Is there a Doctor in the building???

I wish! I need some mental healing after this week.

As some of you may know, I am a graduate student working on a PhD in research science. My subject of interest is Molecular Medicine and Translational Science. . .yes, I get the same headache you do from reading that! Not to mention my work environment is not the easiest. My mentor and I suffer from disparagingly different personalities and communication methods. Over the past 6 months we have had to learn to work with each other to keep the work environment friendly. I am proud to say that I have not given up on my goal of getting this degree and instead taking the easy way out by simply walking away.

As a Black woman, the message “I deserve better” was ingrained in me by my strong single mother, my education, my environment, even society (whether by directly portraying or crying out against the contrary). And in my life, I was afforded the luxury of being able to simply walk away from situations and circumstances where I was not being heard, treated respectfully, or talked to in a way that was useful to me. I had bigger and better opportunities lined up. But when the discomfort of this PhD process reared its ugly head, I found myself for the first time NOT in a position where I could just move on to bigger and better. This was SUPPOSED to be the bigger and better! Maybe life had been a little too kind to me, because while deliberating my decision to leave or stay, I realized that this lesson in succeeding under someone else’s terms is just as important as succeeding on your own terms, if not MORE important. “I deserve better” is not an entitlement. I still have to earn it, prove it, and work for it.

Being in a work environment that takes up 94.7% of my time (just under statistical significance) makes balancing life all the more difficult. So when I got news that my 88 and 1/2 year young Grandaddy had to get a pacemaker, I was rattled. Multiply that by the fact that he lives clear across the entire USofA AND the fact that I don’t feel comfortable enough in my work environment to let anyone know the burden I am carrying. . .I nearly freaked. And when he suffered major side effects and setbacks. . .I had all but lost it.

Despite my constant prayers and faith that he would be okay, I was fading into a numbness to protect my sanity. I was falling into a routine of waiting for news and updating my support army. And a mighty army is what they are! I received constant encouragement, help, care! One friend was at the ready to get me on a plane home (shout out to PED). Another friend blessed me daily with encouragement (shout out to SB). Several friends answered my calls every time I dialed their numbers, no matter the time of day or night (shout out to HMW, KMT, RDB). Someone showered me with virtual hugs (shout out to JF), others answered my questions about devices, treatments, and conditions that even remotely related to my Grandaddy (shout out to JG, JDU/RU), and many prayed for my Grandaddy and me (shout out to my facebook fam/friends)!

The great thing about prayer and faith is that they truly work! My Grandaddy is recovering and is almost back to 100% and I was able to balance my responsibilities without missing a beat. I didn’t miss work, still worked out, and even filmed a video for an upcoming project (details coming soon!!!).

Although I am not a Doctor (of philosophy) yet, and the doctors on my Grandaddy’s medical team weren’t perfect, the Good Doctor above was in the building (and still is!).

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*Disclaimer: I am not intending to preach to anyone about my beliefs. These are simply my experiences, opinions, beliefs, and values.*

©2013 by Ayana Martin

It’s Easier to Keep Running?!

So weeks 5 and 6 of running were interesting. They started off with a walk/jog combination and transitioned to a 20 minute jog with no walking by the end of the week. During week 5, this 20 minute jog seemed ominous. But when the day finally came, I was able to tuck away another victory! I jogged for 20 minutes straight and when it was over, I wasn’t wheezing, coughing, gasping, or ridiculously panting! *Cabbage patch dance*

When week 6 came, I just knew I had it in the bag! But the strangest thing happened. I was huffing and puffing during the run segments, and felt like I needed the walk segments again! What is going on?! 

At the end of the run, our run lead explained what we were feeling (So I’m not the only one? Whew!). She told us that the purpose of weeks 5 and 6 were to overcome the mental hurdle of running. With week 5, we conquered the physical hurdle of running longer. Week 6 conquered the mental by proving that we tell ourselves we need breaks when we actually don’t. It’s actually easier to just keep running! It’s all about pace. I am definitely learning to pace yourself. If I get ahead of myself and my breathing becomes labored, I slow down. . .sometimes to a glorified walk if necessary. This Couch-to-5K program is amazing! Had the run lead told me this last week, I’m sure I would have laughed in her face. But the program speaks for itself. Trust the program. The final weeks are longer running segments. And now I KNOW I can do this.

It’s almost time to show out y’all!

©2013 by Ayana Martin

5 Weeks until the 5K!!

I’ve been surprisingly committed to my training! I have encountered obstacles that normally stop me in my tracks. With each passing week I faced a new challenge (besides convincing myself to run another day). But every time, someone gave me an answer I could not refute.

NOBODY can say they didn't see this hot mess of me coming down the road
NOBODY can say they didn’t see this hot mess of me coming down the road

Obstacle 1: Night running.

Solution: Headlamps! In “5K Training Update“, I explained how I showed up to my first night run in all black. #tragic By the end of the week, I went out and bought my own headlamp for less than $3! The first time I wore it, I felt so silly. . .like Bob-the Builder (Can we run this?? YES WE CAN!). But safety outweighs sexy on this one!

Obstacle 2: Flat-ironed hair.

Solution: Dri Fit headbands! I managed to keep my hair together post run! Dri fit material is a God-send! It sucks moisture away from the body and locks it into the material. (The cold weather and slow jog pace probably played a big role in saving my hair, as well.) Someone suggested a dri-fit headband and/or cap. They are both available at Sally’s Beauty Supply for about $3.50 each. I ended up trying both because I was under the impression that the cap would protect the middle hair area and reviews said it was a little on the big side (which I agree with). To my dismay, the cap is just mesh on top to hold the hair down, but the dri-fit headband I DEF recommend!


Obstacle 3: Rain.

It's just a little water :)
It’s just a little water 🙂

Solution: Ponchos or windbreakers. I secretly hoped rain would allow me a break from running, since I am still not in love with it, but BGR! said rain or shine, WE RUN! -__- *le sigh* Okay. . .I snagged a camping windbreaker on clearance at Target for about $5. The Dollar Tree also sold 2 ponchos for $1. The free route would be using a trash bag from home. I’m not THAT dedicated to the cause. . .just being honest. I opted for the camping windbreaker because it was a bit more durable, meaning I could use it outside of running.

Obstacle 4: Injury.

Solution: Take a break! Despite all the suggestions and advice for the obstacles listed above, the best piece of advice I have received thus far in the journey to 5K is Listen to your body! Challenging my body with fitness has proved to be beneficial (-5lbs, craving healthy foods, more energy, positive vibes), but it has also proved that I am, in fact, human. Taking a break is OKAY. I won’t fall behind in my commitment because I have conquered the mental challenge of running. It feels less like a chore and I actually look forward to running with my #TeamTeenyWeenyBikini partner. During my injury break, I focused on my health in other ways: dieting better (check out this article on superfoods, most of which are NOT difficult to incorporate into the Plain Jane life); alternative fitness that was less stressful (i.e. yoga, pilates); and Fab Ab February challenge (5 minutes or less of core strengthening exercises every day).

Challenge accepted!

This journey has been amazing so far. The amount of support I have received from BGR!, comments on these posts, and random passersby on the street while I am running has been incredible. I haven’t crossed the finish line just yet, but I’m on my way. And that feels good!

©2013 by Ayana Martin