I would like to break today’s rant into 2 chapters. 2 different subjects linked by a single theme… “I failed to fail”. You won’t have to wait until tomorrow for chapter 2 – they’re both right here, right now. Nose to tail like good chapters should be.
Chapter 1 – university results
The first day of July dawned fresh and bright. Semester 1 results miraculously appeared in the Students Online Academic Register. SOLAR. Catchy little acronym, isn’t it. So I logged in before my ride just to see how awkwardly I had landed. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my exam schedule and expected results and now I’m here to tell you how it all ended up.
Where I come from results are not numerical. Neither are they alphabetical. They’re a word. Some are good words – some are bad words – some are words of indecision.
Grade Pending is an indecisive word. Fail is a bad word. Incomplete is an indecisive word. Pass is a good word (as far as scraping through is concerned). Credit is a better word. Distinction is a wonderful word. High distinction is a fantastic word (2 words – I know, I know).
So here we go:
This subject was the jewel in my crown. I did little work because all the teaching just seemed to already exist in my head. As the lecturer spoke I spent a lot of time nodding.
High Distinction. (I failed to fail)
Language and Literacies in Education:
The lecturer for this one was called in at the last moment and it showed. She did her best with a tough subject (identifying and remediating students with learning deficits) and the whole experience was as educational for us as it was for her.
Credit. (I failed to fail)
Learning about Learning:
This subject was enjoyable and relevant. The lecturer had lots of great “war” stories and there were a lot of guest speakers and interactive activities. I was expecting a good outcome from this one.
Distinction. (I failed to fail)
I knew from the start I would struggle with this monster. I only did biology until grade 10 in high school so I haven’t touched anything to do with biology since 1982 (unless you count cleaning out the back of the fridge). Add that to the fact that I didn’t enjoy (or perform well in) a similar subject last year and this one has disaster written all over it. But when I saw the result I nearly fell off my chair. Not only did I pass, I passed with room to spare.
Credit. (I failed to fail)
Chapter 2 – the bike (race)
Sunday was the culmination of 6 months of (mostly) hard work. My mid-life crisis spawned my revolution which was centred around cycling. In the past 6 months I have ridden my bike twice as far as the combined total of the previous 4 years. Six weeks ago I rode on the velodrome for the first time since 1990. Late in June I jointed the local cycling club. Yesterday I raced in the local club criterium (French for circuit).
When I presented myself to the officials as a new club member they offered me a start in D grade. Now I have nothing against the people in D grade, but I didn’t want to race with a group of people where the only ones without hair on their legs were the women and children. I clarified my status as a former racer with knowledge, skills and a little bit of fitness. My suggestion that C grade may be more appropriate was deemed acceptable.
C grade it was. And at 8:30am on Sunday I rolled out on my first competitive event in over 16 years. It was a simple affair. An 800 metre (half mile) circuit in an industrial estate that is almost completely flat and with wide sweeping corners. The format was 30 minutes plus 2 laps. I was comfortably aware of everything around me for the entire race which means I was racing in limbo. I didn’t lose consciousness but I also didn’t enter “the zone”.
The one thing that I was constantly aware of was my heart rate monitor. It kept telling me that I should stop looking for the finish line and start looking for an ambulance. One time I glanced at it at the end of what seemed like an easy lap and it was showing 151bpm. More often when I looked down it was registering above 170. At the end of the race the average speed was 36.5kph (22.7mph) with an average heart rate of 158bpm. While I was watching the heart rate monitor I was also watching the clock. It’s strange how 30 minutes can drag on so long but at the same time disappear in big chunks.
All in all it was a typical C grade race. Just like the ones I used to laugh at years ago, where someone would try to break away, and everyone wanted them caught, but no-one would work to chase them down. Individuals would sprint to drag the escapee back but there was no co-operation. None. Ever.
Then up the front straight we got the call of 2 laps to go. And down the back straight with one and a half to go, the teenager who was constantly the most aggressive of the riders bounded off the front. I knew he would. I even knew where. I was already in the right gear and when I heard him change gears I started to accelerate. By the time he got out of the seat I was past the person who was between us and I latched on behind him easily. The poor fellow never looked back. He either didn’t know or didn’t care that the whole bunch was right behind him.
He dragged me around a full lap and then with about 250 metres to go 2 riders came up along side me. The road kinked gently left and that opened up a gap on the left as the rider in front of me drifted slightly towards the centre of the road. I had a feeling that would happen and pounced. I was almost immediately a bike length in front. Unfortunately I was fading badly and there were 4 riders coming over the top of me fast. I couldn’t believe I got that close to the finish line only to be beaten… and if the finish line was 20 metres further up the road I would have been.
First place. (I failed to fail)
It was quite a weekend. I’ve finished beating my chest. Now I’ll just bask for a while.
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.
– Albert Schwietzer