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No Umbrella, No Hop Test Success, No Sleep

Most random title ever? Perhaps, but it sums up these past few days perfectly. Warning – the contents of this post are filled with petty complaints and some whining mixed in.

I lost my umbrella a few weeks ago (I know right) during a night out that went from zero to crazy within a few hours, in the most fun way possible of course. I take full blame for stupidly bringing along an umbrella to a nightclub, but there was no way I was going to allow the rain to mess up my hair that I spent an entire 10 minutes perfecting! I complained about not finding an umbrella at T.J. Maxx this past weekend and thought I could survive without one until I returned to Chicago where my mom has a secret stash, but Monday’s weather left me with no choice.


$12 later I had a flimsy black umbrella from Duane Reade. Any bets as to how long it will survive? //end pointless umbrella story

Moving on to a more serious topic – my shin pain! I took the hop test a few days ago and discovered that I failed…kind of. For those who don’t know, the hop test is as follows:

A “one-leg hop test” is a functional test often used to distinguish between MTSS and a stress fracture. A patient with MTSS can hop at least 10 times on the affected leg; however, a patient with a stress fracture cannot hop without severe pain. (source – note that MTSS = medial tibial stress syndrome = shin splints)

There is indeed a localized pain in my left shin – I can hop on it but there is a dull ache that appears to be behind the shin bone. It’s all confusing and frustrating. I’m doing my best to not jump to any conclusions (no pun intended) but I’m clearly not thrilled about this discovery. My instinct is telling me that I need at least a few more weeks of rest but I’m having a hard time listening! This pain seems to be more than just a bad case of the shin splints, but at this point I’m refusing to utter those two dreaded words (hint: s__ f__ ) and simply hoping for the best. Ahhh I really really miss running!


Taking time off from running certainly has its perks though! One would think that I would be a well-rested goddess now that I don’t wake up early to sneak in a pre-work run. But nope, the sleeping struggle is real. I know I keep complaining about this but I’ve been hit with a minor case of insomnia that’s been ongoing for almost two months! It’s odd because I never before had any problem falling asleep the moment my head hit the pillow. Sleep and I have a wonderful relationship that transcends all others. But lately I haven’t been able to quiet the thoughts running through my mind. I lay awake thinking about the few main happenings in my life until I eventually drift off or am forced to pop a Valerian root pill (totally safe, natural, and not-medicated!). However, even falling asleep doesn’t mean I’m off the hook yet. I’ve also been waking up at odd hours of the night (morning?) – 3AM & 4AM especially – and struggling to fall back asleep. This is actually a bigger problem than falling asleep in the first place!

I have a few theories on the origin of species my insomnia:

1.) Excitement about life - I’m about to embark on a crazy adventure in life and am so excited/terrified/nervous/happy! 90% of my nighttime thoughts are related to this.

2.) NYC noise – Even though I live on a fairly quiet street in the mellow Upper East Side, this is still the bustling city of Manhattan and there’s no shortage of honking + other street noise outside my window. My heater also recently started working for the winter and it makes a clinking/banging noise every time it turns on. Truth be told, I’ve grown so accustomed to these urban sounds that I don’t notice them anymore. But even though I don’t remember it, I suspect that I wake up very often during the night, thus disrupting those precious REM cycles. It’s a good thing that I’m heading home for a week because I always sleep so well there! (famous last words? let’s hope not…)

3.) Caffeine – I’ve been a one-cup-of-coffee-per-day girl for as long as I can remember, but my caffeine cravings are out of control these days. Even the sight of a coffee shop or the mention of java sends me straight into the arms of my coffee maker. Much like the chicken and the egg, I’m not sure what came first, caffeine cravings due to insomnia or insomnia due to caffeine intake.


Dear reader – let’s ignore the fact that I’ve given this insomnia struggle way too much thought and instead offer a few wise words of wisdom from those who successfully beat the sleep monster. Meanwhile, I’m going to continue over-analyzing my shins and my sleep cycle as I sip on this completely unnecessary second cup of coffee from the ‘Bucks.

Runners – in your experience, how accurate is the hop test?

How many cups of coffee do you normally drink per day?

Who else struggles or has previously struggled with insomnia? Any advice on how to beat it?

♥ Irina

Frames From The Weekend 11/14/2014 – 11/16/2014

The Sunday blues hit me harder than usual yesterday. Not sure why! But really, I’m so not ready to start the work week. I already know it’s going to be insanely busy, booooo.

This weekend, yesterday in particular, marked two years since I first visited NYC! It’s always nice to look back and see how far I’ve come since. Back then, living in this incredible city was just a dream that struck me as I strolled down the streets of Manhattan. And now, here I am! Living in my very own apartment, enjoying nights out with new friends, eating my way through the city, and truly loving life.

FFTW fall2

(Link up to ‘Frames From The Weekend’! Read the official “rules” here.)

I ended up having a mellow weekend. My planned Saturday night didn’t happen because my sidekick came down with a horrible case of sinusitis. Poor girl, that’s not something to mess around with! I *almost* agreed to meet a few other friends at a speakeasy in lower Manhattan instead, but my mind was set on “dancing or bust” so I opted to stay home and catch up on sleep.


{Friday: I was exhausted by week’s end and had to include an extra cup of coffee with cocoa powder stirred in for an energy boost. I also finally tried Quest chips, and let me be the first to tell you that they were so gross! I’m a huge lover of Quest bars but the chips made my stomach churn in protest. And yes, I re-painted my nails from black to red during my lunch hour. My Speck iPhone case came in the mail…I love it so much more than the Incipio case I previously had! Work was insanely busy as it usually is on Fridays (someone please tell me why that is?!?), but I finished everything and met up with a friend in Times Square to see an off-Broadway musical called ‘The Underclassmen.’ It was really great! The play is based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s biography, which tells the story about his early years in Princeton and his romance with Ginevra King, the debutante who later inspired the character of Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby.}


{Saturday: After a week off from running due to shin pain, I threw on my new Pro Compression tights, laced up a new pair of Brooks PureFlows, and set out for the East River. My left shin felt a bit better but I still had to stop after 1 mile because the dull ache returned and I didn’t want to push through it. Of course I was incredibly upset but what’s another week off in the grand scheme of things? Instead, I pulled out my new iPhone and played around with it’s incredible camera. That bird was the perfect model, right?! }


{Food: I realized that I have exactly one week to clear out my refrigerator before flying back to the Midwest, so an intense cooking spree took place throughout the weekend. I finally baked up the sweet potatoes I had hanging out in the fridge. I also made this bread again, which has quickly become a favorite in the Miss Irina household. Lots of coffee with frothy almond milk was consumed as well…I think my coffee addiction is back! Food highlight – I like to whip up a “fancier” breakfast at least once a weekend, and this time it was a sweet potato + egg + avocado + cheese skillet. }


{Sunday: Sleep oh glorious sleep! I’ve come to the realization that I actually sleep quite poorly here in New York. The noise doesn’t bother me at all but I suspect I wake up very often during the night even if I don’t actually remember doing so. At least I slept in on Sunday and felt (semi) refreshed for the first time in a while. I lazily feasted on the lovely skillet shown in the frame above and then headed to T.J. Maxx in search of a mini umbrella. In typical Irina fashion, I walked out with three new tops and no umbrella. To my defense, I searched but didn’t find one! On the way back I stumbled across an awesome store that was basically built for me. The shelves were stocked with all my favorite organic products! I also stopped by a beauty shop to pick up a new red nail polish – I’m in search of a color that closely matches my beloved ‘Lotus Rouge’ by Chanel (confidence color of choice!). Essie’s ‘Limited Addiction’ is a close resemblance but still doesn’t compare to that lovely shade of Chanel. I ended the night with T.V. + mani + a simple dinner of chicken, eggs, avocado, and bread. }

This is my last week in town before heading home for Thanksgiving! I can’t believe how quickly the holidays arrived. The year is almost over!

What is the last musical or play you saw?

Is anyone else suddenly addicted to coffee like I am?

♥ Irina

Perks of Taking Time off from Running

Running and I have been on a break from one another for six days. I’m not sure how running feels, but I miss it with every muscle in my body. But my left shin selfishly had other plans and decided to protest with a horrible case of shin splints. It’s been tough but the week is luckily flying by and I’m planning to try running again tomorrow. Meanwhile, I decided to put together a list of perks that come with not running (yes, some perks do exist!). This is me trying to be an optimist and look on the bright side of things!

Perks of taking time off from running:

»> sleeping in

»> decreased appetite = smaller grocery bill!

»> less sweaty laundry

»> no need for multiple showers

»> drinking extra cups of coffee because you don’t need to worry about going to sleep early

»> no painful warmups in the cold and/or dark

»> nagging aches and pains actually have time to heal

»> the return of a social life on weeknights & weekends

»> saving those few minutes before bed by not having to lay out running gear based on all potential weather reports

»> not obsessively checking the weather


Anything I might have missed? Share your perks!

♥ Irina

We Too Are Stardust

Once upon a time, many many years ago (also known as 2004) I read a wonderful book called ‘Sophie’s World‘ while traveling through Russia with my family. As an introductory book to philosophy with a beautiful story woven in, it served as a perfect thought-provoking way to pass the quiet hours of our travels.

The entire book left me curious and wondering about the world, but one quote in particular left a powerful imprint that remains to this day:

Yes, we too are stardust


(image source)

It was so simple yet so utterly beautiful that I obsessed over the concept for weeks to come. It remains one of my favorite quotes to this day.

You see, I’ve always been infatuated with the cosmos. As a child I wanted to be an astronaut and I even strongly considered studying aerospace engineering during college. The many amazing physics courses I took helped fill the void, but as an adult I spent many free hours reading about black holes, dark matter & energy, and distant galaxies in Discover Magazine. It’s all so fascinating that I often get chills just thinking about it. My personality is naturally drawn to mysteries, and our vast universe is perhaps the biggest mystery of all.

This quote occasionally pops into my head when life starts making little sense. It helps ground me when I feel lost in this seemingly huge world. It pulls me back to reality when my problems feel larger than life. It can be lonely and slightly terrifying to think of how insignificant we truly are in the grand scheme of things, but I choose to be more optimistic. The world may be a a big place but we’re all fundamentally interconnected. We need to abandon our superiority complexes and live as equals. We need to honor our beautiful earth. And perhaps most importantly, we need to respect ourselves and those we share our planet with – humans, animals, reptiles, and insects alike. In the end we’re just serendipitous fragments of the stars we see in our night sky.

And how damn exquisite is that?

♥ Irina