Monday, 30 April 2007

Boxing and Pump

I absolutely love it when we do boxing for personal training. It is such fun hitting things. We don't do boxing all that often, so it's always a great way to measure my progress. For example, when I did my first boxing session I wasn't able to skip. I couldn't manage to coordinate the rope and my feet. Eventually I could skip for about 20 skips, and the last time I did a session I managed 60 before I had to rest.

Today, I skipped for 2 minutes - 220 skips - without stopping. It took me a while to recover, but I was thrilled with myself. I managed to stay at a high intensity for the whole session, which is also an improvement. Mind you, my HRM is definitely giving up the ghost. It seemed to think I'd burned 75 calories in half an hour. It also had intervals of thinking I'm heartless, so it's clearly not working.

After that, I headed off to Body Pump. There was a slight break between the two sessions, so I hit the treadmill for a brisk walk. I don't understand those people who sit in the breakfast area for half an hour, chatting while they wait for a class. If you're at the gym, exercise! And while you're at it, sweat a little.

I'm getting much better at Pump. My squats and lunges are so much better and I can follow the instructions better. Earlier, I was still setting myself for the exercise when everyone else was on their second rep. Now I'm almost with the program.

I didn't go the gym this morning. I decided that I'd made it to the gym every morning I was in Canberra for the last 12 weeks, and most days I was in Melbourne, and that today I was going to have the morning off. Mind you, I'll be there tomorrow, as I find it hard to fit exercise in on a Tuesday evening.

I had thought about doing my weights session tomorrow, but I think it's too close to the pump class. I will have to work out a schedule so that I'm resting my muscles properly. It looks like I'll be doing some sort of running - all I have to do is decide whether I'm running outside or inside.

I've decided that I have to keep up my level of exercise to some degree. I'm trying to lose weight but I really like to eat. That means I have to burn off the extra calories. I'm going to aim for a calorie burn of between 500 and 600 calories a day. That will let me have my snacks during the day and lose half a kilo a week.

During my p/t session Leanne and I were chatting about the progress I've made during the challenge. Well, Leanne was chatting and I was gasping out comments occasionally (slight exaggeration). I was already doing a lot of this stuff, but the challenge just seemed to compress time for me, which meant I improved more quickly. Clearly, challenging myself and setting goals works for me. I've got the walking challenge coming up at the end of May, and running is going to help me with that, so I've decided that I'm going to work on my running.

As a secondary goal, I'm going to try to overcome my reluctance to ride a bike. I hope Celeste keeps posting all her cheery stories, as I find this quite encouraging. It didn't manage to encourage me out onto the bike yesterday, but I am sure I'll get there eventually.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Weights session

I made it to the gym this morning and did my weights session. My knee has been niggly, so I skipped the one legged squats and replaced them with one leg extensions. I figured the machine was more stable and so it would be kinder to my knee. I guess I'll know tomorrow. The session went really well. Even the chicken exercise is improving.

I then did 20 mins of cardio before heading off to the shopping centre. I found a light weight wind proof jacket that fitted me, but it just seemed so expensive that I put it back so I could think about it. I figured that if I managed to run outside a few times then I would buy the jacket. It seems silly to spend the money on something I might not use. Why does the word bicycle jump into my mind here?

I spent the afternoon relaxing and watching West Wing on DVD. I missed this completely, so I've borrowed the DVD's from my sister-in-law. I've watched four episodes so far and I think I am hooked.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Last day of the challenge

I made it - 12 weeks of the Fernwood Biggest Loser Challenge. I bumped into some of Team Black in Body Pump this morning and we went to the Pancake Parlour for lunch. It was a nice way to celebrate the end of the challenge. I'm sure that we'll all be seeing more of each other though, as a few of us have discovered running.

The girls did their 16 km run today, and a couple of the others rode their bikes. If I'd known that, I'd have joined in on my bike, which now has lovely pumped up tyres thanks to the help of a friend of mine.

Now that the challenge is over it's a good time to reflect on what I've gained from taking it on.

1) I'm much fitter than I was 12 weeks ago.
2) I've gained muscle tone and definition.
3) I've lost weight and centimetres.
4) My balance has improved.
5) I ran 10 km!
6) I made new friends.
7) I started to exercise regularly when I was in Melbourne.
8) I'm able to get myself up and to the gym in the mornings.
9) I started to do classes at the gym.

When I started the challenge, I had no idea that I'd enjoy it so much. I knew that I'd find it motivating, as there was a team aspect as well as the personal challenge. I am highly motivated to reach my weight loss goal this year. I thought the challenge would help me with that. It did.

Now that it's done, I'm really pleased with the way that I approached it. I learned during the challenge that I don't need the external motivation of points to exercise. That's a big plus, as it means that exercise has become a habit.

Writing the blog has really helped. I never used to plan my exercise. I only do a few days at a time now, but I'm starting to think about what I'm trying to achieve. Putting the plans in writing makes me more accountable to myself. Mind you, it doesn't guarantee that I end up doing what I thought I was going to do. :-)

For example, I'm planning to do a weights session and go for a bike ride tomorrow. Hopefully it will happen.

Friday, 27 April 2007

Runner's Shop visit

The exercise highlight of the past two days was the Black Team visit to the Runner's Shop in Canberra. Krissi organised the visit for us, as a number of people in our team are interested in running and either have no idea what to wear when it gets cold or don't know what shoes to buy.

Brian Wenn and his staff couldn't have been more helpful. We had a talk on clothing and another on shoes. I had read a lot of this info in various magazines, forums and blogs, but it was handy to hear it again from someone who has sold shoes for years to runners. Amazingly, the way they worked out what type of shoes we needed was something completely new to me. They watched us when we squatted. Given the amount of training I've had when squatting, I thought we'd all turn out to be neutral, but that wasn't the case. Fortunately for me, I did. I think I'm one of the lucky people who is biomechanically suited to running. I know it's not fair to everyone else, but I'm delighted to be amongst the lucky ones.

I don't think I've ever tried on so many pairs of shoes in the search for the perfect pair. I felt really comfortable saying "that's not quite right" and I ended up with a pair of adidas runners. I even ran a little in them before deciding they were "the" ones. I can't see myself doing that in a shopping centre store. Well, maybe now that I know that I can I probably will do the mini-run around the shop. I guess that's one of the ways that the shop assistant can tell that you're a serious runner.

I also bought two pairs of three-quarter length running pants, and a pair of running shorts. I justified this expenditure by reminding myself how hard it was to locate pants that weren't going to fall down when I was running. I don't think I've ever spent so much money on running gear. Luckily, I was able to get the ACT Cross Country Club 10% discount. While my credit card was preparing for total melt down I managed to squeeze in a fuel belt too.

The amazing thing about the running gear was how light it all was. I'd have liked to have bought a lightweight jacket, but they didn't have one in my size. Well, they may have had a white one, but I didn't even bother to look at those. I'm not one of those people who can wear white. I'm basically a grub.

As for other exercise, I did my weights program on Thursday morning. I was tempted to split it, but I arrived at the gym early enough to do the whole program. I gritted my teeth, did the one-legged squats and survived all the other exercises as well. My triceps pushups are still incredibly sad, but they have definitely improved.

This morning, I made it to step and I'm regretting it now. My left knee feels quite sore. It was fine during the class, but it's been slowly building up to spitting the dummy. I am trying to convince myself that it's no worse than it was when I first started exercising. Getting up the stairs at the end of a session was a major effort. I guess the real test will happen tomorrow. I want to do a long run, and I'm going to give it a go. If my knee is dodgy then, well, it's dodgy and I'll walk rather than run. I hope it's ok.

I am really proud of myself for handling the whole problem of peer group pressure. I'm sure I mentioned that the group that I run with were thinking of doing a 16 km run. It would be so easy to go along with them, and hate every minute of it. I managed to send out a group email that said I was piking. Well, I said it quite differently. I mentioned that all the advice I was reading said to stay within 10% when increasing distance or weight etc. I said I'd be running bridge to bridge. I was making it clear that while I wasn't running with them, I'd still be running. And I didn't let them talk me into something that is too hard for me. I am one of those "easygoing" types, who ends up doing stuff I don't want to do, so this was a big step for me.

This week has been a terrible points week at the gym. I couldn't get to P/T and then my Slim counsellor wanted to leave earlier than my appointment. It's a bit difficult to ask her to hang around for an hour just so I can get 50 points, so I decided to forgo them.

The fitness challenge finishes this week, so I'll be aiming to get a few points tomorrow, although I'm not really worried about getting more points now. I'm really happy with the outcome of the challenge. I'm so much fitter, and the whole thing has been an amazingly positive experience. The points are a minor detail.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Missed my plane

This is a first for me, and one I would have preferred to still have ahead of me. I mixed up the time for my flight. I knew what time I was meant to be arriving in Canberra. I just didn't know when I was leaving!

Now, if you knew me well, you'd know that I like to arrive out at the airport an hour before the flight. I get laughed at all the time over that. I've been trying to relax a little about getting there early. Today I was ready in plenty of time. My "you're flying" alarm went off, and I turned it off without reading the detail, thinking "why do I still set this?" I got the "why don't you check in now" email from Virgin Blue and decided that I'd be at the airport with plenty of time to check in. I was ready early and wandered around the house, trying to "relaaaax".

When I got to the airport and tried to check in .. well, I felt like such a dill. It cost me $50 and the next flight wasn't for ages. Janet kindly turned around and came back for me so that I didn't have to sit at the airport for hours. The family are delighted to be teasing her .. "When your father takes Kathy to the airport, HE doesn't bring her back home" etc.

As for exercise, that didn't go to plan either. I was too lazy to get out of bed this morning. I was reading blogs between airport trips, and thought to myself - all these people have managed to get out for a holiday run. Well, unpacking my running gear seemed like too much of a stretch, but I was inspired to go for a walk around the creek. It was a lovely day and I'm glad I made the effort. The rescheduled plane trip meant that I didn't make it to squash.

I'll be glad to get back to my routine tomorrow.

By the way, thanks for all the positive comments on yesterday's blog. They are much appreciated.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Relaxing day

I love not working when everyone else is working. This mini-break was a great idea. I'm glad Janet's performance was on so close to Anzac Day.

Before I forget, Janet was brilliant. Not that I'm biassed of course. She sang "Mack the Knife", "Habanera", "I Think It's Going to Rain Today", a Dusty Springfield medley and "Miss Otis Regrets". Her patter was entertaining and I was enthralled the whole time she was on stage at Chapel Off Chapel. The other two performers were also terrific.

This morning I went for a walk around the creek. It was a lovely morning and I quite enjoyed my relaxing exercise session. It didn't work off the doughnuts though. I'm planning to run again tomorrow and I'll be playing squash in the evening. Back to the gym on Thursday, so I'd better do a weights session then. On Saturday it sounds like the runners from Team Black are planning an ambitious long run. I think 16 km is too far for me, but I'll certainly go along with them for part of it. I can always walk the rest and there's some sort of plan to park cars along the route. I guess I'll discover the details over the next few days.

During this visit to Melbourne I saw quite a few people who hadn't seen me for a while. It was great to see how happy they all were to see me looking so fit and well. I certainly surprised people when I told them I'd become a runner.

I also had a funny experience in a clothes shop. I bought an outfit to wear last night. I'd done my usual sketchy job of packing and would have been showing up in jeans at Janet's performance if I hadn't found anything. I spotted a skirt I really liked in a shop over at Werribee Plaza. Unfortunately, they didn't have my size, so I decided to try on the smaller size to see how much it missed by. I also took a skirt with an elasticized waist to try, as I knew that would fit me, even if it wasn't exactly what I wanted.

Anyway, to my pleasure, the skirt fit me. When I was looking at it in the long mirror outside the change rooms I mentioned to the saleswoman that it was the first time I'd fit into a size 14 skirt in years. She then said to me, "Our skirts are cut very generously." Talk about deflating!!! Fortunately, I was in the mood to be amused rather than offended. I ended up buying the skirt, a jacket, a shirt and some matching beads. The outfit looked fantastic.

Monday, 23 April 2007

How many calories in a doughnut?

I'm in shock. Two cinnamon sugar doughnuts from Donut King look and sound so harmless until you look them up on Calorie King. 730 calories and almost 34 grams of fat! My goodness. To think that I nearly had a third one. I was sure that they weren't doing me much harm as they are so small! Of course, with eagle eyed hindsight I should be hitting myself in the head and saying "Doh!" I know muffins are the devil's food. Why did I think doughnuts were any different?

Mind you, they were delicious.

I skipped the gym today - too much trouble to drive to Yarraville. Instead, I ran around the creek once and walked a second lap. I made it around the first lap in 22:12, which is the fastest I've done it. I wasn't trying to go fast, so I figure that I'm still lucky enough to be in the improving beginner stage of my running career. Rather than worrying about speed I was concentrating on running comfortably and working on my cadence outdoors. I seem to be consistently managing a cadence of 85. I ran at 10 am, which is unusual for me. The weather was lovely - blue sky and sunshine without being too hot. It's extremely pleasant, having these couple of days off work. I walked the second lap in 34 minutes and then headed home. I was out for a little over an hour all up.

They're getting used to me at home now. I don't get the "what have you done with our daughter?" questions any more, and they've stopped looking for signs of alien surgery. I came in and started stretching and nobody even blinked.

I had it in my head this morning that I was going to run just the one lap today, that I'd do the equivalent once more this week and then go for a long run on the weekend. I got the idea from a beginner's training program I saw on the Ausrun website. One lap is 3.5 km according to my calculations based on the map from Google Earth. When I finished the lap, it was an effort to stop myself from running any further. I really felt like I was piking out even though it was what I'd planned to do. I had a stern word with myself as I've realised recently that I've not been running as much as I think I'd like to because I have been treating every run as though it should be at least as long as the previous one for it to be a "real run". That's putting me off, which is hardly surprising.

I'm going to take my running a bit more seriously now, especially as the fitness challenge is almost over and I won't be so tied to the gym. Of course, that means I'll have to commit myself to a training program. For that, I need to know what sort of running I want to do. So I'm back to working out what my running goals are. This is what I've come up with at the moment.

1. Have fun
2. Run without injury
3. Run three times a week, including a long run
4. Run outside at least once a week
5. Run for longer

I'm going to use the fun runs I'm doing as interesting long runs. I'm entered in the Mother's Day Classic, there's a fun run a couple of weeks later in Canberra that I think I'll do, and I'm planning to Run to the G. I'm not at all fussed about my times for these but I'd like to eventually run the whole way, rather than run/walk part of them.

Hmm, now all I have to do is work off those doughnuts!!!

Oh, I managed to lose 0.7 kg over the last two weeks, which I'm pleased with.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Rest day today

I've had a nice easy day today. I was going to go for a bike ride but the tyres went down overnight. If I can't convince one of my friends to come to my rescue, I'll have to take the bike along to the bike shop. Luckily, it's just around the corner.

I made it to the gym for a walk on the treadmill. I walked at 6.4 km/hr at gradient 3.5 for 20 mins. With the 10 minute walk there and back, it was a 40 min session. I did a little housework and then headed to the airport.

In Melbourne, I went shopping for birthday presents for my niece (13) and one of my nephews (11). It's not as easy as it sounds. There are way too many choices for a gift for a 13 year old girl. I scoured the shops and then ended up buying what I'd thought of first - some scrapbooking materials. Laura loved them, so it was a complete success. I couldn't find what I wanted for Michael, so I gave him money. He was delighted, but money always seems like a too easy option.

One advantage of having trouble deciding what to buy - I did a lot more walking than I would have done otherwise.

Tomorrow, I think I'll go for a run around the creek in the morning. I was going to focus on getting points at the gym, but my team doesn't really need them and I feel like running. If I still have energy later, I might get myself along to the gym. I can probably check the class schedule online.

Tomorrow night I'll be listening to my sister sing in her cabaret showcase. I'm sure she'll be terrific and I'm looking forward to it immensely.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Flat tyre

Well, the loungeroom art made it out of the lounge room today, but I didn't get far because I had a flat tyre. I tried pumping it up with the cute pump I bought with the bike but it didn't seem to get me anywhere. I ended up buying an old fashioned bike pump and I've got the tyre pumped up properly now. I hope it stays up overnight as I want to try the trip out tomorrow.

I made it to Step class. There are usually a lot of people in Step, but there were only three of us today, which was great, as it meant I could have the front row. If I'm doing something new I like to stand where I can see what's going on. I know most people go and hide in a back corner, but I just don't see the sense of that.

One thing that surprised me was that the instructor wasn't trim, taut and terrific. She was an ordinary sized woman, complete with belly on display. The Body Jam instructor was chubby too. What's happened to the world? I thought instructors were supposed to look perfect! Not a hair out of place after a strenuous class, not an ounce of fat, no sweat, perfectly coordinated gym clothes. And what's with the belly showing? I thought it was only supposed to be on display if there were clearly defined muscles involved.

Sigh, I'm clearly still a victim of my generation - we were the ones who did the Jane Fonda workout in our loungerooms and covered ourselves up in oversized t-shirts in public. (Ok, I admit it. I wore legwarmers.) I just didn't expect the instructor to be so normal.

Step has changed a lot since I last did it, way back when. It seemed a lot easier this time. I don't know how much of that is the format and how much is due to my increased fitness. I had a few coordination problems and nearly fell off the step a few times, but I really enjoyed myself. I'll definitely go to this class again. There's a class I can get to on Friday mornings as well as the one on Saturday.

I walked on the treadmill to pick up the points for another workout, and then wandered off home for a rest before my aborted bike ride. I then went window shopping and ended up at work to do some testing for a server relocation.

This time last year, my typical Saturday in Canberra would have involved hardly any activity. I'd have spent the day watching DVD's or playing computer games. My typical step count for a weekend day was a shameful two to three thousand. Today it's up over 16000, and I'm not even doing the walking challenge yet. During the challenge last year I averaged 21000+ steps a day over a period of five months, but it took a lot of work to get there and my weekends really dragged me down at the start. This year, I have a really good fitness base going in. On top of that, I'm now a runner, so I will get my steps faster than I did last year. I think it's realistic for me to aim at an average of 25k steps a day. I managed to do that for the last 25 days of last year's challenge, so I know it's achievable.

My team is back in this year's challenge, with a slightly different lineup. We did amazingly well last year, finishing just outside the top 20. There were approx 2000 teams entered last year, so we were very pleased with our result. Our three manic walkers (ok, I'm one of them) are all back and we'd like to finish top 20 this year. We know what we have to do this time. We've managed to inspire a few more teams from our company to enter, and my brother, his wife and my brother-in-law have all signed up on a friend of mine's team. Having people I know involved makes it more interesting.

I provided data for the independent medical study last year. They found the average female participant lost 6 kg and the average male lost 5 kg on the challenge. I lost a lot more than that, but then I was actively working to lose weight as well as walk. It will be interesting to see how I go this year. Of course, there's not as much weight to lose, but I want to achieve my goal weight before Christmas. I should be able to do that with an average loss of 0.5 kg a week. I'm well on track at the moment.

I keep getting comments that reading about all the exercise I'm doing is exhausting people. I find that quite amusing, as I'm hearing it from people who are all out there exercising strenuously themselves. I find you all inspirational and draw great strength from knowing you're out there. Thank you.

For your information, I'm not exhausted. I feel fitter and stronger than ever and I'm enjoying myself immensely. I will admit to being really tired after running 10 km, but I think that was to be expected. :-)

Friday, 20 April 2007

Thank God It's Friday

I'm not usually a "Thank God It's Friday" person, but I've been looking forward to this weekend. I am having a couple of days off work next week and it will feel like a mini holiday. One of my sisters is singing in a cabaret showcase on Monday night, and I'm heading down to Melbourne on Sunday so that I can see her perform. I'm flying back on Anzac Day. The way this has worked out, it's like having my weekend to kick back and relax (in a "go to the gym and be active" kind of way) and then having a mini-break in Melbourne.

This morning I did the interval run that I didn't do yesterday - 15 mins at 6/10.6 km/h, followed by 5 mins at 9 km/h and then a cool down and stretching. I was tempted to keep running because I was feeling really strong and well within my comfort zone and the 3km mark was really close, but I had to catch my bus. I didn't want to leave out the stretching. One of these days I'm going to get to the gym with plenty of time to spare!

I felt really good about the run this morning. I hadn't been sure that my knees would be up for it - Body Jam is a little hard on them, as is squash, but I felt fine when I was walking to the gym. Because I caught the bus, I also got the extra 15 mins of walking that I do on the trip. You have to love that incidental exercise.

This evening I ran through my weights session again. It's already getting easier. I am constantly amazed by how quickly the body can adapt to new things. A week ago I couldn't manage some of these exercises. Even my modified chicken routine is getting easier. There's certainly no squawking now.

Sarah, triceps pushups are done with a different arm position. You keep your hands close to your body and your elbows in close to your sides. It feels really weird at first, and I only do baby ones at present.

I signed up for the Mother's Day Classic 8 km run today, and I ordered a t-shirt. Pink is one of my colours, so I can see myself wearing this at the gym for a while. I am looking forward to the run. I was looking at the course today, and I think I might go and run it some time over the next few weeks, just to see what it's like. That will be a novel experience, knowing where I'm going. At least any hills won't be a surprise.

Over the weekend I've promised myself that I'll ride my bike down to the park where the Group Fitness Challenge is going to be held. I'm not all that keen on riding, so it will be a mini challenge for me. The encouraging comments I've been getting from the cycling fiends out there have really helped. Thanks to all you crazy bike riders.

I'm can't see myself becoming a cycling field though. I nearly booked into RPM today, but I got over the impulse by remembering that I don't like it. I've only been taking that class because I've been encouraged to do it by Leanne and by Krissi. I'm pleased that I gave it a go - it was great for my cardio fitness and it was a serious challenge for me - but I'm over it now. Instead, I'm going to see if I can get myself to the gym for the Step class. I used to love Step years ago and I figure if I'm going to the gym on the weekend I may as well do something I enjoy.

I'm doing some forward planning for my exercise over the next few days. On Saturday, I'm going to do Step and go for a bike ride. I'll do a treadmill session here on Sunday before flying home. Running around the creek is a nice easy option for Melbourne, but it doesn't get me any points in the Biggest Loser Challenge. I'll get myself to the gym in Yarraville, and do weights on Monday and a treadmill run on Tuesday. I might be able to pick up a class for extra points if my timing is good, but I'm not going to stress about it. I'll run around the creek on Wednesday morning, as I don't think the gym will be open in the morning on Anzac Day. I fly back at lunchtime so I'm playing squash with Murali in the evening as usual.

I'll have to be careful with my packing. Lately I've been so focussed on making sure I have running gear with me that I forget to pack ordinary clothes. While I'm in Melbourne, I intend to catch up with a few people who haven't seen me recently. I get a real kick out of the double take that people do. :-)

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Final Body Jam

Tonight was the final Body Jam session. I have really enjoyed going to this class. It's a mixture of dance and aerobics. Tonight we exercised in a variety of dance styles - street latin, clubbing, heavy funk, swing and jive. After a few sessions I'd finally got the hang of some of the moves. I now know how to do the Charleston and the Freddy, I can do a move that has me thinking of clowns running away, and can move on the up beat with Justin. I have all this knowledge and a smidgeon of expertise and now the class is over. Apparently it's going to be replaced by a Hip Hop class. I'll give it a go, but I'm going to miss Jam.

This morning I had intended to do an interval run, but my knees were tired on the way to the gym. Hardly surprising after all those squats yesterday. I opted for a walk on the treadmill, 20 mins, 6 km/h, gradient of 3. I had to rush to catch my bus. I keep meaning to head to the gym earlier, but it just doesn't seem to happen. Maybe tomorrow morning.

This evening my knees were still tired, so I did another treadmill session. It was split into two because I had my slim session in the middle of it, but I walked for 25 mins at 6.4 km/h. I remember that the last time I tried walking at that pace I was really uncomfortable. Today I did it easily. It's great to see the improvement in my overall fitness.

There's only one more week of the challenge to go. I'm looking forward to seeing how many centimetres I've managed to lose over the 12 weeks. I've lost about 7 kg so far, which I'm pleased about. I'm heaps fitter and my running has improved dramatically. I've made new friends, developed new habits, and I'm feeling fit and healthy. It's been a great experience.

Oh, and I've discovered blogging and the running community. How good can things get?

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Squash and weights today

I've really developed a routine for Wednesdays. I split my weights session, doing half this morning and half this evening. I was feeling really pumped up today, as though I had muscles like Popeye. It always amuses me to think that I'm walking around with muscles on my muscles.

The calorie burn from weights is so low that I had to remind myself of all the benefits of having stronger muscles. Fortunately I knew that I would get some good cardio exercise by playing squash later in the day.

I managed the one-legged fitball squats although it took some concentrating to get myself through the two sets. It ended up being 40 squats on each leg, which is a lot of squats. I tend to favour my left knee, so I wasn't going as low on that leg, but I will get there eventually. Leanne tells me that this particular exercise will be good for my knee and for my running.

The triceps pushups were a joke. I was hoping nobody was looking at me. My tummy gets in the way and my elbows are all over the place. Still, I didn't think I could do ordinary pushups and they are looking respectable now, apart from the tummy problem. Luckily, that's a diminishing problem.

The single dumbbell chest press was hard work, but I managed to get through both sets for the first time. The seated row was good. I should be able to put the weight up soon. I find if I close my eyes I'm able to concentrate on using my back instead of my arms.

The chicken exercise didn't look so bad today. Mind you, I was doing the broken down version of it. I tried the leg movement without weights after I was finished. It definitely needs work. I got through the reverse crunches and the side planks and I was done. Now, all I have to do is repeat that a few times a week for the next eight weeks and I'll get a new program. *chuckle*

Squash, as ever, was fun. Chris was too sick to play so Murali and I got the whole hour. I love being on the court for the whole hour. Mind you, I can't seem to get my heart rate monitor to work while I'm on the court. Some people may say it's because I'm heartless but I think that maybe I'm near the end of the transmitter's battery life. Yes, I've been on the website to look it up. This might be my excuse to upgrade. *smile* Hmm, I quite like the sound of Andrew's HRM. I'm not sure that I can justify the expenditure. Maybe I'll make it a reward!

I looked up my official time for the run on Saturday - 1:09:28. I guess that's my PB for the 10 km. My official time for the 5k run a couple of weeks earlier was 33:40 so I now have two PB's to keep track of. Mind you, I think they are wrong with the 5 km one, as I remember it as 34:40. Oh well, I'm not complaining about it being recorded a minute faster.

I'm nearly at the stage of owning two pairs of running shoes at the one time, which I once would have thought fairly extreme. I'm going to wait until next week though, when the runners in Team Black are going on an educational excursion to the Runner's Shop. Krissi has organised some advice for us, partly because it's going to be really cold in Canberra soon (people have been asking for advice on what to wear) and partly because some of us need new shoes. I think it's a great idea. As the Runner's Shop offers discounts to members of the ACT Cross Country Club I'll make sure I bring my shiny new membership card with me. Oh, and my trusty credit card.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

A little sore today

Well, that new weights program is starting to make itself felt. I can definitely feel my muscles getting stronger. Well, they are either getting stronger or they are about to collapse into a heap, screaming "never again!" While it's fun to get a new program, there's always a down side.

This morning I was fine. I got myself to the gym and I managed to run for 20 minutes at an average of 8 km/h before cooling down and stretching. Running is such a great calorie burner! Normally I do intervals on the treadmill, but today I just ran for a change. It was interesting to discover that I prefer the intervals when I'm running on the treadmill. I guess they have an automatic challenge built into them and they have the added bonus of being great for weight loss. What's even more surprising is that I might be turning into an "outside" runner. I'm the woman who had visions of everyone laughing and the pavement cracking behind me as I ran. Now I find myself looking forward to my next fun run and working out what runs I'll be doing beforehand.

This evening I had my "dash into the gym before trivia" exercise session - short and sweet. For this one, I did the "Fat Burner" on the treadmill, 20 mins, level 8, 6 km/hr. I haven't done this for a few weeks and I found the gradient really hard going at first. I'm obviously going to have to keep this in my program.

At trivia tonight, I had the chocolate mud cake for dessert. I had burned off the calories so it was still a weight loss day overall. I enjoyed the cake tremendously. It's great keeping track of my calories via Calorie King. I knew I could afford to eat the cake so I didn't waste any time feeling guilty about it. An added bonus, our team came third tonight - no prize but not a bad effort.

I never know how to respond to comments, so I'm leaving some responses here today.

Sarah, I'm starting to realise that those people who love exercise must still struggle with it on occasion. The difference is that they win the fight! I read in someone's blog that you might regret getting up to go and exercise for a short while but you'll feel better once you exercise. If you don't get up, you'll regret it all day.

Sara, I'm chuckling at the vision of the treadmills powering the gym lights. Maybe those readers would work harder so that they could see what they are reading! I don't get them either.

Andrew, it only sounds like a lot when it's all listed together. I saw your blog comment on the amount of exercise you were doing (average of 1 hour 20 minutes and 750+ calories per day). I'm always blown away by the amount of running and cycling you're doing. I think you work at a higher intensity than I do.

Monday, 16 April 2007

It's a conspiracy

Last week a fuse blew when I was on the treadmill. This week, the fire alarm went off just as I arrived for my personal training session. If I was paranoid I'd be thinking that someone or something was out to stop me from getting my exercise done.

After milling around outside the gym, catching up with various team black members and having a good old gossip, we were allowed back in. I had a great time telling Leanne all about my run. In fact, I had a great time telling lots of people about my run today.

We finished off my weights program. We added on triceps pushups (I have enough trouble doing ordinary pushups), reverse crunches and side planks. We cycled back through the program and I managed to survive the one-legged squats. Fortunately, we ran out of time before the chicken exercise.

After p/t I did pump. I realised a couple of weeks ago that I needed to increase the weights, so I did it today. I think it was a much better workout, but I'm feeling a little sore now. I have a feeling I'm going to be sorry about this tomorrow.

This morning's session was a gentle walk. It was more about getting out of bed and to the gym than it was about exercising, and I managed to get myself there. All I have to do now is repeat that each morning this week.

Tomorrow I plan to do some cardio work. On Wednesday, I'll work my way through my weights program and play squash. On Thursday, I should be able to manage an interval run along with the last Body Jam class. That's about as far forward as I want to plan right now, although I do know that I have to get my backside on my bike before the outdoor fitness challenge. I think I'll plan to do that on the weekend.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

I did it - 10k run

Yesterday I ran the Asics Canberra Marathon Eve 10 km run. I was really pleased that I managed to make it the whole way around. I ran for 30 mins without stopping, then ran 3 mins and walked 1 min for most of the rest of the way up until the last km, which I managed to run.

I was nervous beforehand. I didn't know if I could make it, and I wasn't sure if I should be running the 5 km event instead of the 10 km event. I kept telling myself that the 10 km was a real challenge, that I could do it, that I'd be disappointed if I downgraded, and that it didn't matter how long it took me to go around as long as I gave it a go.

One of my sisters, Trish, made the trip up from Melbourne this weekend, and she came along to support me. I dragged her along to the venue an hour early, to make sure that I had time to put in my late entry, and to settle down. The 5 km event started just as we arrived, and we watched the runners come past the grandstand. From that stage on, Trish was hooked. She'd been going to watch the start, and then leave and come back. Once she realised that she'd see us all run past a few times, she was determined to stay and cheer.

I managed to meet up with the girls from Fernwood. I hadn't organised to meet them, but I was pretty sure that I'd catch up with them. Sally, Lola, Nicole and Candy were all running, as was our team leader, Krissi. It was great to have fellow team members there. Kellie from Team Black ran the 5 km, as did another friend of mine, Ingrid.

Before the run started, I decided that I'd love to get around in 1 hour 20 mins, and I'd be happy with 1 hour 30 mins. I was worried that I'd struggle to last for 5 kms, and had a secret fear that I'd end up being a "did not finish" statistic. I went to the back of the pack when the run started, so that I wouldn't be tempted to run too fast at the beginning. A friend of mine who's a serious runner warned me that because there was a 5 km and a 10 km run, there wouldn't be too many weak runners in the 10 km event, so I was pretty sure I wouldn't be tripping over a whole lot of walkers by starting near the back. It worked out pretty much the way he said. I only felt the need to get around one couple who were running together, and they went past me about 40 mins later, so I probably could have stayed behind them.

The course consisted of a 1 km loop approx, followed by three loops of 3 km. I thought we were doing two 5 km loops, so when I heard we had to go around a third time I had this panicked reaction of "I can't do that" until I thought it through, looked at the time and the distance marker, and realised that I was running well to plan.

I made it to 5 km in 33:30, which was a little over a minute faster than my previous 5 km. I was really pleased with that. I struggled a little during the next few kms but I managed to stick to the 3 min / 1 min plan. It was also interesting to see the fast runners going by. I was lapped quite a few times. It was a little disconcerting to see how close some of the runners came to me when they went past. I was worried that I'd cause an accident. I eventually figured that it was like driving. They'd only overtake if they thought they had room, and if they got it wrong it would be their fault not mine. Once I'd thought that through I was able to relax.

When I went past the finish line the third time (end of 2nd lap) I was behind a guy who was walking. He overtook me coming up to the line. It was hilarious to think that he could walk faster than I could run. I ended up following him for about half the last lap until he powered away from me. He did run a little when he made his break, so I didn't feel so bad about that.

The marshalls around the course were really encouraging. Towards the end, one of them said to me "Just enjoy yourself". I answered cheerfully, "I am." And I was. The third lap was just fun. I knew I didn't have to do it again, and I just concentrated on enjoying my achievement.

I hadn't expected the crowd to be so supportive either, particularly on the third lap. Many people called out to me, telling me that I was doing great, or to keep it up as there wasn't far to go now. I saw Ingrid cheering me on a few times, and Trish was near the finish line, supporting me enthusiastically. It was great to have all that encouragement.

There were a couple of people I was behind for most of the way, a man in a Brumbies shirt and a woman just ahead of him. I finally passed the guy at the 8 km mark. I expected him to pass me again when I dropped to walking but I think he'd had enough by then. I caught up with the woman at the 9 km mark. She was starting to look like she'd had enough. I realised I could pass her and beat her home, but for me it wasn't about being there before other people. Instead, I decided to encourage her. I ran beside her when I reached her and told her how great we were doing. I said, "We are warrior women. We can run 10 km. Most of the women I know can't do that." It sounds corny now, but it seemed to help her, and we ran the rest of the way together. I was going to drop back to a walk after another few mins, but she told me "You're stronger than me, you can run the rest of the way" so I did. It was a great help to have her encourage me in return.

We chatted and I discovered that Christina had come down from Sydney for the race. It certainly helped, having someone to run with at the end. It took my mind off the effort I was making and it was great to share the final part of the journey with another runner.

When we got to the last bit, I was going to run over to the side and avoid the finishers' lane as I had done the previous three times and then I realised that I was a finisher. It was a great feeling. We could see that we were going to get across before 1 hour and 10 mins, so there was no need for a rushed finish. Instead, I enjoyed the run past the crowd. Trish was cheering madly, as she had every time I ran past.

Christina and I ran over the line together in 1:09:xx. I was so thrilled to make it that I forgot to check the time. Trish was cheering so hard, she isn't sure if it was 11 or 14 seconds. I guess we'll find out when the results are published.

We made our way down the finishers' lane and then we were done. I was so looking forward to having something to drink and to catching up with the other Fernwood girls to see how they were feeling. It was great to hear how they'd done, and we were all on a high after achieving our goal. Trish enjoyed seeing the run, and it was was a huge boost to have her there.

I was really pleased with the run, but I was also delighted with how I pulled up after it. I wasn't exhausted and I was moving really well. I felt as though I could have run further, which is a good way to finish. Today, I'm a little tired, but I'm not in any pain. I'm also amazed that I managed to get around in 70 minutes. I hadn't expected to do that well.

This morning I played tennis with a friend of mine, Nok. We had arranged to play on Saturday months ago, but she kindly changed our game to today when she heard about my run. I'm a squash player, so tennis is a real challenge. I skied a few balls and struggled with serving, but I finally got the hang of it and we played a very one-sided game. I told our cheer squad, Trish and Alex, that Nok was winning by a small margin, which caused them great hilarity. I'm not really sure why. I had a great time and I'll definitely play again, although I can't see myself ever making the switch from squash.

Other than that, I haven't done much exercise. I'll be back at the gym collecting points tomorrow. I've got my personal training tomorrow, so I'll get to finish off my weights program. If I'm up to it, I'll do the pump class as well.

Oh, and I'll definitely be participating in more fun runs. I feel great!

Friday, 13 April 2007

Resting my legs

I've had a nice quiet day today. I was at the gym this morning, walking for 20 mins on the treadmill at 6 km/hr. I did about 45 mins of walking as part of my pedestrian existence, and that's about it. Apart from demonstrating the "chicken" at work, my day was fairly sedate.

One exciting thing though. Krissi, our team leader for the Biggest Loser Fitness Challenge, is running an Outdoor Group Fitness Challenge starting in May, and she sent out the info today. Knowing that it was probably a case of first in, I jumped into action and sent off my reply. I explained that I'd only be able to get to six of the eight sessions because of my holiday in Qld, and I'd understand if they decided to take someone who could get to all eight, but I'm in! Yay!

Now all I have to do is figure out how to get to the venue. They start at 6:30 am and the buses won't be running that early. Once upon a time, I'd have decided that it was too hard and given up, but I've realised I can either walk (good for my step count in the Global Challenge) or ride, which would transform the loungeroom art back into a mode of transport. That's a major change in outlook for me. I am really enjoying getting to know the new me. :-)

Thursday, 12 April 2007

New weights program

Tonight at the gym I was given a new weights program. It's fun to get a new program, but it's a little daunting too. Leanne always manages to push me past where I think I can go. Because the session is only half an hour, it takes two weeks to go through the new program. I like that we take our time over it, as I am one of those people who needs to understand what I'm trying to achieve. Leanne is good at explaining what's happening and why I need to be doing stuff, without getting all technical on me.

We sorted out four of my six exercises - one legged squats, single dumbbell presses, seated row and a hilarious shoulder exercise that I've dubbed the "chicken". The chicken involves stepping up onto a bench and raising one knee while lifting weights out from your side. I was doing it so badly that I resembled a chicken trying and failing to fly. Because I was off balance the weights were going all over the place and my arms were flapping and I was squawking. It was hilarious. Anyway, we've modified the exercise so that I can build up to being able to achieve it. I'm stepping up onto the bench, skipping the knee bit, and lifting the weights once I have my balance. Not quite a chicken dance, but I'll be working on it.

The dumbbell presses are going to hurt tomorrow. My poor old left arm gave up the ghost on the 11th rep. It's been a long time since I did the seated row and my technique is really sloppy, so I'm going to have to build back up to doing that one properly. The one legged squats are just mean, but I can see that they'll be really good for me.

We didn't get to my arms and abs exercises. Leanne is going to put some thought into them, which has me worried. I've made huge progress with my abs exercises over the past six weeks, which means a serious upgrade in level of difficulty is probably in order. Still, I'm there through choice so I can't really complain about Leanne making sure that I stay on track. If I didn't have a personal trainer I know I wouldn't work as hard as I have been.

It was the second last Body Jam session today as well. I really like this class and I'm sorry that the gym has cancelled it, but there were only three of us there tonight. Apparently people don't like Body Jam because of the coordination required. Anyway, I'm glad I've had a go at it and I'll certainly do the class again if it becomes available in the future.

This morning I was walking on the treadmill when the gym blew a fuse. I came to a sudden halt. It was a surprise, but I didn't fall off the treadmill. It was good to know that I can keep my balance as falling off the treadmill is one of those insidious fears that crops up every once in a while. To give you an idea of how much I worry about this, it took me a good year and a half of walking on the treadmill to let go of the handle. I'm much more confident now, thank goodness.

I had to laugh at myself. It didn't occur to me to go and do any other sort of cardio for the remainder of my time. I just went off and started stretching. Mind you, I spent a lot of time on the stretches, so it was probably a good decision.

I didn't write up my blog yesterday, partly because I was really tired when I got around to it, and partly because my exercise effort didn't seem all that interesting. I split my weights session as planned, and I increased most of the weights. I know that exercising the same muscle group twice within 24 hours isn't recommended, but I'm sure I'll survive one double up session, and I was keen to have a new program.

Squash was fun, as ever. Murali and I are really evenly matched, which makes winning a challenge. Chris managed to leave his racquet and his shoes in Melbourne, so he was a spectator for a change. One of Murali's neighbours came along, and had his first hit at squash. He was a natural. I hope he comes along again. I love starting people off on their squash addiction.

Because of my run on Saturday afternoon, I'm going to take it easy at the gym on Friday and Saturday morning. I'll just collect my points by walking on the treadmill. I'm looking forward to the challenge of the 10k run and I don't want to give myself any excuse for cutting back to the 5k run.

Team Black (my Fernwood team) have been sent details of another fun run a couple of weeks after the Mother's Day Classic. Having been a non-runner, I had no idea that there were so many events on. It looks like I'll have no trouble finding fun runs .. the trouble is going to be choosing which ones to do.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Short run today

I flew back to Canberra this morning, so I only got to the gym this evening. My bus was late, so I didn't do the mad dash to pick up my altered clothing. (What, hem my own clothes?) Instead, I headed to the gym and an interval run, 15 mins at 6 / 10.6 followed by 5 mins at 6. It was a short run as I was in a rush to get to Trivia.

It seemed really hard tonight. I don't know if it was the early start this morning or the grumpy day I had or the cold I'm fighting off at the moment, but I felt like the whole run was a slog. I didn't do too well at the changed self-talk as I kept telling myself I could stop after the next interval. I eventually realised I'd been running for 10 mins and that I only had two more intervals to go. That didn't really help, so I told myself I was a warrior woman and I could run fast for two more minutes. I had this vision of the real warriorwoman reading my blog and laughing when she saw that. Anyway, whatever it takes, and that certainly got me through the last two fast intervals.

Trivia was great fun. We came second for the fourth time in a row, to the same team! They keep thrashing us. We're going to have to nobble them. Maybe some vodka in their fruitjuice or convincing them to trust Wikipedia 100% of the time. There must be a way.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Catching up with friends

Today I caught up with some friends over at Williamstown. It was a fabulous day, with sunny blue skies. When I saw how lovely the day was this morning I thought that a walk would be much more fun than the gym, as well as being a good recovery after yesterday's run. Fortunately for me, Erika is always happy to go for a walk, so we arrived in Williamstown early and went for a walk along the waterfront.

We met Peter and Judy at the restaurant, Pelican's Landing. It was my choice, as I've been there a few times and have never been disappointed with the food or the service. The restaurant lived up to expectations and the company was excellent. It was lovely to catch up with all three of my friends.

I have a whole new attitude to selecting my meal from the menu nowadays. Once upon a time I would have seen a restaurant meal as an excuse for not sticking to my eating plan. Now, I read the menu carefully and work out whether or not the meal is likely to be a good food choice. Sometimes I'm caught out by an unexpected dressing or by a different cooking method, but I pretty much am on top of it now. Today I chose a seafood pilaf. It was delicious as well as being nutritious.

It's quite amusing. I thought that eating out would be more difficult when I was eating well but it's actually become easier. When there are too many options I find it hard to make a decision. Now I can rule out a lot of menu items before I start, such as pizza (I save this for special treats or really high exercise days). I've also become braver when ordering and I'll ask for something to be left off my plate, such as the chips. Today I stretched my boundaries a little by ordering a meal that involved having to manage the shells.

Oh, another thing happened that I thought was amusing. I was told I looked great. Instead of laughing it off I said "Yes". That's a massive change. I've learned to accept compliments and I've realised that I do deserve them.

It was fun telling Peter and Judy that I've become a runner. They were really surprised. I think I would definitely be on most people's "least likely to" lists for such an active form of exercise.

I'm heading back to Canberra in the morning. I'm going to struggle to get to the gym tomorrow unless I go to trivia late, as I have to pick up some clothes which I left in to be altered before the store closes at 6 pm. I guess I'll work out how motivated I'm feeling sometime during the day.

I've squash on Wednesday, personal training and body jam on Thursday, and I'm doing the 10k fun run on Saturday afternoon. I have to organise myself to do my weights training, and I want to get a 5k run in during the week. One of my sisters is planning to visit on the weekend, so I have to take that into consideration too. This forward planning is not as easy as it sounds! Still, it's fun.

Oh, I've decided that I'll run the Mother's Day Classic in Canberra and then fly up to Queensland for a week's holiday with my parents. I had been thinking of running it in Brisbane, but the logistics were sounding a little difficult. I'm looking forward to the holiday. Sun, sand, warm weather .. it sounds terrific.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Easter Sunday

It was a struggle to get myself out of bed to go for my run this morning. I finally managed to convince myself that running was a good idea so that I could indulge myself with some chocolate today. Jumping on the scales helped to convince me that running was essential - my weight has gone up 0.5 kg in the two days I've been home.

I really struggle to eat well in Melbourne. My apartment in Canberra is a food-controlled environment whereas my home in Melbourne is full of yummy food. There are also healthy snacks, as my Mum works hard to make sure there is nutritious food in the house when I'm home, but yoghurt vs freshly baked chocolate cake .. no contest! My other huge weakness when I'm home is bread. I don't eat much bread nowadays, so I eat it with enthusiasm on my weekends in Melbourne.

Today's run was around the creek. I set off, determined to make it around once (3.24 km), willing to run around twice if my legs felt up to it, and thinking about walking a third lap as that would take me close to the 10 km mark, which is the fun run distance I'm planning to do on Saturday.

I wasn't sure how I'd go, but I was determined to run for at least 15 mins before stopping to walk. In fact, I'd been a little disappointed to have stopped for walking breaks at the Relay for Life, so I secretly wanted to run for 30 mins without stopping. It's difficult to keep a secret from yourself, so I managed to cajole myself around the first time by wondering how long it would take me today. I had a goal of running more slowly than I have been lately. I would never have thought of that as a goal, but I've realised now that it's really hard to run at a slow steady pace. Over my last few runs I've thought I was taking it easy and they have kept being faster each time.

Anyway, last time I ran around the creek I made it in 22:39. Today, I made it in 22:55, so at least I wasn't running faster. Of course, I perversely was disappointed to have run a little slower - no wonder it's hard to run slowly if you're not happy you've done it when you've done it!

By the time I made it round once, I was committed to running the 30 mins, so I kept on going. I was all set to stop as soon as my watch ticked over the 30 mark, but then I started telling myself I should really do 35 mins - then 40 mins etc, as I was planning to enter the 10 km fun run.

I then went through a whole conversation with myself about how I should do the 5 km run on Saturday instead of the 10 km run. Now, I've planned to do the 10 km by running for as long as I can and then running / walking the rest, so there's no reason for me to be scared of the distance. Despite this I was working hard to give myself an out - "you're not ready for it Kathy, do the 5 km this week and the 8 km Mother's Day run, and then do a 10 km run." It sounded like a really good idea at the time.

I kept running, and kept giving myself an out - you can run to the Catholic bridge, you can get to the main street, you can get to the turn, and before I knew it I was on the home stretch for my second lap. My legs were really tired, so I had a word with my core and my arms, telling them to help my legs out. I'm glad there weren't any people nearby at the time. I must look and sound crazy enough, stumbling around the creek with a bright red face and loud breathing.

Fortunately, concentrating on my form took my mind off what I didn't think I could do. When I was running up the last hill before the end of the second lap I decided to add 10% to my run. I hit the finish line for the 2nd lap at 46:32, again a little slower than last time (46:01) and then kept running to the High School bridge. I knew it was roughly 4-5 mins away so I figured it would be a good 0.5 km. I got there at 51 mins and dropped to a walk. That's the first time I've run roughly 7 km in one go and it's the first time I've run for 50 mins without stopping. As I was already on the 3rd lap, I kept on walking.

I walked for a little over 15 mins, and decided to see if there was anything left in my legs. I reached the Catholic bridge and then started running for 3 mins / walking for 1 min. I made it back to the end of the 3rd lap (9.72 km) at 1 hour 17 mins, and decided to run for another few mins to make up the 300 m I needed for 10 km. I stopped running at 1 hour 20 mins and walked home. I was so glad to get there.

I learned a lot from my run today.

I have to change my self-talk at the start of the run. I can see that I'm giving myself the option of walking when I'm really not struggling with the run physically. The same thing happened on the Tan yesterday. I'd already told myself I could walk up the hill before I got there and saw what it was like. I'll have to either distract myself or come up with a different conversation to have for the first ten minutes.

I have to include a long run in my week on a regular basis. My legs really ran out of steam at about the 40 min mark. I usually only run for half an hour maximum, so my body is used to stopping then. I know I have the strength and stamina to run for longer. I just have to do it so my body gets used to it.

When things are getting hard, focussing on form really helps. (I knew that, but it doesn't hurt to reinforce that lesson.)

I am well able to achieve my goals. I will enter the 10 km on Saturday and run it as I planned. I'll run for as long as I can, and run / walk the rest. And, going on today's effort, I'll be able to find something in my legs to run across the finish line.

Oh, and I burned off 700 calories, which has to be worth a few Easter Eggs. :-)

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Morning run at the Tan

This morning I picked my nephew up in Hoppers Crossing at 7:00 and we headed off to the Tan. We had a great drive in, as there was very little traffic at that time of day. We arrived at the Botanic Gardens at around 7:30. Never having run at the Tan before, I had no idea where the actual track was. I'd looked at a couple of maps and figured that I basically couldn't miss it. For some reason though, I thought it would be inside the gardens. You'd never know I'd lived in Melbourne on and off for the past 30 years! In my defence, I'd have known exactly what to expect at the hockey centre.

Andrew decided that he would run at my pace rather than dashing on ahead. I was pleased, as the whole idea was for me to share the experience with somebody. When we got to Anderson Street, it was clear why people talked about the hill. Andrew jogged along beside me while I walked / ran up the hill. I discovered a new running goal - I'm going to be able to run the whole way up that hill one of these days. If I'm honest, I'm fit enough now but I wasn't up for it mentally today. I started the hill at a walk, but decided on the way up that I was going to run / walk the rest of it. Andrew encouraged me, cheering me on as I made each of my mini goals.

We enjoyed seeing so many people out and about running and walking. It was also fun running past the markers. If only we'd known about them at the start, as I parked just past the first one. We'd have walked back to it to start our run if we'd realised it was there.

Andrew ran on ahead when we got close to the car, finishing in 25:12 mins. I made it round the 3.827 km in 25:37 mins. That's 6:41 mins/km pace, which is the fastest I've run. I seem to be improving by leaps and bounds at the moment. I'm sure that having Andrew to chat to on the way around made it a lot easier. It certainly kept my mind off the effort involved. There may have been a smidgeon of auntly vanity involved as well.

As this was Andrew's birthday present, after the run we headed off to have breakfast and buy a book. I learned a couple of valuable lessons - the breakfast that sounds like a good idea before the run doesn't seem at all interesting after a run and the bookstores in the city don't open until 10 AM on a Saturday morning. We'd been going to have pancakes at Southbank, but that was too soon after our run and Andrew just did not feel like eating then. We wandered off to Dymock's to find it closed, then headed to the foodcourt at Australia on Collins, to find that it was pretty much closed as well. We ventured to Reader's Feast without any success. Poor Andrew was over the whole walking thing by then, whereas I was happy to keep going.

We eventually had breakfast at Hungry Jack's. I had a spicy chicken baguette, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Andrew had the Brekky Wrap, a hash brown and fries. Oh, to have the ability to eat like a 13 year old boy! Mind you, I think it's great that these fast food places have a few menu items that I can eat without feeling guilty. We tried another bookstore at Southbank without any luck, so we drove over to Highpoint on the way home and called in to Borders. While Andrew was choosing his book I checked out the running books. I nearly bought the book Sarah bought but I resisted temptation.

I enjoyed every moment of Andrew's birthday present, and I think he did too. Mind you, he has lovely manners. He told me he would have come running with me, even without the breakfast and the book offer. In fact, he'd like to do it again although we might look for a different venue, like Albert Park or Birrarung Marr, just to see what's around the place. One of his other cousins, another Andrew, also enjoys running, so we'll invite him along next time. I had thought about inviting him this time, but this was a birthday occasion and so I kept it to one-on-one.

I have visions of me taking all six of my nephews and my niece out with me for a run in future. I would never have imagined that I could go for a run with the kids this time last year. It was a great feeling being able to run with Andrew today.

Friday, 6 April 2007

Rest day today

I did no exercise at all today. That's got to be a first for ages. Instead I rested, I read, I watched tv, I talked to family, I basically did nothing. It was fantastic.

I woke up tired this morning, and realised that today was the perfect day for me to catch up on my sleep. I'm running with my nephew, Andrew, tomorrow, and I'll be heading to the gym to get my points while it's open, so I'll be back on track tomorrow.

Hope you are all having a safe and happy Easter.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Holiday fun

You have to love holidays, don't you? Everyone seemed quite cheerful at work today. Holidays that involve chocolate have to be the best kind.

This morning I was starting work a little later than usual. It seemed to take me forever to get myself to the gym. When I finally arrived at 6:30 am, I was told that the first person to get there hadn't shown up until 6:15 am. I didn't feel quite so bad about my late start.

I did the interval run I'd planned last night, but I was very tempted to give it a miss. Fortunately, I am able to ignore "lazy" Kathy more and more. I ran intervals for 15 mins at 6/10.6 km/h, then ran for 5 mins at 9 km/h and finished off with 5 mins at 6 km/h before doing my stretches. I'm trying to make sure I stretch properly. It's awfully easy to skip the stretching. I'm trying to think of it as part of my run. If I only have 30 mins to exercise, then I only have 20 mins to run, 5 mins to cool down, and the rest is stretching. My warm up is my 10 minute walk to the gym.

I felt really good while I was running. I was concentrating on my cadence, and on the fifth fast interval I was astounded to find that I hardly noticed the effort involved. In fact, I thought that maybe the treadmill hadn't actually changed speeds. I think maybe I'm ready to move up a level on the interval training. I might give it a week or two though. I quite like this idea of running without it being a tremendous effort!

I didn't get to the gym tonight, as I had packing to do and a plane to catch. My packing for Melbourne is quite amusing now. The running gear goes in first. I'm planning to run around the creek tomorrow. The rest of the day I'm just going to potter. I have been staying up too late at night, and I could do with catching up on some rest and relaxation.

My dad picked me up at the airport. The lucky man got to hear a blow by blow description of last weekend, along with the details of each and every run. I'm sure if he had a hearing aid he would have turned it off! Mum got it all on the phone the other day, as did two of my sisters. I keep waiting for them to say "Kathy, go blog it and I'll catch up later" but they patiently listened to me. As I'll be catching up with most of the family on Sunday, I'll have plenty more victims (I mean interested listeners) to dazzle with stories of my running prowess.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Squash today

Squash is my favourite sport. One of the best things about getting fit and healthy is being able to play squash again. This afternoon, Chris wasn't able to make it, so Murali and I headed off for an hour on the court. We had a really even match and we both felt great afterwards.

Funnily enough, I found myself thinking about some of the Chi Running principles that I've been reading about. For a while now, I've really been concentrating on holding my stomach in when I play squash (Must be Leanne's voice in my head - "lock on those abs"). I've noticed that I hit my serves much harder when I do that. Anyway, I was thinking about the cotton and steel analogy and when I concentrated on that idea I actually played much better. I'll have to learn how to keep focussed at squash as well as when I'm running.

I split my weights session today as planned. I don't know if it's a good idea at all, but it means that I do the exercises properly instead of rushing them or leaving some of them out.

Tomorrow I'm heading home to Melbourne for Easter. I'll do some cardio work at the gym in the morning, probably interval running as that's my favourite. I guess I'll have to miss the evening session. On Friday, as the gym will be closed, I'm going to run around the creek again. I don't know whether I'll run once or twice around. I'm just going to run for fun and see how I feel. On Saturday, I'm taking my nephew for a run on the Tan. I've never run there before, so that will be exciting. I'll make sure I get a weights session in over the weekend too. I've been a little light on with my weights lately.

I'm still feeling really happy because of the running I did on the weekend. I guess this is an extended runner's high. I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Nice easy day today

I cruised on down to the gym today, and walked on the treadmill for half an hour at 6 km/h. I'd thought about doing some running on the way down to the gym, but my legs felt heavy. It's handy having that 10 minute walk as a warm up - it gives me a good idea of how I'm feeling before I actually arrive at the gym. It also wakes me up, as there are people blowing rubbish off the paths with leaf blowers. They are a double edged sword. I love the clean pavements, but hate the horrendous noise.

I got myself to work nice and early, to find I'd somehow lost my pedometer. This is the best pedometer I've ever had and I seem to be determined to lose it at the moment. Last time I lost it, it turned up a couple of days later. I'd dropped it when running for the bus at work, and some kind soul handed it in to the security guard. This time, I left it behind after my shower at the gym. To my relief, it was waiting safely for me when I arrived there this evening.

What's so good about this pedometer? For a start, it just counts steps. There's less to go wrong. It's really sturdy. I've worn it for months, dropped it countless times, and it's still going strong. It's slim and light and it stays attached to my clothes reasonably well, although as I change shape it is sometimes challenged by my new curves. I got it as part of my entry pack for the Global Corporate Challenge last year. I'm looking forward to getting this year's pedometer to see if it's any better.

This evening at the gym I was going to do interval running, but my pants fell down twice. Rather than scare all the ladies at the gym, I decided to save my running for a different pair of pants. I'm going to have to mark these pants somehow so that I know not to run in them. Apart from their pesky habit of falling down when I'm running, they are really comfy, so they'll be fine for weights. I have two pairs that are meant to be exactly the same size, and one pair is fine.

Tomorrow I have squash, which should be a lot of fun. I think I'll do the split weights session again across my two gym visits, as I haven't done my program since last Wednesday. At least that way, I'll fit it in. With Easter this weekend, the gym I'll be going to in Melbourne will be operating reduced hours. Still, their hours are better than the gym here in Canberra, so I'm actually better off.

Many of the people who leave comments mention the amount of exercise that I'm doing. It's really not that much - it just sounds like a lot because I talk a lot! I do about half an hour in the morning, and anything from twenty minutes to an hour and a half in the evenings. It really depends on the amount of time I have available. I make sure I have "recovery" days as well as hard workout days, because I don't want an injury to get in the way of my journey to becoming a fitter and healthier person.

I had an overwhelming urge to leave a comment on deege's blog today. I wrote it at lunchtime today and posted it from my workplace, which is really unusual for me, but it bothered me that she was disappointed in her efforts in R4K, particularly as I was so impressed by what she had achieved. Celeste has been saying much the same thing about feeling frustrated by other people walking faster than she runs.

Anyway, it's really got me thinking about my own running goals. I had started to think about them because of the Chi Running book I've been reading, but deege and Celeste have helped me to realise that it's important for me to actually set them. I have a tendency to cruise along, which means it takes me ages to do what some people seem to do in no time. For example, it's taken me over two and a half years to lose 40 kg. Expect to see some documented goals soon. I should really put a date on that promise, but this structured goal setting is new territory for me.

Oh, and Sara, thanks for the support regarding the demoralising weight counselling I received yesterday. I didn't mention the other thing the counsellor thoughtfully said to me, but it's been irritating me all day, so here it is. She asked me if I wore makeup. She then leaned forward and said, oh so kindly, "you'd be really pretty if you wore some makeup". Can you believe it? Of course you can. I had to explain that I wasn't interested in makeup and I turned down her offer to give me a list of products a number of times. I almost felt like promising to wear lipstick, just to get out of the conversation. Fortunately, I didn't completely crumble.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Feeling good today

I wasn't at all sure how I would pull up today, but I'm feeling really good. My legs are tired but I don't have any aches and pains, which is a relief. I thought I might be pushing it a little but it seems to have worked out ok.

I enjoyed telling people about my weekend. The people who've travelled every step of the way with me were delighted that I achieved my goal. They even patiently listened to me tell them all about it - in detail. The people who don't know that I'm running were even more fun to tell. There's this moment of disbelief in their eyes as you see them thinking "you ran how far?"

I'm having to be conscious of the fact that not everybody is passionately interested in running or going to the gym. Thank goodness for all the runners who share their stories on the Internet! I love reading them and the comments people leave. I really appreciate the fact that people take the time to leave comments on my blog too.

Back to my blog. I went to the gym this morning, and walked on the treadmill for half an hour. I was going to do the "Fat Burner" session, but quit after a few minutes, because the gradient was reminding my knees that they had worked hard yesterday. I dropped it back to zero gradient, and walked 3 km, before stretching. I put some extra effort into the stretches today. I figured it would be time well spent.

By the end of the day, my legs were announcing that they were tired again, but I had my personal training session and slimplicity appointment so I headed off to the gym again. Leanne kindly concentrated on my upper body. Well, it sounded kind at the time, but I wasn't so sure of it once we started. I certainly found myself pushing my limits along with the weights. That seems to be situation normal where Leanne is concerned. I was delighted to show Leanne how well I was doing with those dreaded roll downs. She was quite impressed. The only problem with telling your personal trainer how well you're doing is that they think up something harder for you to do the next time.

I'd moved my slim session because I'm flying home to Melbourne on Thursday night, but the only appointment I could get was in the middle of Pump. Fortunately, there was a no show so I had the session early and then was able to go to Pump. The slim session didn't go too well. According to the scales, I'd put on 2.5 kg since Thursday. I don't think it's a real weight gain, as I've been doing plenty of exercise and watching what I eat. This week I'm on track for a 0.5 kg weightloss, so I feel a bit like poor Marty on the Biggest Loser. I had been hoping to get measured today, but the replacement counsellor obviously didn't want to measure me, so I'll wait until I see Lesley, my usual counsellor, next week.

I hate going to slim at the best of times, but seeing a replacement counsellor is always difficult. Lesley and I have an understanding about my negative attitude to slim. I'm as polite and positive as I can be and Lesley gives me high level advice and avoids platitudes. Today, I had to sit through the "are you due for your period?", "do you drink alcohol?", "what have you been eating?", "do you get bloated with certain foods" conversations along with the meant to be encouraging "I see you in here all the time - you're one of our motivated gym members" comment. I know that the counsellors mean well, but meaning well just doesn't cut it. I eventually gave up trying to end the conversation, so I pulled out the big guns and told the counsellor that I'd lost over 40 kg. I figured that would help her to realise that I wasn't at all cut up by a dodgy weight gain. There was no need to rebuild my confidence and get me back on track.

Mind you, even though I've been going to that gym for the past two years, she hadn't realised I'd achieved so much in terms of weight loss. I would have thought the 35 kg I lost since joining the gym might have been noticeable, but apparently it isn't.

I managed to end the session on a positive note. Even better, it ended before Pump started, so I got to go to the whole class. I don't know if I'd be confident enough to come into Pump late, with all the stuff you have to organise for yourself before you start.

I haven't worked out what weights to use in Pump yet. I think I can probably do more weights, but I was being cautious with my legs because of the run, and my arms, because of the upper body workout Leanne had put me through. Anyway, one of my goals for my next Pump class is to increase the weights for the arm work.

Funnily enough today, I was struggling through some of the exercises, and I found myself telling myself "you can run 5 km, you can lift this weight". I can see that running is going to have all sorts of unexpected benefits!

Sunday, 1 April 2007

My first fun run

I ran in my first fun run today - the ActewAGL Women and Girls' 5k Fun Run/Walk in Canberra. It was great fun. I wasn't really sure what to expect. There were over 1000 women and girls participating, which was great. We started from Stage 88 in Commonwealth Park. Never having run in an event, or attended one, I didn't know what to do with my stuff. I decided to take a chance on bringing my backpack, thinking that the event organisers must have some way of handling all the paraphenalia that we women cannot survive without. There was an amazingly trusting way of handling it - people just left their bags on the stage. You've got to like that.

I met with the Team Black girls. We had a couple of extra people along too. I didn't feel as nervous with the others there. Just before the start, Krissi, our team leader, took a couple of us on a warm up run. Most of the others had already done this. I'd not been sure of my legs, so was minimising actual effort, but I weakened. I'm glad I did. We ran up the start of the course, which was a hill, and so I knew I could do it when the fun run actually started.

Krissi had competed in a 12 hour race the day before, so she wasn't running today (that was the plan) but she was taking us out for the first km so that we didn't go too fast. She assured us that we'd pass the people who took off too fast. Needless to say, once Krissi had run the first km she ended up running the rest of the way, and further as she came back to encourage the rest of us.

There were so many people at the start. It took some effort not to run into them. It didn't seem to occur to walkers to start near the back, and there were kids running along hand in hand, playing games. I hadn't expected it to be so chaotic. After navigating my way through the crowd and up the first hill I discovered that there were a few more hills. I didn't remember them from the time I'd run around the lake but we'd run in the other direction so we would have been running down them. I managed to stay with the group for the first eight minutes of the run, and then I felt like I had to walk, so I employed a similar tactic as I did yesterday. I walked for a minute and then ran for three. I did this, thinking that I'd be a lot slower than yesterday, but I didn't care as long as I made it around.

Because I was watching the clock to make sure that I didn't walk for more than a minute, I realised I was at the 3 km mark at 21 mins. That was 7 min/km pace. I was amazed, particularly as I'd walked 4 mins at that stage. I checked again at the 4 km mark. I got there in 27:45. Krissi met me during my next minute and encouraged me to run the last km with her. We caught up with another Team Black member, Lola, who had been passing me while I walked and falling behind when I ran. Krissi encouraged us both up one of the hills, and then sent us up the last hill while she went back for another one of our team mates, Kate.

Towards the end, Lola suggested I go on ahead of her, but I stayed back with her as running with the team had been really encouraging for me. I'd already done better than I expected, so I had nothing to prove. I was more than happy to finish the run with another team member. We saw the time up on the finish line and I couldn't help myself - we were on track to finish the 5 km in less than 35 mins so I suggested we give it a go. We both took off and sprinted the last little bit. The announcer laughingly commented on our sprint to the finish line, nearly 20 mins after the race winner (not that he said that) and we crossed over in 34:40.

After the run, we headed off to the pancake parlour for a well deserved breakfast, and then I dropped in at the gym to walk on the treadmill for my 25 points. I covered 2 km at 6 km/h and then headed off home. I'm certainly going to sleep well tonight.

Oh, and I've decided - I'm going to do the 10 km fun run on Canberra Marathon Eve in two weeks time.