Categories
Medical School Running

Olympic Years and Boards Fears

You guys. It’s an Olympic year. Rio 2016. I don’t know how many of you know this, but I friggin’ love the Olympics. I’m not really that patriotic any other time, there’s just something about the USA’s best of the best going to compete against the world. And- even better everyone gets to see the runners that I love perform on the world’s stage.
It always surprises me that the best of the best of America’s runners train together. You would think they would hide in their respective corners of the country and conceal their earth-shattering workout times and world class coaches and not let anyone know their secrets. In reality, its quite the opposite. They gather in Flagstaff like Amy Cragg and Shalane Flanagan, or Portland, or Boulder and take training trips up to altitude together. They run their tune up races stride for stride with each other. Its a pretty great example of how no one truly succeeds on their own. They push each other, help each other come back from injuries and pregnancies–yeesh!- faster than anyone would think possible.
Once they make it to the World Champs and Olympics these runners face the reality that they are now competing against their best friends, sometimes roommates, and running partners for the gold metal. But, they all know they never would have qualified without their teammate pushing them there.
My class is freaked out about boards. So freaked out, in fact, that our school cancelled a previously mandatory class this semester to make room for a mandatory board review class. Today, during that class, one of our professors told us how the last class that got a 100% board pass rate managed to pull it off. It was simple. They decided they weren’t going to let anyone fall back. They saw to it that everyone was going to do their practice questions, put in the work. We are eventually going to be competing against each other for residencies- but this is not the time for that. We all have to pass first. Its like making the US Olympic team together before you line up at the start and see which runner has what it takes to take it all the way to gold that day.
We are all starting from different places. Some of us are seasoned marathoners just following our routine that’s always given faithful results.  Some of us are transitioning from really great 10k performances to the almighty marathon- and hoping to be able to manage the mileage. Some of us cough-me-cough-cough are like Kara Goucher when she first went pro, who has been on the elliptical 4 hours a day for months doing no real high-impact work and instead of getting somewhere, got a stress fracture in her femur. Yes, that happens. The point is that we get everyone out there on the roads, putting in miles and hitting their splits.
I want to tell everyone that my class didn’t let anyone bow out of the race early. I want to tell everyone that even though some of my teammates are better than me, that we all helped each other get on Team USA. Those that fell or got injured, were lightly nurtured back onto their feet and shown that they have what it takes to still finish strong.
I’ve found my resolve. Let’s do everything we can to get there.
The Olympic Trials Marathon is February 13th. It determines who’s going to Rio. Our boards are scheduled throughout May and June. That is our qualifying race.
Class of 2018- Let’s take these boards to Rio!
 
 

womenstart1usolyt2012 Source

Categories
Running

The Chinese Dragon

In cross country, there is a hill we referred to affectionately as THE CHINESE DRAGON (all rights reserved, just kidding.)
Dragon parade in Zhejiang
 
Much like the Chinese Dragon traditional in the Chinese New Year parade, this hill is long and ssssslooooooowwww.
It. Is. Rough.
From my house, the closest entrance to the running trail involves running down the Chinese dragon. Which means on the way back, I must run up it.
The jolt of each foot strike makes my quadriceps quiver, absorbing the shock. I can feel the power they hold in reserve. Goosebumps come up from my feet, until even my arm hair is standing on end. Like most runners, I get a lot of power on the uphill from the pelvis. I feel my hip flexors and glutes engage. They’re the engine here forcing leg after leg after leg as if I were pedaling a bike on the easiest gear. No effort, my legs practically fall to their target one after the other. My arms pump involuntarily. But suddenly, I feel nothing. No pain. No emotion. I don’t even hear my breaths anymore reminding me of the strain I’m under. There is simply the pavement in front of me. While at the beginning of the hill, there was that thought in my mind “you can stop if you need to”- stopping is no longer an option here. I am powerful and invincible. If a wall were to suddenly appear in front of me, I would plow right through it. While so many things escape my grasp and I fall short- this, right now; this, for such a short time- this, I can do. I will do. For the remainder of my climb, this hill is my sole mission, my only goal, my purpose on Earth. The simplicity and certainty are what I am chasing after on run after run. If only I could have that clarity, motivation, and follow-through on everything I pursue. While the Chinese Dragon seems longer than the few minutes that it actually takes to conquer, I can’t help but wish that my other journeys only involved 3 minutes and 30 seconds of pure resolve and hard work, followed by only a stretch and a hot shower to recover. I could do so much more if only that were the case.
 
 
 

Categories
Life Medical School Running

How A Random Run Reminded Me How to Med School

Its been a pretty hellish week. Last week, I think I was operating on the fumes of a month long exhaustion situation and just got flat out sick. I was nauseous, my back hurt, I had a headache, I couldn’t eat, I had no energy and no amount of coffee was helping. I was falling asleep anytime I sat still. I went home early one evening for a dentist appointment. And oh goodie, I have TMJ! Guess what causes it? STRESS! I told my dentist my situation with medical school and all got the “bless your heart” look. He knows what it’s like.
Anyway, I had a huge Friday test in Histo and then another one on Monday in Anatomy that I didn’t do well on at all. I could blame it on many things: Not feeling good, having too much material, the awful Friday/Monday test situation, etc. But, I’ll take the blame for it and just say that I was not ready for that test. Still, I know myself well enough to know that I won’t get them all. So I took the good with the bad. I did pretty well on Biomed, I just didn’t get the anatomy one this time.
I stepped outside on one of the first truly chilly nights we’ve had this October. Some generic Pandora hiphop station starts up in my earbuds and I start to feel freedom in my very first steps off the porch. I didn’t bring a watch. Didn’t need one. This run isn’t for time. Its for clarity. By 16 seconds in- I guarantee you- its not school on my mind anymore. Sometimes its nothing on my mind at all. 7 minutes in and I might as well be flying. The wind is just cold enough to bite at my throat and ears a little, but I don’t care. Chilly fall weather that you can still wear shorts in- is prime running time. Especially at night when the street lights make the wet roads look like black glass reflecting it to twice the city lights.  I blow through cross walks and stretches of street without sidewalk. Up and down curbs, around bends, and mud holes. I cross the street but am sure to run straight down the double yellow line in the middle of the road a few steps because its where I feel the most free; like nothing can stop me- not even city ordinances and 2-ton hunks of metal.
In running, it’s never mattered to me whether I’m puttering and sputtering and choking and hurting just to keep putting one foot in front of the other, or if I’m in cruise mode, just chilling at a smooth pace, enjoying the view. I could even be gutting it out, leaving it all on the line grimacing with the speed of my own legs’ muscle memory out running my own lungs. None of that matters. I’ve always just been chasing that feeling. Maybe its runner’s high. I don’t know. At a certain point, though, the body takes over- if my mind will let it.
Its a place where my leg turnover carries me further than I thought I could go after not running for 9 days 16 hours and 21 minutes. Like pedaling a bike upside down. If you crank the pedals a few times,  the wheels won’t quit spinning for quite some time. Its just residual motion and it doesn’t require any thought whatsoever. It’ll just stop whenever it stops. That’s what my legs feel like.
Or that feeling I get when I give a little extra power in my hamstring to leap an extra-long stride’s length off a curb and head downhill, busting out the bass drum tempo to my song with my feet. It’s a feeling I would imagine getting when you go up a ramp and land on the other side of ten buses all in a row and land safely on the other side.
It’s a feeling when I don’t feel like my legs or lungs want me to keep going because they’re hurting, but I keep going somehow as if the act of running were involuntary. Like it comes naturally.
Its going so fast I feel my heart up in my throat. I know I can’t hold the pace for long, its just nice to amp up and feel my body working with me not against me for once. Its slowing down and feeling the tension come out, the adrenaline ebbs and flows and I get comfortable again.
It’s feeling comfortable on a run at all. Ever.
Who ever thought running would be my biggest comfort during medical school?
Running makes me powerful, joyous, competent, and aggressive, but yet, graceful. I feel loose and free and fierce and accomplished. I feel feminine and strong and not anything near weakness. I feel confident and beautiful and happy. I never feel like I don’t measure up, because its just me there and I am running and that is all I am doing. I feel like I’m doing something, because I am.
Every step is quantifiable, definite, appreciable, and proven. Every step proves something to myself- that I can go one more step. I look back at all the steps I’ve taken and can’t even trace the path I ran 8 minutes ago with my eyes. Do you know how few times that happens in life? Where you can work- and work hard- and then look at where you came from and where you are now and SEE- actually SEE- a quantifiable difference that can’t be argued with. Its an incredible feeling. When I study and study for 14 hours a day, I go home with nothing. I have no proof I can see. I have nothing to show for it. Only time and tests will tell whether that time was worth something- if I gained anything from that work.
On a run though, I come home with work I can see. The sweat on my face and shirt. The five miles of pavement I left behind me. Chewed up, spit out, burnt up asphalt that I conquered with my own two feet. Even the pain in my left foot tells me I’ve done work.
Running gives me things I don’t get to experience a whole lot anymore. It gives me a good dose of accomplishment, stands me back up, builds confidence, and makes me happy.
It’s the whole theme of steps that gets me and keeps me going in school. The runs carry me through in more ways than I can count. That even if its baby steps, slow steps, big steps, or steps where I flat out stumble and fall and get back up again, I’m still getting somewhere. I try not to forget that when I’m endlessly studying. Each powerpoint, lecture, sentence, note, drawing, and test is a step and I’m getting somewhere whether I see it or not. My steps aren’t always the best or fastest or more graceful, but they mean I’m working. And whatever else anyone around me is doing, I get a lot of satisfaction out of knowing I’m out on the road taking laborious, painful, glorious, work-for-every-last-one-of-them steps, and everyone is driving by fast in a car acting like they’re getting somewhere.

Categories
Lists Medical School

10 Things Vol. 3

10 Things that have changed since medical school.
1) The amount of sleep I get- Pretty obvious; I like my sleep. Now, I don’t get so much. First I get cranky, then I just fall asleep in random places (like class), then I wake up and I’m slap happy. Then I’m grumpy again. So I give in and nap. Then I hate my life because I’m so behind. Rinse and repeat.
2) The amount of caffeine I consume- I used to be an occasional coffee drinker. And every once in a while, I would crave soda. Now I’m flooding myself with coffee at least twice a day and I always want pop! Its not like it makes me feel better, either. I just need SOMETHING to give me any kind of pep most days. Caffeine is not without its side effects, friends. Acne, heartburn, poorer sleep, inflammation. I get it all. Really just the junk food in general has me feeling like a big blob of blah. Chips, sugary goods, and frozen things that you microwave are easiest to come by and it makes my tummy hurt.
3) The camaraderie- It wasn’t until senior year at OBU that us science majors got into the nitty gritty and bonded as friends and as a group even though most of us didn’t hang out outside of class. In medical school, though, one of the things we came into quick is togetherness. Its not like I talk to everyone everyday, but everyone is approachable and friendly, helpful and nice. Even if we never hang out, there’s always someone to chat with and complain about the lecture to in the computer lab or student lounge. Plus, out class Facebook group has saved my life once or twice. My classmates are the bomb. Just the best and brightest and I can’t believe I get to be among them.
4) The level of complication- Everything is sort of simplified now. There’s no time to worry about silly stuff. It’s either studying time or relaxation time. I take both very seriously.
5) My reliance on other people- Particularly my parents. I liked to pretend I was pretty independent and self-sufficient before I started medical school. But now, no way. I hate to admit it, but its the dang truth; a secret to a lot of how I’m getting through is because of my parents. My mom brings me food, wakes me up in the morning, picks up my medicine, etc. It takes a lot of planning on her part to take care of logistics for me so I can just try to not rip my hair out focus on school during the day.
6) The amount of people I touch- I’m affectionate, don’t get me wrong, but before medical school, it was only a few select people. Family and close friends. Now, I’ll grab whoever, wherever, and palpate their PSIS, ask to translate their cervicals, and volunteer my own “Woah feel my iliac crest!” We are a touchy bunch and its not unusual for classmates to rub my shoulders as they pass by me in class. We’re nice like that.
7) Running- Unfortunately my running is suffering. Sweet naive little me before anatomy started thought I had everything under control, getting my first 8 mile run in for my half marathon training. Then anatomy hit me hard and was like “HAHA you arrogant, silly girl. No running for you” There are several marathoners in medical school and I. Just. Don’t. Get. It. How?! How are they doing this?! Now I stare longingly into the gym and just take my scrub-wearing self into the anatomy lab.
8) Disbelief at the End of the Day- Every day. I make it home. While I get ready for bed and just think about the vast amounts of information I’m shoving in. I cannot believe how much I’m learning. I can’t believe I’ve made it through 7 weeks of medical school, or even just finishing one more day. I still can’t believe I got in, or that I’m really going to be a doctor at the end of this. You look at all the lectures they give you each week and you’re like, “I can’t learn all this! It literally impossible.” And then the whole week zooms by and you did it. You’ve really forced that much more into your head somehow and its just amazing.
9) My obsession with EVERY. SINGLE. LAST. POINT.- One time in undergrad, I asked my organic professor for a point back on a quiz. I had him on a technicality and had never gotten a 10/10 on his quizzes. He even admitted I was right. So, sitting at a 9/10, I asked him if he was gonna give me the point back. “Really?” he said. As in “Really, you’re gonna make me log in and change your grade over this one point?!”
Well, I learned my lesson and never made a big deal of it again- though I am still a bit bitter. But now, oh man!, I deserve every single last point I get and you bet your sweet little keister I will fight for every single point. Something about medical school feels like it matters more and so I’ll fight tooth and nail to know this stuff and be able to PROVE I know it on the tests. It’s just more important to me now.
10) Nervous habits- If I had nervous energy before medical school, let’s multiply it by ten now. I’ve always been a little high strung. I tap my feet and pens and chew gum and bite my nails again, and pick my skin and my face and my hangnails. I pick my split ends and pop my knuckles and just general. Also, just another weird thing, it has me doing is obsessively wanting to pick EVERY. LAST. BIT. of skin and fat and fascia off of my cadaver. Just absolutely meticulously. I could sit in there all day trying to satiate this desire to completely clean him off down to the structures we need. Ok, have I creeped everyone out now? I have problems… OCD maybe. That means its time to quit.
Peace out cub scouts.
 

Categories
Life Lists Medical School

10 Things Vol. 2

1. Test tomorrow. So yeah, I should be studying.
2. This week should be a little lighter in terms of Biomedical foundations material. Its a short week and anatomy is starting, so we only have 5 BMF lectures.
3. ANATOMY IS STARTING. I loved anatomy in undergrad so I hope my love stays strong and doesn’t turn to resentment. Humans are so neat, guys.
4. I get to have lunch with my senior (as in old people) mentor. This will be our first time meeting them. We will have a couple of assignments with them throughout this semester. We get to take a personal history and a medical history. I hope mine is precious and not gross.
5. Running is going great. I didn’t expect to rely on it as much I do. Mostly because when I was in undergrad, running sort of fell by the wayside. Now, after a solid two months of 5-7 days a week, I can feel at the end of the day when I’m all amped and ready to run. The rule is, if I have time to think about getting a run in, I run.
6. My study buddy has been gone for labor day weekend and I really feel the struggle without her. Not being able to talk things out has me tweaking so I don’t think this test will be as good as the first two.
7. There’s a lot of life in medical school. If any of my posts have deterred you from pursuing a future in medicine, that’s not what I’m trying to do here. Its fun and ultimately its going to be great and worth it, if its what you want to do.
8. I think what has helped me the most with anxiety (test anxiety and otherwise) is the amount of “busy” I’m taking on. I didn’t know what busy was. Like I said, I’m either studying, or about to study. I don’t have time to think about what I’m not doing because I’m always doing something or making progress towards being able to do something.
9. I drink a lot of water. At least two liters a day. I feel better when I do. Plus, filling up my water bottle and peeing in between lectures and as mini study breaks keep me from getting too comfortable and falling asleep.
10. Study, study, school’s your buddy!

Categories
Health Recipes Running

Three Easy Post-Run Drinks

Water of course. There is very little else that is quite as satisfying after a sweaty run. I’ve heard of water being best for you right after a run when the water is room temperature or just a little bit chilled. Ice water is sometimes too cold and can cause irregular heartbeat. I sometimes put a tablespoon of chia seeds in, wait a couple minutes, stir and then you’ve got fiber and omega-3s in it too!
Chocolate milk is hailed as the perfect post-run drink, and its a favorite of mine too. Something about it having the right ratio of sugar, protein, and carbs for recovery. It’s even better if you drink it within 30 minutes. I use 2% milk and Carnation Instant Breakfast chocolate powder for the extra vitamins that Hershey’s syrup and Nesquik don’t have.
Smoothies. I love smoothies (and juice!) after my runs. Something about the creaminess that chocolate milk with the fresh- or frozen- fruit. Vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber to boot. I love summer for the fresh fruit but this recipe can be used with frozen fruit in the winter, and it makes it extra cold and icy!
Post-Run Smoothie
5 or 6 medium strawberries with the leaves cut off
1 large handful of blueberries
6 oz. cup light vanilla yogurt
1/2-3/4 cup of vanilla almond milk
Blend it and drink!
AND
If you’re like me, you could drink all three after one run!
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Categories
Running

Half Marathon

Something exciting has happened! I did a thing!
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I registered for the Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa. November 23, 2014!
So apparently my sad, recreational running can now go by the fancy name of “Half Marathon Training”
Some of my thoughts on this situation.
Negative: My “long run” of the week is only at six miles.
Positive: I’ve done said long run twice a week for the past two weeks.
Negative: It’s going to be hard to train throughout the semester.
Positive: I have 17 weeks to do it!
Negative: My gym membership expires August 1.
Positive: I can use the medical school gym on August 1!
Negative: Running is hard.
Positive: It makes me feel like a beast.
Negative: I may not run a very good time at the half.
Positive: It’ll be my first time racing this distance so it will be a PR!
Yay.
 
Here is a quote I leave you with by the awesome Lauren Fleshman. She’s an educated runner, mom, granola bar maker, blogger, and basically the running female version of Samuel L Jackson in terms of being hard-core. The quote is about signing up for races so I thought it was appropriate.
“This is how it happens. You see people racing, their hearts exposed, vulnerable among millions. And then you sign up.”

Categories
Products Running

Why My GPS Watch Breaking Has Actually Been a Good Thing

Running Update!
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My Nike+ GPS pooped out on me, after like a year. After reading several reviews, I have found out that this watch made for running is not very sweat proof. Que excelente! Even through just the little amount off my arms, I could tell inside the wristband that it stayed moist after longer runs even though I would dry it off with my shirt. Anyway, I liked having it for the Nike+ website where it is free to store your runs indefinitely and it shows your route, time, elevation, mileage and handy things like that. It’s nice to look back at old runs from 6 months ago and see where you were.
Lately though, I obviously haven’t been able to use it and it has been nice. I no longer look have to look down at my watch after puttering and panting only to see that I have crapped out at a 10:20 mile and my lungs are screaming at me like I just laid down a 7 flat.
I start my basic chronograph watch, do my 30, 40, 50 or 60 minute run and then stop. No mileage or average pace and I still feel accomplished. I know from my rhythm pretty well now when I’m going pretty good.
Its been unexpected and delightful and I am definitely building endurance quickly as indicated by the fact that I am not stopping in the middle anymore! In the past, I would often look down at the GPS watch and just decide to stop because I wasn’t running as fast as I thought I should.
Do any of you runners use GPS watches? Do you ever decide to go without it for a more carefree run?

Categories
Life Medical School Running

Why Heading to Medical School Is Starting to Feel Like Going On a Vacation

I just want to bottle this time, and keep this happy healthy me around for when it gets hard. I’ve been running every day, seeing friends, eating healthy, feeling good, and getting lots of sleep. Years ago, I read an article about this study (I’m not sure if this was exact one or not). Basically, the findings show that people are happier not when they are on vacation, and not right after, but right before their vacation- in the days leading up to it. They are happiest when there is something good to look forward to. 

I feel like that with school starting in 20 days!! I’ve got a death grip on the life I have now, anticipating the changes to come and enjoying the way things are. It sounds sort of sad that I want to stay in this moment excited about medical school- not actually there, knowing that school won’t feel this exciting once I’m in it. But the daily grind ends up getting to everyone after a while. Its not pessimism, its realism! Haha. 

Running has been hard recently, but i’m glad I’m back at it. I didn’t run regularly all spring semester so I’m trying to build up some worthwhile endurance and that means starting over at square one, just running for minutes not miles. That’s always frustrating for someone who used to do six miles like it ain’t no big deal. Now I’m struggling for 40 minutes of slow running, hoping I will be able to do at least that most days after class. I’m trying not to put pressure and expectations on myself to feel guilty about not doing later on, but its hard because running is so good to me, so I feel like I need to keep doing it, even when I’m busy. It helps me clear my head, adds to my energy, helps my periods and digestive system, and is a big, big stress reliever. One of the best things about it though is the feeling of accomplishment it gives me. At the end of the day, I may not have done much else but I always feel better when I can say I got a run (even a bad one!) in.

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In other news, I hung out with some future medical school classmates last night. About a dozen of us showed up! It was super chill- good weather, good food. And it was good to talk to new people. I know it sounds like a bunch of small talk like “Where are you from?” What’d you major in?” but I’m fascinated with the how-did-you-get-here type questions because there’s a lot of different ways people end up in medicine. I already feel bonded; like we are going to have a great time. But that could be the pre-vacation-happiness talking. I commiserated with a guy who said he was ready to start so that he could stop sleeping in til 1 PM. I know it sounds like a dream come true, but it does get old and I’m honestly ready to crack a book and learn. Still, I’m soaking it up while I can.

That’s about all that’s been happening, so you can see why I haven’t posted the last couple of days. Hope you guys have a great weekend!

 

Categories
Health Life Recipes

Breakfast

Thanks to my girls waking me up early, I’ve gradually been training my body to wake up earlier. Part of me being able to stay up all day and be productive includes getting a good breakfast too. I don’t like to eat right when I wake up though, so I waited a bit and then made this breakfast with fresh homemade juice in my juicer.
We had some chopped fruit left in the fridge from my party.
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It had apples, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and grapes.
I added an apple and a handful of raspberries and threw it all in my juicer. I can be kind of be picky about my raw fruit if its too mushy or bruised or just not fresh, but the great thing about juicing is that I can get rid of that less-than-fresh fruit. I normally would have written off these raspberries as too icky to eat alone, but they were perfect in my juice.
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I’ve found that an apple and two or three handfuls of other fruits is enough to make a cup of juice.
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I added a spoonful of Chia seeds and stirred. It was one of the sweeter juices I’ve made, but it was still good and tangy!
My favorite juice so far has been apple, carrot, orange, blueberry juice!
I added a bagel with peanut butter, cinnamon, and sprinkles on it and ate a banana as well. While a big, fluffy, white flour bagel isn’t the healthiest, its filling and its my favorite. I’ve eaten these since I was a kid. I consider it even since I had juice 😉
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Now, after running a few errands, including getting my last TB skin test before school (eep!), I’m going for a run. I love (healthy) productive days!