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 🙂

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.


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

clip credits:

©2013 by Ayana Martin

Verb: HELP me give a trip away!

The goal of Insert(VERB)Here is to challenge personal limits and fears. And I really want to give a great experience to someone who may not have had access to opportunities before.

I have designed the very first travel project of Insert(VERB)Here and selected one young lady who has barely left her own backyard! – Check out the video here – I am taking the challenge to the extreme: OVERSEAS! (What’s more out of the box than foreign soil?!) This project encompasses 3 goals for personal transformation.

1) Empathy Training (understanding the states of other people)
2) Eliminating stereotypes and stigmas (Black women do it too)
3) Public Service (passing on the blessings)

The entire trip will be documented with blogs, photos, and videos for all of you – my family, friends, and friends-to-come – to use as a blueprint to getting out to explore the world. And if you can’t get out and explore the world just yet, you can live vicariously through us until you can!

I need YOUR help to make this happen. You can donate any dollar amount because every little bit helps! Every dollar will receive a reward from Insert(VERB)Here. The tiers are as follows:

Bronze Level: $1-25 Insert(VERB)Here Magnet
Silver Level: $26-75 Postcards (7) from each day of the trip + Bronze Level benefit
Gold Level: $76-100 Insert(VERB)Here T-shirt + Silver Level benefit
Platinum Level: $101-250 Authentic personalized souvenir (TBA) + Bronze Level benefit
Diamond Level: $251-500 Skype date + Insert(VERB)Here T-shirt

Donate at !! Live updates will also be posted on the Fundrazr campaign page!

©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

Verb: PREPARE for Race Day

The new year is in full swing and it’s time to DO something! I have officially signed up for my first 5k: The Color Run on March 16th! This 5k sounded interesting enough to make me want to try it: you wear a white t-shirt and at every km marker, you’re blitzed with color. At the end of the race, you’re tie-dyed! Awesome, right?!

Well March 16th is not as far away as I thought: T-9 weeks. I will be using this time to prepare for race day. I mean, really, how silly would I be to injure myself before race day by having bad shoes or running the race cold-turkey without any prior training? There are PLENTY of other ways I could injure myself before race day. Lack of preparation will not be one of them.

A few posts back, I talked about getting some legit running equipment (check out Verb: RUN). Except, I was missing the most important thing: RUNNING SHOES! I held off for a reason. I went to a running shoe store to get a foot consultation before buying a pair, which was an interesting experience:

I walked into the store and immediately felt lost. I had no clue where to begin, what to ask, or what to look for in a shoe. An associate, probably seeing my ‘deer in headlights’ stare, came over to rescue me. He asked me to take off my shoes and socks and walk a few paces forward (Note to self: next time have a decent pedicure X_x). Tempted to own the runway set before me, I knew I was there for business and decided against strutting my stuff and instead walked normally as this stranger stared at my Flintstone toes. As I turned around to return to the seating area, I heard him smack his teeth and saw him shaking his head. >:-O Are my feet that bad?? He goes on to tell me that I overpronate when I walk. (Sir, I don’t speak Greek. . .could you repeat that in English please??) Basically, my hint of an arch completely collapses as I walk forward. (Click here for a good visual of normal vs. overpronation) He said I am going to need lots of support and that he has some shoes I can try to see how it feels and figure out what I like and don’t like. He sized my foot and was up, up, and away to find some shoes. As I sat alone for 7-10 minutes (someone even double checked to see if I had been helped), I began to wonder if he was MAKING a shoe special enough to meet my dire support needs. He finally returned with 4 boxes. I tried them on to see how the support would feel. . .and boy was he right! I felt like Cinderella finding her lost shoe! I could already feel myself running the whole 5k! Until I saw the prices. . .$120?! Are these shoes going to run FOR me?! #negative #youain’tgettin’mymoneyhoney! Graduate students are paid peanut shells (w/o the peanuts inside), so that was not going down. I simply noted the names of my favorite pairs, and went home to do a Google, eBay, and Amazon search for discounts!

After doing more research into the shoes I liked, I am proud to report I found an alternative pair for $35 on eBay 🙂

If anyone else is interested in taking this journey with me, below is a summary of tips from my experience:

  1. Get a foot consultation from a local specialty running shoe store to determine what kind of support you may need. It’s free! An alternative might be talking with your primary care doctor. (Remember to have a decent pedicure too!)
  2. Get your shoe a size bigger. This will help keep your feet comfortable as they swell and pound as you run.
  3. $70 is a good budget for your first pair. You’ll have a great selection and should be able to find your size (this was a struggle at lower prices because I have such a common shoe size).
  4. You will get to try on shoes at your consultation. Don’t buy them there (unless they are within your budget)! Go home and do some research online (my favorite site was Just like a car dealership, the specialty stores will be selling their latest models. Check out older versions of the shoe you are interested in.

Stay tuned for my next steps to prepare for race day! I will be linking up with Black Girls Run and using the Couch-to-5K app!


©2013 by Ayana Martin

Verb: RUN

I want to run a 5K. (GASP!) Coming from a girl who views the sport of Track as competitively running in circles, this feels like Mission:Impossible. Not only do I want to run a 5K, I want to accomplish it the Plain Jane way. And by that I mean I don’t have money to hire a trainer, buy the special shakes and organic foods, or get the fanciest shoes that should practically do all the work for me. But what I DO have are apps! With the exception of the running shoes, there are many free and/or cheap resources available to the average Jane to get in shape (Google, Couchto5K, Learn2Run, Black Girls Run, etc). So this is now my Mission:POSSIBLE.

First things first: EQUIPMENT
With it being the holiday season, I was able to snag some great deals!
Neon shorts: $2 (originally $32)
Compression/dri fit capris: $15 (originally $50)
Looking and feeling like a bad ass legit runner: Priceless!




©2012 by Alexandria Dotson and Ayana Martin

Verbs: GROW and MATURE

In the past year, I have totally revamped how I form and grow relationships (platonic, romantic, or other). During this process, I have learned one very important thing: everyone may not want to hear my perspective. Even after I have diligently listened to their perspective, they may have no interest in hearing mine. And that is OKAY. It doesn’t make me or my perspective any less valid. If anything, it makes me the bigger person because I am the one with a mind open enough to respect and observe perspectives outside of my own.

This morning’s scripture of the day came from James 1:19. It directs a person to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Funny how well it resonates with my process. I have always been a good listener. But I was not always so slow to speak, and I can definitely admit I was never slow to anger. I assumed that if a friend was divulging their woes and cares on me, that they automatically wanted to hear what I had to say in response. On occasion, this caused a wedge of disagreements. They were not open or ready to hear my persepctive, especially if it did not sympathize with their plight. Then one day, a conversation with one of my mentors enlightened me. I had just finished relaying my woes and cares to her. She acknowledged my troubles and responded with a soft question: “Would you like to hear my perspective?” Initially, I was bewildered by this response. Then, an overwhelming sense of gratitude washed over me. Gratitude because my feelings were the priority; because I now had the option (or control) to decide what I wanted to do about my situation: continue to sulk or open my mind to resolutions I had not previously thought of; and gratitude that whatever I decided, we both were okay.

By growing into this kind of maturity, I have been able to form better relationships with my current friends and familiy and ease into (and away from) new relationships with people I encounter every day.


©2012 by Alexandria Dotson and Ayana Martin