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Who's busier than Dr. Leah Champ Burdick? Nobody, that's who

New London — Ah, the allure of remaining in the warm bed on the winter morning. Surely preferable to most alternatives, but downright transcendent when weighed against Dr. Leah Champ Burdick's inclinations.

Champ Burdick, a New London educator, chose to arise at 4:30 a.m. faithfully amid the daunting darkness and swim a few miles in water colder than Vladimir Putin. Or maybe ride her bike 30 miles. Or go running. A real ode to joy, right?

But then, this is the same woman who in recent months trained for and completed a half marathon, earned her doctorate from Northeastern in Curriculum, Teaching, Learning and Leadership, worked full time as New London's Interim Assistant Director of the STEM Pathway K-12, mom to three children under 14 and wife to Jonathan.

All in a pandemic.

Sure, there's that old Army commercial about how its people "do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day." Seems Dr. Champ Burdick is the exception.

Champ Burdick spent last Saturday completing the 1.2-mile swim/56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run just outside New Bedford in under eight hours, while Jon and children Natalie, Will and Caroline held up signs of support for mom.

And to think we may mutter how we're "crazy busy" sometimes. But Holy Irons In The Fire, Batman. Who has time to swim, bike, run, study, work and then do the wife/mom thing — and then get up and do it all over again?

"I know it sounds cliché, but organization helps," Champ Burdick was saying earlier this week. "Dinners are pre-planned. Who is bringing the kids where and when? Laying out your workout clothes and work clothes the night before. Nothing last minute.

"But the biggest thing I'd say is having a husband who is so understanding of my vacancy. Jonathan did a lot."

Of course, Hubby might have preferred to do the cooking and cleaning if the alternative was the dreaded 4:30 wake up.

"When your alarm goes off that early, you don't think until you're on the bike or in the water going 'what am I doing?'" she said. "You're already there before you can talk yourself out of it."

Champ Burdick officially became a doctor in May, having completed the Northeastern program. She might have even confessed that editing and re-editing her thesis on STEM Efficacy For English Language Learners was a bigger pain in the ascot than all the biking and running.

She might also have confessed that it wasn't so easy some mornings for mommy to run out the door when little Caroline wanted a story read to her. But then, Champ Burdick saw a bigger picture.

"I think it's important to put yourself in a physical, mental and spiritual context where you push yourself to be uncomfortable," Champ Burdick said. "Especially when you're raising a family. My kids being able to see me push through that last mile — out there shouting encouragement to me — I hope was a good lesson for them to see what happens when you commit to something and follow through."

Champ Burdick got home late Saturday afternoon and treated herself to some euphoric nectar and mac and cheese. There are more marathons and other such races planned for the summer and fall, including one in Chicago. No apparent worries about pushing her limits physically, mentally and emotionally.

Champ Burdick will be the assistant principal at Winthrop next year, the city elementary school specializing in the STEM pathway. Not only will the kiddies and staff see a doctor with a deep STEM background each day, but someone with some rather notable resolve.

Perspective often flies at us in many forms. Maybe the lesson here is this: Next time you're too busy for someone or something, think about Dr. Champ Burdick. Marathon, doctorate, full-timer, wife, mom. All in a day's work.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro


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