Blissfully Normal

Almost everyday I get a variation of the question “what’s new with you?”

And it feels weird to say this, but I usually don’t know how to respond. My life is blissfully normal right now, I literally don’t have much going on!

I work, I run, I cook, I hang out, I go out, I happy hour… (I make up verbs…)

and then repeat!

I was thinking about it and it’s really astounding to think of the contrast between my life this year and last year.

I mean, this time last year I was in a whirlwind of craziness. At any point last year my responses would have been plentiful to those questions. This time last year, I was…

Graduating college

Working two internships

Moving into my downtown apartment

Going to Iran

Going on job interviews

Getting a job

This time last year, my life was in a flux. But I loved it.

And now I am loving how everything has come into place. It’s nice to take a step back and see how things formed and shaped over the course of the year.

My life is now blissfully normal, which is perfect. 

Have you ever noticed this contrast in your life?

I have been evaluated…

I just had my big employee annual performance evaluation today…

(doesn’t that just sound intense?!)

My palms have never been so sweaty before and my breathing was all shallow and weird… it felt like I was about to meet Ryan Gosling.

My evaluation went amazingly well! And it exceeded all of my expectations. I love my job so much. Honestly, it has been the best possible year for my professional development and I am so grateful to all of my mentors who have helped me along the way.

What more could a twenty-something young professional want? (nothing!)

Well, now I want a celebratory margarita & a pedicure…

A Runner’s Secret Weapons

One thing that I have learned is that runners do weird things. If we aren’t running, we are always doing something to help us recover from a run or preparing for our next run.

It’s a constant thing! And each and every runner has their own secret weapons for fast recovery and pain relief.

Working full-time and with a limited budget, I have to be pretty crafty with some of these methods. 

My top 4 secret weapons are…

1. Compression gear

I wear compression gear all the time. Yes, even at work! Today I am wearing my fabulous Pro Compression marathon socks underneath my boots (sneaky, I know!) Compression socks are made of strong elastic material and the pressure allows for the socks to constantly squeeze the leg muscles. This motion helps to drive blood back to the heart, reduce swelling in the feet and prevents blood clot formation. It alleviates any calf pain and allows for faster recovery after a long run. I love them, so I wear them after long runs (so sexy I know). If my quads are hurting, you will definitely find me in my Aspaeris Pivot Shorts which conveniently pair perfectly with pencil skirts!

2. Golf Ball

I am in no way shape or form a golfer (I’m even bad at putt-putt), but I do not know what I would do without this magical orange golf ball. After a run, sometimes the arches of my feet are dying. If you have ever had plantar fasciitis (which is just a fancy name for pain on the bottom of your foot), then you know how much it sucks. For some pain relief, you put the golf ball on the ground and gently roll your foot on top of the ball. This will stimulate blood flow and will break up any scar tissue you might have. It’s ideal when you are standing as you can get perfect pressure in the exact problem area. I am not even going to lie, I have been known to carry the wonderous orange golf ball in my purse and use it at my desk (very discreetly of course!)

3. Ice Cups

Is it bad to say that I would die without these? What is literally just a dixie cup filled with a chunk of ice has become a lifesaver to my shins. It’s cheap, easy, and effective. I fill the cups about 3/4 of the way full. Freeze them overnight and you have the perfect ice massage tool for your shin (or any part of your body that’s hurting!). Peel back the top of the cup to expose an inch of the ice. Rub it up and down your shins, peeling back the cup until the entire ice-cup is melted. I really love the ice cup because you can really push in (don’t go too hard!) into those hard to reach painful areas. These dotted dixie cups (aren’t they adorable?!) fill up half of my freezer. I prepare them in masses so that when I need one, they are there and ready for me!

4. Daily Vitamins

One important aspect of running is nutrition. Although I have been working hard on changing my diet to reach daily nutritional values (damn you happy hours!), I have known that I have needed a little boost. Enter a daily vitamin! There are many different vitamins that impact runners, their performance and their recovery time. I found Vitafusion MultiVites, and have loved them! They are gummy vitamins for adults (these people are genius!) and have the proper vitamin intake to help keep me healthy! Although nothing can replace a healthy diet, I really like the little added boost of taking a daily vitamin in the morning.

Important vitamins for runners include…

Vitamin A for healing of broken bones and is critical to the development and maintenance of healthy bones (Vitafusion = 50% Daily Value)

Vitamin B-6 for helping make red blood cells, normalize brain function, assisting in the body’s breaking down of protein and plays a role in fatty acid metabolism. (Vitafusion = 200% Daily Value)

Vitamin C for fighting free radical damage, reducing upper respiratory tract infections, and healing on the achilles tendon (Vitafusion = 50% Daily Value)

Vitamin D for speed, balance, reaction time, muscle mass and strength, as well lowering the risk of stress fractures and upper respiratory infections (Vitafusion = 200% Daily Value)

Vitamin E for lungs to absorb and safely remove polluting substances from your body, treatment of leg/foot cramps and restless leg syndrome (Vitafusion = 50% Daily Value)

What are your secret weapons for running? 

Why I Write

I came to a realization around 11:10 a.m. today

It’s long and rambling, but it was a big realization.

The story starts way back with a few facts. In high school I wanted to be a journalist. In college I decided that I wanted to be a writer of any sort.

I have always loved to write.  I joined the newspaper, took writing courses, forced columnist and writer Steve Duin to take me under his wing. I love to write and I so desperately wanted to write for a career.

A friend once asked me why writing was my focus in college. After a long pause, I told her

“I love to tell people’s stories that would otherwise go unheard.”

The moment of clarity has always stuck with me. And today I brought that quote back into my life.

Today I went to interview a professor. It was supposed to be a typical interview for an upcoming newsletter. To me, it was just another day and another interview at work. Right when I stepped inside of his office, I was blown away by his liveliness. This professor was filled with such light and joy answering my questions for my story. What was just a typical story interview for me was actually the highlight of his day. Although his subject and projects have no particular interest to me, he was so excited to be the subject of an article. Each and every question he answered with enthusiasm and with passion.

You would see him walking across campus and never know his story or passion. He is a man who cares deeply for his subject and for the students he teaches. And I have the pleasure of telling his story. 

Although I am not a writer for The New York Times or Rolling Stone, I am a writer for the University of Portland. And I am telling people’s stories.    

Tales From A Beginner Spinner

WHEN ROYA GOT HOME FROM SPIN CLASS…

courtesy of #whatyoushouldcallme

I took my first spin class two nights ago… (impressive/crazy I know!). Since then, I have been waddling around bow-legged and telling everyone my story. “Yes, I have survived hell now please carry me up the stairs…”

Spin class always seemed so unapproachable. I have heard horror stories, seen classes on tv. Basically it seemed like 45 minutes of pure and utter exercise torture…

And of course I wanted to try it! 

Initially I wanted something that would compliment running and yoga, that was a high intensity workout, and something that would kick my ass.

(note to self, be careful what you wish for!)

I walked into class and was literally scared out of my mind…

courtesy of Kesier.com

First off, those bikes are heavy and hard to move! I was struggling to fit through the door when the instructor came over to offer some advice (nothing says new girl in class like struggling to carry the equipment).

The instructor saw the look of terror in my eyes after I set my bike in the corner of the room (front and center is not my friend). She thankfully came over to help me.

She set me up with the proper height for my seat and handlebars (F – 3) and showed me how the resistance works. A minute later I was all ready to go! You have a lever which controls the amount of resistance on your bike. Basically the resistance lever is your best friend and worst enemy. During the class, we were constantly changing our resistance based on the interval we were working on.

For easy pace and recovery, your resistance is lower (yeah!). For a sprint up a hill, your resistance is higher (no!). You follow the instructor’s lead and away you go on an intense ride. 

What I really loved about the class is that you can cater it to your skill level. Only you are in control of your resistance and RPMs (repetitions per minute). There were so many different skill levels in my class, but it didn’t matter since I knew that I was in charge of my workout and speed. I’m not going to lie though, the girl beside me could give Lance Armstrong a run for his money, but that’s another story…

courtesy of Kesier.com

The class was really challenging and it really pushed me past my limit. Half way through I thought I wasn’t going to make it. There is no down time, you are working and working hard for 45 minutes straight. Once I got over that halfway bump, I was feeling energized and powerful enough to continue through!  I loved how full of energy the class was. The music fit each and every set we did. We would sprint during intense choruses, cool down to lighter music. Everything flowed seamlessly (much like the sweat dripping down my face the entire time)

Want to try it? Here are some hints for the beginner spinner…

  • Go to class early and have the instructor set your bike up for you
  • Bring a towel and water bottle. Trust me, you will need these!
  • Spin at your own pace. Resistance too high? Turn it down, no one will judge you
  • Stretch and spin before class to warm up your legs
  • Wear a moisture-wicking top & bottom. You will sweat like you are in a sauna

I’m definitely a convert to the spin class world. Now I just need my quads to stop burning!