Thursday, January 12, 2012

Back at it

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Back on campus
So I started grad school this week. It's been a long time since I was in school.  Ten years. Crazy. Of course, this time around I fit in a little better than my past college experience. I was a "traditional" student for exactly one year. It was a good year...maybe a little too good.  At the end of my freshman year, I went home just a little bit pregnant. I took a semester at our local university while living at home, had D. in December, and went back to my original school in January with a husband and 6 week old baby boy.


After N. was born two years later, we moved to Rockford.


Fast forward three more years and I was registered to start classes at NIU when my husband left me. I headed back home again with tail between my legs and school plans on hold. In 1999 I finally made it back to school, juggling part-time work and raising two little boys as a single parent.  I was very lucky to have family around to help me out, or I don't know how I could've done it.

My niece K, D, and N
I graduated in 2002, a full eleven years after finishing high school. I had every intention of starting on my Master's degree right after finishing undergrad, and I actually did take two classes that summer in order to add a couple of endorsements to my certificate, but we got married two weeks after graduation...


then I had J...



...and there was never a "good" time to go back...and so on for ten years.  Until now.

I've had each of my classes once. I'm feeling cautiously optimistic, despite the "surprise, this class will be partly online!" bomb dropped on me Tuesday night. I'm excited not just to be working toward my Master's and better pay, but especially to be learning things that will help me to be a better teacher. Also exciting? The fact that it looks like one of the classes won't require a book, which is good since the other one cost a fortune.

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$122?? Really?
I'm back at more than school. With the 50K looming in April, I'm starting up regular training again as well.      The plan that I found online doesn't actually start until January 23, but since it calls for running 5 days a week (instead of my preferred 2-3), I decided to start running more regularly now so that I could begin rebuilding that morning run habit that I was so good about during half marathon training.  This process has had a less than auspicious start, though.

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1) Last Saturday I went out to run before taking J. to a college basketball game (go Billikens).  I didn't leave myself time to run more than a mile, but it felt like the first mile I ever ran. It was awful, and I had to walk 1/2 mile in because my shin was hurting. 

2) Sunday wasn't much better, though I managed two miles and the shin didn't make me walk until the second mile. 

3)Tuesday's 2 felt slightly better, possibly because they were slightly slower.  In addition, Tuesday was a triumph because I managed to get myself out of bed before work to run.  Getting up at 5:15 is never fun so I hit snooze and slept until 5:30, but knowing that it feels better once I'm moving is a good incentive.

4) Wednesday night I ran 3.2.  It was kind of fun because (thanks to my as yet unnamed Garmin) I wasn't stuck running the same old route in order to know my distance.  Also, I didn't want to die.  Progress!  Each run has felt a bit less terrible than the one before.

I've run way further than this; a week ago, I ran further several days in a row on the trails without feeling as bad.  What's going on with me? I think it's a combination of a couple things.  First, last Saturday's run was my first with my new Garmin.  I think the reality of my pace was stressing me out.  Mind you, it wasn't any kind of a run other than a "logging miles" run; no speed constraints or goals of any kind, but I'm not used to being able to see my pace.  Another contributor is the fact that I've done virtually no road running in the past several months and my body is adjusting to the different demands. 

Besides those things, running has changed for me.  When I started running, it felt terrible; no matter how slowly I ran, I felt like I was dying.  Strangely, I think that made it easier to push myself, because it all felt like pushing.  Now I've come to a point where I can run comfortably, though the pace is slow.  Being able to be comfortable at an easy pace makes it harder for me to push.  Finally, I have slowed down from what I was able to run in the past.  That's a combination of lack of regular training in addition to a focus on endurance rather than speed.



Speed will definitely not be a focus of mine for the 50K, but I'm thinking I'm going to use one of the weekday runs for hill repeats or for speedwork (alternating weeks).  The majority of weekday runs will also be on roads/sidewalks out of necessity.  The weekend runs will be on trails.  And thanks to the Garmin, I'll know both how far I've gone and how slowly I've done it.

24 comments:

Generation X (Slomohusky) said...

have fun with it all! i am slightly jealous - i would love to be going back school. i am an academic at heart.

Anne B said...

Such an amazing post, best of luck as you embark on another venture!

Laima said...

Yay! I love being in school - glad you found a "good" time to go back...I know it's difficult when there's more than just yourself to think about:)

RockStarTri said...

I can't imagine going back to school. My sister recently went back and got her PhD. It is stressful even thinking about visiting potential colleges with my kids (that'll start next year). Note that I'm handling it much better than my wife though.

Mike said...

Good for you going back to school! Congrats on the early morning run too. It does feel good to accomplish something before you really even start your day.

Where did you live in Rockford? I grew up near Cherry Vale mall, then had an apartment near Flynn, then a house in an older area of town.

Jill said...

This was a great story, loved reading your timeline of kids and school and all...I kept waiting for the line that said you had to put grad school on hold again because you were NOW pregnant!! :)

I'm envious you are back at school, I hope to join you soon and then we can not only vent about running, but also studying!

Good job on the running, it's all going to come together and you will do great! I am doing a little 50k in March (hopefully)....I haven't even thought about a plan yet, I'm just hoping to get in one long run over 20 miles - ha!

Patrick Mahoney said...

Those are some serious long runs, go get it!

Black Knight said...

Indeed I am not envious you are back at school, I spent my best years on the books: high school, university, Navy. I like to learn but, please, no more exams!
Good luck for the 50 km, I don't know if the speedworks can be useful; perhaps the tempo-runs are better.

Kovas Palubinskas said...

FIRST has a plan with only 3 running sessions per week – a speed workout, a tempo run, and a long run – plus 2 cross training sessions. I'm going to try their half program if I run the 20K in April, because I also run just three days a week.

Patrick said...

I'm with Kovas. The 50mile training plan I referenced was on 3days/week. I thought SIUE had textbook rental or is that a supplemental text?

Abby @ Have Dental Floss, Will Travel said...

Wow, that's quite a path back to school! Good luck - lots to juggle, but it sounds like there's plenty of excitement to carry you through it :)

Ali Mc said...

Congrats on going back to school as a mother who wants to do the same but lacks the self esteem this was GREAT to read :) so proud of you!!!!

Rose @ Eat, Drink, and Be Meiri said...

My garmin stresses me out/makes me go too fast when I'm just supposed to be putting in the miles. It's great when I'm pushing it, but it makes me feel like a slacker when I'm not.

Hill workouts are supposed to make you faster in the long run. I've heard. It doesn't make them seem any less sucky.

BrianFlash said...

Found your blog while looking for a Quivering Quads race report. Nice report - I guess I better get ready to get muddy!

Kate said...

I guess my thinking on the speedwork is...well, honestly, it's that I hate tempo runs. But also, I'm hoping it helps me keep/gain a little bit of speed in general, not necessarily for the 50K. I have no real hopes for that other than survival. :)

Kate said...

Textbook rental is only for undergraduates. :(

Kate said...

First we lived with my MIL on N. Main, then we had an apt. near the corner of Riverside and Rockton Aves. I didn't remember you lived there before. Small world. :)

Raina said...

I feel like I have gotten to know you a bit better through this post. What a college experience. I am starting to think there are more non-traditional students than traditional :)

I like how you are relaxing about the easy paces. Trails will help slow you down :) Nice schedule! It will come fast!!

ajh said...

Graduate school, raising a family, teaching and a 50K! Super Kate for sure.

Aren't Garmins great? I can't stand not to know my mileage and I always used to run where I knew how far it was. I still forget sometimes that I don't have to do that now.

Most of my running is at easy paces. That is just who I am and I like it!

Kathy said...

Woo - what a schedule!!! So glad to have my masters behind me! Kind of like distance running, you just have to keep pushing!

Laurie said...

Congrats on going back to school! Especially after quite the path to get there :)

Herself, the GeekGirl said...

Just remember that one day you'll be a certain age, and you'll be that age no matter what, so might as well use the time in between to have fun and do some self improvement. Also, no matter how slow you are, you're always faster than the folks on th couch.

Mercy said...

You are a brave lassie, but go for it, it really will be worth it. I have only just stopped studying ( at 45) and I loved most of it.
But I didn't have all the family commitments you do, so it is brilliant that you are doing it. You will be a really good example for them. And you looked just lovely in your wedding photos..
And you can def do the 50k faster than me. I will set you a crap target in Feb, then you can trash it in April.
And I will stop saying and now. Tired..

bobbi said...

I used to say that someday I'd go back to school, but now I know that it's highly unlikely. Good for you!!

When I first got my Garmin, I was kind of a spaz about it, staring at it all the time. Now, I find my best runs are the ones where I hardly even look at it. Try not to stress about it too much. Or wear it somewhere that's tough to see :)