A few weeks ago, I competed in the heptathlon at the conference championship meet. The most interesting experience I had all weekend was my long jump experience. Long jump is part of the heptathlon, but I had also qualified as an individual. Unfortunately, the mark I got in my heptathlon long jump would not count toward my mark as an individual, so I would have to long jump twice in the same day. This doesn’t sound too bad, but I also had to do six other events that weekend. Heptathlon long jump was the first event of the second day. I was on the top of my game and jumped a personal best long jump. If only that jump had counted for regular competition too.
Less than 10 minutes before the final event of the heptathlon, the 800 meter run, went off, the individual long jump competition started. Each long jumper gets three tries, but I would only have time for my first try before I had to go to the starting line. I ran the same approach that I had run for my successful jump earlier, but I was so nervous about the 800 that I ended up fouling the jump and not getting a mark. Trying to push the unsuccessful long jump attempt out of my mind, I headed to the start line of the 800, determined to focus on only that even for the 3 minutes it would take for my heptathlon career to be over. Both times I ran past the long jump pit, I made a point to ignore what was going on, and instead focus on the cheers from my teammates who had circled the track in support of my teammate and me.
The thing about mid distance races such as the 800 is that by the end, your legs feel a little numb, or at least very shaky. This race was no different. As soon as I got off the finish line, while my fellow heptathletes were congratulating each other and contemplating what type of pizza they were going to get now that the two-day competition was over, I was walking as fast as my shaky legs would allow me back to the long jump pit. If I hadn’t missed all of my attempts, I might be able to get a mark, albeit a very short one. The problem was that there was a rather large crowd of coaches and teammates gathered around the long jump ref and I had very little breath to tell them to move so I could talk to the ref. Just as I approached the crowd, I heard the ref call out my name for my third and final attempt. “I’m here!” I shouted, stumbling through the crowd. “I’m here!” The entire crowd turned to look at the crazy, breathless girl tripping toward them. In long jump, once your name is called, you have a minute to start your approach or you are disqualified. I walked as steadily as I could to the end of the runway, my legs feeling about as strong as Bambi’s in the scene where he first learns to walk. In the short 60 seconds that I had, I caught my breath as well as I could. This time, I stared the board down. I wasn’t going to step over it; I couldn’t foul. My foot hit right on the board, and I landed in the pit. A perfectly legal jump. Even from looking at it, I could tell it was short, but I didn’t care. None of the other jumpers had run an 800 right before their attempts, so in my book it was pretty impressive. And as it turned out, the ref took pity on me and allowed me to make up the jump that I had missed after the rest of my flight finished, and I jumped a respectable distance on that one. It wasn’t anywhere near my personal best, but it was decent . Especially considering it was my eighth event of the weekend.

This weekend I competed in my first ever heptathlon. A heptathlon is a track event that is comprised of seven events over two days: on the first day, the athletes compete in the hurdles, high jump, shot put, and 200 meter dash, and on the second day, the athletes compete in the long jump, the javelin, and the 800 meter run.

It had been a long road to get to this day, a road that had started in high school, when I had asked my then-coach if I could compete in the heptathlon. My high school coach is a wonderful coach; a lifelong trackie and incredibly kind. He also coached a large team and had to pick his battles. Therefore, his response was that I could not compete in the heptathlon, with the reason that I would be very weak in the throwing events. He was mostly right.

Flash forward two years, to the beginning of outdoor track season this year. My friend on the track team got her heart set on competing in the heptathlon. Personally, I think that she just wanted an excuse to try throwing the javelin. It was decided that I would be her training partner.

Over the course of the season, I learned how tough it can be to be a multi-event athlete. I would go to practice in the morning and do a running workout to train for the 200 and the 800. A few hours later, my legs still sore from their morning pounding, I would head to high jump practice, and pound my legs for another hour. After that, my legs would get a break, as I headed to the thrower’s lift to do a bench press workout.

The extra time was worth it when the first day of competition arrived. We started off our warm-ups in the balmy 70° weather and I was surprised when the athletes I would be competing against started chatting amiably to Reb and me about our warm-up. Over the course of the two days, I found that while trackies are overall nice people willing to exchange a “good luck” at the blocks and a “good job” at the finish, the multi-event community is even more friendly.

heptathlon

day 1, getting some shade.
selfie by Rebecca Craig

 

As is expected of a long day competing in the sun, there were ups and downs for both of us in the events. We were lucky to have two dedicated coaches beside us for the whole day, offering moral support, advice, and a well-timed Gatorade run. We were even luckier on the second day, when the rest of the team came to the meet to compete in the other events or to cheer. It was my third time ever long jumping in college that day, but with my team almost literally lining the runway, I was able to shatter my personal record beyond what I thought was possible.

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Me and my hellee
Photo by Rebecca Craig

By the end of the meet, both of us earned the opportunity to compete in the event one more time this season: at the Conference Championship meet in May. We also got some pretty nice tan lines (think: socks, watches, and singlets) and a free pass out of 7 am practice the next day.

Room draw can be a very stressful and overwhelming time. People get very intense about it. Unfortunately, I am one of them. I make these intense color-coded spreadsheets and then print out the dorms maps and all sorts of stuff. It’s a little embarrassing, really. However, it has given me a sort of insight into the things that normal people who aren’t obsessed with spreadsheets can do to make their room draw experience a little less painful. To that end, I would like to present a few tips about room draw.

 

1. Communicate with your hall group or multiple occupancy partners.

This is really important, which is why I put it first. Let the people you’re rooming with/near know what you want and don’t want when it comes to room draw. If there are dorms that you absolutely don’t want to live in, tell them (some common complaints are: Brecon is too far, Denbigh 3rd is too hot, the Pems are too loud, etc.). Only one person can speak up for your group when your number is called, and if they know what you want ahead of time, there won’t be any last minute debates when it’s finally your turn to pick. Also, it will make the living situation over the course of the year significantly less tense.

 

2. Check out Project Dorm Room.

If you’re too shy/lazy/busy to run around campus looking at rooms, this is a great way to get an idea of what a room might look like. While they don’t have pictures of all of the rooms on campus, it can be a good way to get a general idea of what a typical Erdman room looks like, or a general size estimate. In past years, they have even taken 360° photos of the rooms that were in the contest, which is a great resource.

 

3. Don’t freak out.

Yes, room draw can be daunting. Yes, it will determine where you live for the next year. But there is room trade period after this if you really mess up. And besides, most people end up spending way more time in class, at club meetings or sports practices, or at social events than in their rooms. For example, I’m pretty sure I spend as much time, if not more time in the dining hall and the gym alone than in my room.

Also, make sure you eat a good meal before room draw; it can go really long, and bringing snacks to room draw is generally frowned upon.

 

This week, the show How I Met Your Mother ended. I started watching the show my senior year of high school. It was the first show that I ever Netflix binge-watched, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. When I came to Bryn Mawr, I introduced the show to my good friend. Over the past 2 years, we’ve worked through all 9 seasons of the show. Naturally, a lot of the jokes have worked their way into our lives. We high five a lot more than we used to, and accept challenges with a lot more gusto. Much to my friend’s chagrin, I have found that “Have you met Reb?” is a fun game to play at parties.
For the finale, we were going to make a night out of it, but as typical Mawrtyrs, life got in the way, and instead of the Ben & Jerry’s-fueled party we had planned on, we ended up watching the final twists and turns on my laptop while snacking on chocolate chips from the dining hall. As series finales go, it was pretty good. My personal favorite part was when Ted talked with his kids after he had finished the story. I had always wondered how his kids would turn out considering they type of bedtime stories he told them.
Unfortunately, now I’m going to have to find a new show to watch.

This week, I had an occasion to eat in Haverford’s dining hall. Plenty of Mawrters do that; our swipe cards work at both places, and it comes in handy when you have a class or friends over there. This was no social outing, however. I attended a job talk for an actual position at an actual company that I might take after graduation. To say the least, as a sophomore who declared her major 4 short months ago, this was a daunting meeting. Especially since only 3 people showed up and the recruiter actually wanted us to interact with her. Luckily, she was very nice, a common characteristic of those who work in the field that I want to go in. After graduation, I want to work with children with special needs and help them to live the most full and independent lives possible. There are more ways to do this than I ever imagined, and when I first started looking into the field, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of possibilities of things that I could be when I grew up. Every one of those job titles: special education teacher, clinical psychologist, ABA specialist, speech-language pathologist, to name a few; would fulfill my dream. I have by no means decided which path I am going to take, but I am getting a better picture of what each path looks like through things like this job talk. This particular company could provide a wide variety of wonderful opportunities for me, including training in one of the leading autism interventions, financial help pursuing a master’s degree, and, perhaps the most intriguing of all, a stint working in their office in Abu Dhabi.
Even though it was scary to be thinking about my future in such concrete terms, it was that little detail that made the whole thing less daunting. Imagining myself working with autistic kids in Abu Dhabi, exploring and enjoying a new part of the world, was as wonderful and exciting as imagining my future had been when I was a kid and I wanted to be a circus performer. I may never work for that company, but I will probably work for like that. The idea of working in such an exotic place reminded me of how I should feel when contemplating any new career, even in the States. I should be excited. It should feel like an adventure, something that I just can’t wait to do.

The D3 indoor track national championships meet was this weekend. I knew a few people participating, such as my teammate Claudia and my sister. As it is my sister’s senior year, my parents want to attend every one of her “lasts”, so they bought plane tickets to Nebraska and offered me the opportunity to go as well. I love my sister, and being almost 300 miles from her means that I don’t get to be there for many of her lasts, so I jumped on this opportunity. Also, I’m a bit of a track nerd, so it was exciting to be able to watch all of the people I’d been following on TFRRS run at such a high-caliber meet. The trip started, as most of my adventures this semester seem to begin, with snow. The morning of our flight to Nebraska was pretty wintry: it was about 28 degrees and flurrying in Hartford when I left. When I arrived in Nebraska, however, I discovered the spring was just a time zone away.

I was told that this is not typical of Nebraska at this time, but it was 67 degrees for the whole weekend. Chances are, I will never return to Nebraska to refute this impression, so I will always imagine short-sleeved runs, balmy evening strolls, and warm breezes when I think of Nebraska. It was outdoor track weather.

Speaking of track, the meet itself was even more extraordinary than the weather. When I returned to campus, I entertained my friends by giving them a blow-by-blow of my favorite races. The first involved a runner who got a 50 meter lead in the first few laps and never lost it, winning by almost 4 seconds; another involved a runner who got a 50 meter lead and kept it until the final few laps before losing it to an astonishingly super-human kick by a runner who had been in 4th.

Both Claudia and my sister also ran well, with Claudia setting a new school record in the 5k with a 10th place finish and my sister taking 5th in the mile.

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Claudia and coach after her race. Photo by me

This weekend, I drove to New Jersey to watch an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. In the past, I had only ever driven to New Jersey to visit the shore, where my grandparents live. Frisbee tournaments, however, are held in the middle of nowhere, as I was about to find out.

The day started off pretty well: I knocked on the door of my friend who I was borrowing a car from until she woke up. She gave me a sleepy hug and sent me on my way, so I don’t think she was too mad. I had Beyoncé’s new album playing and a bagel with strawberry cream cheese, so everything was looking up. I found my way to 476 before Partition had even started playing. As soon as I passed the bridge into Jersey, however, I realized that I might have gotten myself in over my head.

The landscape changed from the well-populated outskirts of Philly to cornfields. It was the kind of place where you can take a wrong turn and drive for 10 miles before you even realized you were lost. I had no GPS, not even the spotty Apple maps, because I am the proud owner of a dinosaur phone. If I got lost, I would have to call someone—a friend, my sister, my mom—and ask them to Google where I was and how I could possibly get to where I wanted to go. Determined to not miss a single sign, or a single line of my one woman Beyoncé sing along, I plunged into the depths of rural Jersey.

I did quite well for most of the trip. My handwritten directions that I had copied off of Google before the drive were very accurate, except for one turn where I had to take a gamble: make a turn to follow the road I thought I was supposed to be on, or not turn because I hadn’t written that I was supposed to turn until much later? I turned; and luckily it worked out.

I got all the way to the town in which the tournament was taking place before things turned sour. The town was a very small rural town. There was a Main Street with two gas stations and a church and not much else. It was the kind of town where Main Street is easy to find because it’s the center of town, but it’s hard to find anything else. Unfortunately, the park I was looking for was not on Main Street. I drove around for a while, trying to find my way, but it was no use. My written directions had not prepared me for this; I needed Google or a local. I stopped at one of the 2 gas stations to ask for directions, but the woman behind the counter was not the local that I had been looking for.

The next closest business was the post office. As I pulled into the parking lot in my car with Vermont plates, marking me as someone who had no idea where I was and what I was doing, I was getting a little hysterical. The tournament had started 10 minutes ago; I only had a few hours until I had to be back on campus and what if I never found it? Another car had pulled into the parking lot just in front of me; a white mustang. A guy in his twenties got out of it and headed for the post office when I intercepted him. I told him that I was so sorry to bother him, but I was looking for Upper Neck road. I told him that I was going to a park to watch some Frisbee. I must have sounded insane. He had grown up in this town, and said that he lived on Upper Neck road. What a coincidence. He tried to give me verbal directions a few times, but must have taken pity on me because he volunteered to drive there and I could follow him.

This random stranger that I will probably never meet again dropped his post office errand and drove several miles out of his way (in his super sweet car) to show a lost tourist the way to a Frisbee tournament. I don’t know who he is, but I am infinitely grateful to him. I’m glad that even though I ventured outside of the Bryn Mawr bubble that day, I still found people who are as kind and accommodating as I’ve come to expect from spending all of my time with Bryn Mawr students. Also, when I looked in the glove compartment to put my things there for safekeeping, I found that my friend had a GPS in there the whole time.

My Mondays begin earlier than most people’s do, because I wake up early to run at 6:45. Despite this fact, I had one of my favorite Mondays this week. It started with practice at the track, which was fun because instead of just running in circles for an hour, I ran in straight lines while jumping over things. For those of you who have a little bit of knowledge about track, I’m referring to hurdling. I had my first hurdling practice, and even though I was a little rusty, it was a very encouraging practice. It wasn’t just because of what I was doing that made it a good practice, however. At a track practice there are a lot of different things going on because everyone runs something different. And then there’s field, but that’s a whole different story.

On this particular morning, we had the distance runners running a long interval workout, which made them kind of like the rhythm behind the whole show. Every so often, I’d hear my teammates cheering, and I’d look up to see them urging the distance crew on, or the distance crew urging the rest of us on as they passed. Then we had the sprinters, who I had joined for the day, doing a variety of different drills. My favorite one was when we practiced relay handoffs. The handoff is the most important part of the relay: if your teammate doesn’t get the baton, the whole thing falls apart (as we know all too well from the 2008 Olympics)

relay

source: sfgate.com

 

It’s a fun thing to do in practice because there is less pressure, but also because you get to hang out with your teammates a little more; it’s like the communal part of track. Despite the fact that we were in the middle of the track passing a stick around, we weren’t the loudest group by far. That award went to my coach, who had joined in with the mid distance runners on the last part of their workout. Near the end of a workout, if it hasn’t been too grueling, trackies like to have some fun and do what we do best—race. My coach decided that he not only wanted to join in on the last few reps, but also narrate the whole 100 meter “race” for the rest of the team to hear. It ended up coming out pretty breathless, since my teammates were giving him a run for his money, they even beat him on the last rep, a ruling that held, despite his claims that they false started.

This isn’t where track ends, however. Later in the day, we had a lift, which my coach decided would be fun. Unfortunately, my coach’s definition of fun is playing pass with weighted med balls. Trackies aren’t known for their superior aim. The lift, while being successful in making my quads very sore as I’m writing this, also succeeded in creating one of the funniest scenes all week. Just picture 25 rather clumsy women with not the best arm strength in the world trying not only to throw a 20 pound ball to each other, but also catch the wayward tosses from their teammates. It was as much of an exercise in teambuilding as is was for our bodies, and both came out stronger—just in time for Championships.

relay2

source: athletics.brynmawr.edu

 

Today, Bryn Mawr named Kim Cassidy (affectionately known as K-Sass, K-Cass, and a variety of other creative nicknames) as the 9th President of the college. My first reaction to this news was: yess!! I really wanted her to get it! My second reaction was: wait, Bryn Mawr has only had 9 presidents? The college has been around since 1885, or 129 years. That means that up until President Cassidy took office after the 2012-2013 school year, each president served an average of 16 years. The longest term served is a tie between Presidents M. Carey Thomas (1894-1922) and Katherine McBride (1942-1970). Both presidents were at the helm for 28 years. This isn’t your President of the US 4-year term (unless you’re FDR), this is a long-term commitment.

When I think about this, and the commitment that President Cassidy is making to the college, it makes me think of my own relationship with the college. I’m not just a Mawrter for the 4 years I study here; I’m a Mawter for much longer after that. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be. When you stand in Thomas and look at the portraits of all the Presidents of the college, you see lots of strong, smart women. Many other colleges didn’t have female presidents in the 1800s. When women at those colleges look at the portraits of people important to their college, they see much less women than I do. And even though it doesn’t consciously affect me, it’s much easier to feel like I belong when I’m surrounded by other women than if I were surrounded by a bunch of old guys.

Back in the present day, to when President Cassidy is setting her own portrait appointment (do they still do that?), I am very excited to spend the rest of my days at Bryn Mawr under her leadership. She is a Swarthmore graduate, so she understands the Tri-Co life, but more relevant to me, she is a psychologist and an athlete. I am an aspiring psychologist and a student-athlete. She has been very welcoming to the athletic community at Bryn Mawr. She participates in the BMC community relay challenge, an event put on by the swim team to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. She probably won’t brag about this, but she is always on the winning relay team. She also invited athletes over to her house for a dinner (I talked about it in this post). As a psychology major, I have actually learned about some of her research projects in my classes, and will not be surprised if I stumble over a citation of her work in one of my textbooks.

Overall, President Cassidy seems to be a true Mawrter in that she knows what is important to us (to read some of her thoughts on her view of Bryn Mawr, read her blog) . She also knows what is best for Mawrters. It seems that President Cassidy is one of our biggest advocates when it comes to having fun. She is involved with many events aimed to let us take breaks from studying and enjoy the wonderful community that exists at Bryn Mawr with events such as the upcoming Valentine’s tea, or the various pop-ups that have sprung up on campus recently (for more on pop-ups and K-Sass, read this post). In short, I’m glad to have Kim Cassidy at the helm; congrats, K-Sass!

It’s been a rough winter in Bryn Mawr. Even as a New Englander, I’m impressed with the amount of snow that we’ve gotten. We’ve had several snow days, but one of the worst weather days was on Wednesday. Early Wednesday morning, a half inch of ice covered the 8 inches of snow that were already on the ground. This caused all sorts of mayhem around campus; slippery roads an paths, falling tree limbs, and perhaps the most devastating, several headless snowmen.

Classes were cancelled, and around 12:30 almost all of campus was gathered in the dining hall for lunch. I was microwaving my hot chocolate when the microwave sputtered and died. The lights went out. It was as if eight people had dropped dishes at once. There was the customary beat of silence, and then everyone started talking excitedly. There were even a few shrieks. Luckily, the backup generator came on soon afterward, powering a third of the dorm and keeping the heat and emergency lights on in the rest of the dorm.

I didn’t have lights in my room, but at least I had heat. Unfortunately, when I turned on my computer, I was presented with this notification:

snowstorm1

While the dinosaur is cute, I was not impressed. It turns out, a snow day without Wi-Fi is super boring. Even more so when it’s a blackout and you can’t read past 5:30. The upside was that Erdman, which is usually the least social dorm, turned into one of the most social dorms, as everyone huddled around the one hallway outlet that was still working. Later in the night, we found out that there were about 10 square feet of Wi-Fi right in the doorway of the dorm, and though it was a drafty place to be, we all agreed that the access to humanity was worth it. It turns out that an ice apocalypse brings out the best in Mawrtyrs.

Luckily, movie-watching is something that is supposed to be done in the dark, and I had just enough charge left in my laptop for a Mulan viewing before we went to bed, hoping we would wake up without the roar of the generator.

The Erdman residents did not wake with power, although a few lucky dorms did. I was only a little bitter. After breakfast and brushing my teeth by lantern-light one last time, the power came back on just in time for me to check my Facebook before heading to class.

Hopefully, the next snowstorm/ice-apocalypse (scheduled for Monday) will not bring as many difficulties as the last one.

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