Despite years of experience learning just how much I can and can’t realistically accomplish, I find myself signing up or committing to many, many things. And there are always so many more that I want to do. But, here’s the recap of what my life has been recently!
As I’ve mentioned every once in a while, I’m in grad school (or, well, I WAS! More on that later). So I have this thing called a thesis that I’m trying to finish, and that turns out to take a lot of time. After my concussion crash, my schedule for finishing my thesis was a little derailed. But, I wound up with a defense date (March 6th) that all of my committee members could make. Deadlines are a beautiful thing, and also somewhat terrible. The fantastic thing about the March date, however, was that March 6th is the Friday before Wash. U. ‘s spring break, and also the week before a really big race – True Grit Epic – out in St. George Utah. So, I scheduled my defense and somewhat tentatively considered the option that I could maybe pretend to be in college again and take a spring break… out to Utah (I mean, peat was already registered, so we’d at least be able to ride together).
Before that, though, I had a birthday! My birthday always falls around martin luther king day, and this year was no exception. The lovely folks at team virtus had planned their annual MLK day ride at the berryman, so we jumped in the car and headed down! We lucked out with incredible weather and snuck in one lap before it got too muddy to continue. Dry trails are happy trails… for everyone to use! Following the ride I went for a little run, but not before finishing the flask of fireball I’d been carrying and sharing, because obviously everyone has to drink on my birthday. We enjoyed a ton of delicious bbq potluck food and, true to form, I drank waaaay too much of mitch’s deadly moonshine, staying up late into the night and telling vulgar stories.
We recovered from epic amounts of booze Saturday night with a dirt ride Sunday put on by route 66 cycles. I saw a bunch of friends and made new ones (a lot of people from berryman moseyed on over for the ride). Mostly, I ended up riding with sam – another super badass singlespeed lady! It was awesome!!
The thing about winter is… it’s time for a lot of birthdays! After my birthday, it was peat’s birthday. To celebrate, we met up with Dwayne and Emily for a singlespeed big ride (nearly 100 miles of hills down by crystal city). We rode a pretty chill pace and I finally got to test out the infamous ‘big ride’. It was epic! It was also super bowl Sunday, so after the ride we hung out at Dwayne’s and ate a bunch of hotdogs and chips, and Bettina even gave us a demo of her really neat new embroidery machine.
Next up, it was Emily’s birthday! Emily always plans something incredible for her birthday as a fundraiser for Team Noah Foundation (go check out her blog for more details), and this year was no exception. She planned 31 straight hours of activity, including a 12 hour overnight ultra trail run. At the same time, however, I was still trying to finish my thesis. I couldn’t quite swing all that time away from work. So, instead of the 12 hour run, I spent 12 hours overnight in my office, finishing a complete draft (!) of my thesis to send to my adviser. After finishing my 12 hours of pain, I biked up to Aeries winery where the runners had just finished their 12 hours of pain. We biked down through St. Charles then out to the Mound, where we met up with even more people to do a little road and katy riding, a little more hiking, then went back to Alpine shop. It was, indeed, epic.
After a little bit of sleep and recovery, I hopped on a plane out to Baltimore for the Biophysical Society Annual Meeting, where luckily I was just presenting a poster. I met up with a friend from high school who is working on a PhD at Johns Hopkins… which is pretty crazy, considering the town we grew up in (very few people leave the state, of those who go to college… and pursuing a PhD afterwards is pretty rare. Particularly in similar fields). It was a nice break, and I mostly caught up on sleep while also trying to work on the thesis a bit.
I flew back to St. Louis, and continued in the theme I’d started mid-January: Working 12-13 hours, working out for 1-2 hours, then collapsing in bed. Miraculously, this pattern actually works. I don’t get a ton of sleep, but I also didn’t get sick (which often happens when I don’t get much sleep) and I like to think I was able to maintain at least a little bit of fitness and sanity. Most of February was spent just focusing on actually finishing my thesis, getting a paper ready for publication, and generally wrapping up things in the lab. The month flew by without much real activity, although Peat and I did manage to go for a longer ride one weekend. Work work work!
The work was all worth it when, Friday March 6th, I defended my PhD. This includes a presentation, questions from the public, then they close the door any my committee (6 faculty members) drills me on my research, and my knowledge, and decides whether I’ve earned a doctorate or not. As you can imagine, it was mildly terrifying. They also kick you out after all the questioning to discuss, as faculty, what changes the thesis needs before publishing and if they will actually award you the degree. Hearing ‘congratulations, Dr. Wilson’ from each committee member was such a relief. No longer a grad student, but finally a doctor!! WHAAAAaT? It still hasn’t really sunk in, but until then I’m officially taking a spring break, visiting family in Colorado and…. Heading to Utah!
I decided to officially sign up for True Grit. 90 miles of singletrack and slickrock… how bad can it be? I’m about to find out. I’m currently writing this in the car as we drive the final miles to St. George (just crossed the CO/UT border, and stopped for tourist pics). Here’s hoping I survive!