A step in the right direction

Saw the physio again at Edge Hill. Had a lady physio today who identified that my ITB (can’t recall what the initials stand for, but a muscle that runs up the side of your leg from knee to hip) was really tight and inflamed at the hip end. She gave it some serious pummelling, as well as having a good go at my hamstrings.

The tutor came in at the end and did a bit of an assessment too. He said I should try a little run before I go back next week, about 3-4 miles, but I’ve should stop as soon as it hurts. Quite proud that he said I was a typical athlete for running through pain before. The physio called me an athlete!

Only a small step forward, but hopefully there is still time to get training back on track for the marathon.

Tonight however it just hurts, so I’m back to applying ice.


Hiding a woman’s light

This morning on Twitter Louise Mensch posted a question she was asked in a GQ interview “do women have a hard time describing themselves as successful or doing well? Is the instinct always self-deprecate? Does society demand it?”  The question wasn’t included in the published article, so I’m not sure what answer Louise Mensch gave, but it set me thinking.

A few years back I failed in a big way, and ended up off work with depression and eventually quitting teaching. I talked about this reasonably openly and received a lot of support and understanding.

Now, I’ve sorted myself out and I’m doing a course in Information Management so I can launch a new career. I’m doing really well on my course, not just a bit well, but Distinction level so far, but this is the first place I’ve shared that information. I’ve not even told other people on my course how well I’m doing. A few know about individual essays, but I don’t think anyone outside my immediate family (until now) knows I’ve been consistently excellent.

So why is that? Is it that I’ve been brought up not to shout about my achievements? Is it fear of failure that people will expect more of me and if I don’t maintain standards then I’ll look foolish? Is it that I don’t want to stand out as trying too hard or being the teacher’s pet? Why was it easier to talk about the failure? Was it easier for other people, and me, to accept that the busy mum of three is a failure rather than a success?

I do know that when I write my CV I have to get my husband in to play-up my achievements. He will suggest words and phrases to describe things I’ve done that I will argue with saying “it wasn’t that good, or important”. And I certainly know that he deals with criticism of his ideas and way of doing things much better than I do.  He has much more confidence that what he is doing is right and will ultimately be successful and he is not afraid to argue that point to others.  I am full of self doubt.

But is it a female issue? Maybe it is just different character traits and perhaps it is just as hard for men to celebrate success. Louise Mensch’s uber example of someone who celebrates their success, Piers Morgan, certainly attracts a good number of haters too.

For myself, I think it stretches back to childhood and being bullied for being clever (as well as wearing glasses and not being very confident socially). As a teacher it is clear to see that children can be incredibly negative about successful children, and it is really hard work to promote a positive, success driven culture in a school. So perhaps it’s a British thing inculcated into us at home.

I asked my children for their views. My 13 year old son said he didn’t feel he had to hide his success at school. He felt success was celebrated and he had learnt to value himself and ignore people who put him down. My daughter said she wouldn’t shout about her success for fear of being called a swat. She’s still at primary so I asked if my son thought things would improve at high school, as they had for him. He suspected they wouldn’t and both agreed it was harder for girls to be seen to be successful, although they couldn’t put their finger on why.

So what does this mean for my future? I’m filled with plans and ambition to be a leader and change things in the information world, but I’m also filled with dread of failure and of having to fight my position and shout about my success and strengths. I’m tempted to fall back into easy, safe roles where I can keep my head down and keep my light hidden, apologising for any good ideas and saying they must be down to someone else; something I find I do frighteningly often. What sort of example does that set to my daughter?

It seems feminism still has a long way to go. Jon Snow tonight tweeted about the novelty of women such as Merkel and Legarde being powerful in Europe. Until people are judged on their words and actions and not on their gender then I suspect it will always be difficult for women to be anything other than apologetic about their successes, without being seen as strange or unusual.

Cataloguing – like a real Librarian!

Another rainy day in Warrington, meant a rather soggy bike commute to the station but at least the trains were running today after yesterday’s cancellations (a fatality at Widnes meant I got bussed to Newton-le-Willows to catch a Manchester train, only to find lectures cancelled due to illness).

Today is placement day though, so even Manchester rain couldn’t dampen my spirits as I dodged my way along Oxford Street to the RNCM. The staff are all lovely and made me feel so welcome again. This morning I was with Geoff again applying some of the theories of music cataloguing to some real examples. First we catalogued a Berlioz Cantata in a piano reduction which was fairly straightforward, but even so threw up issues with language and publisher, dates and editors. Secondly we catalogued a volume of selected songs from the musical Spamalot, where even agreeing on a principal composer was tricky! We’ve covered MARC records briefly in lectures, but applying it in practice: remembering which number is which field; appending colons, semi-colons and full stops in the right place is definitely a craft learnt on the job. The craft of creating a complete and searchable record which accurately reflects the piece of music and it’s edition and arrangement is even harder and something which is slightly scary.

After break I was with Julia having a brief introduction to acquisitions. Acquisitions at RNCM are somewhat different to the other University libraries we’ve had speakers from. The budgets are obviously smaller and books are only a small proportion of the spending. The majority of spending goes on music which is largely purchased in response to student request. Julia outlined the ordering procedure and we visited the post room to follow the ‘receiving’ procedure through from collection to creating a skeleton catalogue record. Julia explained why she enjoyed the job so much as there is a variety of contact with publishers and even composers to track down and obtain individual and often esoteric pieces of music, as well as dealing with academic staff and students to clarify requests.

After lunch I started on my first little project: to catalogue individual chapters of anthologies of journal articles and then ‘attach’ them to the parent record. The actual entering was fairly simple, just using the 100 ‘author’ and ‘240’ title fields of the MARC record, but I also had to check I wasn’t creating duplicate records and type accurately in Italian! This was my first real live attempt at cataloguing and it was surprisingly enjoyable. I think it appealed to my perfectionist side. I managed to catalogue a volume of 22 Handel articles, 17 Montiverdi, but only got half way through the volume on Vivaldi before it was time to venture back onto the rainy streets of Manchester and my train home.

No running at the moment

Finally saw the physio yesterday (Edge Hill’s final year student clinic – highly recommended and only £5).  It was actually quite hard to make the hip hurt in the clinic, but eventually managed it! I have to keep off running, but I can cross-train with non-impact stuff as it’s clearly the impact of running that’s causing the problem.  He also massaged my leg as all the muscles were ‘very tight’ and that may well be causing or exacerbating the problem.  I have to apply heat and then do some stretches too.  The heat seems to make my hip hurt more though which is a bit odd.

I have to go back next week when hopefully I’ll get the go ahead to run a bit again.

This is causing another dilemma – do I book hotel accomodation or not?  There’s still stuff about at the moment, but how late do I dare leave it?

The Work Experience Girl

Caught an early train so I wouldn’t be late for my first day at the Royal Northern College of Music for my work placement. For once the trains were on time so ended up killing time walking round as I was 45 minutes early. I also needed to steel myself to re-enter the world of music.

I was met by Sarah who gave me a quick tour of the library and for once books take 2nd place to music: parts, scores and sheet music. The library uses Library of Congress classification, which I’ve not worked with before as they find it makes more sense for a specialised collection such as theirs.

Next I met Sam in HR who gave me a pass to get in and out and showed me round the building. Just don’t ask me to find my way anywhere because its a maze of a building with lots of practice rooms slotted in!

Back in the library Sarah talked me through the different staff roles. As it’s only a small library there are only a few staff, each with defined roles and responsibilities. Sarah also showed me the small museum collection of historical instruments and the archives of the college and the two earlier colleges which merged to form the RNCM.

After lunch I went on the counter with Alan and Mimi. Alan showed me how the Library Management System and security system work. He talked through his responsibilities as a Library Assistant and I helped him process some new books onto the system.

After a couple hours getting to grips with counter duties I spent an hour with Geoff, the librarian responsible for cataloguing. He talked through some of the many issues of cataloguing music: foreign languages, arrangements and editions, keys, anthologies and popular titles, amongst others. It was a fascinating glimpse into the problems of making the music accessible and easily searchable within the home institution, whilst keeping a record which is transferable and compatible with other databases and catalogues.

Another half an hour on counter and it was time to go home. A whirlwind day, with lots to learn and digest, but the team are all so friendly and keen to talk about music librarianship and their jobs and experiences. I have thoroughly enjoyed my day and I am eagerly looking forwards to the rest of my placement.

Considering sitting on the injury bench

I’ve never been properly injured before, and certainly not in the middle of an intensive schedule.  Getting injured is a funny old thing though and the multiple voices in my head are all shouting at me:

Voice 1 says “Don’t be daft, it’s not that painful. You ran 12 miles at New Year with it hurting this much and survived. You’re just wussing out.”

Voice 2 says “It’s an excuse.  You know you don’t want to run 14 miles and you’re just looking for excuses.  You’re pathetic, there’s no way you’ll ever complete 26 miles if you wimp out now.”

Voice 3 says “Of course you’re injured, you’re nearly 40 woman, you can’t expect your body to just step up to this training.  That’s it now.  Over the hill and broken, you may as well just embrace getting fat.”

Voice 4 says “If you take this week off and then the physio says take off another 3 or 4 weeks you won’t have enough time to do enough long runs, best get another one in now while you can.”

Voice 5 says “You’ve tried running through it and it’s really not getting any better.  The sensible thing is to rest, see the physio and then take it from there.”

I know deep down that voice 5 is right and sensible, but the other 4 are shouting louder!

The time has come, though, to accept that my hip is not just going to magically get better and to keep running through the pain is probably a mistake.   Not being able to walk upstairs without gritting my teeth is a sign, as is the fact that I’ve managed, with ice, painkillers and rest, to get the hip more or less pain free this week, but as soon as I run the pain comes back.  The pain isn’t intolerable, especially if I pick up the pace a bit (which is strange in itself), but the pain afterwards is pretty nasty.

So there we are, training on hold for a week or so.  I’m gutted, but hope I’ve still got enough time left to get back on track and still make the start line in 100 days time.

Running update

The marathon is just 15 weeks away now and training is going well.

All my initial attempts at pre-marathon training kept spluttering out – a lost contact lens, a horrid cold, work, all conspired to stop me doing more than occasional runs. I wasn’t even getting swimming or biking to work.

With Christmas looming and the 18 weeks plan start date almost upon me, I got out for a couple of 5 mile runs and decided to call that Week 1 of the plan and do the 8 mile long run too. This gives me an extra week in the plan for any unforseen circumstances!

I’ve been pretty good over Christmas completing a further two 10 mile long runs and a 12 miler. I’ve done most of the 5 milers too, although a recurrance of hip pain last week meant cross training for one session and cutting another a bit short.

Now I’m back at uni and the children’s clubs are all on I’ve got to keep up the momentum. 5 miles in the cold drizzle today after a long day at uni and before my tea will suitably test my resolve!