Wednesday, April 29, 2009

no second chances

On Monday my Success professor's lecture was supposed to be about "speaking effectively".  He had, apparently, given it some thought and decided that instead he would show us a DVD produced by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration... or whatever that organization is, that he shares with highschool kids.  Its a pretty amazing video, featuring professor Berry's past.  You see, what I have never mentioned about him is a detail that is unimportant to his teaching, but a glaring omission on my part.

Professor Berry is paralyzed from the chest down.  He can move his arms, but his fingers are also paralyzed.  I think that his disability has probably made him a better person than he would have been had he had a normal life.  Let me share with you a few of the highlights of Mr Berry's DVD.  When A. Berry was in Highschool he pretty much had it made.  He was good looking (and trust me, he was pretty well beyond hot- I've seen a photo that proves it), had a cute girlfriend, a fast car, and he wrestled at a State level.  I reckon that he was a country boy, based on the stories he related to the students on the DVD.  Still, what happened to him next in his story pretty well sucked.  12 days after he turned 18, he snuck out with a friend, hopped in his car on slick roads, and "went" to a party.  He never got there.  A few miles away from his destination he hit a patch of what sounds like black ice going 65 mph, and totaled his car and himself.  He wasn't wearing a seatbelt, and on one hand, he was lucky to have survived the crash at all.  So now he's a lawyer, professor who teaches at the Community College, and divorced father of triplets.  I really like him.  I was all kinds of ready to "not like him" based on the fact that he's an attorney, but as it turns out, he's just a likable guy.  Since we're all about the confessions, I like him a lot.  So watching the DVD over lay with a powerpoint presentation that featured photos of him and his car before and after the wreck was surreal.  I was sick to my stomach.  Not because there was carnage or blood, because the only twisted body shown was the car.  No, I, in an instant, felt the loss of his dreams when he concluded the story.  Sure, he made new dreams, but it was still a terrible thing to happen to anyone, much less this handsome, cocky, bound for athletic success boy.  

I wonder what A must have felt when he watched my reaction to the DVD.  There was no hiding how I felt.  I guess he must have wondered the same because as I left the classroom on Monday night he asked me to stay back for just a second.  He asked if I could maybe send him an e-mail with a short critique on his delivery and style.  I used to make a living doing public speaking stints at the Navy Base about how to prepare for an interview.  He knows that, because of a previous assignment, so maybe he thought my critique would be helpful to him.

How in the world could I possibly compare my empty and emotionless talk about interview preparation to the life altering experiences that this man has endured?  Yes, he says he is over it and he's moved on, but you know, as I watched him deliver that speech, I know he's not over it.  He must still have days when he looks around and realizes that life didn't give him a second chance.  He never got his "free one".  I think everyone has one of those instances in their lives where they know they got a pass.  Like, when your toddler spills a cup of coffee down their fronts, and it turns out it was cold coffee.  Or, when you forget to buckle your child into their car seat and you realize it at the bottom of the driveway.  When you were in college and got into a car with someone who may or may not have been sober.  When a friend says something that stops you from acting on an impulse.  

There are so many possibilities of "free ones" in my adult life, I sort of wonder why someone like me gets so many and someone else, like A, didn't get one.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

TOP 6 female!

I checked the results- 6th female over all, not counting the one who "came in first", because a girl didn't finish 1st. I think she may have been the child who rode in the pace car.... Either that or the 13 year old boy who won (and was obviously a BOY) ran w/ someone else's number.

And the official time was 26:31

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pride Comes in All Speeds

In the one year since I took up running I have really learned to respect myself.  I don't have a lot of time today to reflect on the "year", but I think I have just enough time to be a little proud of what I've done in 12 months.  

Today was my Raceversary.  That is, the 1 year anniversary of my 1st Race.  It was a 5K, and I was proud to have run that far.  I knew I had run slow, but I was fine with my 12 minute pace.  You see, in my wildest dreams I never anticipated running anything faster than a 10 minute mile.  I thought, with some training I could accomplish that goal.  I should restate that:  I figured that my somewhat fluffy 32 year old body could accomplish that goal.

Today I ran a 5K in 26:40.  I am 90% sure that I was one of the top 10 women finishes overall.  (I know because I counted, not because race results are posted).  After the race the #2 and #5 guys came over to congratulate me.  The #5 guy I know from my church.  The #2 guy came over to ask if I had considered going to the road runner speed workouts on Monday night.  Lots of fun.  Improved his time.  Blah blah blah and all that rot.  He was moderately hot and obviously single, but no, I don't think he was hitting on me.  I'd like to imagine he was hitting on me, he was about 25 or so, but honestly, I think he was genuinely looking at me as an athlete.  

I realized that I must look like a veteran runner to someone who's never run a 5K, or even run much.  I know where I like to line up, I know generally how to navigate a mid sized up to mega sized race.  The thing I realized today as I was talking to Mr. "Came in 2nd" is that he identified me as a veteran runner.   Either I ran "that fast" (not likely), or I just have some kind of cool presence (ha ha), OR more likely, he recognized that I am fiercely competitive with me.

Last year I was more proud of that 5K than any other race I ran until the Turkey Trot 10K.  This year, I'm afraid I'm going to have to put this 5K right on up there again.  I know, it's only a 5K, but I credit it with helping me realize that you don't have to be an olympian, or even "elite" to be an athlete.  

You can just be an athlete.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Challenge resolution

As we all know, I challenged my prof about a question on the quiz.  It was a well written, thoroughly researched challenge with citations included, and, it was only 3 short paragraphs.  Last night I had class.  Yesterday evening as I was getting ready to leave for class, my prof sent me an e-mail.  
"This is a good argument. It is well thought-out and supported. I encourage this type of discussion and appreciate your efforts. I will talk more about it in class tonight.
Professor Berry"
(no that is not his real name)

After I read it, I determined that I would probably not be awarded the points.  "...appreciate your efforts".  I figured it was a done deal.  He started last night with an announcement that he wanted to discuss an e-mail he had received.  He then asked if I minded.  No, I don't mind discussing it.... oh wait... he meant, do you mind if I read it aloud!  He read my e-mail, injecting his own comments between sentences.  And he finished the whole thing with...

"I have been teaching Torte Law for XX amount of time and I receive arguments all the time.  I never, in the history of teaching, have ever been persuaded to give points back... until now.  Congratulations G.  I not only will award you the 5 points on the quiz, but I have curved the midterm exam as well based on your argument."

Well.  There you go!  Sometimes it's worth the extra work. 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

a tough break up

Dear Chocolate,

I know our relationship has gone on for a long time, starting almost 30 years ago when I climbed the refrigerator shelves and drank a can of Hershey's syrup, but I think it's time we had a talk.  You see, I've been cheating on you with RedWine.  Unlike you, however, I seem to be able to get enough of RedWine at one sitting.  I know when I'm reaching my limit, and I tend to limit my indulgence with RedWine to only a few tastes per week, sometimes even less.  With you, Chocolate, that doesn't seem to be the case.  I always need more than I have, and will be consumed by my love of you until I'm unrecognizable by my friends.  I think about you all the time.  I worry that I won't see you, and fear running out of you in the middle of the night.

Part of this sudden realization is that I have been studying relationships- from normal ones, all the way to abusive relationships and toxic people.  Both my Psychology and College Success classes at school cover this topic.  I fear that our relationship has reached a toxic level.  I think, before any rash decisions can be made, that you need to see how our relationship has played out.  

To start with, I thought, well, I just thought you were great.  A good friend that I liked to see once or twice a month.  You were someone I could turn to when I was down, and you always seemed to make me feel better.  As time passed though, I admit that seeing you once in a while wasn't enough.  I began to enjoy your company on a daily basis, until, as you I'm sure recall, we moved in together.  I know we've had some breaks in the past, and we've always seemed to work them out, but the thing is, I don't think what we have is healthy anymore.  You see, in the abusive relationship, fear leads to jealousy, which can sometimes lead to rage.  I'm becoming obsessive, jealous, and, well, I don't like to see so much of that side of me.  Please understand, that it's not you, it's me.  

I am asking you to move out.  Take your sister WhiteChocolate with you when you go.  I don't even like her that much, I just keep her around incase you're not handy to dump on, you know?  If you see peanut butter, I know you might want to give him a heads up that his hours are about to be cut as well, but please, I think it's just better if he hears it from me.  

Again, It's not you.  It's me.  I'll always love you, and I wish you the very best in your new life.


I wrote a challenge to my "success" prof because one of the T/F questions on Quiz 2 could have gone either way, and naturally I chose the wrong way.  I'm just not into that.  So I challenged him, with a well researched, cited, "this is why both answers are correct" e-mail (he claims it is the best way to reach him).  He has not responded.  

ARG.  I HATE it when people say they're going to check e-mail, and then they clearly DO NOT check e-mail.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

text anxiety (to the power of 19)

So, yesterday I had some weird question about a class I had taken, and I popped over to see an advisor.  She politely told me that SHE was no longer my advisor because I am only 4 (FOUR) classes away from graduation after this semester.  What?  "Four?" I said, "it says here more than four."  Well, that's a technical mistake, call this person and get that take care of here, and congratulations, looks like you're 1 math and 3 sciences away from nursing school.

SO, I decided to look up this NET test that I have to take to get into school.  Should be cake, I mean, plenty of people take this thing right out of high school.  I wish I had taken this right out of high school, or at least right after I'd taken College Algebra.  Because holy carp.  It should be cake, but I've forgotten how to do everything!!!  After 3 hours of practice problems last night I was finally starting to get into a groove where it wasn't taking me 8 minutes per problem anymore.  I think though, the wise thing to do would be to buy one of those nifty "study for this test" books so I can get a little help on what else to expect.  The sites I reviewed all say that the NET has 5 parts, but only have examples for the math/english/reading comprehension.

4 classes.  Wow.  This suddenly seems to be going really fast.  H & I even took a few minutes and came up with a tentative plan on what happens in Fall of '10 if I get into that semester.  (most people get wait listed, due to the volume of applicants- last semester they have hundreds of applicants for 20 positions).  Much more likely that I need a plan for Spring '11.  No worries.  Just got to score off the charts on the NET test, keep the 4.0, and stay focused.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Life is precious.

We all know this, but do we know how precious?  In an instant today my life as I know it nearly ended.  Yes, it sounds dramatic, but once I tell the story, I suspect you'll all agree that I probably need wine, therapy, or at least, a good cry.

We had to take Oliver to the vet today.  He's my beautiful white cat, whom I love more than any of the other pets.  Its true, I have a favorite.  He's peeing blood, which is bad whether you're a cat or a human.  This story is not about a cat.  At the end of the vet appointment I was feeling hopeful and optimistic.  Oliver's kidneys are infected, not shut down as I feared, and he could have another year left in him if we can clear the infection before it kills the remaining healthy tissue.  Let me stress again, this story is not about a cat.

As I finished paying I said to C & G, "Hey, can one of you carry this bag of catfood?"  Only to be met with silence.  And I turn around and they're gone.  But, this story is not about them.  What happened next didn't actually happen in real time.  It was flashed between fast forward and slow motion.  I was 10 feet... 110 feet... from the door of the vet, which is about 10 feet... 10 inches... from the street, when B pushed on the door and it opened.  And she walked right out in front of a giant black pickup truck.  It was a chevy, jacked up on huge tires.  I screamed "NO!", dropped my sick cat (in his carrier) and sprinted out into the street to snatch her back.  The truck squeals to a stop, and at this point I realize that he had NO IDEA she was there.  The driver, a nondescript brown haired man, wouldn't have stopped.  His eyes looked... sick.  

How she crossed the pavement that fast is beyond comprehension.  She just did.  I have no recollection of her feet walking or running.  It's as though she walked through the door and onto the blacktop.  Where were C and G?  About 15 feet down the sidewalk looking in the windows.  They'd left w/o permission, and had no idea that they'd almost lost their sister.  Poor cat.  He's fine by the way.  So is B, who smiled at me and said, "Thank you!" after I grabbed her. 

I'm going to go now.  There's a glass of wine calling me.  My heart is still racing.  I don't know if it will ever stop racing.

sanity check

If I decide to race a 15K on the 18th of April, does that mean I'm crazy?  

Saturday, April 4, 2009

8 Seconds

I've had some crazy realizations in the past three weeks.  One is that I tend to over do things a bit, another (related to the first) is that is that I like to over commit myself, figuring that the "adrenaline" will carry me through the tough times.  It was either the over commitment or the over doing the speed, but once again, I had a 10K race that made me feel like a poser.  A "non-runner" if you will.

A quick re-cap.  I struggled at the Monument 10K.  By mile 3 I was wasted.  I credited my starting too fast on that race with that miserable feeling.  I also thought it was because I was over tired, 24 miles in one week, 19+ at race pace really did me in.  So, my plan was "take it easy", do some "easy runs" and race again a week after Monument and kick some booty.  

Right.  About that.  Who's booty?  Because the only booty I saw today was all the booty passing me on the run.  My trusty running mate and I had a plan.  It was a genuinely good plan too.  Start fast for 1/2 a mile b/c the adrenaline makes that easy, slow down to exactly the pace that we need to run to get the time we wanted.  54:+.  Anything under 54:59 was totally acceptable.  Instead of busting out onto the course and running in fits and starts, we would run a steady tempo of 8:45's (or so) until we cruised into the finish feeling easy and refreshed.  Ha.  HA HA HA HA HA.  ha.  I guess the joke's on me.

We bolted out at a sub 8 minute start, and "checked" back at .25 miles.  And, then we slipped up again at half a mile, and had to slow down again.  And up.  And down.  And fast.  And slow.  And then we settled into our 8:45's.  As planned.  Except that the plan was easy.  The plan was not hard.  Certainly, on paper, I wasn't gasping for O2 the entire way.  And once again, I struggled through my race, finishing a few seconds faster than Monument, but only a few seconds.  8 to be exact.  On "fresh legs" I only realized an 8 second increase in speed over a 6.2 mile course.  Yea, that's what I said.  A second + per mile.  Fab.  SO worth it.  Well, actually it was, when you consider the trial and error race strategy... "let's don't do that again".

At the end of today's race, AKA perfectly paced Tempo Run for a sub 2 hour half marathon.... my running-mate turned to me and said, "and that's why I think the 8K is my distance".  My gut instinct was to agree.  Sure, maybe 6.2 miles isn't my distance... maybe it is too long.  And then I pictured all my "best" races, and realized, no, a 6.2 mile race is not long enough for me.  It takes about 3 miles for all the aches and pains in my joints to fade away.  Then around 7+ miles I get the adrenaline burst that pushes me.  At mile 9 I have to dip into my will power to continue with speed.  I think my distance is the 15K.  I'm never going to have the fast twitch speed that propels me into the top 5 over all finish in a short race.  S'ok.  I'm cool with that.  I placed 13th (lucky, eh?) in my age group in this race, which is not too bad.  I'm OK with that.  I'd just like to get there w/o feeling so much pain from miles 4-6.1!

Ok, one more realization I had this week is that I did the calculations and today's miserable gasping for every step 8 second PR race is the reason I'm going to make 100+ miles.  SO.  There's that.