03 April 2011

"Right in this moment, this order is tall"

After yesterday's horrific shock, I am finally (as of this last hour) getting my emotions/life back under control. I was able to go about a semi-normal routine today and go to the gym, so hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to pretend that everything is alright. Experience has shown that things will slowly get better.

Last week I finished graduate school. Not technically, of course. Technically, I won't be finished graduate school until the final Monday in August when my dissertation is due to the Department of War Studies -- and even then I won't know my final degree results until December/January. But last Friday I finished the final formal instruction component. Beyond April 1st...it is all up to me. I sit for 2 exams in mid-May and then write the dissertation over the summer. Somewhat amazingly, some of my coursemates have already started panicking about the exams and are already chained to the graduate cubicles at the Maughan (especially now that it has gone on to a 24 hour schedule!) I made the mistake of doing this in preparation for my exams in 2009 at the University of Edinburgh and it exacted a considerable toll on my emotional and physical well-being. I made up elaborate study schedules and literally spent an entire month in the library from 9am-3pm. I would wake up, eat breakfast, go to the library for hours, come back, eat lunch, study, go for a run, eat dinner, study some more. Every waking moment was spent studying some aspect of medieval or Jacobean history, which isn't actually as terrible as it sounds for a history nerd such as myself, but does tend to wear a bit thin after a while.

By the time exams actually rolled around, I was exhausted and burnt out (especially as this was right around when my insomnia started). The night before my Popular Religion exam, I dreamed that I arrived in the exam hall an hour late because I was unable to remember which room I was scheduled to be in. When I entered the hall, the proctors screamed that I had failed everything and sent the exam papers (now equipped with inch-long teeth) flying after me, forcing me to run down South Bridge and hide in the dumpsters in the Meadows. It sounds rather silly when I write this now, but it was terrifying and I remember being a bit scared to enter the exam hall the next morning.

I refuse to let this scenario occur again and so am taking a more relaxed approach to exam prep. My 'exam reading list' only has 46 books (roughly 2-3 chapters of reading in each) and 47 academic articles. This is such an improvement from 2009 that it is unbelievable. I'll start with the articles at the beginning of this week and will separate the books into which ones are available for check out and which ones require remaining at the library to read. The latter category will be read between May 9th and May 11th - the days before my exam but after the marathon when walking/movement/life in general will be difficult. I'll be so grateful for chairs/the relief of sitting down that I will be happy to stay at the library. Perhaps I will bring my pillow and blanket and just stay at the Maughan from the 9th through 11th? (I did something similar for a few days in Oxford at the St. Peter's College Library and did not find the experience entirely unpleasant.) :)

In other news, I was awarded 'Sportswoman of the Year' at the King's College London Cross-Country end of year AGM. I am flattered and surprised. Personally, I don't feel like any sportswoman of anything, much less the year. Still, I am extremely grateful and will display the plaque with proud. It was nice to know that my year-long flirtation with cross-country runner actually amounted to something. 

Half marathon on Sunday. Feel completely unprepared, especially in comparison to last August when I ran the Patrick Henry Half in Ashland, VA. My new phone (the old one literally died from receiving too many phone calls this weekend - it started smoking yesterday morning) has a video recording function and part of me is tempted to record myself running the race. This is so that when I appear before the medical exam board for the Navy and they try to immediately DQ me based on my history of asthma (I had pneumonia when I was 2), I can show the video as proof that I can run 13.1 miles and not have an asthma attack. In the end, I don't think this will be proof enough and so I am perfectly willing to submit to a PFT (pulmonary function test) and, perhaps, run around the parking lot for 26.2 miles to show that I am fine. (In all seriousness, I'm actually really scared that I am going to be medically disqualified for something that a) is a result of a childhood illness, b) I've taken active steps to improve the condition of, and c) hasn't affected me in years. No choice but to wait and see what happens.)

Signed up for the Rebel Race on June 18th. Mum thinks that I am crazy for actually wanting to do something like this, but has accepted it as a great way for me to practice for boot camp. :) In fact, I wouldn't put it past my parents to establish a similar get-up in our backyard this summer. After all, one good rain and the entire area turns into a muddy swamp. I can just imagine my Dad (gleefully) bursting into my room at 5:15AM and telling me to 'move my butt and scale some walls/move tires/leap over fire'. (It is not entirely unimaginable: in the summer before freshman year of college, after I told my parents that I was planning on joining the crew team (this at a time when I used to sleep in until 11am), they immediately implemented 5AM wake-up calls for a week). Anyway, I feel that this is the sort of race that would be better done with friends so if anyone wants to join me for a Saturday of endurance running, mud, wall climbing, tire leaping, and general mayhem/debauchery - please let me know!


  1. This is a post packed with interesting things:
    1) at least you didn't dream entering the exam hall naked.
    2) Congrats on being sportswoman of the year. Being the human of any sort of any thing for a whole year sounds like quite an honor.
    3) Good luck on exams. Not stressing sounds like a good strategy. In principle. Personally, I'm not a good enough person to carry it out in practice.
    4) My experience regarding the navy and physical fitness tells me that your running condition is more than adequate but be ready to do plenty of pushups and other activities requiring upper body and abdominal strength. (I've been an officer for almost 17 years now...shit!!! I'm getting old!!)

  2. Haha! Oddly enough, I never am bothered by the dreams where I am naked. I figure that it would probably be a situation that is more uncomfortable for others than for myself. As for my strategy of not stressing out about exams...we shall see what happens. I've never actually had all that much success with it in the past (I always start freaking out the week in advance), but I like to hope that perhaps this time will be different.

    And well done on your achievement! 17 years in the service is quite remarkable! As for 'getting old' - as someone recently told me, you are only as old as you feel!