Cake or pie?

Monday, August 31, 2009

First Impression: Physics

Physics seems interesting. I had my first class meeting for the lecture this morning, my recitation and lab meet on Wednesday, since I figured I would schedule them both on the same day and knock them out in one shot. The expectations don't seem unreasonable, there are 8 multi-part exams (multiple choice and problem-based where you have the problem and have to run through, show your work to the solutions). 2/8 of the exams will be dropped. That doesn't seem so bad but I swear my first time in undergrad it was rare for a professor to drop exam grades or even let you make it up. I still stand by my assertion that today's students are pretty coddled, or maybe professors are just more accommodating to students' needs now more than they were "back in the day."

The physics professors is a hoot. Yes, I said hoot. After we got through the administrivia of the class, and he broke out the powerpoint slides for chapter 1, the first slide said "What is physics?" at the top, and he said he didn't know. So he looked it up on Wikipedia (nice joke) before hitting enter and letting the next bit of the slide materialize. We didn't get that far since most of the first 50-minute session was spent going over the syllabus and expectations, along with a stern admonition not to be Twittering during class (tweeting?).

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Long Run, August 30, 2009

Today I ran 16 miles in a little over 137 minutes, which... carry the 1... is a little over 8 min 30 second miles. The marathon itself is 26.2(ish) miles, and I've run two now. I am progressively getting faster, which is cool, and easily explainable. The first year I ran the Marine Corps Marathon, I was a little under-trained. I had done a fair amount of long runs, but never longer than 18 miles, but no speedwork and no tempo runs. I think my sheer stubbornness, despite the cramps, got me to the finish. In my experience, stubbornness can be a huge asset or a huge problem. On one hand, I think stubbornness can spring out of self-confidence and persistence, but on the other hand it can spring out of ignorance, i.e. you don't know what you're getting yourself into but keep on going anyway, despite conflicting evidence. I think the first year I ran it, it was more of the latter, and last year, it was the former. It's such a cliché, but experience really is the best teacher. Last year, I was a little better trained, and the stubbornness plus better (or smarter) training got me to the finish on a roughly similar course layout 25 minutes faster.

Realistically, I am looking at at least another 25 minute drop this year, but possibly DOUBLE that. Last year I ran a 4:56, but I am taking the training more seriously this year and also eating much much better. When I ate like crap the first two years, I felt pretty bad the days after my long runs, which was confusing at first. I wondered why I was sore when I wasn't shocking my system with much much longer runs than I had previously done. I had progressively and gradually increased my mileage, but my running economy had not improved much due to the lack of speedwork and tempo runs. During my long runs I had done a good job (I thought) of staying hydrated with water and getting some calories on-the-run, I tried pretzels for the salt at first. Have you ever tried to eat pretzels while you are running? Let me just say that I could easily understand that President Bush pretzel fiasco if he had been doing laps around the Oval Office. They were too dry. I switched to kid's fruit snacks - the theme ones like Scooby Doo, Spider-Man, Batman, etc., and eventually gels. Now I use jelly beans on long runs, and they're awesome.

The long runs I have done getting ready for this year's Marine Corps Marathon, which is on October 25th, have been faster than I have previously run and I feel fine the next day.

I'll let you know how I feel tomorrow!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Time Flies

If anyone is actually reading this, I apologize for the lack of updates! The fall semester is about to begin, I'm taking just two classes - Organic Chemistry and Physics, for a grand total of 9 hours. Everyone tells me Organic Chemistry is a weed out class, i.e. it's difficult, takes a lot of time... and so on. The physics I'm taking is an algebra-based physics, since I haven't had calculus in quite a while and that class seems more oriented towards the engineer-types.

You make the time in your life for whatever you think is important. I think it's important for me to do well in organic, so I will take the time and study and do practice problems for it so that I can keep up with it every day. I read ratings of my school's professors on RateMyProfessors, and from reading some of the ratings it's almost like you can tell what people don't want to take personal responsibility for their performance in a class and want to blame a professor that teaches a difficult subject, such as organic chemistry. Now I know that some professors make themselves more available to students, love to teach, and have an easier time connecting with students and making the subject matter interesting and relevant, while others would rather avoid students and be doing research. When the ratings vary so dramatically on certain professors though, it's almost comical to read the reviews and I also wonder just how big of a problem grade inflation poses, especially to me as a non-traditional student. It seems like today's college students want to earn all A's but they don't want to work for it.

Newsflash: "C" is average. If you are an average student, you'll get a C. B's and A's are reserved for good and excellent students.

The real world doesn't just hand you things because you think you deserve them. The sooner you learn that lesson, that you learn you have to work for what you want, work to accomplish your goals, the better off you will be in the future. Take it from me, I was not the world's greatest student my first trip through undergrad and I have the record to prove it. There aren't any shortcuts to success (aside from being well-connected or a trust-fund baby). Most of us that reach success or will reach it is through the sweat on our brow and our hard work towards what we find important. Keep your head down and let your work speak for you.