Thoughts on Working from Home

daily life, dissertation

A couple months ago, at a friend’s wedding a college friend of mine told me that it must be nice to work from home. You do not have to get dressed. You do not have to go anywhere. It seems really easy.

I get it. And I admit to enjoying the advantages of working from home. I can decide when I work out. There is nowhere I have to physically be. The flexibility is wonderful.

Recently an aunt of mine showed up to my house as a surprise. It was 10:30am. I was still in pajamas and the house was chaos. I woke up, poured myself some coffee, and started writing. So, yes, I was doing something, but I was kind of embarrassed to be a 28 year old woman still in pjs on before lunch on a Tuesday.

But I do not love working from home. For one thing, even though being a productive writer makes me happy, sitting around in pajamas all day does not. Being in my house all day makes me agitated, anxious even. Then there is the work/home separation. I wake up. I go to my desk. I work. When I make lunch, there it is, just sitting there. I cannot leave it. It lives with me. There is no end of the day. Even when I’m not working, it is there reminding me that I could be working.

One of the things I’m trying to make more an effort to do this semester is work on campus consistently. Even though I try to do working hours at home, it just is not the same. I need physical separation. I need to have that feeling of coming home from work. I was at work, but now I am home.

I’ve never been one for procrastination or putting things off, but I think going to campus allows for a little bit more order in the day. When I’m home, everything seems to meld together. I’m writing a dissertation and doing laundry. I’m sitting at my desk, but I’m aware, all-too-aware that the dishes need to be done and the living room is a mess. Mental energy.

I have been working in the library for a week now and it feels better. When I go home for the night, I know I’m done for the day. It makes a world of difference.

xo, Ali

Monday Miles : August 27 – September 2, 2018

crossfit, monday miles, running

Kind of a dud week. As I mentioned last week, I sprained my back. Even though it was recommended to me to not rest, I just felt so wiped out that I ended up resting anyway. It was not that my back was unbearable, but it was just that I had no “oomph.” My legs felt exhausted in not the good way. So, I decided to step it off. I’m a little bummed, because I’m not sure what this will mean for my 10k goals, but I already achieved what I wanted to achieve this year. Time off is fine.

I feel much better this week, although my back still pinches a bit. I’m still doing the Run Woodstock Funky Bus 5k on Friday and Hippie Half on Saturday, but only for fun. Even if it ends up being just a hike in the woods, I’ll be totally satisfied. I don’t expect a PR. And I’m not planning on running until this weekend, giving my legs lots of time off.

8-27 : Rest.

8-28 : Run. 4 miles. 9:53/mile. This run felt fine, but this is when I started noticing problems. I could hardly walk without pain the rest of the day. My left lower back felt like it seized up every few steps.

8-29 : CrossFit. WOD (heavily adapted for my back/lazy glutes) – 30 calories on rower. 25 burpees to bar. 40 single-arm presses. 10 lbs. 45 single-leg “squats.” On a single-leg sit down and get back up again. Turn those glutes on, baby! 25 box step-overs. I seriously have no idea how high my box was…just assume the shortest one. 110 foot tumbler pull. 135 lbs. Around 15:50 minutes. The calorie row and the burpees were the worst part for me. When I am on that assault bike, I swear that calorie counter refused to budge. We were give two minutes to do the 30 calories and I just barely made it. And burpees. Winded, every time. It was a fun work out though. I was glad to be able to do something with my back problems.

8-30 : Run. 4.85 miles. 9:15/mile. For the most part, I felt significantly better on this run. My back did not hurt at all, but I just felt tired. Very, very tired.

8-31 : Run. 2.65 miles. First two miles around 10:00/mile. I walked the rest. It felt so hard and I was running so easy. So, I just decided I was done. No running until Run Woodstock. It is time for a break.

9-1 : Yoga with Adriene for Lower Back.

9-2 : Yoga with Adriene for Lower Back and Hips.

Totals: Run – Around 11 miles. CrossFit – 1 hour.

Plans for this week: lots of yoga. No running until Run Woodstock. Take it easy.

xo, Ali

Favorite Things : August 25-31, 2018

favorite things

I cannot that after this weekend summer is over. It flew by. I’ll admit to being a total cliché. I love fall, pumpkin spice lattes, and hot apple cider. I’m ready for the season change, but I’m not ready with how quickly time seems to be going.

I’d say it has been a successful summer. I finished two chapters and had them approved. I raced my first triathlon and two trail races. We went to Frankenmuth, Michigan and to Nashville, Tennessee. We went camping.

This fall I start teaching my first college class. I’m nervous, which I think is reasonable. I’m also very excited. I have been waiting a long time for this moment. Tuesday is the first day. I have not been able to touch my dissertation, because I want to make sure I’m as prepared as I can be. I feel so lucky and blessed to finally be able to do this that I want it to go as well as it reasonably can.

And so, without further ado, this week’s favorite things:

I mean I don’t think I’m bored, but I have always dreamed of doing an endurance event.

Life advice: Send one scary email a day.

Professional athletes with full-time jobs.

10 Simple Truths Revealed by CrossFit.

You’re gonna live in a van down by the river!

I love the “café” area of this house. So cute!

Running to stretch our limits.

Have a great weekend!

xo, Ali

 

 

Bound for the Floor (Strengthening Those Glutes)

crossfit, running

On Tuesday morning I went for a four mile run. I felt fine. It was nothing difficult, just a quick jog before we went to work on campus. I felt stiff for the first mile, a common occurrence lately. I loosened up, finished the run, no problems. I did some legs up the wall after the shower. All was fine.

As I was walking to campus I felt it: a back spasm in my left side. My lower back began to dully ache. I kept walking, but every few steps my back would spasm again. It was like a jolt through my lower back and butt. Walking began to hurt. I thought it would go away. It proceeded to get more and more painful, because you know, I just sit around all day working on my dissertation. You know your back and hips love sitting.

So, yesterday I went to see a chiropractor. I haven’t seen one in years. I also have not seen my massage therapist since June. I’m also guilty of starting to neglect the little mobility things I’ve been doing to keep things moving nice and easy. He told me what I already knew. My left hip is tight. My left glute is not firing. My right leg is behaving nicely, but it is always that left leg that I have problems with.

After some stretching and some bone cracking, I was out the door. I was still sore, but my back was no longer spasming. I could not walk to the chiropractor from my house, but I could walk back.

I’ll be bound for the floor with hip bridges, single-leg bridges, side-bridges, and clamshells trying to get my glutes to fire. Thankfully, thankfully, my doctor told me that time off was not going to help fix my back pain. Instead I really needed to make sure my glutes are turned on before I did anything like running and lifting especially because I do a lot of lifting. I was so scared I was going to told to take time off. I like this plan better.

I went to CrossFit yesterday and I adapted some things. I did not squats, but mainly practiced sitting on a box and getting back up again to fire things up. That said, I did plenty of burpees to bar. I think that’s enough, right?

Today my back is still sore, but I can tell things are improving. I plan on hitting the floor before I hit the pavement this afternoon for a run. Here’s to hoping for the best!

xo, Ali

Race Report : Robert Huntley Memorial Mini-Triathlon in Coldwater, Michigan (August 25, 2018)

races, triathlon

It happened! I am officially a triathlete. After the race, I told Bruno I’ve been adding a lot to my identity this year. I’m now a trail runner, a Crossfitter (is that a word?), and now, finally, a triathlete. I also feel like a runner again. I keep saying it, but I do not take it for granted. I’m still so grateful. There are only a few months left in the year and so far, I’ve been consistently active in all of them.

But I digress! The race! The Robert Huntley Memorial Mini-Triathlon is a local race in Coldwater, Michigan. The proceeds go to scholarships for Coldwater cross country runners, so it was a race I was especially happy to pay for.

I woke up close to 5 in the morning and did my normal routine. I made coffee, drank water, put the dishes away (this is the way the first ten minutes of every single day of my life goes!). Bruno woke up and started making me breakfast, so I hopped in the shower. I ate breakfast, oatmeal with strawberries and granola. Bruno brought most of my stuff in the truck. I double-checked to make sure I had everything. We left at around 6:15.

I do not know why, but the quiet morning drive to a race is one of my favorite parts. It is dark. There is hardly anyone out on the road. It feels peaceful. Even though I always feel like I’m scrambling to get things ready, the drive to a race always calms me down. I drank some more coffee and water. We listened to tunes and talked about my plans for the race.

It was beginning to storm by the time we arrived. I checked-in and set my bike and my first transition stuff up (I had no idea how to rack my bike). I kept everything in a plastic bag, hoping that it would not get soaked. It actually ended up working out, my towel was a little damp, but my shoes and socks were dry. At this time, every time it would lightning, the race would be postponed for another half-hour.

We waited in the truck and every time it seemed like the storm was ending, lighting would strike again. I broke the no-new things rule for racing and ate one of those Honey Stinger waffles. It was delicious. In the words of Madonna, absolutely no regrets. Bruno read his kindle while I continuously refreshed the doppler radar. Around 9:30 I noticed more people getting out of their vehicles and heading up, so I figured I would follow. Good thing I did, because the race was about to start!

40059019_1084445958400073_4609209029183406080_n.jpg

I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it!

The swim portion started in the lake. Coldwater Lake is shallow. I think they said only eight feet deep in its deepest parts. We walked out to the lake and waded to the starting line. I did not feel too nervous at this point. The water was cold, but I felt like I acclimated quickly. I just was ready to get swimming. The whistle blew and the gun went off and we all started swimming.

And it was like I forgot how. My heart was racing, not from fear, but I felt way more out of breath than normal. When I swim in the pool, I swim three strokes then breathe to my right, swim three strokes then breathe to my left. It was like I completely forgot how to do that. I was breathing almost every stroke, then I would stop every few strokes to see where I was, making sure I was heading in the right direction. It was so shallow that sometimes I would take a few steps, swim again. I eventually got myself to do some consistent normal swimming, but I’m sure it was not efficient or effective. I’m not sure what happened. I was not afraid of swimming in the lake. I felt safe. I’m not sure if it was lack in trust in myself or what. Next time. Next time.

40063674_725840144414981_5625766773841199104_n

The part I was actually most nervous about was the transition from swimming to biking. We were helped out of the water and I waddled, I mean ran, back into the transition where I changed into my socks and shoes. This was actually not as difficult as I feared. Little things. I put on my helmet, grabbed my bike, and as soon as I left the transition area, I hoped on and was back on my way. Once again, not as bad as I feared. All these little things that I was afraid of: not being able to get my socks in shoes on over my half-dried feet, struggling to get on my bike (weird fear, right?), or that I would have problems getting my helmet on. None of it happened. It went as smoothly as I could hope for a beginner.

The bike part was my favorite part. My odometer was not working because of the rain. I could not get it to turn on and tell me how fast I was, so as of now, I have no idea how fast I did those six miles. I just tried to go as fast as I could. It was an out and back. Some people were wearing headphones on the bike which made me a little nervous in passing them. I tried to say “left!” as loudly as I could. My fear of having a collision never happened. The only difficult part was the wind on the way back, but I just kept pumping my legs as hard as I could. The best part was a cute blond three year old shouting on top of her lungs to me, “YOU CAN DO IT!” Little girl, you had no idea how much I needed that. Also, you are the Rob Schneider of the mini-triathlon. I mean that as a compliment.

The first mile of the run was the second hardest part. I know that running post-bike does not feel good. It is like your muscles are in whip-lash mode. It took me awhile to get my watch started, but when I looked at my pace I was initially going at a 12 minute mile pace. My plan for the run was to take the first half mile to warm up and increase pace as I went along. I ended up finishing the first mile in around 10 minute pace. And then, just to show you how hard that first mile was in comparison to the last two, the second mile I ran in 8:30 minutes and the last in 8:15 minutes.

40038796_1887913657922207_7514900880492068864_n

Pace checking.

40049723_2145110819148008_3791741499939487744_n

I did it!

I finished! I’m still not sure of my time. They are supposed to be eventually posted on facebook and as I’m not sure of our exact starting time, I can’t really estimate.

This race was such a reminder that doing new things can be so rewarding. It was also another reminder of the happiness of the beginner mentality. So many of the faster triathletes, the ones with carbon triathlon bikes and aero helmets who seemed like they really knew what they were doing, were so kind and encouraging. They were happy to answer questions about the course and questions about transitions. Some cheered when I saw them on the out and back of the run. When I told a few it was my first triathlon they were especially encouraging. It really helped with feeling intimidated. They really helped me celebrate the joy of accomplishing something brand new.

xo, Ali

Monday Miles : August 20-26, 2018

lifting, monday miles, running, swimming, training, triathlon

The triathlon did happen! There was about an hour delay because of the lightning, but as we started getting closer to ten in the morning, the storms cleared up. I’ll write more on that in my race report for tomorrow as it was quite a day.

The next races I have are the Funky Bus 5k and Hippie Half-marathon at Run Woodstock. I have been planning on running those for fun though and will mainly transition for training for a later fall 10k. The plan is to still maintain swimming and biking once a week. It was nice not just running, even though running will always be my favorite. Hopefully in the spring or next summer, I will do a sprint triathlon. I’m not sure if I would be ready for an Olympic distance. Someday, but I would like to do a few sprints first.

This week brought me back to the track for the first time in a few months. I took it easy on CrossFit getting ready for Saturday’s race. I feel good!

8 – 20 : Morning. Swim. 100m drills, 100m breast stroke. 3 rounds of 1x 100 meter free-style, 2x 50m free-style. 200m free-style and breast stroke. 1000m.

8 – 21 : Afternoon. Run. Easy 3.5 miles. 10:22/mile pace. CrossFit. WOD: for time, 20 ring-rows, 30 over-head squats, 20 ring-rows, 20 over-head squats, 20 ring-rows, 10 over-head squats, 20 ring-rows. Over-head squats are no joke! I started out using a bar bell during my warm-up and the coach told me it might be best for me to switch to a PVC pipe. I trusted his wisdom. It was the right move, because there is no way I would have been able to get through that even with a bar. 11 minutes 36 seconds. Romwod.

8 – 22 : Morning. 1 mile warm-up. 6x 400 meters with a 200m “float.” 1 mile cool-down. I tried to maintain between 7:30-7:40 pace for all my 400m. I think I was mostly successful. The work-out called for 8 repeats, but at around 8 in the morning, the football team started showing up and frankly, I kind of felt silly being out there. So I left and continued my run before heading back home. Next time I’ll show up to the track a little earlier. 4 miles.

8 – 23 : Rest ‘n Romwod.

8 – 24 : Rest ‘n Romwod.

8 – 25 : Coldwater Mini-Triathlon! 300 yard swim, 6 mile bike, and 3 mile run. As of right now, I still do not have my time (although I can say I ran a 9/mile average pace for run…my first mile was so slow!). Romwod.

8 – 26 : 5 miles. 9:46/mile. It was so humid my glasses kept fogging up throughout my run. I swear in places I did not even know I could sweat.

Totals : 1 hour CrossFit, 1275m swam, 6 miles biked, 15.5 miles run.

xo, Ali

Favorite Things : August 18 – 24, 2018

favorite things, Uncategorized

Tomorrow is the day! And it still looks like it is going to storm. I’m still hoping it will turn out ok. I have not received any emails about any possible cancellations or what the plan is if inclement weather arrives. I also know how Michigan can be. It can be projected to storm all week and then it ends up a beautiful, lovely day. I keep checking to see if anything, anything has changed. Nope.

That all said, without further ado, here are this week’s favorite things:

I love that Cup of Jo featured a home near Dayton, Ohio (the closest city to my hometown)!

The only way to live your life.

I hated gym class and was definitely always the last person to be picked for any team. That said, I still like sports. I must be an anomaly.

Loved this article on Michigan breweries on the North Country Trail. I’ve been to three. What I did not know about was the North Country Trail. I will definitely start exploring now. This Ohioan is always so amazed at what there is to do in Michigan. I-er-mean-uh-go-Bucks!

It was a short one this week. Getting ready for the semester means less time on the internet, which honestly is a good thing.

xo, Ali

 

 

 

 

‘Twas the Eve Before my First Triathlon Eve

cycling, goals, races, running, swimming, training, triathlon

The weather forecast warns of storms on Saturday. I keep checking and the storms remain. I’m hoping for a brighter day for my first triathlon, the 34th Annual Robert Huntley Memorial Mini-Triathlon in Coldwater, Michigan, this Saturday. Even rain is fine. I do not want another cancellation. I could not find a replacement sprint triathlon for my original plan. I do not think I can find a replacement any-distance triathlon that would not involve extra travel.

I’m happy I found this race. What I read about it makes it sound like the perfect triathlon for someone like me, a beginner who has no idea what she is doing. It is a local race. The profits go to the cross country team. I’m excited to be a part of it. I’m excited to swim the 300 yards, bike the six miles, and run the three miles that will take me to my first triathlon finish.

That said, I have no idea what to expect. I have no goals other than to just go by feel and see what happens. Mainly, I am trying to see this as a learning experience. I want to learn how to do transitions. I want to learn what it is like to race my bike, and I want to get comfortable swimming in the open water again. I want to do well, but I’m trying to keep my expectations minimal and one step at a time.

It is hard not to think of the future as I plan for this race. It was not necessarily what I had planned. I wanted to do a sprint triathlon. But I think the big thing I am going to have to focus on is just staying present. Yes, doing this triathlon will help when I finally do a sprint next year. But I also am racing this race. I want to be in this race too both mentally and physically. I do not want to future-trip through it the whole time.

That said, I have a vague idea of what I’m hoping: under one hour. I have no idea if that is feasible. I could be severely over-estimating what I think could happen. I do not think I am under-estimating. We’ll see.

Tomorrow I’ll get Cat (the bike) ready and get everything set up. I’ll have my fingers crossed for good weather the whole time. Rain is fine, but storms can stay away. This runner wants to become a triathlete.

xo, Ali

 

 

What I’m Loving Lately III

books, daily life, food

And yes, I will continue to use Roman numerals for all of these.

This is basically the last week of summer for us. Classes start on campus next week Wednesday which means come this weekend our college town will be filled with undergrads again. Summer hours for favorite coffee shops will be over. It will be harder to find a spot in the library (we are graduate students are a pretty studious school). And, most importantly, I will begin teaching for the first time ever. Hello, anxiety.

I have a few solutions for when I become a bundle of nerves. Here is what is making the end of the summer especially enjoyable.

Watching : I am about ten years late on this bandwagon, but I officially started watching The Office. I have tried to watch it before, but did not like the show at all. I would get second-hand embarrassment over the awkward situations. Bruno loves it though and has had it on as background (he’s watched it several times) while he does administrative tasks. Now I’m hooked. It took three times, but I guess the third time is the charm, right? I also now get this The “Oval” Office parody.

Listening : I’ve been listening to a audiobooks lately. Sometimes all I want to do is listen to podcasts, but sometimes I just get tired of them. I’m currently going back and forth between the classic book on the Charles Manson family murders, Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry, and the controversial 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson. I’m finding them both interesting, although the Manson book can be at times dry and repetitive. I get it though. Some of the witnesses repeat information and there are a bunch of rules for prosecution and evidence that I do not understand. The whole situation is terrifying and definitely shows the danger of a breakdown of culture, which of course leads me to the Peterson book. In a strange twist, the biggest Peterson fans in my life are all married women. Go figure. I want to get the hardcover version so that I can actually take notes. It can be easy to miss things when you listen on audible. I do not find anything he says that shocking. I think he stretches some things (I’m currently on the chapter where he equates the ancient sacrificing to the gods to sacrificing our present desires for a better future well-being…I get what he saying, put off facebook today and work so you can have a better tomorrow, but how he gets there I don’t know), but I think his overall points make sense.

Reading : A lot of Ryan Holiday. I liked the Ego is the EnemyI am not too keen on the Obstacle is the Way. Both books contradict each other. I’m not sure if this is because they have different purposes. For example, Ego is the Enemy notes that Steve Jobs had to learn to get it together before Apple took him back. His ego was a problem and he needed to overcome it. The Obstacle is the Way seems to praise Jobs’ ego. It was Apple that was in the wrong for firing Jobs. They just did not appreciate his vision. So, ok, is it just ok to maniacal if you have “vision”? Where the first book is anti-workaholic, pro-character, I’m not so sure about Obstacle. Once again Holiday praises Jobs for his excessive demands on other people all in the name of getting a product out. Sure, they produced whatever technology on time, but at the expense of how many relationships, health problems, parents not home with children? Both are worth reading, but Ego is the Enemy is by far superior.

Eating : I have been trying to snack more. I felt kind of weird during a CrossFit work out last week. My head felt slightly woozy. I work out right before dinner, so I figured I was probably hungry and needed to eat more. Enter my two favorite snacks of the moment. From Aldi’s I buy Coconut Cashews. These are magical. I’m sure they are not the healthiest, but they are glorious and probably better than snacking on cookies or chips. Then, from Kroger’s we have been buying the Kroger brand beef jerky. Previously I did not like beef jerky. I thought it was too hard, too chewy, and kind of gross. This jerky has changed everything. I no longer feel like I am gnawing on a piece of dried meat like a dog. It is the perfect texture and I like the smokehouse flavor best thus far.

What are you loving lately?

xo, Ali

 

Monday Miles : August 13-19, 2018

crossfit, lifting, monday miles, running, training, triathlon

This is the week of the Coldwater Mini-Triathlon. I’ll be taking it a little bit easy this week, so I can make sure everything feels good for that day. I do not really have any goals other than to see what I can do. I’m more nervous about the transitions and making sure I have the gear right than anything at the moment. I placed an order from Decathlon last week which arrived today. I now own a tri suit, a pair of bike shorts, and two cycling jerseys. Am I a real cyclist yet? I have yet to try them on or try them out, but I’m really looking forward to it.

Here are this week’s workouts!

8 – 13 – 18 : Morning – Bike. I did an out and back. I went out for a half an hour, but returning back was a little bit quicker. I was also chased by a dog. Luckily, I’m faster on my bike than when I run. Still, it was a little startling. I’m always afraid I’m going to do something that will cause me to fall off my bike. That day will likely come, but it won’t come because of a dog, but because of myself. I am a klutz. 14 miles. 14.7 mph. Afternoon – CrossFit. “Fibonacci.” For time: 5, 8, 13 reps of pike push-ups, dead lifts at 100 lbs. Then to finish, lunge 89 feet with two ten pound dumb-bells in the air. My notes say : “Holy hell — not sure if I did the pike push-ups correctly, will have to keep working on them. Dead lifts were fine, but those lunges were TERRIBLE.” Truly. Those lunges and pike push-ups were hard, but I did not know what hard was until those lunges. 9 minutes 44 seconds. Romwod.

8 – 14 – 18 : Afternoon – Run. Three miles. 9:48/mile. CrossFit. The work-out was supposed to be a “Complex Fran,” but because I cannot do anything for it was more of a “modified Fran.” For time: 15 band-assisted pull-ups, 21 thrusters at 55 lbs.; 12 band-assisted pull-ups; 15 thrusters; 9 band-assisted pull-ups; 9 thrusters. 11 minutes 44 seconds. I was very happy to be done with this one.

8 – 15 – 18 : Morning – Run. Tempo. 35 minutes. 3.7 miles. 9:15/mile average. I wanted to keep all miles under 9 minutes and mainly succeeded except for the third mile which was super hilly.

8 – 16 – 18 : Afternoon – Run. 3 miles. 10:11/mile. CrossFit. Strength — Back squats: 5 @ 85 lbs.; 4 @ 105 lbs.; 3 @ 105 lbs.; four minutes to attempt one rep max. I’m still at 125 lbs. I tried 135 lbs., but failed. WOD – 15 back squats @ 85 lbs.; 30 box jump overs @ 20″. 3 minutes 16 seconds. I liked this work out. It was fast and fun.

8 – 17 – 18 : Rest.

8 – 18 – 18 : Romwod.

8 – 19 -18 : Morning – Run. 4 miles. 10:08 mile.

xo, Ali