My heart is with Boston

“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” – Kathrine Switzer

I ran the Boston Marathon in 2007 (as you can read here and here and here, too.) My brother has run it many times now, including yesterday. He finished an hour before the explosions and was safe at his hotel when they went off, thank goodness, but my heart goes out to all the people injured and the families of the now three dead. And it goes out to everyone who has ever or will ever run or watch the Boston Marathon, because it has been irrevocably changed.

I don’t have the time or the words right now to say what I want to say about what this means for the sport or for Boston, and it’s too early to say what it means in general, or what it was all about. But I liked this piece in The Nation (from which my epigraph above comes), so I’ll leave it at that.

Updated to add: Ooh, and now here’s a New Yorker essay that offers Piers Plowman as a requium / solace for Boston. Lovely!

>Boston Marathon Post #3: Sports star for a day

>I know it’s been weeks since I ran the Boston Marathon, but I promised a post on the atmosphere and experience of the race without all the nerdy, technical, runner-oriented stats and details. And I have wanted to write about this, too, because for those of you who aren’t runners, or aren’t marathoners, I want to evangelize a bit about Boston and marathons in general.

I got into road running about eight years ago, when I was approaching 30 and realized that I could no longer rely on simply walking everywhere to keep from having to buy a new set of clothes in a bigger size every year or two (important for a graduate student’s budget and not just for vanity). And I wanted to be healthier. And I lived in a sunny climate without outdoor activity potential year round, which I wanted to make more use of. I also had a friend who ran and wanted a female running partner (her boyfriend, also my friend, was too fast for her), and who had a sorority-sister tendency towards enthusiastic cheerleading, which comes in handy when you’re trying to go from couch potato to runner. (The irony of this story, in brief, is that once I was in shape, I realized I was a more appropriate running partner for the boyfriend than for her, and that when they broke up, he got me in the divorce.) Anyway, she also encouraged me to join a local running club that trained for the city’s marathon. Once I built up to running 30 minutes at a time, over the course of a couple of months, and then started running 4-5 times a week, I joined this club. It was set up for beginnners and had a training program of about 6 months — two for building up a “base” and for those who still had to work up to running an hour or more at a time, and four for the real training. These days I do 16 week marathon training programs.

I tell you all this because I want you to know that I didn’t always run marathons. And it wasn’t long after I started running at all that I started making marathons my goal. There was only about a year between being a complete couch potato to completing my first marathon (and coming in the top 400 women out of thousands and getting my name on the sports page of a major city paper — how cool is that?!). I point this all out because anyone who is physically able can take up running and can train for long-distance running. It takes time and perseverance, but no special talent. If you can walk, you can run.

What’s more, running is a great exercise activity for grad students and academics because it’s relatively cheap. A pair of real running shoes will cost $80-120 (and there are discount outlets available, but everyone should initially be fit by an expert in a specialty running store), and you need socks, clothing that wicks sweat (though I spent my first few years in cotton and didn’t really suffer all that much) and, if you’re a woman, the right sports bra. (I don’t know if the men need special support for their manly parts, but I imagine they might. Fizzy?) There are no gym fees, no expensive equipment — though the clothing can add up, especially in the winter — and if you do local races where you don’t need a hotel room, the race fees are generally not very much (plus you get free stuff, and a lot of races are now doing t-shirts in wicking material, so you get new running gear for the price of entry).

And running is a great way to be a tourist. I’ve run all sorts of footpaths and trails all over the UK and Ireland, along waterfronts and through scenic neighborhoods in cities in North America and Europe, and in parks and preserves everywhere I’ve lived and a lot of places I’ve traveled. Even when I travel, I pack at least one set of running clothes to take a break from a conference or a family visit or whatever. And when I’m in my own city, I often use running as a way to explore neighborhoods, get landscaping ideas, enjoy seasonal decorations, and gawk at houses for sale.

And then there are the health benefits — cardiovascular health, weight control, strength and general fitness. But note I put those last. Honestly, these days I think of them as a side-effect. If I made them my main reason for running, I’d think of running in the way one thinks of dieting — as onerous and hard to maintain.

So, back to Boston and marathons in general. I’ve given you all this background, because when I joined the marathon training group back in 1999, I did so because I wanted to meet new people and learn how to train for a marathon. Having running buddies for the long runs each week was essential to me then. Over time, though, I started training by myself for various marathons, and once I knew what to expect of a 20-mile training run, I was perfectly happy to do it on my own, especially back in grad school city, where I ran a route frequented by other runners. And I think one of the reasons why I finally hit that qualifying time at the Columbus Marathon is because I ran with a pace group, instead of by myself, and chatted with them the whole way, until I fell behind a bit around mile 22. Forget what you’ve heard about the loneliness of the long-distance runner — running can be really social.

That’s where big races can actually help, if you’re not concerned about losing time running in a large, tight pack for the first few miles. My best experiences have been in races that felt social in some way, where I was running with someone — even someone met in the process of running, as in my hometown race that gave me my second best time and made me realize I could qualify for Boston — or, in the case of Boston, where the crowds were so mighty you never felt alone.

I think the crowds of spectators are what set Boston apart. Sure, most runners there had to qualify, so you’re in an elite crowd of serious runners, and there’s an instant comaraderie among the runners because of that. And it’s a big field — 20,0000+ runners — so unless you’re way out front, you spend the entire race surrounded by people to observe and eavesdrop on, which is always entertaining. (My favorite oddballs were the three women who ran with tails attached to their shorts and signs on their backs that said “Chasing Tail?”) But the specators are what make Boston better than any race I’ve been in despite its difficulties (though granted, I haven’t run NY or Chicago, so I don’t know if those mega-races compare). The specators are what make it so much fun, even if, like me, you’re running your worst time ever.

When I’m well trained, a marathon usually doesn’t get hard for me until about mile 22. I tend not to run at speeds that are hard work — even when I was gunning for that qualifying time — so the only hard part is the endurance in those last few miles, since the longest training run I ever do is 22 miles. For me, the hardest part is the training, especially speedwork (I loathe speedwork the way I hated practicing the piano when I was a kid). I run the race at a convesational pace — which varies between 8:25 and 9:00 minutes per mile, depending on the intensity of my training — and don’t really want to work any harder. Then it’s not fun for me, because I’m really not that competitive. But no matter what, the race will get hard at some point, and then I have to rely on will power. That’s when the spectators matter. But for some stupid reason, so many races I’ve run go through less inhabited areas just when it starts to get tough, and thus have sparse crowds. Race directors really need to think more about this.

But Boston gets it right. The first half of the race has fewer spectators, but that’s the easy part — it’s early in the race and there are lots of downhills, plus it’s often pretty scenery and you’re surrounded by other excited runners. The crowds start to pick up just when you need them and get bigger and louder and more intense the closer you get to Boston.

The first really huge crowd consists of the women of Wellesley just before the half-way point. (Although there are few other big gatherings of people before that.) I swear to god you really can hear them a mile away — that’s not just a cliched turn of phrase. We hit mile 12 and in the distance I heard something that sounded like an orchestra playing a continuously held high C. And then when you pass them, it’s not just their screaming that makes them a high point — half of them are holding signs that say “Kiss a Wellesley Girl.” I was so grateful for their spirit and enthusiasm, *I* almost kissed one (and I’m sure there were some of them who would’ve been happy for my kiss rather than a guy’s kiss, but my guess is that it was mostly the het women holding the signs).

And between Wellesley and Boston, there are all sorts of people along the route, since most of it is accessible by commuter train. For the most part it’s people cheering on their friends and family, but they cheer everyone else as well. (Thanks again, Kate, for the sign. I’m sorry I missed it, but the thought of it alone buoyed me.) My favorite was a recurring sign for a runner named Polly (she must have had a lot of friends and family, or else they moved along the route) which quoted A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” As you reach the hardest parts in Newton — the hills leading up to and including Heartbreak Hill — there are all sorts of people offering you treats, cheers, support, and encouragement. And they seemed to be practiced at it: no one said “You’re looking great!” as I walked up Heartbreak Hill. Instead they said things like “Look, you can still do this. Just get over this hill and you’ll make it” — a sentiment that’s realistic and pretty much true. Boston Marathon spectators are veteran marathon spectators.

And after that, as you start getting closer and closer to Boston, the crowds get freaking crazy. I think it starts in Brookline, maybe a bit before. By then you’re in an urban space, and bars and pubs are walking distance from the route. Since the race is run on Patriot’s Day — a holiday for most people — lots of people make it a holiday event to have a few beers (or not — but since many of them have beers in hand, and sometimes offer them to the runners, it’s easy to tell that drinking is involved) and cheer on the runners, all of them, whether they know you or not. And my god, are they loud. The last few miles are absolutely deafening. Part of the reason I picked up the pace in the last two miles was joining up with Jody, a runner I’d met at the pasta dinner the night before, who buoyed my spirits and kept me going, even when it was hard. But the other part were the crowds. How can you not run hard when thousands upon thousands of people are screaming joyfully at you? I can only imagine what the crowds might have been like in good weather! Rain and wind like that chased most of the crowds away in my first marathon (wussy sun worshippers!) but not in Boston, where neither rain nor wind nor snow can keep a Boston sports fan from cheering on a bunch of strangers in a long-running (ha!) local sports tradition.

I’ve always known that Boston is a big sports town with intense attachments to their hometown teams (and the equivalent hatred for longtime rivals), but I had no idea that they’re so enthusiastic for any local sports tradition. After all, here I was running really slowly relative to the other runners in this race (I came in the bottom quartile of the women runners, for god’s sake) and yet when I and all the other people running at my pace came through, the screams were just as loud as I imagine they’d been for the elite runners, and would continue to go on for the runners behind me. (Indeed, when I got back to my hotel at mile 24, and there were still people running and mostly walking, there were still crowds cheering them on.) They’re the reason the Boston Marathon is so much fun. I worked for my qualifying time because of the prestige and eliteness of that achievement, but if I ever try again, it will be because of those incredible crowds.

And that is what’s so amazing about marathon running in general. All races have some eager spectators — Boston just has more of them, and they’re exponentially louder — and they’re as happy to cheer on strangers as they are their friends. Many spectators make a day of it, bringing camp chairs, coolers, music, etc. And if you write your name on your shirt, they’ll call it out. If you don’t sometimes they’ll call out your bib number (as in, “Go number 2435! You can do it!”). What the heck other sport is there where an ordinary, unexceptional, non-gifted, non-celebrity athlete gets to have people cheering for them? What other sport could I possibly take up at age 29 and have fans, however temporary?

Running marathons — and epsecially running the Boston Marathon — gives an ordinary person a chance to feel like a sports idol for the day. And that’s the real reason why it’s worth the time and effort and training, because adulation is addictive.

>Marathon Post #2: The numbers and technical stuff

>This post is for the runners out there and for those who are really dedicated to reading my blog. The rest of you might fall asleep. If you have insomnia, read on; if not, consider yourself warned.

So people keep asking “How was Boston?” There are a couple of ways of answering that, and in the next post, I’ll get to the more colorful and atmospheric and experiential answers. But some people actually want to know the hardcore statistics and technical stuff. Not most people, but some. This post is for you. I’ve also divided it up into sub-topics for easy reference, in case there’s something in particular you want to know.

The basics
I qualified for Boston with a 3:43:13 (also my PR – an 8:30/mile pace), but I finished Boston in 4:18:57, my slowest time ever (in 6 marathons total, run between 2000 and the present).

My training and condition on race day
Even if we’d had perfect weather conditions for the race, I wouldn’t have had a stellar race or finishing time. At the beginning of my 16-week training, I started out doing a three-day-a-week training plan called “FIRST” that promised to increase speed and finish times if you stuck to it. (If you want to know more about it, go here.) It was an intense plan with hard speed workouts, tempo runs, and race-pace+ long runs. As it turns out, I just didn’t have the base miles or the cardio-vascular fitness to keep up with it. I hadn’t really run much in the previous year, since finishing the 2005 Columbus Marathon in 3:43 to get my Boston qualifying time. So my inability to do what was asked (either in terms of speed or length) in the FIRST program got me down. I switched to the Runner’s World 3-day/week Beginner Plan (see a four-day/week version here), modified with longer long runs, based on the FIRST program. In other words, I trained to finish, not for speed.

I did all runs, including the long runs, at a 8:45-9:00 minute pace, because I was still hoping to finish under 4 hours, at least. But I didn’t get many hill workouts into my runs, other than a few gently sloping ones here and there, because Rust Belt is a flat place. So I knew that a sub-4-hour marathon on the very hilly Boston course might still be wishful thinking.

And then, on top of being undertrained, I came down with a bad head cold a week before the race. Usually when I get sick — and I rarely do — it goes by quickly. But I’m *still* getting over this one. On the Friday before race day, I thought I was going to show up at the race expo on Sunday and ask for a deferral to 2008, which you can get for injuries and I was hoping you could get for illness, too. But on Sunday I was feeling a lot better and the energy of tens of thousands of runners at the expo, in my hotel, and around town, was infectious in a different kind of way. So I said the hell with the cold and planned to run.

The night before the race my cold entered the nagging cough stage and I barely slept. During the race, I suffered from an almost unbearable dry-mouth from the decongestants, and a constant thirst. The coughing ceased as long as I was running, but I think a lot of the aches and pains in my back (see more below) might have been from the night and morning of coughing prior to the race. Plus, any time I tried to eat my Gu energy gels, my nose would run and I’d be unable to breathe. I had 6 Gu packets with me, and meant to eat at least 3 during the race and one at the end, but ended up using only 2. Drinking water was also hard, and sometimes I had to stop to do, which brought the coughing back on. Argh!

My gear and its problems
A couple of days before my last long training run, I tried to get new shoes to replace my worn out old ones. I hadn’t kept track of their mileage, but I was starting to feel sore in my shins and knees, which only happens when I have old shoes. But my local running store — and there’s only one in Rust Belt — didn’t have my shoe in my size. And it was too late to switch to a new brand to get it thoroughly broken in and make sure it was right for me. Had I been able to get the exact same shoe, that wouldn’t have been a problem to break in, but a new style or brand would have.

I wear a Saucony Trigon in the “Ride” version and I’m loyal to Saucony (I’ve been through various versions of this shoe) because they work for my narrow heels, wide fore-foot, and need for room for my blister and callous prone toes. I’m a heavy heel-striker with as perfectly neutral a gait as you can get, which means I land on my heel and roll forward straight down the center. Other people roll out or in and need a different kind of shoe. (If you’re a runner or want to start running and have never been fitted by a professional at a specialty running store, do so. Running in the wrong shoe for your bio-mechanics can cause injury.) Those of us with neutral gaits, and especially those of us who are heel strikers, need cushioning to help absorb the impact. My worn down shoes were definitely not doing that.

So, as a result, by mile 14, my entire back was screaming in pain. My legs were fine, and in fact, I don’t think I felt the build-up of lactic acid in them at all this race (in part because I slowed down so much in the second half — see below) but it felt like I could barely carry myself upright in the last miles. (Plus, my cardio-vascular fitness was relatively low given the undertraining.) At mile 14 I made the command decision to slow down in order to guarantee that I would finish, especially since I’ve had recurring lower-back problems in the last few years. And as you’ll see below, I really slowed down.

The weather
It turned out not to be quite as bad as predicted. The winds got up to a mere 20 mph, and by the time the second wave runners started (and that included me), the rain cleared up. I think it rained again on us, gently, once on the course, but by that time I was feeling a little hot in my thermal outer layer and Coolmax base layer, so it was actually welcome. It got colder as we approached Boston, though, so I was ultimately grateful for the layers, the full-length running tights, and the gloves.

The worst part was standing around before the race, getting my shoes wet from the rain and muddy from the fields where the porta-potties stood. I kept mostly warm and dry with a disposable clear parka (which I continued to wear for the first three miles of the race, ultimately ripping in off Superman style) and a mylar blanket. But the wind kept blowing the hood off, so my hat soaked through and my pony tail and neck got wet, which couldn’t have been good for me. As you’ll see below, I did feel the winds at many points — annoying, mostly while going uphill! — but in such a big race, when you’re a “pack” runner like me, there are lots of bodies around you to block it.

Amazing — no blisters!
I don’t get this. Most runners worried about wet feet causing blisters, and so many of them had plastic bags wrapped around their shoes, at least until the start of the race, and others wore get-ups that kept the top dry but kept the sole free so that they could run in them. I didn’t have either and so my feet got wet, mostly in the hours before the race. And never once in the race did my feet hurt, and when I took my shoes off at the end of the day there wasn’t a single blister or black toe. Compare that to my Columbus experience in *perfect* weather, where my right little toe turned into a giant blood blister and I lost the nail. Back in 2000 I ran a rainy marathon and also had blister-free feet. What gives?

The split times
For those of you who’ve already done the math, I ended up with about a 9:53 pace, I think. But really, I ran two half-marathons, the first in 1:57:38, or just under 9 minutes/mile (my over-ambitious goal pace), and the second in 2:21:19, or about 10:50/mile, the slowest I’ve ever run anything. Like I said above, I decided to slow down at mile 14, and boy did I slow down in some of those subsequent miles! I meant to keep it under or around 10, but it just wasn’t happening. (If you want a course map, complete with elevation info, go here. Warning: opens a PDF.) Here’s the breakdown:

Mile 1: 9:07
(Letting the crowds hold me back for an easy start — I’m actually proud of this, as it’s the first time I didn’t start too fast.)

Mile 2: 8:43
Mile 3: 8:45
Mile 4: 8:44
(Look how evenly paced I am for these three miles — this is also a minor achievement, as pacing is still something I’m working on. This also makes me cocky. Running is easy and I’m having fun.)

Mile 5: 8:55 (a gently uphill mile)
Mile 6: 8:49
Mile 7: 8:52
Mile 8: 9:11 (We’re spreading out and the winds are more noticeable.)

Mile 9: 9:04
(Getting back closer to pace in the next two miles, despite the winds across Lake Cochituate)

Mile 10: 9:09
Mile 11: 9:14
(The last mile and half have been gently uphill, and the effects are starting to show in my time.)

Mile12: 8:55 (Ah, back on track at last with the help of some downhill running)
Mile13: 9:05
(Nice — might have been slower if I’d stopped to “Kiss a Wellesley Girl” as their sign demanded — wouldn’t she have been surprised!)

Mile 14: 9:18
(As we enter Wellesley’s main drag, we start to turn NE and the wind really hits us. Plus my back is killing me, so I decide to slow it down, take it easy. I wouldn’t realize how slow I’d really get until after this.)

Mile 15: 9:47 (Well, at least it’s under 10.)
Mile 16: 9:47 (OK, I could stay here, I think…)
Mile 17: 10:46
(Really? Crap! But wait, it get worse as we start to climb up the hills of Newton. They tell you about Heartbreak Hill at Mile 21. Somehow, though, I wasn’t prepared for the three miles of hills *before* that.)

Mile 18: 11:15
Mile 19: 11:04
Mile 20: 11:39
Mile 21: 13:11 (OK, so I walked up Heartbreak Hill. Sue me.)
Mile 22: 11:13
Mile 23: 11:55
Mile 24: 10:54
(My hotel is right across the street. Sooooooo tempting. But at least I nudged myself back under 11 minutes/mile.)

Mile 25: 10:10
(By this point, my new friend Jody, whom I met at the pasta party, has caught up with me and rallies my spirits back to a less embarrassing pace. She is also a 3:43 qualifier and running under bad physical conditions — a sore tendon — but she smartly maintained a 10 minute pace the whole way instead of being unrealistic like I was in the first half.)

Mile 26.2: 11:16
(Just over 9 minutes/mile from the “1 mile to go” point marked on the road — hooray!)

I nearly throw up in the post-race melee for the crappy amount of food the BAA supplies (boo! worst. post-race food. EVER) but I did it! And now I can get on the T back to the hotel at mile 24 and take a shower. When I got back, I noticed that I certainly wasn’t the last to finish, as the course is still full of runners, some of them now walking.

Next time — the spirit and atmosphere and characters that made Boston actually the most fun I’ve ever had in a marathon, despite my crap time.

>Take that, Ivan Tribble! Or Marathon Post #1: My Colleagues’ Responses

>The academic bloggers out there remember Ivan Tribble, the pseudonymous scribe of two essays in the Chronicle of Higher Education Careers section, back in aught-five, who argued in the first that “Bloggers Need Not Apply” for tenure-track jobs in academe, and in the second that the bloggers who responded critically to his article were all just shooting the messenger (“They Shoot Messengers, Don’t They?”). But as I argued back then (god, that seems ages ago), it seemed that the trouble with Tribble wasn’t only that he had a thing against bloggers specifically, but that he also didn’t like or didn’t want to know about academics who — the horror! — found time to do things other than the teaching, research, and service for which they were being hired. So what does this have to do with my recent run in the Boston Marathon? This juicy passage from Tribble’s second article is where the connection lies:

A number of respondents worried they could be mistaken [in a Google search] for an unhirable doppelganger on the Web. I can’t speak for every committee, but ours had no trouble distinguishing our candidates from the semi-pro hockey players, quilt-store owners, marathon runners, and grade schoolers that Google turned up.

Uh, hello? Why on earth would you assume marathon runners and academics are mutually exclusive categories? Or that a marathoning academic was unhirable? Witness not only me but ProfGrrrrl (link goes to her training blog). (And as for semi-pro hockey players, cf. Michael Berube.)

All of which brings me back to my experience running Boston and the responses of my colleagues, including those who will be voting on my tenure. All my colleagues know I run marathons, and as far as I can tell they don’t have a problem with this. Witness their responses to my Boston experience (which, by the way, required training almost entirely during the school year):

  • Awesome Supportive Chair said, “You’re my hero!” and asked for pictures for the department newsletter.
  • One senior colleague asked if I had run a local marathon that was close to Boston’s date, and when I said no, because I ran Boston instead, he said, “Wow! Congratulations! That’s impressive!”
  • Fellow junior colleague Milton looked me up on the official marathon site during the race, tracked my performance, and sent me a congratulatory note — all without my knowing until I got home. (I don’t know why, but I thought that was really sweet.)
  • Senior Rhet/Comp scholar e-mailed me after hearing the weather report that day and sent her sympathy (she runs and does triathalons).
  • Another senior colleague routinely asked how my training was going, and his spouse saw me in the local park in the midst of one of my 20-mile runs and cheered me on. I told her I was thinking of calling it quits at 15 because I was aching, but she rallied my spirits and I completed the 20.

I could go on. But the point is, every department has a different atmosphere, and one of the ways I was wooed to this one was with the promise (by the senior colleague in the last bullet point) that people have lives here. And frankly, I think that’s a good thing not only for faculty retention, but for the students, too. We can then model for them full, well-rounded, and healthy (physically or mentally) lives. (Besides, when my students know that I ran the Boston and graded their papers in the same weekend, there’s less whining about deadlines and hard work. 🙂 Te-hee!)

Of course, if I were doing poorly in publishing or meeting teaching and service expectations, my marathon running might then be a point against me. I think then my colleagues would have every right to be worried that I’m unnecessarily distracted and would be justified in saying in my annual reviews that I’m not meeting job expectations. But since I am meeting those expectations (at least at my university — I don’t know that I could do this at an R1) what I do with my free time is up to me.

That said, it was really hard fitting in even the most basic easy-level, three-day-a-week training this semester. And the training is starting to be a burden rather than something fun. I don’t know if marathons are in my future or not. I may just run for fun and fitness for awhile and then maybe think about half-marathons and shorter races for the time being. The distance of the race doesn’t scare me — I’d still like to learn how to and train to keep my pace in those last four miles — but fitting in those really long runs is hard. They just eat up so much of my weekend.

OK, future posts will detail the race itself, I promise. But I wanted to start with something that was more closely related to the character of this ‘academic life’ blog.

>Oh spite! Oh hell!

>UPDATE: Make that wind gusts up to 50 mph and a wind-chill that makes it feel like 25-30 degrees. Oh, and did I mention I’m still getting over a bad cold?

So some of you may recall that I’m running the Boston Marathon for the first time on Monday. You may also know that I’ve had a busy semester and have only managed to squeeze in a beginner-level training plan and won’t be setting any personal records (PRs) there. And many of you may know that Boston is a difficult marathon in the best of circumstances, so even if I were super-duper trained with speed and hill work as well as extra long runs, I might not come out with a PR.

As if all that weren’t bad enough…have you checked the weather forecast for Boston on Monday? High temperature: 43 degrees. 70% chance of heavy rain. And winds — my god, the winds — from the East with predicted speeds up to 23 mph. And guess what general direction the point-to-point course runs? Yup, that’s right — East. (Well, OK, mostly NE, but still.)

Fuck. I’ll be lucky to freakin’ finish. My PR, the one that got me in this race, is 3:43. I’ll be happy with 4:30 in this one, I swear.

>Endurance editing

>It’s a good thing I’m marathoner, used to pushing through exhaustion to get through that last stretch of miles, because that’s how I feel about correcting my book proofs and writing my index. It’s like I’ve got 3 miles left to go and it’s all I can do to keep one foot moving in front of the other, or in this case, not to get all glassy-eyed.

  • Miles 1-23 = Correcting the proofs and drafting the index — DONE!
  • Miles 24-26.2 = Editing, polishing, and formatting the index — still chugging along.

Of course, a marathon only takes me 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours (depending on how well I’ve trained). I’ve been working on the damn book stuff for about a total of 50 hours now over the course of the last 7 days. And my back and legs are just about as sore as after a marathon as a result. (Or maybe that’s the result of my 20-mile training run yesterday. Who can tell at this point?)

I’ve got until Friday to finish up, but I’ve also got teaching — oh yeah, that! — grading (sigh), and grad director stuff galore this week. So send me some virtual “You can do it!” and “Almost there!” and “Looking great!”* cheers this week. And be patient with me if blogging is light for about the next week.

*Yes, people really call this last one out to marathoners in the last few miles and it never sounds sincere. In a good race it makes me laugh [ETA: because I wouldn’t call dried sweat-salt on my face, visible chafing, and a plodding run “looking great”]. If I’m having a bad race, it makes me want to punch whoever is saying it. [ETA: But I wouldn’t do that, of course. I know they mean well, even if I look like crap and feel miserable. Though it would be funny if someone shouted, “You look like hell but hey, you’ve just run 23 miles!” Te-hee.]