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What makes education public?

What makes education public?

What follows is a post I made on the Plymouth State University internal site. It has marginal reference to running so I thought I’d include it here.

This starts with a brief story about running around the Plymouth State University campus, but ends with a larger point about the place of public institutions. Today I was taking a run during lunch, and like many of my runs around Plymouth during the last year, I made a loop around the perimeter of the athletic fields surrounding ALLWELL North and ALLWELL South. I was just finishing my loop when one of the soccer coaches waved me off the field and told me I wasn’t allowed there. My first inclination was just to finish up my run and get back to work, but I decided to turn back and ask him why I couldn’t run the perimeter of the field. I was told that the fields were private and they were closed to the public, that people come and damage the fields and do things like flip over goal posts. I decided to run into ALLWELL South and get some clarification form the Asst. Athletic Director. She affirmed what the soccer coach had said, and we were soon joined by the coach. I explained that while I understood the intent to keep the fields in good conditions, I didn’t think that my running around the field (not on the field of play) would cause any harm. A predicable slippery slope argument was made ending with a student tearing his ACL and missing his last year of play because people from the public messed up the fields, and the discussion ended we me explaining that while I didn’t agree with the rule, I would certainly abide by it.

But this isn’t really a post about me not being allowed to run around fields. There are plenty of places I can go for my lunch time run including the private Holderness School fields where I’ve been given permission by the athletic director to run. It is a post about what it means to be a public institution. All of you reading this are well aware that Plymouth State University is partially funded by the State of New Hampshire—taxes. What some of you I’m sure also know is that the State of New Hampshire is 50th (last) in the percent it contributes to the cost of public higher education. While many states cover 40% or more the cost of in state tuition, New Hampshire provides less than 10%. As we navigate a financially uncertain future at PSU we discuss many of the things we can do to reduce costs and raise revenues. Student retention and finding efficiencies are the two primary talking points I have heard in my year at PSU, but I have not heard any discussion about the state’s woeful contribution to our university (although I’m sure people are discussing it somewhere.) Having been born and raised in New York, a state that just committed to providing free college tuition for students whose families earn less than $100k a year (going up to $118k in a few years), I was stunned to find out the state I now live and work sees so little value in public higher education.

We have been talking a good deal about community partnerships, and changing the way our students interact with the public through cluster projects. Much of this focus has been on increasing career viability for our students, which is certainly an important goal. But I would like to suggest another goal, increasing the public’s awareness of the value PSU and all the USNH institutions provide to their communities. This means not seeing ourselves as other, or separate from the communities we exist in, but as an integral part of those communities. It isn’t just that we are providing an educated work force, but we are a center of community activity and our research champions the causes that matter to the tax payers of New Hampshire. We need to be inclusive of the public, we need to be inviting to them, and we need to share the amazing things our students do every day with them. I do not believe that the people of New Hampshire value the work we do less than the people of 49 other states; I do believe that we have not done all we could to make them feel we are in this with them. We cannot afford to put up walls to keep the public out, we need to throw open the doors and welcome them in.

Know Your Racer: Lynn Gottfried

Know Your Racer: Lynn Gottfried

With the explosion of new Roadkill Racing team members over the last year, I thought it would be useful to get to know everyone a little better. Roadkill Racers are a varied bunch. Our youngest runners are in their late teens and still in college, our oldest are enjoying retirement. We have hot singles, and hotter married couples. To help you sort out who’s who I’m introducing a new weekly feature to the blog titled “Know Your Racer.” Each week I will profile a Roadkill Racer by having them answer a series of mostly running related questions.

First up is Lynn Gottfried.

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Lynn has been a member of Roadkill Racing since last summer and is married to Jason Gottfried who is also a Roadkill Racer. They have a young son named Alex. I’ll let Lynn tell you the rest about her.

What is the first race you remember running?

My first race was the Run for Health 5k in April 2008. I ran it after completing the Couch-to-5k program. I finished the race in 33:00.

What is your favorite distance to race?

Definitely 5k! Since I started running, I have raced alot of different distances except for the marathon. Over time, I have found that I enjoy training for a 5k the most, and I seem to have a natural strength at that distance.

What is your favorite race or running event?

I really enjoy team events and relays. There’s something so motivating about competing as a team, whether it’s in a cross country race or fun relay. I’ve competed with the team in cross country, and I have also been on several marathon relay teams as well as one triathlon relay team. They have all been so much fun!

What is the strangest thing you have seen while out for a run?

I was running on the canal, and I saw a man on a bicycle with a live chicken in an attached basket.

Why did you join Roadkill Racing?

I was always intrigued by Roadkill Racing. I would see members of the team at races and running on the canal, and they always seemed so fast. Then, last June, 6 months after giving birth, I decided it would be fun to do the McMullen Mile. As I lined up at the start line, I noticed 2 women in my group wearing Roadkill Racing singlets. I never knew there was a women’s team! And these 2 women (aka Lisa Perks and Erin Mahoney), kicked my ass.

So, when a friend of mine joined the team, I started asking questions. After some email exchanges with Ashlie Roberts, I felt like I had found the perfect fit for myself. I wanted to run with a team that I believed in both on and off the race course. I wanted to run with a team that wasn’t separated by fast and slow or men and women. I wanted to run with a team that saw the importance of family. I wanted to run with a team that would make me a better runner, not just because of training plans, but also because of the people I was able to train with. I found all of this and more in Roadkill Racing. So the real question is, how could I NOT join?!

What races are you looking forward to this year?

I am really looking forward to the Lilac 10k. I will be coming off of a 12 week training plan, and I hope to see my pre-pregnancy speed make a comeback. Plus, I’m excited to compete with our women’s team because we are all getting so strong. I’m also really looking forward to the Bergen 5k. I got my 5k PR on that course in 2012, and I have been chasing a sub-20 minute 5k ever since. So I’ve got my sights set on Bergen 2015!

What was your best race ever (could be the best time your ran, or just a really fun racing experience or a race that just meant a lot to you)?

My best race ever was the Pink Ribbon Run in May 2012. I decided to run it at the last minute and went into it unsure of what to expect. I had run a half-marathon 2 weeks prior and was feeling pretty good, so I thought I’d give it a go. I don’t ever remember feeling as good as I did during that race. I felt strong, negative split the whole race, and took about 1:30 off my previous 5k PR. Plus I won a Wegmans gift card, which was my first ever $ award!

If you could give 1 piece of advice to a new runner what would it be?

This is going to sound so cliche, but, first and foremost, don’t give up. Trust the process, especially if you are starting from the very beginning like I did. At first it will feel impossible, but you CAN do it. Following a solid plan with some good running shoes and a running buddy in tow will take you places that you didn’t realize you could go. It also helps to choose a goal race. That will keep you focused and motivated.

There is another group of “new runners” that I feel is often over-looked though – postpartum women runners. For many of us, the return to running after having a baby can make you feel like you are starting all over again. So, in many ways, you are a “new runner”. You are running with a new body, oftentimes a new baby in a jogging stroller, and a new schedule. Depending on how much you did or did not run during pregnancy will affect how you feel. For several reasons, I ran very little during pregnancy and not at all during the last 4 months of it. Based on my experience, my advice is this: ease back into it and don’t be hard on yourself. Take your time. Don’t risk injuring yourself. You will eventually feel like your old self. If anything, you will probably feel even better! It also helps to have running friends that are also moms and can understand what you are going through. Over time, the baby weight will come off, your runs will get faster, and you will really enjoy your “me time” when you go out running. But PS – running with a jogging stroller is HARD, so be prepared.

Over the river and through the woods…

Over the river and through the woods…

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Before the 4th race in the PGXC series I was complaining about the courses being boring. For the most part they had all just circled around grassy fields. None really had significant hills or anything resembling a trail. Then came race #4 at the Robert Treman State Park in Ithaca. This 6k for women 8k for men course featured the usual laps around flat fields but mixed in some nice and not so nice changes.

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This was the first race where it actually felt like cross country weather. The ground was littered with crunch leaves and it was a blustery 37 degrees with a few snow flurries. The cold weather arrived just in time for us to have our first water crossing of the year. This wasn’t just a little stream we had to hope over, it was a 40 yard stretch of 6″+ deep water.

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We got to cross this creek not once but twice! The first time was about 1.5 miles into the race the second time was with about a half mile to go. Sandwiched between the two crossing was a nice 300 foot mile long hill that started out as a single track with lots of switchbacks (and fallen trees to hurdle) that reduced many runners to a near walk and finished as a very steep gravel road that was less fun running down than it was running up.

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All fun and games until you run across an icy stream.

 

Despite the difficulty of the course (maybe because of it) the Roadkill men and women had a great time. There is something unexplainably wonderful about running around in the cold and the wind and through water, up and down rocky roads with a bunch of friends in an attempt to win beer.

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Molly leading the charge for the ladies.
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Dave racing himself back into top form led the way for the men’s team.

Things stayed pretty consistent with the scoring. Then men finished 3rd for the 4th time in a row and then women finishing 4th for the 4th time in a row. Roadkill had never fielded a team for all the races in a season before and this year we have fielded a full men and women’s team for each race. I see this as a huge win for the team, even if we don’t get any beer for it.

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Jim Park the latest masters addition with a strong 6th place performance.

The men’s masters team finished 2nd to GVH setting up a winner take all scenario for championship day. We have gone back in forth with GVH all season each winning 2 meets. Although we hold a 2 point advantage in the standings if GVH were to win the final race the would own the head to head tiebreaker.  I like that things worked out nice and simple. We win we win, they win they win.

Race 4 Women’s Team Results

Race 4 Men’s Team Results

Race 4 Men’s Masters Results

Team Standings to Date

Individual Standings to Date

Thanks to HBO and Tim Matthews (and myself) for the pictures!