Saturday, June 22, 2013

New Pee Stop

I haven't ridden my bike consistently since IMLP last year. But this week I rode my bike! Okay, I didn't ride far or fast, but I rode my bike. And as I rode my bike I realized I love riding my bike. And I have missed it. And I'm ready to ride my bike again.

This is truly good news.
Because for a very long time I wasn't sure I would ever want to ride my bike again.

I have to admit that my riding has changed, though. I'm less interested in my VI and my watts and more interested in simply exploring. This may be a phase. It's possible that if and when I set my sights on competing I become focused on that data again. But for now, I'm just riding and looking. If you ride--and look--than you know what I mean.

Because I was looking, today I found a new pee spot! You must know what I mean... If you ride your bike longer than an hour at a time you have likely established locales for your off-road peeing. Well, today I found a new spot--AND in a location that I often need a pee stop. So this is exciting. I also spotted a pretty, mustard-colored Lady's Slipper while I peed. That was a treat.


In other news, I have an injured foot. It's not a fracture--or at least the x-ray did not show a fracture. It's just inflamed, fat and stiff.
This is unfortunate, especially since I'm finally feeling motivated to train, and I am not able to run.
I'm not sure what this means about the marathon I was planning to run in late July. The injury has been labeled a "stress reaction"--which means only the foot is stressed. obviously. And the only way to treat it, like any other injury, is to rest it, ice it, and be patient.
Didn't I just go through this?
It doesn't seem very fair. Then again, nobody promised fair, and today I am 43.


In still other news...
I have been a bit stuck for the last 8 months, and I admit I have battled some pretty significant depression as I have slogged through this stuckedness. Part of this depression can be chalked up to bad luck--a genetic, neurological draw of the hand that I have dealt with, on and off, for most of my life.

Part of the depression has been circumstantial, though. I like goals. Or, I should say, I need goals. I feel, frankly, quite worthless without goals and quite worthless if I am not working toward something. But I woke up late last summer to an awareness that I had lost my way. What was I working toward? I didn't want to train, and yet --without training there was this big, dark hole.

So I spent a lot of the fall/winter and spring looking into the hole. And then, eventually, I somehow fell into the hole and seemed quite unable to get out of it.

Anyway. Enough of this half-baked, not completely coherent analogy.
What I WANT to report is that *think*  I have finally clawed my way out, and I have dug a new hole, and I'm eager to fill it right up with a new, shiny goal.
I'm going back to school!
Of course I am. I love school. I love teaching, and I love being a student. And it's time to go home--. So next fall, I'm going home. to school.

In the fall I will start work toward earning an MA in English at UMass Boston. The English Department there has been generous with me: they are paying my tuition and they offered me a stipend and a teaching assistantship. This is pretty cool... because generally Masters students aren't awarded such things. I'm really excited and I feel honored.

Let me be clear--I certainly do not need another degree. I have two Masters already. A third will do nothing in terms of career advancement. I am doing this because I truly love being a student, I truly love the study of literature, and finally, because I have been given the opportunity to do it without incurring debt or hardship. I feel lucky, and I feel happy and excited.

After I complete the Masters I will return to teaching--at a middle school, high school, or at an undergraduate level at a community college--or something like that. I'm not sure yet.

So that's my deal.
I finally have some direction, and I'm feeling good about it.
I'm also excited to be back training. On my schedule is Timberman --which I haven't raced in a few years. I'm excited to get back.

So it's all good. Or at least... it's getting good.
And a new pee stop to boot.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Let Me Just Say

I'm a woman who keeps making false starts.

This wasn't always the case. But it has been the case for quite a bit of time now. I simply can't trust myself to create a course of action and stick to it. I've created some absolutely wonderful courses of action. I'm quite adept at that part. But execution seems to elude me at this point.

One very good thing did happen this week.
Andy bought a new vacuum.
This is good news, because I own five dogs (all of whom shed except one) and previous to owning this new vacuum, I owned a very very very very old and crusty vacuum. Really. This mofo was my mom's vacuum. It has been around since the mid 1970s, I KID YOU NOT.

Here is photographic evidence.
My previous vacuum.

Then again, when you believe the one good thing that happened this week is that you acquired a new vacuum, you are in trouble.
It means something.
It means you are old and you have no life, and also that you are a woman who keeps making false starts.
Among other things.

Early this week I had a good run. It was a breakthrough of sorts. I finally ran a decent pace; I finally felt pretty strong; I finally felt as if maybe, if I stick with it, I will be able to complete a marathon by the end of July.

That night, the night after my good run, my foot begin to swell.  It hurt where it always hurts--at the second metatarsal, on top of the foot. Not my left foot, though--the foot in which I developed a stress fracture last summer. Same site, but opposite foot.

And I have to think.....
there is a message here.
The message is: Quite trying. Give it up. Give in. Stop believing it will come back. Just stop.

Focus on the vacuum, Mary. Focus on the vacuum.

What do we do when we feel the universe is asking us something, asking us to look differently--to stop trying the same thing and expecting a different result--but we can't figure out how to do that?

That is the million dollar question, and perhaps the origin of my false starting problem.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Open and Live Again

I'm back.

I applied for an English teaching position in a school system I very much like, but I did not get the job.
Oh sadness!

  • On the good side, I did get an interview--and I was one of only a few who did.
  • On the good side, getting an interview and pursuing the job made me think carefully about my marketability as a teacher, and also where I want to work, and also what I want to teach, and how.
  • On the good side, I became clearer about current trends in education (hello edtech!) and what (public) schools are currently looking for in teachers (knowledge of and alignment with the National and State Core Standards and a willingness to work collaboratively with other teachers around this).

  • On the bad side, I put myself out there, and though I was in the top six of applicants, I was not numero uno applicant. I hate rejection. 
  • On the bad side, I was confronted with the fact that shifting from middle school to high school teaching will not be easy, at least in terms of getting hired. I am "expensive" because my Masters degrees and my 15 years of middle school teaching experience, but I am not experienced in the high school classroom. Expensive and Inexperienced are not a great combination when you are trying to get hired. That said, I have no plans of trying to get hired as a middle school teacher again. I want to teach high school.
  • On the bad side, I will not be working in a school next year, despite that I am ready, after my four year break, to return to the classroom.

On the good side, I will no longer be using this place to discuss matters of teaching and education! I have a new blog for that.
Here I will just post about .... life.
And training. And racing. Or lack of it, as the case may be currently.

So onto training and racing!
That's tough. I haven't been doing much!

I have been running. I'm slow these days, but I am running. One day I hope that whatever speediness I once had will return. But for now, I'm just running slowly, and trying to appreciate that my body can run.

I have been thinking about this because of my feet.

I have really bad and sexy bunions, and as a result of said bad and sexy bunions, I have problems with my feet. I have arthritis along the second and third joints of the metatarsals; there is a lot of scar tissue in that area. I developed a stress fracture late last summer in the second metatarsal of my left foot, but truth be told, I have had fractures at that site on both feet -- many times-- and I have just not done anything about those fractures save to stop running for a bit until the pain is not so acute that I can stand it again.

Anyway, it's hard to flex my feet these days. They don't work well, as far as feet are concerned.

I've been wondering what will happen. Someday, will I simply not be able to run any more?
So I am trying to appreciate my running. I will continue to run until ... until I can't run. And when I say I can't run I don't mean I will stop when it hurts to run. I mean, when I CAN'T run. But you knew that already.

I became sick of swimming, so I am on a swimming break, except for some open water swimming, which is lovely except when one drinks pollen.

I am on a complete bike sabbatical.
I would like to compete in a few races at the end of the summer, but I'm not pushing myself.
I've finally, completely given in. I'm taking this year "off" in terms of training. Will I train still? Of course! But not according to rhyme and reason. Because I love training and racing. And I want to love it as much as I once did. So I need to let it go, so my love for it can come back.

In other news, we finally went to San Diego!
You may remember I was supposed to compete in Oceanside 70.3
But then I didn't train for that race.
And then I inherited three dogs.
And then my mother-in-law became very sick, and died.

And so that trip was put off. But we finally made it!
The landscape is hilly there. I ran every day, but my pace was pathetic, and my quads ached the first few days because of all that hill climbing and descending!
It was a beautiful trip.
Here are just a few pictures.

 Sea World. It's not Shamu... but definitely Shamu's long lost second nephew.
 At the zoo. Yes, that's a lion.
 That is how she was sleeping. Made me laugh hysterically.
 We forced the kids to go to the San Diego Botanical Gardens. I enjoyed it anyway...
 At Torrey Pines
At La Jolla

 Torrey Pines
 La Jolla
Torrey Pines

Ernie didn't come with us, but I thought I'd include him here anyway. He was really sad we didn't take him.