Wednesday, November 30, 2005
I wish I could tell future science grad students not to worry but I can't. Grad school is hard, especially in the sciences. The classes are demanding and require substantial out of class preparation. It doesn't help that professors are hired by universities because their research brings in money, not because they are good teachers or mentors. The grad school process requires more self motivation, determination, and stubbornness than you can imagine.
Can you train for an ironman and be successful in graduate school? Yes. I don't recommend training for an IM at the end of your graduate career when you're down to the wire. That's where I am right now so there is no IMFL for me this year. Going for a PR or training more than 13-15 hours a week isn't a great idea, either, unless you have no family around. In many ways, IM training can help you. The stress relief is great and you will need the mental toughness you develop during training. Just be careful that those workouts don't become excuses to avoid the trials of grad school. Research is full of tedious chores, hard days in the field, and writing. Some days it's so easy to go for a 4 hour bike ride even though you'll be too tired to work on your manuscript that evening. Ask me how I know? :-)
Grad school has to be one of the top 3 priorities in your life. For me the priorities are my husband, grad school, and my triathlon/weight loss activities. Treating grad school like a 9-5 job won't get you very far. Grad school, especially a doctorate, needs to be like an obsession. There is a delicate balance between these top 3 priorities. Some days you juggle like a circus professional and some days you feel like you are standing under 3 falling boulders. But it can be done.
Finally, choose a project that is supported by a grant that will pay you, even if the pathetic salary means you're financially strapped at home. This is tough for those of us who had real jobs with real salaries before grad school. BUT even if the project is not exactly what you want, you will work more on your project because it's your job. There will be money to buy the supplies you need and your advisor will make more time for you because their future publications and grants are on the line. You can make it work with an unfunded project. I do. My advisor gives me as much time as possible and helps with supplies but it's the rough way to go. I would not do it again if I had to start over.
So, that's my little rant. Off to cut up more fish.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Today is a prep day in the lab. Several things must be done before starting another round of digestions and analyses. Not that I enjoy scrubbing tubes or submerging them in hot acid but that's what needs to be done. Just call me a dishwasher. This probably means I will not clean up the kitchen tonight. All my domestic energy will be used up in the lab.
It's good to be busy. Otherwise I sit at my computer contemplating how hungry I am. This weight loss stuff is hard.
Monday, November 28, 2005
My training took a serious hit last week. Between the big push to run samples, the problems with the machine, and preparations for the holiday weekend, I completed 2 workouts. There have been busier weeks where I completed all my workouts but last week was an emotional rollercoaster. Mondays are always a big transition but today is killing me. It has not been a productive day but I knew it would not be productive when I woke up. In fact, I almost took the day off. It's not that I don't deserve a day off. Graduate school does not pay me. I worked my butt off last week with 3 days of solid house cleaning/party hosting followed by 2 full days at work.
But the little voice inside me said to go. I'm glad I did even if only 2 or 3 items on the "to do" list were checked out. Consistency counts in life and in training.
Recovery Week 3 Nov 7-13
Tuesday: Run 30 minutes, easy weights
Wednesday: ALTERED: 45 minutes easy ride outside
Thursday: Run 30 minutes, easy weights
Friday: MISSED: Swim 1500yds
Saturday: Ride 2:00
Sunday: MOVED: Run 30 minutes
Recovery Week 2 Oct 31-Nov5
Monday: Easy Ride to Weedon Island
Tuesday: Easy Ride to Weedon Island
Wednesday: Trainer ride 45 minutes
Thursday: Easy Run, 30 minutes
Friday: MISSED: Easy Swim, 15 minutes
Saturday: Easy Ride 1:30
Sunday: Run 30 minutes
But I did run. 4 miles in 50 minutes. That's a good time for me. If things go well, I might PR at the half marathon.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Time for some champagne!!!! Roederer, of course, but just a touch. The butternut squash need to be peeled.
But I made it. Now it's off to skin the squash, boil it with some carrots, etc.
Any minute now, Dad will arrive with the turkey. He told me 6:30AM. In dad-speak that means any time after 5AM but before the crack of dawn. And so we wait. 24.5 lbs of turkey is on it's way boys and girls. Hopefully the long dinner tables will make it, too, so that I can set the table before my guests arrive.
Surviving the butternut squash is always my first goal for Thanksgiving day. Now that the large chunks are cut, the chance of cutting off a finger is much smaller.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Tomorrow around 1pm, eighteen people descend on my 1100 sq ft home for Thanksgiving dinner. I volunteered. It's one of the only times we can combine my husband's family with mine. Last year 15 people came. We had a blast. Before this new tradition, 3 different families held their own dinner. Joe and I were expected to make an appearance at each of those dinners. It turned our happy Thanksgiving into a driving fest with no time to enjoy the meal. When I host the dinner, everyone comes to one place and my house gets its annual deep clean.
The house needs some serious cleaning. Two birds, a big dog, a husband, and a busy triathlete-graduate student (who shall remain nameless) have left the house in shambles. I spent yesterday "pre-cleaning". This involved emptying the garage to make temporary room for things in our back room and raking up all the leaves from the oak trees. The back room is an converted "Florida room", i.e. huge screened in porch that they bricked in, that is big enough to hold the 2, 8 foot tables necessary for the feast. The tables only fit if the room is emptied of it's contents. Normally this room serves as our play room. We use it for my office, yoga, martial arts, costuming and reading. It will become the grand dining room by nightfall. The trash comes today so pre-cleaning had to be completed yesterday to make certain we'd have empty trash cans for Thanksgiving day.
How will I do this? It's simple: Mom. Mom can do anything. She's coming over to help me clean. I love her.
Well, it's time to make the final list of chores. Then it's off for a quick 1 hour ride before the holidays begin. It sounds like a lot of work but I'm really excited for tomorrow.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
As for my trace metal research, it is on hold indefinitely. When the tube broke, sample backed up and spilled all over the place. I've got a few hours of cleaning ahead of me. Cleaning the inside of the instrument is another matter. The only person who can really fix things will be traveling until early December. I can do damage control but the rest must wait.
On the bright side, I've got plenty of time to write, work up some more statistics, and clean my house for the holidays. Maybe my running will get back on track!!!
Monday, November 21, 2005
7AM! I need to get into the lab super early to call the argon people before the deliveries go out.
Breakfast? Lunch? Long run? Forget it. Note to self: reset the alarm on your watch for 5:30AM. Days like today really challenge my weightloss and fitness schedule. I keep reminding myself that the focus is the dissertation.
Oh yeah, argon. Friday's argon fiasco still hangs over my head. It seems that I needed to order the "ultra high purity argon" cylinder. Good thing I check my emails on the weekend. Good thing that the guy at Airgas covered my back by putting both types of cylinders on the truck, just in case., because my early morning call did not arrive before the deliveries had left. Now I must sit in the lab all day waiting to sign for the argon. Everyone else has left for their Thanksgiving holidays. I'm the only one around. Maybe the delivery will come early enough to catch an easy afternoon pool workout.
Friday, November 18, 2005
For those who don't know, one day every November the French begin exporting beaujolais nouveau. New wine. Fun. Fresh. Think the "cinco de mayo" of wine. Eight weeks ago this stuff was a gamay grape on a vine in Burgundy.
Others say that beaujoulais nouveau is too fresh, not complex enough, and undeveloped. Um. Yeah. Because 8 weeks ago it was a grape on a vine. It is fun. It is a celebration settling with the fog in a French cafe after a long harvest season. It is good times and good friends to start the holidays. No, it won't be a masterpiece in 5 years. It's new. It's life.
Those of you looking for good wine for Thanksgiving wine any Beaujolais is a good choice, especially nouveau. This wine is very fruity and unoffensive, matching every food from my father's smoked fish dip to feta chees with kalamata olives. I enjoy my beaujoulais on the cool side. Drink it with friends and food. You will have a good time.
Damn it if my house is not "it the cone" again. Surely Oldman will join me in saying what the fuck? For those of you cold climate people who say that Floridians are weather wimps, imagine planning for a hurricane and THANKSGIVING DINNER in the same week.
Not that I'm bitter. What would be better than my entire family along with all my inlaws at my house 2 days after ahurricane. The house will look lovely.
Just been on of those days.
- Bob Mina
If you haven't visited Bob's site, you should. He writes for xtri, among other things. His reports are full of great quotes like this.
3 miles 34 minutes.
Not bad considering my 5K PR from 2 years ago is about 32 minutes.
I needed a good run to clear the bad vibes from the morning. Now it's time to clean up at the gym. It would be nice to salvage something out of today.
Once the run starts I can head out for MY run.
I wonder how much coffee I can drink before a workout ...
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
SIGH. Old cranky machinery, boiling acid. The glamors of science.
On the bright side I made both my run and weight workout this AM. Today I have success in 2 of the 3 big areas of my life. And tonight is date night with the husband which will count for area 3! YEAH!
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Not so cool was my shoulder. Macho girl here tried to manhandle a bag 2 weeks ago. My right shoulder has been none too pleased since then. Rotator cuff. Bothered me again during today's swim when I tried to pick up the pace. So it was a few warm up laps, some easy drills and a cooldown. A mere 1200yds in 30 minutes. That's the way it will be until the shoulder heals.
In sad swimming news, runner-turned-swimmer-girl quit swimming. She told me her story at the gym. One of the guards at the pool gave her an unsolicited critique of her stroke. She became embarasssed and quit. Too bad. Maybe I can talk her back into the water.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Combined with last week's work, two batches of fish are ready to go for digestion and analysis. The only problem is that supplies for the digestion aren't quite lined up yet. SIGH. Even the best laid plans go bad sometimes. It's a bummer but I should have been more on the ball. Time to get going on those supplies.
Still, it is a new week, there is writing to be done and maybe some stable isotope analysis that can get started. No time can be wasted. Must stay focused.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Today should be fun. The weather gods granted us a perfect weather day for the local Ribfest. My husband's band will be playing at 1pm and 5pm. It's great exposure for them and we got some free tickets!!! Of course, the ribs and beer are not free but that's not so bad. :) Now it's off for a quick morning ride before getting ready to be "Merchandise Girl" for the band.
Hope everyone has a great weekend.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
When people say "oooooo, a phd in marine science that must be so cool" they don't picture me standing in my kitchen at 6AM with a sink full of fish, do they? Nor do they understand the absuridty of my barely awakened husband pouring a cup of coffee next to said fish without blinking an eye. No, they think of me running around in a Baywatch bathing suit with Jacques Cousteau or swimming with dolphins in a clear blue sea. Lies. All lies. Lies to lure poor children into science so that we end up contemplating the best method remove fish scales from a kitchen countertop.
And NOW the fish that need filleting (is that a word?), are not frozen enough to fillet. That's the thanks I get after spending a good hour mentally flogging myself to return to the lab rather than bolt for my favorite outdoor eatery on this gorgeous Florida "fall" day.
You scored as Lara Croft. A thrill-seeking, slightly unscrupulous, tough-as-nails archaeologist, Lara Croft travels the world in search of ancient relics perhaps better left hidden. She packs two Colt .45s and has no fear of jumping off buildings, exploring creepy tombs, or taking on evil meglomaniacs bent on world domination.
Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with QuizFarm.com
Yeah, we got spanked on our sampling trip last night. Three experienced fishermen, 2.5 hours in the dark, and I caught a catfish. That was the only fish caught the entire time. And it was cold. If anyone knows how or where to catch Cynoscion arenarius, please email me. Many volumes have been written about the spotted sea trout but I need the sand sea trout.
We've come to the conclusion that we need to hire a guide. Should be expensive.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
I did finish a few important tasks today, namely, attempting to scale/fillet the mojarras. You would think that filleting a fish is a rather standard procedure. Not so. Each fish in my study has it's tricks.
Today I learned that scaling large fish in the clean room makes a huge mess. Scales get everywhere, especially when they dry. So, the scaling will be done under normal lab conditions. When it comes time to actually cut the skin, the fish will go back to the clean room.
And I wonder why it takes so long to run samples.
Tonight we go fishing for the mysterious sand sea trout. I need a bunch. Hope we catch them. If we get back early enough, I can scale mojarras again. JOY REN!
It was all I could do to drag my butt out of bed. My well planned trainer workout turned into a "just show up" ride on Fujisawa. The HRM and bike computer tell the bitter truth: 13.5mph average, HR 130.
On top of it all my left leg hurts. Quad and hamstring. Why? All I did was run 2 miles and lift easy weights at the gym. Sure, I did squats for the first time but nothing hurt after the workout. What the heck?
Enough whining. It's time to salvage the day by improving my average worst day.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Life continues along it's new path. Shifting priorities make me a little nervous but things are going well. My training plan will undergo major remodelling as I try to make room for The Big Guy in my life. The cool thing about God is that He is always there for me. The success of my half IM and weight loss showed me that He makes my needs a priority even when I don't return the favor. I'm trying to fix that by making Sunday my rest day. Work still calls on Sunday but no training mean there is time to make the drive to church in the morning. I don't have to. I want to.
Other training goals fall into place by shifting the rest day to Sunday. I can separate my long bike and long run by a few days. Three weight workouts a week become possible and I can swim when my favorite lifeguard is at the pool. Funny how things workout when we put first things first.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Sunday evening brought the realization we knew would come: while I still love my chicken wings and beer, my red burgundy, and those flavorful pasta dishes, I don't miss them as much as I thought. They don't bring as much "fun" as they used to bring.
Back to the "eat smart" plan for me. Treats are always there for me. When I really want them, I'll have them. But they are tourists in my eating plan, not natives.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Friday, November 04, 2005
Here are a few before and after shots
Disney 2004 marathon photos
Florida Challenge Half Ironman 2005
I have a long winded post about this but it will wait until later.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
And, some of the data are significant. Sure, it's all preliminary with a small sample size. Sure, it raises more questions than it answers but they are real statistics from my data.
And it takes a lot less time.