This post has been sitting in draft state for, no joke, almost a year. A lot has gone down in that year.
To recap: I signed up for the 2018 Marine Corps Marathon. Shortly after, I began seeking treatment and diagnosis of a back injury that was bothering me somewhat intermittently. It started around the same time I started my new job at the University of Maryland, so I was willing to blame the transition between working at home and working in the office. I went through 3 desk chairs and finally a standing desk at work. In the meantime, I saw a chiropractor and, when that didn’t seem to help, I went to see my physical therapist (who I can’t say enough good things about).
With the help of my physical therapist, I made it through the 2018 roller derby season, capping off my derby career at the North America East Continental Cup in Kalamazoo, MI. My husband made the trip with me, and some of my family and friends from the midwest came to see me play. It was a great way to go out. I retired with the intentions of focusing on my graduate school courses and hoped to continue skating on a recreational level as time allowed.
A few weeks after the derby season ended, I hurt myself lifting at the gym. My back was feeling really great after 2.5 months of PT, so I decided to do the exercise I noticed bothered it in the first place to see if it still bothered me — back squats. I didn’t even move that much weight (95 lbs, which would have been a warmup set for me in the past). I did two sets of 10 at the beginning of my workout and then did other things. Everything seemed okay at the time.
Immediately after completing the workout, I was walking across campus to my office and already starting to regret the weighted squats. My back was getting very sore already. It felt like DOMS at first, except it set in WAY fast, and the pain continued to get worse for about two days. Ibuprofen didn’t help. Stretching didn’t help. My PT exercises didn’t help. Moving around was uncomfortable, but so was sitting down and laying down. This culminated in me coming home from work one night and laying on the living room floor in agony. Corner asked if we should go to the emergency room. I was in so much pain I couldn’t imagine being so uncomfortable anywhere but my own home. Plus, I already suspected the pain was not muscular, so I wasn’t convinced there was anything they could actually do to help me, short of giving me some crazy pain medication that I wasn’t sure would resolve the actual problem. So I stayed home.
A few days after the ill-fated workout, I saw my physical therapist, who recommended I also seek out an orthopedist. She recommended a guy and I made an appointment. Of course, it took a few weeks to get in and during this time my nerve pain (because I know that’s what it was now) started to subside. In October, I finally got an MRI and discovered that I have two herniated discs (L4-L5 and L5-S1; the two most commonly herniated ones). And not a little herniated….a lot herniated. The ortho says the damage was probably cumulative (so not from one specific incident), but there’s no way to really know.
I was told no more roller derby (good thing I had just “retired”) and no yoga and no spin class, but I was allowed to run as long as it didn’t hurt. Running was never the thing that seemed to make it flare up, so I continued sporadic short runs (3-4 miles, never on back-to-back days) and going to the gym to do upper body and very basic bodyweight workouts.
At some point during all this, I deferred my Marine Corps Marathon registration from 2018 to 2019. I was bummed but knew I would be better suited for marathon training 12 months down the road.
It was a pretty boring couple of months, if I’m being honest. Luckily the holidays and my grad school courses kept me fairly busy.
I was released from PT just before Thanksgiving. Eventually the ortho cleared me for more activities, but yoga still makes my back stiff and crabby afterwards so I am continuing to avoid it for now. And I’m still not allowed to play roller derby. While I had no plans to skate competitively this season, I did want to drop in occasionally to scrimmage and, you know, see my friends.
I started running longer distances again knowing that I am running the Rival Run Challenge at Disney World in April. I also joined OrangeTheory Fitness in February when they opened a location in College Park (it’s a 5-minute walk from work!). It’s great cross-training and I don’t have to plan the workouts myself. I just modify parts of the floor workout if it involves movements that irritate my lower back. Love it!!!
On Saturday I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC half marathon. It was my first half marathon in over a year (my last half was the 2018 Disney Princess Half Marathon last February!). I even managed to snag a PR — 1:57:09. Almost 6 minutes faster than my last half! And my back didn’t hurt afterwards (only my legs, hahaha)!
tldr; I’m back to distance running and planning to run my first marathon in the fall. Pending my followup MRI later this week, I hope to be back on skates soon, too.
Last year at this time, I posted a Facebook status update that read, “I want to blog more, skate more, and stress less.” Something about the way I distilled what I wanted out of my life at the time into this single sentence seemed profound. Then I read Nicole’s “life less bullshit” manifesto, which was a lot more profound than my brief musings, and decided to write one of my own. Of course I’m still not blogging as much as I would like to, so nearly a year later, I present my own personal manifesto to you:
Make plans but don’t get upset when life leads you in a different direction. Be flexible. Learn to recognize new opportunities and embrace them even if they aren’t quite what you had in mind.
Stop seeking everyone else’s approval and do what you need to do in order to be happy. Do not envy the lives of others. Remember that Facebook typically only provides a snapshot of the good things happening to your friends. Be happy for them, but acknowledge that social networks showcase an adjusted reality and be prepared to take the good with the bad.
Don’t dwell on the negative things though; focus on all that you have going for you. The next time you realize you’re already 26 and still haven’t become the next Gaga or Zuckerberg, remember all that you have accomplished so far.
Remember that the things worth doing are rarely easy. And that sometimes it’s okay to have a good cry about those things.
I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day by providing you with a brief wedding planning update:
- Venue is booked
- Photographer is booked
- Photobooth is booked
- DJ is booked
- Wedding dress has been purchased
- Bridesmaid dresses have been purchased
- Hair appointments have been scheduled
I also started designing our invitations. These will also be used as a starting point for our other paper goods (save the dates, menus, etc.). I will need some feedback at some point during this process, so let me know if you’d like to help! We still have lots of decor and other DIY projects to get started on…*sigh*
In other news, training with GGRD is going really well. The draft happens in just two weeks; at that point, I will be placed on one of the four home teams (Brooklyn Bombshells, Queens of Pain, Bronx Gridlock, or Manhattan Mayhem). That means my first bout will happen in a month or two. SO EXCITING!
Also, my derby name is officially being submitted to the registry (this is BIG NEWS as it has taken me SO LONG to get to this point)! I will officially be Byers Remorse of Gotham Girls Roller Derby, and my number will be 13% APR.
Last Friday I mailed my candidate reply form to NYU declining their admission offer. I can’t tell you how many emotional evenings I spent weighing the pros and cons, complaining to Corner about how difficult it was to decide, and even pressing him to make the decision for me.
I went to the ITP space with Cemre (a new friend that I met on the StartupBus) and spoke with several current students. I submitted a financial aid appeal to NYU, only to be told that the amount I was asking for was not do-able.
I suppose in the end, it was an easy decision. I was basically begging NYU to let me walk away with $50k in loans instead of $80k, but now I’m going to have no loans (after I pay off the last $6k from undergrad, that is).
A few things I learned from the grad school application process:
Interviews count. A lot. I had an interview with SVA, and I was feeling terribly inarticulate that day (it didn’t help that my interview was on a Friday afternoon after working a 40-hour week and I was 3 days away from leaving for SXSW on a bus). I think my mind was elsewhere and it showed. SVA ended up being my only rejection.
Having residency in a state can be a big financial help. Even if you are applying to private schools that don’t offer a discounted in-state tuition rate, you may qualify for aid from the state government. I, however, have been moving around way too much.
Be nice to the admissions coordinators. They can help you.
Talking to current students really helps. Chances are, if you think you have a “unique” situation, another student is in the same boat. Learn about the current students and how their situations might apply to you. I had the opportunity to speak with an ITP student who attends the program part-time. Most ITP students are required to attend full-time, but he was exempt from this requirement since he is employed by NYU. Since I have a background in higher education, I was curious if it might make sense to seek employment at NYU and attend grad school using their tuition remission benefits. The student I spoke to provided very good insight, claiming that it did ease the financial burden, but he felt like he wasn’t getting as much out of the program as those who are attending full-time. This information was extremely useful to me, and it was easy enough to get just by asking around.
I will probably be going through the process again at some point in the future, since getting a Masters degree is something I want to do. For now, I’m going to work on saving money, relaxing, and being happy. All good things, no?