Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Goodbye 49!

Tomorrow I will be 50! I'll have gone around the sun 50 times and will embark on my 51st journey. I just took this unedited photo to document the moment. All-in-all, I'm comfortable with me. I think that comes from being happy with what my body can do, the places it takes me under my own power, and the way it lets me feel!!

I don't wish to be a different age. That would mean undoing things I have done and things I have learned. Life has filed away many of the sharp edges and left me softer, more open, less fearful. I like myself more now than ten years ago. I know that the things I value most can't be taken from me - love, relationships, knowledge, skills, courage, freedom, fun, resilience, and gratitude. 

This past year has taught me that I'm capable of more than I thought, and shown me that I am stronger than I believed. 

I choose to move forward with a spirit of adventure and with a heart full of love. Yeah, I think that pretty much sums it up. 

I'm opting to have a pretty low key birthday without any special "50" related workouts. That is a big departure for me. I have a brick scheduled and I'll do it as planned - my first race, a duathlon, is just a month away! Training has been going reasonably well - on track and on schedule - which is kind of amazing if you knew how insanely packed life is at the moment.

I want to wrap this blog post with something I say a LOT, which is how wonderful it is to be a part of the running/swimming/tri community. People are active and competitive through their 80's, 90's and beyond! There's a great flow of energy and fun with friends in the sport and from the sport itself. I feel very fortunate and never lonely!

Watch out 50-54's...here I come!

P.S. Once the semester is over I will be grading less and blogging more, lol. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Making vs Having Time

I am back from a nice 50-miler (with NO traffic lights) on this unseasonably nice February day with my good friend (and multiple Ironwoman) Janet. I noticed the forsythia is just starting to bloom which means spring is not too far away! Despite the lack of blogging, rest assured my training is on track as I prep for my eighth race season despite the self-imposed crazy busy-ness of life.

This year I added an extra bit of "excitement" to life by agreeing to teach one class this semester at Virginia Tech. It's been a while (years) since I've been in the classroom, and when I was asked I was simultaneously excited and terrified! I'd not taught this class before, the whole course management platform had changed since I taught last, the class has 84 students, and there is a lot packed into this 3-credit Introduction to Green Engineering course.  Critical to me has been ensuring that it does not take away from my work with the triathletes and companies we support through the fortyninegroup, so most class prep happens on the weekends. 

the classroom

I get a kick out of this when I start up the AV system!

Triathlon has taught me that it's alright and even good to take on things that are scary, and to do so without feeling like you are ready or that you know everything. Sometimes you just have to jump off that cliff and have faith that with hard work it will be ok! Anyway, I'm glad I made the decision to go for it. I'm enjoying the material, the challenge, and the students. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it. Yes!

This added responsibility means I have had to get even more efficient with my time. For example, I teach at 8 am T/H, which are my swim days. So now, I swim at 6 am, am out of the pool at 7:20, I change for class, eat a snack on the way, and am in the classroom by 7:50. Is it easy to plan and get up at 5? No. Is it worth it? Yes! 

There are some folks around me who seem to think I must have a life of leisure to be able to incorporate such "frivolity" as triathlon. It's not about HAVING the time, its about MAKING the time. Like a lot of us, I work full-time (and then some) and am raising two boys and managing a household. We all make choices and tradeoffs about how to spend our time and for me, training is the scaffold of my life. I wrote this bit of reflection to Coach Jim after a hill workout a few weeks ago:
The training time provides MUCH need time away from the computer, phone, and people. It gets me off the hamster wheel of life and gives me something that involves tangible progress - yards, miles, minutes logged. I like knowing I'm doing something that most people don't do and it's a daily reminder that I'm resilient and capable when other parts of my life might be sending me different messages. So, thank you very much for being my coach and for the thousands of workouts you have written and responded to, and for giving me such an important, constant source of structure, purpose, and joy for the past almost 8 years now. I'm very grateful for the time and energy and encouragement you pour into me, and I'm grateful for that training calendar!!!!"
I make no apologies about devoting some time to fitness, getting outside, and being with friends!

I've been encouraging my students to get outside too. One of the ways they can earn extra credit is to listen to podcasts related to energy and green engineering topics and provide a written synopsis and reflection. I've suggested while they listen that they get outside to walk or hike and if they do, they can write to me about their experience outdoors! There's no better motivation to protect the environment than by being out in it and appreciating its beauty and the priceless ecosystem services it provides (clean water and air, nutrient cycling, waste removal, etc). I want them to leave class knowledgeable and empowered to influence and make decisions that are positive for the planet.

Engineering, environment, life - it's ALL about tradeoffs and choices. 

I stand by mine.