Spring speed work started today :D

Fish and I did our first “speed” workout of the Spring today! By “speed” I just mean workout type running – faster than our usual runs but not actual speed work with sprinting and such. ¬†We are way too out of shape to do anything that requires actual speed ūüėõ

We got a workout from “Coach”, i.e. my favorite MountainMan. ¬†That exercise physiology degree of his sure comes in handy sometimes ūüėČ ¬†He prescribed a short warmup, then 800 m of SSJC (strides on the straightaway, jog on the curves) to get our legs ready to move fast. ¬†The actual workout was 6 x {300 m @ goal 5k pace and 100 m of easy recovery jogging}. ¬†Fish and I are aiming for a 5k in a few weeks and hope to get at least a little fitness in our legs & lungs by the race. ¬†I’m hoping to break 20 minutes and Fish is just a little behind in terms of fitness, so today’s goal pace was 75 seconds/300 m – this works out to 20:49 5k pace and represented a nice compromise since we had a pretty decent headwind on one side of the track. ¬†

We hit every rep between 73 and 75 – stellar work considering Fish had given in to the licorice candy after work and I’d just had a panini and beer a few hours before our workout. ¬†Oops… ¬†

The panini and beer sat fine – thank goodness! ¬†I just couldn’t resist a celebratory meal after wrapping up ~65 hours of TAing/open lab hours over the last week with today’s freshman design competition and (as a result of the insane schedule) consisting solely on ramen, bagels, and stale donuts for the same period of time. ¬†

Overall our first “easing back in” workout went great and I can’t wait to hit the track again together next week!¬†

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What a week…

Just got done grading for the week. ¬†Yesterday turned into a crazy marathon session of grading anguish (and, eventually, the everything-is-so-hilarious giddiness that comes with too little sleep and too much tedium). ¬†How sad is it that those hours of brain-numbing work represent almost my entire social life for the week? ¬†Yep, grad school is pretty cool…

Research picked up a bit – got some help with software and had a much less stressful meeting with my advisor than I expected. ¬†I did get told that sleep and free time are “unnecessary”, which made me laugh a little. ¬†But only in my head. ¬†Because I’m not entirely sure my advisor was joking :S ¬†I usually buy into the whole workaholic culture of academia and fully understand that my graduation date hangs on my efforts over the next few weeks. ¬†However, being told straight up that I literally don’t need sleep may be going a bit far. ¬†Unless my advisor is willing to foot the resulting coffee bill I may need to cheat and grab a few hours here and there ūüėČ

Anyways, I had 32 hours committed to TAing this week between labs, office hours, lab prep, proctoring, and grading‚Ķjust a little over the 20 hours that I’m ‘supposed’ to be doing ūüėõ ¬†That plus a solid 20 hours on research (and more tomorrow!) means I’ve been extremely glad to have been able to get out and enjoy some relaxing, pain free miles of running this week. ¬†

I’m at 14 miles for the week after a quality long run today (pushed throughout and then threw in a mile of tempo on the end – down to 6:45 pace, yay!). ¬†Heading out on the trails tomorrow for an easy 4 that will put me at 18 total. ¬†If all feels good, up to 20 next week! ¬†So excited ūüėÄ ¬†

TA round 4

I’m really excited to start another semester of TAing tomorrow. ¬†My 2nd semester was rough, but this fall reminded me why I love it. ¬†There is nothing cooler than seeing a student “get it.” ¬†I got much better reviews for this past semester than I did last year, which was a great confidence boost. ¬†Several students said stuff along the lines of “she know her stuff!”, which made me smile. ¬†I usually get pretty good ratings as far as availability and caring about students, but it’s nice to get some skill-based good reviews as well. ¬†

I’ve done much more programming since I last taught this course (the focus is Matlab and Arduino programming), which should help me avoid the confidence issues that I ran into last Spring. ¬†We’re also cutting back on some of the non-programming lessons, which should reduce chaos (is there any way to have a freshman class with ~150 students, two professors, and 6+ TA/graders NOT be at least somewhat chaotic?!?). ¬†And I still have the one thing that made teaching this course feel valuable even during the struggles of last year – I can empathize with the students who struggle with programming and enjoy helping them work through their barriers.

¬†I am not a particularly “natural” programmer. ¬†From experience, I know how much of a confidence boost it is when an instructor admits they haven’t always known everything. ¬†Hearing that competence in programming takes practice and patience to develop is a life-saver during those first few weeks of deer-in-the-headlights overload. ¬†I’m really looking forward to working with my fellow TA’s to convince our little freshmen that yes, they really can learn how to write code and get some awesome robot game time out of it ūüėČ

2 Weeks Down

Second week of classes and first week of full-length lab TAing completed as of 5:30pm today. ¬†I won’t lie, doing an evening lab on thursday (6-9pm) and then a 3-hour morning and afternoon lab on Friday is a bit rough. ¬†Quite a few of my students just didn’t show up in week 1, so they had a lot of general class catch-up to do this week (which means extra work for me).

Strangest moments of TAing so far this year?

1) ¬†Getting addressed by a student as “Mr.” ¬†Um, no…

2) ¬†Listening to my now all-male evening lab (the only girl in the section switched to a morning lab) discuss the lack of women in their engineering peer group. ¬†Entertaining because their main concern is the scarcity of potential class-mate romances. ¬†It sounds just a *leetle* desperate when you’re bummed the girl in your lab dropped because “there’s so few girls in ME, I’ll take whatever I can get.”

3) ¬†Getting so nervous my first day of the semester for lab TAing that I managed to sweat enough to steam up my safety glasses. ¬†Gee, now I *really* look cool :\ ¬†Talking in front of 20 new faces really ought not to still have such an intense effect on my nerves. ¬†Although when those 20 new faces are doing the awkward, we-won’t-help-you-out-and-respond-to-any-of-your-discussion-questions thing it doesn’t help matters much.