Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dealing with fear, Spamalot, track

What are you afraid of?
I'm not thinking of things like spiders or snakes, but the other things that aren't hiding under the bed, but crawling around in our heads.
I am in the very early stages of researching a topic for my dissertation.  I have some ideas in mind, but no matter what, I am staring down at the starting line of a very long project.  We just a department workshop on Friday to talk about the proposal - the document I have to submit (and get approved by a whole bunch of people) - and I am not going to lie, it freaked me out a bit.  Because from here on out in the PhD program, things are a bit nebulous and murky.  While I have goals about what I want to do and when I want to finish, it is a very imprecise and uncertain thing.  And I am a big planner: I like certainty and schedules, and it is a little hard to just have to trust the process.
And I do have some fear with this - it is a tall order and it is definitely something I have never done before.  I remember have some fear and skepticism with the marathon - but it was a 6 month process leading up to the big day, not years and years.  Everything so far has gone on track with my program, so I should not worry too much.  But I still have reason to worry - people don't just crank out PhDs.
So, I am acknowledging my fear - fear of the unknown, but I am hoping that in saying it out loud, I can manage it a little better than keeping it bottled up.
A few friends of mine who are in the program stayed at school working pretty late on Friday.  When I was walking home at 10, a little freaked out from the day, I played "Find your grail" from the musical Spamalot.  Not only is the song great, but the medieval references are just great - plus, it goes on an on about achieving your goals and saying "you won't fail."
Life is really up to you, 
You must choose what to pursue, 
Set your mind on what you find, 
And there's nothing you can't do.
Pretty uplifting and a nice reminder that all big dreams are accompanied with some fear and doubt.
Today, our mini cold spell had broken - the ice was gone, the sun was out, and it was a beautiful day - perfect for a track workout.  Quite the opposite of last week's workout: cold and rainy.
2.5 mile warm-up; 2000m cut-down (start at 7:05 pace and get faster with each lap); 2 lap jog; 4 x 1200. Aim for about 5:15 to start and cut down 2-3 seconds per interval, 500 meter jog between each;  2.5 cool-down. Total=10.5 miles
I remember when I first started working with Sarah 2 years ago, I was not always steady with the 2k cutdown.  It is a nice way to start the workout, but I used to have a hard time getting a little faster with each lap.  Much better this time: I did the whole thing in 8:40 (6:58 pace) and started at 7:05 pace and managed to work my way down.  The 2 lap jog is always great - long enough to almost feel like you're starting fresh and hitting the reset button.  I was really happy with how the 4 x 1200 went: 5:15, 5:12, 5:08, 5:02.  A little too fast at the end, but I felt good, and managed to average under 7 minute pace for the entire workout.
When there is a bit of fear and doubt, a workout like that is a good reminder that things take time and I can succeed.  I couldn't have done a workout at this pace a year ago, but here I am today, feeling like I could've pushed a lot harder!

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