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This post is very belated, but I am still very excited to report that I graduated from NYU with my Master’s in Clinical Nutrition a few weeks ago! Passing the RD exam in September was an amazing feeling, but finishing my graduate degree and celebrating with my family, friends and classmates was even better. Graduation was held in Madison Square Garden and was very entertaining, with dancing, singing, and a hashtag screen for #Steinhardt2015.

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I often forget that my decision to become a Registered Dietitian stemmed from the creation of this blog nearly five years ago. It has been such a long, challenging road, and I am having trouble believing that it is finally over. I recently perused some of my old blog posts and it amazes me just how much has happened in my personal, professional and athletic life throughout this time. I am forever grateful for the support of my family, friends, and most of all my husband for helping me succeed in my professional journey. Going back to school in your 30s is a very daunting task!

I’m still adjusting to the idea of no longer being a student. I keep thinking that this is just a break and summer classes are right around the corner. I can’t even express how relieved I am to finally be done. I am still working full time as a clinical dietitian at Montefiore, but I am cherishing my new “free time” on week nights and weekends. I think I will need at least a month or two to catch up on sleep and recover from 3.5 years of craziness. I am also looking forward to my first true vacation in ages – a week of R&R in Maui, starting tomorrow, followed by a long weekend in a log cabin (literally) without TV or phone service in the Catskills! E and I are celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary, and I can’t think of a better way to do so than some quality time out in nature, completely unplugged from the rest of the world.

I plan to focus on next steps professionally once I’m back. I will begin coaching the Gilda’s Club NYC marathon team for the 4th consecutive year, and will continue to coach private run clients and counsel private nutrition clients through Physical Equilibrium (get in touch if you’re interested). I also plan to build the website for my new nutrition business, “Eat for Endurance: Nutrition counseling for longevity in life and in sport.” In the meantime, follow me on Twitter and Instagram @eatforendurance for nutrition and fitness tips!

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E and I have been enjoying some down time on the running front since the Brooklyn Half Marathon a few weeks ago. And we are so thankful that the weather finally turned – how gorgeous were those Spring blossoms?! My hamstring has been bothering me recently, but I hope I can start training properly again later this month with the NYC triathlon relay approaching! After having such a blast at our April TNF ultra, E and I are on the hunt for an exciting a Fall race. We haven’t picked one yet but did come across a 65km trail race outside of Quebec in September that sounds intriguing! I am slightly concerned, however, about the bell that is on the “recommended” (not required) list of gear to ward of bears…hmmm.

I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful warm weather! Happy running!

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Between breaking my 4-year PR at the NYC Half, running my first Boston marathon, getting married and beginning my dietetic internship, 2013 was quite a year! I’m happy to report that I had a very successful (although stressful) semester since my last blog post, as well as a wonderful, much-needed vacation with E to celebrate reaching the half-way point in my internship (2 weeks in California with my family, 1 week in Tulum, Mexico). It was the first time in years that I had time off that was actual time off – no exams to study for, DI applications to complete, wedding planning to do, or anything else to distract me from spending quality time with my loved ones and getting some R&R in between two tough semesters. So much sleep and incredible food. It was awesome, not to mention good timing as we missed some pretty horrendous weather on the East Coast! Bad weather ended up hitting us in Mexico for 4 out of our 6 days, and of course the polar vortex has returned to NYC recently, but at least we got to skip a couple weeks of it! This California girl is not built for extreme cold, that’s for sure.

Here are a few shots from our trip:

Hanging out with my beautiful niece! Ice cream at Bi-rite creamery in SF  SF Two days of sunshine in Mexico better than nothing!

I could use another few weeks of winter break, but overall I’m feeling mentally recharged and ready to get back to it, which is a good thing because tomorrow is my first day of hospital rotations. The hospital is starting me with clinical rotations so I get to dive right into the deep end! It will be a bigger adjustment than starting with food service but this way I get to tackle the most challenging rotations first while the material from last semester is still somewhat fresh in my mind. It’s clear that the next 6 months will make last semester feel like a piece of cake, but I’m looking forward to helping actual patients and getting some great experience.

So with 6 months of hospital rotations ahead of me, as well as another go at the NYC Half and Boston marathons and my RD exam later in the year, 2014 looks to be just as busy, exciting and challenging as 2013. I can’t say that I’m feeling quite as positive about my training as I am about my internship, but I’m doing my best. I’m five weeks into my current  training cycle and with each week I feel like I’m moving backwards. I felt great in my first two weeks while training in California – it’s hard not to when you get run for hours in gorgeous Nisene Marks forest and on the beach in the sunshine! Pure bliss. Also, my hamstring and other niggles seem to have finally healed from all the time off, so although I felt a bit out of shape, I was able to begin speed work again feeling relatively strong.

Cut to being back in NYC and everything just feels ten times harder. I did the exact same tempo run on the treadmill that felt easy in California and could hardly finish it. Same with my interval session. I’m sure not being as well-rested and relaxed played a role, as well as the insanely frigid weather, but it’s still been discouraging. E and I ran 18 miles this past weekend in the coldest weather I’ve ever run in, and 16 the weekend before (which probably was the worst run I’ve had in months). I had three hats on, two pairs of pants, three long sleeve layers/jackets on top of my tank, and resorted to wearing wool socks over my gloves and hand warmers to keep my fingers warm (always my biggest challenge). We were out there for nearly three hours and I’m impressed that we made it to the end. Certainly the type of run that I could not have finished without the company of E and my other running buddies!

I’m not excited about the rest of this training cycle especially since I have to begin training at night, if time even allows for that. My internship obviously takes priority so I’ll just have to see how it goes and fit in whatever I can. It’s looking like Boston #2 may be the first marathon I run without a real time goal, and I’m actually totally fine with that. I ran strong last year and after everything that happened at the finish, I think Boston 2014 is the perfect race to relax my pace and enjoy being out on the course!

I finished my last final exam on Tuesday morning – and it’s taken me this long for my brain to start functioning normally again! Nutrition & Health on Monday was a piece of cake, but Physiology on Tuesday was a bit brutal. I walked out of there in such a daze that it took most of the day to actually register that I had finished my first semester of grad school! Once it did click, I can’t tell you how great it felt to be done. I just got all of my grades – 4.0 (woo-hoo!) – so it was a very successful start to my program and I’m feeling quite proud of myself.

My freedom is short-lived – two weeks to be exact – but I’m trying to make the most of it. I somehow managed to drag myself to the gym after the exam and then balanced it out by spending the rest of the day in bed watching bad TV. It was amazing. E arrived later that night – that was my real reward for finishing exams, finally seeing him! I had planned for us to do a short tempo session the next morning – just 2M at his goal race pace of 8:20min/mile so I could practice pacing him before tomorrow’s race – but we were both too exhausted to make it happen before his early morning meeting.

While he worked, I spent the day catching up on emails, running errands and doing an internship project up at Physical Equilibrium. I know, not exactly post-exam vacation stuff, but it just felt nice to not have my head in the books. My RD taught me how to process food logs using top of the line software, which gave me a good taste of what I’ll be doing both in Diet Assessment next semester and in my own future nutrition practice. I also met with the owner of the company to sign all the paperwork for my coaching gig with Gilda’s Club NYC – I am BEYOND excited. Our first meeting is in mid-June, and our first scheduled run is in mid July. I’m not sure yet how big our team is, or how much experience our runners have, but I will find out soon.

It was a gorgeous day and I had bailed on my run, so I walked from midtown all the way up to the NYRR office on East 89th street to pick up our Brooklyn Half Marathon numbers. On the way, I stopped at Bloomingdales to get frozen yogurt – while processing food logs, someone had eaten a small frozen yogurt from Forty Carrots and I was trying to estimate serving size. Obviously I had to do some research! 🙂 Let’s just say it was the largest “small” I’ve ever seen in my life. It was at least 2.5 cups, maybe 3? Portion sizes in this country are just insane. But it was so good.

  

It was my first time up at the NYRR headquarters and I thought number pickup was very efficient. There weren’t too many giveaways this time – just a gel – but the t-shirts were WAY better than the NYC Half. E’s number is in the 9000’s and I am in the 5000’s, so I will be heading back to start with him. Even though my coral doesn’t matter for this race, I took the opportunity to speak with someone at NYRR to understand the system better. I didn’t get why I was once again placed in the 5000’s.

Apparently, as a member, you are placed according to the best time you have run with NYRR. You can’t predict a better time or use a best time from another race that is minutes faster – you must prove yourself. Fair enough. However, for non-members, even those who have raced with NYRR before, you simply enter your predicted time and are placed accordingly (which is what I did when I registered E for this race). I wouldn’t mind except that in the NYC Half, I was placed in the mid 5000’s – the runners around me were much slower, which slowed me down in the first mile or so. I finished in the 2000’s which clearly supports that I didn’t belong back there, yet once again, I was placed in the 5000’s! I still don’t get it. They said that I have been placed with other runners whose best pace is 7:39 (for the record, that is not my best pace) – so either Brooklyn Half runners are a lot faster than NYC Half runners or everyone’s best time was from a long time ago. Again, I don’t care for tomorrow’s race, but when I’m actually racing, it’s frustrating and causes me to lose precious time while I weave around everyone. But enough venting…

Yesterday I was supposed to begin a serious apartment hunt – trying to find a decent apartment in NYC has displaced my school stress (this city is the worst) – but I didn’t get too far. It was another beautiful day out and I decided to let myself enjoy if for a few hours. I had a great lunch with a friend at Google (the NYC office is nuts – the food is amazing, I’m very jealous), then wandered around Chelsea Market and walked along the High Line. I also finally treated myself to my first item of running clothing from Lululemon, as a reward for finishing my first semester. I settled on the Run in the Sun skirt – I’ve always been curious about running skirts, and really need more gear for summer. I also liked one of their running shorts, but the liner bugged me slightly. The skirt had longer spandex shorts underneath, which I find far more comfortable.

It was a pretty awesome day until my water bottle opened up and spilled all over my bag – which I didn’t notice until it was too late. All over a book I borrowed from a friend, my wallet, my iPod, and most importantly my iPad. My iPod seems to be okay, thank goodness my phone was in my hand, but my iPad is not faring so well. It seems to have dried out slightly and the sound is now working again, but the screen is a bit messed up. That was my 30th birthday gift – huge bummer. So much for trying to stay hydrated!!

It wasn’t anything a nice dinner with E couldn’t fix, though. We went to Hearth and had a delicious meal – I got a marinated mushroom and ricotta salad to start, veal and ricotta meatballs with spinach cannelloni (can you tell I love ricotta?) and we shared a rhubarb crumble with ginger ice cream for dessert. So tasty!

Today, the apartment hunt continues, and I’m trying to rest up for the race tomorrow too. I’ve walked so much in the last few days, my legs desperately need a break!

Honestly, I’m not sure how tomorrow will go for either myself or E. Normally, running 8:20 pace wouldn’t be anything I would worry about – but I haven’t been running very much the last two months, I’m still recovering from weeks of sleep deprivation and there’s a heat advisory. I also need to be very careful about not running too fast in the early miles – my legs will naturally want to break into half marathon mode and I can’t let them! E has been training but he’s exhausted and jet lagged, and he usually struggles with heat.

But we’re still going to go for it – our goal is sub-1:50 so he can PR and qualify for a seeded start coral in the Chicago Marathon. I’m a bit bummed that we didn’t get to practice pacing, but we’ve run together so many times in the last couple of years I’m sure we’ll be fine. I’m going to wear a pace band and try my best to keep him with me. It will be our first time racing together, his first time racing with someone, and my first time pacing someone, so I’m very interested to see how it plays out. I’ve received strict instructions to only deliver facts regarding time, pace, distance etc and not encouragement, which is against what I would naturally do, so hopefully I can keep my mouth shut and not piss him off. 🙂

Either way, I’m really excited to cross the finish line together. The race is at 7am and we need to get up at 4am – I’m counting on adrenaline to get me revved up! Obviously I am hoping we finish under 1:50 – his goal is my goal, his victory my victory – but given the weather and our physical condition, we can only try our best.

Happy Spring – and Spring break to any of my fellow students out there! It doesn’t exactly feel like a break, given that I have a midterm the week after next, several assignments and a whole lot of reading and studying to do, but ten days without classes or the library is good enough for me!

Last week, I talked about breaking down the bigger, crazier picture into smaller, more manageable goals when your life is so relentlessly busy as mine is right now. One of goals for this semester was to kick butt on my first exam in eight years, to give myself confidence that my brain still works – check! Today, I will have completed another goal – SURVIVE THE WEEK.

Have you ever felt hungover, not because you had anything to drink but because your previous day was that insane? That’s how I felt Tuesday morning, after a long weekend of cramming and two exams back to back on Monday afternoon – my brain was beyond fried. I actually felt that way on Monday morning too, which didn’t bode well for being able to think clearly later in the day. Usually on mornings like these, all I want to do is pull the covers over my head when my alarm goes off. But what did I do instead? I went for a run (surprise, surprise) – nothing challenging, just a relaxed 3 miler along the river to flush my system and clear my head. Sometimes that extra bit of sleep helps, but at other times (if you’re already awake, feeling stressed out – as I was), a short, easy run will calm and then energize your system for whatever lies ahead. That day was VERY long, but I got through it and I think I even did quite well on both exams (I don’t find out for another week or two).

Better yet, I came home Monday evening to something very exciting that arrived in the mail – a copy of Sam Murphy’s latest running book, Real Women Run (published by Kyle Books, photos by Eddie Jacob), featuring my running story! I wrote my story and did the photo shoot last summer, as you may recall, and have been eagerly awaiting this package ever since. It was awesome to finally see my running story in print, along with five photos from my shoot (two with the story, and three elsewhere in the book). The book isn’t officially published until March 29th, so I have to wait until then to post my running story, but here’s a sneak peak of my two pages in the book:

Monday’s intensity really set the tone for the week. I was relieved to have completed three of my four midterms, but I still had so much to tackle, and as of now, I’m nowhere near finished with what I had hoped to accomplish by the end of today. Looking back on what I DID accomplish this week, however, perhaps I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Here are a few highlights, in addition to those discussed above:

Successful tempo session – I’m seeing the PT again later today to check on my right hamstring, but overall I’d say that I’m feeling pretty solid. I’m not as fast as I’d like to be, nor was I able to build up to a decent tempo distance in this training cycle (I did 3M and 2x2M before I got injured, but on Tuesday, only reached 3×1.5M). At least I’m running without pain, and that certainly is a huge part of running success! I also got myself back down to 118 pounds from 124 back in January, so that will help with my speed. I normally do my tempo runs at 7:24 pace, and recently have been running closer to 7:30 – but as I increased the distance per interval on Tuesday, I realized that I needed to drop down to 7:35. I’m still not sure I can hold that pace for 13.1M, but I’m locking that in as my goal race pace for next Sunday. If I run around that pace, I can hit my sub-1:40 goal – nowhere near a PR, but that time would really give me confidence as I approach the start of Chicago training. Check out my training schedule for more details.

New volunteer position with City Harvest – As I’ve discussed before, a crucial piece of my education and training while I complete my DPD courses and eventually apply to a Dietietic Internship is volunteering at community centers, hospitals/long-term care facilities, and other nutrition-related organizations. I started my position at Physical Equilibrium last month, which has been going very well – I’m learning so much from the RD I work with – but a role at a private practice does not give me the experience I need to fully prepare myself for a Dietetic Internship. Thus, I applied for a nutrition education position with City Harvest – an incredible organization in NYC for anyone who has never heard of it.

The interview was on Tuesday afternoon and was slightly intense, given I haven’t done a formal interview in quite some time – several targeted questions about my teaching/coaching experience, what I can offer, and other more general interview questions – but it went well. I was offered and accepted the position! I will be conducting nutrition training and education sessions to groups of teachers at various pre-school and after-school sites across NYC, as part of City Harvest’s Fruit Bowl program. This program delivers fresh fruit and low-fat dairy foods to children, accompanied by education to help those children develop life-long healthy eating habits. The program has been in place since 2007, but my role as trainer to the teachers is something new. It’s going to be challenging and time consuming, but a really great opportunity to develop new skills and contribute to the community. I’m a bit nervous about the public speaking aspect of it – although I have performed on stage as an oboist in front of large crowds countless times, I’ve never had to speak! I’m sure I’ll be fine though, and I’ll have two other trainers with me. With this position, my schedule is officially MAXED out – it already feels maxed out now (I have no life outside of school, it’s sad), but I’ll make it work! I know it will be worth the time and effort.

Spring weather and successful track session: The weather on Wednesday and Thursday really lifted my spirits, even if I only got to enjoy it as I walked to/from campus and ran on Thursday. Isn’t it amazing what a little sunshine can do?! Thursday’s mid-day track session was a bit on the warm side, but I really enjoyed it. I can’t remember the last time I ran in WARM sunshine, in a tank top and shorts! It was amazing. I ran 2×1200, 4×400 and 2×200, with 1M warm up and cool down – it felt relatively easy and short, which I guess it was compared to previous track sessions. As with Tuesday’s tempo, I was mainly just pleased that I felt strong.

First interview as a coach: An editor from Competitor.com contacted me earlier in the week to see if I would be interested in talking to her over the phone about an article she was writing on fueling before morning runs and races. She had found me through RRCA’s website, which lists all certified coaches. I of course said yes, and we had a great chat Thursday afternoon about sports nutrition, among other things. I know it’s not a very big deal, particularly since she is interviewing several other coaches and it’s on their website rather than in print, but I still find it pretty cool! The article should be online in the next few weeks, including a few quotes from our conversation – hopefully I’ll sound okay! I have no clue what she’ll pull from our talk…

Today will be a big push to get work done, and then the weekend has some fun things in store! I’ll be working the Physical Equilibrium booth at the Multisport World NYC triathlon expo up at Columbia, from 9:30am – 12pm. If you happen to be in the area, come by and say hello! We may be doing mini nutrition assessments, among other things, and of course there are tons of other booths and lectures going on throughout the day (the event goes on until late afternoon). I plan on hearing Nancy Clarke, a very well-known sports nutritionist based in Boston, speak at 9:50am. Looking forward to hopefully meeting her too!

But the REALLY exciting part of tomorrow is E’s arrival in the afternoon!!! I haven’t seen him since I was in London 6 weeks ago. He will be visiting for my entire Spring break – he’s also running the NYC half with me next Sunday. We’re escaping to Vermont for a few nights which will be a huge treat, as I desperately need some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I miss being in nature!! His visit means that I won’t be able to get as much work done over break as I need to…but I’ll do what I can. I’m sure my brain needs a rest, anyway!

Happy Friday, Spring and Spring break everyone!

Blogging has become a luxury as I approach my first round of exams, but I need a break from the skeletal and muscle systems! The 4th floor graduate study rooms in Bobst have practically become my second home. I’d take a photo but this pretty much sums it up: a table, two chairs, three blank walls (no padding), and a door. Try spending 8-10 straight hours in one of these things for several days – then you’ll know how I’m feeling right about now. At least they’re quiet and great for studying (unlike my apartment).

Also, I can get boxes of cupcakes delivered here, as I found out on Friday! E had arranged for a box of 25 mini cupcakes from Baked by Melissa to be sent to me on Valentine’s Day, but I was – of course – at the library all day and night, and also during the rest of the week. Thankfully, they finally found me on campus and I received my goodies at the library entrance. It definitely brightened up my afternoon – they were so adorable and came in such unusual flavors!

  

Ironically, I was reading about carbohydrates and lipids for my Nutrition & Health class as I proceeded to stuff my face with these little, yet lethal morsels. So wrong, yet so delicious. I ate about half the box and felt a bit guilty but okay, and shoved the rest as far away from me as I could (which was about two feet towards the other wall). But who was I kidding? By 10pm, ALL 25 of those things were GONE. It wasn’t my proudest moment, I must say, and my stomach was not happy with me.

Lesson learned – never get a box of cupcakes delivered to your jail cell library study room, particularly when you’re stressed, tired and don’t have much self control at the best of times! But hey, I was just following orders on the t-shirt E sent with the cupcakes.

I suppose tasting and gorging yourself aren’t exactly the same thing, though…

This week has been a perfect example of what grad school – as well as my NYC half training – has been like recently. Constant ups and downs. I am loving this program and so many amazing things have been happening – equally, I don’t think I’ve been this stressed out or exhausted in a very long time.

Let’s start with the positives – I got an internship! A couple weeks ago, I applied for my first nutrition-related position, since I need to begin building my resume for my dietetic internship application. I started on Friday morning at Physical Equilibrium, a small nutrition and fitness boutique in NYC, with a great RD and I’m beyond excited. The woman I’ll be working with is an ideal mentor for me at this stage of my education – she received her personal training and triathlon coaching certifications before attending NYU’s Master’s program in Clinical Nutrition, then worked in a hospital for several years and gradually transitioned into full time private practice. She splits her time between personal training and nutrition counseling.

The opportunity is a great fit for me as a future RD, while also allowing me to contribute and further develop my coaching, writing and marketing skills. I’ll be doing a wide variety of tasks relating to the private practice – some marketing/PR related, and some more nutrition/researched focused. I’ll gain tons of exposure to running a small business while learning from her diverse nutrition and fitness experience. It will be a wonderful introduction to both industries – it will also give me a sneak peak into what I ultimately hope to do before I begin my clinical training.

This past week’s lab was also quite fun. The basic set up is that we arrive in our uniforms (chef’s coat etc), our teacher talks to us for a bit about what we’re doing that day, we spend the bulk of class cooking a variety of things (each team makes something different) and then we taste and discuss as a group before cleaning up. It’s a bit crazy trying to find everything in the kitchen and finish everything in time before presenting to the class (it really is like those cooking shows), but I love it, especially since my team includes two of my closer friends from my program.

  

We didn’t do any “real” cooking last class – we conducted a few experiments (like adding vinegar and baking soda to two pots of cabbage to see the effects of adding acidic and alkaline substances to different vegetables), practiced basic cooking methods (we had to steam, roast, grill, broil, sweat etc a variety of vegetables), and made applesauce (each team had a different type of apple so we could compare flavors during our tasting). We also learned knife skills – I definitely need to practice my new technique. It’s a bit tricky if you’re not used to it! Next week the real cooking will begin! I can’t wait.

As for the downs…well, I’ve really been a bit all over the place this week. Some days I feel great, others not so much – and that goes for my training as well as my emotions, which for you runners out there know are often linked! School is stressful even when my body is feeling great, so without that exercise outlet, I really struggle. Plus, I was really hoping to do well in the NYC half, and it upsets me that I’ve missed so many important workouts – mainly my speed work, but overall mileage has been very low.

My hamstring, which started to trouble me after I got back from London, was still not feeling well even after several days of rest. I finally dragged myself to a PT on Tuesday and again on Thursday, started to do various exercises she recommended and didn’t run or cross train for several days. Meanwhile, I was spending hours on end sitting in the library, walking less (I have discovered the NYU bus, so it’s a bit easier to be lazy) and not sleeping well, which surely didn’t help things. I finally did a short run on Friday, which felt okay but afterwards I didn’t feel great, I rested yesterday (went for a nice walk along the river) and ran 9 relatively pain free miles today at 8:46 average pace. Here are a couple of photos from my walk – it was such a beautiful night! On a side note, I discovered the voice memo feature on my ipod nano – I created my own physiology “podcasts” by reading my notes aloud for each chapter, so I can listen to them as I walk, run or cook. Pretty handy!

 

My legs are definitely better but I still don’t feel quite right. My energy levels are lower than ideal and my muscles are tight, despite tons of stretching and foam rolling. I’m sure stress is part of it. I’m getting a 75-minute sports massage tomorrow so I’m hoping that will help. I never go this long without sports massage, but as a student in NYC, it’s definitely not something I can afford to do even on a semi-regular basis. But desperate times call for desperate measures!

The half marathon is in a month. I haven’t given up entirely on my hopes for doing well, but I’m realizing that now may not be the best time to put pressure on myself. Clearly my body is sending me a message, and I need to listen. Perhaps I just need to adjust my definition of “doing well.” Either way, school, and my health, must come first. Hopefully by the time Chicago rolls around, I will have managed to find a better balance in my schedule. I keep forgetting that I’ve only been in this program for a month – it feels like so much longer!

At the end of the day, this is what’s important: I am exactly where I want to be. Even in that tenth hour of studying, when I’m burnt out and ready to butt my head against that unpadded wall because I’m convinced I’m going to fail my physiology exam – I never doubt the decision I made to become an RD. I didn’t expect this path to be an easy one, which doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally envy some of my working friends, with their paychecks and social lives, but I know all the pain and joy I’m experiencing right now is part of my chosen adventure.

So let the fun continue – back to learning the muscle system and banging my head against that wall…

Happy Monday folks! I am entering my second week of NYU Steinhardt after three solid days of staring at books (I don’t have class on Friday). I could say reading but it’s still questionable how many of those words actually decided to stay in my brain. Although my eyes hurt and I am very tired (I have grown more accustomed to the noise in my apartment but now the stress has kicked in), I am finally caught up on my assignments, as of last night at least. The cycle begins anew today…!

I think week one went very well (minus a few mini meltdowns here and there) so I am hoping that week two goes even more smoothly. I enjoyed all my classes, and met more people in my program during my Wednesday Food Management Theory class. Apparently there are 29 of us in total (which is considered to be a large Spring class), but everyone is at varying stages of their DPD/MS, so only a smaller group is starting with me at square one. I even met a few people from San Francisco, so we got to commiserate over the cold and craziness of the NYC. I hope to get to know some of my classmates better through the new grad student nutrition seminar, which begins Tuesday night.

My Food & Food Science lab also begins this week (Wednesday from 9:30am – 12:15pm), so that means I’m losing quite a bit of my “free” time but that’s okay. I’m excited for lab! I’ve never had any formal cooking training, so I think it will be useful, plus some of the recipes we’re making sound awesome. One of the chapters I read for lab last night was on plating food and various techniques to make food look beautiful – so much fun! I could do that all day long.

As for the mini meltdowns…well, I already mentioned in my last post that I am simply too slow with my work – I need to pick up the pace. That’s going to be an issue for awhile most likely but at least I was productive over the long weekend and checked many items off my list. Still, at times I felt very overwhelmed by the insane quantity of material I need to learn, and all of the other things that I wasn’t tending to because I was studying. Things like running errands, responding to emails, applying for grants, finding a volunteer opportunity, finding a job, seeing friends, speaking to my family, strength training/anything at the gym (which is essential for injury prevention), and so much more. I’ve also been stressing myself out way too much about money – trying not to go out to eat, trying to walk everywhere etc. The financial aspects of attending NYU are very scary, but it’s also tough getting used to not doing things I used to do regularly when I had a steady income. But hey, it’s only week two, and I’ve been holding myself together for the most part. Change is a process!

Speaking of change, I got this card in the mail from my mother on Wednesday, along with some things from home that made me happy – specifically, my own sheets, my bathrobe and a really soft warm blanket that will be great for studying on the couch when I”m cold. She mailed it to me on my first day here, when I was really struggling to adjust to my new surroundings. Things are MUCH better now, but the card (and the package) were still extremely comforting. Change CAN be beautiful, it’s true – it’s tough, but it’s how you grow. It’s also how I’ll finally have a career that I will (hopefully) love!

Before I get back to the books, I’ll sum up my week in running and food.

In terms of training, I had a strong mileage week – hit 34 miles which is the highest I’ve gone in awhile. I know that’s nothing for anyone training for a marathon, but I felt pretty good about it since I’ve mostly been in the mid-high 20s since running Portland in October. I ran an easy 10.5M with some friends in Central Park on Saturday. We started at 9am and the park was practically a running highway, perhaps due to the relatively mild weather. It was a great study break, particularly the social aspect since I have not had a chance yet to get in touch with even a small fraction of my NYC friends since I got here.

The run made me realize a few things. First, I really really miss my California running spots. The park is great once in awhile, particularly the people watching, and every time I visited NYC I LOVED running there, but it’s a bit boring to me now. The East River is getting even more boring. I haven’t yet been to the West side this month, but I did tons of running there during my visit in November – it’s pretty but it grows old quickly. A friend pointed out a long path near Brooklyn Heights that’s on the water, which could be nice, and there’s Prospect Park (but that’s small I think). Is that really it for NYC running?! California and even London spoiled me for running spots. I can’t tell you how badly I wish I could run on the beach or in Nisene just once! In London, it was so easy to hop on a train and get out to the countryside. I guess that’s just how things go in NYC though. I suppose I need to stick to the park and the West side anyway, since that’s the NYC Half course. Speaking of, I haven’t yet posted my training log for that race – here it is! Still a work in progress, but you can see what I’ve done thus far. Be warned – it’s a somewhat random, pieced together plan…

Second, I realized that I really need to hit the “reset” button my legs. I shouldn’t have felt that fatigued after 10 miles. I’ve been taking two full rest days recently (mainly due to not having time for the gym) but I think because I’ve been so busy and have neglected strength training, am no longer running up mountains in California and have thrown in new things like track workouts, my legs aren’t quite as strong as they used to be. So this week is a drop back week. Also, starting today, I’m going to make time for cross training and strength training. My gym is five minutes from campus – really, no excuse!

 

Food-wise, I had a pretty great weekend! On Friday – my day of studying and not leaving my apartment (I don’t recommend that btw if you live in a tiny place like mine – got very claustrophobic) – I made myself a “study break scramble” which was delicious. I’m loving those chicken mango sausages I got from TJ’s. I keep them in the freezer which is handy on busy days like Friday. Here’s my recipe if you’re interested.

On Saturday, I had a friend over for dinner – my first real apartment guest, as well as the first time I tried out the oven! Thankfully, it works. My place doesn’t have a real table, just a coffee table, but I did my best with the space and it looked quite nice.

I made a starter salad and a grilled veggie pizza with cheese (mozzarella and feta) on whole wheat pizza dough. It was delicious! I am convinced that shallots make everything (savory) taste wonderful – I’m obsessed with them. For the veg toppings, I used sauteed mushrooms, shallots, garlic, red, yellow and orange bell peppers (sliced very thinly), cherry tomatoes and baby zucchini. We ate all but two large slices, which made for the perfect lunch (with salad and fruit) on Sunday while I was studying in the NYU library grad student lounge.

After dinner, I had what I realized was my first drink since, possibly, New Year’s Eve! Since I’m not going out much these days, and I’m not a big drinker to begin with, I just haven’t really been drinking much. I had a nice glass of Viognier – it tasted so good.

 

I wrapped up my night with a dark chocolate peanut butter cup (my favorite candy) and some sliced blood oranges with cinnamon – very refreshing.

Sunday was a much-needed rest day for me. I spent all day studying, and rewarded myself by going to see My Week with Marilyn with a friend. SUCH a great movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it! We both really lost ourselves in it, which is exactly what I needed after focusing on school for so many hours.

This week is going to be insane – I’m tied up with non-school stuff this weekend so I need try to get ahead in the next four days so I can take a couple days off this weekend. Bring on week two!

Speed, efficiency, time management, pacing, performance – these words are very much on my mind right now, both in my athletic training and everything else that goes on each day. Why? Because I’m realizing that now more than ever I simply can’t afford to waste time.

I’m trying not to put *too* much pressure on myself, but after a lackluster 2011, I really want to get back in the game this year. I want to do well in the NYC half. I don’t have to PR, but I want to at least get close to my PR, since I haven’t done that since September 2010. And I want Boston. My opportunity was taken away from me and I want another one. Surely that’s not too much to ask?! My chosen race is Chicago 2012. I know that puts me into an even later registration date if I do qualify, and training will be really tough with school and work, but I’ll give it my best shot.

My recent time on the track will help me get there. Today, I had on my schedule 1M, 2x2M at goal half marathon pace with 800m recovery, 4x100m strides with 100m recovery, 1M. It was really daunting, given I haven’t done tons of tempo work lately, plus it is a miserable, cold, windy and rainy day here in NYC. However, I managed to get myself out the door, and decided to simply go for it. And guess what? I did great. It was hard and I’m feeling very sore right now, but I felt strong while I was running and am pleased with my pacing.

Originally, the idea of running so many laps around the track wasn’t very appealing, but it went by quickly compared to the treadmill since I was focusing on each lap in order to keep track of my time/pace. I was aiming for somewhere around 1:50-1:52 per lap, which equates to 7:20 – 7:28 min/mile. I also would’ve been fine with averaging anywhere up to 7:38 (which is a sub-1:40 half marathon), but ideally I’m trying to get at least 1:39 (7:33) or closer to my PR of 1:37 (7:24). My overall average pace was 7:23 across 4M, and my splits were 7:21.1, 7:22.2, 7:23.9 and 7:23.4. I started too fast and I slowed down, but we’re talking less than a three second range, so that’s fine. I don’t really know if I have such a fast half marathon in me, but I want to give it a shot. I need some sort of positive race experience (in terms of achieving a fast time) to give me confidence for Chicago.

More importantly though, I desperately need to become more efficient with my time when it comes to school and everything else, including this blog. I need to strip everything that is not school or work down to the essentials – and I need to start prioritizing. As much as I love this blog, it has also become a very successful way to procrastinate. Yes, I confess – I am currently procrastinating. A huge mountain of homework is waiting for me and instead I am choosing to write. Bad, very bad. Writing, cleaning and cooking – my main procrastination methods! I keep thinking I have “all day” to do a huge list of things, but the reality is that those hours fly by and before I know it, it’s 6pm and I haven’t finished any of my work. Today is a perfect example. At least I got my track workout done…

I guess I need to lock myself in a library until I get used to being back in school and can work at home without getting so distracted. There’s no way I’ll stay afloat otherwise! But it’s also about pacing myself while I’m studying. I’m just too slow right now, partly because I haven’t been in this type of environment for so long, but also because I’m letting my perfectionism get the better of me. An assignment that should’ve taken me less than an hour took me over three. In the time I took to read one chapter of my Physiology book (which is the only reading I’ve done – I’m so behind already), I thought I would’ve finished at least two. Granted, I was trying to study it not simply read it, but still. I keep surprising myself by how long it’s taking me to do pretty much anything. At Yale, I juggled my music with a heavy course load and so much more and I got straight As. There’s no way I could’ve done all that while working at my current speed!

I’m reminding myself that I’ve only been in school for a week – and I really loved my first week! Every class is interesting – even the one with the horrible textbook – all my professors are wonderful and I am 100% positive that I made the right decision to pursue this degree. This weekend is my opportunity to catch up on my work, since I don’t have class on Fridays. I want to go into my second week feeling like I’m organized and on top of all my material. I can do it!

Everything – whether it’s pursuing a running goal or a major career change – takes time, hard work and perseverance. This is a huge adjustment and I just need to get the hang of things again. I’m highly motivated to do well in my classes this semester – paying for them myself certainly helps with that – and I’m confident I’ll get back into an academic groove, just as I know I’ll get back into my running groove.

Have a great weekend everyone! You know what I’ll be doing…

Today is my first day as a graduate student at NYU Steinhardt. I’m feeling a bit nervous, but mostly excited. January 23rd has been circled on my calendar for quite some time!

My first class is at 2pm – Nutrition & Health – and my second class is at 4:55pm – Intro to Food & Food Science. Both are in the same lecture hall, with a ten minute break in between, so I get to stay put from 2pm until 6:35pm.

I received all my textbooks in the mail over the weekend. I still can’t believe that a stack of five books that I’m only using for one semester cost me $690. Sigh. Hopefully they’ll be useful for reference later on, particularly when I’m studying for the RD exam. If you’re wondering why they don’t look particularly advanced, that’s because I have about a year and a half of undergraduate prerequisites to complete before I actually begin my graduate work. Thankfully, it’s interesting stuff (for the most part – can’t say I’m excited for Orgo this summer), and apparently (so I’m told) I won’t be the only older student in these classes. Still, I’m sure it will feel a bit weird to be surrounded by college kids – then again, it will probably feel strange simply being in a classroom again! I’ll keep you posted.

I managed to get a decent night of sleep – my white noise iPhone app at full volume + fan on high + earplugs + eyeshades system seems to be working, thankfully. I had originally planned another track speed session, but my quads are still a bit sore from Saturday’s long run so I opted for an easy 4.4 miler along the East river instead. It felt good to do something active but relatively low key to get myself into the first day of school spirit!

I’m a firm believer in having a healthy, hearty breakfast, particularly on big days like today. After my run, I had my latest favorite – a healthy twist on Bircher muesli. It’s delicious, but for whatever reason it hasn’t played a role in my breakfast repertoire for awhile. I rediscovered it in a post on Peanut Butter runner called “Overnight oats make a comeback,” which provided a great recipe. I like to make a slightly different version, but the fundamentals are essentially the same. As the name suggests, you soak the oats (rolled or steel cut) overnight and serve cold. You can also just leave them in the fridge for 20-30 minutes if you forget the night before, still tastes great. Super easy, tasty and so good for you! You can find my recipe here.

 

Today’s oats included plain nonfat greek yogurt, skim milk, agave, honey, pecan pieces, kiwi, blueberries, dried cranberries and one large banana. This time, I did remember to soak the oats overnight (I included everything but the fresh fruit), and it came out a bit softer than my usual 30 minutes. I’m sure this – plus my huge mug of coffee – will keep me feeling high energy for hours!

But let’s get back to school. Here’s the quick run down on my program, in case you’re interested. I’m working towards a Master’s of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics, with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition. I have only completed one of the required courses (Modern Chemistry – in high school!), so I have about 35 credits to go before I am eligible to apply for my Dietetic Internship. These requirements, which are determined by the American Dietetics Association, collectively make up the DPD, or Didactic Program of Dietetics. In order to secure a good Dietetic Internship (it’s extremely competitive – 50% match rate), I need a very high GPA as well as a substantial number of volunteer hours at a community center and a hospital. The internship is about one year long and can be done in NYC or elsewhere (UCSF, for instance, has a great internship). After that, I study for and pass an exam to become a Registered Dietitian, and finally, I take my remaining advanced coursework back at NYU. Yeah, it’ll be awhile until I graduate!

I plan to study year-round – two full semesters and two summer sessions per year – so I can begin work as a paid RD as soon as possible. This will be mentally and logistically challenging with volunteering, work and LIFE (running, blogging, relationships etc.), but I’ll do my best. NYU may not offer every course when I need to take it, but if all goes according to plan, I hope to finish my DPD plus some grad courses (Sports Nutrition and The Nutritional Aspects of Eating Disorders) by the end of Summer 2013. I hope to begin my internship in Fall 2013 and take my RD exam in Summer 2014 or soon after. Finally, I hope to finish my degree by the end of 2014, or Spring 2015 at the latest, to graduate in May 2015.

That feels so far off right now – but I guess it is only the first day of school! Time will fly, as it always does.

I am taking 13 credits this semester – four courses and a lab. Check out the schedule I made for myself – color coded and all! I am so type A, it’s ridiculous.

I had hoped to condense school into fewer days, rather than have big gaps every Wednesday and on certain Tuesdays. I had also hoped not to have “early” morning classes three days a week. Oh well! Campus is only 20 minutes away (if I walk quickly), and if I don’t feel like going back home in between classes, I always have my new second home – the massive NYU library.

I snapped that photo before someone told me that you’re not allowed to use cameras in there…apparently it’s a high security area. Whoops!

There are so many different study areas and student lounges around campus, many just for graduate students, so I’ll have plenty of options. I also can use the various branches of my gym, 24 hour fitness, or the two different NYU gyms included in my tuition. Once I get a part-time job and begin volunteering, on top of everything else, that schedule will no longer have all those nice white spaces! Things already feel crazy as I try to find work and volunteer opportunities, fill out grant applications, start my reading assignments etc. However, I’m very organized and I was a great student in the past, so hopefully I’ll be able to stay on top of everything, get straight A’s, do well in the NYC Half Marathon in March and begin coaching too. Those are some of my goals, at least!

Alright…time to sign off and get ready for class! But first, I wanted to share a few words of wisdom that E sent me this morning (via “The Daily Davar” emails he receives from Tikun), while wishing me good luck on my first day. It seemed particularly relevant to NYC, where so many people are constantly rushing around, absorbed in their own little worlds.

‘Greet every person with a smile.’ (Avos 3:17) When people smile at us, it makes us feel good – even if we are feeling miserable. You come into contact with hundreds of human beings every day – that’s hundreds of opportunities to make someone feel good by simply smiling at them.

And with that, I am sending you all virtual smiles! I hope you have a wonderful Monday.

After six weeks of anticipation, I received some incredibly exciting news via email a couple days ago: I have been offered a place in NYU’s master’s program in Clinical Nutrition! I just accepted my admissions offer and am officially on the road towards becoming a Registered Dietitian. YES!

I received NYU’s email upon returning to my car after a relaxing, restorative 6M run in Nisene Marks. My legs were a bit sore from Sunday’s race, but I was feeling anxious about still not having heard from NYU (they did say late November OR early December, but I am not the most patient person…) so I needed a distraction from constantly refreshing my email inbox. My application was strong and I had faith that I would probably get in, but you never really know and all the waiting/obsessing was making me paranoid.

Also, the weather was crisp and sunny – far too perfect to be cooped up inside – and I really missed the redwoods. My last run in the forest was the morning I flew to NYC in late October!

The run was lovely. All I could hear were my own footsteps and it smelled like Christmas trees. I stopped three miles in before turning around and took some time to listen to the creek and appreciate the peacefulness. Ahhhhhhh. What a special place. I took deep breaths, closed my eyes and reassured myself that everything would be okay, no matter what happened. And hey, if I didn’t get in, that meant more time to enjoy California and my favorite running trails!

I got back to my car, checked my phone and almost like magic that email I had been awaiting for so many weeks suddenly appeared. See what going for a run can do?!

I started screaming “I’m in!” and jumping up and down. Some mountain bikers next to me gave me strange looks. “Sorry, I just found out I got into grad school!” I continued my silly happy dance and then made a bunch of phone calls. My family and friends have been incredibly supportive and encouraging throughout this whole process – it felt wonderful to share the good news with them and receive so many kind words in response!

I cannot tell you how relieved I am. Classes start on January 23rd which means everything is happening VERY quickly. I have an endless to do list to get myself prepped for my first semester, including scholarship applications, finding a place to live, figuring out which classes to take, finding part-time work (I won’t bore you with the rest). I also have a VERY long road ahead of me before I can call myself an RD. It’s quite overwhelming.

However, I don’t have to do another round of master’s applications, take the GRE’s or figure out how to complete my prerequisites in California over the next six months when it’s practically impossible to get a space in a local community college course. I don’t have to deal with the fact that the various other schools I was considering all have different prerequisites. And as much as I love my parents and Santa Cruz, I no longer have to live at home, which is a bit embarrassing at 30 years old.

I got into my top choice program and get to start in just over a month – I am so fortunate!

I’ll miss California and my family (moving to NYC at the start of winter?! yuck) and am daunted by how expensive studying in New York City will be, but I know this is a worthy investment, and I am ready for this change. After so many months of talking about pursuing this new career, I’m finally taking action! No more waiting and worrying – I’m moving forward, or perhaps I should say, Eastward!

It’s pretty amazing to think that I quit my job three and a half months ago with only a vague idea of how I might achieve my goals, and suddenly here I am, at the start line. Once again, I have proven to myself that when I set my heart on something, I always make it happen. All I need is a vision, hard work, perseverance and faith in myself. I can’t say I’ve always had these things in abundance – I have my moments of crisis and self-doubt – but somehow I always manage to do what I set out to do. Knowing this helps give me the courage to keep going after what I want, particularly when what I want kind of terrifies me!

In terms of running, I feel newly inspired by my acceptance to pursue my dream of running a 3:30 marathon. Compared to last year, 2011 has been relatively mediocre in terms of racing, with mental burnout hindering my success in the first half and injury plaguing the second half. It’s time to get my racing spirit back, both mentally and physically. It may not happen during my first semester in school – I really want to focus 100% on academic over athletic success – and I currently have ZERO 2012 race plans (the horror!). I am strongly considering the Chicago Marathon in October, maybe a couple half marathons and another marathon earlier in the year too, but I haven’t committed myself to anything yet.

Either way, it will happen. Just like I told myself I was going to become an RD this past summer, and am now on that path. I feel empowered!

Welcome to FFR

Hi, I'm Claire! I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (MS, RD, CDN) and a Road Runners Club of America certified coach. This is where I share my latest adventures in running, racing, food & travel! If you'd like to work with me, please visit my professional website, Eat for Endurance.

My PRs

Marathon (Chicago): 3:33:18
Boston Marathon: 3:36:14
Half-Marathon: 1:37:21
10M: 1:14:52
10k: 44:52

My latest photos

Grateful for quality time this week with my little pumpkin! 🎃😍 Happy Monday from California! I haven’t posted any running pics for a long time as I’ve been dealing with a hip injury for the last few months (and zero running for the last 5 weeks). 😓 I haven’t run a race, even a short one, in over a year - so different than how I imagined my postpartum running life to be. It makes me sad that I can’t run especially while in Santa Cruz, but I’m trying to stay active in different ways, be diligent about my PT, and remain positive even though the road to recovery feels endless at times. Yesterday, E and I went on a beautiful beach walk in the morning and then I did a hike with a friend and our babes in the afternoon, where I normally run in Nisene. I miss running but hopefully will get back to it soon, stronger than before! Baking “for the baby” tonight (so I say as I gobble up these delicious treats). Made mini pumpkin muffins (and a few mama sized ones), recipe adapted from @babyfoode. So easy to make - I added full fat Greek yogurt and almond butter to include some healthy fats. I think Arielle will love these - if for some crazy reason she doesn’t, more for me!! 😂 Nice work on tonight’s dinner, @trailz.io!! So good I’m going back for seconds. Veg bake with layers of eggplant, red onions, tomatoes, zucchini, ricotta, breadcrumbs, & spices with arugula on top. 👌🏻 Surprise package in the mail today! Thx @rxbar - stoked to try out the new gingerbread flavor. Speaking of, how on earth is it already the holiday season?!?! #rxbar Love @siggisdairy triple cream yogurts - perfect to satisfy a craving for something sweet and indulgent while providing 9g protein, relatively few calories (170), and calcium. The chocolate flavor was so delicious! #dailysiggis

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