Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Upcoming Conference = Intellectualism + Rest!

So tomorrow is an important day for me in the course of completing my dissertation -- I will be presenting my project's prospectus and making sure that all the committee members give me the green light! I actually wrote most of the prospectus more than a year ago, just before my cancer diagnosis, so completing this step is also sort of a symbolic way of saying "Life is back on track." I am a little nervous but I am also excited to get the chance to talk to folks about what I am doing and to get feedback on possible areas that I am neglecting. I was doing a pretty good job there for a few weeks in writing and working on the writing of the dissertation but then .... well, work got in the way. I have been evaluating essays and research steps non-stop for about three weeks now and it's hard to get motivated when I am done just because I am tired. However, tonight -- after my night class -- I will spending time rereading the entire prospectus one more time so I will be able to sound smart and sensible in the morning! :D

So I am off to Carbondale early tomorrow morning (about 2 hours+ from downtown St Louis). Also -- I think Jim and I will be camping this weekend so I will try and bring some articles with me to read -- but I think I might get some "real" time in this next week since I am off to a conference in Ohio -- the Teaching English in the Two-Year College Mid-West Conference in Columbus, Ohio, from October 13-15. I am doing a presentation titled "Writing a New Page as a Composition Instructor: Race in the Writing Classroom." Nothing new here since this is pretty much the research that I have been working on. I will be leaving on Thursday morning to make the trek to Columbus from here in St Louis (8-ish hours I think?) but the conference doesn't officially start until Friday morning. This means, of course, that I will have a quiet evening in the hotel to work on the dissertation -- and a bunch of time on Friday -- hopefully! There are some sessions in the program that look interesting but I will spend any free time just "being a student." It's so much easier to do that when you are away from home. The conference pretty much ends on Saturday at about noon and I will then reverse my trek and head home to St Louis (and this is how I will be spending my birthday! But -- no fears -- a friend who will be going to the same conference said that there is an IKEA on route! I sense a stop coming up! A birthday treat for myself!).

And I need a break. Conferences are so great for picking up new ideas but I am also recognizing that I am just plain tired and it's not even the middle of the semester yet! I think that teaching the extra classes -- and heading up the honors program -- is a lot for me right now, not even counting the dissertation writing and the sporting events. So a few night of doing "nothing" (though I am sure I will have some papers to grade) will do my body "good."

Monday, October 3, 2011

St Peter's Rec Plex Fall Triathlon

Here I am (with eyes closed!) hanging out with Amanda, the cool guru of triathlons at Fleet Feet Sports!

So the St Peter's Rec Plex Fall Triathlon was yesterday morning (Oct 2). And I finished! My overall time last year was 2:34:41. This year is was a wee bit faster at 2:24:24. I am excited that I shaved 10 minutes off but .... I finished in 10th place out of 11 women in my age group so it would have been nicer to have finished a little higher (OK, shoot me for being ambitious!).

Let's start with the swim! It is 500 meters in a Olympic-sized pool, a daunting task for me since I am a little afraid of the water. But, I have been working with a swim coach to help me with my Freestyle stroke and I shaved a few minutes of the swim this year (14:48 this year compared to last year's 18:02). It was a bit cold yesterday morning but the pool was nice and warm! (and since I had an early entry number -- #10 -- I got in the pool a little early and warmed up before the race started). A swimmer started every 15 seconds (it was a Serpetine swim) and once I got started, I remembered everything my coach said ... for about half the course. One, I got tired and, two, I saw the bottom of the pool and panicked a little. I got myself under control pretty quickly but it took almost the second half of the pool section of the race for me to get my rhythm back. And I was so delighted when I saw that I was on the last lap!

Out I went ... into the freezing cold outside! I decided to forgo the running tights I had brought to put on after the swim and just kept with my short tri bottoms but I did throw a long sleeved shirt on over my tri top. I then quickly changed into my bike shoes and threw on my helmet and ran through the tranistiion area with my bike. Once I crossed the line, I jumped on my bike! I got about a hundred feet or so when I realized that there was a problem -- my front tire was flat!

Damn. Jim and I had just fiddled with the tires before starting so I couldn't believe that there was a problem! I managed to jump off the bike and run back to the transition area (clicking like crazy in my bike shoes!) and, thankfully, Jim was there to reach over the fence to my stuff (yeah for thinking ahead on that one!) and grab the bike pump. Within a minute or two, Jim had me going again but both of us were not so sure that I was going to make 20 miles on that tire.

But I did! I knew I had a CO2 pump in my seat bag but I managed to make it back to the transition area after a pretty uneventful (but windy!) bike ride. After 20 miles, I couldn't feel my toes or my fingers! (it was pretty cold!). But the new bike helped me out -- even with the initial flat, my time this year was 1:22:50 compared to last year's 1:28:41. The HUGE SHOCK, though, was when I came into the transition area I saw two faces I wasn't expecting to see -- one of my best pals, Peggy, and my fabulous friend/ neighbor, Laura! And then I saw Bill (Laura's husband!) standing near Jim and Stella! (Gene, Peggy's husband, had apparently gone to the bathroom!). How cool! I had a fan group!

Jim had called everyone a few weeks ago, he told me later, so that I could have a group of people at my last triathlon of the season. I was so happy and excited -- but also nervous that these poor folks would be mad at me for having to stand out in the cold waiting for me! But how cool was it to have these fabulous people there at the finish line!

I couldn't say much, as you might guess, as I had to change to my running gear and typing shoe laces is pretty darn hard when your fingers are frozen. My "posse" was able to stand near the fence and talk to me but since no one is allowed in the transition area but the athletes, I was on my own to make the transition to running. After what seemed like too long, I started the run and the first mile was hell. There is just no other way to describe it. My feet felt like frozen blocks and I couldn't even feel my ankles.

But then after a tough 4.5 miles, I stumbled across the finish line to find even more familiar faces! (with a time of 46:46 compared to last year's 47:58) Jim and Chan brought their fantastic five year old Odessa and their puppy Winslow, and my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Mike were there, and moments later we were joined by my Uncle Ray and his grandson (my cousin) little Noah. I don't know if these folks know how much that meant to me. It was so cool to see all these folks there, telling me what a good job I had done! :D

That's me in the green shirt coming into the finish chute!

So I have goals for next year -- more practice with running after biking (that part gets me every single time!) and more serious work on swimming (my slowest component). Next year I also want to try an outdoor tri that includes an open-water swim. That scares me more than anything but I want to give it a shot!

And as a fabulous bonus, I bumped into Melissa, the great runner from the Millstadt Biathlon, who helped me finish! She is so nice -- I hope we can run together some more! It is always easier when you have someone to train with! :D

I want to make these folks at Fleet Feet proud! They have helped me so much in all my athletic endeavors!