The “STEPs” I took to complete my first Half Marathon

  1. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

As a Medical Dietetics student I wanted to combine my interest in nutrition with my love of running. For my project I trained for and successfully completed my first half marathon. During my training I tracked my dietary intake and was able to see how my eating habits were during training and on race day.

  1. Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

This experience helped me get more involved with my major, was a major confidence booster, and strengthened my mentality that I can truly do anything I set mind to. The summer before my first year at Ohio State I started my first attempt at training for a half marathon. Almost a month into my training I was playing tennis with a friend when I Nationwide Half Marathonslipped and twisted my knee. After that day I had to stop running and give my knee time to heal. After two months I tested my knee with a 5K during welcome week. My knee pain returned after this race. For the rest of my first year I suffered from on and off pain. The following summer I took it easy and refrained from exerting myself. When I returned to campus for my second year I started running again. I went on to run two 5K’s, a four miler, and a 15k during autumn semester. I completed all of these races without any pain. The next goal I had set for myself was to run a half marathon. To me the experience wasn’t just about crossing the finish line but more about the entire process and the journey I took to get there. And my experience did not stop there. I have already set new goals for myself. I have already signed up for my next half marathon. This time I am challenging myself yet again and doing a challenge race at the Rite Aid Cleveland marathon. I will be running an 8K on Saturday, May 14th and a half marathon the following day, May 15th. The training regimen is a different ballgame but I like the challenge and I know just like before that I will be able to rise to the occasion because there is nothing I can’t do when I set my mind to it.

  1. Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

I was able to become comfortable with a program that looks at caloric needs and compares that to daily intake and exercise. I tracked my caloric intake and expenditure in 24 hour time periods and was able to input these into the software to see if I was meeting my daily needs. This got me more comfortable with DRI’s and other terms that deal with my major. I was able to compare how I eat while training with how I ate the day of my race. I can use this data to make changes to my eating habits for my next half marathon. This experience provided me with firsthand experience at tracking and logging my caloric intake and my output of energy. This is something as a dietitian that I may request of my patients. Seeing firsthand how it’s a demanding task at times and for me not something I could do everyday makes more aware and understanding of the demand it will put on them. Going forward I will look at ways to improve the process and try to make adjustments or compromises if able.

What caught me off guard about my experience was how it affected the people around me. As I got further into my training I was making more and more health conscious decisions. What I never expected is that my lifestyle changes in prepping for a half marathon would motivate my parents to live healthier lifestyles.

My favorite part about the experience looking back is the fact that I got to share it with my parents. This past summer was most likely the last summer that I will be spending living with them. Over the course of the summer I was able to create some really great memories with both my mom and dad. My dad started running again and we were able to talk about our daily runs and bond over running stories. My mom, not a runner by any means, was one of my biggest supporters throughout the summer and accompanied me on all my 8+ mile runs. She would follow me on a bike on some of the hottest days of summer just to make sure I stayed safe on the trails and that I didn’t over exert myself in the heat. We would bond and have meaningful conversations while I ran. She also would watch my form and let me know when I started tensing my shoulders. It was a great experience getting to share this with my parents.

Pierogi DashMy race in June 2015 was a 5K and it became a family affair. My dad and I both ran the race and my mom waited at the finish line with the camera. My dad gave me a run for my money and was right on my tail the entire time. I ran my fastest 5K ever that day and my fastest mile during a race. My dad and I finished within 30 seconds of each other and have already decided we will be returning to this race this upcoming summer for a rematch. This experience brought my parents and I closer together and left us with lasting memories. Those memories I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life and are my favorite part of the entire journey.

  1. Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

Academically this experience opened my eyes to how much goes into food logging and tracking. I had never tried to do this for a 24 hour period prior and now I am aware of how much effort for some people it can be. I felt attached to my phone and other electrical devices while doing it. I also felt restrained while searching for some of the foods on the software. Sometimes they didn’t have exact foods especially when I went out to eat. Going into dietetics depending on the path I choose I may be asking my patients to do food logs. Going through the experience myself was eye opening and a great learning experience moving forward. It gives me a sense of understanding and gives me something to think about. Another thing I learned is that I am not as interested in sports nutrition as I initially thought. This experience opened me up to the fact that I don’t like mixing work with pleasure. When focusing a lot on what I was eating and making it my job to scrutinize my training it made me dread the process to a certain extent. Since the project ended in October I took a break for a bit and have started training again for my next half marathon. I still am conscious of what I eat and my training schedule. However, this time around I love the process a lot more. I believe this is because I’m not viewing it as something I have to do and I’m not so focused on the idea of having to write every little thing down. Instead I can just enjoy the process. I also have had the experience of working with Ohio State Four Milerathletes over the course of the few months of the program and witnessed firsthand that a lot were non compliant to what the dietitians were telling them to do. I would find this extremely frustrating. On the other hand I know people firsthand in a hospital setting who take what the dietitians say to heart because they want to get better and they want to leave the hospital. Sometimes it seems that the athlete mentality can hinder some when it comes to eating right. I am aware that this is not always the case and many patients in a clinical setting will also be non compliant but through this experience I have gained a special interest in the clinical side to dietetics and moving forward will be exploring my options on this path with greater interest.  My personal and life goals have also been altered thanks to the STEP experience. Just two years ago I never thought I’d be able to overcome past knee issues. I thought it was a far off dream that would never come true when it came to running a half marathon. After I made this dream a reality looking forward I am looking for new ways to challenge myself. My next challenge is to run two races within 24 hours. In May I will be doing an 8K in Cleveland on a Saturday and the Sunday of that same weekend I will be running a half marathon. If all goes according to plan and these races go well I will be looking at training for my first full marathon. I know that I have more in me and while my body is still in shape I want to take advantage of what it can handle and continue to set and reach new goals. Someday I want to be able to say I am not just half crazy but full on crazy and ran 26.2 miles for fun.

“Learning music production is a permanent work in progress”

With my STEP fellowship, I ordered musical equipment and software, as well as computer parts to build a home studio. I then recorded my musician friends and produced songs for them, which were released on social media. I plan on recording more with everyone involved and possibly more of my friends.

Prior to this project, I understood songwriting and producing to be something that came naturally. I found that while this is true, it’s much more of a science than I had thought. I assumed basic rhythm and were simple, but it turns out I knew little about chord structuring and song charting. With the help of my friends and multiple books on music making, I was able to make this a much less exhaustive task. Now that the process is easier for me, I have found I enjoy just sitting and thinking up ideas even more.

My relationships played a major role in how much I learned with this equipment. I was able to pick up a great deal about mixing and editing levels of instruments from my friend Ben. He was heavily involved in Marching Band and has home produced for a few years now. Thanks to his help, I was able to get hands-on knowledge with mixing, songwriting, and production in general. My friend Justin helped me grasp the concepts of song structure. Alongside this, he was a very creative mind to collaborate with. This helped open my eyes to new bits of music theory and structure, as he was involved with the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra for many years.

My project allowed me to gain a new perspective on music writing, as this was the first opportunity I had to learn and bounce ideas off of other people in a free form manner. When I first sat down with my friend Tonnie to make a song, I began to notice many things about what worked best between artist and producer. The process involved a series of having an idea, listening to an idea, and working to encorporate the idea into the song. Sometimes he would like my ideas, other times he would improve upon them and mould them into his style. This proved to be my favorite aspect of songwriting. No one idea is wrong or right, but as a group you can present a very fine piece of work by inputting everyone’s ideas and allowing the artist to express themself.

Through this project, I also gained new musical connections to help broaden my personal network. As I posted some of our progress to social media, I gained followers and friends who wanted to collaborate and learn more. One of my favorite moments over the summer was when Justin asked if he could bring his friend over. He had never gotten involved in music throughout school, but was interested in learning more about it. We had him sit in for a while and allowed him to try out some instruments himself. I found this moment to be great because someone who had a desire to learn was given the tools to educate themselves.

The main roadblock I hit was ordering the parts for production. As soon as I received my STEP grant, I attempted to order near everything in two days. While I had the funds to do this, my credit union flagged many of the items for fraud after spending a certain amount in one day. This event, while tedious, allowed me to keep good track of when the packages would arrive and get a good idea of how to fit the pieces together without rushing.

This experience was amazing, as it allowed me to finally be in control of what I can create musically. I can guarantee that I will be creating more with the equipment I purchased, and I plan on working more with all of the artists involved over the summer. Music has always been a stress relief to me, as it allows me to express myself the only way I know how. This has enabled me to be more productive at work and when studying. I plan on producing music in my spare time for as long as I can. Check out some of my finished productions at my soundbutt page




My Recording Experience

  1. My STEP Signature Project was recording an EP CD. I had to first go into a recording studio and sit down with someone to divide out what all costs are necessary to successfully make a CD. Then, I had to go in and do what was planned, and successfully created a 5 song EP CD.

  1. Before I started my STEP experience, I had no idea exactly how much work went into recording an EP CD. I knew there were a lot of hours put into it, but I did not realize how many different things had to be done before we could even begin the actual recording. This helped me to practice time management along with patience.

  1. During the process of this project, I had to interact with a bunch of new people whether it may be a musician I would like to use on the EP, or just someone asking me about my project in general. This helped to push me out of my comfort zone and made communication with others easier for me to do. Thus helping me make more connections in the music world. I am more comfortable going onto a stage and talking to larger crowds along with making causal conversation with any passing stranger when necessary.

This new skill of communication also helped me form a great bond between my producer and I. Before, I was never able to open up and speak my mind especially with my music. The bond that was created between my producer, my band, and me helped me to voice my opinions about what I wanted in my music. With still keeping an open mind, my opinions, and the opinions of everyone else that was involved, we were able to create something I could only have dreamt of four years ago.

This is also due to the courage that this project helped me to find within myself. Before, I did not only have terrible stage fright, but I was also terrified to have people read the songs that I wrote in fear of them not being well written. Now, I take pride in any and every song that I write, and take any feedback as positive feedback to help me improve myself as an artist.

Not only did succeeding in finishing this project help me in the musical world, it helped me bring new views to the real world as well, and see life with a new perspective. I am now gladly able to accept any challenge with a smile knowing that I am capable of taking it on.

  1. Music has always been a huge part of my life, and being able to accomplish something like this opens up a pathway of opportunities for me in the future. I will always pursue music even if it is just as a hobby. I am so glad that the STEP Organization helped to make this dream of mine a truly wonderful reality.