Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy healthy new year

Happy New Year's Eve readers!  I hope the end of 2012 has left you happy, healthy, and ready for the new year ahead.  If 2012 hasn't quite been your year, I hope you're ready to own 2013!

I am happy and ready to take on 2013 with some fantastic things in the near future... not so much on the healthy.  We made the drive to the mountains yesterday afternoon for our annual New Year's trip.  We had a fantastic amount of fresh snow and great friends.  Unfortunately, the loving hubs drove me home mere hours later when I was doubled over with an awful stomach bug.  The hubs is awesome, awesome, awesome for repacking the car, leaving our friends, and driving the 90 minutes home at midnight.

But that means no sled riding, excessive eating, or dance partying for us this year.  It's nothing but crackers, ginger ale, and a 'House Hunters' marathon on HGTV.

Less excitement, but much more time to reflect on everything I am so blessed to have experienced in 2012 and making exciting plans for 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

SnOw Lazy

The plan for this morning was shopping, gym (I haven't ran in over a week still!), clean, and pack for our annual New Year's getaway.  That plan didn't happen.

Instead, this happened while I was sleeping, and it's still going.

I've made no attempt to even set foot out the door yet.  Yoga pants, my couch, and Christmas cookies have won for now.  Perhaps I'll even try reverting to productivity later today... I do need to buy a sled before we head to the mountains!

Is it snowing where you are today?  Does it ever snow there?

Fun New Year's plans?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pain in the... foot

In true Zesty Nerd fashion, I've been stopped in my tracks by another injury.  I was playing soccer last week when I went for the ball and suddenly found myself rolling on the turf in pain, pain that shot from toes to hip.  I cried... a lot, and since I was subbing in on another team I was also surrounded by strangers.  Thankfully I have no shame.

I was weary to even take my shoe off, but when I did I was left with a quickly swelling right foot that I couldn't move.  Well, I could move it, but it hurt too much to do so willingly.  With convenient timing, I haven't had to work or do much of anything since then, and Christmas festivities made it easy to skip the gym for a few days.

The swelling subsided a bit while bruising set in.  I have been able to walk pain-free since Friday, but there is shooting pain if my foot is bumped or hit... or God-forbid the hubs kicks it while sleeping.  Stomping to get the snow off my shoes?  Ouch.  And if I gently tap the top of my 2nd met there is a tingling sensation through the 1st and 2nd toes.
I probably would have just played it safe on my own for another week, but I am supposed to start my marathon training cycle next week.  The last thing I wanted was to start running again on a fracture and start that downward spiral.  So I made an ortho appointment.

The good news is that the xrays were clear for a fracture, meaning that I probably don't have one.  The xrays were also negative for significant Lisfranc injury, which is what the ortho had initially suspected.  We discussed the option of an MRI, but I declined in true physical therapist fashion, and my ortho thought it was a reasonable choice.  He probably would have sent me off with a PT script, but he trusted I could handle the necessary stretching and strengthening on my own.

So what am I dealing with and where do I go from here?
- Overall LE strengthening and stretching.  After a week my hip flexors are already weaker and toe extensors tighter.
- Resume activities, including running, as I see fit as long as it doesn't cause pain.
- Loosen up my laces or re-lace my shoes, especially running shoes, to decrease pressure on my 2nd met.
- Monitor my nerve symptoms.  I'll need to head back to the ortho and start talking EMG if that doesn't resolve in 6 weeks.

Overall, I am feeling pretty hopeful that things aren't nearly as bad as they first appeared.  Soccer will be on hold for a bit, but  I have higher hopes for running and can't wait to test it out!

Also Half Crazy

Oops! Guess I forgot to hit 'publish' on this one awhile ago!

After tackling my first full marathon earlier this year, I figured it was time to backtrack a bit and run my first half marathon.  I chose the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon mostly because it was the only half that didn't conflict with our Fall parade of weddings.  It also happened to be close to home, mostly on a trail, and perfectly timed for crisp Autumn weather (October 20).  It was also small, capped at 1000 runners, compared to my Pittsburgh Marathon experience.  A nice change of pace.

Packet pickup was on race morning at Lernerville Speedway, which is also where parking was.  The hubs dropped me off here and picked me up at the finish line, but parking was easy, plentiful, and free if you needed it.  Check in started 7, with the last shuttle at 8:30.  We arrived at 7:15 to no lines, so I hopped back in the car to warm up a bit before shuttling to the start.

I got to the start a little after 8 for a 9:00 start, and took advantage of no lines at the porta-potties.  There was space to wait inside at the VFD; probably not enough for everyone but it didn't seem to be an issue despite it being a bit frigid.  I stretched a bit, ate a Clif bar about 45minutes before the start, and headed back to the porta-potties around 8:30.  Lines were long and cold, but I still had time to warm up inside before heading out to the gun start.  I chose a spot about 75% back.

My goals for the half were pretty simple.  The plan was to settle into whatever pace felt comfortable in the first mile or two and then hold onto that pace as long as I could.  I wouldn't be disappointed finishing under 2:30, really wanted to finish under 2:24, and would be thrilled to finish under 2:15.  I quickly settled into a 10:15 pace, and....

I held that pace for the entire 13.1 miles!  I even had a little kick left at the end.  I walked through 4 water stations but only long enough to sip a little, and I then I quickly jumped back into my pace.  I started to feel that dreaded hip tightening in the later miles, but it was nothing like what hit me in the full.  I finished feeling... amazing.  In hindsight, I now know that body was capable of faster and it has me itching for another half-marathon!

The course was an overall decrease in elevation, but there was a short climb near the end that was a killer after so much down, down, down.  There was also a relatively steep downhill just before the finish that I thought was certainly going to launch me into a tumble down the road.

No stumbles though, and I very happily crossed the line in just over 2:16.  I thought I was on pace to finish under 2:15 with my kick at the finish, but my GPS or the course were off... and I'm guessing it was my GPS.  It recorded 13.4+ miles.   Oh well- I was going to be happy regardless.

I did do bag check at the start (toss your bag in a van), and it was very quick and organized to retrieve at the finish.  I also grabbed bagel pieces, pizza, fig newtowns, a banana, and multiple helpings of hot apple cider.  Yes, HOT apple cider.  Cider has never, ever tasted even close to that good!

The finish line area was far from crowded and after chowing down I started to walk a few blocks back to wear the hubs had planted himself with the camera.  And then it was off to chow down (again!).

And now, looking for an early-Spring half!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gold Star kind of day

Tomorrow is pajama day at work.  Yep, pajama day.  Unfortunately, I bought new too-small pj pants the other day, and I was convinced buying a new pair was a legitimate reason to not go to the gym today.

And I started to drive toward the mall.  I had a last second change of heart though, and I turned right instead.  I ended up pounding out a run on the treadmill, sweating my butt off, and running what is probably my fastest 5 miles ever.  It felt great.  Going to the gym is rarely the wrong choice... and when I say rarely I mean only when I'm knock-me-down sick or running on no sleep.

I just need to keep repeating the recently overused mantra...

I regret that workout.
                                       - Said no one ever

Question of the Day:
I gave myself an imaginary gold star today for not screaming profanities in pain when one of my students smashed by finger at work.  What accomplishment big or small earned you an imaginary gold star today?

Lamest excuse you've made to not do something you should?   ... like shopping for pjs instead of going to the gym.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Girls with guns

I've made a second home at the YMCA.  When I can manage to make exercising a habit, I do it right, and I've been heading to the Y after work every single day... even when I'd rather go home and nap after devouring a plate of Christmas cookies.  It's really tempting this time of year.
Oreo Truffle Heaven
I've settled into a nice varied routine, and I'm even seeing gains.  It feels so good.  The big challenge is going to be making it through the holidays without 2 weeks of sitting on my couch with leftover cookies.  Yep, I have off of work for two weeks... because working at a school is pretty much cooler than any other PT job out there.  <--- my biased opinion

While I make a point to not really chat at the gym, I made a small exception this week, and I didn't mind it too much.  I was in the weight room, the only female in a room of grunting men attempting to lift weights much too heavy for them, when another woman came in and tapped me on the shoulder.  She said "thank you for being in here!"  We went on to chat for a bit, and I learned she had recently lost 50lbs before tearing her rotator cuff.  She was working to rehab it following surgery but still felt uncomfortable as the only woman in the weight room.

It's disappointing and a little sad that women don't always feel comfortable in every area of a gym when the benefits of strength training for anyone, women and men alike, are countless.  Come pump some iron with me ladies!
4 months ago... I like to think I've made a bit of progress since... and I've chosen a paint color and painted the walls!

Sunday, November 25, 2012


I'm not a Black Friday shopper.  Inconsiderate people drive me bonkers and I never really need anything, so it's best for everyone if I just stay in bed.  Sleeping is one thing I do love more than shopping.

This year though... this year I went BIG for Black Friday and replaced my driveway decoration with a 2013 Ford Escape.  And no I didn't go out at 1am to buy it or stand in line, win-win.
It was a sad goodbye to my beloved Cavalier.  It was my first car, and it has been so good to me for over 6 years.  I won't miss the manual door locks or having to physically wind down my windows for certain.  Despite the huge upgrade, my heart is a little sad without my "little engine that could".  We were also so darn close to hitting 6-figures together!
99366... we were so close!
My new commute had me concerned though.  I am driving 35+ miles each way, much of it off the major roads... and it is Pennsylvania after all.  We get snow, and I felt like 4WD and a reliable car were just a must at this point considering my long and early morning driving habits on back roads.

Oh, and I'm finally a grad school graduate... I deserved a new car!  Actually, the hubs had to cosign because I didn't have enough credit, despite having excellent credit.  To which our lovely salesman told the bank "But she's a DOCTOR!"  That didn't work, but showing the dealership my diploma did get me a nice little rebate for being a recent grad!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I'm a loser

Today was a rest day after hitting the gym hard the last few days.  I haven't been this sore in a long time, and it really hurts feels pretty amazing.  With the tackling of a new challenge, I had a new fire under my feet to get serious in the gym again.  My abs hurt when I laugh, my coffee mug feels like a 10 pound weight, and my quads burn on the stairs... time for a rest day.

As for the new challenge... I joined a group of friends and friends-of-friends-of-friends for a "Biggest Loser" style challenge.  There is a small fee to join and money prizes for largest percentages of weight loss in 16 weeks.  The hubs joined as well after he took it home with a win on the last challenge.

Not surprisingly, I didn't get a ringing endorsement with those that I've mentioned the challenge to.  I realize that I really can't drop a huge percentage of my body weight, and I've conceded I won't be racing for the win.  I don't consider myself overweight, and I'm not in it to win it!

I'm in it for the motivation to get healthier and commit to a gym routine.  I am way too awesome at talking myself out of stopping at the gym after work.  Weekly weigh-ins will keep me accountable.  I also like the idea of tackling a healthier lifestyle with the hubs.  It makes things so much easier when neither of us is asking for nightly pizza or ice cream!  

I did let myself have one last indulgent ice cream bar before weighing in last week... and a huge root beer and an entire order of crab rangoon.  If you've haven't had one of these Costco ice cream bars, you really aren't enjoying life to the fullest.  For the dozens of times I've eaten at Costco, I don't know how it took this long to discover this little slice of heaven.  Hand-dipped in chocolate and almonds- sign me up!
Half eaten before I paused long enough to take a picture.
Half the bar is half as big as my steering wheel!  And for $1.50 you too can have half your daily calorie intake (870 by the way).  Despite calories, it was so hard for me to walk out of there yesterday without an ice cream bar to eat on my way home.  I ate applesauce instead... disappointingly so.

Question of the day: What's your favorite way throw your healthy-eating caution to the wind?
That ice cream bar ranks right  up top right now!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A return with staying power

Life has been busy and exciting full of family, friends, and as many weddings as we could possibly handle in recent weeks! I even found a little time to squeeze in working... running my first half marathon... and embarking on some other exciting new adventures.  All of which I will share more about later I'm sure.

For now, I'm just enjoying that my place of work is closed tomorrow, and I can ignore my usual 9:00 bedtime.  You get pretty lame as a nighttime party animal when you wake up at 5am.  

I don't think I'll ever stop loving the perk of getting to follow a school schedule either.  My next three work weeks are only 3 days each... before I start the countdown to Christmas "vacation".  Thankfully Unfortunately(?) we've also already had our first 2-hour delay of the year.  I felt like a little kid all over again, watching the school names scrolling across the tv screen and hoping to see mine pop up.  Modern technology kind of ruins that moment though when I get the text message alert first.  I would never complain about 2 hours to sleep in though, regardless of how I hear about it!

Though the pretty leaves have long blown away, we are having some unseasonably warm weather continuing into tomorrow that might be just perfect for a mid-day run.  One more reason to love a weekday off.
Yes, running in a cemetery.  It was an oddly comforting place for a run, and the foliage made it outright gorgeous!  The iphone pics don't even do the colors justice.

Where is the oddest place you've laced up your running shoes?

Monday, September 17, 2012


I found my new favorite place to run.  It's the second treadmill on the right.  There's nothing fancy about, or really anything different at all compared to the other 20 treadmills I could run on.

The only special thing is that I can see the reflection of my feet in the window.  Right.  Left.  Right.  Left.  I never would have imagined that's where I would find running inspiration, in a window reflection.  It has been such a push for me the last few weeks though, watching myself just put one foot in front of the other.  When I finish a mile I can look at my reflection and know that those feet can take me one more.

I was walking on clouds after today's run.  I'm not a strong psychological runner; my head convinces me I need a break long before my body really needs it.  Not today.  Today I cranked out 6 miles at a good (for me) pace, and it felt incredible.  No tv and little people-watching, just watching the reflection of my feet in the window for an hour.  And I loved every second of it.
I think my print screen skills need some help
Question of the Day: Where have  you found unexpected inspiration and motivation?  To run, or for anything else?

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I think I've finally started to settle into my post-graduate life.  With a school-based position, it has been a hectic and fast adjustment to the new job with the start of a new school year.  We are starting into the 4th week of school already though, and it's going so fast!

While getting summers and school holidays off is the obvious perk to working for a school.  I'm finding new perks on a daily basis..

- I drive by Costco on my way home every day.  The nearest of our dearest Costco's is 30 minutes away, but now conveniently on the drive home.  Clearly a weekly stop is necessary.  Now all I need is a conveyor belt to move my purchases from car to kitchen.  I hate carrying groceries...
What I drool over before heading for the fresh fruit and veggies.
- My butt is out the door at work at 3:30 every day.  It's like I've discovered the holy grail of extra time, extra hours magically appearing every day.  It is such an incredible change from getting off at 7pm!

- I work 5 minutes from a lovely and spacious YMCA.  It's busy enough to give me good people watching while I run, but it's quiet enough that there are always plenty of open treadmills.

- When it cools off a little more, I can also use the cute town I work in to take after-work runs.  It boasts a major piece that my own neighborhood lacks... sidewalks!  Oh, and the best frozen custard ever.

- The frozen custard joint next to the YMCA also serves Mexican food.  Mexican+Custard = Heaven.  Don't doubt it until you try it!  I've successfully resisted stopping here for 3 weeks, but I imagine one day I'll just really need it and it will be there to save the day.

- The hubs bought me a cute new messenger bag for me to carry back and forth to work (that matches my gym bag), and I treated myself to a new lunchbox.  With breakfast and coffee in hand, I feel like I am moving when I leave my house every morning.
6am move out every morning
Question of the Day: What are your work hours?  Pre or post work workouts?
I work 7:30-3:30.  With an hour long commute, I can pretty much guarantee that morning workouts will never, ever happen.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Color Me Rad(dest)

Last weekend I met up with a long-time friend for the Color Me Rad race in Pittsburgh.  For the record, packet pick up was at a hotel 5 minutes from my house, and there's hard to find a negative in that set up.  Free parking, no wait time, and super friendly people.  The shirts are cotton but a female fit and impressively cute.  

I was running, and the hubs tagged along to document the mess.  The morning started early and was kicked off with 2.5 hours of traffic including closed ramps, closed roads, and the hubs requesting that I please do not yell out the window to tell the state trooper just how stupid he was.  We finally made it there 45 minutes after my wave time... that's 15 minutes after the last wave was supposed to start.  It was a whole super annoying ordeal just getting to the location, which unfortunately was at a remote fairground instead of the actual city, after it had originally been planned for downtown.

The good news?  The people at Color Me Rad are pretty much, apparently, just flat out awesome.  They kept sending out wave after wave of runners long past when it was supposed to have ended.  And the finish line party was still rocking even when we left.  The Color Me Rad group later said the city of Pittsburgh had rescinded the permit they had originally granted, so not entirely their fault that logistics were rough.  They also seemed to be super generous with anyone that complained or ended up missing out.

The bottom line of this "race"?  It's pretty much the most fun you'll ever have in 5 kilometers.  We walked the course for various reasons and found most people were walking or leisurely jogging at best.  There were people complaining about it being too hard to run and whining about PRs.  They should have realized they were in the wrong place.  This "race" is all about the fun.  There were also all age groups, kiddos in strollers, etc.  There is also no timing, but there were cute little mini bottled waters around halfway.
The group at the finish line.  Why do I look so much radder messier than everyone else?
Who wants a high five?  Hug?
Suz and I
Socks and shoes are no match for blue corn starch.  This also happened to  be the hardest spot to get clean!
Having a blast at the finish line!

Custom color shoes come as a free bonus... those were once the same color.  When I went shopping for new running shoes this week (and brought my old pair with me like any good little runner should do), the friendly workers were briefly confused.  They were sure they'd never seen a pair of Wave Riders in that color before.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thank you, again

I talked here about my antisocial gym habits and complained about people that try to strike up gym conversations even when I have my earbuds in.  In light of that, I think it's only fair to share the much different experience that I had on Tuesday afternoon.  Giving some credit where it's due.

I officially started my half-marathon training on Monday; day two called for 3 miles.  Since there's no way I can spend such little time at the gym once I'm there, I followed my run with a 45 minute upper body and core strength session.

After I finished up my sweat session, I was sitting up front changing out my shoes, and I had already taken my buds out.  A guy walking by gave an approving nod and simply said "You were killing it!"  A second guy nearby threw in a, "Yeah, most women won't even touch real weights.  That's awesome to see."

And that was it.  I walked out of the gym with my head held a little higher.  I told both of them thank you, but I felt like I should go tell them again.  Thank you for respecting women in the gym, for what they can do and not what they look like.  For saying only things that should be said.  For knowing when to make conversation, when to give a compliment, and when to keep your mouth shut.  Gentlemen, take note.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Future planning

I've been planning for the future.  It has come with hours of internet research, dozens of calendar revisions, and a few dollars spent.  I finally have a solid plan, and I couldn't be more excited.  The future plans?  They're for my next race!

After finishing the hot Pittsburgh Marathon in May, I was itching to sign up for another race immediately.  Knowing my heat tolerance though, I knew waiting for fall was the best choice.  Unfortunately Fortunately, we have a calendar full of exciting weekend events this fall.  This includes 5 weddings and all of the showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners, and out of town trips that go with them.  Super-busy-Fall-season.

Every marathon or half I found landed on the morning of or following a wedding.  Though I could have done this, I really didn't want to rush things.  I like to enjoy that getting ready and everything that comes along with weddings, and I want to enjoy race day without rushing off to another event.

I finally found the holy grail in a half marathon just north of home.  Miraculously, it falls on a rare, completely free weekend!  So I am signed up and ready to start training for the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon.

First Half Marathon = guaranteed PR. Hello downhill; it will be nice to see you!
Now to get my training started now that I'm almost back to normal post-wisdom teeth removal!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A life of new beginnings

With my board exam finally a thing of the past, I have been left with lots of extra minutes in my days.  I have been studying for more than 3 years straight.  Is it possible to feel lost because you have nothing to study for?

Thankfully, there were plenty of new adventures on the horizon:

I started a new job!  Before I was even officially licensed, I had started my new physical therapist position.  I am a school-based physical therapist, and I was blessed enough to get a position that allows me to work in only one school.  I've worked two weeks for ESY and now have a month off again before the school year starts. That's a lot more days to spend in the pool before the end of summer!
4th of July with the fam.  I do see the sun frequently; I just love my  sunscreen too.
I've been party planning.  My sister's nuptials are creeping up faster and faster.  As matron of honor, I am in the midst of some super fun party planning!  I put it off until after my exam, so I am now having tons of fun planning an August bridal shower and September bachelorette party.  I also had way too much fun wedding shoe shopping.  Thank you Aldo for an awesome sale; I will now have 6 pairs of shoes showing up at my front door.
The super cute barn where we are having the shower.  Photo credit to
Question of the Day:  Are you a bridal shower lover or hater?  Things you enjoy or dread about attending a shower?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Prepping for the NPTE aka Boards

If you're not headed toward or in PT school you probably just want to skip over this post and return to your normal programming.

Let me preface this post by saying that you have to sign your life away a billion times swearing on your life that you won't share any information about the exam with any person ever, even if you're life depends on it.  I wouldn't be surprised if you lose your license just for thinking about exam questions too much.  (Kidding, sort of)  You are also photographed and electronically fingerprinted on site when testing.  They mean business.  So on that note, I only plan to share what I did to prepare for the exam, period.

Timing: I had thought I would have liked an earlier exam date, but ~9 weeks after graduation seemed to be good timing in the end.  I enjoyed a lazy/fun month after graduation, and I think it was a good mental break.  I pretended to start studying early on, but I didn't get serious until about 5 weeks before the exam.  Had I scheduled the next available date, a few weeks later, I probably would have just started studying a few weeks later, but wouldn't have studied any longer.

Materials: The only book I used was O'Sullivan.  I borrowed an old version from a PT friend that tested last year.  I suspect it made no difference that the book wasn't the most current.  The upside was that it was free; the downside was that she couldn't find the CD with the practice exams.  They probably would have been a nice supplement, but the questions are all printed in the book too.  I also purchased the PEAT exams from FSBPT.  I figured this was the closest I could get to simulating the real deal.  I briefly referenced some other texts, but it was minimal.

(ETA 7/27:  Oops, I left something out!  I also purchased the Scorebuilders Content Master app.  It sells for $29.99 for the Ipad.  It comes with categorized content as well as 750 test questions.  I purchased it specifically for the questions and did not use the content at all.  These are my thoughts while I was using it.  The pro was that it was portable; I was studying on long car rides, at my parents house, by the pool, in the dentist waiting room, anywhere.  I could do 25 questions here or there when I had a little time.  The questions also provided explanations when you reviewed your answers.  The only downside I found was that some of the terminology was unfamiliar.  It wasn't incorrect by any means, just a different approach than my own education and O'Sullivan.  I also felt there were questions that were either poorly worded or focused on non-critical material.  For example, there were questions asking how many items were on a given standardized assessment.  Totally unnecessary knowledge.  I don't think it was a wasted purchase, but there is so much potential for it to be a much better resource than it is.)

Study Plan: Before I began my studying, I took the first PEAT exam and scored a 71%.  I then read every page of O'Sullivan, though not necessarily in order.  I skipped around depending on what I felt like reading about, but hit every page once.  Some days I spent 5 hours with my book, some days none at all.  I didn't center my life around studying every day, and that worked for me.  Three days before the exam, I took the second PEAT.  I scored a 67% and freaked out a little.  In the last two days I took time to review basics such as cranial nerves, wound dressings, and other things I would kick myself for forgetting.

The Last Minute: I attempted to get to sleep a little early the night before.  I slept a little but woke up frequently during the night.  Each wake-up was preceded by a nightmare about something going wrong.  Most involved my car breaking down on the way to the test center or me sitting down at the computer and forgetting absolutely everything I've ever learned.  Thankfully I had been getting plenty of sleep in the preceding days, despite having a nasty case of bronchitis (Yeah, that really happened like 5 days before the exam, and I freaked out that I would need my inhaler during the exam and wouldn't be able to have it because I hadn't requested the accommodation ahead of time.  Not an issue thankfully.)

The Morning of: I was lucky to have a Prometric center within minutes of my house.  I was only given an 8am start option, and was thankful for that time.  They did open afternoon time slots, but I prefer morning.  After nightmares of my car breaking down, I left really early even though it was only a 10 minute drive.  (My car battery actually did die the day after the exam; I thanked it for waiting 24 hours!)   I took a few minutes to relax in my car when I got there and was still the first person in the waiting room.  You are signed in and able to start testing in the order that you arrive- so I was even more thankful that I arrived early.  The sooner that 5 hours begins, the sooner it is over!

... and the rest is history.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happy dancing for the NPTE

Truth is, I've been hiding out.

As my board exam (NPTE) on July 2nd drew closer I started to regret telling so many people about it.  Between blogging, Facebook, neighbors, family, and friends... I was starting to feel the pressure build.  I knew I had studied my butt off, but I wasn't feeling very confident in the days leading up to it.  I may have had nightmares about having to tell everyone that I failed and was going to have to work at McDonald's with my Doctorate degree.

For the future PTs that care, I'll get an NPTE focused post up later, but let's just skip ahead to the important part.

I found out yesterday that I PASSED!  I have never had such a feeling of total relief; the weight that was lifted off of me is inexplicable.  I am an officially licensed PT, DPT, and I started my new job this week too.  More on that later too.  For now I'm just enjoying not studying and not stressing!

I also told the hubs that passing my boards made me the happiest I've ever been.
Ok, ok, so that was a pretty happy day too.  We celebrated our 5 year anniversary this past weekend!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Perks to studying for the NPTE

The NPTE (ie. boards) will officially be over a week from now.  I dare not disclose how nervous, confident, or otherwise I am until it's well over and results are in.  I am just really looking forward to it being something in my past instead of my impending future.

For now, I'm just studying like it's my full-time job, and my hobby, and what I do in my sleep.  I'm on pace though, so I've at least thwarted a total meltdown, so far.

The secret though is that there are some perks to studying all the time:

1. I finally have time to paint my nails.  I never paint them because I can never sit still long enough to let them dry.  I was also trying to keep them "interview appropriate" until now.  Now, base coat, study, 1st coat, study, 2nd coat, study, top coat, study... and done.  Too bad I won't leave the house for anyone to see them.

2. I am totally getting my money's worth out of my deck furniture.  I've bee spending 3 hours a day breaking in my deck furniture since I put it up a few weeks ago.  It will be all warmed up for some serious relaxing when I'm ready!

3. I've all but abandoned "real" clothes in favor of comfy duds and the occasional bikini.  It's hot on the deck!  I would totally understand if someone studying for boards went a few days without showering.  I shower because I'd like it when the hubs is willingly in the same room as me.  If it weren't for him...
Official study uniform.
I did give in and cleaned up that laziness for a birthday celebration at Hofbrauhaus last weekend though.  That was pretty much my only brush with society though, outside of running necessary errands.
Photo credit to the person behind the birthday girl's camera.
PS- I paid $10 for that outfit at Loft; I really adore sale racks.

And for all the PT/fitness/running nerds, I have to share a close up of this shirt.
Aren't they cutest little endorphins you've ever seen?

Whether it was high school or college- where did/do you like to study?  Library, outside, coffee shops, home on the couch?
I prefer outside, with Starbucks/Panera coming in a close but less-economical second.  I'm pretty useless on my couch.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A milkshake never tasted so good

This little cup has been the highlight of my day.  I had to endure an endodontist appointment this morning.  (Take care of your teeth kids- root canals are no fun!)  That was followed by a TB test and FBI fingerprinting for a new job.  It was also "sweat on the eyelids" kind of hot outside, and I did a lot of walking.
Milkshake only- I'll spare you the pictures of my crooked smile.
With 90+ temps and my mouth still half numb from anesthesia, the obvious treat was a cappuccino milkshake from the best ice cream shop in Pittsburgh the world. Seriously, if you are ever in the Pittsburgh area, you deserve a visit to Dave & Andy's.  If you're not hungry, just walk by to smell the fresh waffle cones; even that would be worth the trip.  

My favorite ever flavor is the black raspberry cookies and cream.  Yes, that's just one flavor, and I highly recommend it.  There are new flavors all the time though, lots you've probably never seen anywhere before.

Disclaimer: I am a physical therapist; not a dentist.  A dentist would probably advise against immediately bathing your teeth in creamy, sugary, coffee flavored goodness minutes after a dental procedure.  Probably.

Now back to studying for the afternoon.  Though I'd much rather be back where I was yesterday afternoon...

Monday, June 18, 2012

99 Workout

I had seen the "99 Workout" popping up a lot on Pinterest.  The image drew me in with the whimsical colors and fun layout.  How hard can something be if it's that pretty?
Don't be fooled.  This workout means business.  It was well into the 80s outside, so I swapped the run for 11 minutes on the elliptical in the AC instead.  I followed it to a "t" aside form that though, and finished in just about 65 minutes.  It felt tough while going through the reps, but despite being red and sweaty I didn't feel exhausted at the end.  Let's be honest though, 99 reps of anything is going to feel tough while you're doing it!

Totals: 484 jumping jacks, 484 crunches, 484 leg lifts, 44 pushups, and a just over 8 minutes of wall sit... plus a 11 minute cardio burst to top it off.  Not too shabby for a quick 60 minute workout!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter.... surprise

The best study fuel is obviously that made of chocolate and stuffed with peanut butter.  I saw a picture of these sweet little treats on Pinterest and knew I needed to make immediately.  Literally, I carried my Ipad straight from the couch to the kitchen and got to work within seconds of seeing a picture.
My study fuel, and sub-par photography skills.
They are heavenly.  So heavenly that I sent more than a dozen to work with the hubs and tried to pawn them off on my family that stopped over to visit.  I could have eaten all 36 cookies myself, in a day, without even trying.

I found the amazing recipe HERE, and surprisingly made very few changes.  I used Dark Chocolate peanut butter in the chocolate dough and chunky JIF in the filling instead of the creamy.  That was the only change, and they're incredibly tasty.

17 days and counting left to study for my board exam... I think I need about 17 more batches of these cookies...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Antisocial gym-going

I am pretty antisocial once I set foot in the gym.  Sure, I'm at least polite and friendly if someone smiles, but I'm not out to make friends.  I'm here to get my sweat on, alone.

I put in my earbuds as soon as I walk in the door, and I don't take them out until I'm changing out of my shoes.  I'm even guilty of keeping my earbuds in even if my charge has died.  It's pretty much the opposite of when I run outside, which I've absolutely never done with music.
All sweaty- and the earbuds just came out.
I like to drown out all of the noises.  The gossipers and cell phone talkers, the squeaking and clunking of cardio equipment, the Bigfoot-esque thumping on the treadmill, and what's usually awful music that the gym has pumping through their own system.  Not to judge, but one of the gyms I frequent is guilty of blaring Spice Girls circa 1998.  Another (very small) gym I go to has 4 TVs, all usually playing different stations at a "just loud enough to bug you" volume.

I like that it gets me in the zone, hearing nothing my tunes in my ears.  It pumps me up, keeps me going, and helps me block out anything else that I may have "carried in" with me at the end of the day.

And the last reason, and one I sometimes almost feel guilty about, is that I just don't want to talk to you.  Whoever you are, other people working out around me, I don't really want to strike up conversation while I get my sweat on.  Sometimes I can tell that people are talking out loud anyways, hoping someone will respond, but I can't really hear them anyways.

Sometimes people talk anyways though, and I promise I don't bite their heads off no matter how badly I sometimes want to yell "Can't you tell I'm not as friendly as I look!?".  Usually it's just a polite question of whether I'm done with a piece of equipment, which I always appreciate.  Other frequent chatters include guys asking how the Pigeon pose isn't incredibly painful, or someone commenting on not having the balance to do Bosu squats.
Photo Credit:
A friendly middle-aged man made that Bosu squat comment yesterday, saying he had no idea what the "thing" even was until he saw me squatting and lunging on it (FYI- hundreds of other things you can do with a Bosu!).  I made the mistake of mentioning that I'm a PT, and that we use them with patients a lot.   I tried to not be rude and get back to my workout while he chatted about his own ailments and upcoming surgery.  It's not that I don't care, or even that I'm not interested, I actually kinda dig hearing those stories.  But not between my sets at the gym.

Where am I going with this?  I know some people are just natural extroverts that love to chat up strangers, and some people go to the gym specifically to socialize (especially when the Silver Sneakers crowd rolls in).  I can't blame those people, and I can't say that a gym would be a bad place to meet someone if you're single.  But I've witnessed some chatters that just don't realize when their intruding on someone else's workout.  One chatter in particular yesterday kept talking to a 20-something girl that clearly wasn't interested in chatting.  It's like personal boundaries just disappear for some people.

I don't see me dropping my earbuds and trying to not look too friendly habits anytime soon.  I like my space, I don't need a date, and you can chat to me about your carpal tunnel later.  For now, I'm getting my sweat on solo.

Question of the Day: Are you a solo sweater?  Gym chatter (I won't judge!)?  Block it out with earbuds?  Anyone else get as irrationally annoyed by chatters?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cucumber Salad

What happens when you are home studying on a Saturday night, and your hubs is off shooting a wedding?  You make a large container of cucumber salad and call it dinner.  Partly because it is so yummy on a hot day, but also because I doubt the hubs would touch it.  It was delicious, but it was (not surprisingly) not terribly filling either.  So it was followed by a few leftover chicken mozz raviolis.
Please ignore the "I just studied in the sun for 3 hours" flush and exhaustion, thanks.
The salad is super easy to make, perfect summer food, and if the calorie calculator was right, the whole bowl only had ~63 calories.  Not too shabby for a side-dish, since most people wouldn't eat the whole thing themselves like I did anyway.
- One medium/large cucumber thinly the sliced (the thinner the better!)
- A quarter of a large onion, sliced (I don't eat much of the actual onion but it makes the flavor!)
- A "splash" of vinegar
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Lots of salt to taste (I am super generous with the salt in this recipe BUT I know, personally, that my sodium is always a bit low and I can afford and can benefit from the little extra- not everyone can)

3 Steps:
- Mix it all together
- Let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour or so, and it's even better the next day if it lasts that long
- Eat!

Question of the Day: Any foods the are pure summer foods for you?  Cucumber salad and tomato salad top my list!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Your hip bone's connected to your...

Most people think they know where their joints are: hips, knees, ankles, toes, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers.  There's another little joint that most people don't know exists until it starts to dysfunction.  Ok, yes, there are a bunch of others as well, but that's not the point of this post.

The joints I'm talking about, and those I've been left awkwardly icing for the last few days are the Sacroiliac Joints, or SI Joints.  It means sitting on an ice pack by the way.
Inside the red oval- one on each side.
I got tangled up with another player during my soccer game Thursday night, stood up, but when I tried to walk away I fell back to my knees in pain.  All I knew was that my sacrum hurt, a lot.  I stepped off the field, slowly, and tried to stretch it out with no luck.  It hurt to sit, so I spent the rest of the game cheering from the boards.

I've been icing, stretching, and resting.  I may head to gym for some upper body strengthening later, but that will be the unfortunate extent at least for today.  And even that's probably not the wisest choice.  Even the most mundane tasks like picking up something from the floor or walking down the stairs can send quite a twinge of pain.

You see, the SI joint is a tricky joint.  It doesn't just move one bone or one limb; it's the core of so many movements.  It joins your sacrum, the most distal spine, to your pelvis.  The pelvis is home to your hip joint, and the chain goes on.  That "hip bone's connected to your knee bone" song really has some truth to it.  If you're back or legs are moving- chances are that your SI joints are in on it too.

I'm less than 48 hours post-injury so I don't even dare venture a guess at what's going on.  Sprain, strain, a little bruising, something worse, something better- who knows.  My SI joints (L more so than R) are just letting me know they're there.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Amidst all the fun of hot sunny weather, pool time, and cookouts.... reality has been hanging out in the background.  The reality that is that I'll be sitting for my board exam in less than a month.  It means many more hours/days/weeks of studying, taking 5 hour practice exams, and then sitting through what's sure to be the toughest exam I've ever had the pleasure of tackling.

This would explain why I spent Friday evening on my deck.
With nothing but this monstrosity of paper keeping me company.  Ok, and a little cold beverage too.
At least it was a nice warm summery night.  I've always loved studying outside, and now that I've finally finished my deck it is my perfect little secluded naturey study spot.  The only distraction is playing "Guess what animal is making that sound"; oh, did I just make that game up?
That's the view off my deck.  My backyard is home to entire families of deer and turkeys, but I can see downtown from my front windows... and drive there in 5 minutes.  It reminds me of what makes the city of Pittsburgh so incredibly fantastic.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Running on sugar

I've started working again part time, just a day or two each week.  While I missed having a routine to get up for each day, I don't miss some of the little perks of days full of doing whatever I want.

Like making french toast for breakfast in the middle of the week, usually a weekend only treat.
Who doesn't love syrup puddles.
With cinnamon bread to make it even more amazing.
I only give in to this craving on occasion, but this stuff is amazing.
And doing that at least 2 days in a row.

After the sugar overload yesterday morning though, I did get myself to the gym to celebrate National Running Day.  I spent 30 minutes doing intervals on the TM before a 45 minute strength session.  It was my first run since the marathon, almost exactly a month prior.  It felt good, but it felt hard!  I felt in shape, but not running shape.

Monday was P90x chest and back, Tuesday was P90x plyo, gym yesterday, and soccer game tonight.  After a lazy few post-marathon weeks, I'm finally getting back my healthy habits.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Perception and Perspective

It's hard not compare yourself to others, or be compared by others.  How we see ourselves in light of others can get a bit distorted as much as the way we are seen by others.  It's an interesting dynamic that plays out in our heads.  It can be good for motivation, but it can be hard to fight the negative too.

I was reminded of this last weekend while talking to my parents about my marathon time.  My mom said "Well, you still finished faster than half the people, right?  I would think you would."  Thanks mom, but I actually finished in the slowest 20%.  To my mom, a non-runner, I seem like I should have kicked that marathon's butt.  To other non-runners, it's an impressive feat that's usually admired.  I know loads of people that have run marathons though, and it's easily to lose sight that, hey, this really isn't a normal accomplishment.  I forget that even if I'm slow, the last person to finish still finished!  Millions of others never will.

Sometimes I like to compare myself to other runners though, and I like to know how much faster they are; it helps to motivate me.  I read a good amount of running blogs.  While I find comfort in similar runners, I get more out of reading about the speedy girls.  I want to know they run 5 miles at pace I can't keep for a fraction of that.  I like knowing this is the 5th marathon or their 10th this year.  I like knowing I  have such a gap to jump and what seems like endless room to improve.

Comparing your achievements can become overwhelming though, when the challenge becomes self-defeat.  Grad school can have a way of making you feel like you know nothing.  You are learning plenty, sure, but the exams are harder and expectations are higher than anything that has come before.  In PT school, I found myself getting caught up in comparisons with classmates.  Who had more right answers, better grades, and on and on.  It became so easy to forget what I was accomplishing.  Um, hi, you can call me Dr. ZestyNerd.  I've had to remind myself often to not lose sight of that.

I think it's the surrounding ourselves with such similar people that really emphasizes this.  A doctorate degree feels like no big deal when the 53 people you see every day are doing the exact same thing.  And then you realize how much you've accomplished to get there.  When you are running a marathon with thousands of other people, it's easy to forget how many millions of people you've lapped on the couch.  When you start comparing what you have with others, you start to forget about all you've got (is that a song lyric?).  This reminds me of the petty girls that compare the size of engagement rings too- pretty sure they've lost sight of where they're at too.

So what can we do to keep, essentially, our heads on straight.  How do you see things without the distortion?  How do you challenge your mind and body without defeating both?  Where can you strike that balance without becoming complacent?

It works different for everyone.  Keep an open mind and run (figuratively) with a diverse group of friends.  (I think this is the point where I am obligated to turn cliche)  We are all unique with interesting quirks, qualities, and hobbies.  Celebrate it, share it, and explore it.  When we surround ourselves with people that are just-like-us it can make us lose sight of who we are meant to be.  And when your family wants to put you on a pedestal because they think you're just that awesome- go ahead and let them.  They might just have a thing or two to teach you.

Friday, May 25, 2012

2012 Pittsburgh Marathon: Part Two

The first mile flew by in what felt like seconds while I took everything in.  I knew that I didn't want to get caught up in the excitement and take off too fast, and I kept the first few miles all within my "happy range".  For every runner taking off and weaving ahead of me, there were two more walking along at snail pace.  This almost made it impossible to go out too fast.

Somewhere near the 2 mile marker I finally settled into a rhythm and took in what I was about to do, and something totally unexpected happened.  I started to tear up a little bit.  I never took this endeavor as an emotional journey, but this was this first of many teary eyes that morning.

I hit the first water station and threw down a cold glass of water in big gulps.  I regretted this before it even hit my stomach and gagged.  I took a disposable bottle with a flip lid with me to the start.  I figured I would sip before the race and carry it with me the first few miles to skip congested water stations.  I ended up holding onto it until the final mile, tossing it somewhere past mile 25.

After the first, I took a Gatorade to drink at every station.  I also grabbed 1-2 waters to drink or had my disposable bottle refilled each time.  I used the bottle to sip and pour over my head and down my neck and sports bra between stations.  Yeah, it really got that hot.  I think I was actually pretty close to perfectly hydrated throughout; really happy with how I did in that respect.

During mile 2 (or was it 3?) I came up behind one of the hub's friends and his fiancee running the half.  We chatted for a few before I took off ahead to keep pace, only to be passed by them minutes later.

After crossing the second bridge around mile 4.5, I passed the hubs for the first time.  Things were still pretty congested, but I stayed to the left to look for him.  He gave me a thumbs up and a face that expected answer; I gave him a thumbs up back.  He caught my favorite pic of the day, and seeing him gave me such a pick me up, even though it was early in the race.
Feeling food at mile 4.5
The first 7 miles went much of the same, with a comfortable and consistent pace before hitting the West End.  I slowed it down to a walk then to take my first gel.  There were no gels provided until mile 12, so I had pinned one inside the front of my shorts and tucked one in the back pocket.  I also pinned a pack of sport beans inside my front waistband as well.  This worked out surprisingly well.  No problems with scratching or chafing; I didn't even notice they were there while running.  Way better than the the Banjee I had tried, and the idea of a belt is just so unappealing.

I walked the entirety of mile 7 in about 14:00 and then picked it back up to my "happy pace" until I reached the Birmingham Bridge and the Forbes Ave climb.  I switched to short walks between bouts of running but maintained "happy pace" through mile 11.  I hit 13.1 pretty much right on 2:30, and I was happy to have kept my reach goal pace for at least the first half.

I was really starting to feel the heat climb at this point, and was starting to seek out shade wherever I could once I hit 5th Ave.  I was happy to be running in familiar territory too; I had run this stretch on every long run while training.  When I reached the turn onto South Aiken around mile 14 I spotted a few port-a-potties with no lines, and deciding now was as good of a time as ever to make a quick stop.  This is when I laughed that while it's good to monitor your urine color while distance running, you can't do this in a port-a-potty.

I followed up the port-a-potty stop with my second gel, one that I had picked up earlier.  Miles 14 to 23ish are pretty much just a blur.  I alternated between running when I could and walking when I had to.  Somewhere along the way, my hips started to really tighten up.  It was like someone put tourniquets around the top of each leg and kept tightening them each mile.  It wasn't painful, but it felt physically restricting.  I took my third gel, the one from my back pocket around mile 20 or 21.

I ran through every sprinkler, hose, and fire hydrant I saw and dumped as much water over my head as I drank after mile 14.  I've never handled the heat well, even when not doing strenuous activity.  I've landed in the ER with dehydration and fainting more than once, and I really just wanted to finish the marathon on my two feet!  If I started to feel overheated or the slightest lightheaded feeling, I slowed it to a walk and cooled with water before picking up the pace again.  Some may consider my approach overcautious, but my main goal was to finish and this was the way to do it for me.  I also picked up some pretzels and oranges from friendly strangers- best-tasting-orange slices-ever!

I'm not a chatty runner, which is why I'm always happy to run solo.  There is a point somewhere in a marathon though, where you need a little extra distraction.  A older gentleman struck up conversation as we passed the Bloomfield Bridge.  This was his 12th marathon, having started running not that many years before.  We discussed how I could run home and he could run back to his son's house faster than we could get to the finish line at this point.  Then I took off ahead a bit.

The long stretch through the Strip District was hot, really hot, and empty.  The running crowd was pretty sparse and aside from the officers guarding closed streets, not much support either.  It was a rough stretch.  I came up on a 20-something girl that looked to really be struggling.  She asked me if I knew our time; she was certain we were going to get swept before making it to the finish, and her knees were hating her.  I tried to encourage her, ensured her she wasn't going to be swept, and shouted once last good luck before picking it up to a jog again.  I saw her pass by a few minutes later with another young girl pushing her with encouragement.  Somewhere in the Strip, I  ate half of my sport beans and threw the rest on ground.
Um, I think that's my pain face...
I finally made my way into downtown, and I was really excited to see hubs at mile 25.  I also swore to myself that I would start running as soon as I saw him in sight.  It hurt, a lot, but I did it.  He shouted some encouraging words as I went by, but I was back to a walk after a few more yards.  Less than 2 miles has never seemed so far.  I walked most of the way down Smithfield Street before my saving grace came up beside me.
Running into 25, and there's even a little shade!
I don't know who she was, or even really what she looked like, but she came up beside me and said something along the lines of, "You have to run no matter how small the steps are.  You're too close to be walking!"  Without even turning around, off I went running with her words replaying over and over in my head.

When I turned onto the Boulevard, I was overcome with emotion.  I wanted to cry.  Cry tears of pride for what I was about to accomplish.  Tears of relief that the end was in sight.  Tears of pain because my body just hurt so very bad.  And tears of anger for those darn race people that put an uphill (I don't care how small it was!) in the stretch to the finish.  If anyone caught a picture of me in the last half mile, I'm sure it was ugly.  My legs felt like they might fall off at the hip, breathing was increasingly difficult, and I thought it not out of the question that I might just trip and fall on my face trying to finish strong.

I crossed the finish line running though, which was another goal of mine, but I was hyperventilating, bad.  Not just short of breath, but legitimate hyperventilation from pushing so hard that last half mile.  I was able to calm myself though and pulled myself together.  I was handed my medal and then a girl with a gallon of water asked "In a cup or over your head?"  I stretched my arms out and tilted my head forward.  She laughed, and the water was so wonderfully cold.  It was amazing.  I downed a glass of Gatorade and headed for the food.

I grabbed 2 bagels, a banana, and 2 smiley cookies before heading out of the chute and down to the corner to meet the hubs.  The banana, a bagel, and a cookie disappeared almost immediately.  I took a seat on a wall while I waited, and shared lots of congratulations as other runners walked by.  When the hubs made it to me, I instantly regretted having sat down.  Getting back on my feet was so hard!  We made the short walk to the car in record-slow time.  There is no other way to describe my post-marathon waddle as anything but walking with a stick up my butt.  That's just a fact.

And on that note- marathon #1 was complete.  Time to recover... and eat!