Tick Tock. . .

We are embarking on the first Insert(VERB)Here organized trip in less than 3 weeks! The official FundRazr has ended and I am ecstatic about the turn out! We raised $571 because of YOU!! This may not have been 100%, but it made a significant dent! YOU raised enough to cover the cost of our lodging and 2 activities for Christina. YOU ROCK!!

Updates on the trip:

  1. All flights have been booked. Adventure begins on Day 1 of the trip. Christina is flying to Puerto Plata on her own and must navigate her way out of the airport. This may sound like a small task, but in Christina’s eyes it’s HUGE. She has to figure out where to get her tourist visa, how to get through customs, and find baggage claim. . .in a foreign language! Considering it’s an airport, there should be some bilingual people around to help her out – she just needs the confidence to ask for help ūüėČ You’d be surprised how many people are afraid of that simple task!
  2. The apartment is booked! We will be staying at SunCamp DR in the village of Munoz, right outside the city. Here we will spend time with the community members. Our volunteer activities include teaching arts&crafts, science, and playing sports (per our specialties).
  3. Christina has begun to journal about her feelings leading up to the trip! Check out her thoughts:

“It. . .is getting. . .real. I am extremely excited to go and experience this new adventure. However, with that excitement I have fears: boarding my first international flight, expecting the unexpected, the language barrier that I will encounter, and being away from from my daughter and family – OUT OF THE COUNTRY –¬†for this length of time. But I won’t let these fears stop me from experiencing the amazing things that I know are coming.

I was recently updated today with the next thing that I have to do: make a doctor’s appointment and get a few prescriptions. I need to get an anti-malarial and cipro antibiotic. So, today I made that appointment with doctor. However, when I read the email for my next step I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was like, “I have to do WHAT to go out of the country??? NO WAY! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!” I couldn’t help thinking, “what am I getting myself into. . .this is crazy.” I have never had to do that the few times I have traveled through the United States. Anti-malarial meds are some serious meds and this scares me to think that I am going to a country where I can get malaria and¬†I have to take preventatives¬†for like 7 or so weeks. I can understand the cipro antibiotic because that is for traveler’s upset stomach. With the food (and standards) being different it makes sense to have the medication on hand. My doctor’s appointment is in 4 days….and just the thought of it makes my stomach turn more and more because that confirms that¬†things are starting to become real.

With that going on in my head, I have also been visually and mentally packing and deciding what clothes, bathing suits, shoes, and jewelry to bring. Not to mention how am I going to do my hair (because¬†I will need to change it up on the regular! #style). I realize I’m going to need to do some shopping for myself…*oh yes*. When I get paid, I hardly ever spend more on myself since I have to take care of my daughter. So it’s nice to be forced to focus on me a little more and what I will need to have for this trip. *Excitement*

I am extremely thankful for InsertVerbHere for making this trip possible. Dominican Republic, in exactly 3 weeks I will boarding my flight and on my way to check you out!”

©2013 by Ayana Martin

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Verb: WRITE a thesis

Writing has become more of a state of being for me these days. When people ask me how I’ve been, I respond “-__-¬†I’ve been writing.” When they ask me where I’ve been, I respond, “>.<¬†I’ve been writing.” No matter the time of day or night, if you ask me what I’m doing, the answer is “x_x¬†writing “

I am so over writing! So to explain my state of being for the past 2 weeks, I will keep the writing short and use visual cues ūüôā

Writing has completely absorbed me. The only people that see me on a regular basis are my writing buddy Kim (@realkimtillman) and the librarians that check us into our suite at Hotel Librarie (in my french accent. . .*oui oui*).

This is where the magic happens. We play word games like “Guess the Title”, where we write any and all words relevant to our thesis topic and try to form the best title. . .

We feng shui the room for the best writing or typing energies. . .

We are so focused that the librarians check in on us and remind us to eat. . .

We still forget and resume writing utnil an announcement over the PA system says “The library will be closing in 3 minutes. . .at midnight. . .Kim and Ayana”.

That really happened last night.

We go home, sleep it off (translation: have nightmares that the library will no longer allow us to reserve a study room), and repeat.

image

*le sigh* It’s a necessary evil in achieving the highest degree in the United States – PhD! Stay tuned for this explanation ūüôā

clip credits: http://whatshouldwecallgradschool.tumblr.com/

©2013 by Ayana Martin

Verb: Run. . .I DID IT!!!!

My very first official 5K race is complete! I ran the entire race and had a great time running. Shoutout to Ron B. and Marquia B. for joining my mission!

Through trial and error (mostly error) and notes from a Race Day Prep clinic, I have compiled a list of pointers for race day:

Before the race

  1. Plan, prepare, and hydrate.
  2. Research the race. Practice the route.
  3. DO NOT try anything new before race day (no new foods, clothes, gear, or workouts). You don’t want new foods souring your stomach, new clothes feeling uncoomfortable, new headphones continuously needing adjustment, sore muscles from a new workout. . .etc.
  4. Taper down workouts the week before.
  5. Load up on carbs the night before (for shorter races, this isn’t so critical).
  6. Lay out your clothes the night before.
  7. Sleep your normal amount the night before.

On race day

  1. Get there early! The energy is totally different, so you’ll want to calm your adrenaline.
  2. Warm up with dynamic stretches, get your heart rate up a bit, stretch.
  3. Don’t start too fast! Run your pace and finish strong.
  4. Listen to your body. Drink before you’re thirsty. >30 min run: rehydrate with water every 20 min (4-6 oz); >1.5 hours: electrolyte beverages are recommended.
  5. Run in negative splits: your first mile should be the slowest, speed up as you go. This is how you get your best time.

After race day

  1. It’s good to have 200 calories or less after running to get rid of any sick feelings.
  2. STRETCH, rest, and eat! Protein rich foods will help prevent soreness.
  3. Celebrate – You did it!! Whoop!!

Other notes

  • Socks are very important! “Cotton is rotten.” Dry, cool feet don’t blister. Left and right specific socks are better.
  • Compression sleeves cut down on muscle vibrations and soreness. They also increase circulation, which can help prevent injuries.
  • DO NOT forget a fanny pack or drawstring backpack

Now you know what I know! I can’t believe I actually ran the entire race, but my body is telling me it really happened. And I love the way it feels! Insert(VERB)Here: RUN. Yes, I did it!

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©2013 by Ayana Martin

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 ūüôā

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

5K Training Update

Week 1 is officially done! And, shockingly, it wasn’t horrific. Being moderately in shape was definitely a plus, but the Couch-to-5K program is definitely made for the average Jane. The first week’s running assignment was:

  1. 5 minute brisk walk
  2. 60 second run, 90 second walk repeat (repeat 8x for a total of 20 min)
  3. 5 minute cool down walk

60 seconds may not seem like much, but that “When will it end?!?!” feeling sneaks up on you before you know it! Fortunately, I linked up with Black Girls Run! to train. These women are very motivating, encouraging, and inspiring. I just so happened to look up my local BGR! chapter on the very same day they were initiating a new C25K group. I decided to break in the new running gear, pack up my fatty (my dog Lilo :)), and join the run.

I was a little apprehensive because I didn’t know what to expect. Would I be the slow poke? Would I be too in shape and¬†inadvertently discourage someone?¬†How many people will be there – 5…10…20??¬†Would they be afraid of my dog? Would my dog be able to handle a 20 person crowd?¬†All of my apprehensions only increased when a crowd of 50+ people gathered at the meeting location!! Groups of women – friends, sisters, cousins, nieces, kids and grandkids – all filed into a large circle to stretch before the run.¬†How in the WORLD are we all supposed to run together?¬†But I didn’t let my apprehensions overwhelm me. I was pleasantly surprised that the large crowd kept me motivated. If I passed someone during a run interval, I was cheered on with cries of “That’s right!” and “Do it girl!” If I was behind someone, they would wave me on to catch up saying “C’mon girl, you can do it!” There were run leads who would keep time and signal the run/walk interval and shout out the seconds remaining in the run. At the end, everyone cheered as we finished our run assignment for the day. We waited for those who may have struggled and cheered for them too as they completed their segment. We finished stretching together then all went home to soak our tired bodies.

I enjoyed the community run so much, I finished the entire week’s assignment with BGR! (The C25k program commits 3 days/week to running.) The other two runs were just as encouraging, but I ran into a kink in preparation: nighttime running. I have no idea why this didn’t cross my mind, but nighttime running can be dangerous if unprepared. And I showed up as the epitome of unprepared: dressed in all black, no reflectors, no light source. -_____- Thank goodness for a large turn out again! Someone loaned me their head light and there were plenty of reflector vests and neon colors to surround me. LESSON LEARNED.

I leave you with the lessons I learned this week:

  1. Get a running partner or find a local BGR! group to keep you encouraged and accountable for finishing.
  2. The goal is to COMPLETE, not compete! Work to complete run segments and not compare yourself to anyone else.
  3. Before starting any run, avoid static stretches on cold muscles. Instead, do DYNAMIC stretches to protect your muscles, ligaments, and joints. (We do side and front leg lifts and hacky sack before our BGR! runs)
  4. After finishing a run, static stretches will help to minimize soreness in the following days (soaking in a hot bath or shower will help too ūüôā )
  5. If you are running in the evenings, have some safety gear so you can be seen by cars and fellow nighttime runners and bikers as well as you can see any hazards (e.g. holes, cracks, uneven ground): reflector vests, neon colors, glow sticks, headlamps, flashlights. Most of these can be purchased at Walmart or Target. Hardware stores also carry some of these items. If you have some time, eBay and Amazon are always wallet friendly!
  6. And if you’re running in the street at night, run on the side facing oncoming traffic.

I hope this helps someone!

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-AM

©2013 by Ayana Martin