Favorite Things : July 14-20, 2018

favorite things

What. A. Week. It was a week full of good things. My paper is accepted to a conference in Montreal this November. Bruno has a paper accepted at the same conference, so guess where we’ll be traveling this fall? I finished chapter four of my dissertation and sent it in. Of course, it is not finished, finished yet and will need edits, but I’m getting closer to defending (hopefully). Then, I found out this morning all my medical expenses from March and April will be taken care of by the health share co-op we do in lieu of ACA insurance or employer insurance (grad student life) which means not only will I no longer have an excessive amount of medical bills hanging over my head, but also I will have money back in my pocket for the amounts I paid for out of pocket. And last, but not least. I had a back squat PR from 95 pounds to 123 pounds (you know you are a beginner when you make leaps like that). I’m ending this week very happy and very grateful.

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

I’ve been almost done with the Odyssey for months now. I think we’ll celebrate by grilling with Homer.

How to succeed at work.

How about not finding your passion.

Great blog post from elite swimmer turned real person, Lizzie Simmonds.

I drink, but I have to ask. Why do we promote this? Reminds of some 1950s “Mother’s Little Helper” b.s. and it makes me sad.

On a lighter note, this adorable, wonderful, best thing every Instagram account Life of Sharks.

Have a great weekend!

xo, Ali

 

 

Brief Thoughts on Turning a Dissertation Chapter In

dissertation, graduate school, Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I turned in my fourth chapter after work today. I had just a few citations to fix (as a Catholic, I do not happen to keep the volumes of Institutes of Christian Religion around, har! har!). It took me less time than I thought. It took me longer to just send the email with the chapter attached. Tomorrow I’ll go through my advisor’s recommendations for the third chapter and eventually begin chapter five. It will probably my last chapter.*

It is strange to be so close to finishing. I have been in school since I was five. This will be my sixth year in graduate school. I do not know how to think of my life outside of the school calendar, the four seasons being: fall semester (the real beginning of the year), winter break (four weeks of aspired productivity which turns out to be not so productive), spring semester, and summer (busier than you would ever expect).

That said, by being closed to “finishing,” I mean only with the dissertation. I’m not sure if a topic like this — Rousseau on Christianity and citizenship — anyone is ever finished, or if anyone will ever have the last word. Most of the time, I’m not even sure if Rousseau ever finalized his thoughts on the topic. There are topics in life that I hope I never have a “final” opinion on. I always want to be thinking, learning. Never dogmatic.

I always feel weird after I turn anything in or finish anything that took awhile. I can’t quite jump into the next thing just yet, so I am in a kind of limbo. Between chapters, I feel a mild form of this. After semesters, I would feel this in the extreme. I would leave an exam and think, “Now what?” I suspect after I defend the dissertation, I’ll feel the same way. I get stressed about being “busy,” but at the same time I don’t like not having things to do.

I’ve been trying to avoid the “reward myself” mentality, but tonight I will not do any work. I’ll sit on the couch and read a novel. I’ll go to bed a little earlier and maybe not wake up at four in the morning. Then, after work on Friday afternoon, I will be back to it, dissertation writing as usual.

xo, Ali

*Unless it gets split in two like chapter three, which I originally turned in back in April.

Change of Plans

crossfit, cycling, running, swimming, training, triathlon

I received some bummer news yesterday. The Williams Bay Triathlon is cancelled due to lack of sign-ups. While I’m glad they let us know early, I have not really found another sprint triathlon that I can transfer to. And I looked and looked yesterday. The couple in Michigan I thought looked promising are either too soon that I would not be ready (Cereal City in Battle Creek), on the same weekend as half-marathon (Ann Arbor Triathlon), or a little too far away (Traverse City). I’ve checked for triathlons in Ohio too, trying to find one close to the hometown, but alas, nothing.

So, yeah. I’m a little bummed. I had a really good swim yesterday too. Finally. I did not feel like I was fighting the water or gasping for air every time I took a breath. Instead, it felt like ease (not easy) and I left the college rec center feeling excited. Even though I grew up swimming, those 500 meters have seemed really daunting to me and I left the pool yesterday thinking, “This could happen. I may not totally suck.”

I started this year wanting to start running consistently again. And amazingly I’ve been doing that. I have only one more race to go with the Serious Series of trail races and another trail half-marathon, Run Woodstock, in September. Then surprise, surprise other things started to interest me. I never thought I would want to do a triathlon, but here I have been swimming and cycling. I started CrossFit. I’m not sure if January 2018 me would have expected all that, but I guess I had a change of plans.

So. Here is another change of plans. Granted, it is not one caused by my growing interests. There is a Spartan Race at Michigan Speedway on the same weekend of the now-cancelled triathlon that Bruno is trying to persuade me to do. I’m not so sure yet. I’m no Amelia Boone. Crawling under barbed wire gives me the heebie jeebies. Plus, I still really want to do a triathlon.

I’m not sure a sprint will happen this year, but late August in Coldwater, Michigan there is a mini-triathlon, a super sprint. 300 yard swim, 6 mile bike, and 3 mile run. It is not exactly what I wanted, but it may be just I need to accomplish a first triathlon. It is close by and I’ll be ready.

xo, Ali

 

Monday Miles : July 9 – 15, 2018

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

I began a relaxing weekend with a sore throat, runny nose, and a mild temperature. That did not stop first year marriage anniversary festivities. We stopped at a local winery before heading out to eat at one of the oldest restaurants in Michigan. Realizing we were close to a Barnes & Nobles, we spent about an hour there looking at books before heading home. It was a nice evening out to followed up by a relaxing Sunday. We spent our actual anniversary grocery shopping, splitting a bottle of Veuve (a very generous gift from friends) in the afternoon, and watching Death of Stalin.

Anyway, this week’s workouts were fine. The pool was closed do to a swim camp on campus and I took Sunday off, but most of them were fine. I find that I am no longer as sore after CrossFit as I used to be. Although, to be very clear. I am still sore.

This week I am hoping to get back into swimming and do two bike rides instead of just one short one. Saturday should be the last long-ish (for me) run before my final half-marathon in the Serious Series this summer. After that, it is go time on triathlon training.

7 – 9 : CrossFit. Warm-up. 2x 200m run, 10 push-ups to downward dog, 10 side squats. Squat snatch progression. WOD: Run 200m, 10 squat snatch, run 200m, 8 squat snatch, run 200m, 6 squat snatch, run 200m, 4 squat snatch, run 200m 2 squat snatch, run 200m. So. I am really bad at form. I am fairly certain it was not until the last two that I even got the squat snatch close to what it is supposed to look like. I did this was a PVC pipe. Real talk. I’m trying not to be embarrassed about this. 15 minutes.

7 – 10 : Morning. Easy heart-rate run. 60 minutes under 152 bpm. 5.13 miles, 11:39/mile average. It was super, duper hot. I ran on the bike path near the lake and I’m pretty sure I can add “bugs” to my morning breakfast. Afternoon. CrossFit. Warm-up. Every minute, on the minute. 12 minutes. 45s jump-rope, 45s ring-rows, 45s row, 45s bear crawl (3 rounds). Pull-up and kipping prep. WOD: 5 minutes – 3 cal bike, 3 box hand-stand push-ups, 6 cal, 6 box hand-stand push-ups, 9 cal-bike, 9 box hand-stand push-ups. 5 minutes – 50 single-unders, 3 jumping pull-ups, 50 single-unders, 6 jumping pull-ups, 50 single-unders, 9 jumping pull-ups, 50 single-unders, 12 jumping pull-ups. This was harder than it looks. It always feel like it takes so long to reach a single calorie on a bike. That said, I think my jump-rope is improving. Hopefully those single-unders will turn into double-unders.

7 – 11 : CrossFit. Warm-up – 3 minutes jump-rope. Various lunges, arm circles, inch-worm push-ups, squat progression, dead lift progression. 3 x 3 squats – 65 lbs., 75 lbs., 85 lbs. 3 x 3 deadlifts – 65 lbs., 75 lbs., 75 lbs. WOD – For time. 45 x squats – 65 lbs., 45 x deadlifts – 65 lbs. 10 minutes. This was deceptively simple. No big deal, I thought. Hah! The squats were ok. Hard. But fine. The deadlifts. After the first ten I could not believe I had 35 left. I fought for every single deadlift that I did. I focused hard as hell on form. I could maybe do 2 or 3 at a time, then only 1. I was the very last person. At around five left, I felt like I was going to cry. It hurt so bad. I could feel my lower lip making a grimace. I finished. It hurt so bad. But I finished.

7 – 12 : Morning. Easy heart-rate run. 60 minutes under 152 bpm. 5.22 miles, 11:28/mile average. I was sore from the previous day, but still for the most part felt pretty good aside for the heat. Afternoon. Short bike ride. 36 minutes, 8.2 miles. 13.7mph pace.

7 – 13 : Rest.

7 – 14 : Run. 6.3 miles. 9:41/mile pace. For the most part this run was fine. My legs were still sore from the previous work outs, but I still felt great. However, the heat has just been really bugging me lately. I was not thinking and didn’t bring any water with me for this run, figuring it was fine because I would only be out for an hour. By mile five, I felt shaky and then quickly became nauseous. Lesson learned.

7 – 15 : Anniversary day! Rest.

Totals: 3 hours CrossFit, 17.63 miles ran, 8.2 miles cycled.

xo, Ali

Favorite Things : July 7 – 13, 2018

favorite things

Growing up, my mom would come upstairs half-yelling, half-singing, “It’s Friiiiiday! It’s Friiidaaaay!” That is about how I feel today. This has been my first week back to Michigan and back to routine in a few weeks. It feels good, but I have been so ready for today.

Sunday is our one year anniversary. We thought about going somewhere, but with camping next weekend and being gone, I just didn’t want to leave. We’ll go out to eat somewhere nice and maybe stop at a brewery. I just wanted something relaxing, especially because I’m still hoping to get that dissertation in by the end of this weekend. We’ll see how it goes!

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

10 Habits to Drop

How to ask someone to put their phone down and listen.

Related. Interesting article on phone use and distracted parenting.

My mom’s new place has a pond. We may need this.

The relationship between perfectionism and injury in athletes. Suddenly so much makes sense.

A history of the greatest campfire dessert.

I admit to having a bit of an obsession with the Kardashian/Jenner clan. Kylie Jenner is worth 900 million dollars.

Have a great weekend!

xo, Ali

 

A Bike Named Caterina Sforza

cycling, triathlon

My great-grandma’s name was Bernadette. She passed away the summer before I started college, but I had the pleasure of growing up close to her. We used to pick her up and take her to a restaurant she liked. The restaurant was more like a diner known for its pies. It looked like nothing special, but had a beautiful view of a lake.

While Bruno and I were home in Ohio, I took him there to get some pie. As we got out of his truck, I noticed a bike shop across the street. I did not know the bike shop existed. We debated on whether we should check it out. I was inclined no, Bruno was inclined yes. You see, I needed a bike, but was trying to put it off until stipend checks were issued in August. I did not want to see a bike I liked and be heartbroken because we could not buy it yet, trying to be responsible and all.

We ended up popping in. I didn’t see anything I liked, but then I turned around and there it was: a red and black used Trek Alpha. It was the brand I wanted and the colors I wanted. The store owner fitted me. It was my size. It was also the price I wanted at around $400. He said it was older, but the owner hardly ever rode it and switched to a different style of bike. I couldn’t believe it. There it was. There was my bike.

We did not buy the bike. We went to the restaurant and the next day left for Nashville for three days. I could not stop thinking about the bike, but I kept telling Bruno it was not the time. But he said if it was there when we returned from Nashville, I should at least go and ride it. So on Thursday, June 28 (also Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s birthday), I tried the bike out.

And I loved it. I’ve never ridden a road bike before and it was a whole new experience. It felt easy compared to the rickety mountain bike I had been using. So. We bought her. She is considered Bruno’s first anniversary present, Christmas, and birthday present all rolled into one.

caterinasforza

I named her Caterina Sforza, who makes a fairly notorious appearance in Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy. I love her. I never thought I would be a bike person, but I guess here I am.

xo, Ali

What I’m Loving Lately

books, daily life, food, music

After what felt like a long hiatus, this week I have been hitting the dissertation hard. I have been waking up at four in the morning, so that I can start writing close to five to try to get anywhere between one and half hours (if I run in the morning) to three hours (if I don’t) of writing in before I get ready to go to work in the archives for the day. Evenings are spent reading and taking notes. I’m hoping to turn chapter four in by Monday, which also happens to be the day after my one year anniversary. We’ll see.

It has not been all work, excuse me, I mean leisure. Aside for Rousseau, there are a few things that have piqued my interest.

Watching : I haven’t really watched much tv lately, but Sunday night Bruno and I watched the first two episodes of A Very English Scandal on Amazon prime. We haven’t yet been able to watch the third and final episode, but it is well done.

Listening : My current writing music is Pixies DoolittleGouge Away might be the perfect editing song. While at work, I’ve been listening to Bad Blood : Secrets and Lies of a Silicon Valley Start-Up by John Carreyrou on audible. Holy shit. I am obsessed. I am trying to avoid going down an Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos google rabbit hole. I am only a couple hours into it, but I’m already sure it will be a five star book. Also, it is the reason why this song (not Taylor Swift!) has been in my head all day.

Reading : I’m still making may way through the Odyssey. I’m almost done. I started reading Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent. As Bruno bluntly put it when he opened the book and started read a few pages, “Sarah Perry can write.” I have two history books I am working through. The first is Daniel Walker Howe’s tome What Hath God Wrought : The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 and the second, Jon Meacham’s American Lion : Andrew Jackson in the White House. I’m loving the first a little more than the second. For whatever reason, I find Meacham biography kind of tedious, although it is interesting to compare Meacham and Howe on Jackson. I was hoping for more on his political thought, particularly on nullification, and less on scandals involving “wanton” women. I’m half-way through Howe’s book and I love every page, even during the long discussions of internal improvements and the bank.

Eating : Chocolate Vega powder and cherry smoothies. I do not like fruit. I do not like cherries. But for whatever reason, when they are mixed with some protein powder, almond milk, and some ice, magic happens. Also, I restarted my sour dough bread starter this week (is it weird to name your sour dough starter? mine is named Sebastian), so definitely looking forward to eating some of that.

What are you loving lately?

xo, Ali

 

 

Thoughts on “The Process”

books, crossfit, dissertation, goals, graduate school, reading

At the moment my “guru” is Ben Bergeron. I love Chasing Excellence (I re-read it after finishing). I love his podcast. I love his Instagram account. His advice is commonsensical and yeah, a lot of it I have read or heard before, but I like his presentation. I always come away not feeling just inspired, but I actually try applying his suggestions and recommendations — not something I always follow through on. And while his book is about CrossFit athletes, I think all of it is applicable to graduate school.

I have one quibble though. And it is not just Ben who says it. I see it all over. The process. The process, not the outcome is what should be focused on. We can only focus on today. We can only focus on what we are doing right now, in this moment. The outcome does not matter. Just today. Only today. Ben Bergeron and two-times CrossFit games winner Katrin Davidsdottir never discuss winning the CrossFit games. He writes they never even talk about it. They only focus on the process.

I am very lucky. What I most want in life, I already have. On a good day, I wake up. I write. I work-out. I eat. I write some more. I eat again. I read. I study French. I read some more. I might work out again. I eat for the last time. I read even more. Bed. If you would ask me what I want to be doing twenty years from now, I hope I do what I do right now, but writing something different, reading different books, maybe studying a different language, and hopefully teaching. Sure, I’d like a different location and a different income. But the core of my life is exactly what I want. I wanted a life of learning and I am living that life right now. I just want this life to be able to continue.

In this way, for me, the process is the goal. The process is the positive outcome I want to continue. Yes, I want to write a good dissertation. Yes, I want to get my Ph.D. Yes, I want to publish. Yes, I want an academic job. Doing what I do every day, the process, should ideally lead to those outcomes. But I only want those things so I can continue doing what I do right now. I’ve already “made it,” so to speak.

So, back to not caring about outcomes and focusing solely on the process. How can I not care about writing a good dissertation or getting an academic job, not as the ultimate goal, but because without these outcomes, the ultimate goal the daily life of learning, is threatened? Because without these goals, in a way, my living in the process is threatened. Without achieving certain outcomes, I can probably say good-bye to all that. And as my dissertation comes closer to being finished, as I come closer to going on the academic job market, as Bruno as I talk more about this probably being our last year in Michigan, I know strongly I do not want to say good-bye to all that. Outcomes become more important. It doesn’t mean I do not care about the process, but outcomes also ensure that the process continues.

All that is to say, why not care about outcomes? Why not discuss them, want them, hope for them, long for them? I understand that people become way too focused on hitting a certain goal rather than living a certain life, but I do not think that means that wanting things to go a certain way, having specific goals and outcomes is always a bad thing. I do not think it is a bad thing especially when those outcomes are not merely stopping points, but help you continue with the bigger goal, the process.

 

 

 

 

Monday Miles : July 2 – 8, 2018

crossfit, dissertation, monday miles, running, swimming

I am back in real life. I hate to use this word, but the last few weeks have been busy and not in ways that relate to my dissertation (where productivity really counts!). First we had to pack and move out of our old place. We could not move into our new place until July, so we stayed in Ohio for a couple of weeks. That involved helping my mom and step-dad pack up and move out of their old house into their new house, plus a trip to Nashville, plus a wedding in Columbus, plus trying to see family and friends at home. Then. We drove back to Michigan, moved into our new place. A day after moving, Bruno’s parents came down for three nights. They left yesterday morning. It was great to see them, but I was itching for regular routine, regular life hard last week, counting down the days. Real life can now begin.

I celebrated the end of “life sans routine” by running ten miles, going to mass, and working on editing chapter four all Sunday afternoon. It felt good.

I mostly consistently ran while home and even biked (more on that later!), but in the interest of time and space, here are the work outs from this last week — aka the week where we were back home, but not back to life, back to reality.

7 / 2 : We moved my mom in and at the end of the day drove back to Michigan. Rest.

7 / 3 : Morning. Ah. Found my heart rate monitor and did an hour a 152 bpm. 5.3 miles, 11:11/mile average. Afternoon. Return to CrossFit. Oh. Boy. Warm-up. Different jump-rope movements. Box jump prep. Kettle bell prep. WOD – For time. 4x 20 box jumps at 20″, 20 kettle bell swings at 35 lbs. I had to do the type of swing where it was only up to my nose. That was hard enough in the last few rounds and I could feel myself losing form. I couldn’t imagine getting it above my head at this point. 10 minutes 50 seconds. Romwod.

7 / 4 : CrossFit. Hero WOD. Riley. 1.5 mile run, 150 burpees, 1.5 mile run. I RX’d this. I did every single damn one of those burpees. I came in not knowing if I would be able to. The coach said we could modify to 75 or 100 and after each of those numbers passed I thought, “oh, I could do more. It will be ok.” So yeah. Around 53 minutes later, I finished. I thought it was mentally harder than Murph, because you can’t switch those burpees up with anything. You just have to keep doing them. Also, we are told to think of the person the Hero WOD is named for — I was so exhausted during the final run all I could think of was the Founding Fathers. Thank you, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and co., you got me through this. I kept telling myself, “Do not dare walk! What would the Founders think?” This is what happens when you study political theory. I didn’t walk…so I guess it worked.

7 / 5 : First ever Brick day. 30 minutes cycle. 20 minutes run. The bike went fine. I did thirty minutes — getting about 7.5 miles. It was the run that hurt. Running after riding a bike at noon in “real feel” 96 degree heat is not fun people and I love running. And it was only for twenty minutes and I felt destroyed. I only ran 1.81 miles — around 10:51/pace. Bruno’s parents came this day — so no CrossFit in the afternoon, just tried to clean and prep.

7 / 6 : My first swim in weeks. Ah, this felt good. Warm-up — 100m drills. 100m breast stroke. Work out — 100m free, approx. 30-40 second break, 75m free, break, 50m free, break, 8 x 25m free with 30-40 sec break. Cool down — 75m breast stroke. 700m total. It really is not much. But I do feel like I am making progress. I want to swim even more.

7 / 7 : 1 hour bike ride. 13 miles. So, even though I know how to ride a bike, I do not know how to ride a bike. This ride was all about figuring out gears — where should I be on an uphill? A downhill? It was a hilly ride and parts were a little scary (hi fast down hills!), but I think I am slowly starting to figure it out.

7 / 8 : 10 mile run. I was up at four, because Bruno’s parents left early for Connecticut. I did not sleep well and considered going back to bed after they left, but instead ate breakfast, began stretching, and just got it done because I knew it would make me feel better. Average pace was around ten minutes.

Totals : Run — 20.1 miles, bike — 20.5 miles, swim — 700 meters, CrossFit — 2 hours.

It was good to be back at it!

xo, Ali