Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Life is all about pacing isn't it. A quote i've heard often now i've become a 1/2 marathon runner (insert big grin here) is that "life is a marathon, not a sprint". How true is that.

I've been keeping up with the running, pretty well (up until my armpit thing), and i've found that I really have no clue how to pace. Just before I went to Canada I decided to purchase this doodad, it's a Nike+ sensor - basically an accelerometer that tells you how far and fast you are going. In theory you purchase an expensive pair of Nikes to put the sensor in (in reality you buy a rip off case to attach it to your laces) and then you wear the wrist band and off you go. As well as it telling you what you're doing on the go, you download it to scrutinize after too and it keeps a record of your runs online to compare to. Although more than a little skeptical at first, I now adore this apparatus and won't run without it. Using this wee gadget I can now actually pace myself properly, and for the first time while I was away actually ran a 7 miler without walking - a first. AND, my overall time was by far a personal best. My regular 5 mile runs were slashed by 15 minutes (from an hour to 45 mins) just by using this gadget to keep me slow and steady, rather than going too fast and having to walk more.

Pacing my runs made me FEEL BETTER too (and no sore shins!), and unlike through my 1/2 marathon training, I actually felt like I could bounce out the next day and do another run!

If only there was a Nike+ sensor for life too. We had the most depressing faculty meeting yesterday. Cuts are still happening around the board, and now we're down to the wire. The Oceanography department has to cut nearly $200,000 from our budget by the end of the year, and, unknown to me until now, it's likely to be much worse next year. We were given a few choices - all permanent faculty take a 5% pay cut, lose our Teaching Assistantships (which many graduate students rely on for salary to get them through graduate school), lose courses (including my undergrad course i've been spending oodles of time on preparing), lose two admin assistants who actually know what they're doing (our two awful admins are employed by the state, so, as much as all want to (and that was brought up in the meeting) we can't fire them, only contract employees), or lose five non-permanent research and teaching positions (again, not me, as i'm 100% funded off of research grants I revolve rather than having a contract they can terminate). Decision, or an alternative plan, has to be made in the coming weeks.

With a meeting like that it only felt like a minor victory that my position is not on the block. Amazingly most people seemed to think losing the Teaching Assistantships are the way to go, yet with one of my PhD students relying on one of those to keep him in graduate school this year, I don't feel this is an option we should consider. How many students will we lose? How many students will we fail to attract if we can't offer TAs? Same with getting rid of courses - the undergrad course I am part of is the largest course we offer - over 400 students from all disciplines take that course each semester, how is it going to look to the wider university community if we drop that course? Will the department still function with this loss of 'young blood'?

And the bigger part of this - pacing. If things are really looking as bad for next year as it seems, we need to pace our response, otherwise there will be nothing left to give next year when times will truly be tough. Nothing except all our jobs that is, like other Oceanography departments around the USA.


nicola said...

awesome, rhian. i love that quote. i also like the qoute "life isn't a dress rehearsal."
now, if only i could get motivated by you.
is your abcess gone? they hurt, huh?

bsa said...

This is a wonderful post on several levels. I love your extended version of pacing. I anguish with you about university budgets, agree with you on the TA positions and the undergrad course (exposes many to the field). Where are we as a people if we can't, don't, won't educate well our young?

RGW said...

Abcesses are gone (phew!) and my lymph nodes are going down in size (double phew) - have managed to get out for 2 runs so far, but managed to pull my hip muscle! That's what a) only running on the flat for a month; and b) not running for 2 weeks will do to you! I just found out my friend Jenny is going to run the 5K with me, so better get my running shoes on - now she's a full marathon runner!