Feeling the PhD burn: Or, time for me to vent.

When I trained for the Mercedes Marathon in 2004, I remember everyone talking about how marathon runners eventually hit "the wall." I trained and trained, running/walking 12, 14, 18 miles. Nothing happened. Then, one day, my running partner, Linda, and I went on our longest run yet: 24 miles. While on this run, I hit "the wall." "The wall" is really just a mental barrier. Your mind says that you must stop everything and tries to convince you that you absolutely cannot go another step. (My body wanting to refuse another step came at about mile 22.) Anyway, though it felt like it was going to last forever, after about 3/4 of a mile, I broke through "the wall." Still, my body paid the price. Long distance running is fine for me up until a point. I do really well until about 18 miles. After 18 miles, though my legs will keep going, my body begins to react in strange ways and I become ill. So, that was the end of my marathon training.

Now, what does this have to do with the PhD? Well, I think I am close to hitting the wall. I have worked and worked for years without a break. Since 2000, I have earned an English undergraduate degree, a Masters in English, a Masters in Library and Information Science, moved to a new state, begun a PhD program in Florida, left Florida and worked at a feverish pace for IRD during the worst summer of my life (not due to IRD), dealt with my dad's illness during that summer, returned to Alabama for more PhD work (basically starting over on paper...meaning more class time), taught two classes I have never taught before (exciting but time consuming and stressful due to all new lesson plans and angst), continued to take care of dad, presented at two conferences, began working at a new job part-time, and tried to read as much as possible for my reading list for comps (coming up this spring). I know that most of this is normal PhD business. But, I feel really down right now. I feel tired, unresponsive, and incapable of creativity. The thought of teaching makes me tired...even though the minute I get in there I love it. I think I am really close to hitting the wall. I don't think I am there just yet, and that is a sad thought. Anyway, I suppose I will wait for it to pass. I keep thinking about the 24-mile run...I did break through the wall...it was just torture waiting it out!


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