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Running (and eventually, triathlon, once I stop cursing yesterday’s bike ride) means so many things to me. One reason I run is because it is a fantastic tool for avoiding things I don’t want to deal with. I’ll admit it: I’ve spent the day planning out the next 6 weeks of triathlon training, so I can quit thinking about everything else I have to do.
Today is the last day of spring break. I’ve got 6 weeks of classes left until graduation. You would think that I would be elated, but the truth is, I’m not. No, instead, I’m freaking out. It has been such a long, looooong road to get to this point, that quite frankly, I still feel like SOMETHING is going to go wrong between now and May 7th, and I’m going to end up back in school for another semester. What that thing could be, I have no idea. I’m hardly ever a pessimist, but for some reason, I can’t shake this feeling.
I had a dream last night that all of a sudden, everyone realized “oh whoops, you forgot to take calculus, better come back next fall!!” (Yes, I already took calculus). In reality, I’ve received emails from student affairs or admissions or whatever department it came from (see how ambivalent I am to this situation?) confirming that yes, indeed, they will let me graduate this May. I get advertisements in the mail at least once a week for things like graduation announcements, fancy diploma frames, and souvenir tassels. I still don’t believe it. On the phone this weekend, my mom asked what the big plans were for graduation weekend. I said “oh, I really haven’t thought of it. I guess go to the ceremony?” And then I told her how bummed I was that my favorite local 5k is the same morning, and I can’t run because I have to graduate.
Really, Heather? Really?
Last week, I was informed I “earned” my first ever D on an exam. Well, in this go round. We are excluding my first attempt at college, 2000-2002, where I clearly thought winning a beer pong tournament on Thirsty Thursday trumped an education. But this time around, I plaster my refrigerator with my President’s list and Dean’s list certificates. So I honest to goodness never saw that D coming. I mean, sure, I probably could have studied harder. I took the test the day after the airplane fiasco coming back from Disney. I was slightly stressed. And differentiating sinus bradycardia from premature atrial contractions on an ECG strip just isn’t for everyone, OK?!? But a D? I shun myself when I receive the very occasional C. Seeing that D on my exam just about set me off into tears in the middle of the classroom. I am an A student, darn it, B’s on bad days. That D was a slap in the face, and quite honestly, I was hesitant to even own up to that grade to the whole wide world via this blog post. So combine that less than stellar grade with the multiple exams and projects crammed into the next 6 weeks and I’m freaking the $%*& out. How am I going to pull this off? I mean, deep down, I know I will do. I know I will make it happen. But it may or may not be pretty.
So I opened excel on the computer. Printed out 6 week-long calendar pages. First I filled in the planned runs. Then I blocked off the time I will swim. Figured out what days I can get on the bike outside. Scheduled in some spin classes. Add a little strength training. Next, the classes I teach, followed by my hours working in the lab. My first tri of the season, the one 5k I’m doing this spring. Then, *deep breath* add in the lectures. Project due dates. Exams.
When I’m finished, every single block representing the next 42 days is full. And while it still looks crazy, it’s not SO overwhelming anymore. It’s not that I’m making school any LESS of a priority. It’s just that there is something about a day started off with an easy 5 miles and finished with some relaxing yoga and playtime with my kids makes two exams in a row that afternoon seem a little less painful. I love the normalcy and comfort running (and my wanna be triathlete antics) brings to my life.
The other day, I read a comment on a facebook post regarding marathon participant increase and average marathon times, that struck a nerve with me. A commenter in the thread said something along the lines of “people should raise their expectations and train harder” (and thus, bring the average times down). It didn’t bother me so much because I currently hover at that “average time” marker. No, it bothered me because of the very thing I am writing about today. Running (triathlon, exercise ) means something different to each and every one of us. For many of us, it has multiple meanings. Some of us may want to train to be the absolute best we can be. To win. To beat someone, or some time. Some of us, may just be running away from something. Running to prove something. Running to cope with something. Running for the simple act and love of running, regardless of pace, time, or direction. All of the above. Who on earth has the authority to say which reason is right or wrong, or if their expectations out of that particular run or race are valid?