Sunday, November 11, 2012

Recovering... Round 3...and a "Thankful" Inspiration...

first and foremost~
Thank you to everyone who has blogged, reached out, supported, prayed and cared about anyone and everyone who was effected by Hurricane Sandy!  From losing power which is still ongoing, to gas lines miles deep like the great depression, to burned down homes, washed away islands, trees in homes, cars lost, belongings gone, schools closed, sports seasons not completed, marathons cancelled...Never in my wildest dreams did I ever envision what this storm would bring to our community and surrounding ones.  We are rebuilding, moving forward...but very slowly, and very cautiously!  It will take awhile before we are back to normal...but we will get there no doubt!  Not so much for the unfortunate ones who lost everything they have...including loved ones... old and young.  

On Monday I go back into the city for Round 3 of my injections...UGH!  However, I will say that I feel my RIGHT hip getting stronger and stronger by the day!  It has been slow, but I remain positive as i am beginning to see me do things I have not in a very long time!  Other issues may be creeping up on me but I will not go into detail about them as I will just focus on one thing at a time...And this injury/recovery period has been a LONG ordeal!  I, and my family, will try very hard to not come down with some weird, crazy 24 hour exorcist type stomach bug this time to alter the plans...believe me when I say...the shot was much easier than those grueling 24 hours of misery!

I decided since I don't have too much to write about with my running...although I was able to hit the road today and pack in some low mileage cautiously...and I am tired of just writing about my injury...I thought I would write a post about someone in my life that had a tremendous impact upon my running career and my love for it!  Tis the season of thinking about and reflecting on what positive things we have in our lives, and for those we  are so thankful for having a moment, day, or lifetime to share it with!  so here goes...It is long...I tend to be scattered verbose with my i apologize
When I entered my year of fourth grade in 1977, Kentucky was in the throes of "desegregating" and the federal court had issued the city of Louisville and Jefferson county to merge school systems and do just that.  Nowhere else in the state was effected by this decision, nor any other state around us for that matter...How this worked was that every year, depending upon what letter of the alphabet your last name started would either  be "bussed" downtown to an inner city school...or "bussed" into county to a traditional neighborhood school.  To make a long story brother the year prior had been subject to this at the age of 11...and let's just say it was not a pleasant experience for him...nor a  positive educational decision as well.  90 minutes on a bus, both ways, is let alone reason enough for any parent to make a change for their it what they believed in or not.
Fourth grade began the year of my "Catholic" school experience!  Kentucky, at that time, was primarily of Christian practice...however down there ya'll were either Protestant...or Catholic!  One or the other!  Now, I know what you're thinking...they're both Christian, yes!  However, I am in no mood nor do I have the patience knowledge to begin explaining why people say your one or the let's just say, it was a bit divided that way.  Most Protestants married protestants...most catholics married catholics...period!  Very friendly, very civil, just very different!
My parents moved to Louisville from Western KY right before my oldest brother wa born.  being a printer...he needed to move into the "big city" as they called it for more opportunities.  My daddy opened a small printing business right across the way from a Catholic parish attached to a elementary school.  Now, my father had been in the printing business since the age of 12...along with growing up with an outhouse, no indoor plumbing, no father in a family of 6, a brother stricken with polio, another brother killed in WW11... however that is another story indeed for me to blog let me regain my focus!
Daddy did all the printing for this parish and school for many years and had become quite acquainted  with "the powers that be" to say the least.  so, when my name came up that year for the lottery to be shipped downtown to daddy called in a favor.  And I, Caroline Kraps, became the first protestant to attend St. Raphael School...when I was there at least!  Since, times have changed dramtically and catholic schools are filled with families of other faiths.
Now, every Catholic parish was attached to a school...and every community had a catholic and there were almost as many Catholic schools back then as there were public.  Much much smaller in size of course...but just as many!  And...there were numerous all boy and all girl High Schools in Jefferson County at that time as well...and we are talking 35 years ago.  Catholic schools went 1-8 (kindergarten was not mandated nor apart of the schools then).  but, now I am just bantering and not getting to the point.  In Catholic are able to begin participating in school  sports in 4th grade...unlike 7th grade up here in NY!  this is where my story begins...
His name was "Mr. Johnson" eighth grade English teacher...He coached many sports then, I actually can't remember them all...but he also coached track.  I heard the message on the intercom to come down to the gym if you were interested in running on the track team.  so...I went.  4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders...boys and girls...sitting there.  Only one coach!  can you imagine that now? 
 Mr. Johnson was very popular with he athletes...actually all the students as well. He was young...not married at the time...and just full of himself!  he was scary to me back then because he was least I thought he was...and had a loud voice...and was intimidating...but so pleasantly sweet at the same time. I remember feeling so proud when he would actually look your way and call you by name!  Everyone hoped and prayed to have him once in eight grade...he was by far, in my eyes, the best story teller I have ever encountered.  Mr. Johnson opened  up my love for reading...he delivered classics such as "to Kill a Mockingbird, and Of Mice and Men,  in such an appealing way that they still remain my favorites to this very day!  I can still hear his voice interpretation of "Scout saying..."hey Boo"  and Lenny's way of talking about "the rabbits"...The best teacher I have ever had by far...and who made the greatest impact on my life!!!  In more way then one.  He was not only the best teacher i ever had...but the best coach as well!  In my opinion they go hand in hand...but not all teachers can coach...and not all coaches can teach...but this man had a talent for both!  he could say anything to get you to do exactly what he wanted...which in turn 35 years later I have come to realize was really, "exactly" what I wanted, or needed to hear!!!"
Mr. Jonson made me see something in myself that I had no idea I had.  He gave me the confidence, which I never had before that, to confront anything and anyone who dared me.  He helped build and shape my attitude towards running in a way that was far before my time.  It is sad that i am just realizing this now. 
 I was young...and a natural...and i was fast...I won't lie about that and i knew it!  iIhad been winning sprints for years at field days, street races and events in the community.  I will never forget beating 2 boys in second grade at the time that went on to play professional football after playing in college...they lived right up the road from me all my life, and they would always tease me about being the "only girl" that ever beat them in a 100 yard dash!  Donnie and Carmine...I wonder where they are today???
Under Mr. Johnson's tutelage...I became a 5 time city champion in both the 100 meter dash and the 4x100 meter relay.  I placed within the top 3 in the city championships every year for the long jump as well.  That summer before my 9th grade year...he entered me into the ARCO Jesse Owens games.  I trained all summer for a few events and made my way to the regional championships...I believe KY, Indiana and Ohio.  I placed first in my age group for the 100 meters, and landed an all expense trip to California to compete in the ARCO Jesse Owens national meet... it was like the Olympics!  Mohammad Ali flew with us and was our representative holding our state flag as we marched around the track at opening ceremonies...we all had on jockey uniforms representing our state (for the KY derby) and our region...we we went to Disney land and had so many crazy opportunities I can't even remember...i was only 13 at the time!  It seems like a lifetime ago...
It was all because of him...he pushed me...he coached me...he believed in me and he cared!  I cannot say that about any other coach I have ever had except one of my collegiate cheerleading coaches in college...but I was much older and wiser and I took responsibility much more seriously than at the age of 9...Mr. Johnson shaped me...he molded me...he taught me to work hard at what you're good at...that you can always do more to get better, and stronger, and wiser!!!   I will never be able to thank him enough for developing a love of something that has come back to bite me so hard...that I can't wait to bite it back!
Shortly into HS he left St. Raphael and started teaching at St Xavier HS which is an all boys HS in Louisville. He kept up with my HS track career...I went on to do very well in HS running in regionals, sections and states...however my HS experience with my coach was never the same as with Mr. Johnson...I wasn't pushed...I didn't have the same respect for his knowledge, dedication or desire to be there...and I unfortunately let that affect my performance.  I just didn't have it in me as much...and my confidence wavered...greatly!  I can think back at precisely when I stopped running in races because my anxiety would become so great because I knew I couldn't win...nor should I win...I ate what I wanted, never conditioned, and only practiced during the seasons...Running had become more of a job...not a love anymore, or so I thought...  So, when college came round...and a cheerleading scholarship for the number one nationally ranked university...I traded cards!  wo wouldn't have?  But ,would I have done that had he stayed with me all those years?  I will never know! 

Flash Forward 
This past summer...I headed home for my 30th grade school reunion.  I had never been to one...and I had lost contact with so many of these people.  Remember, after 8th grade...all went separate ways, either to this all girl, or that all girl...this all boy, or that all boy, or public HS...but, for some reason... I really wanted to attend.
I walked in so nervous, and of course I made Dave go with me...a few minutes into the hugs and looking at name tags, and trying to remember how this guy with no hair, or that girl with perfect teeth was the one  who sat behind you...I saw a man...quite a bit larger than I remembered...but I am too!!!  Yet, I knew when he turned...when I heard that loud, booming yet so very gentle voice of his...when I saw that gleaming smile that would forever drift up into his eyes... and those same was him...he was here!  The only teacher to attend the evening...but then again...that doesn't surprise me!  It was like he never left me after all those years! 
I felt like I was 9,10,11, 12 and 13 all over again! 
And it all came back to me....

Mr. Johnson and me...Summer of 2012.  We are only "holding props" of course...
Why do I love running so much?  Why do I need running so much?  Why does it bring me such satisfaction, strength, drive and confidence?  Why does it replace what is lost in me sometimes and create a better me? Why does it make me breath harder and faster...but at the same time easier? 
I was blessed enough in this life to have someone teach me the importance of running and what it can bring to your life.  it's not all about the winning...or the losing for that matter...but more about how it can teach you to handle yourself when these things happen...when you feel bad, you go running.  when you are nervous, you go running.  when you seem overwhelmed, you go running.  When you are lost, you go running....I could go on and on...but I know you get it!
I hope you all have had a Mr.Johnson in your life...a someone who motivates you to be a better any way shape or form!  I hope you are all blessed with that someone who makes a difference in your life...and who you can  honestly say a week from are thankful for! 
My pledge is to let him know how I feel! 
what an impact he has had on my life...
and with running!
I became a teacher...
I became a coach...
and I married both as well...
I am asking each and all of you to reflect upon your life. 
Think about how lucky you are to be healthy, alive, warm...and thankful.
I am hoping that you will dig deep and think about those that have shaped you in one way or another.  that you will understand the importance of doing just that with someone in your life...
someone on the outside...
someone who has made a difference in your life,
but probably has no idea! 
The greatest gift I could ever have as a teacher myself is thinking that one day...
out of the blue...
I may have the privilege of someone telling me just that. 
 That I made a difference for them...
that they are thankful for having me in their life at the time. 
What a gift that would be indeed!
Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving Season...
let's keep the thankful trend moving!!!


  1. That was beautiful! I hope someone will write that about me someday! ;-D Hope you continue on the road to recovery, and you get power back. Happy Thanksgiving season!!!

  2. I am so glad you went to that reunion! It is always an incredible experience to reconnect with someone from your past who had such a powerful impact :)

    Hope you're feeling great soon!

  3. LOVE the post! I hope you are sharing it with your coach!!! I have a feeling you get letters like that from your kiddos too. I didn't realize that you live in the area hit by the storm. Is there anything I can do for the kids in your class? My class would love to help out of there are ways that you think would be beneficial!

    So glad to know that you are making progress!!!! That has got to feel good!!!! I have thought it would be fun to meet you and go for a run. Screw the run - let's have drinks!

  4. AHHH!!! I love the attitude!!! I'll have a martini tonight in your honor you little diva dasher!!!

    I will talk to my interesting to have another class from another state get involved somehow!

  5. I didn't realize you lived in the area hurt by the storm. Good luck to you.
    I am "fairly" good about letting people know I really appreciate them. I am apt to do it through a written note but I do try to do it.

  6. Amazing story! I almost teared up.

    I'm so glad you're recovering. ;-)

  7. Wow, lots to be thankful for! So glad your family made it through the storm ok. Hopefully, things get back to normal quickly. So glad your hip is getting stronger. Hopefully your healing keeps progressing well.

    Very cool you got to meet up with someone you looked up to from your past.

  8. 98% by Tuesday, so LIPA says. My entire family was SO lucky through both storms and I am so grateful.

    I really have to sit and think about this, whether I have someone that helped build a strong foundation for my character. I know my husband is that person right now.

  9. First off, I it's almost midnight and I need to get to bed but I just wanted to say quickly that I had forgotten you lived in NY (what is wrong with me lately!?!?!) and I was just so relieved to hear (after not knowing - ha) that you are okay after Sandy. Truly makes you realize how precious ever moment we have is.

    I will be back to read your story about your friend (I just got a new job, it's demanding WAY too much of my social time - whaaaa). Promise!! But in the meantime, I hope your new injection goes smoothly and I am THRILLED to hear your hip is getting stronger by the day. Hoping those other issues stay away, too....but you are so strong and I know you are going to win this battle very soon!!


  10. Um...Mrs. Cummings, Will you be my Mr. Johnson, Love, Mrs. Johnson....I've been asking for a while now.... ;)

  11. Does Scott know you are asking me this???

  12. Aww, what an awesome story! And yes, we're continuing to keep Sandy's victims and rebuilding in our thoughts and prayer...

  13. Everyone needs that type of person, teacher, coach, mentor in their life! What a blessing. Loved reading your story, and you were/are speedy!!

    I am very thankful to have running, and hope i can give back as much as I have received.

  14. Awesome post! First, I am happy your hip is getting strong. Second,I am praying for those affected by Sandy. Third, I love your story about Mr. Johnson!!!

  15. Great story, glad you were able to connect with Mr. Johnson after all this years and also glad your recovery is progressing nicely. Take care of yourself

  16. oh gosh, so much to say here! 1) I'm soooo sorry about the horrible luck of sandy BUT i'm very thankful u know how many hearts and best wishes have been and are still pouring ur way! 2) ugh, injuries are also horrible to go thru (bad timing to double team u there!) but i'm happy those injections are working and getting u back to running...i hope those first few miles are going well!! 3) i LOVE ur flashback story and how it has now flashed to current. i kno it must have meant the world to him to see/hear u tell him wat an impact he's had. :)

  17. I loved your flashback story! It was very heart-warming;)
    Hey! I didn't know you were a teacher. Me, too! I teach Grade one and love it!
    Glad to hear you're slowly starting to recover.
    Take care.
    My Running Shortz

  18. Merry Christmas and happy new year to you and family.

  19. Hey there,

    It's been such a long time...

    How are you?! We want (need) to know. Even if it's just short message!

    People do care about you, you know. Don't leave us hanging.


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