Year in Cities 2017

The last time I talked about 2017 I called it “a real shitbag” so that’s pretty much how I feel about that. But this particular thing has always been about embracing the things that shook up the day-to-day rhythms. In 2017, the travels were the good things.


Flying solo cross-country to meet up with a dozen other moms and toddlers. (“Are you all friends who decided to get pregnant at the same time?” “Not exactly.”)

Putting our Vancouver “progressive eating” philosophy into action with a toddler in tow. (The sequence: happy hour, then dinner, then bedtime, then dessert.)

Feeding. Freaking. Reindeer.

And the little stuff: like lots of time at my parents’ place, in “‘Noma,” which — not to put too fine a point on it — magically survived.

2017: magically, we survived.


Year in Cities 2017

Altadena, CA


Santa Rosa, CA*

Aviemore, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland*

Glasgow, Scotland

Vancouver, BC

Atlanta, GA

Ann Arbor, MI

Frankfort, MI

Las Vegas, NV

A plane somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean


About Year in Cities: All listed cities are those in which I spent at least one night between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2017, with * denoting those cities in which I spent multiple non-consecutive nights. 2009 here, 2010 here, 2011 here, 2012 here, 2013 here, 2014 here, 2015 here, 2016 here. This is all Lydia‘s fault, via long-ago Kottke, and I thank her for bringing it to my attention.

Year in Cities 2016

It’s funny, looking at this list. “Weren’t we in Hawaii?” No, self, that was the end of 2015. The end of last year brought big trips back-to-back, and so it’s hard to remember that 2016 was about settling in. About new routines, about figuring out how to be a family of three with two jobs and one nanny share, about figuring out what life looked like now at home.

The adventures we did have tended to come in sets. New York City and then San Diego in May. Virginia (solo) / Wyoming / Virginia (all of us) in August and September. Palm Springs and Michigan in December. Months where the suitcase stayed in storage, followed by months where it barely got unpacked.

First pickle. Confused.

Traveling with a baby — and then a toddler — has its own kind of learning curve, except you never really learn what you need to know next. Nursing on a plane is a complicated endeavor. Pumping on a plane is not something I particularly need to repeat. Every time I got selected for “random screening” — which was every time — I thought, really, random? It’s definitely not the baby strapped to my chest? Our last flight, home from Detroit, involved snacks on snacks, Play-Doh, a roll of masking tape, a hastily purchased banana, and March of the Penguins on the inflight entertainment screen — only to discover that two used water cups were the best toys of all, better than anything we could have planned or bought. And yet, I’ve spent the day researching travel credit cards with big bonuses so we can take an even longer, more complicated flight with an even more determined and wiggly child next year — so “undeterred” is the word for it, I suppose.

The best thing — oh, it’s such a cliche, but it’s also so true — is seeing places through my daughter’s eyes. Earlier this month, we were back in Palm Springs for the first time since I’d just found out I was pregnant, since I was just starting to let myself dream about life with this child. Twenty-one months later: Here is the pool where I floated with you then and float with you now; here are the mountains I could stare at all day; here is a date shake, isn’t it delicious?

Snacking in Palm Springs

Of course it’s hard to think about my 2016 without thinking of the global shitshow that surrounds it. But to the extent that I can choose the meaning of a year, I’d rather hold onto this.

Bye, 2016.


Year in Cities 2016

Palm Springs, CA
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA*
Oakmont, CA*
Pacific Grove, CA
Midland, MI
New York, NY
Corning, NY
Norfolk, VA
Virginia Beach, VA
Laramie, WY
A plane somewhere over the United States

About Year in Cities: All listed cities are those in which I spent at least one night between January 1, 2016, and December 31, 2016, with * denoting those cities in which I spent multiple non-consecutive nights. 2009 here, 2010 here, 2011 here, 2012 here, 2013 here, 2014 here, and 2015 here. This is all Lydia‘s fault, via long-ago Kottke, and I thank her for bringing it to my attention.


Year in Cities 2015

I didn’t mean to abandon this space. 

I thought I’d be back here early in January 2015, maybe writing about my return to running, maybe about making my peace with duathlons and adventure swims. The truth was, 2014 was not my favorite, and I had plans for making 2015 bigger, bolder, better.

Boy, did I get what I asked for.

It’s hard to write publicly on the Internet when you’re keeping a huge secret, though, so I let this little blog languish. But what better way to revive it than the way I’ve long chronicled my years?

In Palm Springs, the week before I changed jobs — because that happened in 2015, too — I hunkered down and ate avocado toast and hoped for a pregnancy that would stick. In Kauai, we snorkeled and lied to get me on a boat to the forbidden island and finally told our little corners of the world what was going on. And at the end of the year, we took our brand-new baby west to dodge waves in the Pacific and east to meet all of her aunts and uncles and cousins. 

This list is smaller than it’s been in some years. But in almost every way besides number, it’s bigger.


Year in Cities 2015

Los Angeles, CA

Oakmont, CA*

Palm Springs, CA

San Francisco, CA*

San Luis Obispo, CA

Windsor, CA

Savannah, GA

Kihei, HI

Koloa, HI

A plane over the US

A plane over the Pacific


About Year in Cities: All listed cities are those in which I spent at least one night between January 1, 2015, and December 31, 2015, with * denoting those cities in which I spent multiple non-consecutive nights. 2009 here, 2010 here, 2011 here, 2012 here, 2013 here, and WordPress is too annoying to let me link to 2014 but it’s the post right below this one so I’m just gonna let that go. This is all Lydia‘s fault, via long-ago Kottke, and I thank her for bringing it to my attention.

Year in Cities 2014

I can’t say 2014 was my favorite year. I can’t say it was a year where things worked out the way I wanted them to. I can’t say it’s one I’ll treasure or reflect on with great fondness.

But. Here’s what I CAN say about 2014:


I got the opportunity to travel to see friends as they grew into new phases of their lives — be that marrying their best friends, parenting new babies, or becoming Ironmen.


I ate wonderful food in favorite cities — Portland, Pittsburgh — and discovered a surprising fondness for Phoenix and Atlanta. I drank wonderful beer. I sat in hammocks and swam in rivers and saw unbelievable landscapes from the windows of airplanes.


And, in the end, I can’t complain about a year with all of that.

Year in Cities 2014

Santa Rosa, CA
Sonoma, CA
Monte Rio, CA
Bradley, CA*
San Francisco, CA*
Aptos, CA
Chico, CA

Phoenix, AZ
Atlanta, GA
Miami, FL*
Chicago, IL*
Kalamazoo, MI
Frankfort, MI
Portland, OR
Indiana, PA
Pittsburgh, PA

A plane somewhere over the United States*

About Year in Cities: All listed cities are those in which I spent at least one night between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2014, with * denoting those cities in which I spent multiple non-consecutive nights. 2009 here, 2010 here, 2011 here, 2012 here, 2013 here. This is all Lydia‘s fault, via long-ago Kottke, and I thank her for bringing it to my attention.


Spectating Ironman Arizona

Right around the time Michaela signed up for Ironman Arizona last year, I started threatening to show up. In fact, I remember paging a year ahead on my calendar and filling in Ironman weekend with “Go to Arizona?” All year it sat there, and as the months passed, that question mark became more of an exclamation point. Michaela was going to be an Ironman, and I was going to watch.

Any trip that long in the making is sure to go through a bunch of changes, but this one was fairly ridiculous. For a while, a friend was planning to register for 2015, so we all signed up to volunteer together. Then, I discovered that Phoenix and Tempe are basically the same city — not in wildly different parts of AZ as I’d thought — and we’ve got good friends in Phoenix, so Pete said he’d come along since we could crash with them. Then Pete had to travel for work, my friend decided not to do an Ironman, so it was just me. Then another friend appeared, and we briefly dreamed of going to New Mexico together before she chose a beachfront yoga retreat over me. (I do not blame her one bit.) Then I got really angry at my dumb foot and almost cancelled the whole shebang because I wasn’t really in the mood to hang around an endurance event feeling sorry for myself.

But how many times do you get to see your friend become an Ironman? And how many times do you get to see a new city through the eyes of friends you don’t see enough as it is? So I sucked it up and booked my ticket, and I am so glad I went.

I got in late Friday night and caught up with my friends in Phoenix over frozen pizza and beer — already exactly what I needed. Saturday morning I headed into Tempe for the volunteer meeting, where I met up with Layla and managed to run smack into Michaela and Arvan just as they finished their practice swim.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 2.49.12 PM

(I’ve hung out with Arvan a total of maybe four times now, and each time we end up in a picture sort of like that one. Below, a case in point.)

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 2.45.31 PM

While the racers dropped off their gear bags and bikes, Layla and I wandered around the Ironman village, spotting some faintly disturbing things …

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 4.36.10 PM

And then we headed out to Scottsdale for an afternoon of sports-watching, chip-eating, and obsessive spectator-strategizing.

Back in Phoenix that night, my friends took me for beers on the patio at Angels Trumpet — which I put in the top 5 of beer bars I have ever visited, and um, it’s a long list — and dinner at the adorable Tuck Shop. And because mostly what I do is eat, we started the next day at Phoenix Public Market with an incredible egg sandwich, cold-brewed iced coffee, and a patio. Yes, that’s two out of three meals eaten on patios.

Oh, and at that point, my racing friends had already been racing for about six hours. Kinda puts things in perspective.

I made it into Tempe just in time to see Arvan come through for his final loop of the bike course. It was a windy day, and my athlete tracker was showing everyone going slow on the “out” and incredibly fast on the “back” of the course — like 9 mph for the out, 28 mph for the return. (An unsolicited plug for IMTrackr, the app I used, which had one big advantage: it showed total race time at every checkpoint, which we could convert to time of day.) Michaela came through maybe 20 minutes later, and I think she tried to tell us something about being stressed about the cutoff, but we cheered so loud we couldn’t hear her. I stayed on the curb long enough to see Katie-from-the-Internet and Paul-from-my-first-triathlon-group finish their rides, and then I started the hike out to my volunteer post.

I was at the first aid station on the run course between 4 and 8 p.m., which turned out to be a pretty fascinating window of time. All the winners and pros and super-crazy-fast people were almost done with their races, but there were plenty of age-groupers finishing their first run loop and heading out for their second, plus all the people just entering the run course. I gave out sets of clapping hands to my fellow volunteers and settled into my spot on the line. I barely missed seeing a speedy GGTC friend come through but then in short order spotted Tami, Arvan, and Michaela. I shouted something at Katie’s ass and figured out the racer in the cute Coeur kit was Heidi just in the split-second required to yell something awkward. I somehow missed Paul coming through and was selfishly bummed out about it until I realized it meant he was running strong enough that he didn’t need to stop for Red Bull.

Right: My job at the aid station was to hand out Red Bull. More specifically, it was to shout out “RED BULL!!!!!” for four hours while 90% of racers looked at me like I was a crazy person and 10% gratefully swarmed me like I was handing out vials of pure life force.

After about 6 p.m., the crowd slowed down a bit. Everyone who was going to finish that day was running by then, and the volunteers were just trying to stay warm and happy and encouraging. It was chilly — by the end of my shift, I was wearing legwarmers, two sweatshirts, and gloves — and there started to be a divide between the runners who’d put warm gear in their special needs bags and those who hadn’t but wished they had. Our aid station didn’t have any of the warm things (no space blankets, no broth), and I hope everyone who came by asking for them found them before too many more miles had passed.

I’ve volunteered at 70.3s before, and I’ve always taken a late shift, so I know what it’s like to see racers come through toward the back of the pack at the end of a long day — but Ironman was a whole different thing. Most people looked fine, tired but moving along according to plan. Some people looked really good, like tearing-through-the-field good. And some people looked truly not good. There was this weird dead-eyed look that some people had, this just-get-me-to-the-finish-line-now-oh-my-god look, and it was haunting. I always clapped my clapping hands a little harder for those folks, and I hope it helped, though I imagine they actually wanted to grab the clappers and crack them over my skull.

Just as Michaela came through the second time — and I got to say “you’re doing some massive volume today” like I’d been plotting for literally two hours — my shift was done. I walked back toward the finish line with racers heading to the finish on my right and those starting their second loop on my left, and in that space between aid stations, it was quiet. There was the crunch of gravel for those heading in on the path, and the occasional brief snippet of conversation, and the beeps of Garmins for pace and time and distance. But there was no cheering crowd, no music, no distraction — just dark. I clapped the clapping hands a few times but honestly, it felt more eerie to break the silence than to just be in it.

Back in Tempe, I thawed out at a Starbucks with Layla and the rest of the Michaela/Arvan cheer squad. Everyone around us had either just finished racing or was waiting for someone out on the course, so there was a lot of “SHE’S AT MILE 18!” and “HE JUST HIT 23!” chatter. Just after 9:30, we headed to the finish line, and mere minutes after we claimed a sweet vantage point in the last quarter-mile of the chute, Tami came through. Then, not too far behind, Arvan.

Then, for a while, I just watched the stream of strangers. But they didn’t feel as much like strangers now that I’d seen them all at the aid station. There was Nebraska woman, Coeur woman (holy crap! the internet found Coeur woman for me!), guy who chugged a Red Bull, guy who left his special needs Cheetos at the aid station for the volunteers to share, woman with the brightest neon calf sleeves, woman whose makeup somehow still looked impeccable, guy in the Mountain Hardwear snowsuit with an ice axe. I’m sure they had no idea I even existed, but I remembered them, and I clapped the clapping hands and teared up every time I saw one of them tear up realizing what they were about to do. I think it was a PR in crying (and that’s saying something).

Then, out of the darkness, Michaela came into the chute. When I realized it was her, I was definitely ugly-crying. She’s an Ironman. Holy hell.

Because of how things shook out after Michaela came through, it made sense to wait through the midnight finish. So we made our way further into the chute, near the jumbotron, and we waited and watched and cheered for the final 20 or so finishers. Every so often, there would be an update about racers on the course — the last one was three miles away, then 2.5, then 2. And the remaining time was getting shorter and shorter — though because the finish line clock had stopped at some point, nobody in the chute seemed to know exactly when the race would end. It was exciting, sure, but it was also stressful.

And — well, this is the one part of the weekend that was a lot different than I was expecting. I’d heard so much about midnight finish, how inspiring and amazing it is. That was not exactly my experience. Some people looked thrilled and happy and strong. But some were really struggling. Some were wobbling and weaving in a way that made me say not “this is so inspirational” but ”holy shit, nobody should ever, ever do this.” Because of the finish clock glitch, there seemed to be a moment when it wasn’t clear if the last finisher was a “real” finisher or not, and all I could think about was how horrible that would be, to be standing there as the time ticked from 12:05 to 12:06 while you stood waiting to make sure you really were an Ironman. And when it was over, it was well and truly over — within one minute, the music was off, the giant screen was gone, the Ironman banners were coming off the finish line arch, and the barriers were knocked down and stacked in the street. It was this crazy, amped-up, fraught moment, and then it was gone.

People have asked me since I came back if being in Arizona made me want to do an Ironman, and I can honestly say “hell no, it did not.” I have a greater respect now for what it means — what it really looks like, up close — to take on that distance, and instead of getting fired up, I wanted to retreat. Given the state of my foot, this is probably a blessing in disguise, but it’s still … uneasy. I’ve said before that I thought, sure, probably I’d do an Ironman some day. Now — even if that becomes physically possible for me — I’d have to want it on a whole different level. I suppose I’m glad to have learned that lesson now.

But — I want to be clear: I am so happy for my friends, and I am so grateful that I got to be there for a small snippet of their adventures. It was an amazing, overwhelming, astonishing thing to see.

Things that Are Not Running

Because, you know, LOL.

This week, I wrapped up a big work project. I don’t write much about work on here, but while I generally enjoy my job, I loved this project. Like big-puffy-heart adored (almost) every minute of it for the past three and a half months. It was the kind of project I hoped I’d do when I joined my company three years ago, and getting to spend all summer doing it was a joy, even when it was terrible. (You probably know what I mean.) It’s the first time I’ve given a final presentation and been legitimately sad at the end of it — a little because there are some things I wish I’d done better but mostly because I don’t get to keep working on it. Part of why I’m a consultant is that I have a short attention span, and usually when a project wraps up, I’m like “YEAH! That was fun! Let’s get drinks and do something new tomorrow!” This time, I’m like, “Thinking about other things is bullshit.” Luckily, we already have plans to work with that team again, albeit in a slightly less all-consuming way.

{As I was driving to the presentation, it occurred to me that this project has spanned the entire timeline of my injury. Our kickoff was the week I hurt my heel. Now we’re done. If I could choose to keep one of these things and ditch the other, I’d really prefer to have it the other way around.}

Also this week, I got officially elected to the board of my triathlon club. (I say “officially” because I was running unopposed, as it turned out.) I got surprise nominated for Volunteer Director and happily accepted, so it looks like the clapping hands will have an official role on a race sideline near you* (*assuming “you” are a triathlete or runner in the San Francisco Bay Area) until November 2015. I’ll be honest: There have been times when it’s been legitimately hard for me to not just crawl into my hidey-hole, delete Strava and Dailymile, and forget that I was ever a triathlete. But the fact is, I love the sport and the people I’ve met through it, and I especially love helping newbies through their first races and generally making the sidelines a more fun and supportive place to be. The person who nominated me, it turns out, had no idea I was injured — but she probably couldn’t have done a better thing for me if she had known. I have no idea what my racing future is, but that makes it a good time to set up aid stations and coordinate volunteers and find other ways to hold a place in this community long-term.

Meanwhile, I’m sorta-kinda trying to stay fit-ish. I’ve been back at masters, and I’ve done some longer pool runs, 75 minutes or so, with an increasing amount of time beltless just for the hell of it. Most recently I’ve been passing the time listening to Serial, but one day I showed up and my Shuffle was dead so I had to make it through the whole session with nothing to amuse or distract me, which has got to be the best mental training I have ever had. Last weekend I had a whole long “workout” with a friend that was just kicking back and forth and chatting and then pool running and chatting and then kicking and chatting again for nearly two hours — the water equivalent of a long, leisurely walk. It’s not great, but it’s OK. (And then there are weekends like the upcoming one, where I’m going to a beer festival followed by a wedding, and I end up feeling relieved that I’m not training for anything.)

And … I’m going back to the doctor I like best next week for a follow-up, and then we’ll see where things are. I got one final opinion, REALLY the last one I’m getting unless a medical professional insists I see someone else, and it came down on the “just plantar fasciitis/get a cortisone shot” side of the equation. I am torn; I’ve just heard and read such bad things. But I also don’t know what the other options are at this point. (Just live with the pain and hope it gets better someday? I suppose?) So, we’ll see. If running isn’t a realistic option for me, I’d just like to get on with the rest of my life. Soon, I hope.


I’ve been thinking a lot recently about signs — of improvement, or of decline. I mentioned a while back that it’s been frustrating to have no idea about whether my foot is progressing, beyond trying to make it hurt and seeing if it still does. No x-rays; no images; no reliable way to look inside at what’s bothering me (because maybe I still don’t even know exactly what is). Just pressing and resting and standing and jumping and thinking, “Is that still how it was last week?” Just waiting for something to be different.

“How did you know you were getting better?” That’s what I’ve asked everyone I’ve talked to who’s recovered from a similar injury. “How did you know it was working?” And I hear a variety of things — from “I never really did” to “one day, it was just better.” But there’s no clear path. If there were a path, I’d follow it; oh man, would I ever follow it. But there’s nothing there to follow.


I saw a new doctor last week. Actually, I saw two. One lost me in his waiting room, wanted to talk about my digestion, said the bone issue his colleague saw on the MRI was a “red herring,” and offered a cortisone shot. The other spent an hour with me, watched me walk, examined my shoes, said she thought it was a bone bruise, and rejected the idea of a cortisone shot. Two very different paths, one very confused person. I picked the second path, because I liked that doctor better. (Probably not the way one should make a medical decision, but it seemed as good as anything.)

Anyway. The whole time we talked, she kept saying, “This takes a long time.” She said it a couple of times offhand, then said it again, slowly, staring me down so I’d really get it — “this takes a long time.” And I kept saying, “I’m not in any rush.” I’ve already missed everything I wanted to do this summer and fall. There’s nothing on the calendar, nothing I’ve paid money for, nothing I need to hurry up and do. I’ve got forever.

But I don’t have forever — not really. I’m supposed to volunteer at Ironman Arizona in six weeks, and as of today, I’d be fairly useless on my feet at an aid station. I want to book a trip — I don’t even know when or where, but I want the option to dream one up. I want to do things — normal life things — like walk around at a music festival or be the one to pick up the takeout or not miss a train that I can almost reach out and touch because I can’t jog the two steps to the doors before they close. I’m not in a hurry to race, or even to run again. But I would like a sign that at some point the rest of my life will be OK. I never would have thought after that one run in June that I wouldn’t be able to dance at a friend’s wedding in October or that I’d be debating canceling a trip in November, but that’s where I am.

Is this it? Is this standard now? I haven’t seen many signs otherwise.


Or maybe I have. Last weekend, I had to drive somewhere, and driving requires two normal shoes. So, for the first time in a month, I put on my other sneaker. On the way home, I realized I needed to pop into the library. So I walked in. And back to the car. And down the block to my house from the parking space I found. Maybe a quarter-mile, total. Nothing special, except that it felt normal. When I told the new doctor about my accidental experiment, she said to do that again — not much, and maybe not outside the house again for a while (whoops), but up and down the hallway. Down to the basement. To the kitchen. Just see what happens. Hope that nothing happens.

And then there’s the itching feeling. Michaela told me about this — is your heel itching? like just under the skin, where you can’t actually scratch it? — and while I don’t think I would have called it that, I do feel something. Not always, not reliably, and maybe I only feel it because she told me to, but I swear, it happens. Maybe it’s nothing. But maybe it’s not.


But then there are the other signs: the two sore spots that feel the same as they’ve felt since June. The nuh-uh, no, no, nope reaction I still have to someone asking me to rock back on my heels or — god forbid — try to walk on them. The flip of a calendar to another month.

You can get used to anything, I guess.


If you’d asked me, back in June, I would have said I’d probably do an Ironman someday. It’s not something I said aloud very much, but I believed it. Not soon, but not never.

I thought I’d do another marathon, obviously. I never honestly thought I’d qualify for Boston as a younger woman, but I thought I’d be a lifelong runner who would maybe finally pull out a BQ at 55.

I’ve let go of a lot over these past three months.

I would be happy doing those things, of course — but I could be happy enough with something less. I could be happy enough being able to run for an hour. I could be happy enough never going beyond Olympic distance again. Hell, I could be happy enough as an aquabiker if I could at least walk transition without pain.

I can’t tell if those are signs of maturity or desperation, that my “happy enough“s keep getting smaller. Maybe it’s both.


“So which thing do I listen to?” I asked the new doctor. “The thing where walking feels OK? Or the thing where pressing on my foot doesn’t?”

“Both,” she said. “You have to listen to both.”

But what do I do when they’re different?

Do I listen to the person who treats a bone injury or the person who doesn’t?

This shot or that shot or the really expensive shot or no shot?

Ice or heat or both or neither?

Crutches for three weeks?

“We’ll get you running again” or “some people recover and some people don’t”?

Maybe I’m not lacking for signs at all. Maybe I actually have too many.


How About Some Product Recommendations?

I can’t run and hell, I can’t really walk, but I sure can shop!

I bought these things (with my own money). I like them a lot. If you are looking for things like these things, you might like them too!

AquaJogger Traveler pool running belt — My gym is bring-your-own-belt, and I spent a ridiculously long time agonizing over which to buy. I am so, so happy I picked this one. First of all: the segments are removable, which is awesome; I’ve taken off the big back piece and just run with the two little bits on the side now. Second: It folds up into a little bundle, much easier to carry around than a semi-circular piece of foam. It’s also a good bridge between running belted and beltless (which I’ve been experimenting with recently).

Alite Hikari Pack — Kind of obsessed with this bag. It can be a backpack or a tote bag; it has an open top so I can just throw all my stuff in there, but the straps cinch it up so nothing falls out. It has more pockets than I know what to do with, and I love pockety bags. And old colors go on sale for stupidly small amounts of money. It’s completely replaced a traditional gym bag for me.

Starbucks cold brew — This just rolled out to the Starbucks nearest my train station, and I’m thrilled. It’s not my favorite iced coffee; hell, it’s not even my favorite cold brew available in San Francisco. But it is the best iced coffee available within a block of my office for less than $3, and it has a really wonderful, clean, nutty flavor. I’m not always the biggest Starbucks fan, but they got this one right.

eoGEAR top tube bag — My beloved Nathan bento box started routinely ejecting food earlier this year — I guess two years of stretched-out mesh and worn-down velcro will do that — so I started hunting for another bag with similar specs. My requirements: at least one exterior pocket; at least one zipper pocket; big enough for lots of food; not too tall, because my short handlebar height doesn’t leave a lot of room to work with; attachments on both the bottom and the front. The Timbuk2 bento box was the other one I found that met my setup requirements, but it was HUGE, way too big for my tiny bike. This one is just right.

Nike Rival 4″ shorts — So the theme of this post is “pockets!” These shorts have a hidden interior waistband pocket in the front, another in the back, and an exterior zip pocket. As someone who has spent more money on Lululemon shorts than I care to admit entirely because they have interior waistband pockets, I am thrilled to have an option that can be found (on sale, but yeah, they’re always on sale somewhere) for literally half the price. Also in 2″ and 6″ lengths for your leg-baring pleasure.

Now, who needs a personal shopper?

A Giant Pile of Meh, or: A Halfhearted Attempt to Find Silver Linings

I don’t have much good to say.

The first two weeks in the boot came and went without much (any?) noticeable improvement. (It’s honestly hard to tell, since part of being in the boot is premised on taking away the daily discomfort I was feeling. To see if things are better, I have to seek out that discomfort, which is counterintuitive and something I’ve been trying not to do.) Since my insurance changes Oct. 1 and a whole new world of medical care opens up (…and a whole new world of expenses, but that’s another story), I opted to just stay in the boot for now and pursue a raft of second/third/fourth opinions at that point.

I probably should have stopped there. However … yesterday, I ended up getting in earlier than expected with a doctor who was going to be one of those additional opinions. His take: two weeks in the boot never would have been enough; six wouldn’t be unusual; and he’d recommend that I be on crutches for at least the next two (and possibly three or more) of those weeks. That seems pretty dramatic, and it would require significant lifestyle modifications*. If it’s actually my only option, I guess it’s … my only option, but it also seems like a big leap considering the actual level of pain I’m in, even when my foot was at its worst. But what do I know?

{*To take one tiny example: The parking lot at my gym is permit-only, which is why I currently bike the mile there and back. Public transit is not a reasonable option (I’m talking, turning a 4-minute drive into a 30-minute, three-bus fiasco) and I’m loath to spend money on cabs just for that. If I drive, there’s no telling how far away I’d need to park, and this gym happens to be located smack in the middle of a large and (to my eye) relatively un-crutch-able hill. I may be able to buy a six-month pass for the permit lot if I can get a California temporary disabled permit, but I need a doctor to do the paperwork for that, and I didn’t know any of this yesterday, because just about the last thing I was expecting was to be told I needed to be on crutches. Also, even getting a disabled parking permit seems like massive overkill — ACTUAL PEOPLE NEED THOSE — so I’m tempted to just say screw it and sit on my couch rather than swim for the sake of, if we’re being honest, vanity.}

That doctor’s compromise suggestion was to keep me in the boot for three more weeks, until mid-October, and if I still had pain at that point, then I’d need to be on crutches for, um, who knows how long. I’ve been sitting with that info for almost a day now, and I’ve even tracked down a pair of loaner crutches, but … I don’t know. I’m hesitant to upend my life even further, but on the other hand, why delay the inevitable? It seems hard to believe that the six blocks I walk per day could be the difference between healing and not, but I’m not really in a position to judge. As of now, I *think* I’ve decided to use crutches only if I need to walk beyond my daily work and pool commutes, at least until after the two additional appointments I have scheduled for October 1 and 2. That gives the boot another week to be magic but doesn’t delay the process by three full weeks if it isn’t working. I guess. I think. I don’t know. But that’s where I am today.

My biggest frustration is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to check progress other than waiting to see if I stop having symptoms. It’s weird; people I know who have had foot stress fractures have had X-rays taken at various intervals to see if there’s been any healing. Maybe heels are different? Maybe because it’s just (“just,” ha) a stress reaction, it would never show anyway? I don’t know, and I keep forgetting to ask, because at every appointment the news gets a little bit worse, and then I’m too busy trying not to cry to think with a clear head. (That is extremely embarrassing but also extremely true.) I know these things are finicky and not even doctors can see the future, but … I’ve already seen two weeks in the boot turn into probably six. Why wouldn’t I suspect that two weeks on crutches would also turn into six? Then again, the boot hasn’t been that bad; I guess you really can get used to anything.

One more moment of venting: I swear, I did not try to run through this injury. I felt no pain during the run where it (apparently) happened. When I still thought I was feeling normal post-20-miler soreness, I tried one run, then shut things down for a week; one more run, then shut things down for two more; and then one final run, at which point I stopped for good. At various points throughout, both a doctor and a physical therapist told me to try running, and I was the one who said no. It didn’t “get to a point where” it got worse — it was not an issue, and then it was — and it wasn’t something I ignored or was cavalier with — at least not within the realm of the medical advice I was seeking and getting. I’ve done dumber things. Maybe this is karma for all of my previous transgressions, but this thing wasn’t dumb. I take a tiny bit of solace in that, but I also do wish I had a moment to point to to say “Oh, well, if I just hadn’t done that…”

And, just so this isn’t a total downer and in an attempt to get me focused on the positive out there, here are some things I can do:

I can get all my ducks in a row and plan for the worst cases. For example: I can research what I need for a DMV temporary handicapped placard and print out that paperwork and take it with me to my next appointment, so I’m not taken by surprise and it’s there if I need it. I can actually write down all my questions so that the next time I’m face-to-face with a doctor, I don’t get so emotional and overwhelmed that I forget how to think. I can learn how to use the crutches I’m borrowing, so that if I do need to use them full-time, I won’t fall down the stairs.

I can still swim and pool run, for now. If one of the doctors I see in early October wants me to stop, I will, but until then, you will have to pry those away from my shriveled, chlorine-scented hands. (And, to be clear, nobody actually wants me to STOP those activities. It’s more that I have to find an un-objectionable and un-ruinous way to GET to those activities.)

I can do core work. Like, come ON. The only excuse I have for not being better about this thus far is that I’m lazy. I can do it in my living room. I can do it lying down. Not doing it is stupid. I am not stupid. I know some basics, but I also emailed my last physical therapist to see if he can send me some ideas.

I can do easy, non-invasive things to try to heal. The doctor I saw yesterday recommended contrast baths — ice water, then hot water, then ice water. Buckets of water. In my living room. Sitting down. It might not work, but so what? Buckets. Of. Water. Once again, come ON.

I can read a lot of books. Anyone want to be my friend on Goodreads?


True Injury Confessions

All I notice are people’s shoes. Cute flats. Heels I could never have walked in anyway. Grubby sneakers. Sparkly sneakers. Running shoes that I can identify — brand, style — on sight. I don’t even usually care that much about shoes, but these days I can’t stop looking at people’s feet.

I smell like chlorine all the time. I have to swim with masters at least twice a week to keep my membership. (I’m swimming in the “old-people swim,” as my lane-mate pointed out yesterday, which is a little weird, but I’m also not fast enough for the “young-people swim,” and anyway, I’d rather get up at 6:15 than 5:15.) I’m swimming other times on my own or with friends. And I’m pool-running on days I’m not swimming. I think I’m actually excreting chlorine.

I can’t walk more than two blocks without a break. My heel doesn’t hurt in the boot, which is nice, but my arch cramps like crazy. I gave up and threw an arch support in there today, which maybe is a terrible plan, but I can’t imagine how it would make things much worse. Also, walking a block takes five minutes.

Also: Even trivial walking is non-trivial. At minimum, for daily life, I walk 1.5 blocks from home to my train and 1.5 blocks from my train to work, and then I reverse it in the evenings. Back in the spring, when I had two working feet and was wearing my Vivofit, my daily walking was barely a step up from sedentary. Now it seems overwhelming.

I have never been on time for more things in my life. I’m a problematically, perpetually slightly late person. Most people I’m close to know that when I say 9:15, I mean 9:20. But I’m making peace with having to build cushion into my day. I aim for the train before the train I really have to take. If I think something is five minutes away, I give it 10. I can’t hurry, so I end up being on time — or early. Hashtag life lessons.

I don’t think this is working. Obviously, I did not want to be saying that. Today is day 6; I have my check-up on day 12. The first six days have led to no noticeable improvement (and some frustrating new symptoms, like the aforementioned arch cramping). Yes, the boot lets me walk (heel-)pain free, and I shouldn’t discount that. But the tender spots are just as tender as they were last Friday, and the week before that, and the week before that. I don’t know if this is just going to take more time, or if we still don’t have the right diagnosis, or what the next move is from here in any case. I’m mentally preparing to stay in the boot at least till October 1, when my new health insurance kicks in, because I can’t imagine the next six days being much different from the past six. But maybe they will be. There’s my level of optimism.

I can’t quite stop making goals. I originally wrote “I’m done making goals,” but that’s a damn lie and I might as well admit it. I do have two goals. I’d like to think they’re achievable, but the past two months have taught me that I might need to underestimate what’s achievable. The first is that I want to be able to go on a rock climbing trip with friends at the end of October. (Climbing causes no obvious pain, but walking or hiking to a climbing site might be a challenge.) The second is that I want to be able to run pain-free — I don’t care how far — on my birthday in January. Six weeks for goal #1; four months for goal #2. It sucks to acknowledge that I might have to miss them both, but it seems worse to have no goals at all.