Saturday, December 30, 2006


Of our trip to Turkey are up. It is set up as a single web page so if you have a slow connection it may take time for the pictures to come up.

home again

We got home last night exhausted after 22 hours of traveling. I'm downloading my pictures and will post a picture story and link it here, but for now the news is that we are safely home and the trip couldn't have gone better. Amazing to be there with no tourists. The Byzantine history has mostly been erased in Turkey but the classical sites are just amazing--whole cities.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Typing on a Turkish keyboard is interesting--most frequent problem is that the i with a dot is a different character in a different place on the keyboard. I don't see any triangle brackets for code.

Trip is going very well! On and off light rain in Istanbul but not cold, clear but windy and cold--a few degrees C above freezing--as we go along the coast. But we are so happy we are here in the winter. Usually no other tourists in sight--even at Troy. At Assos we pulled off the road and went in an open gate to explore the theater (4th century BC)--no one around but a sheperd with his sheep. The driving is mostly easy because there are very few cars on the road--that it costs almost a hundred dollars to fill up the tank of our compact car probably has a lot to do with that as well as the almost total lack of tourists this time of year. Most of our hotels have been very nice, just one where the shower was a hand shower in the corner of the bathroom (with a drain and curtain but no separate floor area with a rim to hold in the water) and they turned on the hot water only in the evening. And that was worth it to wake up and see a tiny fishing harbor right out our window, no one around but cats and a few fishermen. Cats are everywhere.

Monday, December 18, 2006


We are off today to Turkey, returning late Dec. 29. Some hotels apparently have computers for guests to check their email so I might post a quick update, but probably I'll post a trip report when I get back. I'm seeing the challenge as traveling in a more flexible style, rather than having everything figured out in advance. My goal is for our kids to be able to imagine traveling college student style (as I did in when I was in college--backpack and youth hostels) after experiencing this trip. We are staying in two star hotels and renting a car--not college student style but on a considerably simpler scale than the trips organized by my father.

Monday, December 11, 2006


I've been writing letters of recommendation and a Christmas letter. I wish I thought honesty would be trusted--I worry that what I would say honestly would be read as sugar-coating something much more negative.

This is exam week, and then we leave for Turkey next Monday. A busy time.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


I worked very intensely with a therapist in North Carolina for almost seven years, starting in Feb. 1996. When he partially retired three and a half years ago he told me I would have to find someone else. At first he wanted that to be a clean ending, but in we eventually worked out ending the therapy relationship but continuing to meet once a month for an hour (we called it spiritual direction). He was uncertain at first whether that was a good idea, but it turned out to be a lovely thing not just so I didn't feel rejected but to be able to go back and revisit what I had learned with him.

I did move on. The next person I saw didn't work out, but now I have another therapist I can do the deep work with. I hadn't thought anyone else would be able to go as deep with me as the person in North Carolina, but I have found someone with whom I can go deeper.

Yesterday I had my last meeting with the person in North Carolina. He is retiring completely now. I am much readier for this ending than I was for the first one, but it is still very sad. I have tried so hard to feel my feelings, but I've still got a very sore shoulder, which my massage therapist says is a classic place for grief to come out.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Ride Report: Festivelo

A month ago, when I did a metric century that was hillier than I expected, I decided I wanted to go back to Charleston to do the Island century ride at Festivelo. I had done that ride two years ago as my first century since coming back to bicycling, and it is very flat.

My family didn't go this time, but I found a friend who was interested in seeing Charleston to share the drive and hotel with. When we got to our hotel we walked over the the minor league baseball arena where the start would be and I was surprised how warm it was. I decided to wear my lighter pair of tights and a light long sleeved top under my vest instead of wool. I had only brought warm wool socks, which it turned out I was glad of.

We got up very early because I thought the century ride started at 7 and I needed to check in and eat breakfast. It turned out that it started at 7:30, so we got cold sitting around (the temperature at 6:30 was 54 F). But we had fun talking to people from all over who had come to do the whole four-day event (I had just signed up for one day). There was a family who had come from British Columbia by plane with a tandem that came apart and a second bike.

It was exciting to head out early in the morning with about 50 people (the metric century started later). We rode up over the James Island connector, basically a highway bridge over the river and marshes but very quiet and pretty early on a Saturday morning. Once we got onto Johns Island there were fewer turns and traffic lights and we could settle in. I kept up a fast pace, averaging 17 mph for a while. After the first rest stop I pushed to catch up with a pair of young women and rode behind them for 5 miles for so, but when they stopped talking and put their heads down they dropped me quickly. Then at another place where we went out to the end of a road and turned around I saw some people turning around at the entrance to the town (instead of at the end of the road) and pushed to catch up with them and ride behind them. I stayed with them until the second rest stop but then I rode out of that with some other people who dropped me even more quickly. I had seen a lot of riders behind me but no one caught up with me for the next 15 miles. I was keeping up a considerably better pace than two years ago--I averaged 16 mph over the first 60 miles. I began to worry that everyone else had taken shortcuts, but when I got to the lunch stop at 80 miles I heard there were still about 25 riders out on the course.

Lunch was hamburgers and chips and potato salad on the Folly Beach Pier--hamburgers have never tasted so good. I had eaten peanut butter sandwiches at the first two rest stops and a banana and chex mix at the third, and it felt like time for something more substantial. I drank only water.

The high for the day in Charleston was 67. It never felt that warm, but it was sunny and pleasant and the wind, while occasionally annoying, wasn't bad. The last 20 miles I slowed down, but I wasn't hurting or struggling to keep going. I didn't even find going up the big bridge of the James Island Connector hard; the hard part was dealing with highway traffic. I finished the 103 miles in 6 hours 52 minutes riding time (7 hours had been my goal), for an average of 15 mph, in about 8 hours elapsed time

When I did this ride two years ago I had only been back to bicycling six months, but I had prepared more carefully, with more long rides. This year my longest rides this fall had been three 60 milers, and I don't think I did any other rides over 40 miles. So I was impressed that I was about an hour faster this year and it didn't feel nearly as hard.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

swimming and feminism

Our new swim coach started this week. He is all of about 28 years old and has never coached adults before. I was startled Tuesday when he said to the two women in one lane "How are you girls doing?" Our fastest swimmers are a man and a woman not long out of college, and there may be one more of our group who is in her 20s, but the rest of us are four women in their 30s and 40s and two of us over 50. I don't think very fast at 5:30 in the morning, so it took me several hours to figure out what I wanted to do.

This morning when he referred to us as girls I told him that I have been a feminist since 1969 and I object to being called a girl. He said he would try not to do so but he was clearly mystified--he said he thought we would be complimented. I didn't think fast enough to say "How would you feel if I called you 'boy'?"

He asked what we would like to be called. I came up with "folks"--"how are you folks doing?" seems natural. Anybody got a better idea?

Monday, November 20, 2006


Two things kept me particularly busy last week, beyond just the time of year. I hosted a guest speaker at the beginning of the week, who runs an STS program at another state university. When he and I met with the administrator who is over the STS program, she encouraged me to consider developing a major.

Also my husband and I have been working on the possibility of traveling over Christmas, since his attempt to get tickets to Europe in May using frequent flyer miles was unsuccessful. We ended up buying tickets to go to Turkey Dec. 19-30. We will spend a good part of the time in Istanbul but I am working with a travel agent in Turkey on a 5 day trip to Troy, Pergamum and Ephesus, driving ourselves and then taking a sleeper train from Pamukkale back to Istanbul. Either Christmas eve or Christmas day we will go to a service at the House of the Virgin Mary, where Mary was traditionally believed to have lived out her earthly life.

The other new news is that my daughter scored in the 95% percentile overall among students who took the SSAT (Secondary School Aptitude Test).

Friday, November 17, 2006

quote of the day

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
-- George Bernard Shaw

I thought that an inspiring sentiment until I read this scary story about the anti-birth-control movement (credit to Joseph Duemer).

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

early morning run

I woke up early today, feeling stressed about some old feelings I have gotten deep into working on this week. But it was a lovely morning; it rained all day yesterday and the air was soft this morning. I met a friend who is starting running and I ran with her around the track a couple of times. Then I headed out on the road, and I decided that it was light enough to run the dike loop rather than an out-and-back. It was just beginning to get light and everything was dark blue, not just the lake and the sky but the trees as well. There were rowers on the lake, close enough that I could hear their oars. A large flock of geese was resting in the lake, squawking occasionally, and a great blue heron flew along the shore below the dike. A good day to be alive, even if the local election results are depressing.

Monday, November 06, 2006

floating leaves

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ride Report: Tour de Tugaloo

I hadn't done this organized ride before, but I had ridden part of the route with the Cyberspinners. That was actually misleading--the whole metric century is a lot hillier than the part we rode.

It took me a lot longer to get there than I expected; the directions said turn just after crossing the border into Georgia but what I hadn't understood was that it was another 15 miles from that point to Yonah Dam. Only about 15 people started on time at 8 am, and I wasn't sorry to be starting late because it was so cold--in the low 30s. I had put some warmer clothing in my car but I bravely went with my original plan: buff, wool base layer shirt with a windproof vest over it, bike shorts with lightweight tights over them, wool socks and shoe covers over my bike shoes, and a pair of very light glove liners under fingerless gloves. I was very cold when I first started out, but when my fingers began to warm up after about 10 minutes I decided I had made the right choices. At the first rest stop I readusted my buff headband style instead of hood style. When it got warmer in the afternoon I took off the glove liners but I only unzipped my vest a little.

The first hour and a half to the first rest stop I wasn't really enjoying myself. It was up and down hill and on the downhills I was struggling to be able to see because the cold air was making my eyes water. The cold was making me hungry even faster than usual and almost 20 miles to the first rest stop was far. A whole peanut butter and banana sandwich and some orange quarters at the rest stop improved my view of life, though after a very hilly section I decided to take the advice not to go the last little bit of an out and back which had a particularly steep hill on the back. Going back the out and back section of the route seemed a whole lot shorter.

The next rest stop had homemade brownies and then there was a lovely flat section along the river, and I began to thoroughly enjoy myself. At the next rest stop someone was trying to help a rider whose rear derailer had failed. He asked if anyone had an Allen wrench and I was the only one who did. He commented that the only woman in the group was the one who had tools. The next section had some steep hills, but also lovely fairly flat sections along a ridge and then along the river again. I was pleased to notice that my time for 50 miles was very close to 4 hours (riding time, not counting rest stops) even on such a hilly course. It makes me want to do the island ride at FestiVelo again--a flat century. The last five miles was flat and fast and I still felt good.

Total: 61.6 miles in 4 hours 54 minutes riding time, some 2500 calories burned.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

one of those days

The swim coach made a big deal about how I was going to break two minutes swimming 100 yards freestyle today and I didn't do it, my best time was 2:03.35. I think I tried too hard and my technique slipped. Swimming is interesting that way--it doesn't give much credit for trying your hardest.

I also coughed a little and had one couldn't-get-my-breath coughing fit. I had finally decided last spring that what I thought at first was exercise-induced asthma was just my overreaction, because it never happened again. But today felt like asthma again, and since it hadn't happened in 6 months I didn't have the inhaler with me. It settled down again ok after the coughing fit, but I did realize when practice was done that my chest felt a little tight.

Then I had bad luck trying to make contact with someone I wanted to talk to on the phone. I had coffee with a friend and then hurried to my office for an appointment with a student, only to find an email saying he needed to reschedule. Hopefully I can get out for a bike ride this afternoon. If that doesn't make the day seem a little better I can go to a centering prayer group at church, but it starts at 6 pm which is a very awkward time for me (it is hard to have dinner ready early enough to eat before and my blood sugar doesn't do well with eating after 7:30).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

monthly totals

swimming: 9 workouts for 11 hours 55 minutes
biking: 8 workouts for 230.2 miles in 18 hours
running: 12 workouts for 51.2 miles in 12 hours 9 minutes
Total time: 42 hours 4 minutes
And I'm looking forward to a metric century at an organized ride this weekend.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


In Galileo's time, the Copernican theory was believed to contradict the literal interpretation of the Bible. I knew that Galileo became involved in the controversy over Joshua:
12 On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel:
"Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon."

13 So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,
till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,
as it is written in the Book of Jashar.
The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. (Joshua 10)
But there is another example:
Tell it out among the nations "The LORD is King! *
he has made the world so firm that it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity." (Psalm 96 verse 10)
What a strong image that must have been to people, that God made the world so firm that it cannot be moved.

I actually find it inspiring how churches change, for example Christianity outgrew its support of slavery. My husband and I both grew up being told not to waste food but to "think of the starving Armenians." We realized that the Armenians were starving not when we were children or when our mothers were children but when our grandmothers were children. I am thankful when faith doesn't get fossilized that way.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

parents' weekend

This weekend was my son's parents' weekend, and we had brief meetings today with all his teachers. A month ago we were very worried about how things were going--he was failing history because he hadn't handed in a major assignment and his roommate had moved out to room with someone more congenial.

Today things looked much better. The former roommate has left school because he was caught with drugs, so his moving out doesn't seem like such a bad thing any more. All the teachers, even the history teacher, spoke highly of my son's work. The geometry teacher told us that they do problems where there is a circle crossed by lots of lines (I think like this only more complicated) and the students have to figure out the value of as many angles as they can. The teacher thought this particular problem had been used at the school for at least six years. My son found the value of an angle that was marked in the answer key as one that could not be found. We heard he had the highest grade in his class on a chemistry test and is the best writer in his English class. A number of people also told us how impressed they were by the part he played in a skit his dorm put on. He is still isolating himself, but at least he is getting positive feedback when he does get out of his room.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


This is the first picture printed in our home darkroom. I had some equipment from 30 years ago (and the hardware hasn't changed a bit), and bought the rest on ebay. Darkroom equipment is going incredibly cheaply--I bought an Omega C700 enlarger for $27. Still a couple of questions to solve, such as whether I can make the old print washer work, but we have a useable darkroom.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Owen Gingerich

While my daughter and I were in Massashusetts last weekend,we went to hear my undergraduate thesis advisor give a talk at a bookstore. I learned from him that he was coming down to this area, so we are going to go hear him again today.

He has recently published a book on science and religion. At the bookstore, he explained that he grew up in the Mennonite tradition--his father's four great grandfathers were all Amish ministers. He went to an evangelical college, and was hesistant to go to graduate school in astronomy because how would that be serving the needs of the world? His chemistry professor advised him to study astronomy if he felt called, saying "We can't let the atheists take over any field." I love the thought that he has come full circle and is enriching the discussion of science and religion.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


It isn't about control and not making mistakes.
It is about flow and trust.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Las Vegas

I had been to Las Vegas once before, in the mid 1970s. What I hadn't fully understood is how completely it was transformed in the 1990s to a kind of giant amusement park. The Statue of Liberty and Eiffel Tower and Venetian canal and the like are quite a sight. It was fun to do an early morning run down the strip. The hotel we stayed at was somewhat of an exception to the amusement park approach, but has recently been sold and is expected to be torn down. A very strange place to hold a professional conference. The area of meeting rooms was fairly normal but to get to the elevators to the guest rooms, either from the meeting rooms or from the street, one has to walk through the middle of the casino.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon for a professional conference in Las Vegas, and I am just dreading it. The hotel is in the middle of things and sounds terribly noisy. I don't drink, have no interest in gambling, and like to go to bed early. I can't even figure out if the hotel pool is still open--the web site says seasonal but not what the season is. I have a roommate I don't know well and have never roomed with before. I am coming back very early Saturday (7 am flight) in order to go to the end of the series banquet for the triathlon series.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ride for the Raptors

I ride on parts of this route fairly often, and I always look forward to the organized ride. Two years ago I did it in 5 1/2 hours elapsed time, after riding 60+ miles several times beforehand in my training. I would have liked to do the 101 mile route instead of the 62 miles this time but I decided not to because I was less well trained for it this time--the longest I rode last month was 31 miles. So I was happy to do the 62 miles ride today in 5 hours 15 minutes elapsed time, 4 hours 38 minutes riding time (the course was one mile longer this year). Last year I was signed up for the ride but my father died the week before and I went to Massachusetts instead.

I raced the first 15 miles, which are somewhat flatter, and averaged 16 mph. I wanted to find a group to ride with, but I would push to catch up with someone and then find they were riding slower than I wanted to go. I did ride behind one man for 3 or 4 miles and was sorry he didn't keep up with me when I passed him because he kept a good steady pace. A fair number of people must have been doing the 25 mile route; there were a lot of people at the first rest area and I didn't see many after that.

Particulary after the second rest area I settled into riding alone, but I slowed down to more of a touring pace. The biggest hill, Maw Bridge Road, is at mile 29, and I hadn't ridden it in a long time (I usually avoid it when I am doing parts of the route). I still spent most of the hill pedaling slowly in my lowest gear, but I didn't get more and more out of breath the way I did two years ago. After that the route is pretty steadily up and down, but no other hills are as hard as that one. There was one group who I kept catching up with at rest stops--they stopped for longer than I did--but I couldn't quite hang in with them when they would pass me again.

It couldn't have been a nicer day--the temperature must have been below 60 when we started out and I wore a long sleeve running top over my short sleeved jersey. I took it off at the first rest area, as the sun was getting warm. But then dark clouds filled the sky about 11:30 am and it cooled off. It didn't rain; by the time I finished the sun was out again, but the high for the day was only 70.

My legs are tired but I wasn't exhausted at the end. Next year I want to do more organized rides; I need to learn to keep my pace up at this distance as I train towards doing the South Carolina Half Ironman a year from now. I'm excited about the new ironman in Kentucky--if I feel ready to do an ironman in 2008 I will have a convenient one.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

positive attitude

I picked up my son today to come home for his fall break. We talked some in the car and at one point I complemented him on his positive attitude and asked him if there was anyone at school he didn't like. He said there were a couple of people last year but they didn't bother him as much this year. I asked if that was because they had matured or he was more tolerant and he said they must have matured. He describes himself as not social and doesn't know how to make friends, but at least he has a positive attitude about people.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Monthly totals and Hagley Museum

Training this month:
swimming: 11 workouts for 15 hours 30 min.
biking: 9 workouts for 162 miles in 12 hours 47 min.
running: 12 workouts for 52 miles in 12 hours 10 min.
And I've run a total of exactly 500 miles so far this year!

Last Thursday my daughter and I went to the Hagley Museum for the afternoon. It was a glorious early fall day:

We were both sorry we hadn't bought our good cameras.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Barnes Foundation

My daughter and I went to Philadelphia to visit Westtown school, and stayed an extra day to enjoy Philadelphia. We went to the Hagley, to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and, most interesting, to the Barnes Foundation (not all in one day--we had parts of three days). The Barnes Foundation is a private museum, which at present is still arranged the way its founder set it up. It has an incredible collection--according to one book it has 180 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes, 60 Matisses, 40 Picassos. There are striking works by Horace Pippin in addition to the famous artists. The art is arranged very differently from a modern museum, not just more crowded on the wall but also with artists and periods mixed together rather than separated. There are times when there are four pictures in a square (two over two) and one is medieval, one renaissance, one impressionist, and one modern. Most of the time there isn't an obvious relationship, though we did notice one arrangement of impressionist paintings of nude women bathing with medieval paintings of hell beneath.

It is an amazing experience, sometimes I just felt visual and mental overload from the juxtapositions. We went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art the next day and it seemed so sterile. The Barnes Foundation is apparently going to move downtown, and assumably hang its collection in the modern manner, which would be a huge loss. Don't miss it if you know you are going anywhere near Philadelphia and beware--tickets usually need to be bought at least a month in advance.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

swimming today

I felt draggy and discouraged at swimming today. But there was a funny moment in the locker room. One person told a story about a friend whose mother was athletic, and a graduate student who joined the team at the beginning of the summer said when she is 50 she just wants to be able to walk (for exercise). I said I'm 51. She said "When I grow up I want to be Pam."

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Race Report: Hartsville YMCA

short version
1500 meter swim: 49:53 (with a fairly long run from the beach to transition)
T1: 2:47
27 mile bike: 1:52:08
T2: 1:52
10 k run: 1:17:23
Total: 4:04:01
Last in the race (though ahead of someone who started later) but second in my age group out of two. The fast people in my age group did the sprint this time--a 52 year old woman was second overall in the sprint with a time of 1:22:55. Last year my time was 2:04:56 for the sprint, so I'm happy about doing less than twice that.

long version
My daughter and I didn't quite get to Hartsville in time for packet pickup, which ended at 4. But I'm glad we went into town, as we stopped at a bookstore and asked for restaurant recommendations and got sent to a perfect place, called Shug's Smokehouse. My barbecue feast was half a small chicken and a half rack of ribs, with broccoli and salad (and my daughter's coleslaw) for $17. I ate less than half of it--we knew our motel had a refrigerator and we had a cooler so we took it to the race the next day to supplement the chicken and rice lunch provided.

We stayed at the Econolodge in Bishopville for the third time. It was almost empty--I had made reservations at the last minute and hadn't even bothered to try the motels that were closer to the race but maybe I should have. We were happy to have a refrigerator and it was quiet this time. I got up a little before 5 and woke my daughter at 5:20 to head out for the race about 5:45. We got to the race site just a little after 6:15. I knew most of the route, but wasn't sure I could spot the last two turns. A car in front of me with a bike on it made the first turn, and so I started just following him. However, he missed the second turn--there were about 5 cars who had to turn around when we saw cars with bikes heading the other way.

It was dark when we got to the race site, but by the time I had picked up my packet it was getting light. I set up in transition and then we had a picnic breakfast--I had a combination of high fat plain Greek yogurt and flavored yogurt. It was cold so I didn't do a swim warm up and in fact kept my long sleeved shirt on even after I had left my glasses in my bike helmet (and put on my prescription goggles) and headed for the start, then gave my shirt to my daughter just a few minutes before the start. I did learn from people talking around me that this lake is always very warm because the nuclear power plant uses it for cooling.

I remembered that the water was shallow on the right side of the course so I started to the left. The water was unpleasantly warm--85 degrees--but not as black as I remembered it. I felt like I was swimming well and keeping up my effort. My main problem was with sighting--I went past the second turn buoy on the wrong side (not realizing I was that close to it) and had to turn back and I also went to the wrong side of the beach for the finish. I'm disappointed my swim time wasn't better than the international distance race I did in June as I believe I have improved my form with the new coach.

I was last out of the water so transition was quiet. The bike course was hillier than I remembered. Because it was a two loop course I got to watch the fast people go by me on their second loop. There were two water bottle handoffs but small bottles--I drank both and the 22 oz. bottle I had on my bike and ate my usual peanut butter and jelly sandwich. At the end of the first loop I passed a couple of people, a man doing the sprint and a woman doing the international distance, and then went back and forth with a man during the second loop.

When I got off my bike my legs didn't know how to run--the first time that has happened to me.

I still felt that as I started out on the run course, but after half a mile it felt ok. By this time it was hot. I had emailed to ask if there were going to be gels at the aid stations on the run course and was told yes, but there weren't. I had only put one in my pocket, so I started drinking Cytomax instead of the water I usually drink. It actually wasn't unpleasant and seemed to work fine. I walked stretches of some of the hills, in fact I was sorry the last mile was all downhill because I didn't have any excuse to walk

I passed the man I had ridden with on the bike; he repassed me once then was mostly behind me and we talked cheerfully at the three turnarounds. The woman I had passed was behind us the whole way until the last mile, when she speeded past us. The man caught up with me the last half mile. He suggested we finish together, which I thought was a wonderful idea--that way neither of us would be last. But then he got a terrible leg cramp and was nearly hopping on one leg. He told me to go ahead and I did. I got a big cheer at the finish, as they had just started the awards ceremony.

I went straight up to the awards ceremony, as we had checked for other people in my age group the night before so I expected to get an award. I got a nice hat that says age group second place. We ate our leftover barbecue and then headed out on the long drive home. We took a different route so we could stop for good icecream. I frequented Steve's icecream in Somerville MA when I was in college and I am fussy--Marble Slab or Cold Stone are about the only icecream stores in this area I consider worth eating at (or more rarely Ben and Jerry's).

Saturday, September 16, 2006

boarding school

I'm going to write about my own experience in boarding school in 1970-71 because my son is having some similar problems and it is bringing up my old shame. All I know that helps shame is to tell the things I feel so much shame about, to stop hiding them.

I went to boarding school with no idea who I was or how to relate to other kids. When another student was unhappy with her roommate I agreed to switch--I guess she had connected with my roommate and I had not. I didn't have any difficulties with the person who was considered an undesirable roommate, but rooming with her made me more isolated. I would have been isolated anyway--I didn't know how to connect with my peers. I just tried to do what was expected of me. I messed up once--we wore uniforms and when it got cold I started wearing a long john undershirt. But I only had one or two, so I wore it more than one day. A note was placed in the drawer of my carrel at study hall saying that I smelled bad. I left a note saying "a skunk smells its own smell first" and then someone else wrote a note saying "not in this case." I had messed up and I felt so terrible about it I couldn't bear to admit it. I grew up in a family where not knowing better was never an acceptable excuse for a mistake.

I don't know if anything could have helped me at that point. In my isolation at that school I discovered a love of science, and that eventually led me to another school and to some success in the world. I have hoped that it would not be quite so hard for my son--he lacks one-on-one social skills with his peers but he has pretty good group social skills. I'm thinking the person who contacted us has overreacted to the situation, but maybe I am just in denial. The frustrating thing is that my son stuck it out with a bad roommate last year and this year his better roommate didn't give him much of a chance before arranging to move to another room.

I've got a race tomorrow--hopefully I can burn up some of my pain then. I wish I had the stress relief of training today, but I think I need to take the day off because tomorrow is a longer distance race (1500 meter swim, 27 mile bike, 10 k run).

Friday, September 15, 2006

Quote of the day

On the subject of heavy bleeding during perimenopause, Joanna wrote in the comment section of a guest post on Bitch Ph.D.:
My doctor did explain that the little arteries in the uterine lining that were waiting for a hormonal signal to curl back up and shut off the bleeding were not getting that signal, and that the progesterone (or other hormonal treatments) were designed to get them to do that. This helped remove some of the anxiety. She also said "your uterine lining is a little disorganized right now." I thought I should put a sign with that on my office door.
Why did no one ever give me this explanation? Though I still intend to try to wait it out without hormones.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

black and white photography

I'm close to committing to setting up a darkroom at home, my daughter and I are having so much fun in the course. My best print from last night (from the roll of film I developed myself last week):

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

details, details

My son has not been turning in all of his homework, so we went up to his boarding school (just an hour and a half away) and took him out to dinner to express our concern. We stopped by the nurses office afterwards because I was concerned about his case of poison ivy, and discovered that his after dinner medication had been marked as "take as neeed" instead of "take every day there is study hall." If asked my son has a pretty good idea of when medication will help him, but he doesn't have enough forethought about it to go to the nurses' office if he can avoid it. I just feel lucky it didn't take us longer to figure out that problem.

Friday, September 08, 2006


"You know you are a triathlete when..." lists are cropping up on my email group. But the one I want to achieve is:
You know you're a triathlete when you put more miles this summer on your bike than on your car.
I rode almost 1,000 miles this summer (May-August), but I put 9,000 miles on my car between March and August. I will increase my biking next year when my goal is a half ironman race, but I am going to have to also drive less.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I did a lot of photography in high school, not only in the school darkroom but I set up my own darkroom at home. When I got to college I tried to get into a photography class, but I got more or less laughed at when I took my portfolio to the professor to apply for the course, so that was the end of that.

Last year I took photography 1 and 2 with my daughter--since she is 13 she can take courses at the community college's extension program if I take them with her. I liked the teacher, but it was a long evening once a week and I learned almost nothing I didn't already know. Last night I got my reward.

The next course started last night: Black and White Photography. We got into the darkroom and developed our own film. We played with the enlargers but didn't actually make prints yet. I love it. I wondered if I would still be able to wind film onto a developing reel in total darkness--I thought maybe that knowledge was still in my fingers. It was--I did it smoothly on the first try.

I think maybe I should have been a chemist. I'm not particularly talented at taking pictures, but I do love the darkroom. My daughter thought it was really fun. Next we will look for the box of my old darkroom equipment that may still be in our attic. The plan right now is just so she can practice winding film onto the developing reel, but we are going to be tempted to set it up (and we have a halfway decent place--a basement room with no windows though non-light tight doors, laundry sink in the next room right by the door). The nice thing about black and white photography is that unlike almost everything else, the technology has hardly changed in 30 years. But I don't have time...

Monday, September 04, 2006

not a holiday, but not bad

We don't get Monday holidays, except Martin Luther King day, so I had to teach today. But my daughter had the day off and it was a break not to have an hour's drive at the beginning of my day. I ran later than usual and did my long run (6 1/2 miles). Tired legs when I started my short bicycle commute to campus, but I've gotten into the bike commute and don't want to take my car if I can possibly avoid it. It is only about a mile, so not significant exercise, but I figure it is good for my leg muscles to have that regular push.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Saturday swim practice

When I first joined the swim team the practices for the masters team (adults) were Tuesday and Thursday 5:45-7:15 am and Saturday morning. But I never went on Saturday. When I first started I was told a cautionary tale about a youngish man who started swimming with the masters but then never came back again after he showed up on a Saturday and got whupped by the 9 year olds. I also knew that at most the masters had one lane on Saturday morning, and it is a strain to circle in one lane with people much faster than me (on weekday mornings we are often only two to a lane, or at least divided up into three lanes by speed). Later the masters went to practicing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30 to 7:00 am.

But our new acting coach can only do two mornings a week until high school swim team season is over. With the turmoil of losing a coach and the different kids groups not all started back up yet, I heard that no kids showed up for Saturday practice last week, just three or four adults. Saturday practice is 7:30 to 9:30 am in the pool and then dry land--weight training in the gym. The coach had some core exercises he wanted to show me, so I rearranged my weekend plans slightly to be able to go to Saturday swim practice this week. It was the first time I had ever gone on a Saturday.

There were three adults and two kids--we each had a lane to ourselves. And this coach much more than the other has us each doing different things depending on our level. Two hours is a lot of swimming, but he has me going easy and working on form, so it wasn't too difficult. The hardest set I did was 100 yards of four different drills, 100 free building speed, then 50 hard, repeated 4 times. And I'm getting used to the coach, who is louder (and more of a toucher) than the previous coach. My only previous experience with being coached is when I was on a women's sailing team in college--being told what to do and what I am doing wrong as intensely as a swimming coach does takes some getting used to.

Then I changed to go up to the gym and immediately discovered a problem. I've literally never worked out in a gym--I didn't know I needed closed toe shoes. I felt pretty stupid. The coach decided that my sandals would have to do, and reassured the staff person supervising the room that I wouldn't be working with any of the weight machines. Instead he had me catching and throwing a 6 pound ball while lowering myself partway backwards on an incline bench and then doing something he called a donkey kick with my feet on a stability ball. I'm sore today but I actually was reasonably pleased with what I could do. Swimming (with lots of butterfly kicking) has strengthed my core a lot from what it was.

Friday, September 01, 2006

August training totals

swimming: 11 sessions for 10 hours 32 minutes
biking: 8 rides for 188 miles in 14 hours 23 minutes
running: 12 runs for 53 1/2 miles in 12 hours 1 minute
total training time: 36 hours 37 minutes

That is way down from 55 hours 47 minutes in July, but given travel and the push afterwards to catch up on grading my internet course and now the beginning of the semester, I won't worry too much about it, even though I have my second international distance race Sept. 17. My achievement this month is that despite lower mileage my bike speed has increased significantly, from an average that had been running around 12.5 mph to an average of 13.1 mph. And I'm seeing that on my hilly local rides.

Thursday, August 31, 2006


What was shared in my spiritual directors peer group today brought my friend Ruth, who died in 2002, up so strongly in my mind. We want so much to believe that when someone is in a bad situation it will eventually come out for the best. But sometimes it doesn't, at least in this life. Sometimes people experience more pain (emotional and physical) than they are able to handle and it breaks them. The other members of the group wanted to believe that a situation will come out for the best, but I don't have that faith.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I'm terrible at remembering names myself, so it never offends me when someone has trouble with names (though sometimes I'm not sure what to do). I usually swim in the same lane as Patti, and our new swim coach tends to get us mixed up. Today we were doing butterfly, which is actually one of my better strokes, if only because I only learned it a year and half ago so I don't have so many bad habits. I finished a set and the swim coach starts saying "great job, Patti." Patti was swimming in the next lane because we have a new person (yah!) and so I turned almost 180 degrees to smile at Patti. Then I saw she was swimming half way down the lane and I realized he was talking to me. He realized his mistake when I turned around to look at Patti and said "I mean Pam." I must admit it didn't occur to me that he was talking to me.

Friday, August 25, 2006

first week of classes

And first week back to swim practice so I'm still getting used to getting up at 5 am again. I'm tired, though actually not as tired as I was the middle of the week. I'm teaching a lot of education majors, so the demotion of Pluto gave me a good issue to lead off with today. I haven't heard much excitement around here about the decision--it wasn't even on the front page of the local paper. I think it is very interesting, not just scientific questions being decided by vote but also the role of public opinion. I'm thinking about a T-shirt. Or maybe this one.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Race Report: Greenville

400 meter swim (in a 50 meter pool): 11:36
T1: 2:36
15 mile bike: 55:08, average speed 16.3 mph
T2: 1:40
5k run: 34:27 (pace 11:01)
Total 1:45:19
5 out of 5 in my age group, 134 out of 162 women and ahead of 20 men

We took my son back to boarding school yesterday, and that was harder than I had expected. Even though last year went well for him, it is still hard to let him go off into a world that I don't know to grow away from us. We stopped on the way home to pick up my race packet and to go out to dinner to celebrate my husband's 61st birthday. We weren't out late, but I didn't have much time to get myself organized. Driving to the race I worried I might have forgotten something, but I hadn't.

This morning my daughter and I got up at 5 am--the race start was at 7 so we were supposed to be there at 6 am (I was actually aiming for 6:15). We got there in good time and partly because the parking was disorganized we got a good space. I got my chip and got marked and set up in transition, and still had 20 minutes or so before the race meeting. After the meeting they were starting people every 10 seconds--I had submitted a swim time of 11 minutes and so my start time wasn't until 8:06 am. They did say athletes would be allowed to enter transition through the side gate after the race started, but asked people to avoid that if possible. This is a problem for me because I am very nearsighted (sphere and cylinder add up to worse than -10). I do have prescription swim goggles, but was I going to sit around wearing them for over an hour until my start time? I decided that I would.

Last year I didn't plan to do this race because I was intimidated by a pool swim, since I didn't know how to do flip turns (actually I wouldn't have been able to do it because I was injured). So it was very interesting to watch the other swimmers and discover than only perhaps the 100 fastest people did flip turns, almost everyone else stopped and stuck their head up and either pushed off from the wall under the rope or went under the rope and then pushed off. I said I would try flip turns and if they didn't work I would go under the rope and then push off.

The starting line moved efficiently--they put 8 or 10 people in the water waiting their turn. There was supposed to be a one minute break and then one person ahead of me, but that person didn't show up. There were three late starters who thought they were going ahead of me during the break but they only let one go so they called me quickly. I found myself pretty out of breath so I didn't try the flip turns. Most of the time the swimming was fairly clear but we did have one big backup--my daughter said there were 11 swimmers in my lane at that point. I went under the rope and two people just ahead of me were on the wall--I don't know why they didn't push off in the left side of the lane but they were blocking my push off. I'm actually happy with my swim time--the fastest I swam it in practice was 11:26 and the swim time includes the run out of the building and down the hill to transition. Both my daughter and I forgot to start our watches.

I had worried about the rough surface for the run to transition, but it was fine. I had a bit of a hard time putting on my shirt. I'm still looking for a sleeveless top that won't chafe, in which case I will swim in it. So far the only top that works to keep me from chafing under the arms is a short sleeved top with seamless mesh underarms, which doesn't seem good for swimming so I swim in my sports bra.

The bike was fun. It was rolling except for a flat stretch at the end, but no seriously hard hills. I felt I was going fast, and indeed 16.3 mph is my fastest average not on a flat course. I passed 4 or 5 people, mostly on mountain bikes, and the fast novices who started behind me didn't pass me until the later part of the course. I even repassed one who was on a mountain bike--he was faster than I was when it was a matter of power but I could pass him on the downhill where I had a big aerodynamic advantage in the drops.

T2 was uneventful. I finished my 24 oz. of water, and I had taken two salt capsules and eaten most of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the bike.

The run was a two lap course up and down and up and down short hills. I quickly started walking the steepest uphills, but I felt I kept up my pace well the rest of the time. I was slower than I thought--my goal is to be close to 10 minute miles and I averaged just over 11. I did also walk the water stops except I skipped the last one entirely, they had 4 water stops in a 5K!. It didn't feel as hot as my last race--the weather for Greenville says 83 at 11 am. I tripped on a rock on the dirt road part of the course, but didn't go down. I was watching the people who passed me, and they were mostly novices.

Then maybe a quarter of a mile from the finish I was passed by a woman in my age group. I didn't think about having started at different times, so I thought we were racing for a place, even if it was last in the age group. I was able to keep on her shoulder, but then when we got to the finish chute she speeded up more than I did and I could't pass her. It meant I gave my all at the end, and that felt good.

My daughter and I didn't stay for the awards, as I had agreed to be a workshop leader for a freshman computer orientation session at 1 pm. But I was very impressed by the woman below, who won her age group with a time of 2:08. Age: 81.

Friday, August 18, 2006


I am trying to schedule school visits with my daughter and the fall is impossible.
Sept. 9 I have a department retreat.

Sept. 17 I'm thinking I will do the Hartsville triathlon after all.

Sept. 22-23 we had tentatively planned for my son to come home from boarding school.

Sept. 29-Oct. 1 would be a possible weekend to do a school trip. If not, there is a retreat at the convent I want to go to.

Oct. 5-8 is my husband's fall break and he is taking my daughter on a school trip. I get to do Ride for the Raptors.

Oct. 11-15 I have a professional conference--I am tentatively planning to come home in time to go to the end of the season triathlon banquet Sat. night.

Oct. 19-22 is a definite school visit weekend because it is my daughter's fall break.

Oct. 27-29 is my son's family weekend.

Nov. 2-5 I have a professional conference and then my Fall Break is the Monday-Tuesday after I get back. Maybe I should skip that conference this year.

Nov. 11 My daughter takes the SSAT. We could possibly take a Sunday-Monday school trip. That is a fairly good time for me to miss a day of class.

My son gets out Nov. 17, but otherwise that weekend is free. I couldn't take Monday off but could possibly take Friday off for a school visit, but it would be awkward.

Nov. 23 is Thanksgiving and we are going to St. Christophers.

Dec. 2-3 is a possible weekend for a school trip, though not the best time for me to miss a class

Dec. 11 is a day I could do a visit without missing class.
And I have to decide by Tuesday on at least some of the options so as to set up my course calendar appropriately.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

minor frustrations

My son's list of school supplies included a "geometer". Not only did the manager of my local Staples not know what that was, but a web search turned up only that a geometer is a mathematician who specializes in geometry. I sent an email and it turns out that what they had in mind is more properly called a geometry template and they sell the right one at the school bookstore. Last year I was immensely frustrated by the lists they sent out of what students need--they aren't much better this year but I know most of the secrets.

I'm looking forward to the race I am doing this Sunday, but it will be the first time I have done a triathlon with a pool swim. That might sound easy because a pool is where I do almost all of my swim practicing. But the swim instructions say:
Participants will navigate the course in a zig-zag pattern. This is an eight-lane 50-meter pool. All participants will begin in the lane closest to the diving well. Participants will then swim down this lane and under the lane rope into lane 2 and proceed to swim down lane 2 until hitting the wall. Then under the lane rope into lane 3. This procedure is continued until the participant has reached lane 8. A SIMPLE RULE OF THUMB HERE: EACH TIME YOU HIT A WALL YOU SHOULD GO UNDER THE LANE ROPE INTO THE NEXT LANE.
I tried that for the first time yesterday, and doing a flip turn that takes you under the lane rope is not easy. The other part of the swim that will be new is a 50 meter pool--I don't remember when I have ever swum laps in a 50 meter (or yard) pool.

I sent our four new faculty members the link to the university's rules for syllabi. No one else had given them that information. There isn't anything terribly crucial there, but I am someone who feels safer if I know I am following the rules so it seems to me such an important thing for new people to have.

I got the evaluations from my online students and I am fairly pleased. A good number were unhappy with having to do a semester's worth of work in five weeks. Guess what--that is what you have to do to get a semester's worth of credit. One student wrote: "I'm not sure I have ever read 3 books in a month in my life."

Sunday, August 13, 2006

catching my breath

I'm still getting used to not having constant email from students to deal with. Last week because of traveling and grading I trained less than 5 hours, instead of my usual 10-12 hours. I think the break was good for me--this morning I did a fairly hilly almost 28 mile ride (a variation of this without the second loop) in just under two hours. It is a ride I do fairly often and my average time for that route is about 2 hours and 20 minutes. I hope that is a good sign for the Greenville triathlon next weekend, but the cool weather today isn't likely to last.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

online teaching

Grades were due yesterday at 9 am for the online course I was teaching. I fell behind because of the trip to Massachusetts, so Wednesday and Thursday I had an awful lot of grading to do.

The grades in the course turned out to be higher than usual when I teach that course in the classroom. I had fewer freshmen, and I dropped several students who weren't handing in assignments. I also had more assignments where students got full credit if they did the assignment, which helps their average (and was necessary to keep the grading burden halfway sane--I had 30 students in a 5 week summer course). When I teach that class in the classroom I do in-class tests, and for the online course the tests were obviously takehome and didn't have a time limit. But when I graded those tests it seemed to me that more students got the essential idea I wanted them to get about the relationship between technology and society better than usual in that course. My guess is that the online students approached the tests more seriously than the regular students do, feeling that that was all there was. I used a new third book that presented the ideas particularly clearly, but overall I can't imagine that students got as much as they would in the classroom. So it is interesting that they did better.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

burial of the ashes

Saturday, August 05, 2006

memorial party

The memorial party for my father went well--everyone kept saying how much he would have loved it. A strange event to me.

A lot of people told memories of him, particularly nephews and other men of my sisters' ages for whom he had been an important influence.

I'm mostly just tired.

Cape Cod

We got to Chatham about 5:30 Friday night, will leave to fly home Monday morning. Tonight at 5 there is a memorial cocktail party for my father, probably about 150 people. This is what he wanted. Last night about 25 of my mother's family gathered (her generation and my generation only, not kids). Tomorrow after the internment of the ashes there will be an even larger gathering of my father's family to celebrate his sister's 80th birthday. Too many people, too much social stuff for my taste. The house is full (9 adults and 8 kids in the big house) and lots more people coming in and out. Pictures coming later.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


We hiked up to Long Rock after dinner:

In this hot weather the Blue Ridge more than deserves its name:

June totals:
swim 16:35
bike 330 miles in 27:01
run 54 miles in 12:07

another Kanuga bike route

I've Google pedometered this one, as it was hard to follow the maps I was using. I finally figured out how to come out from Hendersonville on the less trafficky Old Kanuga Road. I knew I was going up a mountain at the beginning of my route--any road around here named xx mountain road is a pretty sure bet. I hoped Googe pedometer would do cumulative vertical gain, but it only does a profile, which shows a climb of 670 feet in about 3 miles. A couple of short steep sections, but the climb wasn't too nonstop.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Kanuga Bike Routes

I studied state bicycle maps for Transylvania County to find a longer route from Kanuga, which I did yesterday. I turned off Crab Creek Road on Dupont Road down to 276, then Island Ford Road to Brevard, then back on Old Hendersonville to Everett to Talley Road and back to Kanuga by the Apple Festival Challenge route. I went out with lot less information than I had for my usual routes, which are from the Apple Festival rides. I headed out Dupont Road which becomes Staton Rd, and it was up one 1.5 mile hill after another (with some downhill in between). And it was right after lunch and hot. I almost took a short way back, which probably would have been even more mountainous. After I decided not to turn the short way I stopped at a small store and asked, and I was told the rest of the way to Brevard was flat or downhill. And it was. I stopped in Brevard and had a milkshake at the soda fountain. I filled up one water bottle there, should have filled up both. But it did get cooler and the stretch along the river was particularly pretty. The whole thing was almost 49 miles in just under 4 hours.

I'm very happy to be on vacation at Kanuga able to swim and run and bike--last summer I had injured my shoulder and could only hike. I can now do the 660 meter (round trip) swim across the lake in 20 minutes--two years ago, before I joined the swim team, it took me over 30.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

last swim practice

Coach Jimmy gave me a superfish cap!

He gives them to kids for meeting a goal. He gave it to me as a general congratulations on how far I've come, but I was very happy today to do two 50 yards freestyle each under a minute. In fact the first one was 54.6 seconds and the second one was 56.9. We did a set of 75s--first and last 25 work on stroke count (swimming the length of the pool with relatively few strokes) and then middle 25 swim fast trying to keep the same stroke count. Then we did 4 50s fast, with several minutes of rest in between. I did one free, the fastest one, then one fly, which was 1:20something because I run out of breath after about 35 yards, another free, and then one backstroke in 1:04, which I was happy with because I thought my backstroke was really slow.

The swim team goes on vacation now for nearly a month, and I am sad to hear our coach may not be back in the fall. I wrote an email about him that said in part:
I came to this team a year and a half ago, having decided I wanted to do the Clemson triathlon. I was 49 years old and had never been on a swim team of any sort. In fact, I had hardly even swum laps in a pool--I had swim lessons as a child but they and almost all my subsequent experience were in open water. It was a very hard thing to do, to show up to a coached workout knowing that I really didn't know what I was doing, either in technique or etiquette. Jimmy has taught me and pushed me along, without ever once making me feel I didn't belong. I dreaded for almost a year when was he going to have us work on flip turns, and the first day he did I thought I would never be able to do it, but very quickly I was proud of myself that I could. This year I'm doing more and longer triathlons and very excited about the progress I have made.

I've thought a lot about a college coach (women's sailing team) who was an important reassuring figure in my life. I heard a phrase once that captured what I felt--that a good coach gives unconditional positive regard beneath the teaching and pushing. There aren't very many people who can do that, and in his quiet way Jimmy is one of them. That is a gift to me, and it must be an even more important to the kids on the team.
I'm grateful.

Monday, July 24, 2006


We've been having widely scattered thunderstorms that never got to us, so I got in the habit of ignoring clouds. But Saturday morning my three hour bike ride included almost an hour of light rain. My new Terry mesh tank was great for hot wet weather--didn't absorb water. Sunday I tried to go out on my bike in the morning but I turned around when it started raining heavily when I had gone less than a mile. I did get a good ride in in the evening. This evening it has rained hard here. The water of the lake out our window is orange with mud. We need the rain, unlike the northeast we are near drought--only 18 inches of rain so far this year, where normal is over 29 inches.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I'm here

I'm just busy teaching my first online course, so I don't feel like getting on the computer in my free time. I've dropped several students who didn't understand that an internet course was a real course and they were expected to work as hard as in a regular course and follow the rules. I'm working them hard. But I'm pleased by the quality of the work they are doing.

Yesterday at masters swim practice I swam 450 yards for time, as I had had to send in a time for 400 meters for a triathlon with a pool swim I am doing in August. I sent in 11 minutes then hoped that was too conservative. But yesterday I did the 450 yards in 11:26, which translates to something like 11:16 for the 400 meters (long course). The coach timed splits and my first 100 and last 50 were good, but my second 100 was a lot slower than the first. I was disappointed, but it gives me a much better idea of what to work on in pacing myself. What I won't have done before is a zigzag swim, or even have swum before in a 50 meter pool.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Race Report: Tri the Pee Dee

Short version:
Swim 700 meters: 21:06
T1: 2:16
Bike 25K 58:04 (averaged 16 mph)
T2: 1:06
Run 5K: 34:11
Overall: 1:56:42
61 out of 70 among women (and ahead of 4 men)
6 out of 7 in my age group

Long version:
Since my car was still in the shop Friday morning, my daughter and I set out in my husband's car for a drive of about 200 miles. We hit Friday afternoon traffic and I decided to take back roads and cut a corner--the back roads turned out to be very pleasant. We checked into our hotel and then visited the race site and drove part of the bike course until we realized we were running out of time for packet pickup and headed on to do that. I did at least learn of the big flaw in the bike course--one mile of dirt road at the beginning and end with a lot of loose sand. The race web site mentioned a dirt road, but said "The road will be scraped and will ride much like a concrete road; however, this section of roadway may have a few areas of sand." It was much worse than that.

I woke up a bit early, but had a fairly good night's sleep. I had a high-fat (like greek) yogurt and a whole-grain granola bar for breakfast. We got to the race course uneventfully and got set up. I rode a little bit of the bike course to check out my bike (in my Escort stationwagon I don't have to take the front wheel off, in my husband's minivan I do) and the road, which was pretty scary. I did a swim warmup--the water was warm but reasonably clear. The air temperature was 78 F at 8 am start time, according to records for a nearby town, 88 by 11 am.

The swim course was clockwise around the edge of a pond built for waterskiing. I thought I had a strong swim--felt comfortable the whole way and kept up my effort. But my time was slower (looking at watch times) than at Clemson, where I had trouble settling down into a smooth swim. Does a wetsuit make that much difference? Or did I swim faster when air and water were much cooler?

The first and last mile of the bike on the sand road were very slow and scary. Last year I wiped out on the bike and separated my shoulder in a race this time of year, and I really don't want to get injured this year. The rest of the course was good roads and almost completely flat--the race director said one hill with a vertical rise of five feet and he was exaggerating only a little. I thought I pushed it hard. I passed four or five people, including one woman in my age group, and was passed by three or four men. I was able to keep two who passed me in sight most of the way. I had forgotten my GPS, so I don't have any further information, but it sure felt fast. I drank almost my whole 22 oz. water bottle and ate my usual peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I took two electrolyte capsules.

The run was three times around the waterskiing pond. It was pretty, but the path had some soft sand and it seemed long to do it three times. I was breathing pretty hard almost the whole time so I thought I was keeping up my speed pretty well, but it was hot. The last quarter mile I realized the woman I had passed on the bike was going to try to pass me, and I speeded up. I guess I hadn't been making an all-out effort, because I definitely did have more to give and I was able to hold her off.

Apparently I twist my body too much when I am really trying to run fast. I was happy and very spent at the finish. The sad thing is that the other woman's timing chip apparently didn't work, and her results are posted as if she didn't finish.

I'm happy with the race--while I was a little disappointed with my times, it was most exciting experience I've had of racing against someone else.

We stayed for the awards ceremony and then headed home with a stop in Columbia. The food served after the race was pasta salad and I didn't want that many carbs and didn't feel hungry, but then a couple of hours after the race I was starving and mid-afternoon too. Mid-afternoon we stopped and were lucky enough to find a good icecream place: the best icecream in this region is a chain called Marble Slab and it now has an imitator called Cold Stone. The traffic was not slow but it was heavy enough to take extra attention, and I got home very tired.

I've started a table of comparative results, an Excel file you can open here Course lengths are so unreliable I don't know how much it is worth, but I can see progress at least.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

off to a race

After driving much longer than I expected to Hartsville last year I said I didn't want to do any races that far away. But once my first Olympic distance race went well I wanted to sign up for another in the fall, and that one is associated with the end-of-the-season banquet and awards ceremony for the Palmetto State Triathlon Series. I looked up the series information, and you need to do 5 races to be eligible for series awards. Are there going to be more than 3 women in the 50 to 54 year old age group who do 5 or more races in the series? Doing 5 races did require doing one more distant one, and I picked this one. It should be fun to do a flat course. I don't know if I can beat my Clemson time--the swim is a little shorter but the bike is 15 1/2 miles instead of 11 miles.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

car trouble

I decided today to spend over $600 on repairs to my car--timing belt and water pump. That wasn't an obvious decision because the car is a 1998 Ford Escort station wagon with 150,000 miles on it. This was the first time it has quit on me on the road. My previous problems with it have been less dramatic and have been appropriate. When I replaced the battery last year I realized it had its original battery--I figured it deserved a new battery. I suppose timing belt and water pump are also things that wear out before the car.

The dealer was slow to diagnose it, so I am going to end up at least 3 full days without a car. I've been getting everywhere I need to go by bicycle (except 5:30 am swimming), and enjoying it even in this hot weather (high today was 96). I have a steep hill out of my driveway but the rest of the way to school is relatively flat. Maybe I will keep up using the bicycle more. I got a rack installed on my old mountain bike a couple of months ago and it works just right to carry my book bag. My office is only about a mile away--I haven't gotten into walking or bicycling before only because I almost always have to drop off or pick up a kid before or after I go to my office. But I could bicycle home and get my car, and it strikes me now as such an easy way to burn a few extra calories.

Monday, July 10, 2006

back from Concord

The Thoreau Society Annual Gathering went well. The only thing that freaked me out a little was that most of the sessions I attended, including the one I spoke in, were in the main hall of the Masonic Temple. We had a table and lecture set up on the floor in front of the platform, but my picture captures only some of the symbols of the platform:

My pictures came out much too dark--it isn't even worth trying to put into viewable form my picture of the banner on the other wall, which says: "Chartered June 16, 1797 by Paul Revere." There were lit stars in a blue panel on the ceiling.

My session went very well--generated a lively discussion. I started with some points from the conversation between history of technology and environmental history:
If wilderness is nature untouched by human hands then should we manage it?
The development of technology has changed our experience of wilderness.
Therefore, technology and wilderness are not simply opposites.
Our attitude towards wilderness has changed over time and Thoreau played a key role in that change.
Is Thoreau against:
--Technological progress?
--Unrestrained industrial capitalism?
--The idea that increasing civilization means conquering nature
If we follow Thoreau’s vision of a balance between wilderness and civilization in which one informs the other, where does technology fit in that?
Then I used quotes from my students to stimulate discussion. The organization is a mix of academics from a wide range of fields, high school teachers, and enthusiasts.

The Thoreau Society is very proud to have completed a project to make a DVD based on Thoreau's ideas intended to encourage high school students to reflect on their lives. There is more information at a web site called Life with Principle. We saw several chapters of it and my daughter thought it was great. It was not as historical as I had hoped--I'm not sure about using the environmental chapter in my class.

mousetrap picture

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

off to Concord

I wasn't looking forward to the 4th of July, but we had a regular swim practice (at 5:30 am!) and then I did a 6 mile run (slowly). When I got home it was 85 degrees and I was tired of the heat, but we went on a family expedition picking blueberries and it felt pleasant compared to running in the heat. I made low sugar blueberry jam using Ball Fruit Jell no-sugar-needed pectin. Actually I did use some sugar--one and a half cups for 5 cups of crushed fruit plus a cup of blueberry-apple juice. The taste is quite promising but I don't know yet if it will set.

I did some final preparation on my workshop for the Thoreau Society Annual Gathering. It is going to be a hectic trip--a full program and I also need to keep track of an online course I am teaching starting Friday and want to run and bike and get in a swim across Walden pond with the Boston Triathlon Team.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

a quiet weekend at home

I'm so glad just to be home for an entire weekend, for the first time since May 13 (and that was a race weekend, it was just that the race was here). Next weekend my daughter and I will be at the Annual Gathering of the Thoreau Society and the following weekend I am doing a race a long drive away (we will stay over one night). I got in a long bike ride yesterday morning early and a run (4.25 miles at an 11:32 pace) this morning, and now I'm going to go swim in the pool because it is usually uncrowded when it first opens at 1 pm on Sundays.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

monthly totals

swim: 12 swims totaling 11 hrs. 55 min.
bike: 12 rides totaling 273 miles in 21 hours 40 min. for an average speed of 12.6 mph
run: 11 runs totaling 48 miles in 10 hrs. 36 min. for an average pace of 13:20
total: 35 workouts for the month in a time of 44 hours 11 min.

Most important was a big goal accomplished: my first international distance triathlon. I'm next signed up for a couple of sprints in July and August so I should work on speed, but it is hard in the heat.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

goings on in the Episcopal church

The diocese of South Carolina, along with two other Episcopal dioceses, today asked Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to assign them under some other authority than the recently elected presiding bishop. I am very thankful I am in the diocese of Upper South Carolina, not the diocese of South Carolina. I had heard several years ago that the diocese of South Carolina was ready to jump ship, but then I heard that it wasn't really going to happen because then they would lose their retirement benefits. The church buildings belong to the diocese, not to the individual churches, which gives individual churches an incentive not to leave, but for a whole diocese to leave gets around that. I wonder what they are hoping to do about their retirement benefits.

Our bishop in upper South Carolina has done a good job of trying to keep everyone together--his classic statement after Gene Robinson was confirmed as bishop was that it is going to take us a hundred years before we know what the right answer is. He's taking the same kind of approach now, and while I would wish he had voted differently, this is South Carolina and we easily could have someone a whole lot worse.

There is a diocesean meeting Saturday at 10 am at Christ Church in Greenville and I thought for a while today maybe I ought to go. I've been avoiding the issue, feeling that if I speak my views I will do more harm than good because what is needed is moderation, not impassioned attacks on those who are fighting against where the church is going. What I would want to say, what struck me most strongly about Gene Robinson (and can be said also about the new presiding bishop), is that the church cannot afford to reject the leaders that God is raising up. What has really irked me is that those who are leaving the Episcopal church make it sound like it is all about ordaining gays, when in fact many of them reject the ordination of women as well.

I don't get involved in politics here, except sometimes to work for a candidate for city council--it is just too depressing. I use all my strength to be moderate with my students, knowing that if I can do the most good by leading them a few steps, not by spouting a radical view they will reject. I don't think I can bear to listen to those who oppose the national leadership at the diocesean meeting.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

home again

To find no telephone service. The city is replacing the sewer line that runs through our back yard, so our back yard (viewed from our second story porch) looks like:

Our back yard is the location of the transition between deep pipe that they replace by pipe-bursting (digging underground) and a shallower section that will be replaced via an open trench. They are currently working on another deep section and then will come back and do the open trench work. So our house is a major work area and staging area: our front yard at the moment (today is Sunday) looks like:

The telephone repairman is here and says that the sewer workers must have cut the telephone wire. They've already cut the wire connecting our satellite TV antenna to the house at least twice. Our kids discovered they could get a weak wireless internet signal from the next-door neighbor's.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

pictures from the rail trail

Today I rode highway 28 to Orleans

and then the rail trail back to Chatham
There are only a few tunnels and bridges on the trail

mostly stop signs for road crossings. The trail runs not along the coast but inland through the woods, but there are several ponds

and cranberry bogs

The Harwich section runs near downtown Harwich along a graveyard

but the rest is woods

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Today our boat was fixed and the sun was out and we hit the tide just right to walk on the sandbars outside of Stage Harbor.

Not as much sea life, but the sandbars were beautiful. And we did catch a particularly active hermit crab:

On the way home we saw a pair of osprey that are apparently trying to nest just past our next door neighbor:

I got to forget for most of the day that it was my birthday.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

riding the rail trail

The through roads on Cape Cod tend to be pretty trafficky even this time of year, so I only ride my bike on roads such as Rte. 28 from Chatham to Orleans if I get out early. Today it rained in the morning and I decided to go for a bike ride after lunch, so I took the rail trail shown in purple on the map below.

The Harwich extension now goes all the way to Chatham, so I started at our house about two miles from the Chatham end of the trail. I rode to the end in Welfleet and back, for 56.7 miles round trip. Except for a few rough sections of trail, particularly the oldest section of the trail in Nickerson State Park, it is easy riding, and lovely to be away from roads entirely. It isn't that fast, because one has to stop a lot for road crossings and slow down for little kids on bikes and dog walkers, but it is mostly flat.

It was grey and foggy when I left Chatham, but once I got to Brewster it was sunny, not a cloud in the sky. When I got back to about the same place it turned grey and foggy, and I thought uh-oh, here come those predicted late afternoon thunderstorms. Then I remembered how the weather can behave in Chatham--turns out it was grey and foggy all afternoon in Chatham, even when it was sunny in Orleans 10 miles away. There used to be a weather station on Morris Island and it was supposedly the foggiest place on the east coast.

The bike I ride here is a 1970s 10 speed:

It wasn't a fancy bike to start with, but it has some retro charm, particularly as I don't mind friction shifters, having used them when I rode a lot in college. And it has been a long time since there were Peugeot bikes sold in the United States that said: