Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Pool running, weights and yoga

Today was a big exercise day, partly to make up for Monday. I think I had the exercise equivalent of 'analysis paralysis' yesterday. On the way home from work I was trying to decide between riding my bike, going for a run and heading to the gym to do weights. It all became too hard and I ended up doing nothing. Luckily I had made a pool running 'date' with Sally, which got me out of bed this morning.

It was chilly on the ride to the pool - the effect of daylight saving I guess. The water was colder too. I guess we'll acclimatise fairly soon. One benefit was that our lane was empty when we got there, so we were able to run beside each other and chat during the warm up. We did a ladder session today. It was a good workout.

After yesterday's effort, I decided to take my gym gear with me to work. I had time to do a weights session before yoga. I started off with lunges on the Smith machine. My left knee handled the 10 kg warm up, so I increased the weight to 15 kg for the second set. I was really pleased when I got through that set without any problems. My knee was a little tired but there was no pain at all.

I moved on to the leg extension machine. I didn't increase the weight as I've been trying to maintain control through the whole range of motion. My left leg was really shaking by the end of the second set. Hamstring curls on the fitball came next. I'm definitely getting the hang of these. I'm also managing to balance on the duradisc for longer.

For the chest press I started off with a warm up set of 15 reps at 10 kg, with fitball pushups in between then I increased the weight to 15 kg. I was able to squeeze out 10 reps on my own. I realised later that I forgot to do the second set of fitball pushups. I increased the weight for the biceps and triceps exercise, and I skipped the abs work as I was going to do the yoga class.

Tonight we mainly stretched. I found myself cramping a few times, which was irritating as it meant I had to come out of the poses. I have been drinking plenty of water so I think I must need some magnesium or potassium in my diet. I am seeing steady improvement in my flexibility which I'm really happy about.

All in all a good day's exercise.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Jaunt around the Tan

This morning I was dashing out the door at 7 am to pick up the nephews and niece. Fortunately for them, and for me, my sister was out watering the garden. She reminded me that I'd made arrangements to pick them up at 8:30 am because of the clocks going forward.

I started collecting kids at 8:25 am and I had the whole tribe rounded up by 8:50 am. They were all ready to go when I arrived, complete with smiling faces and water bottles. On the way into town one of the Andrews kindly filled the others in on the Anderson Street hill. We had a bit of a chat about what we'd do when we got there, as I was pretty sure the hill would be too much for one or two of the group. I told the kids that I really wanted to run all the way up the hill this time but that I didn't care how slowly I went up it, so they'd be able to walk it if they wanted to.

When we arrived at the Tan we warmed up on the other side of the street. This had a dual purpose. There were a lot of people on the Tan and we were a big group. I wanted to sort out the "who was running where" and "proper running etiquette" stuff where we had plenty of space. I also wanted to do a warm up with the kids while we headed back towards the start / finish point. Mind you, we missed the start / finish marker because of where we crossed the road. The kids were really keen to get started so we decided that the 3.5 km marker would do us.

I paired up the two Andrews (13 and 12) and let them go on ahead as long as they didn't go too far. They took this seriously the whole way around. It is lovely knowing that they will be so responsible. Michael (11) is not as tall as the other two but he is pretty running fit, so I was leaving it up to him where he wanted to run. Laura (13) is the tallest of the group but she doesn't consider herself to be running fit. She is a mad keen horse rider and netball player.

Michael and Laura started with me, then Laura ran on ahead to run with the Andrews. After a while she came back to us. She was finding the wind and dust difficult, as she has hayfever, so there were a few walking breaks. I kept jogging along with her instead of walking with her, as I'm trying to break my run / walk habit.

When we got to the hill, the two Andrews were waiting for us so they'd had a bit of a breather. They then ran on up the hill and waited for us at the top. I stayed back with Laura and Michael, and managed to run the whole way. It seemed incredibly easy at a slow jog. I was wondering how I'd have managed if I had been running faster, so I'm going to have to go back and try it at my normal running pace. Michael ran most of the way and Laura ran part of the way up the hill. We all enjoyed running down on the other side.

After the hill Michael teamed up with the two boys and Laura and I continued on behind them, catching up with them every once in a while when they stopped to wait for us. Laura developed a persistent stitch and pretty much walked the rest of the way. I rarely get them so I've no idea what to recommend. When we got to the 2.5 km marker, I gave the boys my Garmin so they could have a play with it and see how fast they were going. I'll be able to email them the details once I've downloaded the data in Canberra. They dashed off into the distance again, and a good time was had by all. When we were about 250 m from the end, I asked Laura if she wanted to run the last bit and she gave it a go. The thought crossed my mind that people seeing us run together would think that Laura was running slowly for my sake rather than the other way round, which I thought was amusing.

The boys came bouncing back towards us, to tell us how fast they'd been running and then took off into the distance again. Oh to have that energy!

After we finished we did a slow jog and a few stretches on the way back to the car. MacDonalds was our next port of call. We were too late for the breakfast menu but that didn't bother us. While we were there, I told them about the Olympic Dream fun run, and all four of them are keen to come along with me to do that.

JoJo, you're right about all the parents being pleased. They are all hoping we keep this up. There are four more nephews to come along with us. One of my sisters has just taken on another long term foster son. He's five, so it will be a while before he joins us. The others are just a little younger than the older four. When they want to come along I'm going to have to hire a bus! Either that, or we'll have to work out some good places to run closer to home, so that they can be dropped off.

Dad's offered to cook breakfast for the crew when I take them running. He's going to be overseas until Christmas but I'll definitely be taking him up on the offer when he's back home.

I am sitting here in my running gear, hoping the wind eases up later this afternoon, as I don't really feel as though I've had a run at all. The weather forecast says easing! I am hoping for some rain too, but it sounds as though there will only be brief showers.

I am starting to understand why people have training plans in place. I'm doing so many different activities that it's a struggle to balance them all to make sure I don't overwork any particular muscle groups. Fitting it all in is an issue too. I want to get my weights sessions back to 2-3 times a week, I want to do Body Attack and Body Balance, I want to ride to work at least twice a week, I want to run three times a week, I'd like to give Belly Dancing a go and I'm committed to pool running, Yoga and Personal Training. I'm going to need colour coded charts and heaps of organisation if I'm to achieve even half of that.

I guess if I had a specific goal in mind that might give my training some focus. Mind you, I'm enjoying myself so I guess it really doesn't matter.

Oh, I weighed myself again this weekend and my weight has crept up a little. I think it's time for me to go back to writing everything down again. In fact, that might be how I choose my activities - if I have a calorie based exercise goal (eg between 500 and 600 calories per day) then I could pick the activities to meet the goal. Something for me to think about on the plane this evening.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Personal Training and Rest Day

I had my usual PT session on Friday morning. As ever, it was a lot of fun. After a warmup on the treadmill Krissi started me off on the leg press. She had me doing those short presses, the ones where you do the bottom half of the press and then the top half of the press. They are real killers.

After that it was chest presses. I did the warm up set with 10 kg on the bar and then Krissi loaded it up to 20 kg. That was so heavy. I didn't make it the whole way through the second set. In fact, I was all set to give up at seven but Krissi pushed me to do a few more to get to the point of failure. She got me there last week, which was the first time I'd experienced the feeling. Again she was explaining how to spot and she gave me a taste of what it feels like. Mind you, Krissi was only pretending to fail.

I did the hamstring curls again. They are getting easier but I was struggling by the end of the second set. After that we did Krissi's super abs exercise, which is a combination of leg lifts from the bench and planks. I lasted the 30 seconds for the plank on the two sets but it was hard work. We followed the combo up with crunches, three sets of 10, vanilla followed by crunches with my legs in the air followed by alternately reaching forward with hands. Thank goodness my half hour was up by then. I stretched and then raced home. It was a good workout.

Today all I've done exercise wise is go for a brief walk. Tomorrow I'm taking my niece and three of my nephews out running. They are all really excited. I saw them all today at a family birthday party. The change over to daylight saving has them quite entertained. Normally we go at 7:30 am but there was a little anxiety about that really being 6:30 am (teenagers!) so we've put it back to 8:30 am. I didn't tell them, but I'm one of the people who really struggle with losing an hour's sleep, so I'm quite happy with the new arrangement.

Personal Training and Rest Day

I had my usual PT session on Friday morning. As ever, it was a lot of fun. After a warmup on the treadmill Krissi started me off on the leg press. She had me doing those short presses, the ones where you do the bottom half of the press and then the top half of the press. They are real killers.

After that it was chest presses. I did the warm up set with 10 kg on the bar and then Krissi loaded it up to 20 kg. That was so heavy. I didn't make it the whole way through the second set. In fact, I was all set to give up at seven but Krissi pushed me to do a few more to get to the point of failure. She got me there last week, which was the first time I'd experienced the feeling. Again she was explaining how to spot and she gave me a taste of what it feels like. Mind you, Krissi was only pretending to fail.

I did the hamstring curls again. They are getting easier but I was struggling by the end of the second set. After that we did Krissi's super abs exercise, which is a combination of leg lifts from the bench and planks. I lasted the 30 seconds for the plank on the two sets but it was hard work. We followed the combo up with crunches, three sets of 10, vanilla followed by crunches with my legs in the air followed by alternately reaching forward with hands. Thank goodness my half hour was up by then. I stretched and then raced home. It was a good workout.

Today all I've done exercise wise is go for a brief walk. Tomorrow I'm taking my niece and three of my nephews out running. They are all really excited. I saw them all today at a family birthday party. The change over to daylight saving has them quite entertained. Normally we go at 7:30 am but there was a little anxiety about that really being 6:30 am (teenagers!) so we've put it back to 8:30 am. I didn't tell them, but I'm one of the people who really struggle with losing an hour's sleep, so I'm quite happy with the new arrangement.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Pool running and belly dancing

I made it to the pool today. It was just starting to rain when I got outside. Of course, it got heavier as I rode down to the pool, but I was really enjoying being in the rain for a change. I figured it didn't matter if I got wet on the way to the pool.

Today was the first time I'd ridden my bike since I got it serviced. The ride was smooth as silk. That may have had something to do with the fact that the tyres were much more pumped up than when I do it. I'm getting oil on myself when I go near the bike though. I'm hoping that won't last for long.

Today's session was a series of 2:30 hard, 0:30 easy, with a warm up and cool down. We cut it short because Sally had to get to work earlier than usual. I'm feeling the effort in my legs though. It amazes me that I can be sore from pool running, but sore I am. Just sore enough to be feeling the workout.

Mind you, I'm even more amazed to discover that belly dancing hurt! Clearly I don't use my muscles in quite the same way as I do when belly dancing. Holding my arms up in the air was a real effort after a while too. I can see that this class is going to be a useful addition to my weekly routine.

I got the giggles a few times. I struggled with the hip movements when walking forwards or backwards. I couldn't manage the shoulder shimmy while I was using my feet. I kept lifting my feet off the floor when I was meant to be keeping them still. I can see that there's going to be a lot to learn.

I was amused to find out there are accessories! It seems that everything I decide to try requires me to spend money. Well, provides me with an opportunity to spend money. I want one of those triangular pieces of material with silver coins all over it. I also need lots of bangles. This is going to be fun.

On a more serious note

One of the fabulous group of women in our running group has been diagnosed with breast cancer. We're all still in shock but the Team Black Women are rallying together to support her through this difficult time. I urge all you women out there to check for lumps. Do it now!

Absolutely Fabulous

Kathryn gave me a fabulous award. I feel really honoured.

Now for the difficult bit - choosing five bloggers to pass it on to. I was going to check to make sure that I didn't double up, but then I realised that it would be cool to be nominated more than once. :-)

Celeste - I discovered blogging through a link to Celeste's blog on the Runner's World Forum. Celeste's enthusiasm encouraged me to start my own blog. I'm enjoying seeing that familiar sparkle as Celeste is able to run again after injury.

Em - Em's hard work and dedication during her recovery from stress fractures and her sensible and successful return to running has been inspirational.

Isabelle - I often check out the links on people's blogs and I came across Isabelle that way. I love her stories, her way with words, her beautiful garden and her kitten photos.

Angela - I love the way Warrior Woman slogs it out. I am sure I would never have thought of running to work if WW hadn't written about her running commutes.

Stopping here is really difficult. So many of you inspire me. Others entertain and amuse. To all those people in the list of blogs I'm reading, I love visiting you to see how you're going. Thank you.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007


Don't laugh. I missed pool running today because I couldn't find my house keys.

Seriously, don't laugh.

Ever since I locked myself out of the apartment I am really careful about making sure I have my building pass and my keys before I head anywhere on the bike. Today, the pass was in its usual place, on the kitchen bench, but the keys were nowhere to be found. I looked everywhere, including going through the rubbish in case I'd knocked them into the bin. I went through all the various places I might have put them, searching my handbag, my backpack, the bedroom, the bathroom, the laundy and the fridge. Yes, searching the fridge was a little desperate. Finally, I found them. On the kitchen bench. Where they were supposed to be.

Ok, you can laugh.

Someone had covered them with a teatowel. That same someone had been so sure that the teatowel hadn't been moved (it appeared to be lying flat on the bench, where it had been ever since it had been used as a heat proof mat on Friday night) that she never looked under it even though she'd moved just about everything else within a two metre radius.

I decided that riding to work would be a good way to make up for my missed exercise session, but I realised that I'd be leaving my bike at work for a couple of days before I could ride it home again. Now my bike would probably be perfectly safe there, but I'm not quite ready to take that chance. I was offsite at a workshop this afternoon and I'm in Melbourne tomorrow, so I figured that riding would have to wait until later in the week.

I then planned to go to the gym early before yoga. Normally I go home to change before yoga, but I carted my gym gear with me today. It wasn't until I was on my way home that I remembered that I needed my yoga mat. I trekked home and checked my email before walking back to the gym. I'm glad I did as there was an invitation to birthday drinks waiting for me. I decided that was more important than half an hour on a cardio machine so I promptly headed off to drinks. :-)

Of course I stayed longer at drinks than I originally planned, so I had to rush to the gym. After a quick detour to buy an OzLotto ticket, I made it to yoga with seconds to spare. I'm so glad the class before has a tendency to run late. I'd hate to miss out on my chance to be a multimillionaire, however infinitesimal it may be!

Yoga was as enjoyable as ever. I'm so bad at it, but I can see steady progress. One advantage of having lots of room for improvement is that there's lots of room for improvement. An added incentive for persisting with Yoga is that I know the stretches are good for my running.

The Fernwood gym I go to has been sold to a franchisor so there will be a few changes. The gym is being renovated and we're supposed to be getting more classes. While I'm really pleased to hear about the extra classes I'm hoping that doesn't mean that we'll lose the yoga class. I'm also hoping that there's not a dramatic turnover of staff. I've heard mixed reports about the new owners. They already have two other Fernwood gyms in Canberra. I guess time will tell.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Weights session

It's been a month since I did my weights program! Even though I knew I'd been doing other activities I was still surprised to see that it had been so long. My PT sessions have been weights sessions, but once a week really isn't enough. My left knee is evidence of that. I've been reluctant to do Body Attack lately as I've known, deep down, that my knee wasn't really up to the impact. Anyway, I'm back on track now. I'll get myself to the gym and throw those weights around.

I was surprised to see how many people were at the gym when I got there tonight. It felt a bit like I was the new person, as there were a lot of people there that I didn't know. I dug my program out of the filing cabinet and dusted off the cobwebs. Krissi had written the warm up on the card, so I did 10 mins on the treadmill before getting started. Usually I just count my walk to the gym as the warm up but I've realised lately that it doesn't take me anything close to 10 mins to get there any more.

I did the lunges on the Smith machine, but I kept the weight at 10 kg instead of increasing it for the second set. My knee didn't hurt as much as it did on Friday morning but it was definitely letting me know that it was still a little sore. I followed the lunges up with single leg extensions, hamstring curls and balancing on the duradisk. Chest presses were mixed with fitball push ups, then I did bicep curls, triceps dips and some abs work. I then made sure I did plenty of stretching. I definitely stretch better when I'm at the gym than I do when I'm home.

Tomorrow morning I'm off to the pool to run with Sally, and in the evening I've got Yoga. Wednesday is a write off as far as exercise is concerned, as I'm travelling to Melbourne for some meetings. I guess I can exercise my willpower in the Qantas Club by making sure I don't go overboard on the cheese and crackers.

Here are a few photos from the dragon boating yesterday.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Dragon Boating

Today was the Dragons Abreast Corporate Regatta, at Commonwealth Place on Lake Burley Griffin. Our team, from Fernwood Canberra City, was competing in the women's division against five other teams. Most of us had managed to get along to at least one of the two training sessions so we were expecting to have a good time. The weather forecast was for a sunny day, and we had organised all the important details like lunch and pink cowboy hats. We were ready to rock.

There were 31 teams on the day, most of whom were competing in the corporate races. As well as the women's division there was a medical division. A group of school teams provided some entertainment while teams were arriving and setting themselves up. The corporate teams tended to have matching t-shirts. We'd gone for a pink theme with our pink cowboy hats giving us a uniform appearance. I wore my new Nike running top but a number of the girls had bought matching t-shirts with the pink breast cancer logo on them. The medical teams were a hoot and a number of other teams had made an effort to dress up. The radiologists were in yellow with a radiation warning symbol on their chests. Another team were wearing scrub caps, there were pink wigs and tutus and some rather flamboyant pirates.

The regatta was incredibly well organised. You could tell the Canberra Dragon Boat Association has done this many times before. There were lots of volunteers to help us. They had a system for getting teams on and off the boats quickly and safely. We literally stepped off the dock into the boat without anybody getting wet. Of course, that didn't last for long.

We headed off for our first race feeling quite confident as we'd done so well at training. Well, racing is a whole different matter, and we were quite disappointed when we finished. We came third, but it wasn't our placing that was the problem. It was the absolute shemozzle we were in, with paddles clashing and heaps of water ending up in the boat. When we weren't racing we were fine.

As for my race, I was sitting much further back in the boat than I had during training. I wasn't been able to see the stroke, so I was trying to work out when to paddle by watching the people in front of me - apparently that's fatal. There was so much going on, with the sweep yelling time, the girls up the front yelling a different time and the drum not matching anybody. I could also see the boat that started beside us well out in front. I clashed paddles with the girls in front of me and behind me. I also managed to wear quite a lot of water. When the race started it took me by surprise and it was all over really quickly.

There was some rethinking back at base camp. We had the typical footy first quarter huddle, with our sweep giving us a pep talk and telling us where we'd gone wrong. He was really encouraging but we were a disheartened group. At this stage I don't think anybody knew where we had come. We'd all been too disappointed in our performance to find out. After the team huddle, we put out the first lot of food - mainly healthy fruit and cheese and biscuits - and settled down to enjoy the atmosphere. There was so much colour and movement all around us and the day was glorious. Some reshuffling of the boat occurred to move the less experienced paddlers to the back, so I quickly took advantage of it and volunteered to go up the front. I had no idea if I was any better than they were but I knew I'd be happier up where I could see the strokes.

When we were due to go up for the second time, people were all over the place. Even though a few people mentioned that it was time to go, nobody seemed to want to move. I was on my feet, ready to go, but I realised it would be better to stay with the main group than to go off on my own. One of the volunteers came to collect us. Even when we were down at the edge of the lake there was a complete lack of focus from the team. I was fairly sure from the body language around me that we'd have another bad race. I decided that I wasn't going to let that ruin my day, so I made sure I looked around and soaked in the beauty of my surroundings.

We did have a shocking race. We started much better than the time before but we managed to completely lose it in the middle of the race and we came in last by a long way. I had a better race in my new position but I still managed to clash paddles a few times. I didn't really know what to do about it. For a few strokes I'd be perfectly in time with the stroke and the girl in front of me and then there'd be a clash. I don't know if it was me or the girl in front of me or the girl behind me, but it was awful when it happened. I'd get myself sorted out and then it would happen again. At least I wasn't quite as soaked this time.

There was a demonstration race by the real dragon boaters after this, so we stayed on the edge of the lake to watch it. We had a brief huddle with our sweep but he had to dash off for this race. I was secretly relieved as I don't think there was much he could say to encourage us after that race. It was fabulous watching those teams race. I paid particular attention to the way they moved their paddles. It looked so smooth and efficient. The team that won didn't look as though they were rushing at all. They'd just come back from winning gold at the Australasian Masters Games in Adelaide last weekend, so they were in terrific form.

Some of us enjoyed an early lunch. We'd all brought something to share and there was lots of choice. It was quite relaxing sitting there. I think people stopped worrying about how badly we were paddling and settled in to have a good time.

We were a different team when we went up for our third race. There was a little more shuffling of people. I ended up on my favourite side of the boat this time. Well, it's the side I've practised on which made it seem a lot easier to me. When we were waiting to approach the boat I looked around at the scene again and tried to absorb it. I found myself thinking of some of the advice in the Chi Running book about using the Chi of the surroundings to help you, so I concentrated on attracting the local chi to myself.

We came third in this race too but we were much closer this time. The drummer was in time with the strokes, which made a huge difference. For most of the race we were coming second but some of the girls got a little carried away towards the end of the race and lost their timing. There was so much yelling going on from behind me. It was really exciting. I think our sweep thought it was a typical rookie mistake, as he made a remark about the middle of the boat celebrating before we crossed the line. Our team captain, who was quite competitive throughout, was absolutely delighted with how well we did in that race. She was generous with her praise for the team. I don't know her very well and I hadn't really expected that from her. I was quite impressed to see it.

Immediately after our race there was a Flowers on the Water ceremony for Angels Abreast - Dragons Abreast members who have passed away. It was a lovely ceremony, incredibly heartfelt and moving. Instead of going back to base camp I stayed down at the lakeside to watch it. Someone gave me some petals to throw on the water after the ladies in the boats had completed their ceremony. They took three boats out onto the water, joined them together like a raft, then held their paddles up in the air to start a minute's silence in memory of the Angels Abreast. They then threw rose petals onto the water and came back in to a paddle guard of honour.

We then sat around while the others had lunch, gathered up our stuff, watched the final and then headed home. All in all it was a lovely way to spend the day.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Personal Training and Black Mountain run

On Friday morning I had my usual personal training session. I was a bit stiff and sore from Thursday and my left knee was feeling the strain. After the warm up I started off with lunges using the Smith machine and my poor old knee let me know that it had done more than its share for the week. I was carefully paying attention to it as I completed one set of lunges with 10 kg on the bar. Krissi swapped me over to squats with 20 kg on the bar for my second set. Instead of hurting me, my knee was just reminding me that it was there, which was a relief. After all, one of my running goals is to run injury free.

I tend to think of my left knee as an early warning system rather than as an injury. When it's really tired I know to be careful, and when it hurts me I know to back off. When I got to work later in the day I was really tempted to take the lift but I've learned that stairs are an excellent way for me to know whether or not my knees are in trouble. This Friday there was a little pain but it was pretty mild compared to the way they used to hurt me when I first started at the gym so I knew that I hadn't done any damage.

After the lunges / squats we headed over to do some hamstring curls on the fitball. This exercise looks really easy but it sure does require some effort. I did two sets of 10 reps. Half way through the first one Krissi had me concentrating on lifting up as my legs pulled the ball towards me, which made the exercise much harder. Hopefully that's really good news for my butt as well as my hamstrings.

We then moved back to the Smith machine for chest presses. Krissi showed me an easier way to get onto the bench. I'd always sat on the end and then ducked my head under the bar as I laid down backwards. Kriss showed me that if I started at the other end of the bench and moved my body under the bar that I wouldn't be worrying about banging my head. So simple and so much easier! I started off with the 10 kg warm up set of 12 reps, then we added 5 kg to the bar. That really tested me. I finished the second set and started to head off to whatever was next, but Krissi called me back for a third set. She could see that she'd almost had me to failure in the second set and wanted to see if I could manage a third. I made it to 10 just and failed half way on the 11th. Kriss was spotting me and was explaining to me how to do it for someone else. I love all this info she shares. I also think she'll teach me how to spot for someone else, which would be a useful thing to learn.

To finish off I did a set of 10 assisted chinups. It's ages since I clambered up onto the chinup machine. The first time I ever got on it was an absolute hoot, involving all sorts of giggling accompanied by some screaming when I started to climb off too early and my trainer, Sarah, had to jump up with me to stop the weights crashing down. At least I know what I'm doing now. We only had time for the one set of 10 at approx 10 kg. To my pleasure I managed to get them all done.

After that Krissi stretched out my legs for me. It was such a good feeling. I managed to climb up the stairs when I was leaving the gym without my knee hurting too.

I didn't do any exercise in the evening as I had some friends over for dinner. We had a lovely time, even if I did nearly burn the house down. (Well, not really but the smoke alarm was going crazy - all I did was heat the oven with my new silicone baking sheet on a tray - oven 1 silicone baking sheet 0).

This morning I went with my friend Alex to Black Mountain. She had a crazy idea that she wanted to run up the mountain. Now Alex doesn't jog but she has been doing an intense exercise program for quite a while now and sounded sure that she could do it. She'd walked me up that mountain in 22:40 back in September. I told her I'd tag along with her for as long as I could.

I was keen to do the mountain walk again, as I hadn't really believed the distance on the sign the last time. I was wearing my Garmin this time and straight away I knew that I'd been right to doubt. It seems the distance on the sign at the bottom is for the whole journey, up and back, not just the journey in one direction. It was 1.2 km from the place we started running to the top of the mountain. The net increase in elevation was 174 metres.

I'd told Krissi what we had planned and she gave me some advice about running up steep hills. She told me not to stick my bum out, and explained why I should aim to keep as upright as possible. She also recommended small steps and suggested I try to add some spring. I shared all this with Alex. I managed to think about springing for all of 20 m. Fortunately I was able to concentrate on staying upright for much longer and I kept my steps smaller than usual.

When we started off I was going to let Alex lead but she was taking much smaller steps than me and I just didn't have the patience to stay back with her. I was about 20 m ahead of her when I remembered that she'd forgotten to bring any water with her, so I waited for her and handed over one of the bottles from my fuel belt. (Yep, the fuel belt I couldn't find the other day was in a safe place.) I then told her I'd try to run for as long as I could and went on ahead.

I managed to run for about 800 m or just over 11 minutes before I chose to walk. I was about 753 m up. As I got closer to the top there was a bit of a downhill before the last rise, so I ran that section (about 2 minutes) and then managed to run up most of the last rise until a flight of about a dozen stairs. I got to the top in 17:51, which was an improvement of nearly five minutes. I was delighted.

I caught my breath and then headed back down towards Alex. She was only a few minutes behind me. We headed back up to the top and had a 5 minute breather. I did some stretching and then we did the easy section. It took me 17:07 to get back downhill. I'm still a bit nervous going down and I was watching out for my knee as well, so I took it pretty carefully. I did run one small section of the downhill as I was losing Alex. She was much more confident than me going downhill. After getting to the top before her, I didn't want to be miles behind her when we got back to the bottom.

We then walked back out to the car. The walk in and out from the car was about 3.5 km and started at 580 m elevation. The top of the walk was 816 m. According to my Garmin we ascended approx 340 m for a net gain of 236 m. Oh, and my Garmin went crazy up at the top of the hill, probably due to proximity to the Telstra Tower, so all those figures could be wrong.

I think I'm in danger of becoming addicted to all these stats! Seriously, it is fun to be keeping track of stuff like elevation, but once you've measured it you know what it is. Which is kind of handy, as Alex and I are planning to do this again to see how much we've improved.

We did see a couple of serious runners out there, running up the mountain. They sure were motoring along. At the moment I can't imagine being like them, but a few years ago I would never have imagined that I'd be able to walk up the trail, let alone run up it. I felt terrific after we finished and so did Alex. We think we rock!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Pool running and real running

I met Sally at the pool this morning. It wasn't quite the struggle that Tuesday morning was. Thank goodness I'm meeting her though, as I think I could have easily rolled over and ignored the alarm today.

For the first time I really felt that I was making an effort while we were in the pool. I have been feeling the effects afterwards thank goodness or I'd be wondering why I was going. The first few times I wanted to curl up for a nap in the afternoon. I'm not that bad now, thank goodness. It might be a little hard to explain at work.

Today's session was a 5 min warm up, 7 reps of 2:30 hard followed by 30 easy, then a 5 min cool down. About half way through I was puffing and panting. I think that's a good sign that I'm doing the "hard" sessions properly.

Because I was dropping Art in at the bike shop this morning I packed my running gear for the trip home. I had everything except socks. Fortunately, as I was about to give up on getting changed and head off to catch the bus, I remembered that I had a pair stashed away in the cupboard.

I didn't turn the Garmin on until I left the building. It took a little while to locate the satellites but I headed off running anyway. I decided to go cross-country instead of down the road for the first part of the run. It was much more pleasant that running along the side of a busy road. I saw lots of rabbits, the odd kangaroo and quite a few lorikeets. I reached the cross road and headed up to the main road instead of continuing cross country, as I wasn't sure which way the path would take me and I had to be at the bike shop before it closed.

I realised about then that I hadn't changed my Garmin from Cycling to Running so I switched it over. I then forgot to turn it off in the bike shop, so I really have no idea how long the run took. I've tried to work it out, but I'm guessing. It looks as though I travelled about 4.25 km in 30 minutes, which is a little over 7 min/km. I stopped a few times to drink some water and I had to wait for traffic a couple of times. I took a few mini walking breaks too but I ran most of the way. At one stage in the middle of the run I thought I was done but I managed to run most of the way after that. Mind you, I'd already come over the big hill by then.

When I got to the bike shop to pick Art up (yes, it's sticking Celeste) the staff were all commenting on the fact that I'd been running. I'm sure my pink face and heaving breath was a dead give away. I hadn't realised, but will know for the future, that I should take a towel with me if I'm going to shop on the way when I'm running. While I was paying the bill I started to drip with sweat.

I had a rack put on the bike and bought some panniers. When I took the bike outside, I couldn't get my leg over it at first. I'd forgotten that the rack and panniers would take up space. Fortunately, I managed to get on the bike. It would have been too embarrassing for words to have to take the bike back to get them removed.

I'm thinking about going to the pool for a swim before personal training in the morning. I guess it will depend on how early I manage to get myself going. At least I'm thinking about it.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

National ride to Work Day

I made sure that I was riding to work today. My sister headed off to work after telling me how good I looked in my cycling gear. It's great to hear what other people think. When I look at myself I see all the lumps and bumps so I think I look ridiculous. Janet sees the transformation from the old me who wouldn't have been able to ride a bike to the new me who looks forward to the challenge.

It was a bit chilly today. I was wearing one of my tops but it was covered up under a couple of layers of warmer clothes. I'm clearly feeling more confident as I rode on the street instead of the footpath from my place to Limestone Avenue. Once I was near serious traffic I went back to the safety of the footpath until I was behind the War Memorial.

I was puffing and panting my way up the hills. I discovered from my Garmin that I start out at an elevation of 582 m and that I go up to 629 m in 3.4 km before descending to 596 m in another 1.5 km. The fastest I went on the way to work was 26 km/h and I reached 30 km/h on the way home. Clearly they were downhill. Most of the time I'm riding at about 10 km/h. Now that I know all that I can work on going a bit faster. When I'm warmed up (legs and confidence) I ride at about 19 km/h. Oh, and I was wearing my Garmin in the lift. I rock in the lift!

I enjoyed the ride in both directions. I like the feeling of achievement when I manage to tough it out up the hills. I also like not being tied to the bus timetable. I'm glad there aren't other people around as I certainly am puffing my way up the hills. I'm looking forward to the time that I can do the hills comfortably.

It's funny - I don't really enjoy cycle class in the gym, but put me outside with a destination and it's a whole different ball game.

Tomorrow I have my bike booked in for maintenance. I have no idea what to do about oiling the chain or checking the gears etc etc so I am entrusting my baby to the local bike shop. I'm going to take my running gear to work with me tomorrow and see what the weather's like when it's time to head home. I was riding along today thinking about running those hills so i figure I may as well try them out.

I still have no idea what to call my Garmin. For that matter, I don't have a name for the bike either. I guess as the bike was loungeroom art for so long I should probably call it Art.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Pool Running

This morning I really struggled to get going, which isn't like me. I've been thinking about why this was the case, and I have put it down to two things - I ate way too many carbs way too late in the day and I didn't go to bed early enough. Since I've developed the habit of eating a relatively healthy diet I find that I really notice the effect of "bad" days. I figure that's a good thing. I just have to start paying more attention to it when I'm in the "eat everything in sight and then look for more" mood.

Anyway, I refused to give in to lethargy, especially as I'd arranged to meet Sally, so I dragged myself out of bed and into my bathers. By the time I'd put my cycling gear on over the top I was feeling a lot better. When I got outside and realised that it was a beautiful morning I was really pleased that I'd made the effort.

I wasn't the only one struggling this morning. Sally was half awake when she arrived at the pool. It just goes to show how sensible it is to have an exercise buddy.

The session we did today involved a 5 min warmup, 2 sets of 6 x 1:30 hard/30 easy with a 2 min easy break in the middle, followed by a 5 min cooldown. I'm pretty sure that our 1:30 / 30 was all over the place but we were in the pool for the required time and we were both had tired legs riding home. I did notice today that I wasn't as exhausted in the afternoon, so I think I'm starting to adjust to this new form of exercise.

Sally will get the results of her bone scan on Thursday. I'm hoping that the news is as good as is possible for her. I can see that pool running is a different experience for me than it is for her, as I'm choosing to do it rather than feeling that I'm being forced to do it. Still, she's out there working to maintain her fitness while managing her injuries, which really impresses me.

One of my sisters is in Canberra for work and she's staying with me tonight, which is lovely for me. I've been looking forward to seeing her all day. We had dinner at Sammy's Kitchen, which is a fabulous Chinese restaurant in Civic and we're now idly chatting while watching TV and blogging.

Tomorrow is National Ride to Work day, so I'll be heading off to work on the bicycle. Now all I need to do is work out which of my two new tops to wear. At least I have them neatly hanging in my wardrobe as per Style Consultant guidelines!

Monday, 15 October 2007

Girl Talk

This post has nothing to do with running or exercise. Instead, it's about my style consultation. I promised SC that I'd write her a testimonial so I'd better get my act into gear. Here goes ....

Today I looked great. I am able to say that with confidence because of my recent wardrobe makeover with Samantha of "Show Me The Style".

I've worn the clothes I had on today many times in the past but I can honestly say that I've never felt as good in them before. The transformation in my self-confidence is amazing. I walked out the door this morning knowing that I looked terrific.

The first and most important thing that I learned from Samantha was to dress for my shape. After losing 40 kg and toning up considerably at the gym, I had to relearn what suited me. Samantha showed me that choosing clothes that were the right style, colour and length for my body would help me to look good in all situations.

The wardrobe makeover involved three sessions. At the first one we went through my wardrobe together, getting rid of a few disaster items and sorting my clothes into groups. Samantha explained to me why certain styles worked better for me than others. I started to understand what it was about some of my favourite clothes that made me love them and why I avoided wearing other outfits. An added bonus was that my wardrobe was organised in such a way that I am able to quickly see what's there and decide what I'm going to wear each day.

During this session I learned to look at my clothes differently. Samantha helped me to see that the blouse I wore today would look fabulous with my olive suit. I discovered that wearing the matching belt, which I usually left in the cupboard, would emphasise my waistline. Samantha suggested that simple accessories such as earrings would make a huge difference as well. By the end of the session, even though I hadn't spent a cent on new clothes, I felt as though I'd gained several new outfits.

After reviewing my wardrobe and finding out more about my lifestyle, Samantha came up with a recommended shopping list for me. It included a mix of casual and business clothes, underwear, makeup, shoes and accessories. I worked out a budget and we went shopping. Shopping with Samantha was a relevation. To my amazement, even though we bought everything on the list, I spent less than half my budget.

It was a fabulous fun-filled three hours. I was amazed at how quickly we were able to find the clothes and accessories we wanted. Knowing what to look for saved so much time. Samantha kept me focussed on the list, giving me lots of additional information. I've since used her advice when shopping on my own.

With Samantha's encouragement I've learned to venture out in fashionable high heels instead of wearing flat granny shoes. I've rediscovered jewellery and am learning to wear makeup again. As fabulous outfits start with good foundations I now wear a flattering waist shaper that makes such a difference to the way my clothes sit.

After the shopping expedition Samantha helped me to integrate my new clothes with my existing wardrobe. She also showed me how to apply my makeup and then I got to dress up in various outfits. It was such fun!

Before the style consultation I would spend ages trying to work out what to wear and I would often feel frustrated because I felt as though things weren't quite right. Now, I make up my mind in a matter of minutes. I love getting dressed in the mornings!

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Spring into Shape 2

This morning I ran the second of the Spring into Shape series of 8 km runs. I had a fantastic time today. The weather was great, I briefly met some of my fellow bloggers, and I really enjoyed my run. My Dad came with me to "hold my bag". This is the third run he's come along to, so I'm starting to believe him when he says he enjoys being there.

There was a much bigger crowd this time. I guess that the improved weather has more people out and about. Many of the people there were carrying their blue bag and were wearing their green t-shirt from the first race. It never even occurred to me to bring them down from Canberra. I can see that I'll have to learn this "runner's cred" thing. Or not, of course. As for me, I was stylishly dressed in my skins, running skirt and new pink Nike t-shirt. My Style Consultant would have been proud of me!

I have two pairs of running shoes, so of course I forgot my favourite pair. The other pair is fine, but I managed to get a blister today because they have a smidgeon of arch support. I haven't had a blister since I first wore them on a 10 km run. Mind you, I don't actually need the arch support, so it's not surprising that it causes me trouble after I've been running for 5 kms. I remember being dubious about the advantage of the arch support in a pair of neutral running shoes, but I was in a "let's give it a go and see" mood when I bought them. At least now I know.

(Probably too much information for the guys warning.)

Speaking of chafing, I took some advice Celeste gave Kathryn regarding wearing her skins commando under her running skirt. Now that I'm in the position of having eagle-eyed hindsight, I should have tested this beforehand. Yes, I have some tender spots at the moment. Mind you, I like the effect of the skirt over the skins, so I will have to come up with a way to solve this problem.

(Safe to proceed now guys.)

We arrived a little earlier at the venue this time, so I was looking forward to seeing people finish the 4 km. I didn't manage it though, because of the long line of people waiting to go to the loo. I headed off to the nearby public toilets instead of joining the queue. When I got back I couldn't find Dad to give him my stuff. He'd gone off for a short walk. We found each other after the aerobics. He headed off for another walk, and I ambled over to the start. As I'm not at all fast I am quite happy to start near the back. I knew to stay on the path instead of over to the side this time. While I was waiting I spotted Andrew, so I dashed over to say hello to him. Lee was also there. It was lovely to see them both. Lee was running the 8 km too. She wasn't that far ahead of me in the crowd, but I never saw her again during the run. I looked out for her a few times but she must have gotten well away from me early on in the piece.

I headed back into the crowd and waited for the start. I was kicking myself because I hadn't taken the opportunity to congratulate Andrew in person on successfully completing his first marathon. It was lovely to hear Andrew yell out an encouraging "Go Kathy" as I headed across the line.

The start went quite well. I'd managed to get myself behind quite a few walkers, but it was pretty easy to navigate my way past them. I thought the witches hats on the low bollards before we crossed over to the river path were a good idea. I still wince when I think of the poor girl Sara told us about in her Run to the G race report.

I was trying hard to run a bit slower for the 1st km than I did last time, but I didn't manage it. I'll have the actual times when I upload the data from my Garmin, but I think I was about 10 seconds faster than last time. I didn't feel that I was running fast though. As we got closer to the bridge I realised that it was feeling easier than last time. All that pool running must be paying off. I managed to reach the 2 km mark in almost exactly the same time as last time which was great, especially as I didn't feel the need to immediately start run/walking when I got there. In fact, apart from walking through the water stations I ran the whole way! I'm so pleased about that.

I remember really struggling during the 3rd km last time. In fact, I wasn't enjoying myself at all. This time it was a different story. I'm so glad I booked in to do the whole series as it's giving me a fun way to see how I'm progressing.

I didn't really have a specific goal for the run. I was hoping to get around in 56 mins but I wasn't putting any pressure on myself to attain that time. My last few runs have been slower than this, so I told Dad I thought I'd be back in an hour.

On the way around I thought about how Krissi wanted me to try not to walk, so I decided to see how far I could get before I succumbed to my usual running pattern. I was using the "see if you can get this far" self-talk approach, which seemed to be working. I aimed to get to the bridge, then across it and down the other side, then to the 2 km mark, then to the first drink station, then to the 3 km mark, then to Flinders Street, then to the next drink station. I told myself 4 km would be enough, then that 5 km would be great, then that 6 km would do. After the 6 km mark I felt I was so close to the end that I didn't feel any urge to stop again.

I walked the water stations because I haven't really mastered the art of not spilling the water if I try to drink and run. Also, I know I'd run past the bins before I finished having my tiny sips of water and I want to be socially responsible and avoid tossing my cup on the ground. I may not have had a proper goal for the run, but I worked out a plan for the water stations. I ran to the far end of the table to pick up my water and then walked to the furthest bin before running again. I could see what Krissi meant about how hard it was for people to start running again after stopping, as I kept seeing people ahead of me who took a while to get going after they stopped for a drink.

As I was running I was thinking about the difference between me running my "long" runs and Andrew doing his first marathon. When I run 8 or 10 km, even though it's as far as I run, I know that I can do it, even if I have to walk part of the way. I realised that Andrew didn't actually know that until he did it the other day. I'd already been impressed by his efforts and the efforts of the other runners whose marathon reports I've been reading. It certainly gave me a new perspective on the size of the achievement.

Other interesting things that happened during the run included seeing Andrew again at the half way point and, just as I was going past the cones leading to the finish line, being passed by the winner of the 8 km event. He made it around in 27:42. It took me 55:36, which is a little over twice as long, but it was a little over a minute faster than last time too, which is great. I'll be interested to see if I can improve some more before the final Spring into Shape event in November.

This afternoon I went and bought myself some cycling gear, two tops and another pair of cycling shorts. I went for a fluoro yellow top and a red one. I had been going to buy two yellow ones, but the sleeves on the long sleeved one were way too long for me and red is my favourite colour.

By the way, I'd written a long blog about Friday's Personal Training session on Saturday morning and lost the lot when I went to save it. Of course it was interesting and insightful but I haven't had the time or inclination to rewrite it. In summary, I really enjoyed it (as ever), made some progress (love doing that) and will be back for more next week.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Pool running and cycling

This morning pool running was back on the agenda. Now that I know that I can get to the pool from my place in 10 mins, including navigating my bike through the security doors, I didn't leave home until 6:15 am. We were in the water just after 6:30. Today's session was a 5 min warm up, followed by four sets of 5 mins hard with 1 min easy in between them, and a 5 min cool down. Sal and I both thought we'd find it difficult to do the 5 mins hard, but we managed it ok. We took turns leading, which seemed to make it a bit easier.

I had thought about going straight to work from the pool, but I realised that I didn't want to cart my flotation belt with me. I headed home for breakfast and a shower, then got changed again to ride to work. I don't know about the rest of you, but all this changing clothes means that I end up with piles of washing. Mind you, one way to deal with it is to buy more clothes. :-)

It was quite warm this morning, so I removed one of my usual layers. I'd heard that it was going to be a lot colder tomorrow, so I packed my windcheater in case I needed it coming home. That turned out to be a good idea. I was behind the War Memorial, about a quarter of an hour into the ride, when I finally acknowledged to myself that I was going to have to stop to remove my high visibility jacket. I'd also forgotten to turn on my heart rate monitor. Once the HRM was on and the jacket was rolled up in my backpack I realised that I was dressed completely in black, which is not exactly the most visible colour out there. I came to the awful realisation that I was going to have to start wearing yellow lycra. Oh no, my limited fashion sense is giving up the battle.

I managed all the hills on the way to work, so I think that this new route is a little easier than the other one. It also had one huge bonus. I rejoined the main road at the top of the long downhill instead of two thirds of the way down. It was so much fun to coast on down the hill. I was a lot more relaxed on the 600m stretch down to the office.

I made it to work in 30 mins. I think that's because the route is a little shorter. Better yet, I made it home in about 25 mins. I ended up leaving work early because there was a stormfront rolling in. We had a lovely view of it from my building. There was a rainbow in the distance, surrounded by black clouds. Going earlier meant that there was a little less traffic in the city too, which helped. I'm clearly getting more confident as I rode on the road most of the way through town.

After I got home I dumped the bike, changed out of my bike clothes and headed down to the gym to see if my Garmin was there. It had been and it had gone home again with the staff member who has it in safe custody. Hopefully she will remember to leave it behind the desk tomorrow. I called in at the bike shop too, so that I could look at yellow lycra. They didn't have what I wanted. It's hard to imagine that I can be picky about yellow lycra, but the only top I tried on was a bloke's top, and I have way too many curves for that to be acceptable. I guess I could go for a larger size, but I'm seriously trying to avoid wearing baggy clothes. Instead, I think I'll be wearing my bright new running shirts while I'm riding for a while.

I decided not to do a workout at the gym tonight. I figured that half an hour of pool running and an hour of cycling was enough exercise for today. This evening I was reading an article in the Age Life & Style section that said "Dr Garry Egger, the man who wrote Australia's physical activity guidelines in 1999, says if he were asked to revise them, he'd double the daily target from 30 minutes of physical activity to 60 minutes and also recommend some resistance (strength) training every other day."

If I manage the cycle commute a few days a week and keep up the rest of my exercise, I should manage to average 60 mins/day easily.

I'm trying to work out what I'll do tomorrow morning. I have my PT session at 7:30 am and I have to be ready for a meeting at work at 9 am. The bus that I can scramble to catch after PT gets me to work at about the right time, but I had been planning to run or ride. I could run before PT. I could run or ride after PT but showering at work will be a scramble. It looks like I'm scrambling whatever I choose to do.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Cycling commute

I finally did it! I rode to work this morning.

When I woke up this morning I was debating whether or not I should have a rest day or go to the gym. As I was lying there I realised that I had plenty of time to ride to work. I've been wanting to do that for ages. Today was the day.

I got myself sorted. I knew I had clothes at work, but I felt like wearing my new black skirt. Fortunately it doesn't need ironing so I was able to toss it in my backpack.

I've had some advice recently that I should raise my bike seat. I had it lower than the recommended height because I wasn't flexible enough to get my leg over the seat. Now I am, but I'd forgotten to raise it. Of course, having thought of it, I had to do it right then and there. I packed the Allen keys in case I had it too high. I had hardly gone any distance when I realised I'd somehow managed to lower it. After fixing that I was off again. It felt about the same as when I'd started, so the whole exercise had been a waste of time.

I was riding past a primary school, realising that the street was pretty much uphill all the way. I hadn't noticed the incline running, but it was really noticeable on the bike. When I'd first run that way I'd been quite annoyed at myself for not being able to get past the school without stopping for a walking break. If I'd known then that I was running uphill I might have been less disappointed in myself.

Similarly, there was a steady incline up to the War Memorial. I think I hadn't really thought of that section of the run as going uphill because I was so conscious of the much bigger hills ahead.

The straight route is roughly 5 km, but I had to detour around a large hill when the bike path disappeared. I'm not confident enough to ride in the bike lane on a busy road. The detour took me past a magpie defending its nest, so I was swooped a number of times. It was quite disconcerting to feel the magpie banging into my helmet. I was glad when I was far enough away for the brave bird to decide I was no longer a threat.

I wasn't quite sure where I was at one stage, as the running route I'd taken went cross country to stay near the main road. Being Canberra, all the streets I took seemed to curve in exactly the opposite direction to where I wanted to go. I ended up back at the main road eventually, having chugged my way up and down several more hills. I was really working hard. I had to walk a couple of hills because I was so worn out.

When I did finally come out of the maze of streets I discovered I was much closer to my destination than I'd expected. I was also on a lovely long downhill slope. I thoroughly enjoyed that part of the ride.

I then came to the section that had put me off riding to work earlier. I had to ride about 600 m on the road. All the traffic on that road is heading to my workplace so it was all going the same way as me. Fortunately, I feel much safer on the bike now so it wasn't as traumatic as I thought it would be.

It took me 35 minutes to ride to work, which is about how long it takes me to run to work. I thought that was really amusing, as I'm not a particularly speedy runner. I am sure I'll get that time down once I've worked out a more direct route. On the up side, I wasn't as tired, it was easy to carry my stuff, and I'd burned 440 calories, which I was going to repeat on the way home as well.

I was delighted that I had my pass and didn't have to hang around in my cycling gear in the foyer. It's a shame, but I can see myself losing all fashion sense as I get more into cycling. I wonder if my Style Consultant will help me choose my summer cycling gear.

There are two flights of stairs on the way up to my floor. Whenever I run I make the effort to run up them, so I did that today too. When I got to my desk I was puffing and panting, which had the rest of my team amused.

After work I changed back into my cycling gear and headed home, after raising the bike seat. At least this time, I seemed to get it higher than it had been. I'm not sure if I got it right, but at least I was able to manage the increase in height. I felt safe on the 600 m stretch down to the corner, but I wasn't sure about the busy roundabout at the end, so I crossed over the road before I got there. I'll work it out eventually. From there I tried an alternate route, which worked out really well, although I think the hills might be tougher on the way to work. I'll have to test it out tomorrow. I nearly got myself skittled by a taxi while I was investigating one option, but that option didn't work so I won't be putting myself in that position again.

On the way home I called in at the bike shop to find out what panniers would cost me. I also checked out the price of cleats and bike shoes and I booked my bike in for maintenance next week. I can see that I'm going to have to buy some summer bike gear as well, as I was quite warm in my yellow jacket.

Stopping at the bike shop had me running late for trivia. I texted the team to tell them I was on my way, dashed through the shower, changed yet again (thinking of Sara's six changes the day before) and then raced off to trivia. We had a great night but the other teams in the competition are way too clever.

Normally Wednesday is a slack day for me, but adding the cycling commute has turned it into a good exercise day.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

My Garmin is safe

Thanks for the crossed fingers and the hopeful comments. My Garmin is safe and sound. It was in the car. All I have to do now is be reunited with it. I was having an inward chuckle yesterday when I realised that I'd lost it before I'd even named it. Mind you, I'm not all that sure that I can relate to naming it.

This morning I was at the pool, running up and down in the slow lane. It was a lot busier than it has been for our other visits, but the people swimming in our lane seemed to cope with us being there. We weren't as chatty as usual as we were running in single file. We took turns at being in front, which seemed to make it easier. The session we did today was a ladder session. After the warmup we did 1 min hard, 1 min easy, 2 min hard, 1 min easy up to 4 mins and then back to 1 min before the cool down.

I rode my bike to the pool and back. I've begun to realise that cycling has gone from being hard exercise to being an easy commute. I think that's terrific. I'm still thinking about riding to work but I haven't made the final step yet.

Sal and I were wondering how tired we'd be at work today. We've done our other sessions after work or in the afternoon, and we'd both found that we were quite tired later that evening. I thought I was surviving well up until the moment that my boss told me I looked really tired. Mind you, my marathon session the night before may have contributed to the general sense of exhaustion.

This evening I went to Yoga. I thought about skipping it but I realised that the stretching would be particularly valuable today. It started wekk but there was a bit in the middle where I just wasn't coping with the poses. I was getting quite irritated, which I don't think is the mindset you're supposed to have during Yoga class. I got over it, thank goodness, and enjoyed the rest of the session. I tend to think of Yoga as a rest rather than as an exercise session, but it's a different type of struggle for me. I can see improvement, which is great, but I'd like to be able to do so much more than I can now.

Now that I've been writing this up, I've realised that I probably wasn't coping that well because I was tired. I think an early night tonight is on the cards.

Tomorrow is my usual mid-week rest day, but I'm thinking of doing a weights session in the morning. I want to get back into doing weights regularly as I really enjoy the feeling of getting stronger. Going tomorrow morning would give me two days of recovery before my PT session. I'll see how I wake up tomorrow morning and decide then. Besides, if I'm lucky, the staff member with my Garmin might be on duty in the morning.

Monday, 8 October 2007

No need for Garmin envy

Would you believe it? I've managed to lose the wrist piece for my brand new Garmin.
How does that happen, I hear you ask. Well, it's a long story and hopefully it will have a happy ending.

I decided to run to Dragon Boating today. I figured it was about 4.5 km from my place, and I had an early finish from work this afternoon, so I had the time. It was a chance to try out my running skirt and my running backpack and to play with my new Garmin. I was also keen to see if I could run two days in a row. I don't think I've done that before.

As it was 4:00 pm rather than 6:30 am, the temperature was a lot higher than I usually run in. I figured I'd need water so I went looking for my fuel belt. Clearly, it is in a safe place as I wasn't able to find it. I tossed a couple of the water bottles in my backpack. When I went to use them about half way through the run, I discovered they were frozen! It seems I have them too close to the freezer.

Before I get into the run itself, here's a quick update on the skirt and backpack. The running skirt felt a bit odd. I liked running in it, however I'm glad I tested it out before using it at SiS as I think I would have had a chafing problem. I'll have to wear running shorts underneath it as the inbuilt shorts aren't quite long enough for comfort. The backpack also took a bit of getting used to, but it was much better than running with a normal backpack. Once I get the straps sorted, I'm sure it will be fine. My keys didn't jangle, I had room for some warm clothes and my water, and my phone was handily located within reach. I think it's going to be a real winner for running to work.

Once I got myself organised I headed off towards the yacht club. It took ages for my Garmin to locate the satellites. I walked down to the bike path and eventually started running as I was tired of waiting. I think I'd covered about half a km before the satellites kicked in. I walked most of that though, checking my wrist every few houses, before running out of patience.

My pace was all over the place. I can see that having the Garmin is going to help me be a lot more consistent. I managed to run most of the way, stopping for lights and to drink my water. After a couple of kms I could feel that my left knee was tired but it didn't hurt so I kept running. I've put a lot of work into that knee to make it strong and I love that it's all paid off. After Friday's lunges and the jogalong, to have it feeling tired today rather than hurting is pretty fantastic.

I was tempted to stop as soon as I reached the grounds of the yacht club, but I decided to run all the way to the yacht club building. I surged towards the end, just to see if I could. Our dragon boat team is wearing pink. Well, I was bright pink. Thank goodness I looked at the readout before I lost my Garmin. I made it to the yacht club in 30:40. The distance was 4.02 km. It was a little slower than I'd hoped, as I was aiming for 7 min/km but on reflection I probably lost the 2:40 at the various traffic lights around town. I felt really proud of myself for running instead of catching the bus or riding my bike.

I took my Garmin wristpiece off and put it in my backpack so that it wouldn't get wet when we were dragon boating. The dragon boating was heaps of fun again. We were practising racing today. We even have a race plan. To get the boat moving, we do a "monster stroke" followed by four really big strokes. We then do 20 strokes fast, at a rate of about 80 per minute. We follow this with 25 strokes at a slightly slower pace (about 60 per min) and then 10 fast strokes to finish. Yes, the race is going to be about 60 strokes long. We'll cover 190 metres, which is apparently quite a short race. Our coach had been going to get us to do the 25 strokes more slowly, but he realised from watching us practise that we have the cardio fitness to go faster. It was good to hear him say that as I'd been thinking we could probably go faster. Well, I knew that I could, and I figured that if I could the others would be able to.

I managed to get soaked tonight. One time I paddled a bucket of water right into my lap. It was a warm evening, but it didn't feel that warm when I was wet. We did get to see a lovely sunset over the mountains from the middle of the lake, which is certainly something new for me. Canberra is a beautiful place.

The big news for the dragon boat racing is the "pink theme" and the "party food". We're all raring to go. We got the "hydrate well" speech from the coach, which may have put a little burst in our pink bubbles. We'll have to save them until after the finals. We're determined to make the finals. Hey, and if we don't, we get to have the bubbles earlier so it's all good.

I got a ride home from the dragon boating with one of the gym staff. On the way from picking up my backpack from Jess's car, I started to get my jacket out, which is when the infamous Garmin wrist piece misplacing incident may have taken place. I did have to pick up some stuff from the floor well of the car when I was getting out, so I'm hoping hard that the wrist piece is still on the floor of the car. I left a phone message at the gym, but I haven't heard whether or not it was in the car.

I was feeling a bit frantic about the wrist piece being in the car park, and was wondering who I could call to take me back to the Yacht club when I remembered my trusty bicycle. I quickly changed from my wet running gear into bike gear, pumped up my tyres and headed off in the dark towards the Yacht club. I'm so glad I know the path, as it wasn't at all well lit in some places. I searched the car park, but wasn't able to find my wrist piece. I also called into the club to ask if it had been found. I will have to phone them tomorrow as I didn't have a lot of confidence in the person to whom I reported my loss. On the bright side, at least the wrist piece wasn't shattered on the ground.

So, if the wrist piece has been handed in at the Yacht Club, or is in the floor well of the car, I am in luck. If it hasn't, thank goodness I bought it on e-Bay as I'll have to replace it. On my ride back from the Yacht Club I reminded myself that at least it was something I could afford to lose. I was thinking that I was having a JoJo moment though.

As for my day's exercise, I was pretty pleased with myself. I walked 20 mins to and from a work course today, then ran 4 km, did dragon boat training for however long it was, then rode my bike 9 km in the dark. Ok, on the downside I managed to lose my Garmin, but there's hope that it will be recovered.

Pool running in the morning, yoga tomorrow night. Keep your fingers crossed for me that my Garmin will turn up.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Women's and Girls' Jogalong

I went along to the Women's and Girls' Jogalong today. Info about the event can be found at the ACT Cross Country Club website, Canberra Runner. In summary, the jogalong is held on the first Sunday of each month. The course takes runners through the pines on the edge of the lake at Weston Park, Yarralumla.

I was still sore when I woke up, but I'd told Kelly I'd meet her at 8 am so I got msyelf into my running gear and headed on out. I wasn't at all sure I'd be able to run. Just walking was requiring a tremendous amount of effort. I was really glad that I'd arranged to meet Kelly, as I don't think I would have made the effort to go if I hadn't already committed to meet her. Even as I headed off I was telling myself I could choose the walk option instead of running.

As jogalong novices, we were there bright and early. Neither of us knew exactly where the course was, but we had no trouble finding it from the directions Kelly had been given. As we were so early, we wandered over to the lake to look around. I'd ridden past the area on my bike once before but it's much better seeing a place on foot. The walking did me the world of good and I felt as though I'd be able to do the run. We met up with Krissi and Brad (he was off on his own run) and then Jess arrived. I love the fact that there's a group of us doing this together. It adds so much to my overall enjoyment to be seeing how well the others are doing.

The jogalong starts differently to other runs. The walkers and slower runners head off first. Groups head off at regular intervals. Kelly and I went in Group 10 and Krissi and Jess went in Group 30. The idea is that people all finish together. There's a handicapping system so they can work out who wins, but I've no idea how that works. Now that I've done an event they'll have an idea where I should be starting. I think I should maybe have started a little later, but there was no way to know which group would be the "right" group.

My time at SiS was a little over the 7 min/km mark, so I figured the 6 kms would take me between 42 and 45 minutes. I forgot to turn off my Garmin when I crossed the line, but I figure it took me just under 44 mins. I was pretty happy with that, given how sore I was. The run itself was really enjoyable. I managed to run up all the hills. I did some of my usual run / walking, which Krissi is determined that she'll train me out of. I'd be pleased if she did, as I'd like to be able to run the whole way. I know it's my head that's stopping me rather than my fitness. I'm absolutely hopeless at pacing myself. I'm hoping my brand new Garmin will help me with that.

Speaking of my brand new Garmin, today was the first day I used it. I am downloading Sports Tracks at the moment, as I've been told it's a great way to keep track of my data. All these running accessories!

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Relaxation massage and pool running

This morning I had a relaxation massage. It was pleasant but there were times when the pressure was painful rather than relaxing. I am such a princess! I asked for a light touch, and that's pretty much what I got, except for my legs. I think the massage therapist couldn't resist the temptation to apply more pressure by then. If I ever need a therapeutic massage I'll have to be under a general anaesthetic at the time. I haven't booked another one - I'm going to wait to see whether or not I end up with bruises.

I've been really sore today. I don't know if it's pool running or Friday's PT, but I ache a lot. I'm walking around the place like I'm an old person. I decided to walk down to the pool for my pool running session, just to stretch out my muscles. I wore my HRM and my heart rate was quite high for walking. I felt fine, apart from the achy muscles, so I was surprised it was so high. Maybe my HRM is reading my heart rate incorrectly.

Sally and I did a slightly different program today. It was a 5 min warm up, followed by 6 intervals of 2.5 mins plus a 30 sec recovery, and then a 5 min cool down. Even though I was sore I worked hard. Having the HRM made it easier for me to see that I was making enough effort. I also got that "hot in the water" sensation that is so weird. I was really pleased with the session. I'm tired now though. I'm going to have to go to bed for a nap!

Personal Training

Friday morning is personal training. I look forward to it every week. I've learned so much from all my various trainers, and there always seems to be something new to learn or a little bit further to push myself.

We started off on the treadmill. Lately my warmups have all involved walking but Krissi pushed it up to running pace. I pretended indignation but I was quite pleased that I was easily able to jog along and keep chatting to her. We then moved over to the Smith machine for some lunges. I hadn't done lunges on the Smith machine before. I remember that I used to be really impressed by anyone who was doing them. It's good to be doing exercises that I once thought were way too advanced for me.

I like the way Krissi gets me to set up. She really simplifies things. We started off with 10 kg on the machine while she checked my form, making sure my knees were tracking properly, that I had my abs locked on, and so on. The first lunge was a bit of a shock as I hadn't expected to go down so far so easily but I was ok after that. After we finished the first set, Krissi put the weight up to 20 kg, which was twice the weight I'd ever used to lunge with. The aim was for me to really feel it in my legs and the Smith machine would protect me from dropping it. Krissi was also watching out for me, with one hand on the bar.

Well, I really felt it in my legs. I think it's the first time I've ever felt the lunge in both legs, which was the whole idea. I was able to complete both sets but I was working hard on the way through. Krissi challenged me to do the last six lunges without stopping at the top each time, so I gritted my teeth and got through them. I was pleased to achieve that as I had been struggling.

We then moved to the chest press. With 10 kg on the bar I did the toss at the top, and handled it quite comfortably. I had my legs up in the air, crossed, and I was able to do that too. I hadn't been sure whether I'd be able to keep them up there, but it was pretty easy in the end. The legs in the air really do help to make sure that you're lifting with your upper body. Krissi added another 5 kg to the bar for the second set and we dropped the toss. I handled the weight really well. I think the most I've lifted on the Smith machine was 17.5 kg and it took me a while to work up to that, so I was pleased with 15 kg today. I think my strength has improved lately, which has been showing in my pushups.

We moved over to use the bent bar. I didn't ask what the weight was on this. It looked like 2.5 kg on each end and the bar weighs something like 5 kg as well. I can never remember what to call the exercise, but it's the one where you lift the bar in front of you until your elbows are at shoulder height. When I first went to the gym I couldn't do this as my tummy and my chest got in the way, but I can do it easily now, which I'm delighted about. I like this exercise as I know I have really good form with it. I'm also able to concentrate on lifting with my lats rather than my forearms. It took me ages to be able to work a specific muscle so I try to remember to enjoy it when I can do it successfully.

We headed back over to the Smith machine where Krissi put the bar right out of reach, shoved the bench back as far as it would go to the wall, and then sat on the edge of it, smiled at me and said "I'm going to give you my advanced abs exercise". Now, when a personal trainer smiles at you, you know you're in trouble. When they add the word advanced, it's time to run screaming from the gym.

Krissi demonstrated, making it look incredibly easy. She was pushing against the frame of the Smith machine with her hands as she lay on the bench. She raised her legs, lowered them to floor level then lifted them right up so that her backside came off the bench. I did a general approximation of this 10 times and then she had me doing the hover for as long as I could. I could feel that my abs were already struggling from the previous exercise, which was pretty hard work. I managed to last for 40 secs. After a rest we repeated the set, with a target of 30 secs for the hover. I absolutely bombed out on the hover. I think I might have managed 10 secs before crashing to the floor. I tried to start again but I couldn't stay up there. Krissi showed me a way to rest during the hover that doesn't involve lying face down on the floor, so hopefully I'll be able to do better next time.

It was a great personal training session. I felt like I worked really hard and achieved a lot today. Krissi paid me a lovely compliment at the end by saying that she wished all her clients were as much fun to train. I thanked her and she explained why she thought it was fun, telling me that I soak up all the information she gives and work at applying it. Thinking about it, I can see that a trainer would really enjoy having their clients listen to them and apply their words of wisdom. It must be encouraging. I know I love my personal training sessions, and I'm sure that enthusiasm comes over as well.

Oh, the interesting thing I learned was that I'm still picking things up off the floor as though I'm a big person. We were chatting and Krissi asked me to think about how I actually picked things up. I realised that I still stay fairly upright and lean over, rather than bending my knees. I'm going to have to consciously take advantage of my increased fitness and flexibility. I'm glad she asked as it's given me something to think about. I remember Leanne telling me once that I didn't have to roll over to get up off the floor as my abs were strong enough for me to be able to sit straight up from lying down. I love all these little physical achievements.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Pool Running

Tonight I went pool running. One of the women I run with, Sally, has shin splints and is being checked out for stressies. After following Em's journey to recovery, I'm pretty sure she's got them. Anyway, I mentioned pool running to her the other day and volunteered to run with her. I learned from Em's blog that having a running partner would help.

I was supposed to send Sally some info but she beat me to it, doing her own research and deciding to give it a go. That has made it really easy for me as her research meant that I didn't even have to work out where to buy a buoyancy belt.

I had been going to the gym after work to do Body Attack, but I gladly swapped activities when Sally suggested we go tonight. We're planning on aiming for three sessions a week.

Now, I don't need to go pool running because I'm injured. I have an entirely different reason for going - it's to get me back into the pool. I used to love swimming when I was young but now I have a whole lot of "too fat to be seen in bathers" body issues to deal with. If I'm going to have a go at this baby triathlon I'm thinking of doing next year, I have to start swimming again. If I make an "exercise date" with someone, then I'll go. Regular pool running should help me to feel more comfortable about being at the pool.

Another advantage is that it's something different that still helps me work on my cardio fitness. I'm not at all keen on the cardio machines in the gym, so this is a good alternative.

Pool running was a strange sensation. I can see that I'm going to have lots of questions for Em when she gets back from Sydney. Either that, or I'm going to have to do some research of my own. We were maintaining an upright position and running down the pool to about the half way mark before we turned around. It took us about 90 seconds to get to the half way point. That fitted in nicely with the intervals we were doing. It took a while to get used to the action and I can see that the water resistance on my arms is going to really benefit me.

I made an effort to push the intensity when we were "sprinting" but it didn't feel anything like the effort that real running requires. I was chatting away while we were running, which made me wonder if I was working hard enough but my arms and legs were pumping away. I meant to wear my HRM but I forgot to put it on. Getting out of the pool to put it on seemed like too much effort, but I'll wear it next time so I can keep an eye on my heart rate.

When we got out of the pool it didn't feel as though we'd worked all that hard, but I'm feeling generally tired now. It's going to be interesting to see how I pull up tomorrow.

Oh, as for the dragon boat training - I felt fine today. A little stiff, but no pain. I got home to an avalanche of email about decorating the dragon boat, wearing pink hats, and generally turning it into a carnival. It looks as though we'll be there all day. Two of the races are in the morning and the third is in the afternoon. This is sounding as though it's going to be an absolute hoot.

Edit: Style Consultation update

I was styled beautifully today. SC suggested that one of my tops would look great with my olive skirt and jacket. I tried it today and it was terrific. I also wore the waist shaper, which makes such a difference to the way my clothes sit, my gold bangle, and I managed to wear the pointy black court shoes all day as well.

Another definite improvement today was that I seriously considered wearing some makeup. I didn't actually wear it, but thinking about it has got to count - doesn't it?

I felt as though I looked great today, which is definitely good for my self-confidence. Now, all I have to do is get SC to style my bathers. You think I'm joking, but I seriously think she would if I asked her.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Dragon Boat Training

This afternoon we had our first session of dragon boat training. I am so much "backpack girl" nowadays. I always seem to have a backpack with me, complete with sports gear. Today I carted my dragon boat gear to Melbourne with me. One advantage of having it with me was that I was able to get changed into comfortable clothes for the flight back. I looked a little out of place with my trackies and work jacket, but I figured I didn't care what anyone thought.

When I jumped in the taxi I realised that I was going to be at the Yacht Club half an hour early. That meant I had time to go home and leave my work gear there. The weather was quite windy, so I was glad of the opportunity to grab my ecofleece, which turned out to be a lifesaver. I tossed my running jacket into my backpack as well, as I didn't know which would be more comfortable in the boat. I thought about grabbing a towel, but I didn't like to keep the taxi waiting too long so I didn't take one. I will next time!

I was still early which gave me time to wander around a little. I didn't have to wait long though, as the team started arriving. While it was nice to chat to people, I was a little irritated at how long it took to get started. The guy who was running our session didn't have a key to the shed with the paddles, so we had to wait around for a while. During this time he did give us a bit of a talk about the boat and we were all standing beside an old boat as he explained a few things to us. It was quite funny listening to him trying to avoid giving offence while explaining that you put the "bigger" people in the middle of the boat. The boat is wider in the middle, so I think we "bigger" people would have automatically gravitated there.

We were asked to match ourselves up with someone about our size. I have a really false idea of my size, as I tend to think of myself as bigger than I am, so I was at a loss. Fortunately, one of the women that I'd been chatting to earlier caught my eye, so we paired up. I've no idea if we're a good size match or not, but she seems like a pleasant partner to have.

I had no idea what dragon boat racing was going to be like, apart from expecting it to be fun, so I'd imagined that we'd be on our knees in the boat. I was worried about not being able to do that for very long, so I was relieved to see that there were seats for us. We were shown how to sit (butt against the gunwale) and how to hold the paddle. We were issued with paddles and life jackets and then we were lifting the boat into the water.

It was really windy and the lake was quite choppy. Fortunately for us we were still able to go out as there was a sheltered area that was safe enough for a novice crew to use. I was a little apprehensive about getting onto the boat, but it was a lot more stable than I'd expected. After some safety information, such as what to do if the boat tipped over, we headed off, paddling out onto the lake.

It was such fun! We got wet, as paddles threw water up and as the boat was caught by waves. Apparently we did quite well with the timing. I was glad I wasn't skinny enough to be one of the two girls at the front who had the job of pacing us. Our instructor steered us around the lake. I was quite impressed with the girls up the front at first, as I thought they were getting us around safely, but I finally thought about it and worked out what was going on.

We weren't supposed to look at our paddles while we were paddling. Instead we were supposed to be watching the pacers and keeping in time with them. I was trying hard to do this, and I would find it really disconcerting at times, when I put the paddle down into the water and it was deeper than expected due to a wave. I was going to roll up the sleeves on my jacket to keep it dry (I chose the running jacket when I realised we were going to be wet) but I was wet before I got a chance to do that. I gave into the inevitable, and just went with it. My glasses were spattered with water, my left arm and leg were soaked, I had no real idea what I was doing and I was having a fabulous time.

At one stage we swapped sides. I had thought we would have to go back to land to do this, but there was a really simple way to do it, which involved one person stepping across and the other sliding over on the seat. We did it a pair at a time and we didn't tip the boat over.

On Monday we're going to be learning how to start and how to race. I'm looking forward to it already. On the 21st October, we'll be in a few races. I'm not really sure if it's two or three, but I'll go in as many races as they'll let me. We're wearing pink t-shirts, and we might be jazzing it up with balloons and streamers. I'm going to have to see if I can talk someone into coming along to watch and take photos.

I got a ride back to town and went straight to trivia. I nearly went home to change, but I had enough dry clothes with me to survive sitting in the pub. Fortunately my feet had stayed pretty dry. I don't think I would have coped with wet feet. I'll be better prepared next time.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to feel this tomorrow. It was a great upper body workout.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007


Monday was a public holiday in Canberra, so I had an extra day in Melbourne which I spent pottering around with my parents. It was a lovely relaxing day. In the afternoon I tried out the Donna Aston Yoga set that I'd received for my birthday a couple of weeks earlier. It includes a strap and blocks, which I haven't used before, and was aimed at beginners. I was pleased to discover that it was a little easy for me. Mind you, there's still room for improvement.

Today I'd had great plans to get up and go for a run, but I just didn't get myself out of bed early. This evening I was off to Yoga as usual. It was a great session. I'm definitely becoming more flexible. Thank goodness. I'd hate to be doing all this work and getting nowhere.

Tomorrow I'm off to Melbourne for work, but I'll be back in time for the first Dragon Boat training session. That will be fun.