Friday, August 19, 2016

The Third Lap

In racing the mile, the third lap is universally acknowledged to be the most difficult. 
The third lap is the most taxing on the body as the adrenaline from the first two laps is gone and the body's own lactic acid builds up in the muscles, decreasing usable oxygen. As the body begins to suffer, the mental training of the runner must step up to continue to propel the runner forward. If a runner gives up on the third lap, it rarely matters how fast he can run the final lap. Too much ground has been lost to finish well. Whether running against opponents or simply against the clock, the third lap can make or break a runner's one-mile success. Marc Hays
I am in the third lap of my dissertation. I have one chapter left to write, along with the introduction, conclusion, and revising the entire dissertation once it's a complete document that can be read cover-to-cover. This week I submitted my third chapter, which was both the most enjoyable and quickest to write. I think part of that has to do with the fact that I've finally started to figure out the best ways to organize my thoughts, to structure my argument, and to write efficiently. I finally figured out how to aim for quality over quantity, and as that happened, better words appeared on the page. When I focused on making a point over hitting a page count, I started to find a flow. It was exciting and like the cumulative years of training as I accumulated thousands of miles, I started to accumulate chapters.
While my family and friends have said that I'm in on the home stretch, and I'm sure in the big perspective, I am rounding the bend, but I think I'm in the middle of my third lap of the dissertation.
Jenny Simpson made our country proud Tuesday night becoming the first American woman to medal in the 1500m. But that third lap never looks that enjoyable
It is only at the end, when crossing the finish line in victory, that the joy is evident. You can also see the relief etched into her face, knowing that all of the hard work and sacrifices paid off. 
There is still new writing to be done, and it is my goal at the end of the fall semester to have a full draft. I anticipate having less than 100 pages of new writing to do. My final lap will be in the spring semester, when I revise and defend my dissertation.
I think I learned how to step things up this summer in terms of focusing single-mindedly and really throw everything I can at this chapter. I will continue to use that approach this fall, and looking forward to reaching the bell lap when I ring in the New Year of 2017.

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