And… We’re Back

Back in school, that is.  With a full time job, a house full of active hockey players and running/fitness aspirations, I’ve been taking my Ph.D. studies at a relatively leisurely pace.  One class at a time. Usually with 2 or 3 week breaks in between.  I’ve taken two 3 month breaks for the past two summers to focus on the kids’ sports, the race season, and mental sanity.  That’s unfortunately not an option this Spring/Summer and the way things shake down I’m on just 1 week breaks between classes until sometime early November.

Last week was that one, short week off.  Last month I took a brief glance at the required textbooks for this class that has started this week.  One was the beloved APA manual. Got it, no worries.  Two other books were used in another course – done, no big deal.  The third was new to me so I ordered it.  Done and done.  Logged into my course yesterday to glance at the syllabus, read the instructor welcome, yada yada – essentially giving myself “class 1”.

Today I decided to gather all the books together and start going through the week’s material.  I busted open the box from Chegg (should have done that a couple weeks ago).  The used book is falling apart but at least I have it.  APA manual, have it but probably don’t need it.  (Most of that stuff is available on the internet and I’ve been writing with APA for so long I could do it in my sleep.)  Where are my Tochim and Creswell texts?  Searched all over and wouldn’t you know it?  These two happen to be the only two books I’ve ever borrowed and returned from Chegg.com prior to this course.  A quick check on my Chegg order history confirms what I was dreading.  I have never, ever, ever returned or sold a book before these two.  Not for my undergrad.  Not for my masters.  $200.00 and 15 minutes later, one text is on it’s way rush shipped to me and the other is loaded on my kindle.  Thank you technology.

The lesson here kids? DO. NOT. GET. RID. OF. YOUR. TEXTBOOKS!!!  Like, ever.

Lol Amazon.com - No.  I will not be buying this book for a third time.  Nice try though.

Lol Amazon.com – No. I will not be buying this book for a third time. Nice try though.

While it is tempting to sit here and continue to blog and research the latest and greatest running tips I will get started on my homework and do what I can.  Working in the education industry as instructor and administrator, one of the most frustrating excuses a student can give is “I don’t have my textbooks for X reason, so I didn’t do the work”.  I’m not that student.  That’s not how I roll.  My rushed book (which is the majority of this week’s reading) will be here Thursday.  In the meantime there is plenty else I can do to get started and enlighten myself on the intensely interesting and gripping subject that is quantitative research design.

“3 Walkers, 1 Runner”

As I’m recovering from my ego blow from the Hot Dash last week and trying to ramp up for this 17 mile trail race in April, I set out for a 10 mile training run today.  I left my house doubtful of my ability and still thinking about last week and wondering if I’d even be able to put up 10 more miles today.  As I headed into the park about a half a mile from my house, a woman was pushing her two small children in a double stroller.  I could hear her narrating things they were looking at on the trail.  As I passed she said “Oh look, a runner!  That makes 3 walkers, 1 runner, kids”.  We both smiled and waved.

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It’s amazing what a small phrase can do.  I don’t think she has any idea how her words powered me through the rest of my workout.  Mile 3 when a side stitch kicked in “1 runner”, mile 6 when I was bored “1 runner”, mile 8 when my blister returned “1 runner”.  I am not fast by any means but I did finish the 10 miles I planned on today.  I listened to myself and my current ability and kept it slow.  I felt way better than I did last week.  The weather was great and I even discovered some new trails in my home town.

In other news: I got my grade back for my finance course – A!  I haven’t worked so hard for a grade in a long time.  Feeling pretty happy about that one.  I’ve had this past week off of school but it’s back to the grad school grind next week. 🙂

wpid-wp-1426362125201.jpegRight now though?  It’s burrito time.

ABD in One Year

September 2012 I started my Ph.D., this was my Facebook status update “AH! Writing my first paper in 8 years. What did I get myself into??”.  It’s been a long three years and there’s still a long road ahead but one year from now, if all goes as planned, I will be starting my dissertation research.  February 1st, 2016.

So what exactly needs to happen between now and February 1st 2016?  A lot.  The most daunting of which is this: Comprehensive exams (comps) during marathon training.  If I keep all my ducks in a row though, I should be starting to taper my training for the marathon when I start my comps.  I had a momentary panic attack today when I realized how close I am to the end of this whole big Ph.D. thing.  Yes, I still have 4 classes left…and then some big tests…and then the really big paper but other than that I’m almost done!  Seriously though, I’m now legitimately more than half way there and that feels good.  One year from now, I’ll be All But Dissertation (ABD) and done with college coursework.  That’s a darn fine feeling if you ask me.

Channeling the Energizer Bunny

Some of you may remember those old battery commercials about the Energizer Bunny featuring the rabbit with the drum who would “Just keep going and going and going and going…”.  (I don’t watch much TV anymore – is that guy still around?)

The bunny had his pros and cons.  At face value it looks pretty darn awesome to have that much energy!  To just keep going!  (And going!) Forever!  I’ve had a week of doing my best to emulate that rabbit.  Get the kids to school (just keep going…), get to work (and going…), work all morning/workout over lunch/resume work (and going…), get the kids/make dinner/clean up/hockeyhockeyhockey/check homework (and going…), kids in bed/Ph.D. studies (and going…), chat with the hubs/pack snacks & lunch & water gallon for the next day (and going…), wake up and do it all the next day! (and going…)

I know I’m not the only one with this type of nutty crazy schedule – we’re all so busy!  It’s great to feel so productive and accomplish so many wonderful things in the day.  That said, the Energizer Bunny also seemed a little boring.  All he did was bang that dang Energizer drum all day.  I truly believe it’s so important to work as hard as you can but then also play as hard as you can.  This weekend is Superbowl Sunday.  I don’t necessarily enjoy football but I love the eating and commercials.  I truly believe that having something fun to look forward to is super important for mental health and overall well being.  So this weekend, I’m seriously looking forward to playing hard (and eating mountains of greasy food).  🙂

Until then, I’ll just keep going and going and going and going…

Racing: How much is too much?

Only a month into winter and registrations for the spring race season are opening left and right.  I ran over 20 races in 2014 and it was one of the best years of my life.  I love racing!  The past two years I’ve taken the summers off of my grad studies to train, race and recover to my heart’s content. The thing is I’m also trying to finish a doctoral degree and the way the stars align, I can’t take this summer off of school.  Bummer right?  I told myself I was going to seriously cut back on racing this year and only do 2 half marathons in preparation for the full marathon in October.  That’s it.  And then the crazy sets in…Okay, maybe one 5k with my son because he’s really interested in it.  And this 17 mile trail race looks really cool.  And It might be fun to travel for a race or two and see another city.  I haven’t done any races at all since October.  I’m really itching to get out there.  Maybe next month, is there a race next month?  Just one?

So far here is what I’m registered for.

  1. Hot Dash – 10 mile
  2. Get in Gear – 10K
  3. Zumbro – 17 mile trail
  4. Rock & Roll – Half marathon

I feel like a little kid who was told “just 2 cookies” only to be found 15 minutes later in the cookie jar up to my elbows, face covered in chocolate.  And no, you’ll notice the actual marathon isn’t on that list.  The registration doesn’t open for that until next week.  And it’s a lottery (don’t worry I have a backup 26.2 if I don’t get in).  The 2nd half marathon for training isn’t on that list either.  Oops.  Or the 5k I want to race with my 6 year old. Oops again.  So, it looks like… I’m an addict.  Not sure what to do about it.  I see a race online and immediately start checking the calendar (can’t overlap with hockey!) and digging in my purse for my credit card.  I don’t care about the stuff, the swag, the medal.  I don’t care about the entertainment or the beer.  It all honestly doesn’t even matter.  If it’s a race within a 2 hour drive of my house, I want in.  I don’t know if there’s a cure for this but I am going to have to figure something out.  Or learn how to write a dissertation while jogging and chugging power aid.

Back in Business

Got my groove back this week!  I’ll admit, last week was rough.  Not every week will be spot on or perfect.  What’s important is recovering and jumping back in to keep the momentum going.  That grad paper I put a million hours into last week?  Got it back today – 100%!  Making progress on the new projects at the office.  Husband was out of town the past few days so it was just the kids and I.  No hockey practice the past couple nights (weird) but we’ve been spending time on their homework and piano practicing.  My grad work for this week is about halfway done which is a comfortable place for me on a Thursday.  I was able to get an earlier start to it this week which has made all the difference.

Capture2This week I powered through 3 out of my 4 lifting sessions, 1 HIIT session with my trainer and then 5 miles on the treadmill yesterday.  Another lifting session with HIIT to follow tomorrow and will round out the week with another 5 mile run on Saturday.  Weather is forecasted to be a balmy 32 degrees on Saturday so I may be able to run outside comfortably.  Comfortable running weather in Minnesota in January is such a treat so I plan to make the most of it. 🙂

Rest is Overrated

Running twenty miles a week in November was tough.  Twenty miles a week over the holidays was almost impossible.  Turns out I actually do need serious and legitimate study time for this class I just started.  So as I was doing my weight lifting today I was trying to figure out how I can get back up to my 15-20 miles per week.  I looked back and reconsidered why I had the goal of this mileage in the first place.  The whole point was to build running back into my life on a regular basis in preparation for actual marathon training which will require 40+ miles per week.  Goals need to be realistic and I need to face the music that right now 20 miles a week, with this particular grad course also on my plate, isn’t actually realistic anymore.

However, 15 miles may still be doable.  My lifting program is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday.  That leaves 3 days.  15 divided by 3 is… yup, 5 miles.  So it works out perfectly if I run 5 miles on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday each.  I’ll only have to get up early or sacrifice one evening a week (more likely) to exercise on Wednesdays.  The rest of my evenings can be devoted to this finance course for the remaining 7 weeks.  Weekends are easier to flex in a run around kids hockey practices and games.  (If it’s nice out, a run from my house to the rink is actually about 5 miles on the nose.)  Only minor down side to this plan is that leaves 0 rest/recovery days.  That said, I’ve had plenty of weeks without an official “rest” day before and have lived to tell the tale.  I think this will be fine.  This will also put me at 10 this week, and then back up to 15 starting next week which is a nice ramp up.  Once I’ve got this down I can look at increasing back up to 20 miles per week and beyond.  And if this doesn’t work… I can always re-evaluate again. 🙂  The important thing is to not throw in the towel and give up.