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.