Sunday, April 29, 2007

Day 344 -- Jogger's Progress

Time11 days, 19 hrs, 57 min
3 days, 11 hrs, 3 min
1 day, 3 hrs, 38 mins

With tomorrow being a scheduled day off, it's time to check my progress. It's been a monster month. In March, I ran 142.6 miles, which was, at the time, my longest month ever. This month I ran past that by over 30 miles! Of course, I'm at the peak of my training for the half marathon. It helps that April had five weekend long runs, too.

In any case, it will be a while before I see anything like 170 miles in one month again. After another 20 miler this next weekend, I'll start tapering for the half marathon. Then after that, I'll start in my training at relatively low mileage. I won't see 20 mile days or 40 mile weeks again until August. Which is fine. I am pretty sure I can't maintain this kind of mileage indefinitely.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Happy Birthday, Little Jogger!

This is actually the second time I've gotten up early on April 28th because of one of the Little Joggers. Nine years ago today, the medium Little Jogger came into the world in the wee hours. (We were talking last night, and none of us could remember the exact time.)

The medium Little Jogger represents clear evidence that we have lost our minds. Anybody might have one child, not knowing what they were getting into. But having a second marks a couple forever as having more sentiment than sense.

We celebrated last night (knowing the first Little Jogger wasn't going to be here today) and the medium Little Jogger opened his presents in about 60 seconds. They were all exactly what he's always wanted, although he's a little bored with them by now, of course.

Day 343 -- Paxton, Nebraska

Paxton, Nebraska, is home to Kory Land & Cattle, Inc., where, as you can see, one can get a custom cattle feeder with up to a 10,000 head capacity. That's a lot of beef.

I got up at 4:00 this morning to take the first Little Jogger over to school. The Science Olympiad team is driving clear over to Oshkosh for the state competition, and the vans had to leave at 4:30. The Little Jogger has been pretty nervous for the last week or so. From an adult perspective, there's nothing to be nervous about. She should go, have a good time, do her best, and not worry about the outcome. But of course she's pretty competitive, and she doesn't want to embarrass herself or let her teammates down.

Since I was up early anyway, I went ahead an ran my weekend long run, which I normally do on Sundays. I ran 12 miles, and felt pretty good. I even picked up the pace for the last three. It's a beautiful morning for a run.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Day 342 -- More Cornfields

No picture today. I'm giving an evening exam again, the last one of the semester. I'm hopeful that it will go pretty well for most students. The material is kind of tough, but these guys have been hanging in and working hard.

I ran a little short of five miles this morning. The forecast had been for rain, so I was prepared to go to the gym, but when I walked out the door, there was no rain. So what the heck, I ran outside. I'm sure that you know what happened. After I got out a little way, the rain picked up, and I finished in a steady drizzle. But it doesn't seem to have killed me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Day 341 - Cornfield

I'm kind of at a loss for an image, so I just stole a generic cornfield from this site. Hell, I've got to be running past a billion cornfields. I suspect that the corn isn't quite this high in the middle of April.

I ran a relatively quick 5 miles today. I'm feeling a lot better than yesterday. That seems to be a recurrent pattern, at least after a really long run. The first day back is hard, but the second day is much easier.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Day 340 -- Hershey, Nebraska

The Bar, Hershey, Nebraska. Image stolen (shamelessly) from this Public Adress 4.0.

I ran 3 miles today. The schedule said 5, but my legs said 0, and we compromised. I'm pretty sore. I think that I was more sore this afternoon than I was Sunday afternoon. Then again, I was up and moving this afternoon, and Sunday I basically did nothing but lie around the house like a beached whale.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Days 338 and 339 -- Fort Cody Trading Post

At the Fort Cody Trading Post, near North Platte, they have a stuffed two-headed calf.

I ran 4.7 miles yesterday, a little short of my goal of 5 miles. But I made up for it today, because I rand 20.3 miles, just over my goal. I'm tired, but it feels good. Twenty miles. That's the longest I'll run before the marathon in the fall.

It may occur to you that, having run 25 miles in the last two days, I shouldn't still be near the same town. If you notice that, I'll have to admit that I got a little lost on my map again, but that I'm pretty sure I'm in the right place, now. But I'll just have to hope that you don't notice.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Day 337 -- North Platte

This photo of the Lincoln County Courthouse in North Platte, Nebraska, comes from the virtual tourist page by Stephen and Karen Conn. I'm pretty sure that I've visited Stephen and Karen's page before, but I'll be damned if I can find it now. I've gone all the way back to October, so either it was over six months ago, or I just missed it, or I'm going nuts and I've never been here before.

I ran 5 miles today, faster than Tuesday, but somewhat slower than yesterday. It was a nice morning for a run.

I'm now going to be incommunicado for a couple of days. I'm taking off tomorrow for a state level professional meeting, and I won't be back until late Saturday. Rest assured that I'm taking my running clothes, and I'll get out on the roads of Eau Claire on Saturday morning.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Day 336 -- Maxwell, Nebraska

Maxwell, Nebraska, is home to Big Country Windmills, the "World's Largest Purveyor of Used & Obsolete Windmills & Parts." Since 1986. I had no idea.

I did run the full eight miles this morning. I took off, promising myself I could stop early if I felt tired, but I knew that I wouldn't. In any case, I felt pretty good, even though I was running longer than yesterday, and faster, over a hillier route. (It wasn't hard to run faster. Yesterday I was slooooooooow!)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Day 335 -- More Gothenburg

I'm on the road somewhere between Gothenburg and Brady, but since I have another good pic of Gothenburg, I'm sticking with it for another post. Here I am in front of the Frito-Lay plant. I think I'll pick myself up a couple of bags of corn chips.

I ran a really slow 5 miles this morning. I'm still recovering from my long run, even though it wasn't that long. At various times during the day today, I've decided not to run at all tomorrow, to run three miles, to run four miles, to run five miles, and to run the full eight miles that's on the schedule. Stay tuned to see what actually happens tomorrow.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dear Euler!

Today is the 300th birthday of the Swiss mathematician Leonard Euler. Euler was one of the greatest mathematicians of all time; some would say he was the greatest. I tell my students that the whole history of mathematics funnels through Euler. Everything that anyone did before, he improved on. Anything that came after has its roots in his work. That's probably an exaggeration, but only slightly.

Mathematicians, particularly those of us who are interested in the history of mathematics, have made 2007 a big year in celebration of Euler's birth. Conferences are being held, books are being published, parties are being thrown. I'm giving a talk next week at a state meeting about "A Marvelously Terrible Algorithm from Leonard Euler." It should be pretty good, I hope.

For more information on Euler, see his entry at the Mac Tutor History of Math site, from whence this image was taken.

Day 334 -- Gothenburg

Ever vigilant for the opportunity to visit the World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things, I stopped today in Gothenburg to see the world's largest plow. It is dedicated to the sod house settlers, of course.

I ran 13.1 miles today, a half marathon. My biggest challenge at this point was not to take the distance too lightly. Yes, it's 5 miles shorter than last week, but it's still a pretty big chunk of pavement. I ran it pretty slow -- slower than I plan to go in the official half marathon in six weeks. I'm tired, but doing OK.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Committee Work, Politics, and the Future

For the last couple of weeks, I've been quietly bitching about all the stuff I need to do that's only tangentially related to teaching. I'm chair of a fairly active committee that's had several subcommittee meetings, and a whole flurry of e-mail exchanges, mostly about a proposal for a professional development seminar in the fall that was due this week. I'm on another committee that had to hear some appeals about its recommendations, which turned out to be basically gripe fests. I'm doing some word processing and formatting for the chair of a statewide professional organizations. This chair is a nice guy, but seems to be technologically and organizationally challenged. Anyway, between one thing and another, I haven't been able to concentrate on my students as much as I should.

So, yesterday, my friend Dr. Furriner took me aside and asked me to consider running for department chair next year.

Some background: Demographics in my field are changing, in terms of the number of foreign-born Ph.D.'s who are taking teaching jobs at my level. Every single tenured member of our department is a native-born U.S. citizen. Dr. F was voted tenure by the department this year, and, barring any unforseen snags at the administrative level, will become the first foreign-born tenured faculty member. However, half of the junior faculty are foreign-born, and we've just been on a hiring spree which will tip the balance to over half.

Dr. F thinks that the department has a double standard with regards to foreign-born faculty. She feels that the foreign-born faculty are held to a higher standard in the classroom, given worse teaching assignments, and otherwise just treated as, well, second-class citizens.

Our department chair will be stepping down after next year, having reached the end of her second three-year term. (I'm not sure whether the two-term limit is actually written down anywhere, but at the very least it's a deep seated tradition.) There's a natural candidate to step in next, whom I will call Dr. Dauphin. I think everyone expects Dr. D to be chair and to do a good job of it. However, Dr. Furriner thinks that Dr. D is one of the people who perpetuates the double standard, and that it will get worse with her as chair. Dr. F thinks that I, on the other hand, will work to make things better.

So, I'm thinking about it.

On the one hand, I really don't want to do it. Our chair gets release time from teaching, meaning that I get to give up the fun part of my job for extra meetings and extra paperwork.

On the other hand, I recognize the validity of Dr. F's concerns about Dr. D. Whether or not Dr. D has anything against foreign faculty, the fact is that she lacks some people skills. Her office is near mine, and I don't really like the way that she treats her students sometimes. She tends to assume that she knows a lot about them, and that the reason that they aren't doing well in her class is because they aren't working exactly up to her standards. If she treats junior faculty that way, it could be a source of some friction.

On the other hand, I might deal well with junior faculty, but I probably won't deal well with administration. There are times when the department chair has to stand up to the Dean or to the Provost and say, "This is what's best for our department and our students." Our current chair is good at that, and Dr. D would be good, too. I'm too conciliatory. That's also going to hurt me if, heaven forfend, I have to deal with junior faculty who really aren't working up to standards. It will be hard for me to go to a junior faculty member and say, "Shape up, or ship out."

On the other hand, Dr. F is also concerned about our department tending toward the traditional. We don't do much to encourage new and innovative teaching methods. We are certainly well behind other departments in things like technology in the classroom or hybrid courses. Dr. D is pretty traditional, and would probably continue that trend. I'm a lot more open-minded, and I'd probably encourage new faculty to try innovative ideas.

On the other hand, I'm organizationally challenged, and I would probably go crazy trying to attend to the minute details of scheduling, budgeting, and all the other day-to-day crap that the chair has to do.

On the other hand, I'm running out of hands.

So, I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Dr. F made a point of talking to me early, because she didn't want me to feel like I was rushed into things at the last minute. But that means it's close to a year before I need to seriously decide what to do. So, I'll do what I usually do with hard decisions. I'll turn it over and over in my mind until I can make sense of it. A very good time to do that is when I'm out on the road. I ran more than an hour this morning, and believe me, a good deal of that time was spent thinking about this.

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Day 333 -- Darr

The Darr Feedlot in Cozad, Nebraska. I think that I'm closer to Darr (the town) than to Cozad, but I suspect this feedlot is somewhere in between. Anyway, I am pretty close to this feedlot. I imagine that out here, I'm never too far from a feedlot.

I had a good 8.1 mile run this morning. It's a little cold -- 36 degrees -- but it's not snowing and it's not windy, so it was a nice day for a run.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Day 332 -- Hollingsworth Motel

I couldn't leave Lexington without a stay at the Hollingsworth Motel, whose delightfully tacky sign is available at a site dedicated to Motel Americana. Is this more or less arcane than "Hay in Art"? I don't know, but I know that "Motel Americana" appeals to me, personally, more than "Hay in Art".

I ran another 5.3 miles today. It's a step-back week, after a long week last week. Tomorrow is off, then 8 miles on Saturday, and only 13 on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Day 331 -- Lexington, Nebraska

Here I am in downtown Lexington, looking north. OK, I'm looking south. The camera is looking north.

I went to the gym today, because it snowed. Check that date again: April 11. It snowed. Measurably. We probably only got an inch (although, come to think of it, that's an inch more than one would expect on April 11), but it was so windy that it was snowing sideways, so the Little Joggers got another day off. Mrs. Jogger wasn't working, but she had a quilting meeting in the morning, so I stayed home for half the morning.

Anyway, it's supposed to stop snowing soon, and warm up tomorrow. So at least it won't last. But still. April 11?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Day 330 -- The Wonder of the Internets

Here I am, helping M.C. Ekstrom bail hay near Overton, Nebraska, in 1904. That's not the wonderful part. The wonderful part is that this image is part of the Hay in Art Database. Pause a minute to let that sink in. Someone thinks that "Hay in Art" is an important enough theme that there should be a universally accessible database on the subject. People presumably use this database to find just the appropriate work of art involving hay for their current project.

I ran five miles today. It was cold. The calendar says Easter, but the weather says Groundhog Day. I should count my blessings. The weather tomorrow is going to say Christmas.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Rationalizing the Irrational

Mrs. Jogger has been giving me a bit of a hard time about how far I'm running. Why, she wants to know, do I have to run 18 miles to train for a half marathon, which is only 13.1 miles? Here are some of my answers, although I haven't tried these all out on Mrs. J.

  • In January, I wanted to get started training. I had an 18 week marathon training program, which was just right, but no 18 week half marathon training program. And the marathon training program starts at a pretty low level. So why not? Of course, by now, I've built up to higher mileage than necessary, which leads me to some more rationalizations....
  • By building up pretty high mileage, I'm expecting the half marathon to feel like only an intermediate distance. It should seem relatively easy.
  • I'm thinking ahead to the marathon in the fall. I'll build up to pretty high mileage in the spring, run the half marathon, then back off and build back up to high mileage in the summer. By the time I do run the marathon, I'll be in pretty good shape.
  • I want to see what I can do. Now. There's only so much one can defer gratification. As of right now, I'm a guy who can run 18 miles. If I never run another step, that's an accomplishment.
  • (This is the one that Mrs. Jogger doesn't get.) It feels good. It really does. Yes, I'm sore. Yesterday afternoon, I could barely go up and down stairs. There's also a warm glow that comes from having really pushed myself. There's no comparable feeling, at least not in my experience.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Day 329 -- Elm Creek, Nebraska

Just about to hop onto Interstate 80, a little south of Elm Creek, home of Dawson County Ethanol, LLC.

I ran 18 miles today. I was tired at the end (and I still am tired), but I didn't feel as bad as last week. I wasn't tempted to quit early. It felt really good. Last week, I questioned whether I could ever run a marathon. This week, I feel like I can. Not tomorrow, but I'll be ready when it comes around in September.

This is the fourth time in five weeks that I've run farther than I've ever run before in my life. That's very likely the last time I'll be able to truthfully type that sentence. In fact, I only expect to run two farther distances: 20 miles, which I'll run for the first time in two weeks, and 26.2 miles, which I'll run for the first time in September. I suspect I'll never run an ultramarathon (a distance of longer than 26.2 miles.) And that's OK. I may be crazy, but I'm not that crazy.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Mrs. Jogger is at work today, so I'm home with the Little Joggers. I'm doing housework. Even as we type, I'm doing laundry, washing dishes, and making bread. Of course, I have machines to do this for me. That makes my life somewhat easier. When my mother was my age, she would have had a machine to do the laundry, but not one to do the dishes, and definitely not one to make the bread. When her mother was my age, she wouldn't even have had a machine to do the laundry, I think. And don't even get me started on how hard it was for my grandmother to keep up with her blog.....

Friday, April 06, 2007

We now pause for a few words of inspiration from Amby Burfoot

I have learned that there is no failure in running, or in life, as long as you keep moving. It's not about speed or gold medals. It's about refusing to be stopped. You might find that one particular direciton proves difficult, but there are many directions on a compass. Infinite, in fact. As long as you keep searching, you'll find your winning way.

From The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life, by Amby Burfoot. I'd quote more, but the things only 150 small pages long. I have to leave some for you to read yourself.

Day 328 -- Holdrege, Nebraska

Today, I find myself in the middle of Holdrege, Nebraska. Something about the town sends a little jolt to my subconscious. I know Holdrege, in a way that I don't know Funk or Wilcox. I had a graduate school friend who was from Nebraska. I'm wondering if Holdrege was his home town. That was during my first pass through graduate school, in the late 1980's, so it's little wonder that I've forgotten.

I ran a solid eight miles today. The last six weeks or so, I've been following my schedule, which has Fridays off and sorta long runs on Saturday. However, the weather is downright cold, and the wind is horrible, so I decided to go today, when the gym was open. I'm not sure what I'm going to do on Sunday. The gym isn't even open in the afternoon, of course. So I may have to just wait and run outside after church, when at least the sun will be out and the temps will be a little warmer.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Day 327 -- In a Funk (Nebraska, that is)

I'm several miles south of Funk, Nebraska. With a name like that, I couldn't resist a stop. However, I was immediately transported back in time to 1951 (note the black and white) and arrested by a young Andis Kaulins. Apparently, Andis acheived his childhood ambitions of becoming a lawman. However, rather than toting a six-shooter, he totes a briefcase.

Funk is an appropriate place for me, right now, because I'm kind of in my own Funk. It has been a frustrating week. The really frustrating part is how much I'm having to do that isn't really related to teaching. I've been in meeting after meeting, preparing proposals for talks, and generally not spending time on my students. Everything that I've been doing has been important. It's just that there's so much of it.

However, today begins a four-day April break, and I'll get caught up on my sleep, and on at least some of my work, and I'll be fine on Tuesday, when I have to go back to school.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Day 326 -- Wilcox, Nebraska

Time for another library visit, I guess. This is the Wilcox Public Library, taken from the Nebraska Library Commission web site. Doesn't look like it's very big, but neither is Wilcox. It checks in at just 351 people.

Today's run was much better than yesterday's, even though it was longer. I was supposed to go 8, but I got a little ambitious, and went almost 9. I wasn't doing backflips when I was done, but I still felt strong. That's even though I was running outside, into a strong wind. So I'm feeling good about myself. I still have that 18 to do on Sunday. Yikes!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Day 325 -- Humility

Today's run was rather humbling. I had been at the point where five miles at a 9:30 pace was nothing. A walk in the park. But today, my legs were still pretty sore from Sunday, so every step was hard. I did finish, and probably could have even kept running. But it brought me back to earth. It reminded me of how tough this goal really is.

Today was humbling in other ways. It has been the longest damn day. I got in to work around 8:30, and did a few things that needed doing. I had class at 10, and I literally have been scheduled ever since. Class at 10 and 11. A meeting at noon (which began at 11:30 and ended some time after 1, so I came late and left early.) Class from 1 to 4. A meeting at 4, which also wasn't over when I left. At 5, I started giving my Calculus exam, which will go until 9 tonight. (It won't be a four hour exam, but some people will be coming later, as their schedule permits.) I'm glad that there's a computer in this room. I could be doing something productive, but I don't have the energy.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Weclome to Shakesville

The blog formerly known as "Shakepeare's Sister" has a new home, Shakesville. Now, Shakespeare's Sister hardly needs an introduction from me. The new blog has no doubt gotten more hits in its first few days that I get in a year. But there's one sort of cool connection to JogAmericaBlog. Back on the old blog, they invited everyone to submit photos for a mosaic, which they used as the intro to the new blog. Now, I'm pretty much a daily reader, but only a very occasional commenter. But they said specifically that that was OK, so, yes, I submitted a photo. See if you can spot me.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Via StyleyGeek, the coolest web toy I've seen in a long time: the Necklace. The Little Joggers and I sat here and played with it for 20 minutes, easily....

Day 324 -- Too long, and not long enough

I ran 16.1 miles today, another new personal long. The problem was, I was supposed to run 17. I just couldn't make it that last little bit.

I'm keeping the whole thing in perspective. Yes, I fell short of my goal today, but I still got a good workout. I will come back next week mentally and physically stronger, and I'll put on some more distance. I expect to make 18 miles next week. And I do have lots of time before the marathon. I'm clearly ready for the half marathon this spring, and I've got all summer to work myself up to the marathon this fall. So this missing 0.9 miles hardly ruins my plans.

Of course, now that it's mid-afternoon, I'm kicking myself. What do you mean, I couldn't run another 0.9 miles? Anybody can run 0.9 miles! What a wimp. But believe me, at the time, I was exhausted. Next week, I want to conserve my energy more, and do a better job of hydrating. I was dry as a bone when I stopped.

I am about to Upland, Nebraska. This is the Upland Opera House.