perspective

Doctor Doctor

A not-so-well-known fact about me: I’m a doctor. No, not the kind of doctor that prescribes medications or carries a stethoscope. I’m a doctor of the mind – a PhD. Earned in 2012 in Language and Literacy Education from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!)

Why do I bring this up? Recently I read an op-ed and surrounding arguments about our incoming First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, and whether or not she should own her “Dr.” title. The author raised all kinds of small-minded reasons why she should drop the Dr. title, even calling her “kiddo” at one point, as if her using the title she earned was childish and deserved a patronizing pat on the head. The arguments he made only showed his own shallow thinking and aren’t even worth reviewing here. Still all this made me mad, and also made me reflect on my own title.

I’m not going to bother to defend the work it took to earn my title. Six years, countless courses, teaching, publications, awards, etc. I have an obnoxiously long academic vita that does that. In some ways the PhD is a measure of stubbornness and I earned that through and through. I also won’t argue that all Dr. titles are worth the same. Especially now, when we see even more brightly how health care is heroism, I can’t even begin to equate what I have with what they can do.

What my PhD shows is that I have learned how to think. I have learned how to collect data, analyze it, theorize it, and write about it at length. When I earned that title, I knew that it was one of the few things no one could take away from me. I am one of the two “Drs.” in my building. Maybe it won’t surprise you that a school actually makes a big deal about a doctorate. Yes, my kindergarteners call me Dr. Friese. (Sometimes, with a wink at Southern custom, they call me “Miss Dr. Friese.”) For a while I wondered if the students should use my title or if it really mattered, but now I think it’s good for students to see that thinking is valuable in all areas of life. If they love that kind of advanced-level thinking and intellectual work / play, it can be pursued in countless contexts. Doctoring isn’t just in an office or hospital. We don’t all wear scrubs (and special props to those who do!) The more people see different possibilities, especially kids, the better.

On the flip side, Dr. has its downsides. I can be a total snob about things. I can’t unsee typos on a professional document. I ask too many questions at times, which can lead to the “analysis paralysis,” or being so stuck in overthinking I don’t get anything done. (I’m trying to remedy this with my OLW this year: DO!)

I also know that titles aren’t everything. Several people I know are much smarter than me learning from the school of hard knocks or lessons from in the trenches. I’ll be the first to argue that my classroom smarts doesn’t always help me “in the streets.” I embody the absentminded professor stereotype in many areas of life. Many will make a better living and a happier life taking paths that don’t necessarily lead to titles, certifications, or initials. So a Dr. isn’t everything, but it is something and it was the right challenge for me. Whether it’s initials or just more digits in your bank account, I’ll honor what you have earned.

What bothers me most about how this writer treated Dr. Biden is the tone and the underlying sexism of it all. As if being First Lady should make anything else she does or has done take a back seat. As if prioritizing her work as a highly educated educator is sort of laughable. As if the title conferred by marriage is the one she should favor over the one she earned for thinking, writing, and persisting. How many times have I gotten mail directed to Dr. and Mrs. instead of Mr. and Dr. or even Dr. and Mr.? Why does doctoring default to men? Why should women minimize what they earned when it takes nothing from anyone else? Sometimes I even minimize what I have earned myself, if I let the opinions of others invade my mind and erode my confidence.

When I taught at UGA, my students called me Beth. It was a personal choice and I had my reasons. These days, if someone calls me Mrs. Friese at work, I don’t correct them but my bosses often will if they hear it. Although my interests have taken me elsewhere, all this has revived my thinking about that title, what it means, and what it’s worth. Some might say I don’t use my doctorate, but in many ways I use it daily. I think. I write. I argue. I reason. I plan. I observe. I analyze. Every. Single. Day.

So yes, you may call me doctor. If you don’t, it doesn’t change who I am or what I’ve earned. In the mean time, I won’t waste energy worrying about what you think of me or my title. I’ve got too much to plan and DO to fret over small-minded guys.

challenges, fitness and nutrition

Duathlon DIY-Style, and 2021’s OLW

One of my goals last year was to challenge myself to a duathlon. I ended up registering for a summer triathlon which was pushed back until next year.

I had all but given up on this goal at the end of the summer. After the race was postponed, I lost my excitement and drive to train and learn for the event. It wasn’t until a friend rallied a group of gym women around an engine building cardio challenge that I found the will to run and bike again with any kind of regularity.

I knew I wouldn’t tri this year, but a duathlon wasn’t out of the question. I decided not to register for an official race at year end. But I wanted to at least complete a “ceremonial” sprint duathlon to have a benchmark and a check mark. So I went for it one frigid December morning just after sunrise. Just me, my playlist, my essentials and my mileage counters. On my mark, get set, go.

3.1 mile run. The mist was rising off the lake. Bridges were still slippery from the chill and the dew. Three loops, making my way along. Not too fast, but not too bad

Transition to the bike. Fleece hat off, helmet on. Legs adjusting to the pedals. Skittering along. Ups, downs, loops. The sting of the cold on my face. Losing feeling in my hands as I watch the miles tick, tick, tick away. Singing along while avoiding potholes and traffic. I finally found a quarter mile loop for a soccer field off the beaten path. Rode it again and again and again for about 8 miles. Only a quick stop for a carb boost in the middle. Then back to dancing on the pedals. Saddle soreness set in at mile 8. Toe cramps began at 10. I held on to finish the 12.4 mile stretch. Ended this leg averaging 10.9 mph which is actually a decent pace. If I had been on flats the whole time it would have been quicker. Lifting and loading my bike with frozen hands was a challenge all its own.

Then the final crunch. The one you train for. The one that hurts. Off the bike and into the last run. When I trained for the tri early this year, I read about this transition and how brutal it is. The quick pace of the bike makes that last mile grueling at best. I started pretty well then it quickly deteriorated. As the mile wore on, I just willed myself forward. I passed a committee of vultures. Keep singing. Dodged piles of goose poop on the path. Keep moving. Step after step. One at a time. No stopping. Knees hurting. No breaks. Just all ahead as much as I can.

I finished. No crowds no medals no beers or cokes. No parades or high fives. No banana no T-shirt. But I checked it off. I don’t need festivities to know what I have done. Didn’t quite make it under my two hour goal, but sometimes completion is the victory in that moment. I will get that goal next time. I’ll take my imaginary participation ribbon thankyouverymuch.

A DIY-duathlon gives you a lot of time to think. My mind couldn’t help but wander as I looped around and around. As much discomfort as I felt, I thanked my body for carrying me through those 17-plus miles. My mental and physical stamina made it a successful effort. A year like this one makes me realize all the more how much these different types of health are worth.

I’ve shared many times how much I love words and wordplay here on the blog. In those bike miles, I found my mind playing with the word duathlon. I bet many people didn’t even know that was a word. Then I broke it into do-athlon. Which led to a good long think about the word “DO.” I am such a thinker, often an overthinker, and not always such a do-er. I decided in those miles that my word of 2021 will be DO. It will be my year to jump in and get things done. I’m still settling into this word and what it will mean for me. I hope you’ll read along wherever the path leads.

adventure

Taking the Scenic Route

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New (or new-to-me) cars don’t happen often in my life.

We usually drive our cars into the ground.  A car purchase is a big deal that comes along only once in a long while.

In my car history, I’ve graduated from sedans to minivans to sedans again.

Every car says a little bit about where I am in life.  Sedans for the independent girl paying for her first vehicle.  Minivans for the Mom of 3 carting kids and their pals and their stuff here and there.  Then sedans for the Mom looking for fuel efficiency, with some kids who can drive themselves.  And finally, as of this year all my kids can drive themselves. What a life change.  My youngest got my last sedan as her starter car.  Now what?

All the cars did have some things in common: gotta have a sunroof and a top-notch stereo.  My Mom was a convertible girl but I remember she always had problems with leaks and the mechanics of the tops in her LeBaron and Sebring.  So I stay with a sunroof.  And if you’ve ridden with me you know I like to sing loudly in the car, so my backup track needs to be high quality.

Anyway, the time came to choose a car and I lingered over the decision, as is my style.  I researched and figured out the exact car I wanted then sought it out for months.  I finally found it and after much waiting, anguish, car rentals, state line crossings, and other extraordinary measures, I bought my shiny red Jeep Compass Trailhawk this spring.

I’ve had it for a while.  I’ve tried to write about it several times but couldn’t seem to finish a post. I wasn’t sure what the story was or why anyone should care. I almost abandoned the idea to the cutting room floor.

But then last week I took her for her first true off-road ride.  I had my youngest and her friends on a weekend trip a few hours away for a lacrosse tournament. Instead of taking the most direct path via the interstate, I decided to chart a path to a waterfall hike.  It was sort of on the way but kinda not really.  It would take us off the beaten path, to a part of my state I had never visited.

I read the reviews of the hike and most of them said things like: be ready for a long off-road drive to get to the trailhead.  You need a 4×4 to get there.

And lo and behold, I have one! Yippee! Put me in, coach! I’m ready for this.

I was a bit nervous since we’ve had a lot of rain, but the road was mostly rock and gravel. We played with the road settings. I took it slow for the most part. The kids laughed as I splashed through muddy puddles.  Got some Georgia red clay on the tires and my flashy paint job. It was a long drive in and out but the hike and the experience were worth it.

I am at the point in life where I’m taking the scenic route more and more. Instead of just saying “I wish I had more time to…” (hike, chase waterfalls, stop at the sights and shops along the way), I am making the time. And no one can do that but me.   I want to see new things.  A little mud, a little rock, whatever obstacles can’t stop me from getting where I want to go.  A little prepared for anything.  I can tow things and have a few friends and our stuff along.  I can see the sun and play my beats stereo loud.

It’s a different, off-road life for me.  A little more dare, a little more fearless, a little more nothing-can-stand-in-my-way. No limits. No barriers. No exclusions.

They say the most difficult roads lead to the most beautiful destinations.  I’m embracing that as a challenge and a reward, for the journey and all that comes with it.

 

 

 

 

fitness and nutrition, hustle

Getting My Butt in Gear

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Just a few more days until half marathon time. It’s all about fine tuning and staying as injury-free as possible.

As I make my packing list, here are the most important things I’ll be sporting.

My new AirPods with my “run run run” playlist is probably my most important accessory. A birthday splurge.  I am all about the tunes while I’m running to keep me motivated (and distracted)…I’m lost without music.   I’ve been adding and scrubbing songs for months now.  From Earth, Wind, and Fire to Miranda Lambert, Elton John to Maren Morris, Madonna to Stevie Wonder and everything in between…I think I have about 7 hours of music on my playlist.  Hopefully I’m a little quicker than that!

Paired with my Apple Watch, another birthday gift that I’ve quickly grown fond of.  I love how it connects me to other members of my running group and keeps track of my mileage and pace.  I’m still figuring out all that it can do, but I’m enjoying it so far.

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I’ll admit, I’m building my outfit around the shorts.  I have tried several different brands, but I’m going with one of my pairs of Constantly Varied Gear shorts.  I am a 5″ inseam girl.  I love the comfort of them and don’t forget another key element – POCKETS!

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But which pair to wear?  I thought I would wear my colorful unicorns or mermaids, with my Sunday Runday tank top from Miles and Pace.  But, then I feel pretty unstoppable in my Thunderstruck pair with my Strong Like Bull tank.  No matter which pair, it will be CVG shorts, a tank top, and a coordinating V Sport Bra.  (In a recent update, my thighs  started leaning out in the last month, so it will be a size down plain black pair of CVGs!)

Finally, I have a little belt that I bought years ago from amazon to carry along the essentials – ID, gels, pain reliever.  It has been with me since my very first Peachtree Road Race 4 years ago. Wouldn’t feel like a long race without it.

What a difference from that day four years ago, July 2015. I’ve covered many miles since then.  I’ve shed many pounds and even some bad habits along the way.  I’ve picked up some new ways of thinking (and ok, a few wrinkles).  One thing is sure…it is a long haul, and one I still work at every day.    I don’t really believe in “before and after” shots, but there are definitely differences along the path that are worth reflecting on.

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I have made many changes between now and then.  But I still feel the excitement in this picture…this is a girl getting ready to take on the Peachtree Road Race 10K for the first time!  She is nervous, excited, and joyful all at once.

Here I am again in October 2019, facing something new with a tangle of criss-crossed feelings. The day is nearly here! So exciting! Can’t wait for this time with my running group, finally reaching the start line, when we can make our goals happen.  Pictures, giggles, and fun to follow.  And then, what will the next goal be?

 

 

 

fitness and nutrition

The Miles Won’t Run Themselves

Yup, I was going to write it – the dreaded “poor, poor pitiful me” post.

The “who peed in my cheerios?” post.

The “why-did-I-do-this-to-myself-what-in-the-world-was-I-thinking-why-did-I-sign-up-for-this-and-how-do-I-get-out-of-this-mess” post.

The ever unpopular “I can’t” post.

After some good running weeks, even a relatively successful 8-mile run that led me to write “I think I can finish this!” in my running journal, I hit an unexpected slump.  Suddenly, every run went from my usual mild discomfort to SO hard. Legs were leaden. Heat was overwhelming. The weight of the effort had me down and out. This went on for weeks. If I had the option to go to CrossFit instead of my scheduled run, I often took it. I was down to two runs a week, struggling for every mile.  I lost my mojo.

What do you do when something like that happens?  Sure, I wanted to give up at times…. many times! But I kept showing up for two runs each week.  Seeing friends on Sundays made such a difference.  Accountability to them and my goal kept me holding on by a shoelace when I was down.

Finally, a glimpse of hope.  The heat broke. There’s a huge difference between running in 95 degrees and 82 degrees.  Morning runs were even a little chilly.  A little spring appeared in my stride.  I kept going. I also broke a spell of bad sleep, which makes a world of difference.  I am back on track, more or less, a little more than a month out from our half marathon.

In the mean time, I have decided that overall, I am not a happy runner.  It is convenient, portable, and simple enough to participate in.  But, to be honest, I am bored by it when it gets longer than about 45 minutes.  It is hard on my body AND I have no desire to invest much time or energy in how to get better at it. There are too many other things I’d rather be learning or improving!

I do have to remember that there was a time (not too long ago) I would have been so proud of 15-minute miles.  I have made progress.  But I don’t see myself pursuing it once the half marathon is over.

So, for the moment, I press on.  I’m grateful for the ups and downs of training and for the goal in front of me, and the people I am sharing the journey with.  I’ll keep training the best I can, moving my legs along one step, one mile at a time.