Thursday, January 18, 2018

Winter Running...

...is pretty awful.

And I know I have it good living in the south. Our winters are short and mild compared to many other places. But I'm over winter running.

It's been colder here than usual, dipping way below freezing. There's been no snow or ice so that's helpful, but these temperatures still aren't conducive to running outside. I did a long run Saturday with the running group. Because there are over hundred people, it's usually lively along the route. Lots of conversations and laughing, but not Saturday. It seemed everybody felt like I did. Drudging along in silence. No stopping to drink water. Silently cursing the wind. Constant inner dialogue about why it's important to get the miles in. Realizing around mile four that I still hadn't warmed up. Then again at the end at mile eight. I felt pretty awful all weekend. I was dehydrated and cold and draggy. Some things I learned about that experience:

1. Even though I had on winter gear layers, it wasn't enough. I needed another layer (top and bottom) on when the temperature is single digits.

2. Even though I'm cold and don't want to drink, I need to drink water before, during, and after the run.

3. All that to say, I probably won't run in temperatures (single digits with wind chill) again. It was too hard on my body.

Because winter running is pretty awful, it's good that New Year Resolutions are smack dab in the  middle of winter. My big goal for the year is to get faster. I want to be able to consistently run a sub-two-hour half marathon, but that's going to take weekly mileage goals and regular speed work. My fast friend recommended some speed work on the treadmill since it's so cold and windy outside. Treadmill speed work was surprisingly really helpful. I run faster and do more reps since the treadmill can be set on a speed inside a warmer environment on a flat surface. Last week, I ran twelve 200s with them separated into two groups. I'd sprint a 200 m distance, walk for maybe 20 seconds, then sprint again. After four sets of 200s, I walked for a couple of minutes or so and drank some water. Then repeated another set of 200s with little breaks in between each one. With a warm up run and cool down, it wasn't a bad work out. This week I did ten sets of 150s, sprinting faster than last week. I broke it up in a similar fashion, but I managed to jog on all the short recovery periods. Treadmill speed work can build confidence, too. I didn't know I could run so fast until I saw the speed on the machine. It pushed me more than when I'm running with my Garmin by myself.

Sabbatical running is counterbalancing this awful winter running. My schedule is more flexible so I'm managing to run with people more often during the week. I'm more motivated and faster if I can run with somebody.

Hopefully, there's only a few more weeks of this winter running.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Sabbatical

When I was in eighth grade, I was at a family Christmas reunion when I first heard the word, sabbatical. My cousins' uncle (do you have family that you're not technically related to?) is a professor, and I heard during the break that he was going to be on sabbatical. I asked somebody what that meant, but that person didn't know. I was too shy to ask Uncle Tom, and it wasn't until graduate school that I learned what a sabbatical was. The concept of a sabbatical still seemed far removed though, and if someone had asked me ten years ago what I would do for my sabbatical, I would have looked at them blankly. So I get it when I've heard similar things the last couple of months when I try to explain what a sabbatical is...

"...so you're off a semester?"

"...but you still get paid?!"

"So you'll be watching a lot of Netflix."

I heard a colleague describe a sabbatical as the time to focus full-time on one of the three roles I play as a professor. Professors typically have three areas they work: teaching, service, and research. Depending on the type of institution, the percentage of time spent on each area will range. A sabbatical gives release time from the teaching and service so all the work time can be spent on research. My sabbatical proposal included getting some of the papers I've worked on over the last couple years out the door for publication. While yesterday was the official start of my sabbatical, I got started last week. I am excited that one article has been sent off for review, and I'm working on reviewer comments for another paper this week and next. I made a weekly objectives schedule as well as a daily schedule to help me stay on task the next several months.

Sabbatical means rest or a break. And I'm definitely looking forward not only to the writing part of the sabbatical, but the reading and thinking I'll have time to do, too. I'm anticipating that the rest I'll get from teaching and service will be refreshing and get me ready for next fall when I return to the normal gig.

I pulled up my blog today and was surprised to see that the last time I wrote was six months ago. I had thought a few times last semester about writing a blog entry, but it never made it to the top of the list of things to do. Maybe that's a sign that it really is time for a sabbatical. Slow down a bit. Write some. Read a little. And think.

Looking forward to the next several months.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

After the Marathon

Being on the other side of my second full marathon, I've learned a few more things about running. The OKC Memorial Marathon was a rough race for me.

I started crying after I finished. Not because of the glorious full marathon feels, but because I was so unhappy with my time (5:18 compared to my 4:35 in the fall). After I got over it though, I made sure to stop and pose with my medal.

I'm happy because I'm no longer running.
Here are some things I've thought about since April:

1. Training through the winter and spring was not my favorite. 

When I was first thinking about training for a full, running friends advised me to NOT run the OKC marathon for my first full. They told me that training through the winter and spring is difficult. I'm really glad that my first full was in October. Training through summer and fall was much easier.

Icy bridge on the route
Winter run
I did use a different training format this time, and I liked it better. While I still had weekly mileage goals, I ran less days and implemented more cross training. I ran 1-2 times a week, did speed work once a week, and had a long run once a week. I focused on strength training the other days.

Typical stormy Oklahoma skies
2. I had a lot of rough runs this training round. 

Long runs proved to be super challenging for me. Since last summer, with the distance increasing every couple of weeks, I got slower. I missed some long runs this past training season due to sickness in the house (the kids or me). Running highs were rare. I had a foot injury. All of this led to...

3. Rough running season = rough race.

If you run slow during training, you're gonna run slow on race day. If you have to walk parts of long runs, you'll have to walk during the race some. Go figure, right?

I thought the OKC course was more difficult than the Wichita course, too. Besides the lake, the hardest stretch is around miles 20-23 where it's a straight shot on Classen Boulevard. By this point, it was hot and windy at times, and the end, or even a turn, is nowhere in sight. I was glad to get off Classen and into the Historic District. 

4. Spectators and support help.

I already knew that (any runner who has done a race knows this), but it was very apparent to me in OKC. This race has such a good turnout from the community. Years after the tragedy, the city remembers and honors the lives lost, but also celebrates the resilience of the city and accomplishments of the runners. It's a touching thing to be a part of every year in any capacity.



I did pretty well the first half or so. The first half is the most exciting for this marathon. Lots of spectators and the excitement of the crowd carries you to Lake Hefner (about halfway).

 

I got to see my parents and kids around mile 11. High fives and hugs gave me some energy.

Then I hit that wretched lake. I had been warned, and I've ran that lake, but experiencing it on race day after 14 miles was a different story. It was raining while I was on part of the lake path, and the wind was blowing so hard, it was blowing lake waves to the path. I was deeply impressed with the volunteers along the lake route. They were soaked and still cheered the runners on. I kept telling myself to just clear the lake, and then I'll worry about the next part. As soon as I cleared mile 17, I was walking and hurting. I called Josh. He asked me, "Do you need me to pick you up?" I replied, "Nope. I'm gonna get this done, but I just needed to tell someone how truly awful I feel right now." He had done the full marathon five years prior and remembered the lake. He also knew I had been sick (see #5 below).

 

What got me through Nichols Hills and back downtown were the spectators cheering me on. The crowds were sparse by this point, but any time I reached some, it helped. I remember these two teenage girls in Nichols Hills cheering me on around mile 19. I must've looked bad because they yelled at me for awhile to keep going.
Then Jaryn and Tasha surprised me around mile 21 and again about a mile later. Tasha ran with me for a bit talking to me. Their encouragement helped distract me from the pain and reassured me that I could finish.

Finally, I knew I had friends and family (close and across the miles) tracking me online and cheering me on. That support carried me to the finish. After the race, I read the texts and emails sent to me while I was running. I was touched at the care and support people offer.

5. Getting sick a week before a race sucks.

I got the flu (or some awful similar virus) and was in bed several days the week before the marathon. I ached a lot more during the race than I ever had before during runs, but I'm glad I decided to run the full.
And while the training was rough, the training DID get me to the finish. I wouldn't have been able to finish the marathon without the training. That's for sure.

6. I need to be in better shape next full marathon training season. 

A little more lean and faster. That'll be my next post - how I'm going to get there.

So while my second marathon was rough, I'll probably do another one some day. I'm pretty sure I'll attempt the OKC full again. I've convinced myself that running through the neighborhoods of my city is fun. And I really want to beat my time.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Signs It's the End of the Semester

1. The copier upped its game and is winning the battle.
















2. You've lost the battle in your office.




















3. A colleague offers you chocolate telling you, "It looks like you need this" after seeing you drag yourself and two boys to your office for extra grading.

4. Extra shots in the coffee. Enough said.

5. You pray for rain and sports cancellations so you can grade.

6. You silently think more than once a day when there's a student in your office, Please don't cry in my office.

7. Your mom sends you texts like this:

























8. Dead Week usually coincides with the house being messy. The culmination is that it's the week that our neighborhood lawn patrol publicly shames anybody that needs to mow their lawn.






















Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Can I Run On A Broken Toe?


That's what I googled two weekends ago after I showed Pam my hurt toe before Bible class started. She looked at it, pointed out the bruise, and said, "That looks broken."
I had smacked my foot really hard on the coffee table Friday night. 

Apparently it's a commonly Googled question with blogs being written to answer the question. Not by doctors, mind you, but by other runners.

I took Pam's (and the blogs I read) advice and taped my toe up. 



I stayed off of it more than usual on Sunday. I wasn't going to see a doctor because it seemed like a waste of money, but then my TA told me about when she broke her toe. Her fracture was in a weight-bearing part so they put her in a boot so she could heal quicker. I didn't want to wear a boot, but if my toe was broken, I wanted to heal as quickly as possible. 
I found out Tuesday it wasn't broken, just really bruised. I then asked the doctor of course about running.

Stephanie sent this to me on Pinterest during my To Run or Not To Run dilemma.
The doctor told me to do what I feel comfortable doing.

So I ran about a mile on Thursday to see how the foot felt taped. It felt painless so I decided to continue not running on it until Sunday. I'd make the decision Saturday what distance I was going to run. Because the foot felt good that day, I decided to do as planned: 20.6.

I rode the bus down with a local running group to the Start Line. The course started in the Arbuckles near Davis, Oklahoma. 


It was cold that morning, but I knew it would warm up. I had been warned to bring clothes to shed once I started running and to not go too fast down the hills.

I'm glad I heeded the advice. I warmed up by the third mile, and the course was pretty hilly.


While the course was fun, it was a rough run. I hadn't done a long run for three weeks and hadn't ran for over a week (except for the measly one mile I had done). I was really tight and had to stop around mile 9 to stretch out my hips. My toe wasn't hurting, but my other leg from my hip down to my knee hurt for over half the run. I think I was compensating for the hurt toe probably.

It did my spirits good when Pam and David came and found me around mile 15. Pam ran with me about a quarter of a mile, took a selfie, and they yelled at me as they drove away.



The last miles were really rough. Lots of hills against a strong wind. I was thrilled when I saw the stadium where the finish was located. Then as I entered the stadium, the race marshall says, "Ok, one lap around and you're done!"

I know I groaned and probably shot her a dirty look because she apologized to me.


My time wasn't great, but considering all the factors, I was glad I had done the race. 
And I'll probably do it again - at least the half.





Friday, March 24, 2017

The Liam Show

Maybe it was because we were back to a normal routine after Spring Break. Back to school and work.  Sports busy. Life busy again.
Or maybe L Child just needed some extra attention Monday night.

Liam told me outside on the trampoline, "Tonight I'm going to put on a Liam Show. It'll just be me."

Whatever the reason, I was reminded of Liam's request one Christmas, "I wish I was a Christmas Tree Star so then everybody could see me."

Oh, my middle child.


So after dinner, he put a show on for me. It had six acts (because after six, I told him he needed to work on homework so I could get H down).


There was nunchucks, drum playing, two dance numbers - one with a hat and one with props, juggling, and a magic show.

Of course, the Christmas Tree Star had to share the stage with his younger, upstaging sis at times.


Hmm...maybe THIS is why he needed some extra attention.



Thursday, February 02, 2017

NYC Trip



I was granted the opportunity to visit NYC last month due to an exhibit Museum of the Bible (MOTB) is working on (one of many) for their opening in Fall 2017. As I've gotten to know MOTB and their people throughout this last year, I've been impressed with their commitment to truth-seeking work. This current project will be an exhibit in the museum featuring science and the Bible, and specifically related to me, what scientists have to say about it. I was nervous and thankful for the opportunity to be interviewed about science and the Bible.
This is my "I'm-so-excited-I'm-in-NYC" look.
It was a short trip: I flew in Monday afternoon and flew out Wednesday around noon, but I made the most of my time.
It was raining when I arrived and didn't stop until the morning I left.
I ubered for the first time and took in all the sights as I drove from LaGuardia Airport to downtown Brooklyn. I could tell when we had entered Manhattan (upscale buildings). I was in awe of the bridges. Being a girl from the south, raised in south Texas, and adopted Oklahoma as home, being around so much water still surprises me. We don't see a large volume of water unless we drive to Lake Texoma or to the Texan coastline. While I enjoyed seeing all the water, the bridges amazed me. The Manhattan Bridge was the first big one I saw, and then I got to drive across the Brooklyn Bridge. I remember thinking, It's amazing what people can build.
  

I'm sure I looked like a tourist the entire time I was in NYC. 
I couldn't play it cool. It was impossible for me to NOT look up at all the tall buildings.

 

My hotel room was unexpectantly large, and the hotel itself was very nice. I got to work out in the gym, and would have swam in the indoor pool, but I had forgotten my swimsuit.

Downtown Brooklyn had a nice vibe to it. I walked around both nights I was there exploring the area.  I felt safe among the busy streets. I saw police patrolling every so often all around the area. It was diverse so it was fun to see different people rushing around after work and hearing different accents and languages.

  There was a yummy Mexican restaurant next-door that had Day of the Dead-themed decor. It was a fun place to eat.



Thanks to Pinterest, I was able to figure out the best way to use my short time in NYC. My interview wasn't until Tuesday afternoon so I decided to visit The Guggenheim Museum because it seemed like a good fit for about two hours.

 

It was one of the best decisions I made while I was in NYC. 
The building architecture alone was worth seeing.

 

I might have geeked out a bit inside this awesome building.

                              
Being a nerdy chemist who likes math and molecules, I never thought of myself as someone who would visit art museums.  I know very little about art, if anything. I never "got" modern art. As a result, I didn't think that art museums were "my thing." Ah, but then I visited Amsterdam this past July.

I discovered I really liked Kandinsky.

I spent time at two art museums in Amsterdam: Rijks Museum and Van Gogh Museum. Thankfully, I have smart, cultured friends who booked the tickets along with headsets for the group of us that visited. I realized then that if I can listen or read a little about the paintings, I appreciate it a lot more. Imagine that - a little education enhances an experience! Visiting those museums and enjoying learning a little bit about art also reminded me of 3rd grade.

I got to see four Picasso paintings. My favorite is Woman Ironing. She looks so tired - it's haunting.

 
It might be hard to believe, but I was a bit nerdy in third grade. Since I grew up in Texas, UIL ruled all activities, and I had the nerdy fun opportunity to participate in Picture Memory. I had to memorize something like fifty paintings: their names, artists, and maybe the year or nationality of the painter. While I can't remember all the details, the paintings I studied as a third-grader stayed with me. I saw a couple of the ones I had memorized so long ago in Amsterdam this past summer. Seeing them in real life was a bit surreal. And that same feeling happened at the Guggenheim. 

I teared up a bit when I saw the actual Manet I remembered studying as a child.


And while this Monet wasn't the one I memorized, I recognized his work and was satisfied that I guessed the artist correctly.


 As I enjoyed the art around me, listening to the app describe art things I knew nothing about, I thought of L Child. He's the child that likes to draw and paint the most. He's begun painting canvases, and regularly draws in his sketch book. All I could think about was how I was pretty sure L Child would appreciate the different styles within the modern art world. I also thought, I really need to take him to an art museum soon.

 
 Agnes Martin was the artist on display. I got to listen about grid lines, color, and texture. 
The pieces look different depending how close you are standing. 
These three were my favorite: Loving Love, Gratitude, Blessings.


Today I was reading about aesthetics in art and science (part of my research), and I thought about:

1. How even three years ago, I wouldn't have thought I'd enjoy modern art - either in a museum or reading about the artists' process. It's interesting how things change. 

2. The book I was reading referenced both Kandinsky and the Guggenheim. For once, I didn't have to google an unfamiliar artist or building.

 
After the museum, I crossed the street and took in the view from Central Park. Then headed back to the hotel to get ready for my interview for the museum.

I got picked up by a car and taken to a warehouse district for the my interview. I have to say I was wondering if I was in the right spot for the interview. Scenes from Law and Order flashed through my mind as I walked up to the warehouse.

 

Things I learned in a Brooklyn warehouse:
1. Filming in the area is done in this part of Brooklyn because it's the quietest spot in NYC. We still had to stop every once in awhile for an ambulance or an airplane.
2. The film team was a great group of professionals. They're good with people - visiting with me before the interview to put me at ease. Nicely reminding me to not fidget with my hands. Encouraging me when we had to cut and start over.
3. I'm also pretty sure the whole team were millennials - all younger than me. The young vibe was inspiring and gave me an example of when millennials rock. The team was efficient, and I was done within an hour.

It was such a neat experience seeing the filming process. I look forward to seeing the finished product.

Afterwards, I found a hole-in-the-wall Chinese food restaurant with the best dumplings I've ever had.

 



  

The next morning I decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and hike over to the 9/11 Memorial.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed walking the bridge. 
There was a walkway above traffic with lots of pedestrians and cyclists.


Seeing the marvel up close was fascinating as well as reading how they built it.

  

The sunshine arrived as I walked across the bridge making the trek just about perfect.

  

  

Seeing all the locks then this sign made me laugh.

I'm pretty sure I couldn't stop smiling on the Brooklyn Bridge.

I got into Manhattan, but not having a sense of direction and and my GPS app not working, I didn't make it to the memorial. I walked quite a bit into Manhattan, but I finally had to call Uber to get back to the hotel so I could get to the airport in time.


 

Even though I was disappointed that I didn't make it to the memorial, I enjoyed seeing the tall buildings, busy streets, and beautiful little parks.


It was funny to think about how I walked the Brooklyn Bridge Wednesday morning but was home that evening in Oklahoma. 

Goodbye New York!

I'm very thankful for the trips I've gotten to take in the last couple years: experiencing some cultures, meeting people, and seeing beautiful things. 
But it's always nice to get back home. Especially on days I get to hug my loved ones before bedtime.