Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Is Quaker Football an Oxymoron?

My alma mater, George Fox University, made it big in the news recently - it's in Sports Illustrated for its new football program

On the one hand, this is great news because a t-shirt I bought when I was a student is now undoubtedly on its way to becoming a valuable collector's item. On the other hand, I'm not so sure I'm proud of the school for making this move.

Even if you don't really pay attention to the sports world (I certainly don't), you surely know that football doesn't have the best reputation at the moment, due to safety risks, as well as punishments (or lack thereof) of illegal player behavior. (And, though in my very vague understanding the NFL or other organizations haven't done everything they could to protect its players, I just have to say, since I have a platform to say it: What idiots go into a career in football thinking that it's safe?! How is it the NFL's fault if you get hurt playing a game that you willing joined that involves other people tackling you?! I've never played football or looked into what the rules are, but I've always thought of it as an inherently unsafe game, regardless of what equipment you wear or other steps you take to try to mitigate the risk.)

If there's one thing I don't understand, and am glad wasn't present in my college experience, it's a big football culture (ok, two things - football is tied for that honor with fraternities/sororities). I would hate the idea that my tuition went towards funding full ride scholarships for athletes, or that our school was valued for its coaches rather than its professors. I didn't go to college to cheer on the football team, I went there to get a high-quality education. Sure, they aren't inherently mutually exclusive, but it's nonetheless an unnecessary distraction, and glorifying students for anything other than academic achievement or community involvement sends a very wrong message. 

I also don't like the idea of of using a football (or any other sport) program to lure students to the school. As quoted in the above linked OPB article, the football team "bought 130 paying customers to campus who wouldn't otherwise be there". Umm... how is that a positive thing? This isn't a for-profit business; the university's stated vision is to be "known for empowering students to achieve exceptional life outcomes". The school and its administration does a lot to create that supportive atmosphere that accomplishes that, but - especially on such a small campus - it also requires the right kind of students, who also want to achieve that, and who will be supportive for each other. 

If you're saying that these football players are here solely because it's their chance to play college football - then it's highly unlikely they'll be part of that supportive community. When I was a student, overall it did have that atmosphere, but I saw on a smaller scale the effect of students who are just there to play sports - the baseball team was known for having chosen this school solely because it was their chance to play college baseball - and also known for throwing parties and other actions that violated the lifestyle code. Was it the downfall of the entire institution? No, but it certainly didn't add anything to the institution and its community either. 

Robin Baker, if you want to grow a supportive environment to grow exceptional students, then don't take steps to attract athletes, do more to lure those exceptional students.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Alaska Honeymoon: Seward

Earlier in the honeymoon: Washington. Anchorage.


Friday morning we got up super early and took a taxi to the Alaska Railroad train station. 



The train ride was a beautiful scenic route southward from Anchorage to Seward. We saw:

beaches,



mountains,


and glaciers.


We arrived just before lunch time, and luckily the train handles your luggage and checks it on to your cruise ship, so we were free to explore the town for the afternoon before needing to board the ship. Seward is a really cute little town; it actually wouldn't be that difficult to walk end to end, but they also have a free public shuttle making a loop around town during tourist season. 

On the left is Mount Marathon, which has an annual 5k race up and back down it.
The record finishing time, for a mere 5k distance - oh, and 3,000 feet up - is 42 minutes.

For lunch we went into the Ranting Raven for quiches and croissants. Then we took the shuttle to the last shuttle stop at the end of town and walked another mile to so to a disc golf course on the grounds of the middle school. I think this might be one of my favorite courses. Partly because it's only 9 holes :) (instead of the usual 18), but also it has good signage to find the next hole, relatively short fairways, and though some brush to keep things interest, it wasn't too dense so even if you landed in it you could still find our disc.


The disc golf course was on the end of town nearer the port, so after playing we just walked to the ship. We got settled in our stateroom for the remainder of the trip, and after dinner the ship started sailing. We spend the evening exploring the ship and getting a taste of all the available activities - mini golf, daily sheets of puzzles in the library, the gym, and karaoke.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Seattle Half Training Week 1

Plan:


Workouts

Monday amK-Fit weeks 1/2 workout #3
Monday pm: Aerobic effort 5k trial (13:59 pace)

Over 30 seconds faster per mile than last month! I'm trying to do an aerobic effort 5k test and a 1 mile speed test every month to track my improvement with my current approach of rebuilding (building? not sure I ever truly had one) a strong aerobic base/cardio strength.

Tuesday pm: Ballet class (75 minutes)

Wednesday am: Bike trainer 25 minutes (est 6.25 miles)
Wednesday pm: Run 2 miles, including 1 mile speed test (11:59 pace)

0.5 warm-up - 14:41
1 mile test - 10:02 - 7 seconds off last time!
0.5 cool-down - 13:08

Thursday pm: Tempo run 6.0 miles (12:45 overall pace, 12:06 tempo pace)
1 mile warm-up - 13:10
4 miles tempo - 11:59, 11:56, 12:24, 12:04
1 mile cool-down - 14:57

Put off the scheduled-for-Wednesday tempo run for a day, primarily because I was dreading it. Not only fast compared to my slow aerobic effort paces lately, but actually farther than my "long" runs have been in a while. But, it actually wasn't bad! Challenging, for sure, but still fun.

Friday pm: Easy run 2.0 miles (13:57 pace)

Saturday: Ballet practice (25 minutes)

Sunday: Long run 9.0 miles (13:46 pace)

Total biking: 6.25 miles
Total running: 22.1 miles

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Caturday

Now that Hera's had about a month to get settled into her new home, it turns out that she's anything but shy! She loves exploring any nook or cranny, and has a tendency to sit in your spot if you get up (after warming it up for her, of course). She's an absolute sweetheart, except for when she's annoyed and swats at you - unlike most cats I've had, who generally bite if you're overpetting them or whatever, Hera does this move that's essentially slapping you in the face.


This past week she's discovered an obsession with my running shoes. Apparently they're good for more than just human exercise.


Imogene still isn't thrilled. Hera, though, keeps trying to make friends with her - or try to pick a fight, we're not sure. In any case, Hera fairly often tries to approach Imogene, and Imogene continues to hiss at her, but is gradually more likely to come into Hera's vicinity of her own volition. Hopefully they eventually will become close feline sisters!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Wedding Crap: Groomsmen

(See introduction to this series here, and other posts in the series here.)

Disclaimers:

1. This is merely a hobby, so I'm not going to great lengths of research to find the most accurate information possible about the history of these traditions. I am trying to verify information to some degree to avoid continuing the spread of non-facts, but mostly this is a summary of the general consensus I've heard through out my life. Ultimately, I think how we treat these traditions has just as much to do with what we believe to be the origin of them, as the actual origin.

2. I am not trying to demean anyone who has chosen to partake in any of the traditions discussed. My goal is to spark discussion about what the history of these things mean to us today, how changing our language and treatment of traditions can affect our culture now, and, ideally, encourage anyone who wants to follow wedding traditions to do so as a conscious choice, not merely as a default that honors our patriarchal past.



What is the tradition? 

Same as the bride picks out bridesmaids, the groom selects people closest to him to stand next to him during the wedding ceremony. They are usually asked to rent identical tuxes (to each other, and often also to the groom).

One is the "best man", standing closest to the groom, and is generally responsible for planning a bachelor party. Along with the maid/matron of honor, he also usually fulfills the role of legal witness for the marriage license.

What is the origin of the tradition?

Also like bridemaids, groomsmen are likely initially from the Roman requirement for witnesses, and dressed identically to the groom in order to confuse evil spirits. Groomsmen also played a protective role, in times when travel was dangerous due to outlaws and such, they escorted the bride to ensure she arrived safely to the wedding.

But this escort was sometimes unwanted - at other times in history, the groomsmen assisted the groom in kidnapping the bride, and making sure her family didn't rescue her.

Why do people still follow it?

Like on the other side of the altar, this is used as a way to honor one's friends and loved ones. But, it's considered an honor to be included, and an insult to be excluded, because other people used it as a honor or insult, not because there's necessarily anything about the role that honors ones attendants. 

Why is that crap?

Pretty much the same reasons bridesmaids are crap - it easily ends up being away to show off how many friends you have, and you friends really don't have anything more to do with the wedding ceremony than the rest of the guests do. Also, it makes it confusing, if you're from the bride's side, which man in a tux is the groom, if they're all dressed alike (at the reception, that is, when they're all wandering around. Obviously at the ceremony the groom is the one in the center).

Plus, the history that the groomsmen helped kidnap the bride makes it a bit icky.

What am I doing with this tradition?

We just had our sisters come up to be our legal witnesses, but no other attendants or honor roles. 

How did/will you handle this tradition?

I would love to have a lively debate and conversation in the comments! Please join in!

Dissenting opinions (from the post itself or other commenters) are welcome, but I reserve the right to delete any comments that personally attack me or any other commenter.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Both Sides of 145 Pounds

I'm 5'0"; my husband is 6'4". I'm female; he's male. We both currently weight 145 pounds.

(Errr... when I started writing this post I was 145. As of the beginning of October I'm now 144. But, that one pound difference isn't enough to negate the overall message of the post I was working on.)

Clearly, that same weight has very difficult implications for each of us!

For me, I'm clearly overweight. Even though I think I have at least slightly more than average muscle mass, I have no doubt that this weight also reflects a percentage of body fat that is too high (never had an opportunity to test it, though I think that would be a useful piece of info to have). I want to blame part of this on my body and poorly functioning systems (hypothyroidism, PCOS, etc.), but it's also the result of many bad habits and a strong sweet tooth, verging on binging disordered eating. 

Abe, on the other hand, is underweight. Not only a low absolute number (compared to his height), but he also has a fair amount of muscle mass, so his body fat percentage is ridiculously low. Some of this is just his body type (not only metabolism, but also a narrow frame), but it is also due to an extremely healthy diet, full of vegetables that are nutritionally dense but low in calories. I wouldn't go so far as to say he has disordered/orthorexic eating habits, but he definitely has some tendencies to overvalue micronutrients at the expense of the overall health picture of a meal or day of eating. He's not going to turn down a burger if that's the most available option, but given the choice he'd much rather eat a salad full of greens.

I know I need to lose weight. He knows he needs to gain weight. We're both trying to support each other, but these opposite needs make for an odd dynamic. I know I don't want him sticking his nose too far into my food choices, but I also want to be encouraging to him and make suggestions to help him with his goals (you need to gain weight? oh, I know how to gain weight). It's an extremely fine balancing act. I've heard of spouses or friends supporting each other in losing weight together, but in that case they're reinforcing the same habits for each other. In this case, I've joked that we ought to just each plate up food for ourselves, and then trade. 

But, though my situation may be more typical in today's society, both of us reflect a not-quite-right relationship with food. He's all about optimizing nutrients, I'm all about maximizing enjoyment. Neither one of us is balanced, and that's reflected in our bodies. Our bodies should be able to find an ideal equilibrium, not too much or too little fat, if we found an equilibrium with our habits. In that sense, we both have the same goal, we're both trying to find that middle ground, even though we're coming towards it from different directions.

How would you recommend supporting a loved one when you have opposite approaches, but are both trying to be healthy?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Seattle Half Training Plan

A few months ago, after my most recent half marathon, I thought I was done with long distances. At least for the immediate future (I was thinking until after next tax season, probably), and maybe for good. I hadn't made much progress in improving my speed and wasn't feeling strong when I tried to. 

Well, after some time off from making myself do a long run on the weekend, mixing things up with triathlon training, and working on aerobic base training, I think I'm finally ready to get back to it! Paying attention to the Portland Marathon last weekend was definitely inspiring. 

I'm going to use a plan from SmartCoach, based on:

  • A mile test time from the beginning of September. The indicated paces, based on the faster single-mile-pace, for easy and long runs are in line with what I've been doing at aerobic efforts lately, which is very different from what I tended to call an "easy" pace in prior training cycles.
  • Weekly mileage of at least 20 (a step up from where I've been lately, but only a small step).
  • "Moderate" training intensity.
I'm actually looking forward to my first tempo run tomorrow. (What's wrong with me?! Oh, yeah, I'm runner. :)