I finally made it out of the 20’s for my weekly mileage!!! With a tough workout AND a long run thrown in there! This event has been far too long in coming – I somehow got stuck in the mid-high 20’s seemingly forever and then had a couple rough weeks with trying to finish up my thesis (barely over 10 miles last week, yowch).
Equally exciting, I got to run with Fish for the first time in ages this morning – she’s been off doing fun things like taking the bar exam and gallivanting around Europe. Ookay, so one of those things was a little more fun than the other 😉 The weather here has decided to suddenly shift into Fall mode and I ended up shivering through the first mile of our run in LONG SLEEVES!!! Crazy stuff! I’m hoping to race an afternoon 4k (cross country! with college gals! Ack) in 2 weeks so I’m hoping the cooler weather holds.
On the academic front I’m prepping for the start of the semester, which means I’m basically sitting here feeling anxious but refusing to do any actual work until 8 a.m. tomorrow morning. I’m TAing the same course as last Spring but (thankfully!) only a single lab section for a much smaller class (only ~25-30 students total). In addition, I’ll be working with just one other instructor – the wife from the husband-wife professor duo that taught the course last year. I get along well with her and I’m really looking forward to not sitting through any hour-plus meetings this time around. She also gave me some supportive feedback regarding failing to finish my thesis in time. Apparently writing up her dissertation drove her to (uncharacteristic for her) sleeping in as late as possible every day that she had to write just to avoid starting the dreaded task. It’s validating to hear from people who’ve actually made it through the process that the thesis/dissertation write-up IS actually a tough piece of work and that it’s normal for the process to drag on longer than expected. One can only write so much in a day before one’s brain turns to sobbing mush – something I tend to forget until it’s too late 😛
Getting this thesis wrapped up is kind of kicking my ass. I *like* writing and I actually really enjoy working on figures, but the seemingly endless sets of read-revise-read-revise-send for feedback-freak out-revise-revise-revise are killer. However, I’ve come up with a few habits that are helping keep me sane:
1) Just do a dang outline.
I abhor making outlines. Something about the formal, roman-numeral outline just drives me bonkers – tedium mixed with tough brain work all in a ridiculously tidy package. I can generally get a 10 page paper out of a very loose outline, my set of figures to keep me on track, and some post-writing revision. However, a 100 page document is a drastically different story. I used a loose outline for my 1st draft and am now paying for it. I’m currently making a new (much more detailed!) outline to go over with my advisor to reduce redundancy and improve flow.
2) Write when you can…and take breaks!
I’ve realized that cramming a solid 8-10 hour block of writing in leads to getting lots of words on paper…er, screen, but also results in about ¼ of those words being “garbage words.” Too much fluff & filler, not enough sharp, concise statements. I work best from about 8-11 am, 2-4 pm, and 8pm-11 or midnight. Kind of a silly schedule but hey, if it gives better results it’s totally worth it!
3) Stay positive!!!
Every time my advisor sends feedback I take a deep breath and then dive in. I inevitably find myself muttering angrily under my breath and glaring at the solid screen of comments and track-changes. But then I take a walk, come back and find a few easy-to-address comments, and try to look at the tough comments in a new light. My advisor and I are working towards a common goal – technically accurate and compelling thesis! So after looking through the revisions I’ve been making a habit of sending him a “thank you for the feedback, specifically blahblahblah” email before diving in to actually fix/add stuff. Somehow the act of saying “thank you” actually shifts my attitude more towards the grateful and further from the “What is this guy thinking?!?!? Ack, I’m never going to finish >:[” mindset. Copious quantities of chocolate also help 😉
Went to a friend’s dissertation defense today…and totally forgot to grab a cookie. Dang it! Totally worthwhile presentation even without the free sugar though – my friend studies eyeballs, which are awesome 😀
Tested out my theory that more ponytails = more speed today. Worked pretty well til my body realized it was 88 freaking degrees out and redirected what felt like half my blood volume to my sweat glands so’s to not actually burst into flames.
My thesis has a title now! And an abstract! And a “this thesis is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master’s of Science in THE FREAKING UNIVERSE” page. It looks *very* official.
I ran a 5k this past weekend. And of course I forgot to start my watch, got distracted by ice cream (mmm!) afterwards & forgot to look at the results, and am now impatiently refreshing the race homepage in vain hope that they’ll get the dang results up already. Give me some numbers, dangit!
It’s been incredibly rainy lately, in true Spring fashion. This has been excellent for thesis writing – I’ve gotten just over 11,000 words down on paper and have absolutely no desire to distract myself by prancing around outside in the frigid May showers.
The sudden turn in the weather has been less conducive to running. Tuesday’s track workout turned into a bit of a battle for survival. Fish & I had a tougher workout planned (2×800 @ 5k pace – 10 seconds/mile [200m jog recovery], 2×600 at the same[same recovery], 2×300 at mile race pace [100 m recovery]) + about 800m worth of strides sprinkled throughout) and we were both keeping an eye on the sky since there had been thunderstorms predicted. However, it was about 60 degrees and looked pretty decent when we started.
By the time we got to the 2nd 600 the temperature had plunged into the 40’s and it was raining so hard that we both abandoned our long sleeves since they were more water than shirt at that point. The track was flooded and we spent each lap squinting and dodging each other’s foot-splash.
The battle for survival started when we finally got back to the car & I realized my hands were too frozen to grip the key. Yay for Raynaud’s 😛 I finally figured out a nice (and ridiculous looking) two-handed substitute for the usual single-handed pinch-grip for turning the key and we rejoiced in the fact that we were not going to be forced to suffer the indignity of dying of hypothermia right outside a nice warm car. We survived, got to feel tough, and even managed to hit some of our splits!
Allright, enough reminiscing about the week’s runs – I have a thesis to write! And lots of hot coffee to drink…just thinking about that workout makes me shiver!
Just got done teaching lab. I’m at 26 hours of TA time so far this week. And I haven’t even started grading yet. And I still have weekend open lab hours. Last night I finally collapsed in to bed at … Continue reading →
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 😉
Anyways, I had 32 hours committed to TAing this week between labs, office hours, lab prep, proctoring, and grading…just a little over the 20 hours that I’m ‘supposed’ to be doing 😛 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 😀
Today I got an email from my advisor asking for a project timeline for the week’s research meeting. I freaked out just a little – I’ve had a tough time being motivated about my project over the holidays and the idea of writing down every single thing that I still have to get done in order to finish sent my heart rate through the roof. Making a timeline also involved figuring out exactly how little time I have to get it all done in. If I want to graduate in the Spring I need to be done the beginning of March – that’s 9 weeks away and I have yet to complete my model (which I’m sure will involve some unexpected challenges), compare my model results to my imaging results (still need to figure out a good way to do this), write my entire thesis (and hopefully a paper?), and defend the dang thing! To be honest, the resulting anxiety made me want to curl up in bed and escape into unconsciousness, but I figured that sleeping it off isn’t exactly a productive way to shrink the giant pile of sh*t-to-get-done. So I sat down and listed everything out and threw in some expected time requirements. And doing that actually helped a lot – I have a concrete research goal for each week now and know where I need to be to hit either the Spring or Summer graduation date. The end is in sight and I found my motivation again. Now I just need to ramp back up to my crazy long days from last year (aiming for 60+ hours weeks – 40+ research, 20 TA. Oh yayyyyy :P) and get it all done! DO ALL THE THINGS!!!
The premise of this journal club is to discuss articles and blog posts about Diversity in STEM and academia. We post the paper/topic the 2nd week of the month, and discuss the third Friday of every month at 2pm EST, under #DiversityJC on Twitter. Hope to see you there!