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The power of a statement

You’d think innocent enough conversations in the staff lounge would stay just that, but apparently that isn’t so.

The yesterday, one of my coworkers, a math teacher, said that he believed he could run a mile in under 6 minutes. To his credit, he’s fairly fit and just as old as I am, but the fact that he hadn’t really run lately or at any great speed, the majority of the staff gave him grief. He swore that he could do and said that he would do it the following day. The harassing continued, people throwing out various predictions or theories on how the run would be either too slow or end injury–if it even took place at all.

I think that all of us, honestly, thought that his statement of “I’ll do it tomorrow” was taking as sarcasm. Lo and behold, he came to school fully prepared for his run. He had his running shoes and his “fast” shorts. I guess those are the shorts not reinforced by re-bar. With theories and pessimism still plentiful, we gleefully told other staff members and students to come to the track a 3:30 and watch the feat, if it was actually going to happen.

At 3:10, the principal made an announce to come watch one of Cottage Grove’s own staff members break the math teacher mile record. By 3:30, when I walked onto the track, music was coming over the PA system, the score board was lit up with six minutes, ready to be counted down from. There could have easily been a couple of hundred students watching, at least half of the staff was there to either cheer or jeer on their coworker. Sadly, there was probably more people in attendance there than at other, legitimately sanctioned events. There was the warm-up lap, then stretching–next stop was the starting line (which was actually set back about 30 feet to make it a legitimate mile). As he left the starting line, the clock started to tick away. It seemed like he was going way too fast to sustain four laps.

At some points, it looked questionable if he was going to make it. As he entered the last corner, just before the final straightaway, we all glanced up at the score board. There was a minute left. With 12 seconds remaining, he crossed the finish line. 5:48:90 was the official time.

What ever happened to watching a person set a goal, brag about the possibility of it being legitimate, and then watching them fail at said goal? I guess it just makes me ashamed of my 9 minute mile, but of course, I’ll rationalize it by saying that I’m not built for long distance running, I’m more built for long distance sarcasm… or procrastination.

This just goes to show that an innocent statement can turn into an impromptu after school assembly.