At the summit of Quandary Peak – 14,265 feet!
I’ve had many people ask, “So, how do you train for something like this?” Those who know me well are aware that I already workout every day, so that part is easy for me. But I have changed my workout routine to prepare for my Climb. I’m spending a lot of time on the treadmill at a steep incline. (And I hate the treadmill! It’s the one piece of cardio equipment that I typically don’t use. If I’m going to walk, I’d much prefer to do it outside, but since I want to do some incline training and there aren’t many mountains or even hills around here, I’m forcing myself to use the dreaded treadmill.) I’m also spending time on the stair “monster” – that machine with the steps that revolve around and around so that you’re climbing an endless set of stairs. It still kicks my butt every time, but I’m building up on it.
My training is similar to the KIPPsters’ preparation for college. KIPP works to provide them with the academic skills and intellectual habits that they need to succeed in college and the competitive world beyond. But equally as important, KIPP works to instill in our students the character traits and skills that are vitally important to succeeding in college – traits like grit, zest, optimism, gratitude, self-control, and social intelligence. As they climb the mountain to and through college, some things will be unpredictable and out of their control, but if they have these character traits and skills, they will be able to deal with whatever comes their way.
And it’s the same with my Climb. I’m training for the steep inclines, but there’s not much that I can do to train for the altitude. Other than doing lots of cardio, the altitude and my reaction to it are out of my control. I’ll do what I can to prepare for the altitude – drinking lots of water, giving myself time to acclimate, etc. But beyond that, it will require grit, optimism, and determination to overcome the challenges I may encounter on my way to the top of the mountain. If my grit, determination, and persistence are anywhere near as strong as the KIPPsters’ who are my inspiration and my role models, I’ve no doubt I’ll reach the top.
Friday, June 1, 2012. Once again today, as so often happens at KIPP, I was reminded not only why I want to climb a 14er for KIPP but why I love what I do and why I feel so lucky to be a part of KIPP. Today was the last official day of the school year, and as I attended the end of year assembly at our Southwest campus, I witnessed 1,700 students from Pre-K through 12th grade all gathered together to celebrate their accomplishments this year. I heard stories of incredible students and incredible teachers. I was awed by the amazing talent of the students who performed. And most importantly, I was incredibly moved and inspired as I witnessed the students’ enthusiasm, not just for the 129 seniors who will be graduating tomorrow night, but also for the fact that each of them had moved one year closer toward their goal of attending and ultimately graduating from college. As always happens, I was moved to tears numerous times, not just by what I observed but also from the joy of being a part of it. It is truly my privilege to climb a mountain for the remarkable students who so moved me today.
So how did this Climb for KIPP come about? What made me want to do this in the first place?
I don’t really care for the term “bucket list,” but my “to do list” includes some sort of physical challenge. Due to a lingering foot injury, a marathon is out of the question. That’s okay; I’ve never really loved running anyway. But I do love hiking, and because I’ve often heard about 14ers, I decided that I’d like to climb one. And given that I work at KIPP and constantly hear about and think about our students “climbing the mountain to and through college,” I decided to dedicate my personal climb to the KIPPsters and at the same time, use my climb to raise much needed money for KIPP Houston.
But what about my foot? Aren’t I worried that it will be a problem when I’m climbing Quandary Peak? Well, yes, I am concerned, but it’s merely one challenge that I’ll need to overcome, just as the KIPPsters overcome numerous challenges on their climb up the mountain to and through college. As we like to say at KIPP, there are no excuses.
Stay tuned over the next couple of months as I prepare for the climb of my life!