Going Back to School – The Details

Last week, I let you in on a little secret. I’m going back to school! This is something I’ve been thinking about  for almost 2 years now, but the timing never seemed to be just right.  I currently have an Associates degree in Marketing that I’ve gotten by and done well with, but I know I could do more and not having that Bachelor’s degree is really holding me back. After some encouragement from “outsiders” (non-family/friends) and talking it over with the Tall One we both agreed that it was a good idea and something that I need to just do. I also realized that the time would never be exactly perfect, but then the stars aligned juuuuuuust enough to convince me to go for it.
I usually never open fortune cookies. The one time I did - I got the message I needed.

I usually never open fortune cookies. The one time I did – I got the message I needed.

The Background:
I did quite a bit of research and started looking at my options. It became obvious pretty quickly that online classes would work best for my schedule; I just couldn’t imagine working full time, then driving downtown or somewhere else 2-3 nights per week for 3 hours, plus spend all day Saturday in a classroom. Not ideal.
Once I decided that, my options became a little more limited. Ideally the online program would also have a brick & mortar school, be well known/recognized AND be localish just in case I decided that online was not the best option for me. Cost was also a factor and after a long search I set my sights on Point Park University’s online Accounting program.
I contacted them, got an unofficial transcript evaluation, got some Financial Aid guidance and decided to apply. I waited on pins and needles for what seemed like ages (more like a month and a half. There were some mix-ups with my transcripts….) and finally just last week got the news that I had been hoping for!
In the meantime, I had been doing a lot of other research and Pinning back to school things (do you follow me?)- it’s been a while since I’ve been a student and I needed to get back in that mindset. At the same time, I didn’t want to get too hopeful, just in case things didn’t work out and I wasn’t accepted. This is also one of the (many) reasons I haven’t blogged much. I was afraid I’d spill the beans, not get accepted, and then be humiliated when I’d have to share that I was rejected. I don’t do well with public humiliation. Who does?
The Plan:
Since I am an “adult learner” (for some reason that phrase makes me feel really old) AND doing a fully online program I’m considered an accelerated learner. This means that one term is broken into two 8 week semesters; instead of just the Fall Semester, I’ll have Fall 1 (August-October) & Fall 2 (October-December). Thanks to my Associate’s Degree, I’ll be entering Point Park as a Junior; I registered for my first classes yesterday and I’ll be taking:
Fall 1
English 205
Science 111
Fall 2
TBD
I didn’t pick my last classes yet – I’m waiting to see if anything else opens up in the next few weeks. These first 2 are Gen Ed courses that I need and I figured I might as well get those all done and out of the way so I can dive in to the accounting and business classes. I was told to expect 12-15 hours of work per class, per week so It’ll be a good way to reintroduce myself to the world of college 🙂
How I’ll Make It Work:
Honestly, I don’t know! I feel like there will definitely be a learning curve with this. It’s been almost 8 years since I’ve been a student but I’m hoping that it’s like a riding a bike! Although, I was never very good with bikes so….hopefully it’s a little better than that! Having Sunday as an “off” day from running I think will be critical. This will hopefully give me time to start the week’s assignments or finish up anything last minute that may be due AND still get things done around the house like groceries, meal prep, etc.
School and Half Marathon Training:
Training for a half marathon at the same time as starting school may not have been my best idea ever, but I’m not going to stress about it. If I have to miss a workout due to school work, then that’s what will happen. I’m hoping to look at running/training as outlet rather than another chore or task that needs to be completed and hopefully that will keep things in perspective. This is something I GET to do, not HAVE to do. This may mean that I have to adjust my goals, but since I really don’t know what my race goals are yet I’ll be able to go with the flow a little more. I have no idea what I’m going to do about racing after Buffalo Creek though. Another full marathon may be off the table until I’m done (we are estimating about 2 years, maybe less, to complete the program) but I’m not ruling anything out just yet. That is all TBD!
School, Half Marathon Training, AND Vacation:
We booked our vacation to Hilton Head RIGHT before I decided to go back to school and I quickly realized that I would be taking school work to the beach with me. I’m fine with this – that’s why they invented laptops. I might be that person at the pool with a computer and I’m fully ready to embrace that 🙂 I’m always pretty flexible with running while I’m away so again, I’ll get done what I can but if I miss a run….oh well!
I bought my first school supply - Peanut is just as excited as I am :-) !!

I bought my first school supply – Peanut is just as excited as I am 🙂 !!

This is a very big, and exciting step for me! I’m hoping to blog about the experience – the good, bad, ugly and everything in between. So now in addition to being a crazy cat lady who runs, I’ll be a crazy running STUDENT cat lady!
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Buffalo Creek Half Marathon Training – Week 1

How is it August already?! I feel like just yesterday we were still training for Pittsburgh and now we’ve all moved on to training for fall races! Crazy! Since everyone else has been training for BCHM for 3 or 4 weeks I feel like I am SO behind. This capped off the first week of training for me and it was great. When I picked my training plan (Hal Higdon’s Intermediate Half) I didn’t realize how LOW the mileage is. I only ran 16 miles this past week, but I felt like they were all quality. Thanks to this plan, and my heart rate training, I really feel like they all served a purpose and I can feel that they did. That probably sounds crazy, but for the first time in ages I really feel like I am making true progress with my training. That is an amazing feeling. Also. I have 0 running related pictures…so cat pictures it is! Sorry, but not really.
Monday: 3 miles 36:36 12:12 pace Avg HR: 153.  I always struggle with Monday runs, which is why I usually make that my rest day. This time around it’s time to suck it up and get it done. I could NOT drag myself out of bed that morning so I had to wait until after work to do it. It was HOT and sunny out, but I told myself that it was no biggie. Since it was an easy day, I didn’t have to worry about my pace or throwing down some major repeats. It wasn’t terrible, but it reminded my why I love running early; I was tired, and my legs were like lead and it was pretty toasty. I was disappointed when I realized that soon I’ll be doing most of my runs at that time since it will  be too dark to run before work. Major sad panda over here.
Sad Panda

Sad Panda

Tuesday: 5x400m repeats. I did not have high hopes for this one. I wasn’t feeling 100%, and the humidity was brutal. I usually do a 1 mile warmup, but only did about 3/4 of one – I had to make a pit stop home and since I was right by the road I do the repeats on I decided to just get them started. My target heart rate for repeats is 186-190, and I noticed that since the repeats are so short it’s not a lot of time for me to get my heart rate that high. Even with that, my splits were: 7:47, 7:35, 8:07, 7:51, 8:07 . My recovery intervals are .10 . I was really ecstatic to see splits in the SEVENS. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?! Apparently, there is an inner speed demon that is just waiting to bust out.  Because of the recovery intervals, it’s hard to give an accurate representation of average heart rate, pace etc. but here they are: 1:.69 miles (does not include my warmup because I have to reset my watch) 16:00 9:29 pace. Avg HR: 171 BOOM!
Rub muh belly, please

Rub muh belly, please

Wednesday: 3 miles  33:00 11:00 pace Avg HR: 152  . This run doesn’t have a specific designation (not easy, not speed, not pace, etc) I designated this as a medium pace with the heart rate zone between my easy and long run zone: 155-160. I was met with 80% humidity but it didn’t seem too terrible, and I was able to keep my heart rate in the zone. Actually, it was just UNDER the zone at 152 so that was even better for the pace I was able to manage.
No respect. On the table, on my sweater. You can tell she's concerned about the ramifications

No respect. On the table, on my sweater. You can tell she’s concerned about the ramifications

Thursday: Weights! I finally moved on to the next stage of New Rules of Lifting for Women a few weeks ago and I really enjoy those workouts. The ONLY move I hate is the Dumbbell Cuban Snatch. It feels so unnatural and like I’m not doing it right (even with 3 lb weights) so I decided I’m not doing it anymore. I’ll substitute it for….something. Not sure what, but just not that!
Now we are crossing the lines. On the counter, bird watching.

Now we are crossing the lines. On the counter, bird watching. Obviously the counter was cleaned and a new towel was put down. And he was back 5 minutes later.

Friday: 3 miles 30:00 10 min pace Avg HR 167 . This is supposed to be a pace run and my heart rate should be between 170-174, so again I was a little low but still a really good effort. I was a touch disappointed that it wasn’t as fast as last week’s pace run (9:5x pace) but had I kicked it up a notch and gotten my HR up 5 more bpm I would have been back in the 9’s. It’s amazing to me how those few beats can so drastically effect your pace!
Breakfast is apparently self serve these days...

Breakfast is apparently self serve these days…

Saturday: 5 miles 1:02 12:23 pace Avg HR: 137 I met Jen at North Park bright and early at 6:30! The roads were practically empty (except, I did manage to get stuck behind the ONE other person out…going 5 miles under the speed limit), and it was so nice and cool. I only had 5 on the schedule so we did the first loop together; it was great to be reunited! Our schedules haven’t matched up for the last few weeks and it had been awhile since we tackled any miles together, so we got to catch up which made the miles FLY by! Before I knew it, we were back at our cars and Jen was fueling up to tackle the last 4 miles. Our roles are reversed for this training cycle – during marathon training I was always the one setting of to face the last few miles solo and now it’s Jen’s turn! She crushed it (of course), and used her last miles as a fast finish! Awesome!  It was awesome to be finished with my “long run” (I use long very loosely here since it was only 5 miles) before 8 AM! I literally had the whole day to get stuff done!
Sunday: Rest! I remembered when I was crawling into bed that I’m supposed to use Sunday as another weights day. My bad.
I’m really pleased with this week. I only totaled about 16.5 miles and I’m good with that. It can be tough to look on Daily Mile and see everyone else logging 10 and 20 miles per week more than me but I need to swallow my pride, and focus on me and my goals. For a while I was focused on quantity not quality in my plans, but I’m starting to appreciate that that may not always be the best option for me. It’s awesome to have focus and direction again!! I can’t wait to see what this training cycle brings 🙂
How was your week? Please tell me your pets have some bad manners/bad habits too?