Alex in Transit(ion)

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bah bah, bah bah, this is the sound of settling.

I should be doing the finishing touches on my thesis but all work and no play makes a very sad Alex. To know that freedom is so close is just unbelievable. I’m really pumped to finally settle into my life. For so long, it’s seemed like I’ve been racing from one finish line to the next, like campaigning or grad school. A few months ago, my friend mentioned that I’ve been moving at a fast, but very unsustainable pace and what I need, more than anything, is some true rest and relaxation. My friends from Jersey and I are planning a shore day and it sounds like absolute heaven and we’re all going out on Friday to celebrate my gradubirthday so I can’t wait.

My stress fracture is getting better! I’m on week 5 of 8 of rehab. Swimming has been amazing, and I’ve hit the point where I can jump without any pain. Jumping sounds risky, but it’s not. A friend was concerned I’m hurting myself but before attempting a stressful activity, it’s important to know your body. If I was feeling pain this morning, I wouldn’t jump and wouldn’t recommend jumping. I’m preparing my foot to run again, in which I will be putting 4x my body weight on my feet with each strike I make. I need to ensure that we’re making progress. This is the advice I’m following: http://blog.run.com/blog/training/ask-the-pt-how-do-i-recover-from-a-stress-fracture/

It is a little frustrating not being able to run on these gorgeous days but I keep reminding myself that I’d rather be healthy than injured. If I’m feeling slight to very little pain now, I’m doing something right. It no longer hurts when I walk. The only time I feel pain is when I do certain yoga moves, like three legged dog for an extended period of time. But I can flex with my feet and execute a grabbing motion without pain, so yay! We’re getting there.

This morning, I woke up with a splitting sinus headache. It’s one of those where you feel like someone kicked you in the stomach. Yet, I found it was a great time to reflect and I realized that I’m exactly where I want to be. However, I do need to keep my ambition in check. When I take too much on at once, I am not staying true to myself or the cause I seek to help. On Tuesday, Newark’s having a mayoral election and I felt a little guilty about not campaigning for Shavar Jeffries. Then I realized that it was almost impossible to balance my work and grad school schedule at the same time, why am I even entertaining adding another responsibility? The lesson I’ve learned is just because you have the drive to do everything, doesn’t mean you should. It’s very hard for me to accept because in my heart, I am someone who wants to do good and help others, but if I’m burning myself out, what is being accomplished?

A lot of people ask me if I will ever return upstate. It would absolutely be a dream to live in Saratoga or Albany proper. My official stance is that I want to be in a place that offers me the ability to advance a career in public transportation and sustainability efforts. It’s what I moved to New Jersey for. I also want to be with an agency that cares about my career aspirations while giving me the time to focus on my family.

You’ve probably seen me throw the ‘”f”,”c”, and “h” words around a lot. In the past, I hesitated about writing about this but the truth is, I feel like I’ve finally reached the place in which I’m confident in my career path and education, which is a great feeling because it’s something that I never realized before. For so long, it’s been “when I get my master’s, when I get my first real job, when I’m not moving once every 6 months.” It’s here now. While I’m still going to live out the late 20’s dream haha, I do want to settle down sometime in the next few years. I’m still going to have fun and date around because that’s the only way of figuring out if there’s a future with someone. Yet if I find someone that clicks who feels mutually about me, I’m not going to wallow and say “oh, I need to play the field more.” I’m done with that. I’m done with boys who can’t figure out if they want me in their life or not. With that said, I’m no longer sympathetic to those sorts of situations because I’ve realized that when two people click, they don’t play the game of “are we on or off?” It’s exhausting. I’m also not going to settle because life is too short to not be with the right partner. I’ve had the pleasure of dating some really nice guys but just because a relationship didn’t work out doesn’t mean they’re not good people. It just didn’t work and the best thing to do is wish them bliss. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of people throw this quote from 500 Days of Summer, and I’ve found it to resonate: “People change. Feelings change. It doesn’t mean that the love once shared wasn’t true or real. It simply means that sometimes when people grow, they grow apart.”

Direction feels good. It feels really good.

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Being present with a stress fracture, volunteering with NYRR, and my new race schedule.

One of the yogic philosophies is to “be present,” which is meant to teach us to live in the moment. I find myself reflecting back to this lesson every time I stretch out my right foot. The good thing is, when I stepped into the shower yesterday morning, I noticed that the pain was starting to dull. Immediately, my heart exclaimed, “I’m healing! If it’s like this on Monday, I’ll totally be able to race on Sunday!” Then reality sunk in. If this is a stress fracture, I’m out of commission for at least a couple of weeks. I’ll be lucky if I get to race with NYRR on May 11th.

On Easter Sunday, I was certain that I needed to see a doctor but now that it’s feeling better, I guess I’m on the way to recovery. Yoga has been helping a lot. At first, I was nervous because I didn’t want to damage the metatarsal any further, but I do not feel pain in most poses, including Downward Facing Dog. This has only reinforced to me that I will not run without dong a yoga warm up for at least 20 minutes. I guess that’s the best thing about learning your mistakes. Sometimes they hurt so bad, you’ll try to avoid making them again.

I decided that I’m not going to miss race day. I’m still going to pick up my bib and my shirt. The only thing is that I won’t be running. Instead, I signed up to volunteer with NYRR as a Course Marshal in which I get to direct the runners to stay within their lanes and encourage them on the race. I’m really pumped because I love seeing the course marshals when I run and here’s my turn to be one! Also, this will satisfy my volunteer requirement for entry in the 2015 NYC Marathon as part of NYRR’s 9 Races + 1 Volunteer Event program. During the course of this injury, I was so disappointed that I’d be missing out on the energy of the NYRR community if I sat this race out but that’s what volunteering is for! In fact, I’ll get to know what goes on behind the race and meet some new people, so it’s all good. Ah, I know it may sound weird, but I really thrive off of experiences where I get to help out others and I have the biggest smile on my face about Sunday. (Edit: I decided not to do this. Not because I didn’t want to but it’s become apparent that I need to be a shut in until graduation and get my assignments in. Real life awaits in a few weeks. I’ll probably post about how I’m learning that I can’t do it all even though I feel like I can.)

Now that I’m faced with the possibility of missing out on two runs, here is my updated NYRR race schedule so I can keep my eye on completing 9+1.

Races:

1. Run for the Parks 4M 4/06: Done

2. Japan Run 4M 5/11: Depends how I’m feeling

3. Oakley Women’s Mini 10k 6/14

4. LGBT Pride Run 5M 6/28

5. Boomer’s Cystic Fibrosis Run to Breathe 4M 7/12

6. New York Giants 5k Run of Champions 7/20 (and you get to run in MetLife Stadium!)

7. Percy Sutton Harlem 5k 8/23

8. TCS NYC Marathon Tune Up 18M 9/14 (this will be good since I’m training for Mohawk-Hudson in October)

9. Grete’s Great Gallop Half Marathon 10/05 (this is also going to be good since showtime for Mohawk-Hudson is the following weekend)

10. Poland Spring Marathon Kick-Off 5M 10/26

11. Race to Deliver 4M 11/23

12. Jingle Bell Jog 4M 12/06 (I hear this race is a blast)

13. NYRR Midnight Run 4M 12/31 (this isn’t a marathon qualifier but this year I went my studio’s New Year’s Eve hot yoga class and got to ring in the new year with my fellow yogis, I think it would be awesome to switch it up and spend it with a bunch of runners.)

The cool thing about this list is that I’m not going to stop at running 9 NYRR events. I really love being apart of this club and I want to get out with them as much as possible. And of course, there is volunteering at the 2014 NYC Marathon! I can’t even contain my excitement about how pumped I am for this. It is going to be soooo sick being part of that experience, especially since it will be right after I run Mohawk-Hudson. Plus, who doesn’t want to be in Staten Island at 2:30AM?

I’ve got a ton of reasons to rest this right foot. Yet, it looks like I have an academic race of my own and that’s to get all of my assignments done so I can graduate! Until next time, here’s a line from Wilco that I feel is appropriate about this situation: “take all the good with the bad, make something that no one else has.”

 

 


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Silver Linings Playbook: In which life doesn’t go the way you planned, and it’s perfectly alright.

I think the best inspiration for me to get all of my papers done by the first week of May is that the sooner that they are finished, the sooner I’ll be able to have my nights completely free so I can start working out like I used to. I am sidelined (still) because of my 5th metatarsal injury. It’s very frustrating because I want so badly to strap on my new shoes and run, especially since I have a race next Sunday, but I know that there’s no such thing as “no pain, no gain.” Haha, my friends keep joking around with me, saying “athletes play injured all of the time.” I know better than that though; if I run, this won’t heal, and if I’m not healed, I can’t run. I’m still doing swimming and yoga and it’s been helping. I wish I had time to ride my bicycle but Newark isn’t very bike friendly and there isn’t time in my schedule to go from Newark to Hoboken or the city to ride double digit miles like I’d want to.  I’m just crossing my fingers that I will be able to kick this in time for the race. If I’m still in pain, as much as it sucks to miss out, I won’t run it.

I guess sacrifice makes us stronger, and that’s what I keep reminding myself. Recently, I found out that I just got promoted which is awesome. I’m absolutely thrilled because I love GIS analysis and working with data. I can’t wait to graduate so I can move on from academics and truly focus on learning code and learn more best cartographic practices so I can become more of an asset. But of course, there’s a cost to everything and these next couple of weeks are going to be a little expensive. $114 for my cap and gown, $798 is due on April 28th for my last tuition payment. By May 17th, I need to satisfy paying my Rutgers health insurance balance, which currently is $600. Normally, my health insurance would be put into my tuition payment plan but for some reason the University didn’t factor that cost in when the plan was drawn up and in late March, I found out there was a financial hold on my account. Thankfully, the University isn’t putting extra hold charges because they realize it was their mistake but when you’re only pulling in barely a grand every two weeks, while paying all of these expenses, it’s not easy. I had to tell my friend that I planned to live with that given my current financial situation that I can’t live with her because I don’t have enough to front security, a broker fee, and rent. Originally, I was planning to use my tax refund to cover most of the apartment expenses but now that money is being used so I can meet my current situation. Thankfully, I was able to find a great apartment on Craigslist that has reasonable rent and security, and I think my new roommate and I are going to get along awesome, so I guess there’s a silver lining to everything, even when your plans don’t work out the way you thought they would. I just can’t wait until the middle of May where I will able to take a deep breath and know that the struggles I’m currently facing will be non-existent because my promotion will be official. I also realize that even though I feel like I’m being squeezed, in the the grand scheme of things, I’m not in a bad spot. Things could be a lot worse. Besides, I’m not above eating peanut butter and jelly. Believe it or not, it’s one of the best things a runner can eat and it’s even better on some good bread.

The way I see it, in a few weeks, it’s all going to be a memory, and I’ll be waking up with New York City right outside my window. I don’t know what’s going to happen after that; it all feels very promising. Yet I’ve seen that even when things don’t align the way you want them to, even if it takes days or years, it all ends up working out.

 

 

 

 


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I <3 Running Stores That Allow Dogs.

In my last post I said that I would wait to get new sneakers until later within the week. I’m dog sitting at my friend’s place in Brooklyn and one of my favorite things to do is go around her neighborhood in DUMBO. But my most favorite thing turned into the most painful thing because the only shoes I packed with me are my Converse All Stars and my Vibram Bikilas. Before I went out, I tried doing some yoga but it was too painful and realized that sitting and supine poses are on the agenda until I heal up. I thought that the Converse would be a good sneaker to walk in but I was so wrong.  I wrapped an ACE bandage around my foot and put my Vibrams back on because my foot liked the compressed feeling.

I looked at the dog, who wanted to play, and I realized that if I’m going to make it through this weekend, I’m going to need better shoes. I searched for “best running store in NYC” and found New York Running Company. All the reviews on Yelp seemed solid and I liked how they make you run on a treadmill until they find your perfect shoe. I didn’t want to leave the dog alone so I called the Columbus Circle location and asked if they allowed dogs in the store and they said yes! I put Zoey in her carrier and off we went!

When I got to New York Running Company, I met with Stephanie who was absolutely enamored with Zoey and was so helpful. She brought me to the treadmill, analyzed my gait, and said that I overpronate when I run and I need a more stable shoe to correct my gait. I did not know what she meant by overpronation but apparently, when I run, my ankle rolls 15 degrees inward to meet the ground and most of the work comes from the big toe to push off. Now this is a problem most commonly found with people with low arches or flat feet. I have high arches. I feel the reason why I developed an overpronated gait is because Vibrams encourage a midfoot strike. When I strike with my midfoot, my ankles roll inward, and boom: overpronation. This can’t be corrected with my Vibrams.

Stephanie suggested that I should run in stability shoes and brought out the Brooks Ravenna, another model of Brooks that I don’t remember, and the ASICS Kayano 20. I always heard such great things about Brooks and was excited to try on a pair. I really liked running in the Ravenna because the top of the shoe promoted a rolling motion which made it really easy to push off but the deal breaker with both of the Brooks models was that the ankle felt too loose. I tried on the ASICS Kayano 20’s and was sold. While it doesn’t have the rolling motion the Brooks Ravenna has, it is a stable and responsive shoe. To help correct my gait, Stephanie fitted me with an Orange Superfeet insole for high arches. Holy wow. Where have these been all 26 years and 11 months of my life? The shoes and insoles cost $197 but I got a discount from being a New York Road Runners (NYRR) member. It was expensive, especially since I’m still on my intern salary, but I’d rather pay money now to avoid a doctor’s visit later. Stephanie told me about her marathon training class that she’s teaching in the summer. I mentioned to her that I’m going to give myself a GPS watch for my birthday and while she recommended Garmin, she also told me to check out the DCRainmaker blog, which reviews all the GPS watches. I asked her how important having a good heart rate monitor is because my co-worker raves about his. She said that it’s a great feature to have because based on your heart rate, you can see if you are healthy or sick, and it can determine if you should take a rest day. She recommended for me to have a training journal and I really like that idea. I already keep track of my workouts on MapMyRun but I’m thinking about making a public GoogleDoc spreadsheet where I can log my stuff and integrate it within the blog. All in all, I highly recommend the New York Running Company. I dig the community, they allow dogs, and you walk out with some solid kicks. If you go there, make sure you ask for Stephanie because she is so great. I feel like that’s something that Jimmy Fallon would say.

Since I had Zoey girl with me, it was time for the ultimate test. I may be injured,  but it’s no reason why the dog can’t enjoy a stroll in Central Park. It was such a gorgeous day and Zoey is such social butterfly so she gave a lot of people front paw hugs and made new dog buddies. This was my second time in Central Park and I saw this huge rock that seemed like it was something out of The Lion King . Zoey and I raced towards it but then realized that it is no place for dogs because of all of the broken glass in the crevices so we chilled out in a sunny part of the grass while we enjoyed our $3 bottle of water because the water fountains weren’t turned on yet. I brought a silicone collapsible bowl with us for her to drink out of. I can’t get over how handy those are. The pain that I experienced was still there but nowhere near to how excruciating it was earlier in the day.

As for my Vibrams, I’m still going to wear them, but only casually. It”s disappointing because being a minimalist runner was something that I took a lot of pride in but I’m not going to injure myself and risk losing out in competing for my first marathon. I don’t regret the journey because I really enjoy wearing Vibrams because of how comfortable and flexible  they are.

Even though I have a pair of running shoes that I’m dying to try out, I’m sticking to swimming this week. I think I’ll go to yoga on Wednesday because I should be healed up by then and Donna Scro of Garden State Yoga is absolutely fantastic. I am going to miss her classes when I move to Hoboken. Thankfully, there is a branch of GSY in Hobo so I don’t have to worry about switching studios. I still will go to Bloomfield because there are some classes, like Yin Yoga and Meditation and Restorative, that aren’t offered at Hoboken, and the teachers are that amazing that I don’t mind having to travel a little bit for class. I’ll go out for my first run on next Saturday. I feel that will be enough time to heal up.

kicks

 

 


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Vibrams and Foot Pain

The tops of my feet have hurt like crazy for the last couple of days. The last time I experienced pain like this was when I was beginning to transition to running with Vibram Five Fingers.

I will say that I think it’s partially my fault because it’s been weeks since I’ve been to yoga and I haven’t been keeping up with a home practice because I’ve been getting over a cold and grad school has taken over my life. I’m used to going to yoga at least 4 or 5 times a week and maybe this is my feet’s way of telling me that my body needs my practice.  I also haven’t stretched my feet as well as I should because I thought my feet were adjusted to minimalist running. This is going to make me sound like such an awful runner but even when I haven’t stretched like I should, I’ve never experienced pain like this.

I’ve been running with Vibram Five Fingers since 2012 but I am thinking that if I’m going to be marathon training,  maybe I do need a regular pair of running shoes for the days when my feet aren’t feeling up to the Vibrams. I think I’m going to pay a visit to Fleet Feet and see what’s the best option for my feet. I hear that they are great; apparently they analyze your gait to see which running shoe is best for you. If there’s anything I’m realizing is that marathon training isn’t a solitary exercise (no pun intended). It takes so much input from others to help educate and motivate you to help build the endurance to run the race and make sure you’re not injuring yourself.

Even though my mind wants to push myself to run, I know it’s not a good idea. I’m going to do some yoga and walk around in my Vibrams after my practice. Maybe on Sunday I’ll feel up to running.