2016 has been a bit of a shit year, overall.  Yes, there have been some high points, but overall, I feel like this image sums up 2016 in a nutshell.

And this most certainly applies to me.

This year overall, I did a lot of writing and a lot of running and not much else, which is ok as I had to get my thesis finished. Whereas 2015 was filled with terrible personal lows, 2016 was more even-keeled, but challenging as it felt like every week we were saying goodbye to someone who had moved us on the screen, stage, or radio.

January: I attempted another Whole 30 but wasn’t really in the mindset.

February: I did some running and spent time in the library working.

March: I ran the Resolution Run 10K with a PR.

April: I tried out run club, I began to plan my 41st birthday, and got far too overjoyed at a reply on Twitter.

May: More of the above, only trying to look cool doing it.

June: I was on task to massively PR my 10k at the Women’s 10, but ended up injured. ūüôĀ ¬†This necessitated about 2 weeks off of running and then I began to train for my second half.

July:  Running.  Pilates.  Pokemon.  Writing.

August: Running.  Pilates.  Pokemon.  Writing.  Ran the OUT 5 miler (with no injury or issue, a rarity in 2016!)

September: Thesis submission. ¬†Running. Pilates. Start the fundraiser for Mark Gatiss’s 50th birthday.

October: ¬†Run my second half, get injured again. ūüôĀ ¬†BIRTHDAY!!!! The Boys in the Band! Stina and Sara came to visit! So much excitement and awesome in one week! ¬†Raised over ¬£1100 for Switchboard for Mark Gatiss’s 50th birthday!

November: Do a whole lot of nothing. Run the MoRun 5K and PR. Pilates.

December: Get my nails done, drink a lot of Starbucks, PASS MY VIVA!

2016 in a brief nutshell:

Plays seen: 1
Trips to London: 1 ūüėě
Miles/km run: 472/759.6 (So should be 500 miles by the end of the year easy)
Pounds lost: ~30
Viva’s passed: 1

Apologies for not getting this up sooner. ¬†It’s taken a bit more time to process than I had anticipated.

As I posted last, my viva was on Tuesday. I was terribly nervous and anxious, as you might expect. ¬†As someone who suffers from anxiety, it was a bit more than that, and it took a fair bit of chemical assistance to get me to the point where I wasn’t literally trembling (or covered head to toe in hives).

I actually slept the night before. ¬†I had had visions of being awake all night or waking up at 3 am wide awake in a panic. ¬†I laid in bed until about 8 and then got up to get ready for the day. ¬†Steph walked with me to Starbucks and uni and stayed with me until I had to go and meet my advisor. ¬†It wasn’t too long until we were called in.

They started off by saying that they wanted this to be a conversation, rather than an interrogation, and I was terribly relieved. ¬†I didn’t think it was going to be an inquisition, but I had read enough on the subject to be wary of the types of examiners.

I don’t specifically remember all of the questions, but I know the first one was in reference to how I decided on this subject area. ¬†I was glad for this question, as it was easily answered, and it certainly helped put me a bit more at ease. ¬†More specific questions went on from there, even getting as specific as page numbers, paragraphs, and sentences, which again I found helpful as I had a copy of my thesis right there to refer to.

The last question was sort of a surprise but not. ¬†I was asked if I were to present my findings at a conference of head teachers, what four key points would I like to share. (It had been mentioned at a meeting I had in preparation for the viva that I might be asked about what I thought this research could lead to policy wise, so I had a think on this before the viva.) ¬†I hadn’t done a lot of research into policy, nor do I have a very good handle on how the Scottish school system works overall. ¬†But what I do know is how teachers think and as a former teacher, I used this knowledge combined with the information from my interviews as well as common sense to answer the question.

After this question was answered, they thanked me, and I was sent on my way while they deliberated.  My supervisor was very pleased with my answers, which was good.  We both thought we would have an hour or so before they called us back in.  It was about 15 minutes later, when we got the call.

And this is where I really panicked. ¬†I didn’t feel like that was a very long deliberation, so it was either really good, or really shit.

I was very relieved when they told me that they wouldn’t keep me in suspense. ¬†I was a bit worried about that, to be honest. ¬†I wasn’t sure how long I could sit there and not know! ¬†When they told me I had passed, I really was quite shocked. ¬†As most people know, this entire process throughout the PhD was fraught with many issues, both personal and professional and there were many times that I did not think I would get this far, and if I did get this far, I’d be laughed out of the room.

So, now what? ¬†I have three months to make my corrections (nothing seriously troublesome and nothing unexpected) and that’s that. ¬†I’ll be awarded my PhD at the next graduation in Spring 2017. I also need to think about publishing results and finding a job.

And last but not least, that last viva question, wasn’t a trick. ¬†It was a serious question as I will possibly be doing such a presentation (or presentations) in the near future. ¬†I would also like to consider other ways of disseminating my research findings, but I’ve not come up with an answer for that yet. ¬†A professional blog or twitter? ¬†Things to consider for 2017.

 

What a week!  This week I submitted my thesis!  Finally!

2016-09-08-13-32-16

 

Monday: A quick 2 miles.  I had already sent my thesis off for printing and this was a quick shakeout run.

2016-09-11-17-12-27

 

Tuesday: Double Pilates (trigger point and mat). ¬†It was Gail’s last week ūüôĀ so I booked in for both classes. ¬†It was just what I needed as I was feeling very tight.

Wednesday: 7 miles. This was originally scheduled for Thursday, but it was supposed to pour. ¬†It wasn’t raining, so I went out and got my miles in. It was a bit later than I normally go out, but it was a nice run all the same.

2016-09-11-17-12-41

 

Thursday:  Today was submission day! Other than walking around, it was a much needed rest day.

Friday: Unscheduled rest day.  It was pouring out and gross so I cleaned the kitchen.

Saturday: 9 miles. It was a really nice day out and I actually enjoyed this run a lot.  I felt good for most of it, although I was very slow.  I look forward to more runs like this (hopefully faster) and hope to see the leaves start to change as I run through Glasgow Green.

2016-09-11-17-12-51

 

Overall, this week was a really great week.  Not much longer until the half and then my birthday week celebration in London!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. ¬†Mostly, these thoughts are fleeting worries, like passing ships in the night. ¬†But these thoughts have a theme; transitions.

I’ve gone through several major transitions in life, and I find my thoughts going back to the earliest of transitions for some reason lately. ¬†Perhaps it’s sentiment. ¬†Nostalgia. ¬†I have been listening to a lot of 80’s music. ¬†However, I do feel that it was triggered by the writing of my acknowledgements for my thesis. ¬†I did a lot of thinking about the people in my life and the people who have left a mark on my life at some point. Perhaps they encouraged me. ¬†Or, on a more sinister note, maybe they were a deep rooted and fundamental reason as to why I chose this research topic.

My thoughts find me back to this first transition. ¬†I can feel¬†the crunch of leaves underfoot and there is a scent of Aussie Sprunch spray in the air. ¬†With these reminders, I’m back wandering the halls, head down. It’s like that nightmare that I have when I’ve forgotten my locker combination or my gym clothes. I’ve been out of school for over 20 years and I still have these dreams. ¬†It’s a hard time for me, so alone. ¬†Still, I have the music I enjoy and my treasured favourite old books, and the one person who I could talk to. ¬†This, in turn, drags emotions long repressed and avoided bubbling to the surface and I feel like I’m drowning. ¬†(One would think I’d have moved past this, but I can’t let things go. There was no closure, so. . . )¬†

Deep breaths and I’ve moved on to the next transition. ¬†It’s hot and sunny and I’m sitting on the green at Clark University. I tip my head back to look up at the blue sky and I smile broadly. ¬†I’ve done it. ¬†I’m in college on my own. ¬†The absolute joy that I feel at that moment is joined by a twinge of homesickness. I push it off and try to look forward. ¬†I haven’t really met anyone yet, so that excitement is still there. ¬†I have no idea what’s going to happen: those moments before I meet my roommate and my hallmates, long before J. coined the phrase about how I analyse everything like I live in a fishbowl (see my blog tagline), before I met people who changed my life.

I allow myself a few more moments on Clark’s green before I’m in Glasgow, 6 years ago. ¬†It’s sunny and mild and I’m wearing my Ortiz t-shirt (Boston represent!). I have absolutely no idea where I am (grad school has not improved my ability to read a map) and I can’t be bothered to care. ¬†It’s a gorgeous day and the leaves are just starting to change colour and the few that have fallen crunch underfoot. I find myself in Kelvingrove Park and everything seems bright and larger than life. ¬†I treasure this moment, it’s precious. It’s before. . . ¬†.

Now, I’m in the after. ¬†Approaching the end of another chapter¬†of my life and I’m not quite sure how to close the¬†book on it. ¬†There is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty in this transition. ¬†And if there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s not knowing what’s going to happen. ¬†Right now, I feel like I’m about to jump into the void, feet first, and it’s terrifying.

For now, I’m just trying to breathe.

I’ll start with the news. ¬†I had my second annual review to discuss the progress I needed to make this summer. ¬†I am pleased to say that I met the goals that I worked very hard to attain this summer and I am able to continue on. ¬†This means I can finally look past my birthday in terms of things that I want to do, places I want to go, concerts I want to see, etc. ¬†I have a lot of work to do, but I hope that I can meet the goals that I have and earn this PhD.

 

As far as half-marathon training, this was week 9. ¬†I hadn’t written about the training before now, because honestly, I didn’t think I would get this far. ¬†In fact, I haven’t even registered for the run. ¬†I’m still that hesitant.

This week’s training was fine. ¬†I had to cut a mile off my Tuesday run, because of my deadline, but the other two runs were fine. ¬†I even was able to make it to Pilates on Wednesday, which was much needed.

Most of my issues are mental at this point. ¬†It’s so hard to look at my times and see how far behind I am other runners my age. ¬†I’m literally taking twice as long to complete runs as most other people and it’s so hard. ¬†I know I’ve done this to myself, and I know it won’t change overnight, but I am very disappointed in myself, that I couldn’t follow through with the goals I set for myself that I hoped to achieve by my 40th birthday. ¬†I’ll still be about 40 pounds more than I wanted for that, and it’s very discouraging. ¬†No wonder I’m so slow!

It honestly makes me wonder if I should even bother doing the run. ¬†I’m going to take a ridiculously long time and it’s going to be hard. ¬†I keep saying after every long run, if it goes ok that I’ll register. ¬†And I still haven’t the courage. ¬†Next Sunday’s run is 9 miles, my longest run ever and it’s a bit daunting to be honest.

Hopefully by then I will have made a decision.

 

Here’s a picture of Bailey from earlier today.

IMG_3123