out door run proved unnecessary. My student proved polite, amicable, and bright, working diligently throughout our two hour tutoring session. My run also proved less painful than I expected. Though buffeted by a near constant wind, I finished the 3.1 miles in just over twenty eight minutes; slower that my normal twenty six to twenty seven minute pace, but surprisingly quick considering my lack of foot time.

            It was taking those first steps that proved the hardest part of both events. It was taking a deep breath and conquering the nerves that threatened to consume and defeat me that proved the most difficult task; those nerves that could have kept me from taking those first steps. Had I not conquered those nerves and taken those first steps, I would not have experienced the rewards of engaging a student who was loath to be engaged, nor would I have experienced the lasting joy of a sunshine filled run.

            I continue to tutor the same student; it is not always as pleasant as that first tutoring session. There have been bumps in the road. Nevertheless, it feels good to have something of my own. It feels good to delve into the texts of Edgar Allen Poe and Shirley Jackson, authors that stimulate my intellect and reawaken my inner English geek. I have not had the opportunity to run outside since that beautiful day two weeks ago, which makes that rare moment even more memorable and enjoyable. When the opportunity to trek out of doors presents itself again (hopefully sooner rather than later), I know those first steps will be the hardest to take, but also the most crucial. I will step off the curb knowing that the end result is worth the initial nervous struggle.

Written By: Alyssa Coupe
T2M2R member from Vermont