Monday Miles (Race Week Edition) : April 23-29, 2018

monday miles, running

It is done. I had an amazing experience on Saturday running the Trail Weekend‘s half-marathon. It was truly the best and favorite race I have run thus far. I am so excited to write all about it. I have so much to say. I plan on writing my race recap tomorrow, so for now, here is the week leading up to the race.

4 / 23 : MTV Pilates, Romwod for mobility.

4 / 24 : Morning — I had pretty bad insomnia the previous night (is insomnia ever not bad?). I felt terrible, but my run ended up feeling pretty ok. I kept having to tell myself to “slow down there, buddy.” 3 miles. JasYoga Hip Strength Stability. Afternoon — Yoga for Stress Relief (lack of sleep-induced meltdown) and Romwod.

4 / 25 : Jasyoga hip mobility. 2 mile run (you mean I cannot do more?). Romwod.

4 / 26 : JasYoga Hip Strength Stability. 2 mile run. Romwod.

4 / 27 : Romwod. Plenty of legs up the wall. I ate salmon with sweet potatoes and zucchini for dinner. I drank some Tea Forte Retreat tea and sat in the bathtub with lavender salts while I re-read one of my favorite essays on writing by Ann Patchett. Bruno slept upstairs in hopes that I would sleep more soundly. I still managed to sleep terribly.

4 / 28 : 13.4 miles. I know that is a little over a half-marathon, but you’ll get to read the full story tomorrow!

4 / 29 : JasYoga High Mileage Reset, lots of legs up the wall, Romwod.

Total : 20.4 miles. Each one filled with endless gratitude.

And now, I’ve got a chicken, a whole freaking chicken, waiting for me in the oven.

xo, Ali



Ready to Run


Saturday is the day. I am going to run the trail half-marathon for the Trail Weekend in Pinckney. It will be my first trail race and my third half-marathon. It will be the first time I have ran a race in two years. I have always wondered if it seems like running matters less to me. I have struggled with calling myself a runner in the last year or so, because I’ve been running for almost six years and have only run a couple of races. I’m not a competitive runner, running more to complete rather than to compete.

Plus, I have been exhausted with telling people, “I’m training for x” only to have it fall through due to injury or even worse in the case of the Air Force Marathon when I had an ovarian cyst rupture only a week before the marathon. Heart-freaking-breaking. I have barely told anybody I have been training for a half. Granted, the life of a graduate student can be kind of solitary: “Hi, Rousseau. Guess what I’m doing when I’m not writing about you and reading you?” But still. I’m too afraid that I’ll jinx it.

Those are the thoughts I have been carrying with me through my training. Not the most positive, but they have crept in. I had a few panicky moments with being sick throughout March and even the other week when my left foot acted up. And guess what: I feel fine and my foot does too. The most bland diet in the world and picking up golf balls with your toes will do that you.

Mostly there have been amazing moments. The routine of running. I mean I love the rhythm of a running schedule. I love seeing the weeks drawn out. I love what it adds to my life. I love checking off the days and seeing the race draw near.

Then, there is the running itself. I do not understand it when people say running long can be boring. I think three mile runs can be boring, never a long run. Miles change you. I believe that. I do not come back the same person I left. I come back more resilient, more thoughtful, and most importantly, more joyful. I think the kind of tired I am when I come back from a long run is one of the best feelings in the world.

Saturday I went on a ten mile run. I was not planning on it. The plan called for a twelve mile run, but with my foot problems, I was not planning on running at all. It felt fine enough that I thought ten would be ok. Bruno and I ran together Saturday afternoon. And it was a hard run. My legs felt tired. But at around mile seven, coming down a hill (of course), I just threw my hands up in the air danced around, looked back at Bruno, and like a total goober yelled, “I am so happy! I just love running!” And then shuffled the last three miles back home.


The last ten mile run.


At first I thought I did not know what to expect for Saturday. Hillsdale does not really have technical trails. I have maybe only ran on real trails a handful of times in my life. The Potowatami Trail is supposed to be hella hilly. I tried to train on as much hills as I could. I am not sure if that will be enough. Even though I went through the full half-training plan, the last couple of weeks has been wonky with being sick. Before that ten on Saturday, I was worried I lost fitness. I can be a real worrier.

Here is what I can expect: I can expect to get my ass kicked in the best way possible. And I know I am going to love every step of it. I know that I will rejoice at just being out there, even if I am going over a gnarly hill. I will think what I thought a couple weeks ago when an ice cold downpour began mid-run, “I love suffering!”* I know that I will see the beauty of the Pinckney parks, which are supposed to be some of the best in Michigan. I know that there is a good chance that when I cross that finish line on Saturday, I will cry. I am tearing up just thinking about it.

I have not taken a single mile I have ran for granted. Every step has been a silent prayer of “thank you.” Running is a joy.

I cannot wait for Saturday.

xo, Ali

*To be clear, I love voluntary suffering.


Talkin’ Insomnia Blues, Pt. II


I was up until 4am last night/today. And I woke up around 7:30ish today. If ever there was a slow moving zombie, that would be me today. I think the worst part about not being able to sleep is not necessarily how tired I feel, but how overwhelmed I feel. Little things feel like big things (as in, hello administrative tasks that should have been done a couple weeks ago).

Unfortunately I am not a productive-type insomniac. I am more of a let’s search zillow for Connecticut coastal homes, search through someone’s facebook photographs to see what brand of bike they rode in their 70.3 Ironman (it was a Trek road bike in case you are wondering), look up the price for said bike, search amazon for gluten-free, grain-free brownie mixes, search amazon for grain-free “flours,” and of course, researching the hell out of insomnia-type insomniac. Not to mention I filled out the goal-setting section of my new planner, thought about my work out schedule post half-marathon, determined which local CSA I would like to get my veggies from this summer, researched local farms for local meat, and scanned through Kelly Starrett’s Becoming A Supple Leopard.

I do usually start out embracing the insomnia, but as time goes by, I usually start to get more anxious. Mainly the concern revolves around: how am I going to get things done tomorrow? And it is a fair question. Usually post-insomnia days, I am groggy, grumpy, and if I do not develop a headache, it is a miracle. Mainly it is hard to think. I still get stuff done, but not the best. And mostly the day is spent feeling like I am running to catch up with the sun.

Do you deal with insomnia? Any advice or tips? I’m already on the not drinking coffee, not drinking alcohol, no screens (at least until the insomnia kicks in) before bed train. I take magnesium. I drink tea. I think grateful thoughts. Is there something I’m missing?

xo, Ali



Monday Miles : April 16 – 22, 2018

monday miles, running

Here we are! The last Monday Miles before Saturday’s half-marathon. My first race in almost two years!

I woke up this morning super excited. Like irrationally excited. I have been sans-coffee for about a week and the amount of energy I had was a miracle kind of excited. I keep thinking of the plan for Saturday morning. I will wake up at this time. I will eat this. We will leave for Pinckney at this time. I will probably have an itinerary for Bruno by Wednesday. Would it surprise you that I’m type-A?

This week included three runs (finally). I have some new shoes. My feet feel mostly pretty good. I had a good massage on Friday, so I am ready to go.

4 / 16 : AM – Yoga with Adriene, True Day 11, Soften. PM – Romwod for mobility.

4 / 17 : AM – 3 x 45s plank. 50 clamshells. 2 x 15 fire-hydrants. 40 minutes cycle. Throughout day – 3 x 20 pick up golf ball with foot. 3 x 20 calf raises. PM – Yoga with Adriene, Day 12, Center. Romwod. Lots of icing of left foot. Better? But still cranky.

4 / 18 : 40 minutes cycle, 2 mile run. Hips, IT Band, Core. Romwod.

4 / 19 : 3 mile run. Hips, IT Band, Core.

4 / 20 : Romwod.

4 / 21 : 10 miles, baby. I was not planning on doing this, but figured why the hell not. I purposefully kept it slow, went the hilly route, and mostly felt good. I was tired, but I think that had to do more with running later in the evening after a day of running around.

4 / 22 : Jasyoga Sunday Reset.

Total: 80 minutes cycle, 15 miles run.

Alright! Only a few more days to go!!

xo, Ali

Favorite Things : April 14-20, 2018

favorite things

Plans for this weekend: relax. Run ten miles(????). Relax some more. And maybe, just maybe nerd out and play Dungeons and Dragons for the first time at the local comic book store. I am trying to maintain weekends as weekends. That is, I just want to take the time to read some books out on the porch because it is sunny, do some laundry, and clean the house up.

I’m feeling pretty good. The elimination diet to figure out allergies is going well although I am getting pretty bored eating the same foods over and over and over again. I did get sick out of nowhere yesterday around lunch-time and ended up having to miss my Wilderness survival class — but almost every day was like that in March, so one time getting sick a week is actually a significant improvement.

Without further ado, this week’s favorite things.

I am feeling this so bad right now.

I suspect that I will be going into this half-marathon a little less trained than I wanted to be, but this made me feel a lot better.

Bad science news about wine!

Great article about a hike in the Grand Canyon.

Note to self: You cannot outrun a bad diet. Repeat. You cannot outrun a bad diet.

I’ve made it a point to check my bank and savings accounts every day — and I agree with this article, it helps!

I love skincare (I own like three things of makeup and the rest of my bag is alllll skincare) and I am sorely tempted by these products.

I sit on a tennis ball for my hamstrings on all long drives.

How to drink more water.

Last, but not least, I am nowhere near as fast or athletic as Devon Yanko, but this post on dealing with chronic illness had my heart.

Have a lovely weekend!

xo, Ali



Dissertation Update

dissertation, graduate school, Uncategorized

I started chapter four yesterday. Or is it five? I turned in chapter three a couple weeks ago, but with the craziness that comes with the end of the semester by advisor will not be able to get to it. I told him that I thought it might be better as two chapters, but that I needed a break from working on it. I tell you this. I can talk your head off on Rousseau and Christianity right now. And right now, I need a break.

I asked if I could just start the next chapter instead and return to chapter three or chapters three and four, and was given the a-ok. So I’m back to writing and have about a thousand words written (and approximately ten thousand more to go!). I appreciate that it can be a total mess and imperfect, whereas with chapters three/four, I was in the state of “will it ever be good enough?” When I start something new, I can just turn on some tunes, open some Rousseau, and go. It feels good.

So far, the goal, the plan, the ideal, is to have chapters three, four, and five done, turned in, and approved by the end of this summer. That leaves one chapter left with a year of additional funding. I think I can handle that.

xo, Ali

Gonna Take Some To Do The Things We Never Had, or Why the Music Video for Toto’s Africa Exemplifies Life in Graduate School

books, daily life, graduate school, music

This post brought you by the greatest song in the world: Toto’s Africa

And now for something completely unserious.

Toto’s Africa has experienced a renaissance. From its use in Stranger Things (don’t do it, Nance!), ubiquitous club hit, to being the internet’s favorite song, it is going to take a lot to drag us away from Africa.

But what much of the commentary has failed to recognize is the deep similarities the music video has with life in graduate school. As far as I know, none of the members of Toto have ever attended graduate school, but alas, I think the music video certainly characterizes the several years some of spend between undergrad and (hopefully) getting a real job.

Before you begin, watch the video here. Watch it twice, because of its greatness.

  1. The amount of time spent in a library. This one is probably the most obvious. I know my college library now more than I ever did as an undergrad. The only difference here is that where the library in the music video is themed “African safari,” the one for mine is themed “America.”
  2. Constantly looking through books for information. I just need that one quote…now where was it? Looking, looking, looking…oh, maybe it was a different scholar who said that. Like the lead dude in the video, if you are in graduate school, you are constantly trying to put the pieces together. That means a lot of book scanning.
  3. Looking for books. How much time do graduate students spend looking for books in the library? How much time do I spent looking for books in the library? An inordinate amount, most likely. Not included are the times when you are just distracted by books on shelves unrelated to research topic. I cannot be the only graduate student who falls into the shelf abyss.
  4. That feeling of being hunted. Is it fear of failure? Imposter syndrome? Or is it chasing time? Deadlines? Too much to do in too little time? I’m not sure I know what causes all the books and bookshelves to fall over in the music video, but I think I understand it.
  5. What does it all mean? After watching Africa’s music video, one might be left thinking, “Huh? What just happened?” One of the google results that pop up when you begin searching Toto Africa is “what does it mean?” The same question can come up on particularly tough days of graduate school or even certain difficult texts (I’m looking at you, G.W.F. Hegel!).

And there you have it. Five reasons why the music video for Africa by Toto is like graduate school. Am I Buzzfeed-worthy yet?

xo, Ali

Sans-Coffee, but with Hope


I am on day two sans-coffee, sans-sugar, sans-gluten, sans-dairy, sans-all-my-favorite-things-to-eat. I’m grateful my endoscopy came back clear, but I had another bout of stomach problems on Friday complete with a lot of insomnia, anxiety, all the usual woes. Nothing as bad as what it was in March, but enough for me to say, “Let’s just find something to figure this out.”

Dr. Google highly recommended this book, so now I’m following the elimination phase for the next couple of weeks until I start adding food in to see what is causing the problem. Her plan is a little too restrictive for me insofar as it is especially low-carb. I don’t want to mess around with that with the half coming up, so I’m following it, but plan to have some non-grain carbs (sweet potatoes, beets, etc.) with every meal.

So far, so good. I felt hungry yesterday, but ate more today, which helped. Mostly I think the hardest thing will be boredom from lack of food choices, but it is only for a couple weeks. I know I can get through that. I get that it is a necessary part of figuring out what foods are causing my problems and what foods are not.

What really is sad is the lack of coffee. Rooibos tea in the morning just does not kick it in the same way. And I would know. I had a low-grade headache all of yesterday. And then, I accidentally took a two hour nap this afternoon. But — some good news — I already noticed that I did not have as much acid reflux as I normally do and I am hoping in time it will help with my insomnia.

I’m feeling a little more hopeful today. I think sometimes going to the doctor and waiting, waiting, waiting makes me feel more passive, rather than an active participant in my own health. I’ll admit to being a little bit of a control freak, so it clearly is enough to drive me little bit crazy. But I can do something. I can start with what I know. I clearly have some sort of allergic inflammation going on, so hopefully this will be the beginning of feeling much better.

xo, Ali


Monday Miles : April 9 – 15, 2018

monday miles, running

Before I begin, DESI!!!!!!!!!!! Enough said, right? Amazing. I keep watching the clip of her running in at Boston today (you knew that was today, right?) and well, as a fellow American and fellow Michigander I am very happy and proud. I’m not sure how anyone could watch that and not have happy tears.

Less than two weeks to go until my half-marathon. Training last week started fine and then well, I am starting to feel like Tom Brady’s in his bubble suit in this commercial. Every twist or nudge has led me to panic. And while this is no “Madden curse,” I do feel like I have in my own way a mental hurdle to beat — that fear that every time I sign up and train for a race, that race usually ends up not happening because injuries or health blow-ups. So, yes, the fear.

On a regular three mile run on Thursday, I felt my left foot suddenly get really cranky. Like not in an achy sort of way, but in a “please stop” way.  And it was totally my fault. I made a rookie mistake. You see, with all these doctors appointments, EGD’s, an ultrasound, etc. — none of it has been cheap, so I kept putting off getting new shoes even through it very clearly was time.

It almost threw me into panic mode on Thursday and for the rest of the weekend. But you know what? I stopped myself. I bought a new pair of shoes. They will get here on Wednesday. I started sleeping in my PF boot. I iced my foot. I rolled it out. Instead of doing my runs, I biked instead.

And you know what? My left foot is not great, but it is significantly better. And it will be fine. My loathing of being on a bike? It ended up not being that bad, even enjoyable. I’ll keep working on it and whatever happens on April 28 will happen. I already know that I am not doing it for time and it will kick my ass — and I have been looking forward to that. Nothing has changed.

4 / 9 : Nada, prepared to head back to Michigan from Connecticut.

4 / 10 : Core, hips, IT band. Ran 5 miles. These miles felt really good. Also, known as the post-ice cream run.

4 / 11 : Endoscopy. All clear! But sedatives made me too tired to do much movement the rest of the day.

4 / 12 : Core, hips, IT band. Easy three miles. About half-way through this run, left foot started hurting out of nowhere. Yoga with Adriene, True Day 9, Open. Romwod.

4 / 13 : Foot still hurt, decided to cycle instead. 40 minutes (I honestly have no idea how far this was — I just was trying to burn approximately the amount of calories I would in a three mile run). Core, hips, IT band. Romwod.

4 / 14 : Home in Ohio for the weekend! Yoga with Adriene, True Day 10, Detox. Jasyoga Lower Legs and Feet. Romwod. Core, hips, IT Band.

4 / 15 : Back to Michigan! 1.5 hours cycle, .5 hour walk on treadmill. Once again, no idea the distance (well, the walk was two miles), but tried to approximate how many calories I would burn. Romwod.

Not the mileage I would have liked. I wanted to have just two regular normal weeks of training before next week Saturday, but that’s life. I’m happy to improvise.

xo, Ali








Favorite Things : April 7-13, 2018

favorite things

I received my results from my endoscopy yesterday. Turns out everything looks good (hello again, sweet, sweet dairy and gluten), so I do not know. I do not know what is causing my eosinophilia. It has been suggested that it might be stress — which honestly, would not be all that surprising. But I kind of just don’t want to think about it anymore. I know that is bad, but I have been worrying about this for a month and a half now. I feel a little bit better. My stomach looks fine. I feel like I’ve wasted time in doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds, this endoscopy, just to keep being told “everything is negative.” Well, everything except for that my white blood cells are high. Fine. Fine. I don’t want to mess with it anymore.

For the most part I’ve been feeling fine. My stomach still hurts after I eat, but nowhere near as bad as it was in March. Now, at least, I can consistently function. And the good news is that I’m healthy. So fine, money and time were spent, but I know that for the most part I’m fine.

This weekend the travel continues. I’m going home to visit my mom in Ohio and we’ll be there over the weekend so that next week a normal week can finally begin.

Without further ado, this week’s favorite things.

I recently joked to a friend that I can tell what kind of conservative someone is by the thinkers they quote. I agree with this article — Alexis de Tocqueville is overly used — but I think we differ on the reasons. Tocqueville on Algeria though emphasizes my own.

This interview with Mike Strzelecki fro Ultrarunnerpodcast is great.

What a beautiful story of human kindness.

I actually hardly ever buy running clothes, but I really love this Nike top.

Reminder for two weeks from now: The race ain’t the only clock.

As my half-marathon comes closer, I keep watching this video of the trails. And yes, I  always tear up.

xo, Ali