Thursday, 31 May 2007

Last session for outdoor fitness session

This morning was the last Group Outdoor Fitness Challenge session. We went through the tests we did during the first session. There were two main differences this time - it was freezing and we all knew what to expect.

It was supposed to get to -3 overnight, but I think it only got down to 0. I had rugged up - two pairs of socks, two pairs of capri running pants (was I ever wishing I had longer pants), four layers under my warm jacket, gloves and cap. I was so glad I was wearing the extra clothes, as there was a lot of waiting for other people to be tested.

We're going to get the results shortly, but I do know that I improved in two of the four tests. Last time I got to Level 3-2 in the beep test. This time I made it to Level 4-1. There are 8 stages in each level, so I ran the 20 metres 7 more times before stopping. I was almost throwing up after I finished, so I was confident that I'd tried hard. I had better form for the pushups, so I didn't care too much about the numbers, but I went from 26 to 31 in the minute. I was pleased with that too. I lasted 1:28 mins in the plank position, which is good for me. I don't know what time I did the last time. I know I'm running faster, so I'm expecting an improvement in the agility test too.

I was really sorry that the challenge was over. The experience has been wonderful. The trainers handled the group well. We were at all sorts of stages with our fitness, and they managed to keep us all engaged, challenge us all to improve, and built a real sense of camaraderie amongst us. There was a wide variety of activities and I had my eyes opened to just how many different ways there were to exercise outdoors. I also discovered that I can push myself further than I thought I could. Mind you, I keep discovering that.

I went to the gym this evening and did my strength program. I realised that I hadn't done it for three weeks, so I was expecting that all my niggly aches would have gone and they had. Every time I take a break from doing weights I'm surprised by how much I can do when I get back into it. I guess all those muscles have had a good chance to heal.

I've mentioned before that I've been a bit worried about a couple of the leg exercises and my knee. I didn't know if I was imagining it or not, but I'm going to have to stop doing these ones. My knee was tired on the way home and I could feel that I'd strained it a little. I don't know if it's the one legged squats or the step ups. The squats worry me as they need a lot of balance, however I felt fine while I was doing them, and I wasn't wobbling as much as usual on my left leg. I've also dropped the height of the bench that I'm stepping up onto, and it seems to be going well, but I'm warm by the time I get to that exercise. Seeing that I can't tell which exercise is the culprit, I think the safest thing to do is to discontinue both.

I was a bit worried about my personal training. I'd dropped off the schedule and the people behind the desk didn't know what was going on. I hadn't heard from the gym or from Leanne. I'm pretty easy going by nature, so normally I would put up with things for a week or two. In the past I've been stuffed around by the gym every time my trainer has changed and I've ended up feeling used and abused. In fact, I've been stuffed around so much over the past two years that I have more personal training sessions than I have weeks left in my gym contract and that's got another 11 months to run.

I was proud of myself this time though. Yesterday I actually complained about not being contacted by anyone about the change. I spoke to the assistant manager. She did the usual "it's the trainer's fault, nobody tells me anything" complaint handling that drives me around the bend. I shifted over to my work persona, which isn't quite as easygoing, and made it clear that the gym management were responsible for their employees and that I expected them to sort it. She told me I'd have to speak to the manager the next day as there wasn't anything she could do to help me. I left the gym feeling pretty cranky, but guess what. It's sorted. The manager phoned me this morning, my trainer then phoned me, and my sessions are back in the schedule. I was completely charming today, thanking everyone concerned for sorting it out. It's so much easier to be charming when you get what you want, isn't it?


I was blathering on about the Global Corporate Challenge yesterday and kathrynoh asked how we were measuring our steps. The GCC issue a pedometer and it's the best pedometer I've ever used. It's extremely simple - all it does is count steps. Along with being simple, it's sturdy. I dropped last year's pedometer heaps and it kept on going. Unfortunately, I managed to lose it when I was travelling to the Gold Coast a few weeks ago.

This year's pedometer appears to be even better, but I'll have to mistreat it a few times before I make the final call on that one.

As for where to wear them, that's been a real matter of trial and error, especially as my shape keeps changing as I lose weight and gain muscle tone. It's best to wear it near your hip. I wear mine half way between my belly button and my side. I wear it on my underwear as my clothes all seem to have a different idea of where my waistline is.

GCC Progress

We now have a name: Thales Flying Turtles. Apparently there were lots of teams called the Flying Turtles. Imagine that. Our name is not a comment on the length of leg of any of our members, but more suggestive of a steady and determined progress. We went with the Winston Churchill quote.

By the way, we've made it to 98th place. It seems our athlete is on the mend. I love this stage of the challenge. It's staying up in the top 100 / 50 / 20 that takes effort, particularly as some teams bank steps so you're never really sure that you've done as well as you think you have.

100th post

Imagine that!

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Squash and walking

I forgot to wear my HRM for squash today and it was the first time in weeks that I've actually worked up a sweat. Isn't it always the way?

Murali and I played our usual five game match, and the last game was a breathtaking decider. I guess I'm having to work harder because Murali is getting much fitter. I used to be able to rely on him running out of energy in the fifth game but now I'm having to work hard the whole way through. It was great fun.

Other than that, I did a fair bit of walking today. The walking challenge is in full swing and we've been asked for a team name and a team quote. One of the guys has come up with Flying Turtles. I think it's amusing so I'm voting for it. I hit the net and found a few good quotes for a walking challenge where we are counting our steps.

There was the obvious one by Lao-Tzu: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." I also found a Winston Churchill quotation that I thought was appropriate: "Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb."

My team is currently in 114th place of 3357 teams. That's much higher than we were last year, so we're off to a better start. There are seven members on the team, four men and three women. You're only allowed two athletes. They define an athlete loosely as someone who competes in triathlons or half/full marathons. We have one athlete. While he doesn't race, he runs those kinds of distances on a regular basis. Unfortunately, he's injured at the moment with a torn calf muscle. Fortunately, we also have two crazy women, of whom I'm one. When I say crazy, Alex and I did a lot of walking last year. We've both started strongly this year as we know what we need to do this time.

To give you an idea of the number of steps involved in this, my team has an average step count of 11.5k steps/day at the moment, compared to an overall average of 7k steps/day. The leaders have gone out hard and have an average of nearly 26k steps/day. I'm currently sitting on 16.1k steps/day (10.3 km).

Over the term of the challenge, people's activity increases significantly. Last year, the overall average was 9.5k steps/day. This was despite the fact that a number of teams stop entering their steps part way through the challenge. My team ended up in 23rd place with an average of 18.3k steps/day. My overall average last year was 21.1k steps/day. I managed to walk 25k steps/day for the last 25 days of the challenge, which was a real effort. It takes hours!

I didn't put my GCC goal in writing the other day. My soft target is to do better than last year, and my hard target is to get my overall average up to 25k by the end of the challenge. I haven't gotten obsessive compulsive about it yet. Going on last year's effort, I'm sure it will happen soon. *blush*

This challenge got me fit enough to start running, so I'm really glad I had a go at it. I think it also saved me from a lot of the beginning runner injury problems I've heard about, as I was walking the equivalent of 16 km/day by the end of the challenge. By the end of October I had legs of steel!

You get your step count up much faster running than walking, so I'm relying on the challenge giving me added incentive to get out there and run over winter. I'm sure it will help on those cold Canberra mornings.

Speaking of cold mornings, it's going to be -3 degrees Celsius overnight, so I have begged a lift to the outdoor fitness challenge tomorrow morning. I decided that there wasn't a lot of value in turning up as a popsicle. I'll be rugging up. I wonder how many layers I can wear and still run. I guess I'll find out tomorrow.

Oh, and I put my electric blanket on the bed tonight.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Rogaining and personal training

At this morning's outdoor fitness challenge we had an introduction to rogaining. We were put into teams, given a list of checkpoints, and set off to gain as many points as we could. It was great fun, and it brought home to me how much I've changed over the past couple of years. For example, we had to find countries at Commonwealth Place starting with V, U and H. Well, you'd be able to guess these, but I was prepared to run all the way up to the H's to check that Hungary's flag was displayed. There was no need to do it, but it was fun. I think it's definitely official - aliens abducted me, extracted my essence and replaced the couch potato version of me with someone fit and active.

We only have one more session to go. I am getting more and more confident with the bike ride. Being out so early helps, even though it's dark, as there are fewer cars and pedestrians. I was a bit later coming back today, and the increased activity around town wasn't half as scary as it would have been a couple of week's ago. I even found myself trying out the gears again on the way home. One of the other women who has been doing the challenge is also a beginning cyclist, and we are going to go cycling together on weekends. It's great to be meeting new people who also like exercise.

This afternoon I was a guinea pig for a group of people who were doing their final assessment for Certificate IV in personal training. I did two sessions, which involved the initial consultation and a half hour program. I really enjoyed myself. Over the past two years I've worked with five different personal trainers, four at the gym and the fifth at the outdoor group fitness sessions, so I'm beginning to be an expert on what works well for me. I also have developed expectations, such as being shown the right way to do things and being reminded to breathe and to tighten my abs. The two people who worked with me today were confident beginners, but I know I'd want them to have been working in the field for a while before I worked with them regularly. Mind you, they would have been nervous because they were being assessed.

I think it came at a great time for me. I've really been struggling with my motivation as far as food is concerned. Both trainers went through a questionnaire with me about what I eat, when I eat, etc etc, and my normal eating program is terrific. The questions really reminded me of the basics and of how far I've progressed over the past few years. It ended up being a really positive experience as I could see how my answers to the questions had changed since I first walked into Fernwood. I have definite goals, such as getting to my goal weight by the end of the year and running the City to Surf in August, and I have the tools to get there. I was able to state, with confidence, that I can achieve my goals with what I'm doing currently.

Sarah left a comment asking where I've been as I haven't been posting much lately. I really appreciated her concern. As I said, my motivation has been poor, and I haven't wanted to blog when I've had "disaster" days. A disaster day now is so much better than it used to be, but I still feel awful when they happen. I've been doing fairly well on the exercise front, however, the days when all I do is walk don't seem to be worth writing about. I guess that's silly of me. For instance, I walked 8 km home from the footy on Sunday (the Doggies lost to the Swans) instead of catching a bus or asking someone for a lift. Not only that, but I knew exactly how long it would take me, and I really enjoyed the walk.

One thing that's going to help. I've signed up for a running course. The people who have been running the outdoor challenge have organised a set of 8 weekly training sessions prior to City to Surf and the Canberra Times fun run. Sessions will include long slow distance runs, intervals sessions, hill sessions and fartlek training. I think I'm ready to take my running up a level, so I'm looking forward to it.

I'm trying to decide which run I'll do in two weeks - the Run to the G or the Terry Fox Fun Run here in Canberra. They are both 10 km runs. If I do the Run to the G I'll be running on my own, whereas the Team Black Women are running here in Canberra. Once the run starts I end up running on my own, but I like meeting up with the group before and after the run. I'll have to decide soon, as I'll need to organise my flights to Melbourne. I'm leaning towards Run to the G at the moment but I'm sure I'll enjoy whichever run I do.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Outdoor exercise, fun run and walking

I'm exhausted. It's been a big day for me as far as exercise goes. I haven't decided whether to wander down to the gym later to do a little more walking on the treadmill. I'm tempted, as I have 27873 steps at the moment and the walk to the gym and back would take me over the 30k mark for the day. I had planned to do a 25k day today for the GCC, but the extra steps are a real bonus. My theory is that it's easier to keep your average up if you start hard.

This morning it wasn't as cold when I ventured out on my bike. There was no sign of rain either. I made it to Lennox Gardens in 25 mins, which is my usual time, but I wasn't quite as stressed today. The ride home seems much easier as there's daylight involved, which reduces the chances of me running into something. Mind you, there are more people around when I ride through town, but that's a small part of the ride. Most of the time I'm on bike paths where I only have to worry about inanimate objects and the occasional jogger.

I'm not sure what to call this morning's session. It was an exercise circuit I guess. We were running around a rectangle, inside which were a number of activities. These included running inside ladders, jumping along a set of cones, running back and forth and putting shuttlecocks in cones, weaving in and out between cones and jumping back and forth inside a pentagon. After our warmup, which evolved from a walk to a mini version of the interval training from Tuesday (jog the short side, surge the long side), we split into two groups. One group jogged the long ends, sprinted the short ends while the other group did an activity in the middle for 2 minutes. We kept swapping over until we'd done them all and then repeated the set more intensely for 1 minute at a time.

It was fun, although I wasn't at all keen on the jumping. I know that plyometrics are supposed to be good for me, but I am quite happy to 'skip' them. (Pun intended.) My attitude today was a lot more positive. I think that's because I realised on Tuesday that we weren't being compared to each other. Intellectually I knew that but I lived it on Tuesday. Having been the slow runner and clumsy catcher who was always picked last for team sports at school, it's reassuring that I can be successful in this group situation.

Again, we were all worn out at the end of the session. The mood in the group is incredibly positive. People are enjoying the challenge so much. While we were out there it was getting colder and colder. When we arrived there was a little evidence of frost. When we did our cool down jog we were crunching our way across frost patches all over the place. Luckily, we were all warm by then.

At lunchtime, I participated in the ABS fun run with some of the women who are doing the GCC with me. It was a 7.3 km run around Lake Ginnindera. I haven't been around that lake before, so it was unknown territory. I didn't expect to run as fast as I did for the Mother's Day Classic, mainly because I'd worn my legs out twice during the week, so I was aiming to get round in 50 mins. I had a super soft target of one hour as well.

I have no idea how fast I'm running as yet, and I discovered that I'd covered the first km in 6:15. I tried to slow down, but I reached the 2 km mark in 12:32. By that stage I decided to start my 1 min walking / 3 min running approach. I was feeling tired already, and I figured that it would be silly to keep running at that pace. Kris, who was running with me, headed off on her own, and I settled in to work on getting to the end. I got to 3 km in 19:45 and to 4 km in 26:xx but I slowed down a lot after that. I missed the 5 km mark and was really struggling to run. Some of my 3 min intervals were lucky to get to the 1:30 mark. I kept going though, and I made it to the finish line in the official time of 49:04. This is just under 6:45 pace, and was inside my 50 minute mark, so I was happy.

We were good and did a cool down jog and stretched. I made sure that I went for a long walk later today, which helped a lot. I feel tired but I don't feel all that sore. All in all, it has been a great day's exercise and a great weight loss day too. Having written all this down, I think I will go down to the gym for half an hour. (In case you haven't noticed, I get a little obsessive about the walking challenge.)

EDIT: Half an hour on the treadmill plus walk to and from the gym. Today's step count - 34035. With 7.8 km of cycling, adjusted to 36066.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Intervals and Squash

Yesterday morning it was back to the Group Outdoor Fitness Challenge. I rugged up for the bike ride across to Lennox Gardens. It was pitch black outside, and the ground was wet. I was sure I was insane, particularly when it started to rain. Fortunately, it only threatened to rain, so I didn't scuttle back to my warm apartment.

It was still dark when I got to the lake. Normally it's starting to get light by then, but the cloud cover was ominous. It threatened to rain again. I had visions of arriving at the park dripping wet and totally miserable. I missed one of my turnoffs in the dark, walked up every hill, and braked too hard at the top of the path down from the bridge so I ended up walking down. Despite this, I managed to get there.

On arrival I discovered we were concentrating on running. We were doing sprints and intervals. Now, I'm one of those people who doesn't have a sprint in them, so I was immediately regretting that I didn't turn around and go home at the first sight of rain. I suffered through the first ten minutes, and then, to my amazement, I started to enjoy the challenge.

We basically ran round and round a 200m track for most of the session. We did it in groups, where one person was running as hard as they could until they caught the other person, who was walking. The walker started running, the runner started walking, and so on. We did the session in pairs, then in threes, and then in fours. The idea was that we'd have to run a shorter distance each time to catch the walker in front of us, and so we could try harder for the shorter distance. I really got into it, once I got past the initial apprehension.

Of course I had to ride home. My legs were so tired! I measured the bike ride on Google Earth the other day, and it's 3.9 km each way. It felt much further on the way home yesterday. I really knew I'd worked hard. In the afternoon I kept it simple and went for a 45 min walk.

Today I played squash. It was another closely fought match with Murali. We're on the same team in the Global Corporate Challenge, which starts tomorrow. We were laughing about our step count today. When we started playing squash we used to get a lot more steps per game but we're both playing so much better now that we take fewer steps. We'll be fighting each other to collect the ball between points.

The GCC starts tomorrow. I'm keen to do well. I've been struggling with my eating over the past few weeks, and I'm hoping that getting back into a serious challenge will help me to refocus on my overall goal. My GCC goal sounds absurd, even to me, so I'm going to keep it to myself for a while. I should have an idea as to whether or not it's achievable after a couple of weeks.

I haven't really planned my exercise for the next few days. Tomorrow is taking care of itself. I've got the group outdoor fitness challenge in the morning and I'm participating in a fun run. It's 7.3 km, which should add a few steps to my daily total. Other than that, I don't have anything specific in mind.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I want to do a weights session, as I haven't done one since I went on holiday. I'd also like to get my steps up, so I guess I'll be doing some walking. I have to get myself to Kingston for lunch on Friday, so I might walk instead of catching the bus. It's a lovely walk along the lake for much of the way.

On Saturday I'd like to go for a bike ride. I've got to get these gears worked out, and I have to develop the confidence to stand up on the bike so that I can go up hills more easily. Hopefully I'll manage it without falling off.

Friday, 18 May 2007

More holiday tales

Australia Zoo (Wednesday)

My sister Lynda, my mother and I headed off to Australia Zoo near Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast today. We caught "the Croc Express", which picked us up outside the apartment, and delivered us to Australia Zoo some three and a half hours later. The trip took longer than expected as the bus detoured into Brisbane to pick up some extra passengers. I can understand that the bus company was saving money, but it was a real imposition for them to add an hour to our trip there and back. If I'd known that was going to happen I would have opted out of the tour.

Mind you, our visit to Australia Zoo was extremely enjoyable. I hadn't known what to expect, apart from a crocodile show and a few Australian animals. What I discovered was a fabulous experience, friendly staff, excellent amenities, good food, interesting animals and a fun time. I enjoyed seeing the elephants and the tigers. The wildlife show was well presented and gave Lynda the opportunity to win a photo with a koala for enthusiastically acting like a chicken. She generously allowed me to appear in her koala photo, so I got the benefit without having my actions broadcast on the big screen.

The day seemed to go too fast and we didn't see everything. I kept company with Mum for the day, which meant no tearing off around the park. The ambling pace was very relaxing. In terms of exercise, the day was a write off, but I'm pretty sure it scored high in the recovery stakes.

Southport (Thursday)

Dad took me off to see where we used to live more than 40 years ago. Three of my sisters, Janet and the twins (Lynda and Sandra) were born here. The house we lived in is long gone - a financial services business now occupies the corner of Queen and Scarborough Street where we lived for a couple of years. The house next door was still there as were a few across the road, but much of the area had been rebuilt. We headed up the street in search of the site of the kindergarten and my first school. They are also long gone, but the church is still there, so we were in the general vicinity.

I loved going to kindergarten. I remember it vividly. Apparently my brother and I were lucky enough to go to a progressive kindergarten. We learned lots. Unfortunately, this resulted in a poor start at primary school. I remember being in trouble on the first day of school for being able to write already. Things went steadily downhill from there. My first religion lesson scared me silly and I seemed to spend a lot of time standing in the corner. Fortunately for me, my family moved to Bundaberg six weeks later and I was lucky enough to end up with a wonderful Grade One teacher at my new school.

I told Lynda about a time when I got dumped in the waves when I was little. She started to laugh, as Mum and Dad had told her the same story a few days earlier. They had been holding my hands but the surf dragged me away from them. I vividly remember Dad rescuing me. All sorts of memories came flooding back to me as we drove past various landmarks. I remember waiting outside the hospital when Lynda and Sandra were born. It was during the tail end of a cyclone. Children weren't allowed in the maternity ward, so Jim, Janet and I were waiting in the car, while Dad went in to visit Mum. The palm trees were bending over to the ground because of the high winds. Fortunately the world was a more enlightened place when Patricia was born two and a half years later, as we were all able to go in to see Mum.

After visiting Southport, we drove out past Seaworld to the Spit, and went for a walk along there. We then headed off for a coffee at Mariner's Cove. Unfortunately, we were there too early. There was no way we were going to get a coffee before 11:30. We headed off to Main Beach, where we successfully managed to order a coffee.

The pace of life here is so different to Melbourne. While waiting for our coffee a fire engine raced past with sirens blaring. Just after our coffees arrived it returned at a slower pace. I joked to Dad that they had been on the early morning coffee run and he burst out laughing, telling me that there was no way they'd have been able to get a coffee at the Gold Coast that quickly. I had to agree with him.

The rest of the day I just mooched around. I went for a swim in the pool and a walk along the Esplanade. It was another lovely relaxing day.

Long run (Friday)

I went for my long run this morning. I hadn't felt like it on Thursday, but Friday was my last chance. I headed out along the Esplanade, telling myself that it didn't matter about the distance - it was about time on my feet. I planned to be out for an hour minimum. I walked for the first five minutes, and then started running. I tried not to run too fast, but I really have no idea how fast I'm going at the moment. I'm going to have to upgrade my HRM!

It had been raining earlier, so everything had that clean, just washed look. As I was running along the path I could see rain out to sea. I didn't know if it would come in before I was finished, but I really didn't care. After all, now that I'm an outdoors runner, running in the rain is part of the package.

Instead of running the path twice I kept going when I reached the surf club. At the end of the path I came to a national park. There was a narrow bitumen pathway and runners were coming along it, so I decided to head off into the park. There were signs warning about rock falls, which was a little disconcerting, but I figured that all those runners wouldn't have been out there if the rock falls were frequent.

I'm glad I ventured along the path, as it was such an interesting run. I turned around after I'd been out for half an hour. I was tempted to go further, but I've only run more than an hour once before. I decided on discretion rather than valour.

It started to rain almost immediately. It felt incredibly refreshing although I was wishing I'd worn a cap because the rain was obscuring my glasses. A quarter of an hour later the rain had stopped. I made it to the other end of the esplanade, to the bottom of a steep hill. This had been my turning around point every other time I walked or ran along here. After the national park had turned out so well I thought, what the hell, and ran up the hill to see what the view was like up there. There were a couple of lookouts. From one I could see all the way to Surfer's Paradise and from the other I could see Coolangatta. The views were well worth the effort of running up the hill.

After I'd been running for an hour I walked for another five minutes then did my stretches. All up, I was out and about for an hour and a quarter. A respectable effort for me. I had my breakfast then hit the pool for 30 laps. Believe me, I was starving when it came to morning tea time.

We headed off to Pacific Fair for a couple of hours of shopping. My legs were telling me that a slow steady pace and a complete avoidance of stairs were in order. I was happy to oblige them. Pacific Fair is the largest shopping centre at the Gold Coast and it's well worth a visit.

Tomorrow we're flying home to Melbourne. It looks like I'll have time for one more walk along the Esplanade in the morning, as long as I'm up really early.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Holiday tales

Burleigh Heads (Monday)

We're staying across the road from the beach. From our balcony we can see people running and walking along the esplanade. There are gym stations all along the path. My parents and sister have been here for a couple of weeks now, and they tell me that people are out there at all times of the day, regardless of the weather.

I went for a brisk walk along the path, about 4 km in total. It was a lovely morning. After the chilly mornings in Canberra it was lovely to be out there in shorts and t-shirt. It doesn't look like autumn at all. I grew up in Queensland, but I'd forgotten that autumn was something that I'd only read about before my family moved to Victoria.

When I got back to the apartment, Lynda and I went for a swim in the salt water pool. There's a pool in my apartment complex in Canberra, but it always seems to be too cold for me to go swimming there. Today, I was really enjoying myself. Again, swimming is something I grew up doing, but I pretty much stopped once we moved south. I've been thinking about taking it up again, especially now that I'm riding my bike. The pool seems so much closer to home now.

We went to Surfer's Paradise for coffee and window shopping, and later in the day we headed off to Pacific Fair to wander around the shops, so it was a pretty relaxing day.

Tomorrow I'm planning to go for a run in the morning, before heading up to Brisbane to meet up with Sarah. I'm really looking forward to that.

Brisbane (Tuesday)

I met Sarah, Max and Maeve today at Southbank today. It was lovely to meet Sarah. She's just as lovely in person as she is in her blog. We walked along the Arbour Path at Southbank, and chatted running and blogging while Max and Maeve played in one of the playgrounds. I saw "the beach", complete with lifeguard, and the children's water activity area. After meeting Sarah I wandered around Southbank for a little longer before heading back to Burleigh Heads.

I had quite an active day today. I was up early and went for a run along the Esplanade. I made myself warm up with a five minute walk. I find it quite difficult not to start running as soon as I am outside, but I tell myself that Vicky (MAR) always does a warm up and cool down, and so should I. I'm glad Vicky writes it down in her blog, as I'd probably be skipping my own warm up and cool down otherwise.

I ran for just under half an hour, walked for another five minutes and then did some pushups at one of the activity stations. I did 40 pushups all up, which is 10 more than usual. I was thinking about the test at the end of the group outdoor fitness challenge. I had been going to practise my plank as well, but the area around the activity station was kind of gravelly, so I skipped it. I am such a princess sometimes. I rounded my run off with a walk to get the paper for my Dad.

While I was in Brisbane meeting Sarah, I walked for about an hour and a half, then came back to Burleigh Heads and walked along the beach for another half an hour. I didn't stay out too long because of the sun. When I got back to the apartment I swam 20 laps of the pool. It's about 15 m long so it's not as impressive as it sounds, but it's still pretty good for me. After a shower, I walked down to the Burleigh Heads shopping centre with my sister and let her buy me coffee.

Tomorrow we're off to Australia Zoo. We're going on a coach tour. It should be fun. We're leaving pretty early so I won't be going for a run tomorrow morning. I'm planning a long steady run on Thursday, as Krissi told me I'd be missing the long run while I was away. We head back to Melbourne on Saturday. I'm thinking of seeing whether or not my nephew wants to go for a run on Sunday morning. I'd like to have a look at the course for the Run to the G. I haven't entered yet. My next fun run is on Thursday, 24 May. That's the first day of the walking challenge, so a 7.3 km fun run seemed like a good way to get my step count off to a flying start.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Mother's Day Classic

I ran the 8 km in 52 minutes. I am really pleased with that time. In the 10 km, I ran 7 min k's, so 6.5 min k's is a definite improvement. Mind you, I didn't set out with a particular time in mind. My goal for the run was to get to the end. That's about all the thought I put into it. Occasionally, when the race crossed my mind, I thought, "it would be nice if I could manage 7 min k's" or "it would be nice if I could run the whole way" but I never actually committed to a definite goal. I knew that I could run the 8 km, because I'd run 10 km, but I didn't think much past that.

This morning I was talking to Lola, one of the Team Black Women (TBW), before the race and she said she'd like to do sub 56 mins. I realised that maybe I should have set myself a goal for today's run. I must do that next time.

We watched another of the TBW finish the 4 km run in 26:45, which was a great improvement for her, and I felt inspired to see if I could do better than 56 mins. There were six TBW in the 8 km run, and we all started from roughly the same spot towards the back of the group. A couple of the girls have been doing a lot of running, so I figured that I wouldn't try to keep up with them, but I thought that if I stayed in touch with Lola I could make the sub 56 mins.

To my surprise, because I felt like I had been running slowly, we ran the 1st km in 6:30. We were travelling at about the same pace at the end of the 2nd km, and I missed the 3rd km sign, probably because I was looking at the time and thinking it will be coming up soon. At that stage I was running slightly ahead of 6:30 pace. I made it to the turnaround in 25:22 and picked up speed a little. I think that was a mistake, as I had to drop to a walk at the 28 minute mark to catch my breath. I walked for a minute and then started to run again. I told myself I'd walk again at the 5 km mark. I wish I could remember the time for this, but the numbers have fallen out of my head. It was around the 32 minute mark. I got to the sign, and set myself another mini-goal, and then another. Each time I reached the next "it's ok to walk from here" point, I found myself managing to keep on running.

There were water stops at the 2k, 4k and 6k marks. I had some water at the 2k and 4k but didn't want any at the 6k point. I had worked out by then that I was well on track to get around in under 56 mins, and thought I might make it in 52 mins. I was so close to the end that I didn't want to stop for a drink. 52 mins became my race goal. I may not have set it early, but I did eventually set it.

At around the 7 k mark, what I thought was disaster struck. My shoelace came undone. I thought it would take me a while to do it back up but I managed to get it done quickly, only losing ten metres or so on the people I'd been running with. I made it back to that group, which Lola was leading, and then we came to a couple of hills. I decided to work hard up the hills to catch up with Lola and then I found out what disaster really was. At the top of the steeper hill I found myself throwing up. I guess I had worked too hard up the hill. It was just water, and I was fine, but it was a little disconcerting.

One of the volunteers who was riding a bike up and down the course came over to me with some water, and a couple of walkers stopped and told me I could walk with them if I liked. They were all very kind and I really appreciated their thoughtfulness, but I wanted to keep running. As soon as I'd recomposed myself and had sip of water, I was off running again. I realised that I'd probably lost my 52 min goal, but I still had my 56 min goal to beat. Once upon a time I would have given up then and there, but I'm made of sterner stuff nowadays.

I ran along thinking, "now I understand why people set themselves two goals for runs". Having the soft target of 56 mins gave me the incentive to keep on running, even though the hard target of 52 mins looked unachievable. I picked up the pace a little, thinking I'd finish as close to 52 mins as I could. When I came into sight of the finish line, I could see that I had 30 secs to get across the line in 52 mins so I motored on down the straight. I could hear the commentator making remarks to people as they went past but I didn't look at him. His comment for me was "No 116 is in a world of her own". I wasn't in my own world, but I was getting across that line before the 52 min mark. I made it with just seconds to spare. How many, I'm not sure, but I did it. The four TBW who had finished were all there to congratulate me, and the last one home came in not long after me, so we had that lovely sense of camaraderie that comes from sharing an experience with friends.

I was absolutely delighted with myself. I'd made the 8 km, I'd run faster than before, and I'd only walked for 1 minute. I'd persevered after throwing up. I'd discovered a new part of Canberra. I'd shared another achievement with my new TBW friends. I'd ridden to the event. I'd run for a good cause. All in all, it was an incredibly positive experience.

The bike ride was fun too. I had been reading about bike safety in 'Australian Cyclist' and I decided to ride to the venue a slightly longer but safer way. I think it was about 8 km there all up. It took me a little over half an hour to get there, which makes me laugh, as Calorie King doesn't have a calorie burn for cycling until you're riding at 17 kph. I'm not quite up to that yet. Not that it matters, as I have my trusty HRM when I remember to turn it on.

Because the run didn't start until 8:45 am, I was riding much later than I had the day before. There were a lot more people about. So many people in Canberra seem to exercise. I believe it has the most active population in Australia. When you're out at 7:30 on a Sunday morning and you see all the people walking, riding and biking, you definitely believe that it has.

On the way around the lake, there were km signs. The first one I saw was 15 km, and I passed a couple more. I wondered if they were for another run or for a bike ride. It seemed an awfully long way to run. On my return journey I discovered that the signs were there for the Canberra Half Marathon.

The ride home was a little more strenuous. For one thing, my legs were tired. I'm sure they were saying "Kathy, you're crazy, Kathy, you're crazy" all the way home. I told myself that riding home was an excellent cool down. I even believed myself. The only real hiccup on the way home was the Canberra Half Marathon. They took over the bike path for part of their race. I didn't think it would be polite to keep riding on the path, so I rode on the gravel down by the lake.

Not a huge inconvenience you would think, but I'm pretty much a beginning rider. The gravel was hard work for me. I was also a lot closer to the water's edge. I was concerned about falling off my bike. Worse still, I was worried about ending up in the lake. There were more people about by this time and you never know what they are going to do. I was nervous about crashing into someone and falling in. I was scared that I would overcompensate for sharing the space and end up riding into the lake. I was petrified that I would have to swerve to avoid someone and find myself tumbling in. Frankly, it amazes me that I get out on the bike!

At a couple of stages, I was riding alongside the runners in the half marathon. To my mild embarrassment, they were running faster than I was riding. Well, some of them were. I had to negotiate a bridge they were using at one stage, and I managed to find a break in the stream of runners, so I didn't inconvenience anyone. Once past the half marathon, I took the shorter, less safe route across town home. My legs really didn't care that the other way was safer and more scenic.

I got home feeling incredibly proud of myself.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Another bike ride

I headed off on my bike at 6:15 am this morning to find the Mother's Day Classic assembly point. I had a vague idea of its location, and thought I'd better find out how long it would take me to ride there.

I dressed up in my new bike gear. I wasn't sure how warm I'd be in the jacket, so I took my ecofleece jacket with me just in case. I bought the new jacket for the wind and it's also going to be useful when it rains. That's if I happen to be crazy enough to be out on my bike when it's raining. Well, I made it two blocks before stopping to put on my ecofleece. After about half an hour I was really warm, but I didn't take any layers off. When I got home, the new jacket was damp on the inside, and there was a layer of moisture on the outside of my ecofleece. I guess I should have de-layered.

I navigated my way across town. I rode on the road some of the way. I'm not sure I should be doing that as yet. I don't think I'm safe, ie, I don't think I look around me properly. Fortunately, there weren't many people out and about that early in the morning.

Once I was safely on the bicycle path I felt a lot more relaxed. I travelled to where I thought the MDC was starting, and discovered something that looked possible. When I headed home again and re-examined the course map, I realised I had been in the right place.

By the time I'd investigated and remembered to look at my watch, I'd been out for 28 minutes, so I should be fine if I allow half an hour to get to the venue and park my bike. I checked out options for bike parking. There didn't seem to be much and then I realised that I could secure my bike to a tree. I was busy looking for a bike rack!

I rode back along the lake, enjoying the trip. The day had well and truly dawned by this stage. There were people out rowing on the lake, along with runners, walkers and other cyclists. I managed to spook any number of birds. The scenery was lovely. I think I'll have to go riding at that time of the morning for fun once the challenge is over.

I noticed that I was doing a lot more 'riding' today. I seem to spend much of my time coasting along rather than pedalling, which isn't the best way to burn calories. Today, at least I felt like I was putting in a real effort.

One amusing thing happened. While I was breathing my glasses were fogging up. I tried breathing out through my nose, and the effect was reduced, but I couldn't keep that up for very long. I think I'll have to ask around to see how other people cope with that, as I can see it being a major problem as it gets colder.

I arrived home after 53 minutes, feeling very happy with myself. My backside was a little sore, and I was too hot, but I figure I'll get the details sorted eventually.

As for the rest of the day, I did some incidental exercise, moving stuff around the place. It was good to see how easily I did it. All that gym work is definitely paying off.

Tomorrow I have the Mother's Day Classic, followed by a trip to Qld. I'm going to be away for a week, and I'm not planning to take my laptop with me, so I won't be blogging. Well, unless I think about the job applications I should be writing and my sensible side gets the better of me.

If you don't hear from me, I'm sitting on the beach, having a lovely time. If you do hear from me, I'll tell you all about the beach. :-)

Friday, 11 May 2007

Weights and walking today

I headed to the gym this evening for a weights session, and then walked for a while on the treadmill, before going to the shops. I was there earlier than usual. The place was quite empty. It's often quiet on a Friday, but it was like a ghost town. I think that it might be a reaction to the intensity of the fitness challenge. Since it ended, I haven't been to the gym all that often. It wouldn't surprise me if some of the other challenge participants are also taking a break from the gym.

For myself, I am really enjoying doing non-gym activities, like running and exercising outdoors. I'm even finding that riding the bike is fun. Mind you, while I'm job hunting over the next few weeks, I'm hoping to pick up some gym classes that I haven't tried before, like Body Attack. I enjoy doing my weights sessions too.

Today was my last day at work. It was a sad day, as I've enjoyed working there, but it was a good day too, as I'm very much ready for a change. A group of us went out to lunch, and then I headed off to a local pub for a drink with a smaller group. The pub's name is "The Contented Soul" and it was very apt today.

On my way home I was conscious of feeling sad about leaving, which had me wanting to eat. After last weekend's disaster, I was determined not to let that happen. I updated my food diary, worked out what I could fit into my calorie budget, and made a series of delicious healthy food choices. What's even better is that I've achieved my calorie target for the day.

I arrived home early enough to go shopping at the bike shop and get to the gym around 5pm. I didn't have quite such a long shopping list as I planned, as part of my farewell gift was a bike computer. I was delighted. Mind you, I managed to snap one of the bands that holds it onto the bike, so I have to replace that before I can use it. Hopefully, it won't be too hard to buy a rubber thingummy. I think I'd better take it with me when I'm trying to replace it, as I'm sure my description will leave a lot to be desired.

At the bike shop, I picked up a pair of long bike pants, a bright yellow Hydra jacket, and a beanie thing to wear under my helmet. I'm planning to try them all out tomorrow morning, as I work out how to get to the starting point for the Mother's Day Classic. I enjoyed just picking up the jacket and buying it without trying it on. It's great, knowing that you fit into a standard clothes size.

Once I'd parted with my money, I headed to the gym. It doesn't feel like I'm spending money there, as they cleverly take it straight from my bank account. I did my weights session. I was really happy with my triceps pushups. I can do the two sets on my toes now. I still don't get down too far, but I'm making progress. My reverse crunches are also heaps better. I skipped the chicken, as the lower bench was being used. I should have done it later, but I was onto the abs exercises by then. After I finished my weights session, I hit the treadmill for a walk.

One good thing about the treadmill is that I catch up on popular music. At least, I think that's a good thing. Mind you, they have this inane sms stuff going on at the bottom of the screen, with kids texting their friends. "How's my sxc boiii?" At least it wasn't one of those "rate the photo" ones. They are simply dreadful. In my day, we used to ring the radio station with dedications. I guess it was just a lower tech version of the smsfest I was observing today.

I headed to the shops after the gym and got my step count over the 15k mark for the day, which isn't too bad, considering I only had about 2k at lunchtime. All in all, it was an easy day's exercise, but it did the job.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Boxercise in the park

This morning I jumped on the bike, pedalled on down to the park, did a boxercise session, then pedalled back home.

It sounds so easy, when I write it like that.

Riding to Lennox Gardens seemed to be much harder this morning. I think I have worn my poor legs out. Lifting my leg up over the saddle was a definite effort. Getting started seemed arduous. I got a few hundred metres before realising that I had forgotten to put my lights on. The darkness as I rode away from the main road was a dead giveaway. I made it a few more metres when I realised I'd forgotten to turn on my HRM. I headed off for the third time, telling myself that I was ridiculous.

I was finally in the swing of things when I realised I'd taken a wrong turn and had to back track. I wimped out on the hills, going up and going down. I stressed my way along the bike path and finally made it to the gardens. Considering that nothing serious had happened I don't know why I was feeling so stressed, so I'm putting it down to my body rebelling against the idea that it should be (a) on a bike in the first place, (b) out of bed and exercising before sunrise, and (c) everything else it doesn't particularly like in the universe.

I made it to the gardens with five minutes to spare, even with the unplanned detour and walking the hills. When I wasn't busy being stressed I quite enjoyed the bike ride and it's definitely getting easier. I like being out that early in the morning because there aren't many people around, which reduces the chance of me crashing into somebody. It also means that there are fewer potential witnesses for the silly accidents that I'm likely to have because I don't know how to ride my bike properly.

Oh, I sorted the changing gears problem. I didn't.

Seriously, I'm going to have to go somewhere safe and practise. I just didn't have time to practise AND get to the training session, so I decided to keep it simple this morning. Anyway, the bike I rode when I was a kid didn't have gears, and I managed just fine.

I absolutely love boxercise, so I was glad to see the gear out. We threw a lot of punches, did squats, lunges, pushups and starjumps, and generally had a good time. We were matched up with people about our height, which helped. I liked the way the session was run. The trainers kept an eye out for people with injuries and modified things accordingly. There are a couple of people there who aren't at the prolonged running stage, and they handled that really matter of factly, which was good to see.

I reminded Krissi that I'll be missing the next two sessions. Apparently I'm going to miss the long steady run, but I figure I can do that while I'm in Queensland. I'll also work on my pushups and plank.

The ride home was much better than the ride there, probably because I was warmed up and it was light. I was only stressing about running into pedestrians. When I'm crossing the road near a bike I never worry about the bike rider hitting me, but now that I'm such a novice in charge of the machine I worry about running into a pedestrian. Fortunately, the people who were crossing the road with me didn't seem at all concerned.

I walked across the main road near home because there were too many pedestrians for me to safely negotiate the crossing. Then I realised I could have ridden across in the bike lane. I looked at the lane and the traffic and thought that maybe the bike lane is just a step too far for me at the moment. It won't be long though.

I gave myself this evening off the gym. I had planned to do a weights session, so I might swap that for tomorrow morning's run. I'll see how I feel in the morning. I'm going to take the afternoon off tomorrow. This workplace seems to have an expectation that I won't come back to work after my goodbye lunch, so I'm going to take advantage of it to go shopping (I need bike stuff!) and I may hit the gym then too.

I've realised that I need a beanie to go under my bike helmet, and I need a windproof jacket, and I need longer leggings, and I want a pannier, and I want to know how fast I'm going and how far I've ridden. This exercise lark seems like an excellent reason to go shopping.

Oh, as for my blister. Phew, it went down. It doesn't need popping. I won't wear those shoes again before Sunday's run. Thanks for the advice people. I'll feel much better about popping the next one.

Sara, there is absolutely no need to be impressed by my pushups. I have managed to get up onto my toes, but I don't get much depth as yet. I'm definitely not at the "eat jellybeans off the floor" stage of pushup development, although I do see how that's an incentive. We had a fun way to get through the pushups today. We did 2 punches, 10 pushups, 4 punches, 8 pushups, etc until we were down to 2 pushups. Those last 2 pushups were really hard but the punches were great fun so it was like being rewarded for effort through the whole exercise.

I can see myself signing up for the next session Krissi and Brad run. It's great fun.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Run and Squash

This morning I went for my planned run. I didn't get a lot of sleep last night, but I didn't find it at all hard to get up. It must have become a habit! At last! It's so much easier to get out of bed when you're not having the "will I, won't I?" discussion with yourself.

I decided to run down to the lake through town instead of along the bike path, as there is much better lighting. I made myself warm up this morning, as I figure I'd better get into that habit now that it's getting cold. I find it hard to take the time to warm up slowly.

I wore my brand new fuel belt for the first time today. I didn't like it at all for the first few minutes and then I more or less forgot it was there, except for when I had a drink. It was really comfortable, although I'm not sure if it will chafe or not over longer distances. I wore it over my jacket today, so there was extra padding between me and it. I did notice it around my waist a little after about half an hour, but then I was distracted by my foot. My new shoes have a little more arch support than I'm used to, and I was very aware of my right foot after I'd run for half an hour. Sure enough, I have the start of a blister up near the ball of my foot.

I'm not all that sure what to do about it. I saw on the ausrun forum that popping it was a good idea, but I'm a total wimp when it comes to pain, even little pain. I have an 8 km run on Sunday though, so I'm going to have to do something. It's a small blister. I'll hope that it disappears overnight!

I ended up running for about 40 minutes, before cooling down and then stretching. I was already later than I'd planned to be, so I went to the complex gym instead of going into my apartment and stretched for 10 minutes. I knew that I'd skip the stretching or do a half-hearted job if I went straight home.

Because I was late, I ended up cabbing it to work. I had to wait ages for a cab because parliament is sitting. I'm going to have to take the sitting dates into consideration when I'm planning my exercise schedule! Mind you, I finish at work on Friday, so I'll have plenty of time for running over the next few weeks. At least until I find myself a job.

I was rung up about a possible job yesterday (I'm an IT contractor and find work through recruitment agents) and I was all excited about the location. It's the other side of the lake from where I live, so I could ride to work, and then go for a run around the lake at lunchtime. I ended up laughing at myself, as neither of those two considerations would have rated a thought in the job hunting process in the past. I'm definitely a changed woman.

Murali and I played squash this afternoon. As ever, we were evenly matched. It was great fun, but my legs were really tired. I guess I've been working them fairly hard this week.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Group Outdoor Fitness Challenge

The Group Outdoor Fitness Challenge is my latest "thing". It started today, down at Lennox Gardens, which is on Lake Burley Griffin behind the Hyatt Hotel for those people who know Canberra. It's an attractive spot, with many of the trees changing colour for autumn.

I headed off on the bike just before 6 am. I had my practice ride yesterday. What I'd forgotten to take into account is that I was 20 minutes earlier, which meant it was 20 minutes darker and 20 minutes colder. I discovered that the light on my bicycle is more useful if it illuminates the ground. I also discovered that my backside was sore from yesterday's foray into the world of bicycle riding.

I'm really glad I did the trip yesterday morning, because at least I knew where I was going today. It would have been much harder in the dark. I probably would have left earlier too, as I would have been worried about arriving late.

I still don't have the gears worked out, although I did ask a friend who cycles for some advice today. I was changing them completely the wrong way. This morning, my ineptness resulted in my chain coming off as I went across Commonwealth Bridge. I had no idea what to do to fix it, so I shrugged my shoulders and decided to walk the rest of the way. I had just started walking when a kind cyclist stopped to help me. While fixing it for me, she explained to me a quick and easy way to get the chain back on. I was on my way again in no time.

I arrived at Lennox Gardens with 5 mins to spare. Krissi and Brad were very professional, taking our blood pressure, getting us to fill in forms, going through the safety procedures, and explaining to us what it was we were in for. A warm up jog, a series of fitness tests, a cool down jog and it was time to go home.

I worked hard at the beep test, getting to level 3-2 but I didn't kill myself, knowing that I'd want a better result in four week's time. I was the third person out of this one. Pushups are something I keep telling myself I'm going to work on. I managed to get 26 done on my toes in 1 minute. I don't know how long I lasted on the plank. I've improved heaps on this, but there is still lots of room for improvement. We also did an agility test that wasn't too bad.

I had been quite nervous about the first session, but it wasn't tough at all. I don't know quite what to expect next time, but the group was pretty stoked to be there, and I think we'll all motivate each other. It was great to see so many of the girls from Team Black.

Unfortunately I won't be able to go next week, as I'll be in Queensland. At least I know to work on my pushups and plank while I'm gone, along with keeping up my running.

After the cool down, I headed off home on the bike. It was much easier today, although I didn't seem to get home any quicker. I still have to build up some confidence in myself when the bike is going downhill. Getting the gears sorted will also make a difference. Mind you, I was a lot more adventurous today with the gears.

AS will happen, when I got home there was excitement in the carpark. Some people in one of the upstairs apartments were having a lounge delivered via crane. I was gawking as I rode along the footpath, and managed to crash into the parking ticket machine. I didn't fall off the bike. It was more of a tip sideways and recover. I did manage to knock my handlebars out of alignment, but they have been straightened up.

I wore my HRM this morning, but forgot to turn it on. I'm definitely having a forgetful day today. When I got downstairs to my apartment, which is next door to the complex gym, I discovered I'd left my front door wide open. Fortunately, it looks as though all the people who used the gym during the two hours I as out are incredibly honest, as nothing was missing from my apartment. I think I was very lucky. I'll certainly make sure I close the door next time.

My backside has been hurting all day, so I am very glad I wore my cycling nicks this morning. I nearly didn't, on the grounds that I'd look like like a wuss removing them when I arrived at the challenge. Thank goodness comfort won the battle over pride.

I only know about half a dozen people in Canberra who ride bikes and I saw one of them this morning. I wasn't sure at the time, but he bailed me up at work to find out if he'd been imagining seeing me or not. It's such a small world.

Oh, my average cost per ride went down another $20 today. The bike will be affordable in no time.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Bike ride accomplished

I did it. I got on my bike this morning and rode down to Lennox Gardens, where tomorrow's group fitness challenge is happening. It took me 25 minutes to find my way there. I've forgotten how to use the gears, and I have to work on my stopping technique, but at least I know I can get there in less than half an hour.

It ended up being an ok workout. I am pretty sure that most of the calories I burned were due to fear rather than effort, but I'll take them however they come.

This evening I did the planned weight session and followed it up with a walk on the treadmill. I had been going to do pump, but I decided discretion was the better part of valour. I've no idea what to expect from the outdoor group fitness challenge tomorrow morning so I thought I'd better leave a few muscles in working order tonight.

I feel a lot better than I did yesterday. My eating is back under control, and I think I've learned some good lessons from the weekend. I even talked about it with some of my friends, something I never did in the past. Normally when people start giving me advice (everyone has food management advice - we're all such experts!) I just tune it out, but I did some listening today. I didn't hear anything that I hadn't heard before, but I also didn't hear the negative track that normally plays in my mind when people start telling me how to lose weight. That's got to be a step forward.

Onwards and upwards .. provided that I don't fall off the damn bike.

Oh, the average cost per ride for my bicycle fell $30 this morning! That's got to be a good thing.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Fell off the wagon - hard

I was watching a West Wing DVD today, and Leo, explaining why his alcoholism was a daily battle, said, "I don't want one drink. I want ten drinks!" Well, that about sums up my relationship with food this weekend.

The way I was eating over the weekend, you'd never know that I'd managed to lose 43 kg over the last two and half years or that I'd developed healthy eating habits. I was a mess. I wasn't hungry. I wasn't upset. I just wanted to eat.

Lately, when this has happened, I've fallen off the wagon for a few hours, but managed to get straight back on. Not this time. I feel like I've been on the equivalent of a bender. After a disastrous Friday night, followed by an out of control Saturday, I ended up making a conscious decision today that I was going to just go with the juggernaut. I ate so much!

Anyway, now that it's over I've decided that I won't make food diary entries for Saturday or Sunday. I'll use tomorrow, when I'm safely in my work routine, to get back on the wagon.

It's hard to explain why times like this occur. I just really really wanted to eat homemade nachos on Friday. The problem was that my off switch was broken and I finished off all the ingredients instead of having the single serve that I'd planned.

I don't really know why I'm bothering to blog all of this. It's not like anything anybody else says is going to make me feel any better, so I have turned comments off for this post. I guess part of me hopes that writing it down will make it easier to deal with next time. I'm sure there are plenty of you who have great advice. Normally I'd really appreciate it, but not this time.

I've been thinking back over the weekend, trying to think "what could I have done to stop this" and the answer is really "not have nachos". Part of the problem is that you can't buy just enough ingredients for a taste of nachos. The problem for me is really the cheese. In general, I have a cheese ban at my house. I used to buy cheese slices, on the basis that they were a measured portion. That worked for ages, but then I found myself eating whatever was left of the packet whenever I fell off the wagon. I think nachos are an excuse for me to eat cheese.

I started Saturday well, but I fell off the wagon when I ate a savoury shape biscuit. I thought I could keep it at a handful but the packet was there. I ate the lot. I have a real "must keep eating until the packet is empty" mentality. I think it stems back to my childhood in a large family where a packet of biscuits was a rare thing. If you didn't have a second one when it was offered you could be sure that it wouldn't be there later. I ought to be over it by now, but I'm not. Usually I manage to handle it, but I didn't do too well this time.

On Sunday, I just didn't have an off switch. I was continuing on from Friday and Saturday. I guess by Sunday it had become emotional eating, because I was so disappointed with myself on Friday and then again on Saturday.

I've been trying to pick the trigger and I think I know what it was. It will sound silly, because it was really a positive thing that started the whole crash. I'm leaving my job at the end of the week, and I wanted a copy of a security photo that was taken of me in January 2005. It's only my face, but I don't have photos from that time in my life.

The guy who sent me the photo printed an A4 size copy of it for me, and the difference in me is so dramatic. I was really proud that I'd come so far, but I was also ashamed of myself for letting myself get to be so overweight. My friend brought the printout out to the social club bbq and so I found myself put on the spot, having to show it to people straight away, which I hadn't expected. I pretended to be okay with the whole "old me / new me" but I wasn't. I continued showing the photo to people during the day. I guess I worked hard to suppress the "shame" but my subconscious certainly wasn't fooled. The cracks showed on Friday night when I bought enough nacho ingredients to sink a battleship.

On the exercise front, I went for a run on Saturday. Not the long run I'd planned, but it was a lovely day and I was running outside, which is something I'm growing to like more and more. Today I just went for a walk. I was feeling too miserable to get off my backside and do anything more active. I knew it would make me feel better but I think I was wallowing in my misery today.

Well, I've had my "junk food blowout" and I've wallowed in it long enough. I'll make sure I think of my motto lots over the next few days: "I am a fit and active person, who makes healthy lifestyle choices."

Exercise plans for the week to come:

Monday - bike ride in morning, weights session in evening
Tuesday - outdoor group fitness session in morning
Wednesday - run in morning, squash in evening
Thursday - outdoor group fitness session in morning, weights session in evening
Friday - run in morning, celebrate last day at work
Saturday - rest day
Sunday - Mothers Day classic run, fly to Queensland on holiday on afternoon

Friday, 4 May 2007

Double booked

You'd never know I was an organised person some days.

Today, I was all set to go to step. Then my alarm went off - today was the social club breakfast barbecue and I didn't have time to do the class. In fact, I didn't have time to go to the gym. I enjoyed my breakfast though. Later in the day I booked myself a game of tennis tomorrow, then realised I was already booked to do something else. I had to cancel the tennis.

Hmm, this is starting to sound like a good reason to buy myself a PDA. Mind you, I have trouble remembering to carry my mobile phone with me so I've no idea how I'd manage a PDA too. My mobile phone is pretty special too, with a qwerty keyboard, which makes adding calendar entries really easy. Seeing my phone has many of the functions of a PDA it makes it a little hard to justify buying one.

I went to the gym tonight and walked on the treadmill for half an hour, then went wandering around the shopping centre for another hour. Other than that, no significant exercise.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

The results of the challenge are in!

Tonight I had my final weigh in and measure for the Fernwood Biggest Loser Challenge. In 12 weeks I managed to lose 7.7 kg and 38 cm. Woohoo! I am really thrilled. I am more pleased about being able to run for 10 km, but losing weight and size is great too.

I have to be careful now that I don't let all my hard work go to waste. Fortunately, I've signed up for a Group Outdoor Fitness Challenge (not quite a boot camp), starting next week, and the Global Corporate Challenge (walking) starts in late May. They should keep me focussed.

I have been careful to give myself a rest week this week. I'm still planning what I'm going to do though. Mind you, my planned exercise hasn't been going to plan. Both my squash partners piked yesterday - one with a sick child and one with a sore calf. Both good reasons, so I bravely hid my disappointment (they'll laugh when they read that), cheerfully headed off to the gym and enthusiastically did my weights program.

Oops. I just did a rerun of last night at the gym in my head. I think I enthusiastically chatted to various people in the gym. In between conversations I managed to lift a few weights. I've worked out which exercise is making my knee hurt. It's the chicken! Thank goodness for that. I'll have a word with my p/t and hopefully there will be a lot less squawking going on.

This evening, I squeezed in a 10 minute run before the weigh in and then headed off to Hip Hop, the replacement class for Body Jam. Well, the Hip Hop class was terrible. The instructor can obviously dance, but was terrible at instructing. I ended up walking out during the warm up. I was bored by the moves. The instructor was showing us the steps but not saying anything, which meant that we were missing the first of a set of four reps. Basically, by the time you knew that you had got it, you were missing the next step.

I suddenly had some time on my hands, so I headed back to the treadmill and ran for another 30 mins before cooling down. I averaged about 8 km/hr across the whole time and covered 5.3 km.

I then went for a walk around the supermarket before heading home to work on my resume. Mind you, I've managed to avoid working on that successfully for the last two hours. I think it's becoming a weekend task.

I am hoping to drag myself out of bed and get to the gym by 6:15 am tomorrow as there's a step class. I quite enjoy step, so there's a chance I'll make it there.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Great run today

I did it. I managed to go for a run outside instead of heading to the gym and the treadmill. I wasn't sure how cold it would be and I'm always nervous about running before I start. The cold wasn't too bad and I'm sure I'll acclimatise. I was very comfortable in what I was wearing once I'd warmed up, which seemed to take about 10 minutes.

The nervousness before I run is something I'm battling. I think that I'm fighting against the old mental picture I have of myself, which is of the overweight, unfit woman who couldn't run across the road without becoming physically distressed. Even though I'm not that person any more my mind needs time to catch up.

I have had the same sort of problem realising that I am now a "fairly normal" size. I sometimes catch myself walking around obstacles instead of between them because I wouldn't have fit in the space a couple of years ago. In classes at the gym, I am starting to see that I'm not the biggest person in the room, so I am learning to love the mirrors.

Talking about mirrors, I remember that once I was looking at a house with my sister and sister-in-law. We were thinking of renting it. One of the rooms had a number of mirror tiles scattered on one wall. The girls thought the effect was awful. Me, I truly didn't see them. I was so used to avoiding catching site of myself in a mirror that I automatically looked away.

Back to the run. It was terrific. I was comfortable from the moment I started running. I headed off down to the bike path, and went left instead of right, because the lighting was better. I thought I'd end up at the lake, but I must have taken a wrong turn. I found myself at the university. I wandered around the campus a little then headed home. All up, I ran for 30 minutes without stopping, and I was well within myself the whole way. I felt great.

This evening, I headed off to trivia without having to dash into the gym for my 25 points. It seemed so much more relaxed. I had to be careful with my food intake today though, as my activity level was going to be lower than usual. I'm really pleased with myself, because I managed to hit my calorie target spot on and have ice cream for dessert.

Thanks for all the comments. It's great to get them. I'll catch up on my blog reading soon. I'm busy job hunting at the moment, so I've been dutifully responding to selection criteria.

By the way, it's great to see Andrew and Sara in Runner's World. You both look terrific. And I have fame by association!!