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.