Friday, October 25, 2013

It's about time.

I didn't think it was going to be, but it is. Back when I signed up for the Naperville Marathon (Yes, I registered before it sold out in eight hours) I had thought it would fit better into the family schedule, and since I was only doing one marathon this year I thought I'd PR. In November soccer season ends, cross country wraps up, and the schedule relaxes a bit. At least it did last year. Unfortunately, this year is not last year.

I was grumping a few weeks ago about my training. I was so frustrated. It was about time. Prioritizing time. Instead of having the ideal training season, running time was getting squished out of the schedule. In voicing my frustration to friend Kate, she reminded me about the joy of the race. Last year I had a Spring merrython coming off an injury, and it was fun. My Fall marathon went well, but the course was tough. I knew pretty early on in the course that there would be no PR. I was glad to get under 5 hours. It was beautiful though.

That's the type of marathoner I am. Under 5 and stay alive. My PR is three minutes under 5 hours. I was hoping this year to be stronger and maybe a little faster. I'd love to finish a marathon like I finish a half marathon. Feeling okay and confident. I'm realistic too. I'm not trying to knock an hour off my time. It would be nice to finish with a 4:45.

So a few weeks ago as my training was supposed to be peaking, my weekly mileage was lower than I wanted. My legs ached and so did my heart. I don't know if Kate meant to, but she pushed me to take stock. I now work four evenings a week and one afternoon. I am drained by the end of the day. Morning runs have gotten harder, and some weeks did not exist. I replaced one short run this training session with a cardio weight workout, which I notice when I run. I've run harder on my midweek runs. I've put in all my long runs at a comfortable pace. After taking stock, it's been about using the time I have not about the race time. Time. And changing my perspective on it.

It's taper time. A 14 this weekend, 10 next weekend and a couple short midweek runs until the 26.2. I am looking forward to the race. I plan to enjoy it. I love race day. I'll trust my training, and I'm pretty sure I'll finish, whatever the finish time. My attitude is much better. It's about time.

This will be my attitude (even if there's snow...maybe)

Friday, October 18, 2013

I am sorry that math and science hurt your feelings.

When I started teaching chemistry many years ago, I noticed something at parent-teacher conferences. Parents would come in and share their feelings on chemistry.

“I never took it. I heard it was hard.”

“I loved chemistry.”

“It was hard.”

“The math in it was hard.”

It was interesting to see parents’ reactions. Some portion of the conference would involve comforting them on their chemistry/science/math experience. I told students and parents that students often hit the “wall” in chemistry. It’s their first real challenge. Once they hit it, they had to work to get over it often involving finding help, and I would be there.

Since then I have become a math tutor and teacher, and I have run into the same feelings about math. People have strong feeling on math and science. At some point they have been frustrated, challenged and even angry. Math and science hurt their feelings.

When I was taking math classes myself, I had to deal with these feelings too. As the oldest student and only female in my differential equations class, I was amazed at the feelings it stirred in me. First of all, I never ever thought back in college that I would be able to take, much less pass, differential equations. The first two weeks felt like I was drowning. I had to deal with inadequacy, feeling dumb, frustration, and that “which one of these things is not like the other” feeling when I walked into class. This is for math. Math is systematic, process-oriented, organized and mechanical. I, almost a robot, was battling with feelings as well as the concepts and problems in the course.

In the end, I think I won both battles. I hunkered down. I read the book. I read other books. I did problems. I did more problems. I fell asleep with my math books on more than one occasion. I had to remind myself that failing this class was not a reflection of my self-worth before every class. Every class. I tried to separate my feelings from the material. The material is what it is. Learn it and don’t complicate it.

When asking one of my teachers if she thought I could go on in math, she said, “Well... Yes. You have the brains and the grit.” For most of us, it takes both. So often I hear people blame the first and not try the second. “It does not come naturally for me.” Naturally, whatever that is. None of my children spoke or read out of the womb. They had to learn and practice.

Here’s my point. Math and science are not your enemies. Some of the material has been around for a long, long time and hasn’t changed. Think of math and science like a river. In a classroom setting, the river has a particular current. You may find that it is a struggle to swim and keep up. So, struggle. It’s okay. Practice will make it easier. Put your feelings to the side. Do the work, however much you need to have success. Practice will build confidence and calm your feelings. Find others who swim to help you swim too, like teachers and other successful students.

If the current is too fast, you may have to find a slower current. Thankfully here in the US we offer streams and brooks as well as rivers. In other countries, often if you can’t swim in the current, you are taken out of the water for good. If you want to understand it, there are options available for you to build a strong base at your pace, like Khan Academy and MIT OpenCourseWare.

Don’t stand at the side of the river and curse it. Math and science concepts are involved in every aspect of our lives. We need them, and we need people who understand them. If at first you don’t get it, don’t take it personally.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Marathon Season

It's here. Today was the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon (LFM). Next week is the Chicago Marathon. The leaves have changed color. The weather cooled down (at least today). Marathon season. Endurance. Training. Finishes. PRs. Real people being amazing. I do love it.

I also hate it. Today I squeezed out a few things in my schedule, including spectating the LFM, to squeeze in 18.6 miles. My legs ached, and certain miles I just hated. I was cold. I was hot. I was disappointed in my time. My water bottle leaked. Whine. Whine. Whine.

See, I'm training for a Fall marathon. I haven't told very many people. I really don't know why I didn't except that it was my little secret. A secret marathon. The more I've trained, however, the more I realize how much I need the encouragement of others. This year is the first year in two years that I haven't run a Spring marathon. With our family schedule, I started looking for a late Fall marathon for this year. I managed to sneak into the Naperville inaugural Marathon in November. The race sold out in 8 hours. Small, local and new. I'm pretty excited. I'm also deep in training and in need of encouragement. Encouragement is loud and clear during the marathon season.

It's been a bit since I've blogged. Instead of calling myself a bad blogger, I'll call myself a busy person. Definitely been busy. It is interesting when coming back to my blog how much I want to write, realizing that I haven't kept up and feeling like I'd have to write 10 posts to cover it all. Here's some things that have happened.

I gave myself a mild concussion which was so interesting as a nerd. Mandatory time off and naps.

I ran the Waterfall Glen Extreme 10 miler with my friend Dave, who rocked the LFM today. It was a 10 mile trail run, and it was FUN!

My family drove about 3,700 miles out to Montana to see more family and stopped to see the sights. I have a great family, and it was a great time.

My friend Kate and I went camping in her camper the night before running the North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon. It rained most of the race, but that didn't stop us. We slugged out the half with all its beauty, and put the camper down in the rain. I still love that race. This year there were even medals.

I've been incredibly blessed to teach two math classes at the local community college. It is a fun adventure. It also takes energy, creativity and time.

My girlios ran the Fall Frolic 5k. Actually, my youngest ran the Kids' Dash. My 7 year old rocked the 5k with a 34 min finish, and I dragged my 10 year old who reminded me again at the end that she hates running and never wants to do it again. She'll forget by next year. Tee hee.

I've been to the bank, post office, UPS and FedEx store. And done it again. And again. Our adoption dossier is coming together. It's a waiting time before another waiting time. It's hard to be patient.

A handful of half marathons, three trail runs, a triathlon and next an inaugural marathon. It's been an exciting running year. We're in the heart of marathon season. I'm having trouble containing myself.

We found the End. It's in the Badlands.