Thursday, March 28, 2013

Let's Talk About Stress, Baby (and a Tempo Run!)

Workout: 8 miles, 5 tempo (9:33-ish), Pace Gloves

Sunny view from my office yesterday. I find that electrical wires and unintended reflections really make a photo pop. That's Wolverine on the left there!

Tempo Thursday! This one was a doozy. Did you guys know that "doozy" means both really bad and really good? How is that possible? Make up your mind, English! Is there any other word in our language with two opposing definitions? I can't think of one. Then again, I've got the lexicon of a middle schooler (evidenced by the fact that I just used "lexicon" instead of "vocabulary." Lexicon is such a middle school language arts word). So which doozy describes my run? Okay fine, neither. I just wanted to use that word. It's so fun to say! In your head, that is. Because speaking my blog post out loud would be cause for concern. I'd say I'm still about a decade/dozen cats away from that. Is this introduction sufficiently irrelevant and drawn-out yet? Yes? Fine, let's move on.

Apparently I'm someone who casually runs 8 miles now. Well, maybe not casually. Maybe more like, "If my plan tells me I have to run at least 7 miles and I'm still a mile from my car when those 7 miles are up, I'll jog the extra mile so my sweat-soaked-hair-turned-frozen-mass can thaw out sooner and I won't get hypothermia." Same thing.

I'm not sure what to say about this run. I managed to keep my goal pace (9:44) just fine, I was able to run on shoveled sidewalks instead of shifty powder (one of the benefits of this weekend's snowfall is that sidewalks previously covered in sheets of ice are now runnable), and I didn't experience any great hardship along the way. The only difficulty came that last 3/10 of a mile. A charming gentleman getting out of his car yelled, "Looking strong! Keep it going!" just as I hit 8 miles, so I obviously couldn't stop running until I was out of sight. Those 20 seconds blew. When you're mentally done with a run, going one more step is SO HARD. Let's not think about the fact that I'm planning to run 26.2 miles and .03 miles almost did me in.

Tempo miles were laps 3-7


So... remember how I'm going to Norway for work? Well, I don't know how it happened, but I'm going next (next) Saturday. That's nine days from now. I think my heart just stopped. To prepare for this trip, I've been employing the always-successful "ignorance is bliss" method and pretending I'm not going. It was working really well until I realized I had less than two weeks left. !!!!!

I'm wondering how this running thing is going to work over there. I doubt I'll be able to do much of it. Fortunately, I started marathon training two weeks early, so I can pick up right where I left off when I get back and not worry about being behind. But then again, the brothers Hanson are all about "cumulative fatigue," so I can't let myself recover too much, right? I obviously need to get at least a couple of runs in to maintain what I've built up so far. I'm also spending two entire Sundays (long run days) traveling, which will require some shuffling of runs.

I know it's not a big deal, but I HATE moving runs around. I wish I were cool and could go with the flow, but I like following plans exactly. I imagine what I'll end up doing is running long the Saturday before I leave and again the Monday after I get back (assuming I'm still upright). But maybe I won't. Maybe I'll go crazy and do a long run in Oslo the day before I fly back. I'm kind of nervous about doing a long run in an area I don't know, though, mostly because of the bathroom situation (have I made it clear what a freak I am about being within two feet of a dependable bathroom at all times? In Alaska, that bathroom is "the woods"). Or maybe I'll just become a hobby walker for the week.

The other potential logistical snafu is the fact that I'm scheduled to get back very late on April 14. Most schools ask that you inform them of your intent to enroll by the 15th. Although I'm pretty certain I know where I'm going to go, I still haven't heard about funding from my top pick, AND I haven't heard from three schools yet. There is a possibility that, should I not get funding from my top pick but get into one of those three with funding, I would choose that place. If I don't have all the necessary information until I'm in Norway, I don't know that I'll be able to give the issue my undivided attention. I'm sure it will all work out, but it's still a source of stress. Like, what if my flight's delayed and my computer and phone die?!?! These are the things that keep me up at night.

Let's talk about YOU:
  • Are you stressed about life choices? I assume that's what "being an adult" feels like, but I don't like it.
  • What do I do about my runs while in Norway? Guide me.
  • Grad school question: in the long run, it makes more sense to do what you believe to be the "perfect" (and more highly-regarded) program without funding than one you're not very excited about that's offered you full funding, right?


  1. Do your first long run on Saturday. Suck it up and think of it as a "flexibility experiment". Take a wait-and-see approach on the second.

    Secondly, do some research - find out if your hotel has a gym, and if it's 24 hours. This would alleviate a lot of potential problems. If not, see if there are any gyms in the area, and if/how you can have access to them (the hotel might be able to help with this). If you want try to run outside, go online and investigate some running routes before you go. Look for river paths, parks, etc. Mapmyrun is annoying to use, but has a pretty big database of routes, usually.

    You can always check with the hotel staff to see if the route you've mapped is safe. However, as someone who's done the travel/workout thing, I would say that any interval or tempo runs should probably be attempted on the treadmill, or pre-run as an easy route. It's frustrating to try to do a harder workout while ALSO figuring out directions.

    Do the best you can while you're gone, then go right ahead and re-run that week of the program when you get home. [You're gonna have to do something with those 2 extra weeks can't take a 4 week taper.]

    Grad school: I certainly have one specific view, but I'd say it's not necessarily better to go to a "better" program for which you have to pay. I'd think carefully about getting yourself in debt for school - consider the cost, plus the cost of living, plus whether you will have to/want to get a side job, how long the degree will take, and what you'll be making after your degree (and the possibility that you'll change your mind about what you want to do while you're in school). I'm not saying you shouldn't go to the perfect/better school - just think about the cost (literally & figuratively).

    But do also be aware/be in contact with the prospective department about other possibilities for funding once you're enrolled. I don't know anything about the program you'll be in, but sometimes - even if you don't come IN with guaranteed funding, there are still possibilities for funding once you start. That might help make the perfect school less fiscally scary. That really helped, now, didn't it? :)

    1. Thanks for the advice! I'm going to be in a pretty small place (Alta, in the very north) except for two days I'm spending in Oslo before flying back, so I don't think getting lost will be much of a concern (I imagine I'll just pick a road and run down it). I will definitely have to find out more about the hotel, though, and whether they have a treadmill. As unpleasant as that may be, it is definitely faster to get in a few miles on the treadmill than to take it outside.

      I was definitely planning to repeat two weeks of the plan so it "catches up" with me, and I figured this was a good time for one of them!

  2. Dang girl. 8 miles. I have to run 9-10 tomorrow and I'm already anticipating instant death.

    Hmm grad school question is tough. I went to a program that was both well-known and public so it was a bit cheaper. I really had my eyes set on the University of Rochester which is an amazing school but VERY expensive and offered no aid. The dept. head actually told me in an email conversation to go to the Univ. of Buffalo because they were just as great and I wouldn't be in 150k in debt at the end. She was right!

    1. I hope they went well! I'm sure you did great. Your 8-miler sounded like a breeze for you last week, so hopefully that extra mile or two won't kill you. Plus you've some new kicks! Those will carry you at LEAST another mile.

  3. I would personally go for funding (I say this as I am $75k in debt coming out of my MA degree...), but my sister applied to Hopkins for her PhD in Epidemiology and they are like #1 in the world...she only got 50% funding, but she knew that it was the school for her (she did her MPH there, too). The thing is, after the first year, there are usually all kinds of funding opportunities available to you, which ends up helping you out after that (they basically told her she would be 100% funded by her second year from various other sources). I would say just go with what your gut is telling you...a lot of times when I am agonizing between schools, it's either because one is paying me so I should WANT to go there, and the other is a top tier school, so it would be PRESTIGIOUS to go there...but that doesn't mean that either one is the RIGHT one for me. In the's about what school is best for YOU and what YOU want to get out of it - professors/research going on is KEY because that's who/what you will be working with. I would also maybe ask financial aid if they offer any help in finding funding for you elsewhere. Some schools are more helpful than others.

    I'm so excited for your Norway trip!!! I'm of the mindset that I LOVE to run outside around cities when I am in new places! I usually bring a map and a phone with me and double check with the hotel before hand to make sure it's an okay route...or you can pick up a tourist guide and some of them have like "walking tours" that you can use for your runs instead AND get to see the best sites along the way! I would personally hate to be cooped up in a hotel gym when I could be out exploring instead! You could also always just take the week off and enjoy yourself!! I'm sure you'll get lots of walking in! DC Rainmaker did a trip to Oslo a little while ago and blogged about his run there:

    1. I should have clarified, I'm actually going to be in a tiny place called Alta for most of the week (look it up - it's waaaaay north!), so I'll only have a couple of days in Oslo. I'd like to do at least one run there, though. I think I know where that guy ran, but I don't think I'll really have access to it. Pretty much the first thing I did after booking a hotel in Oslo was to look up running routes, and there's a really pretty lake just outside the city that has a lot of paths. I'm pretty sure that's where he went, but I don't think it's accessible by train. His commenters seem to have a lot of great suggestions, though, so maybe I'll check one of those out! Thanks for the link!

  4. Ugh about the Grad School option. I think it is better to go with the funding, honestly. Grad school is a huge investment and I do not trust where academic institutions are going in the near future in terms of providing funds and expenses. They are very much moving to a more corporate-like system and I think the days of graduate assistantships may be limited. If you have one that is offering you multi-years of funding, I would take it. If they are just offering you one or two semesters, and you really want to go to the other place, then the choice may be more difficult. It also depends on which faculty inspire you. If you are at a less prestigious institution but working with super cool, awesome people, that is the best thing you do. If you are at a great school but not inspired by those you are working with, that is a terrible part of grad school. I could go on and on...let me know if you want more advice.