Fargo Marathon – 10k redux May 19, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in Fargo, running.
Tags: Fargo marathon, running
As several of you know, I had been training to attempt my first half-marathon this spring. Unfortunately, sometime in February, I ended up with some nasty shin splints that took forever to heal. At first, I didn’t think I’d be able to run at all, but things improved enough so that I had enough time to get ready for the 10k. However, I wasn’t expecting much. My legs still hurt off and on after running. I also started a new training program where I use timed walking and running intervals. Supposedly the walking periods help your body rest to improve your endurance. However, my training rates indicated I probably wasn’t going to be much faster than the previous year when I’d run the whole thing. Running the whole thing had improved my time 20 minutes from the previous year when I walked the entire distance.
Saturday morning was the big day, and it was actually a nice morning. It was overcast, cool, and although it was raining when I arrived, it stopped (mostly) shortly after the race began. I have a Garmin Forerunner 110, so I was able to track my progress during the race. I noticed a couple times that my running pace seemed faster than I expected.
When I finished, I was rather shocked. I managed to shave 14 minutes and 13 seconds from last year’s time. My average speed was 4.3 mph, but my peak speed was 6.5 mph. My pace this year was 2 min/mi faster than last year’s pace. So despite my misgivings going in, it’s quite apparent that I’ve improved quite a bit in the past year.
Of course, the adrenaline helps, too.
My big quandry now is to decide whether to try to run the 10k again next year and attempt to further improve my time or to try again at the half marathon. I have a whole year to decide, though. I just I hope I’ll see Elvis again next year.
Stupid school year August 20, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in education, Fargo, personal, teaching.
Tags: celiacs, health, running, school, teaching
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I may be in the minority, but I really, really hate the fact that school starts here this week. I’m of the opinion that school should not start before Labor Day and should not go past Memorial Day.
Part of me would like to say that this dampens my productivity, but I’m not entirely convinced of that. I think it just lowers my stress-level to not have to worry about running kids around while teaching and trying to get some research done. I just hate being tired all the time.
Another reason I’m tired is that I’m still not running. I apparently had tendonitis in my foot, and most likely there was no sprain. I’m getting lots of ultrasound and massage treatment. It seems to have improved a lot, and in a couple weeks, I’ll have some new custom orthotics for my running shoes. Then I’ll get to start running again. This is good because aside from helping me from feeling so run down all the time, it does a lot to keep my mood up. I’ve been grumpy for about two months now.
I’m also getting used to being gluten free. It’s not all that bad, but I still can’t eat things with lots of fructose or lactose. Those problems should hopefully disappear as my insides heal up. I just wish I weren’t so hungry all the time.
But in the meantime, I better get finished with tomorrow’s class prep.
Seven-month running update: The Fargo Marathon! May 19, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in Fargo, older son, personal.
Tags: asthma, exercise, Fargo marathon, health, runners, running
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Seven months ago, I decided I was going to see if I could run the full 10k at the Fargo Marathon. I’ll jump to the important part first: I ran the whole 10k and never fell back to walking. In fact, I must’ve had some major runner’s high because when we got to the ramp going down into the Fargodome, I took off at the fastest sprint I could manage. In retrospect, that was not the brightest idea (especially since I’d had to use my asthma inhaler during the run), but I was incredibly excited and couldn’t help myself. Aside from that, I could squeak past 3-4 more people.
The older boy and I met my friend Kari and her husband at the starting line. They were gone pretty quickly (except that Kari’s pedometer attempted to bail on her, so she had to come back briefly and retrieve it). There were a lot of fun things along the course, including an Elvis impersonator and this guy, who cleverly located himself at about the 5 mile marker:
Earlier in the week, they were saying it was going to be unseasonably hot. This morning, it was rather cool but there were thunderstorms. Fortunately, they finished up just as we were leaving for the race, so it was cool and a bit damp outside. The only major issue was the last half mile or so where we were out of the protection of trees and dealing with some gusty wind.
I managed to improve my time from last year by 22 minutes. I also went from one of the last 10 finishers to having about 200 people behind me. (I also started in the middle of the pack and so had nearly half of the participants in the race pass me.) So, I definitely improved. I’m already excited about doing it again next year. First, however, I have a triathlon in mid-August…so I need to start swimming and riding bike.
A letter to the editors May 9, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in Fargo, feminism, societal commentary.
Tags: forum, letter to the editor, newspaper, patriarchy, sexism, sexist comments, stupid
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This weekend, I saw a letter to the editors that was basically a “women should be kept in their place” sort of deal with a twist. Apparently when women don’t stay barefoot in the kitchen, they are becoming tools to evil men in the world who are attempting to overthrow the traditional family.
When I get irritated with these things, sometimes I will sit down and write out a letter to burn off steam. Usually, I don’t send these letters out, but this time I did. And here it is, if you care to read it. I realize it will not do anything to sway the original letter writer, but it sure made me feel better.
The Brain Drain March 22, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in education, Fargo, grad school, research, science, societal commentary.
Tags: fargo, higher education, north dakota, politics, universities
Yesterday, I was getting into my car when I noticed something on my windshield.
My neighbor had seen the article about me in yesterday’s paper and left me a message about it. In fact, it hit three of major newspapers in the state. (If you care to read it, one copy is located here.)
When I was asked by the public relations person at NDSU if she could feature my research as part of an effort to promote the supercomputing facilities on campus, I was certainly glad to do so. First, from a simply pragmatic point of view, it’s not a good idea to bite the hand that feeds you. (Although, to be honest, they have a lot of other projects they could’ve featured.) Second, and more important in my mind, is that this type of thing counters some of the negative attitude about the state universities in the western part of the state.
People from out of state (probably the 4 of my 5 readers) are probably not aware that there is a bit of a divide in state politics, and it can be roughly framed by drawing a vertical line down the center of the state. The eastern part of the state has the major universities and sees the benefits of having them. The western part of the state thinks the universities are sucking all of their hard-earned money, and worse yet – children, away from them.
Growing up in the 80s and 90s all I heard about was the ‘brain drain’ that the state was suffering: all of those bright, hard-working, born-in-North-Dakota kids were being educated at a low cost and then leaving the state. The people in the western part of the state seemed to think we just ought not to spend so much money educating them. I don’t think they understood that the likely result of that would not be to prevent brain drain but to accelerate it as those students would end up leaving for colleges out of state. On the other hand, the eastern part of the state was asking for more and more money to fund already seriously underfunded universities which were teaching a lot more kids than they could realistically accommodate. And we won’t even talk about research. The universities are supposed to be there to serve the students from the state…what does research have to do with anything?
I was one of those kids that left straight out to go to college, and I really had no intention of returning. I wanted to do research, and I knew that coming out of high school. I knew that because I’d gotten involved in research through a state-sponsored program at NDSU as a high school student, and I also knew that I likely couldn’t do what I wanted here. And why should I, when I could go someplace better?
If you fast forward to about 2000 (when I came back to return to school), there were some significant changes happening. Great Plains software was bought out by Microsoft, making it the second largest Microsoft campus in the world. There were companies in town doing engineering. There was a way to stay in North Dakota with a technical degree. And about that same time, NDSU started to make some aggressive moves to increase the size and reputation of its campus.
In the past ten years (even before the oil boom in the western part of the state), this significantly slowed the population loss the state was suffering. However, the western part of the state was still shrinking, and this was probably aggravating the divide. The eastern part of the state is right, though, IMO. If you want to keep people from leaving, you need to find a way to create jobs, and not just any jobs: they have to be jobs that bright, educated people will want to do. Universities are very often centers of creativity and entrepreneurship, and so bringing in more money to the universities will likely do a lot to create jobs and businesses. Bright, educated people will start businesses to hire those that may not necessarily have the advanced degrees but are still hard workers. The state is finally starting to see that, and they’re also using some of the money from the oil and gas taxes to create incentives for businesses to operate here.
Going back to the article, I was excited to do this as I see this as a way to communicate to the skeptics that the universities are good for the state. Here is a project that I would likely have to do somewhere else if it weren’t for the fact that we have the facilities here and they are easily accessible. Part of the reason I think my research was featured is not only the coolness factor, but the fact that I’m a native of the state and one of the people who, ostensibly, you don’t want leaving for a better job elsewhere. So yes, the universities are doing something to keep people here, even if not in the western part of the state. (On the other hand, it sounds like they have more people there now than they really know what to do with, which is another story altogether.)
My only disappointment in all this is that my hometown paper, the Bismarck Tribune, didn’t run the story. I can’t help but wonder if that is a result of the fact that the divide still obviously exists.
Tags: fargo, flood, red river
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6 pictures meme: North Dakotans March 8, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in Fargo.
Tags: fargo, north dakota
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This showed up on Facebook. Since all of you are not friends with me there, I had to put it here. (If you can’t read it, click on it to make it bigger.)
Wordless Wednesday: Faux Cats March 6, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in Fargo, photography, younger son.
Tags: cats, fargo, pictures, snow, wordless wednesday, younger son
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FCIWYPSC: Now much warmer March 4, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in Fargo, geology.
Tags: fargo, plants, travel
Posting is going to be (and has been sporadic) because I’m traveling right now. As you may have guessed, I’m a much more southerly part of the US. Tucson, to be specific. It’s been about a decade since I’ve been in this neck of the woods, and I have to admit that being here again has made me realize how much I don’t miss it.
For starters, it was about 70 degrees warmer here than in Fargo. Blech. We finally got a decent amount of snow up in Fargo, and I have to spend the week wallowing in the heat while the most opportune time for some skiing this winter melts away. (I know it’s amazing, but some people really do like snow.) I have also realized that I simply can’t handle heat due to my acclimation to northern climates…especially leaving in the cold to someplace unseasonably warm.
I can also tell I belong on the plains because I really notice when there isn’t any grass. I’m in a desert, so there’s lots of plant life, but there’s no grass. Six foot tall grass is fine. Six foot tall bushes and cacti…not so much. It just feels wrong. I find this odd, though, as one of my favorite activities when living in California was to go camping and stargazing at Joshua Tree. I guess it’s been so long that it’s hard to think about now.
The up side to being here is that I really do enjoy the view of mountains, and I’m hoping to get a chance to go out at least once and check out the view. As we were flying in, the geologist in me was doing flips at seeing layers in the mountainsides.
So…any suggestions of things I should do or see while I’m here (other than sit at the conference)? Short duration activities are preferred.
In the middle February 26, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in Fargo, personal.
Tags: cities, fargo, Minneapolis, small towns
It’s hard living in Fargo…and not because of the weather.
When I was a kid living in the western part of ND and the eastern part of MT, there were a lot of things that were different. I really like small towns because people know each other and are always willing to help each other out (except for a few ornery people). It was easy to get certain foods like unhomogenized milk or fresh eggs (and usually a lot cheaper than the organic eggs and, if I can even find it, unhomogenized milk that I try to buy now). And there’s pretty much no commute. Of course, it was hard to get other things (like pretty much everything else), the standard of living was not as nice, and the conservative mindset drives me nuts. Oh yeah…and the schools weren’t all that great.
On the other hand, I really hate living in big cities. I hate commuting; it’s stressful and sucks the energy from me. I have horrible asthma even when the smog is at the lowest levels. In fact, it took over a year before I could breathe normally after moving back from Minneapolis. People are rude and inconsiderate. But then I miss certain things like some of the cultural events, cool stores (I’m sorry – I’m a diehard Trader Joes fan), and being closer to other things I like. (I lived in the northern suburbs of Minneapolis and Los Angeles, and there were some real beautiful parks and other places within a couple hours drive.)
Living in Fargo is difficult because it has just enough culture to want to stay but not enough that you don’t miss some of the other things. It feels like a small town because the people are still friendly, and on many occasions, I’ve been helped by strangers when an emergency struck. However, some of the perks of small town life aren’t available.
I don’t feel like I really want to live in a small town, but nor do I want to live in the city. Fargo is a nice compromise, but I feel like I enjoy living here because I don’t want to suck it up and either move to the country or the big city.