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Yesterday morning I ran 8 miles and I am very happy to report that I did not feel any pain, nor have I experienced any soreness since then. Just a few weeks ago it was typical for me to feel pain in 3 different places after any run that was longer than about 4 miles. Unfortunately, this change is not because I am suddenly in significantly better shape than I was one month ago, or because my body has finally adjusted to longer distances. I believe the change is due to some awesome advice that I was given by my friend who is studying to get her doctorate in physical therapy.

I, for one, have never given physical therapy much thought, nor was I a good physical therapy patient when I went as a high school student for bercitis in my shoulder from swimming. I didn’t do any of the exercises given to me and I think I might have iced my shoulder one or two times total. And guess what? I still don’t have full range of motion in my right shoulder joint and it feels sore and tired when I swim or climb. My friend made sure to point out the obvious to me when I told her all this. But despite my poor PT record, my friend was willing to hear me out when I complained about my running pains, and then thoughtfully work with me to make them go away.

Here is my list of ailments, (I am hoping people will be able to relate to some of them). First, an ongoing problem that I have had ever since I started running longer distances three and a half years ago has to do with my little toes. A few miles in they start to feel smashed (especially the right one) and then they go numb, throb, and eventually cause me to cry out in pain. They were the reason that I practically crawled  the last couple miles of the Chicago Marathon, and an issue that no running store has been able to help by selling me different shoes. Second, on a long run a few months ago, my lower back started to feel pressure and soreness and the next day I could barely sit down. Lastly, I went out for a run just a couple weeks ago and within the first mile I started to feel the beginnings of shin splints. I tried to run through it, but ended up walking the last 2 miles. My PT friend was able to help me with ALL of these, and now I am running pain-free (for now at least.)

Before I share the simple ideas that she gave me, I must state that I am NOT a doctor and this blog post is NOT intended to diagnose or treat anyone’s physical ailments. There are many professionals and professional resources available for treating my issues, but I like what my friend offered because it is so clear, easy, and helpful. I am sharing these tips because they worked for me and I am hoping that they might also help others. If you are in pain, you should see a doctor…and I recommend finding a good physical therapist and then doing what they tell you to do 🙂

Here is what my friend taught me, easy as pie. For my toes, the comment that helped me most was “you want to make sure you are pushing off from your big toe, or the cushioned pad at the front underneath side of your foot, with every step.” That’s it. As my friend gave me her medical advice she stated that I should not necessarily think about everything she was telling me while running because then I might overcompensate and injure myself somewhere else. But now, on my longer runs, whenever I start to notice some pain in my baby toes I just picture a laser beam coming out of my big toes and I try to shoot a nice straight line. It works great and I feel way less pain. For my back my friend taught me all about my pelvic floor. (Turns out this is the same thing pregnant women should learn about before delivering their child). Basically she said that there was a muscle that went all the way from my spine in my lower back around my sides to the middle of my belly. If I could strengthen that muscle then it would stabilize me and prevent me from rotating my torso too much (or was it too loosely) with each step and my back might not hurt. So every once in a while I will find that muscle (you can find it right underneath your hip bones within your pelvic region by laughing or making monkey sounds) and then I will practice flexing and releasing that muscle. Apparently if you get really strong you can flex it and then breathe in and out in a nice and controlled fashion. I’m still getting there. But my back no longer hurts and I generally feel more stable.

The help for shin splints is what I am most excited about. According to my friend, the short of it is that shins hurt when the calf muscles are not working hard enough, or are not strong enough. So now I do two things. First, I strengthen my calf muscles whenever I can. This is simple. Just stand up on your toes (feet parallel facing forward) and then slowly lower your heels to the floor. Repeat a lot of times. It helps if you have a job where you get to stand around a lot. Then do the same thing with your feet pigeon-toed, and then with toes pointed away from each other like a ballerina. Second, and this is my favorite part, whenever I start to feel even the smallest burn in my shins while running, I remind my calves that they are strong and the pain goes away like magic. I think of how cool calves strong calves look, and I let myself notice the work they are doing, and then I say out loud, “Damn, my calves are strong” and just like that, no more shin splints. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself. Amazing!

So needless to say, I plan on hiring my PT friend to be my personal coach when I thru-hike the PCT, because I know I’ll be experiencing some aches and pains. Hopefully what I’ve explained makes sense and it is able to help some other runners stay strong and pain-free on those fulfilling long runs. Our bodies are incredible machines, but it is our job to take care of them so that they continue functioning properly. Here’s to all the physical therapists out there! Keep up the good work!


Well here it is. My bucket lists, as they currently appear. These are works in progress and I am always happy to add more to them or take things off. Their separation into chronological categories is based solely on my rough estimates. I want you to know that I love these lists. I know that they will change drastically in the years to come, but for now they are a representation of where I want to spend my time and how I want to live my life. I get so excited just thinking about living out some of these adventures. Because not everything fits nicely into a bucket list, I also have a sort of “To Do” list that I have tagged onto the end.

One Year
Mail out an annual Christmas update letter
Watch all Planet Earth DVDs
Take train from Portland to Seattle
Be a Big Sister
Volunteer for a mental health emergency hotline
Run the Portland Marathon
Join the Station L rowing club
Go wine tasting with mom
Go to Europe with mom
Canoe trip in Canada
Bike across USA
Get TEFL certified
Work for Outward Bound
See an OMSI IMAX movie
See Body Worlds
Climb Mt. Hood
Spend a night at Breitenbush Hot Springs

Two Years
See fall colors on East Coast
Join a community orchestra
Shakespeare play in Ashland
Mountain bike in Bend
Road bike McKenzie Pass near Eugene
Surf in Newport, OR
Rock climb at Smith Rock
Climb Mt. Shasta
Climb Mt. Whitney
Kayak around perimeter of Lake Tahoe
Hike the Tahoe Rim Trail
Online photography course
Do a 5 day solo
Compete in a triathlon
Compete in an adventure race
Pay off all credit cards
Yoga/meditation retreat
Thru-hike the PCT
Learn whitewater kayaking

Five Years
Host a family reunion
Join the Peace Corps
Live in Latin America
Be fluent in Spanish
Get a dog
LASIK surgery
Climb Rainier
Run Lake Tahoe marathon
Sea kayak in Australia

Ten Years
Get my CADC I
Mush sled dogs
Read all of Shakespeare
Take an astronomy class
See Rob Thomas in concert
Climb Denali
Take piano/guitar/violin lessons

Visit all 58 National Parks
See the Great Pyramid of Giza
See Victoria Falls
Hike Macchu Picchu
Thru-hike AT
Thru-hike CDT
Be a foster parent

BA in English
Work as a wilderness therapist
Climb a 14’er
Run the Chicago marathon
Run the Chicago half marathon
Get a Masters in Teaching
Get a teaching credential
Teach high school English
Substitute teach
Sea kayak in Alaska
Get my WFR
Take a NOLS course
Watch all Friends and Lost
Climb Mount St. Helens

To Do
Go through clothes
Organize stationary
Print pics for frames
Complete guide list
Talk to Dr. Knight
Get teaching binders back
Sign up for races

On a side note, I feel as though I can’t include get married and have children on my lists, but they’re there in spirit. Ideally they would be on my “Ten Years List”. All I can do is hope that that is somewhere in my future. On one more side note, I happened to type “Bucket List” into google and of course the first website to come us was actually called I haven’t had a chance to really poke around it much, but from what I saw, it seemed like a pretty great place for us bucket list fiends. Anyway, wanted to pass it along in case someone was looking for more bucket list inspiration.

What I really want to do is share my bucket list. I actually have multiple bucket lists…there are some things that I hope to check off within the year, some that I think I can do within 2, 5 or 10 years, and others that I hope to accomplish within my lifetime. I also have a bucket list of things I don’t actually expect to get to, and another one of things I’ve already accomplished. Normally, I would have posted my bucket lists by now and then spent multiple posts describing my various goals in more detail. The only reason I haven’t yet is because of one little 3-minute-long video called “Keep Your Goals to Yourself” that I can’t get out of my head.

It all started a few weeks ago when I went to a website called that a friend of mine had told me about when I was in Alaska. TED is a non-profit devoted to “ideas worth spreading.” Basically it is a site full of presentations and lectures that people have given covering a huge range of topics. I spent a couple hours browsing through videos and learning about everything from the sources of our drinking water to ancient Japanese musical styles. Some of the videos were interesting and some were simply a waste of time (like the one that taught be how to tie my shoes “the right way”). But there was one video that inspired, concerned, and intrigued me more than the others. Take a minute to watch it for yourself before I go on.

I can think of multiple instances in my past when I had a goal, I shared it with many people (usually within hours of setting the goal and always with much passion and enthusiasm), and then I moved on or gave up before taking further steps to reach my goal. I know what Derek Sivers means when he talks about the feeling of accomplishment that comes from just sharing my goal out loud. And this is why I’m hesitant to share my bucket lists. I don’t want to put everything down “on paper”, spend time composing long posts romanticizing many of my goals, feel like people have heard me out and that I have done a good job of explaining why I want to do this or that, and then never actually get out and do it! Truthfully, I don’t actually think that including my bucket lists in my blog means that I will never cross any of the items off, but this video did make me think about how I can share my goals in the most deliberate way possible.

There is one other thing that comes to mind when I think about sharing my bucket lists with others. Recently a friend of mine stated “I feel like sometimes people do things just so they can take pictures and then brag about doing them to everyone they meet.” This comment struck a chord in me because I do take a lot of pictures, especially when I am accomplishing a goal that I had set for myself, and then I usually post my pictures on Facebook to share my experience with others. I know this is a very normal practice, but it still made me think harder about the motivation behind my bucket lists. I want my goals to be for myself, and not for everyone else. In my opinion, a bucket list should consist of activities and goals that a person feels will enrich their life, bring them joy, and help them grow. I look forward to sharing the beauty and joy that results from doing many of the things on my bucket lists, but that is not my primary reason for doing them.

I will share my bucket lists in posts to come. But when I do, I will make a conscious effort to take myself seriously, remind myself of the most sincere reasons for wanting to accomplish my goals, and find ways to keep working toward my goals so that one day I can check them off my lists. Derek Sivers, I accept the challenge.

So little time. It seems like every day I am reminded of one more cool activity or adventure that I want to include in my one short life. The saying “jack of all trades, master of none” applies quite accurately to me, or at least to what I aspire to. I don’t care about being the best in any one thing, which is good since the likelihood of that happening is pretty slim, but I do want to be competent at many different things.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed trying to decide what to focus my time and energy on. One day, for example, I might hear about someone I know who is planning to bike across the country and I’ll feel a mixture of excitement, anticipation, envy, and longing. Sometimes the longing is so strong that I consider dropping everything and joining that person on their adventure! For anywhere from a few hours to a couple days I’ll concentrate on how much I love biking and how I really should do more to further my skills and incorporate more of it into my life. But then something else will come along, like I’ll see an ad for a free rowing clinic being offered in the Willamette, and then my mind will race around ideas of joining a club team and committing to 5:30 am practices so that I can get good at rowing and eventually compete. I have begun to notice that this is not the case for ALL activities and adventures, which is somewhat reassuring. As I get older, I am becoming more aware of the difference between my actual interests, and interests that other people like so I think I might like. For example, I know I don’t like (and don’t want to learn to like) jet skiing, or film making, or painting, or any number of other activities.

I imagine that as the years go by and as I make it into my 30’s I will be able to narrow down my interests even further. I don’t want to spread my time and energy so thin that I don’t get to fully participate in those things I really love to do. So here is a long list of the activities that I do enjoy, appreciate, care about, and want to make sure I fit into my life. I have split this list into sublists for my own organization and clarification. I hope this inspires you to make a list of the activities that you enjoy. Also, obviously this post is dedicated to my activities list, but hopefully future posts will continue to focus in on the activities themselves.

Sea kayaking
*River kayaking
Paddle boarding
Mountain climbing
*Rock climbing
Road biking
Mountain biking
Cross country skiing
Alpine skiing
*Backcountry skiing

*Activities I think I would enjoy, want to learn to enjoy, or still need to learn how to do to enjoy

Sometimes I can work myself into a mini panic attack with the thought that in order to stay alive I have to keep eating. I know this sounds strange, so let me explain. I distinctly remember a time during my senior year of high school when I suddenly realized that I was going to have to feed myself multiple times every day for the rest of my life. The thought terrified me then, and unfortunately I still have some lingering concern over the issue now. It is not that I don’t like food, or that I don’t enjoy eating, but cooking, nutrition, and preparing meals has never really come easy to me. My initial concern lasted for a few weeks; I would run my fears by my friends, emphasizing that it was an EVERY DAY requirement, but no one else seemed to be the least bit worried. I fretted that I would quickly exhaust all of my food options, and then what? It seemed obvious to me that after a couple decades of eating the same few foods every morning (cereal, toast, oatmeal, eggs) that I just wouldn’t have the appetite for them any longer. And what about lunch? How many slices of pizza, PB&J’s, or burritos could one person eat in a lifetime? And you wouldn’t even want to get me started on dinner. Chicken, salad, and rice can only be dressed up in so many ways. I felt limited, stuck, and overwhelmed.

Now fast forward 8 years. I still deliberate (and not in the good way) over every meal I eat. I wake up in the morning and part of me literally dreads the fact that I will have to find and prepare, or even worse – pay for, 3 meals in order to keep myself healthy and full. I have found that nutrition, taste, efficiency, and cost are nearly impossible for me to balance. Even when I think I got it right, I’ll happen upon a news article or hear a friend talking about why this-or-that item or ingredient is actually not so great for me. You can imagine my frustrations surrounding the gluten-free, dairy-free diets of many people these days. I believe that I probably WOULD feel healthier and more energized if I adopted a strict diet, but I struggle so much when I allow myself to eat everything that I just don’t see something that is so limiting (and expensive!) as a plausible option for me. I imagine the best solution for my problem is to cook more. Most people experience a lot more variety than I do…more raw ingredients, spices, seasonings, and mixtures. The issue is that I just don’t enjoy cooking. That, and cooking for one lacks some excitement. Even cooking up mac and cheese can really feel like a chore. But I have not given up. I still try on a regular basis to embrace food and mealtimes. Here is a sampling of my menu this week:

A cheese and veggie omelet I made for breakfast 2 days ago

PB&J, chips and salsa, and an apple for lunch yesterday

BBQ chicken, mushrooms and salad for dinner last night

I caved and had a frozen pizza for dinner tonight…

Well, at least I tried. What I REALLY need is a personal chef 🙂 Here is where food shows up on my lists…

Drink water
Take vitamins
Eat healthy
Make music
Read books
Project 365 (I’ll explain later)
Write blog post

“Other” Activities (Which is a nice way of saying…things I SHOULD spend more time doing)


Alright, by the end of this post I legitimately expect anyone who is reading this to drop everything, call the American Red Cross and make an appointment to give blood. You’ve been warned.

I have always loved giving blood because it is a straightforward, selfless act of kindness. It’s free, it’s easy, and it just makes you feel good. Okay, admittedly the snacks, fruit juice, and sweet old volunteers that ask how you’re feeling every 20 seconds also add to the delight. Actually, my high school government teacher’s lesson on “enlightened self-interest” does come to mind when I really think about why I give blood. Sure I care about helping out fellow humans, but I suppose I get something out of it too; mostly that warm fuzzy feeling that assures me that I do make a difference and that I am important.

I have been a whole blood donor for years (ever since those blood drives in high school) but I have only recently committed to a more frequent and intentional schedule. The red cross in Portland does a great job. They are always friendly and efficient and make you feel like a hero just for coming in. A person can donate blood every 56 days, so I have tried to drop in every 2 months since I moved here for my donation. Each time that I go in I walk past a separate room with the word APHERESIS written in large red letters on the wall. Eventually I decided to stop by that mysterious room and ask some questions, and before I knew it I was scheduled for a 3 hour blood platelet donation.

Apheresis (the process of removing part of a person’s blood and returning the rest to their body) serves a specific population of people, takes longer, can be done every 7 days, and is NOT recommended for people with a fear of needles. My donation this evening was a “double-platelet” donation, which means that it yielded enough platelets for two transfusions, most likely for cancer patients in the Pacific Northwest. Overall, my first apheresis donation was a great experience. I was hooked up to the machine for about 2.5 hours, but I did get to watch “About A Boy” and a couple episodes of “How I met Your Mother”. Also, the nurses are constantly covering you with blankets, checking to make sure you feel alright, and bringing you food and drinks as needed. There are some strange sensations that you can feel during the donation (mild side effects from the anti-coagulant that is returned into your body with your blood) but you feel better after the donation than you do with whole blood because most of the blood is all back inside of you. I will need some time to figure out what I want my ideal blood donation system to be. The Red Cross would prefer that I be solely a platelet donor, but I am not yet sure of how often I’d feel comfortable going in for such a long procedure.

Okay, now it’s time for you to make that appointment. Don’t act surprised…you knew this was coming. And while you’re at it, PLEASE go to and join the bone marrow registry. You could end up saving someone’s life! Maybe you can’t cure cancer, but your donation of blood or marrow will mean the world to someone. Just one more way to live deliberately.

So where does all this show up on my lists? Ah yes, there it is…

On an Ongoing Basis
Wash car
Give blood

“Other” Activities
Volunteer (More on this soon…)


Today I had the privilege of cheering on hundreds of complete strangers at Mile 24 of the Portland Marathon. It was so much fun! And it completely reignited my love for all things running. Though I only started running after college, and I still only run 10 minute miles, running does show up in multiple places on my various life lists. “Run a marathon” is on my “Completed Bucket List” (I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2008), “Sign up for races” appears on my “Continuous To Do” list, “Exercise” is on my “Daily” list (and running is usually how I accomplish this), and “Running” is also on my “Activities I enjoy on foot” list. Also, “Portland Marathon”, “Lake Tahoe Marathon”, “Run an adventure race”, and “Compete in a triathlon” ALL show up on my “Bucket List”. Phew…clearly I hope to do some more running in my future.

This morning I was reminded of just how powerful the “Runner’s High” can be. As I got out of my car and walked up to the curb where hundreds of dedicated runners were finishing their last leg of the race, my eyes filled with tears and I became overwhelmed with emotion. I could feel the energy in the air…their high was rubbing off on me! I was immediately transported to my own racing experiences, complete with hope, pride, excitement, envy, fear, and pure joy. I watched as people pushed their bodies, minds, and spirits to their very edge, and celebrated along with them as they discovered that they were indeed so much stronger than they knew. The tears came and went, usually brought on by a t-shirt indicating who the race was meant to honor or the simple love demonstrated through one runner slowing their pace for another. I made eye contact with hundreds of people and watched wide-eyed as my smile literally infected one exhausted runner after another. I was yelling, “Great job!,” “You’re almost there!,” and “Keep it up!,” but I know that what they heard was “You are able!,” “You are strong!,” and “Pain is only temporary!” Some life lessons are only truly understood when we are pushed beyond our self-imposed limits. Most people call all these emotions the “Runner’s High”, but those of us who run know it is so much more.

The fact is that running is one way that I live deliberately. It is something I want to do more of. Not only does it keep me healthy and strong, but it surrounds me with like-minded people and it brings peace to my soul. So with that in mind, I have done a little research. Today at the marathon I met a fellow cheerleader who mentioned that she was participating in “Foot Traffic University.” Then minutes later I was talking to a man whose daughter had just finished the marathon a whole hour faster than her first attempt last year, and he was giving all the credit to a running club she had joined. This got me thinking about group runs. I’ve always run solo, but what better way to make new friends and stay motivated then to run with a group! So here is a list of what I found in Portland. I’m sure I’m missing some great clubs and groups, but this is a good start.

Portland Running Company – Free group runs Sat-Wed

Foot traffic – Free group runs Mon-Thurs

Foot traffic University

Red lizard running club – Free group runs Mon-Thurs

ORRC – Free Tuesday night workout

NoPo Run Club – Free Thursday night group run

Team Athena – Must join for Tuesday night workouts

I look forward to checking some of these out this week, and I’ll let you know how it goes! Now I just have to hope I stay injury-free!



About Me

- 26 years old
- Pacific Northwest
- Educator, adventurer, friend

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