Saturday, September 29, 2007

Day 454 -- Jogger's Progress

Time16 days, 13 hrs, 19 min
8 days, 4 hrs, 25 min

The first Little Jogger has a band trip today. The middle school marching band is performing in an Oktoberfest parade in Lacrosse. I guess it's a pretty big deal. There will be 90,000 people at Oktoberfest, and it's a big, long parade route. She's pretty excited about it.

Anyway, I had to get out of bed at 4:00 to drop her off at 4:30. I have no idea why they had to go that early, but they did. So, what else was there to do at 4:30 on a Saturday morning but lace 'em up and go for a run. (Well, Mrs. Jogger found something else to do; she went back to bed.)

I couldn't decide how far to run. On the one hand, I'm still recovering from the marathon. On the other hand, when you get out on the road at 4:30, you don't want to run two miles and come home. So I settled on 5 miles, which was about right. By the end of the run, my quads were reminding me that they had already had a long week, but they weren't openly rebellious.

Having overdone it this morning, I'm declaring another day off tomorrow, which means that it's time to check Jogger's Progress. Except for that one day, it was a pretty easy month. 113 miles was my lowest month since February, and 18 days was my lowest month since the previous February. All those days off around the marathon really added up. But it was a good month. I'm happy with my first marathon, and I'm looking forward to my second.

Friday, September 28, 2007

OK, overdoing it may not be quite as bad a problem as I feared...

The alarm went off this morning, and I rolled over, turned it off, and went back to sleep.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Day 453 -- Vernal, Utah

Wow. Since my last visit to The World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things, they have completely redesigned the site. It looks very nice, I think. Be sure to check out their Theme Song, which is truly cool. I had a little trouble finding the "What's Large Where?" page, but it's there. I went there because I knew that they had visited the World's Largest Fishing Fly in Vernal. However, for some reason, they didn't have a photo of it. The only photo I could find on the web came from e-Denn. Neither site really tells me how large the thing really is. So I cheated. I just stuck myself in the foreground. Exactly how far in the foreground I am depends on how big the thing really is. But I'm pretty sure that it's big. e-Denn says that "It towers over houses and trees and everything!"

I ran three miles this morning. I'm feeling pretty good now. Most of the residual soreness is gone. My main problem now will be not overdoing it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Day 452 -- Back in the Saddle

Some time on Sunday, when I was actually running from Illinois to Iowa and back to Illinois, I virtually ran into Utah. It's hard to believe that I only have three states left to go. But they are big states, so it will still be a while.

I got out and ran today, for the first time since the marathon. I was pretty stiff, but I finished, and I feel pretty good about it. Tomorrow, I'll do just a little more mileage. I'll need to come back slowly.

The official race results are up. I was bib number 199, if you want to check them out for yourself. My time was 4 hours, 51 minutes, and 30 seconds. Not as good as I would have liked, but hey, it's a personal best, right? And it gives me something to beat next time. I was 479th out of 653 who finished the marathon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


We're having a debate in Faculty Senate about sick leave. The state has a policy where unused sick leave can be taken out at retirement in the form of dollars towards health care premiums. If you work for the state for a long time, and don't take much sick leave, this can be quite a few dollars.

The problem is that faculty don't take sick leave. Not never, but not as much as other state employees. So the legislature is afraid that they are getting ripped off. They want to reduce and/or eliminate sick leave for faculty, and our job, as a representative body, is to explain why that's not necessary.

In my opinion, the big reason why faculty take fewer sick days than other employees is because they make up the small stuff. If an hourly employee has a 3:00 dentist appointment, they clock out at 2:30 and probably don't come back, and never really make up those hours. So they take sick leave. If a faculty member has a 3:00 dentist appointment, they will probably come back later, or work extra the next day, or grade papers all weekend, to the point that they don't feel they owe anybody anything. They only take sick leave when they are sick enough to be out for several days at a time, or more.

Don't get me wrong. I'm sure many other types of employees work more than the standard 40 hours, and I'm sure there are plenty of faculty here and at any university that don't do as much work as they could. But I'd say, in general, faculty work so much more than 40 hours that making them account for a couple of hours at the dentist is just penny-ante.

And the irony? This discussion took place on a day when I'll put in something like 14 hours. I came in at 7:00 this morning, and I'm giving an evening exam. It's 8:30 pm and I'm still waiting for the last five students to finish. OK, so I'm not working real hard right now, but it was still a long, long day.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

This just in...

I don't think that I'll run in the morning.

Day 451 -- Quad Cities Marathon

OK, let's get this out of the way right away: I walked. I meant to run the whole thing, but it wasn't to be. I think I ran between 3 and 4 miles, total. I really don't feel bad about it. I think that I did the best that I could on this day. I did complete the whole 26.2 miles, which is a damn sight better than most people did today. So I'll leave running the whole marathon as a goal for the next marathon.

All right, back to the beginning. I arrived at the starting line about 45 minutes early. I knew that the best thing to do was to stay off my feet. I found a place to sit. Then I noticed a big clock that I couldn't see from where I was sitting, so I moved around to where I could see it. Then I decided I had to pee, so I wandered and found a bathroom without too long a line. Then I sat for a little more, and it was time to line up.

I tucked right in behind the pace team that was planning to run a 4 hour and 30 minute marathon. I thought I had a 4:30 marathon in me (Wrong!) and I wanted to be sure that I didn't go out too fast. It was crowded, but not as bad as some races I've been in. Exactly nobody commented on my t-shirt, on which my daughter had written "First Marathon" in large, clear letters.

Soon the announcements started. "Welcome to the 10th Quad Cities Marathon...Introducing our distinguished guests...blah, blah, blah." It wasn't too long, really. There was a flyover by a Chinook helicopter from the Rock Island Arsenal, which was pretty cool. Before long, we were off.

I had to laugh. They said, "Runners to your marks," and everyone around me tensed up, as if we were really going to start running right away. A little after they started the elite runners, we started shuffling forward, and by the time we crossed the starting line, we were able to run.

The race starts by running up the ramp onto the I-74 bridge. It's the only time all year that foot traffic is allowed on the bridge. The on-ramp is quite a hill, but we were all still fresh, so it wasn't so bad. There was no room to jockey for position, so I just stayed in behind the 4:30 pacers, and enjoyed the view.

I started to feel the need to pee again. Way too much hydration before I started, guess. The first porta-potty that we passed (at about 2.5 miles) was crowded, so I let it go. I hit another one at about 5 miles. It also had a line, but I had to go. I probably lost 4 to 5 minutes, which, at the time, I kind of resented. But as it turned out, it didn't make much difference.

At about four miles, I first heard a spectator comment on my t-shirt. If someone said anything before that, I never heard them. The comments would continue, and would become more frequent, as the crowds thinned out. I waved or gave a thumbs up every time anyone said anything (although at the end, some of the waves were pretty feeble.) It was so much fun, I think I'll wear it again for my second marathon.

From mile 5 to about mile 10, the course runs along a bike path on the north shore of the Mississippi river. It was very scenic, but there weren't a whole lot of spectators. I fell in with another guy going about the same speed as I was, and we swapped stories. He had lost 45 pounds since January, and was also running his first marathon. He was from right there in Davenport, and knew the area well. It was fun running with him, but as we crossed over into Rock Island, I lost him, and he never caught up with me again.

In Rock Island, the perks switched. It wasn't terribly scenic, but there were lots of good fans cheering us on. I felt good, and I was making good time.

After Rock Island, the course crosses over onto Arsenal Island, and the perks switched back. It was very scenic. We ran a good deal of it through the golf course on the island, which was pretty. But spectators aren't allowed at all, and the course workers were pretty far between. Most of us were tiring by now, and the conversation was lagging. We just put our heads down and ran.

One nice thing was that the marathon course and the half marathon course came back together, after splitting in Bettendorf. We were are 14 or 15 miles, but the half marathoners were at 10 or 11. So, by definition, we were going faster than they were. I passed a lot of people, which gave me a boost. But pretty soon the courses split again, and we were on our own.

The course leaves Arsenal Island at about 20 miles, and then plays the cruelest trick. It crosses back over into Moline at just about the finish line. If you look to your right, you can see people finishing, no more than half a mile away. But you aren't going right. You are going left. You've got three miles out and three miles back. Ouch.

At about 21 miles, my plan to run the whole marathon (minus the water stops) went out the window. I don't know if it was "The Wall," but a wave of exhaustion and nausea washed over me. The temperature was us close to 80, and there was precious little shade. I could not have kept running if I were being chased by a bear. (Fortunately, Moline is blessedly bear-free.) I must have looked bad. One of the guys on bicycles who patrol this last stretch looking for the walking dead stopped and asked me how I was doing. I gave him a weak but positive answer, and kept walking.

Before too long, I caught my breath and started running. I actually felt pretty good. I hoped to finish running, but I didn't. I'm not sure how many times I stopped in that last five miles, but I'm pretty sure that I walked all the way from mile 24 to mile 26. At mile 26, I kicked it into gear one more time, because I knew that they would be taking photos at the finish, and I didn't want to walk across the finish line. At this point, the course was lined with spectators, and a lot of them cheered for my t-shirt. One woman, who I think had just finished her own marathon, said I wouldn't be a virgin any more.

I coasted into the finish. Someone was announcing names as we came into the shoot. He called my name, said my home town, and mentioned that it was my first marathon. Whether he was reading my shirt or it said that in his notes, I don't know. I waved and smiled. I was done. My first marathon!

My time was just short of 5 hours. I can do better. I will do better on my next marathon. But I have no regrets. In fact, my cheeks hurt from having smiled more or less continuously since the marathon ended. I walked back to the car and grabbed my camera. I was parked close enough that I could walk back to the finish line and grab a stranger to take the above picture. Then I drove home. I'm sore, but happy. And I will do it again. Bet on it.

Today's the Day

It's 5:15 Sunday morning. I got up early to eat something, so I wouldn't run on an empty stomach. The race doesn't start until 7:30. Even with wanting to get there early, I've got a good hour before I have to leave. I slept OK, all things considered. It took a while to get to sleep, but once I did, I managed to sleep through the night as well as I ever do.

The weather might be a bit humid today. I need to be sure to drink plenty before, during, and after. I'm glad that I don't have to worry about keeping up with the elite runners. I'll just pick a pace and plod along. I've adopted John "the Penguin" Bingham's marathon goal: Finish the same day that I start.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Blogging from the Quad Cities

I'm in the hotel in Davenport, Iowa. I should be getting some sleep, but I don't know if I'll be able to.

Here you can see the entrance to the race expo. You have to go there to pick up your race packet, which includes your number and your timing chip. And while you're there, they try to sell you stuff. I could have spent a bundle, but I settled for stocking up on a few disposable running supplies, that I need to buy anyway, and can't get in my little town.

This is Joe Moreno, the race director, explaining some of the ins and outs of the course to some of us newcomers. He told some funny stories. This is the 10th year of the QCM, and he told some stories about some of the previous years. One year, a train came through and cut some runners off, even though the railroad company had told them that it wouldn't. Then they heard that another train was coming through. So Joe jumped in one of the official sponsor cars, drove it out and parked it on the track, to hold up the train. He said the police came out, the papers and TV were there.

This is the I-74 bridge. Tomorrow, I'll be running across here. It looks like a beautiful course. I just hope that I can make the full distance.

Day 450 -- Warmup

I ran two miles this morning. I'm pretty sure that it didn't do anything for me, physically. It was mostly to keep from going bonkers with anticipation. I've been looking forward to this race for over a year, really. I can't remember the last time I was this focussed on a single day for this long.

It should be good weather for the marathon. It was about 48 degrees this morning. By the end of the run, I was just starting to get warmed up. Of course, I ended a bit before I'll be ending tomorrow. Actually, I ended a bit before I'll be starting tomorrow. But at least it won't start at 70 and work its way up.

I'm going down to the Quad Cities this afternoon. I'm staying in a hotel overnight, because it's a bit too far to drive in the morning. Then I'll have to drive back after the race, which should help me to get good and stiff.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Day 449 -- Dinosaur. The Town, That Is

Well, here's something fun. Today I ran through the town of Dinosaur, Colorado. While Googling for images, I found this great site: Beans Around the World. Yep, they are taking pictures of this can of beans in various places around the world. What did we do for entertainment before the World Wide Web?

I ran four miles today, my last semi-serious run before the BIG ONE! The schedule says rest tomorrow and Friday, and run two miles on Saturday. However, if I wake up early the next two days, I'll probably go out and jog a couple of miles.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Day 448 -- Still More Dinosaur

Okay, so Grandma Jogger says that I misjudged the size of the dinosaurs in my lasts post. So I'm trying again. Does this look more like the right scale?

I ran an easy 3 miles today. It was just a little warmer this morning. Not oppressive, but enough to work up a sweat. As of right now, they are predicting pretty good weather for Sunday. Partly cloudy, and not too warm. Of course, since I'll be running pretty much all morning, I'll feel pretty warm by the end of the run, any way that you slice it.

The semester has started up with a bang. It seems like every day we have to drive one or more of the Little Joggers someplace. Tonight it was Cub Scouts for the littlest Little Jogger. This past weekend was crazy busy, with two birthday parties (one a sleepover), a girl scout function, and a football game. Only three years until the oldest and youngest Little Jogger can help with the driving. Of course, it's probably only a few days longer than that before she wrecks my car....

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Day 447 -- More Dinosaur

Another image from Dinosaur National Monument, because (a) they have a lot of cool images to stick myself into, and (b) there's barely anything else out here. In a day or two, I'll be in Dinosaur, Colorado, and I'll see what I can find from there.

It's been a light week, what with being sick and all. I ran just 5.6 miles today, taking my weekly total to 22.2 miles. Remember, two weeks ago, I ran 22.2 miles in one day! If nothing else, I'll arrive at the marathon start line pretty well rested, I hope.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Days 445 and 446 -- Dinosaur National Monument

I'm now running south of Dinosaur National Monument. It's a huge park (210,000 acres and some 40 miles long), so I'll be running past it for a while, now. Here I am in the Dinosaur Quarry Visitor Center, which I couldn't actually see if I were there. It is "is closed indefinitely due to significant life, health, and safety issues." I wonder what that means.

I have been there in real life, but not for 30 years. My grandmother and grandfather took my cousin and I there in the 70's when we were about 10. It was a great thing for kids that age. Gram and Gramps took the two of us on several summer trips about that time, which I will always remember.

I overslept yesterday morning, because I failed to set my alarm correctly, so I ran a quick three. Then I slept in this morning, because I was up late, but I managed to get in four and half miles right before lunch. Today was the best run I've had in a week. I'm finally getting back to normal, I think.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dealing with Students

One of my colleagues, Dr. J, was bragging yesterday about how she had dealt with her College Algebra class. She wanted to take some time to go over their questions on homework, but it soon became apparent that not a lot of them had done a whole lot. So she asked how many people had done no homework. She asked those students to stand up and go stand against the wall. Then she asked how many had done fewer than 6 problems. She asked those students to go stand up against another wall. At this point, she had only a handful of students still seated. So she read them the riot act, kicked the slackers out of the room, and finished the class with those few students.

Well. That's Dr. J. She isn't shy to confront her students. She doesn't mind embarrassing them. She does a lot of stuff that I wouldn't do, but I think this is probably over some line. I'm pretty certain that she lost more students than she saved with this little stunt. She might have spurred a few students to action. But most of them I'm sure walked out calling her derogatory names, and figuring she's out to get them.

I thought about that today as I dealt with some problem students.

  • I had a student who had been missing for a few days. She said her grandfather had died and her uncle had been in an auto accident, and she just couldn't get the work done. I arranged for her to hand in her homework (due today) on Monday.
  • Another student came in for help with the homework at almost literally the last minute. He was in my office at 12:45, when my class is at 1:00. I helped him a little, and then arranged a standing date for earlier on Thursday mornings, so he could get the help he needed.
  • A third student showed up for only the second time, after a whole week gone. I asked what was going on. He said that he was having financial aid problems, and thought he was going to drop out. He didn't ask for extensions on the homework, and I didn't offer. But I did say that as soon as he got caught up enough that he had specific questions, he should come for help.

Is that the way Dr. J would have handled these students? No, definitely not. Is my way better? I think so. Not just better for me, but objectively better, in the sense that I will help more students succeed. There's no way to know, of course.

In any case, I'm much more comfortable with who I am. And I'm not going to change who she is. She is tenured, and she's going to go on doing things the way she does them. I think that she genuinely cares about the students, but that she's more apt to show her frustration and disappointment.

Day 444 - Massadona

I arrived just a little too late. If I had been in Massadona on May 24 - 28, 2004, I would have had the chance to join the Creation Expeditions "Dragon's Den" tour. From the website:
Our objective is to teach what the Bible says about dinosaurs and Noah's Flood. Moreover, we strive to provide opportunities for others to gain first-hand experience with teachers who will present a young earth creation account, to learn how to identify, collect, and interpret fossils from trained experts who use a creation model, and to be a part of a historic paleontological dig in northwest Colorado.

If you can't trust the creationists to give you the straight dope, whom can you trust?

This photo is Ebenezer the Allosaur. Alas, I couldn't put myself in the photo, because I still don't have Photoshop Elements installed on this computer. Pretty soon, I'll get everything straightened out.

I did run this morning, after two days off. I set out to go five miles, but it became apparent early that that was not to be. I settled for about 3.4, with a walk break in the middle. I'm still not feeling 100%. I hope I'll get a good night's sleep tonight, and get a good run tomorrow.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Days 442 and 443 - Stayin' Alive

No, I'm not dead. Mrs. Jogger and I took the weekend off, and got away from the kids, so I was out of town Friday evening and all day Saturday. I spent almost all of Sunday afternoon grading the first assignment in Calc I, which was terrible. Then I didn't get to give it back, because I got sick to my stomache at noon today, and came home and spent the afternoon in bed.

I did run Saturday morning and this morning, but I haven't gotten those days entered in my journal, yet. I intend to blog about the weekend's activities at more length, but not today, because I've just about used up the sudden burst of energy that got me out of bed to check my e-mail.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Complement, of Sorts

A bunch of math faculty were eating lunch yesterday in a public place, and there were a couple of students nearby. We got to talking about the History of Math course, and I said something about how one of those students, whom I shall call Athena, had taken the course two years ago. She said, "Yeah, I didn't mind that course."

The faculty all smirked at each other. I said something about how that was probably the highest complement I was going to get all day. Another faculty member suggested I should get her to write a letter for my post-tenure review file.

Athena just shrugged it off. She didn't even seem embarrassed to have given me such a backhanded complement. Oh well, I'm happy that she didn't mind that course. I guess.

Day 441 -- The Laptop is Dead, Long Live the Laptop

It will cost $450 to replace the screen on the laptop. New laptops at start at $500. Probably not worth it. But, of course, I'm not getting a new laptop at right away. So I'm back to using my old laptop for the time being. It isn't ancient, but it is slower and less powerful than the broken one. Well, I guess, strictly speaking, it's more powerful than the broken one, as now configured, because I can't do anything with that one.

Anyway, the current laptop does not yet have Photoshop Elements installed on it, so no picture for today. I ran a moderately paced 5 miles, and I'm ready for a day off.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Day 440 -- Irish Canyon

From the Bureau of Land Management comes this picture of the sign at the entrance to Irish Canyon. I don't think you can read it, but the sign announces that Irish Canyon is an "Area of Critical Environmental Concern." I didn't see anything on the BLM site that explains what the heck that really means.

I'm not terribly near to Irish Canyon, but it's in Moffat County, and so am I. Of course, Moffat county is the second largest county in Colorado, at over 12,000 square kilmeters. So, as I say, I'm not terrible near.

I ran six miles today. I picked up the pace a little, after two slow runs in a row. It felt fast, but when I got back, the watch didn't say it was all that fast. The watch must be broken.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Random Scenes from the First Day of Class

  • The two sections of Calc are evidently going to be very different in character. The first section was light and fun. The kids joked with me, asked good questions, and really got into the idea of working together to learn calculus. The second section was kind of dead. The kids did what I asked, but that was it. No spark. I hope that I'll be able to wake them up.

  • I was trying to get the students to compare schedules, so they could set up study groups. One student sat there and openly said, "I'm going to go drinking on Thursday nights, because I don't have any classes on Friday morning." At least she's got her priorities.

  • Most people just compared schedules with the people around them, but one young man got up and walked halfway across the room so that he could compare his schedule with that of a very pretty young lady. I'm sure he had Calculus on his mind.

  • I had a student from my Calc II class last spring show up. In Calc I. Apparently, he's going back to try to get a better grade in Calc I, to boost his GPA. It's not unheard of, but he took me by surprise. I guess I should be flattered that he decided to take Calc I from me, when he could easily have avoided me. Of course, maybe he just thinks that I'm an easy grader.

  • Overall, I was happy with the first day. The class next meets on Thursday, when we'll actually get down to work. We'll see how that goes.

Day 439 -- A short jog

Only a couple of days after saying how I was going to stick to the schedule for the three weeks leading up to the marathon, I found myself off schedule. Of course. The schedule said "20 miles Sunday, rest Monday, 5 miles Tuesday." I rested Sunday and ran 22 miles on Monday. So, what to do with Tuesday? After the long run, taking it off seemed tempting. But I didn't want to hit the first day of class with no exercise at all. So I just jogged a slow 3 miles. I really felt OK, considering my long run yesterday.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Day 438 -- Elk Springs, Colorado

The problem with Googling a city with a name like "Elk Springs, Colorado" is that you tend to get any old web page that mentions elk, springs, and Colorado. With quotes around "Elk Springs", it's a little better, but one can still go awry. I was delighted to find this deer photo from a family called Daly, who moved from England to Colorado, with a brief (11 year) stop in Texas, and a briefer (4 year) interlude of RVing around the country. Alas, the Dalys live on Elk Springs Ranch, near Glenwood Springs, not very close to where I am. So I can't use this photo.

I made my 20 miler today, and in fact managed to stretch it to 22.2 miles, my longest run ever. I needed that for my confidences. I know that I can finish the marathon (only 4 miles more than I ran today!) It may not be pretty, and it won't be fast, but I can finish. I think I could have run 4 more today, if I'd had the time.

I did not have the time. I just barely walked in the door, took a shower, and we jumped in the van for our annual visit to the Labor Day Parade in Benton, a little town about 15 miles from here. We love the Benton Parade. We've live in this area for 8 Labor Days, and I imagine that we have gone at least 6 times. Today's parade was as good as ever, marred slightly when the medium Little Jogger was stung by a bee. A round of popsicles mitigated the problem, although it still hurts, and will for a day or two.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

What not to do the day before a 20 mile run

We are getting a new solar water heating system for Jogger Manor. It will save us a lot on gas, and of course it's better for the environment, too. It will even help heat the home in the winter, because we will be able to run the hot water through a couple of radiators in the finished part of the basement.

However, we needed to clear out some space to make a patch of land that would get enough sun to be worth the investment. So today, a friend of ours from church came over to take down two trees, and trim a third. (That's him, in the picture above.) I spent a good part of the day toting logs and dragging branches. Not the best rest for a long run tomorrow morning. Towards the end, I even began to feel like I do at the end of a long run: "Just a little bit more. Just keep moving."

I think what I'll do is to take tomorrow off, and run the 20 miler on Monday morning. I'll have time, since classes don't start until Tuesday. And I want to be as rested as I can, because I really, really want to complete that 20 miles.

Day 437 -- Lay, Colorado

Here I am at the gravesite of Andrew Jackson Williams, a Civil War soldier from Hamilton County, Ohio. The VFW paid tribute to Williams on Memorial Day, 2003.

It was a gorgeous morning for running. I did five miles at a brisk pace, and felt very, very good. It was nice to come home a little sweaty, as opposed to a lot sweaty.