What I’ve been up to: By the Numbers.

I must apologize for not blogging since August 2nd.  I haven’t really been in “writing” mode for various reasons.  I’ll try to post more often. (I promise I have a “food” post in the works as we speak.) Here’s a numerical run-down of what I’ve been up to since I last posted:

  • Sweaters finished: 1
  • Socks finished: 0
  • Additional knitting projects started: 2 (a scarf, and mom’s Christmas present)
  • Graded grad school courses taken: 3
  • A’s received: 3
  • Miles ridden: 424.69
  • Trips to emergency room resulting in missed final exam: 1

And in more detail:

Cycling: I rode 219.76 miles between August 4th and August 28th.  I managed to break my 40-mile mental barrier by riding 44 miles (and spending the last 10 desperately looking for a restroom) on the 11th.  I checked out a new trail, and it turns out I still suck at climbing hills.  I found that I’m finally able to eat while riding and can reach down and grab my water bottle, though actually being able to drink from it and put it back is still beyond me.

Then I moved. Being unfamiliar with the area, my riding was somewhat curtailed, and I’d ride loops (1.5 miles each) around the neighborhood.  This got boring very quickly.    I finally found the bike trail (and it is lovely! Lovely smooth pavement!), but could not make myself get out there to any significant extent.  My combined total for September and October was 62.93 miles.  Yikes.  For some reason (probably the unseasonably nice weather and approaching finals), I managed to get myself into gear in November.  I started the month (quite by accident) by riding 46 miles…after not putting in any significant time on the bike for two months.  I’m not sure how I made it back from Somewhere South of Yellow Springs, OH, but I’m pretty sure I have never been happier to see a McDonald’s.

Graduate school: I must say, I appreciate the ratio of effort to outcome at this new place.  In many ways, despite being graduate school, I don’t feel it’s that much harder than undergrad.  The evening classes, however, are horrible.  The quarter system was a bit of a shock–I’m used to semesters.  The quarter system means more work when classes are in session, but you get longer breaks.  Being a grad student, though, I don’t get a break, because I’m supposed to be in the lab.  My new advisor, however, is pretty laid back about when we come in.  We’re actually mostly cleaning the lab right now.  (Actually, my new advisor is pretty awesome all around…much better than my last stint in a lab.)

The intersection of grad school and cycling: Cycling is the best stress relief I have ever encountered.  It requires you to focus on the immediate: The car at the intersection ahead, the stick in the road, what gear you need to be in to take on that hill.  Your concentration needs to shift outward, rather than on whatever thoughts have been crowding your head.  When there aren’t cars or sticks or hills (or even when there are), the endorphin release and the sun on your skin do wonders for your mood–not to mention the self-esteem boost from completing a hard ride.

It was with this last goal in mind–the self-esteem boost–that I went out on a reasonably warm, but cloudy and very windy Sunday before my one written final.  I sprinted between windbreaks (in the form of tree-lined sections), spending much of my time in a high gear to feel stable in crosswinds.  Apparently, this resulted in damaging an abdominal muscle.  I rolled over Tuesday morning (exam day) and must have damaged it further, because I ended up spending two hours in horrible pain, and another five in the emergency room waiting for the doctors to tell me whether or not I had gallstones.  I came back with a splitting headache, and in no fit state to take the final.

The professor was very good about it (even if he DID tell the whole class that I was in the ER). (It was funny and sweet how concerned most of the department was…since everyone seemed to know about it!)  I took the exam that Friday, and everything was good.  Straight A’s.

It turns out I re-strained it (or something) on a post-Thanksgiving ride.  This means I’m off the outside bike and will have to put the bike on the trainer for the time being.  Just as well–for the month of December I’m participating in an indoor cycling challenge. My goal is ten hours of trainer time.  Much of that will be gentle spinning or one-legged drills to strengthen my left leg (as well as to spare the injured muscle on my right side).

Will my attention span (and a certain muscle) let me get to that goal?  Only time shall tell…

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