Breaking the Monotony: Weekly Goals

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I finished college in December and have started a full-time job.  I have more free time now than when I was in school, but the routine of going to work, coming home, knitting or doing some other craft in front of the TV, going to bed, and waking up to do it all again has started to get a little samey and depressing.  I kept thinking that I needed to do something to mix things up, but I hadn’t done anything.  Finally, I decided to set myself goals each week to help me do different things on some days.

This week, I chose goals that focus on self-improvement.  I finished physical therapy for my feet last week, but they gave me a program to continue on my own, so my first goal is to go to the gym twice this week to do my PT exercises.  It’s easy to replace my twice-a-week 7am PT appointments with twice-a-week 7am gym appointments, but it’s equally easy to be lazy and not go, so that’s why I set that goal.  I knocked the first session out this morning before work.

My second goal is to practice JavaScript a total of two hours over the course of the week.  Honestly, I hate JavaScript, but it is an important front-end web development technology, so I want to get better at it.  Who knows–maybe if I get good at it, I will like it.  I haven’t done any JS work yet this week, unless you count opening my book and not reading it.  I may wait until the weekend and do an hour each weekend day.

Lastly, I wanted to make plans to hang out with one friend this week.  I’m not good at putting effort into a social life, but I do want to cultivate friendships!  It’s much easier when I am running, but since I can’t just go to a weekly group run to socialize, I need to be proactive about doing other things.  A friend of mine is moving today, so I will be helping her after work.  Socialization goal, check!

I’ve already thought of some other things I want to do and have written them down as goals for next week.  I am liking this weekly goals idea because not only does it help me break up the monotony of my days, but it also helps me plan out the things I want to get done and helps me feel less overwhelmed by the things I need to do.  I have been telling myself forever that I need to plan a budget, but now I have it down as a goal for next week, so it will actually get done AND I will feel super accomplished about it.  There’s something fulfilling about checking an item off a list.

A Day in the Life: January 2015

ADayintheLife Today, I am participating in Georgie‘s A Day in the Life monthly linkup.  It’s fairly self-explanatory.  Basically, I tell you about my day in whatever manner I want!  I did this once before with tweets and Snapchats, but today I am just going to use My Words. 🙂  So, my Day in the Life post is about yesterday, which was Sunday.

My birthday was this past Wednesday (I turned 22) and Matt was able to come into town for the weekend to celebrate with me.  On Sunday, we woke up late, although at 10am, it was the earliest we had gotten up that weekend.  I made coffee and got to work on a quiche for breakfast.  I cleaned up all the dishes from the prep while it was baking, which I was proud of because I have just recently gotten out of the habit of putting the dishes off as long as possible.  (Side note: my dream home has a dishwasher.)  I used this recipe for a spinach quiche, and it turned out deliciously.

IMG_3661 IMG_3662

After breakfast, which ended up being around noon, I worked a little on knitting my mom’s birthday gift (hers is in three days) and then we got ready for the day.  We headed down to the mall so I could pick up my free birthday gift from Sephora, followed by shopping for some things Matt needed, not at Sephora.  We met a nice guy at Fossil who is looking to get into the company Matt works for, so that was kind of cool.

We then discovered we were hungry and drove over to Wendy’s for a little snack.  We brought our food home, ate it, and then played LEGO Lord of the Rings together on my Xbox.  Matt gave me the game and a second controller for my birthday so we could play together. 🙂  We finished up the Fellowship of the Ring part of the game, and then it was time for dinner!

I was lazy and didn’t feel like cooking twice in one day, so we took a walk to Burger Fi for dinner.  I had the Breakfast All Day burger, which has two patties, a fried egg, hash browns, bacon, maple syrup, and ketchup.  It was messy and delicious!  Then, we headed across the street for some Starbucks and walked back to my apartment, where we watched Friends and I knitted until it was time for bed.  I didn’t want to go to sleep because Matt had to leave in the morning, but I was very tired and knew I needed to be awake for work the next day.  I put it off as long as possible, but eventually I drifted off to sleep probably around midnight.

All in all, it was a great day to cap off a great weekend.  It’s always hard to say goodbye on Monday morning, but I don’t dwell on the negative and before I know it (2.5ish weeks), I will be seeing him again. 🙂

Make a Thing

I’ve always been someone who likes to create.  I would not say I’m creative because I don’t necessarily make a lot of brand new designs, but I like to create things.  This is something I often bring up in job interviews when asked why I want to be a web developer for X company or work on Y product.  I love the idea of being able to show someone something, for example a website, and say “I made this,” or, as it usually goes on the job, “I had a part in making this.”

I love to fill my free time with creating.  In high school, that meant building websites.  Now, since I am a full-time web developer, I do less dev for fun and more crafty stuff.  I love to knit and crochet.  Two nights ago, I spent the bulk of my evening crocheting what I suppose will be a decoration somewhere at some point.  I just thought the pattern was very pretty and felt I had to make it.  So I did.


I finished knitting my very first pair of socks last week and am now working on a hat for myself and a pair of slippers for my mom.


Growing up, my grandma on my dad’s side was a huge supporter of crafting as a hobby.  Each year for Chanukah, she would send me a different craft kit.  One year I received a loom to make potholders (and boy did I make potholders), another year I got a needlepoint kit, which I remember finishing in the dressing room during ice show, and another year, she gave me an embroidery kit.  She used to knit sweaters and dresses for my Barbies, and she once knit a sweater vest for my brother when he was still a toddler. I learned how to knit from a friend’s mom when I was nine, but my first real completed knit item was a coaster my grandma showed me how to make in an afternoon when she visited.

Since August (right around when I stopped running due to the injury I’m just now mostly healed from), I have been rediscovering my love for crafting. Like I already said, I have been spending a huge amount of my time knitting. I also recently, as of last week, became nostalgic for that needlepoint kit I did when I was little, so I ordered a couple online and they both arrived yesterday. I got started on the smaller one last night (of a “cuddly cat”), and it is fun! I realize I may have a weird definition of the word, but I also run for fun, so that should come as no surprise to anyone.

So, I am grateful to my grandma for helping instill a love of crafting in me. Without hobbies like this, I would probably just watch TV all the time and feel like a lump. Which is profoundly NOT fun. Although, knitting is a great excuse to watch TV all day, which I do regularly. 😉

What about you? What is your hobby of choice?

Hi Again

It has been a long time since I last posted.  Part of it is probably the whole “running blog” thing and how I’m not back to running yet and I feel like blogging training is enabling for overdoing it.  The rest is that I guess I’m just not as interested in blogging as I used to be.  I started blogging in 2006-ish, so forgive me if I needed a break.  Thanks. 🙂

I have been journaling lately in an effort to practice my cursive, which has made me feel nostalgic for blogging, so here I am giving it another try.  A lot has happened since I last posted.  I finally saw a podiatrist about my heel pain and have been attending physical therapy for roughly eight weeks.  I had custom orthotics made (which I am still trying to break in) and I got my first of three cortisone shots last week.  My feet are finally on the mend.  I’m hopeful that I will be running a little again in a couple weeks.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies last month.  I now work full-time as a web developer for what is officially my Alma Mater.  I visited my mom in Texas last month for the first time since she moved down there.  I have been knitting a lot and trying to read more.  I realized life is too short to force myself to do yoga, even if it is good for me.

I leave you with a few photos from my graduation morning.  I trust I’ll be back in a day or two to give this Back to Blogging thing a really solid effort. 🙂

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Power in My Step

Non-disclaimer: This starts to sound like an advertisement for Powersteps, but it is not–I am just sharing my excitement to have found something that works for me.  I was not compensated in any way, but I wouldn’t say no to a Powersteps sponsorship… 😉

My life continues to be busy.  There’s nothing exciting going on that I can share regarding that.  However, I do want to give an update on the state of my feet.  They are… getting there.  Improving slowly.  Of course, never as fast as I would like.

I took a walk before my exam last night and had some fun.

I took a walk before my exam last night and had some fun.

Beautiful :)

Beautiful 🙂

My physical therapist and I made the decision today not to schedule any more appointments.  I am supposed to continue doing my stretches and exercises at home.  If I feel I am getting worse or stop improving, the plan is to go back to the doctor to get another PT referral, but we don’t anticipate that will be the case. 🙂

Last year, I was really stubborn about not wanting to wear supports in my shoes.  I was convinced that if I worked on strengthening my arches, that would be enough to run injury free.  Obviously, strengthening my arches and associated alignment muscles (think calves, butt, hips) is still something to work on.  I even have exercises from PT to work on those things.  However, everyone’s bone structure and alignment is slightly different and some people are just more prone to issues.  So, after a year of on-and-off injuries, I realized it was probably time to get off my anti-support high horse and actually listen when I was advised, once again, to purchase arch supports.

I did have custom orthotics in my preteen years as a competitive figure skater and they completely resolved the knee issues I was having back then, so I’m not sure why I was so resistant to the idea ten years later, but hey.  I came around.  When I first started going to PT in September for this injury, it was recommended that I get some Powerstep inserts, so I headed to the running store immediately after that first appointment and picked up some Powerstep Pulse orthotics.  They felt great and those alone were already a huge help.

This morning, at what will hopefully be my last appointment for a long time, we realized that when I lift my arch, my big toe comes off the ground, too.  This means I’m not pushing off my big toe to walk, nor am I using it to stabilize myself when I stand.  The only way I can push off my big toe is to consciously roll my foot inwards, which puts strain on, you guessed it, my painful tendon.  Or fascia.  Not sure which.  The painful foot place.  My physical therapist told me this rotation is called forefoot varus.  She made some wedges to place near the balls of my feet to help support my big toes so I can use them the way they are meant to be used, instead of trying to get power from the smaller, weaker muscles in my smaller, weaker toes.

Unfortunately, most over-the-counter orthotics only correct for varus in the heel, even though forefoot varus is relatively common.  I actually have a pretty neutral heel and don’t benefit from heel support, so it turns out that a neutral shoe like the Kinvara (which I love) works great with a customized (i.e. added wedges) Powerstep orthotic, since the Powersteps have a neutral heel cup with no heel correction.  After adding the wedges, my feet feel instantly better.  Not 100% better and not healed, but I would honestly say it cut my pain in half this morning.  I’m sure it helped that she worked to loosen up my right foot a little bit, but both feet feel significantly better and I can already tell I am finally able to use my big toes again!

This probably sounds like an advertisement for Powersteps.  It’s not.  I’m just really excited that I finally may have found a combination of footwear and supports that works for me.  And when these wear out, I will probably drop the $300-$400 it costs to get custom orthotics made just for me so I won’t need the taped-on wedges anymore.

Here’s hoping I’ll be out there running again soon!  That is, more than the ten minutes at a time I have been doing twice a week.  At the very least, I hope the ten minutes will leave me less sore in the arch area than it has been.  Baby steps!

Life Update – Busy Weeks, Fun Weekends

I have been silent on my blog since my last post about not running almost a month ago.  I have been very busy with my final semester and searching for a job for after graduation.  It’s true what they say about the job search being a full-time job in itself.  I have been attending career fairs and career mixers, sending out my resume to every opportunity, networking, studying for interviews… oh and midterms are coming up this week and next for that school thing!

I’ve been so busy that I’ve barely even noticed the time pass in terms of how long I have been off.  It was just the other night that I was lying in bed and realized it had actually been five weeks since my last run.  That’s enough time off for some stress fractures, and I didn’t even realize it had been that long!  So, as you can imagine, I haven’t been too torn up about not running.  It certainly helps to be so busy during the week that I don’t even have time to think about running.

Where my weeks have been filled with work, school, and looking for work for after school, I have been able to fill my weekends with wonderful experiences. The weekend before last, Matt and I went camping in St. Ignace and visited Mackinac Island, which is something we had talked about doing all summer.  We had a mild summery weekend, so we planned the trip on a whim the day before leaving. 🙂

Our campsite after packing up to leave on Sunday.

Our campsite after packing up to leave on Sunday.

Me in a rock formation

I don’t remember what this rock formation was called, but here I am inside it.

Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints.

I liked this sign at the entrance to a wetland board path.

Under the Mackinac Bridge

Our ferry ride back to the mainland stopped us under the Mackinac Bridge for pictures.

Last week Saturday, I went to a WordPress conference called WordCamp Ann Arbor.  It was for work, but I really wanted to go and had a lot of fun.

WordCamp swag

WordCamp swag.

On Sunday of last week, I biked out to the cider mill with some friends.

Cider Mill ride!

Cider Mill ride!

This Saturday, I went on a breakfast bike ride to (and back home from) the Dexter bakery, where I had a huge and hugely sweet apple fritter.  As you can see, I’ve been reliably cross training about once a week. 😛

Bicycle Dexter poster

Poster in the bakery

Matt’s birthday was last weekend, so I bought us two tickets to last night’s Michigan v. Penn State football game.  It was an “Under the Lights” game and the atmosphere was incredible.  Our team (Michigan) won and it was very fun to watch.

Matt and I wearing light-up glasses.

They gave us light-up glasses.

Lights during the half-time show

The Michigan Marching Band’s halftime show.

Fun was had!

Fun was had!

My proofs came in the mail for my senior pictures!  Oh, and I cut my hair short.

"Hi, I'm professional."

“Hi, I’m professional.”

"But also fun."

“But also fun.”

Finally, because I should probably update you on my injury… I have been attending physical therapy twice a week and my foot improved drastically after the first week.  Since then, improvement has slowed, but, this past Friday, my physical therapist cleared me to try running ten minutes twice a week, with the stipulation that I ice after, warm up, and cool down.  So, on Friday evening, I stretched, walked for five minutes, ran for ten minutes, probably didn’t stop smiling the whole time, and then walked another six minutes home.  My feet felt GREAT during the run, but they were extra sore after.  They hurt quite a bit on Saturday, and I was worried standing for so long at the game would make them even worse.  However, I woke up this morning with virtually no pain.  It’s confusing and I am of course going to wait until at least tomorrow (Monday) to try running again, but I’m excited to be making progress. 🙂

Why I’ve Been MIA and Shutting Down

I am working on a blog-related project and I had intended not to blog until the project was ready for release.  I made that decision when it was almost done, but then classes started and I haven’t been working on it because I am suddenly a lot more busy.  Every time I have wanted to blog over the last couple weeks, I have decided that I can’t because my project isn’t ready yet.  I think it’s been three weeks now and I don’t want to rush completion, so I’m just going to return to blogging until it is done. 🙂

This is going to have to not be a running blog for a while because I am not running for a while.  I have a piriformus injury that is almost gone, but I also have persistent tendinitis in the arches of both feet.  I have had the latter on and off for almost a year at this point.  Running with tendon pain is just not worth it to me anymore.  I am restarting physical therapy on the 26th for my hip, and I have been much more diligent about doing prescribed at-home exercises and icing my feet.  I have been wearing inserts in my shoes, and if my physical therapist suggests custom orthotics as she has in the past, instead of saying “no thanks,” I am going to ask, “How much and when can we make them?”

Lately, I have been wishing that I could just erase my last year or two of running.  Through mostly mistakes of my own, I have been plagued with injury after injury.  Sure, I ran my fastest half marathon in May 2013, but I also got a stress fracture and peroneal tendonitis during the way-too-aggressive build-up.  If I could, I would give up that PR to not have begun the vicious injury cycle back then.

Hindsight is 20/20 and there is no point to living in regret.  I may have had an unproductive, mostly injured 18 months of training, but I can learn from that.  I can learn to be patient, to be cautious, and not to try to keep up with far more experienced runners (in terms of pace, mileage, and what workouts they do).  I may not be the most patient person on the whole, but patience is all I have right now when it comes to running.

I am only 21 years old.  There are people who start running at this age or later and end up running very well into their thirties and beyond.  The other night as I was lying in bed, I thought, “I wish I could just start over.”  And you know what?  I can.  If I am very patient and heal completely instead of going back to running as soon as I think I feel better, I can start over.  If I do not think of it as a return to running, I can start over.  I’m not going to think about things I used to be able to do and my goal will not be to get back to that level of fitness.  I don’t want to go back.  I want to move forward.  I’m going to start fresh.  A clean slate.  A healthy body.  Unknown potential.

I’m hoping for a January 1, 2015 start date.  Not a return date, but a start date.  If I am not healthy by then, I will not run.  If I am healthy before then, I will enjoy extra time off and start in the new year.  I am done running for this year.  This has been a long, painful learning process that I am ready to leave behind.

Just to be clear, the blog is not going anywhere.  I will keep writing here, and hopefully soon my project will be ready to unveil. 🙂

Quick-Fire Week

I made a really good choice this afternoon when I decided to buy a coffee at work.  I was falling asleep, but now I’m not, and I’m also feeling very optimistic.  I may also be a little hyper, which is making me want to blog, but not put too much effort into writing a well-articulated post.

So, a quick-fire approach to recapping my recent life:

  • I went to a yoga class on Thursday with my friend Katie.  It was a lot of fun and felt really good.  It was my first time ever doing yoga in a studio.  I want to see if I can make it again this week.
  • I did the ice bucket challenge after my brother nominated me:
  • Matt and I spent the weekend with his parents, originally for the Crim, but then we hung out longer and had a fun time.
  • I attempted to run the 10-mile at the Crim on Saturday morning, despite the hip issues I had been dealing with.  By mile two, my hip was starting to get tight, and before the six-mile mark, it was pretty much shot.  I walked the majority of the final 4.5 miles after hanging out with course volunteers for 10-20 minutes.  I finished in two and a half hours and I was pretty bored walking because all the walkers around me had friends to chat with, but I was by myself.  Regardless, I covered the distance, so that is something to be proud of, even though it could have gone a million times better and I could be a million times healthier.
  • On Sunday afternoon, we went shopping at an outlet mall and I managed to get a pair of shoes, plus six pairs of no-show socks, for $32!
  • My final semester of college starts in a week, so I have been preparing for the job-hunting process.  It’s both exciting and stressful, but mostly exciting.
  • My bike is finished being repaired, so I get to pick it up tomorrow after work and I will get to ride it when we go up north this weekend. 🙂
  • Matt and I are seeing the series 8 premier of Doctor Who, “Deep Breath,” in a theater tonight!

Have you been up to anything exciting?  Do tell!

My First(ish) Sports Massage

I haven’t had a sports massage, deep tissue massage, or any kind of massage where a professional massage therapist works on a specific problem area since I was ten or twelve years old.  I had been wanting to get one for quite a while, remembering how painful yet effective they had been for me in the past.  However, I had this mental block about how I only wanted to go to my old massage therapist, who is 45 minutes away and works in an ice rink.

After I developed some intense muscle tightness in my hip last week, I decided it was time to suck it up and go to someone local.  It turns out my insurance covers “osteopathic manipulative therapy,” which is a fancy way of saying “deep tissue massage.”  It would be 90% covered, but my insurance manual said I would have to get approval before going (whether that is a referral from my primary care physician, or something else, I don’t know).  Additionally, the closest place offering those services and accepting my insurance was a chiropractic clinic 20-30 minutes away.  It just seemed like a lot of hassle, so I opted to pay out of pocket to go to a local clinic.

I did some research online while lying in bed Wednesday night.  My hip was stressing me out, worrying about where to schedule a massage was stressing me out, stress leads to lack of sleep, and stress plus lack of sleep does nothing to relax muscles.  So I did my research late at night.  I looked into a few places and found one near my apartment with a record of working with professional athletes and Olympians, as well as volunteering their services at the end of local races.  I felt confident they knew what they were doing and especially knew runners.  Plus, they had online booking, so I was able to schedule myself an appointment online at midnight for a sports massage the next day after work.  Always a plus when I don’t have to make a phone call!

When I made my appointment, I described my problem in the “special instructions” section.  When I showed up the next day, the massage therapist already knew exactly why I was there and had printed off some materials about helpful stretches to send home with me.  I was already impressed.  I wasn’t expecting any sort of rehab/at-home advice.  The whole 45-minute session was very feedback-oriented as well as instructional.  He explained what he was doing and what I could do at home to help my hip.  It was never very painful, not at all like how I remembered the massages I used to get (maybe they were a different style), but obviously a massage does not need to be painful to be effective, because it helped a ton.

After the massage, I thought my hip felt about 50% better, and now, the next day, it feels 80% better.  I’m still debating whether to run today because I’m worried about “undoing” the work from yesterday, but even just walking feels so much better, so I am very very happy.

I think I’m converted to someone who likes to get massages during training!  My wallet can probably stand the $50 every month or so.

Do you like to get deep tissue or sports massages (they’re different things, right?) to aid in recovery?  If so, how often do you get them?

Hiking Pinckney

Matt and I had originally planned to head up to Mackinac Island this past Sunday.  Long story short, our bikes weren’t ready in time, so we opted to save a little money and find something to do locally, instead.

After attempting to fix his bike.

After attempting to fix his bike on Thursday night.

My friend Becca, ultrarunner extraordinaire, likes running trails at the Pinckney Rec Area.  I texted her on Saturday afternoon asking if the park was good for hiking.  She said it absolutely was, so Matt and I made plans to spend Sunday there, instead.

I didn’t get back from my mom’s house until pretty late on Saturday, so Matt and I went to the grocery store around 11pm to get some things to bring for a picnic on Sunday.  The store at that time of night was pretty empty, which was kind of cool.  We grabbed some corned beef, swiss cheese, and rye bread for sandwiches, along with premade macaroni and potato salads, raspberries, and blackberries.  Then we had fun picking out insulated lunch boxes in the back-to-school section.  In other words, he chose something right away and I spent a long time worrying that I would somehow choose the “wrong” one.

On Sunday morning, we slept in till close to 10 o’clock.  We had chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast before heading out around noon.  It was a half hour drive to the park through as country as it gets in southeast Michigan.  When we arrived, there was no wait for park entry.  I just bought my state park pass (which is now good until my license plate tabs expire next year!) and we were on our way.  Parking was a piece of cake and we got out on the trails right away.  We left our phones in the car, so I didn’t get any pictures.  I just wanted to enjoy the hike and not worry about technology. 🙂

We started off on a three-mile foot-traffic-only loop.  We didn’t see anyone else the whole time, until the very end when we were exiting the trail and someone else was entering it.  For the most part, the trail was just wide enough for two people to walk side by side.  It had plenty of hills and, to me, it almost felt like we were out in the wilderness.  I believe I actually said, “This is Pure Michigan.”  The hike reminded Matt of going to cross country camp in high school, so we had a very interesting conversation about that.  I wish I had had the experience of cross country in high school, but what’s done is done, and I had many other unique opportunities. 🙂

After that first loop, which took about an hour, we went back to the car to use bug spray (we forgot for the first trail and the flies were eating me alive) and to grab our lunches.  We found a nice picnic table up on a hill in the shade by the lake.  The lake area was pretty crowded, so plenty of people-watching opportunities abounded!  My favorite was the little girl carrying a raft as big as she was on her head.

After lunch, we went back out onto another trail, this one about five miles long and partially open to mountain bikers.  We saw a lot more people this time, mostly runners and mountain bikers.  Everyone was very friendly, and luckily the trail was usually just wide enough for us to get out of the way.  Just when we were starting to get annoyed by the mountain bikers, we stopped seeing any.  I do think it’s really cool to watch them do what they do, but it can be a little frightening to be a hiker on a trail where they are moving quickly.

The second trail was even hillier than the first, or maybe my legs were just more tired.  No matter what, I loved the challenge, and it felt so good to be out there.  However, by the end, after 8+ miles of hiking, along with walking to and from the car multiple times, I was more than ready to go home.  We stopped at a gas station so I could get a donut and Matt could get a slurpee.  Then we drove to Matt’s house where I relaxed for maybe half an hour before getting hungry again.  I went home, made dinner, and fell asleep at 8:30pm.

All in all, it was an amazing day, and I would love to do it again.  There’s nothing quite like that feeling of exhaustion at the end of the day after challenging myself.