Sunday, May 14, 2006

for me, biking = SM Physics

Okay, I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

The hardest class I ever took in my entire life (that includes undergraduate courses at Miami University (OH) and graduate courses at Cleveland State University and Georgetown University) in any degree I was working for (including B.S. Ed. and M.A. History) is my junior year high school "Science Major" Physics class.

Aka SM Physics.

Aka "So Much" Physics. As opposed to, NSM, or "Not So Much" Physics. (or, Non-Science Major in the real world)

Why on earth, you might ask, did the girl who studied History and Political Science sign up for a course called, "Science Major Physics?"

Hmmmm...not 'cause it was a weighted course, like Advanced Placement (AP) courses. A "B" in an AP class equaled an A in a standard class. SM Physics was not weighted. A B was a B. A D was a D.

So why did I do it?

I knew it would blow my GPA. I knew it would blow any chance of me graduating in the top 5 of my class.

Um, once again....WHY?!

Well, the only answer I have for you is that my parents taught me that you should always challenge yourself. I knew I could take the NSM class and probably do well. But I knew I could take this class and make it through--it would be hard, but I would make it. And for some reason I thought that would make me a better person in the long run. Sounds pretty dorky, but I guess guilty as charged.

I never dreaded writing papers or taking essay-based tests. I can write you a 10 page paper in a few hours. Gimme a topic and I can pull it off. I am a master at the art of B.S. (Remember--I earned a B.S. in Education.) ;)

I never worried about getting my English papers done, or my Government cases briefed. But I did worry about that lab coming up in Physics. Would I be clueless again? Would my lab partner roll his eyes at me? Would I have to come in early to work with Mr. Wagner?

Yeah, probably. So I'd better just deal.

Mr. Wagner was the reason I took SM Physics. His subsequent retirement at the end of that year was the reason I did NOT go on to take AP Physics. This guy was a riot. He was an older gentleman, always dressed to the nines in his suit, and he resembled Colonel Potter from M.A.S.H. He arrived at school daily at 7:00am, turned on orchestral music of Looney Tunes, and got the labs ready for the day. I spent many a morning in Mr. Wagner's room trying to figure out what the F was going on. F=MA? D=v/t? I don't know.

But I really did enjoy the class. As hard as it was, as much extra time as I had to put into it, I learned more in that class than I did in most of my other high school classes combined.

Now, my "homework" is my training. I look forward to my long runs. I wish they were longer. I enjoy swimming and love trying to improve my sets and my stroke.

And I just don't have quite the same love--or maybe I should say the self-confidence-- for my weakest link, the bike. Not yet at least.

It's harder for me. It doesn't come naturally. I have to REALLY work at it, and then I'm still not the best at it. There are others who just seem to get it on the first try and don't have to work as hard as me.

So today, as I rode on my bike, I thought: hey, it's like SM Physics again. So I could let this thing hold me back, or I could go in early, stay up late, practice my formulas, do a few extra labs, and master it as best I can.

And it will make me stronger in the end. Even though it doesn't seem worth it now.

I set out for what would be an easy ride in my recovery week, and found that Route 6 (a nice, flat, straight road along the Lake) was finally done in this little lake town--they were resurfacing it! Woo hoo! I kept on going, when I thought initially I'd have to turn around and do another loop. When I reached about 20 miles away, I stopped for a Hammer Gel and checked my stats.

I had averaged 18.1 mph on the nose.


Is this really me?


But also strange were those dark clouds to my southwest. There's been a swirling green funk over Cleveland the past two days and I thought I could beat it on this ride. Uh oh. Better turn around.

Here comes the wind.

Whoa. Now it's getting hard.

(V=d/t? 6.0 X 10 to the 23rd huh? Wait, that's SM Chemistry...)

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the monsoon begins. I felt the temperature drop to about 50 as I shivered in my short sleeved-jersey and shorts. I pulled over to a little hardware store and hid shivering under the awning.

Oh boy. What have I done to myself? I could have been on the trainer today, nice and warm with a movie...I could have gone for a nice run, yeah, that's it-- I love running in the rain...

Nope. Time to do this thing that is the hardest for me. Gotta bear down here.

I called Matt. What's it look like on the weather channel?

Did you say, GREEN everywhere?


He started on his way to pick me up. I felt like such a chump. But it was coming down so hard and I just wasn't dressed for it. I was cold. I wanted to get home.

But then, after about 5 minutes, it slowed. The sky grew brighter.

I called Matt. Abort mission! I can do this.

Are you SURE? he says. He tells me he has a sweatshirt and a towel for me.

Oh boy is that tempting.

NO--I can do this. I will do this. I've already had to slow down a ton, but I can still make this a respectable ride. It won't be the best performance--not top notch, but it will be good. But I tell him to remain "on call." Just in case it starts lightening again.

I take off. The cold rain stings my red arms. As a car passes me, the perfect timing of a well-placed puddle splashes me with mud.

I laughed. What else could I do?

This is gonna make me stronger somehow...

And then, there was the sign saying "Welcome to (My City I Live In)." I was almost there! I kept a nice high cadence and started to get momentum.

I pulled into my driveway to find Matt with a strange look on his face--kinda laughing, kinda disbelief, kinda like he knew it would end up this way all along.

40 miles, average speed 17.0. Not the best performance in the world, certainly not top of the class, but very respectable. Not the easiest or most comfortable thing I could have done today, but one that made me stronger.

And about that class I took 12 years ago? I ended up with a B+...the hardest-earned B+ of my life. Not too shabby though. Did it blow my GPA? Yeah, a little bit. I didn't finish in the top 5. But I did finish #11. And I do credit Mr. Wagner and his class with helping me to nail the Science portion of the ACT, which helped my overall ACT score and was good enough to help me land a hefty scholarship. So despite mild short-term setbacks, in the long run of life it mattered quite a bit and it made me a heck of a lot stronger in mind.

Am I glad I'm a person who obsessively challenges herself?

As I stood grinning at Matt today, covered in snot, mud, rain, and Hammer Gel, I thought, "Yeah...I sure am."

Thanks, Mr. Wagner. And sorry I bugged you all those mornings.


E-Speed said...

I managed to miss all the major storms this weekend somehow. Glad you got in a good ride!

Curly Su said...

i know EXACTLY how you feel on the bike...but your speed was NOT're kicking some butt out there, sara!

Mallie said...

Way to go, Sara! Those rainy rides can be a lot fun if the weather's warm. Bet that sweatshirt felt good once you were done!

Chris said...

Great ride, Sara! Keep on that bike. I'm sure you'll continue to see great progress throughout the summer! :)

Cliff said...

When u do IM...and u start to think it is tough..think back to this day...then i don't htink IM will be too bad :)

Lana said...

Awesome ride!! I think you have inspired me to quit wimping out in the rain!!!

walchka said...

Nice work Sara! I totally skipped out because of the rain this weekend. Hopefully I'll remember this post when next time I'm thinking about taking the easy way out.

Eric said...

I managed to miss most of the rain also, but I did get a little wet Sunday morning.

If you need to talk about the bike let me know. I want you comfortable during your riding.

DaisyDuc said...

Those rainy miserable rides just make all the nice weather rides all the more enjoyable!

And I thought my short wet ride was a challenge!

You will conquer biking as you did SM Physics!

Scott said...

Great job on the bike. What is that saying - if it doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger...

Habeela said...

I chose to suffer through a minor in physics and the bike is my I totally identify with this post. I don't, however, have a problem biking in the rain. Way to stick it out!

E-Speed said...

I'll have to think on a long ride Saturday. Debating a trail run but the trails may be a mud bucket! How long are we talking? And I don't know if I can keep up with you!

Rae said...

Was that a picture of your bike?? That's a muddy bike!!

Great job on sticking with the ride through the monsoon. You're going to nail the IM!

Batman said...

Way to finish the ride.

You are clearly have a mastery of all forces invloved with a block sliding down an inclined plane.

F=M*A, be the block the block.

TryAthlete said...

I think I know where Lance stole "Live Strong" from.

qcmier said...

English was my baddest subject in high school.