Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Getting back into it slowly

On Monday I went to the gym and collected my 25 points for my WOW team. It was a gentle workout but it was all I really felt like doing. I did a leg workout - 3 sets of leg presses, leg extensions, and calf raises, 2 sets of hip abductions (x2) and one set of seated rows while I was waiting to use one of the machines. I put the weights up slightly on the leg extensions and hip abductions. Once I got to the 30 minutes I headed off home. It wasn't the world's best workout but at least I was there. On the basis that I need some time on the bike before I ride to Yass, I rode to and from G's place to mine. That's 10 km (40 mins) of cycling in as well.

At work yesterday one of my workmates pointed out that my cough sounded terrible. I was feeling so much better that it surprised me, but I realised that I was still coughing up gunk. I thought about it and decided I was sick of being sick, so I booked an appointment to see the doctor. I couldn't get in to see my regular doctor until April, so I took the first available appointment. Luckily for me, that was today and I am now the proud owner of a short course of antibiotics. Hopefully that will knock the last of the bugs over for me.

I was going to see how I went running this morning but I had a work breakfast in Kingston. I arranged for a lift for me and my bike from Kingston to work, so I rode there this morning. My Garmin battery was flat so I'm not sure of the exact distance but it would have been about 12-13 km. It was a lovely ride, along the bike path to Lake Burley Griffin then around to Kingston.

I rode from work to town to see the doctor, who was rather impressed with my blood pressure after that effort. 130/85. I like meeting people who see me as a fit person rather than as a fat person. :-)

I was planning to ride to the bike course after the gym, but luckily I jumped online and checked my emails. There is no bike course tonight. That means I can go to the Group Slim session this evening and collect 50 points. Not that I'll enjoy the session, but I've been feeling bad for my team about my low points tallies over the past two weeks.

Tomorrow morning we're going to walk up Mt Ainslie as a group PT session. I have to get myself over there by 6:20 am so it's going to be a really early start. Still, I'll feel virtuous all day so it will be worth it. I'll ride on to work from there so I'll be getting more time on the bike, which has got to be a good thing.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Another quiet week

It was another quiet week this week, because I was sick. I caught a nasty cold and have been coughing and spluttering my way through the week. I cancelled my run with Kathryn and Andrew on Monday. On Tuesday, after taking the day off work, I managed to get to my PT session with Julia, After resting all day I was able to cope with doing weights but I gave the bike course afterwards a miss. I was sorry about that, as it was bike maintenance part 2, but I just couldn't face the ride to the course venue.

I made it to the gym for group PT on Wednesday. I was tempted to stay at the gym for a nice quiet treadmill session, but I went out with the group to City Hill for more boxing and running. I walked. I really had to battle with my competitive nature. I found myself wanting to run just so I wouldn't finish the warmup last. After giving myself a stern talking to, I managed to resist the impulse. On the way home I felt a bit lightheaded, so I think it was just as well.

I realised that I still needed some rest so I cancelled squash on Thursday. That hurt. It also meant that I didn't go to hockey training. I did go for a short cycle. Funnily enough, once I was on the bike I was fine, but it was really hard to get on it. I even passed another cyclist. I love doing that. :-)

On Friday morning I had my usual PT session with Krissi. As ever, it was an excellent workout. We did the usual stuff. When Krissi gave me the 10 kg weights I managed 4 chest presses on my own, did a very dodgy 5th one and then just couldn't pick the weights up off my tummy to start the 6th. It was amusing in a "dammit" kind of way. Krissi then gave me the 7.5 kg weights and I did 15 of those, although I needed help towards the end.

I kind of 'got' the side plank on Friday, in a very 'just barely but getting there' kind of way. I can see that's going to be a major improvement area for me over the next few weeks. There's so much room for improvement.

On Saturday I had great plans. I was feeling a lot better and I was going to go on the bike ride in the morning then play hockey in the afternoon. The ride was 30-35 km and I was riding in from G's place, another 6.5 km each way. Well, fortunately for me, the ride came past G's place on the way home, so I just did the loop once. We rode from Lake Burley Griffin out to Gold Creek Village. I've been out there a few times and never imagined I'd ride out there. It was terrific.

There was an accident on the way though. One of the people riding in my group fell off, going head first over her handlebars down a steep hill. It was a sickening thud when she hit the ground. I was ahead of her, and kept going, knowing that there were people behind to help her. It's really hard to do that though. We stopped further along and waited for the people behind to catch up with the news. It took a while, so we knew she was hurt. The ambulance was called and we've since heard that she has a badly bruised face but otherwise doesn't have any major injuries. Thank goodness for bike helmets. What people think happened is that she braked with her front brake. I'm glad I didn't actually see the accident. One of the women in our group is a doctor and another is a nurse, which was fortunate for her. On the way back there were a few punctures too. Fortunately, I didn't have any.

It was a great ride, but I ended up being exhausted and piking out of the hockey. There were three subs so I didn't feel too bad. I went along today (it was a Vets carnival) and played a game, but there were 5 subs for that one so I only played the one game.

I am feeling lots better after all the rest. I'll be back into my usual routine this week I hope. I'm going to start riding to work again, as I need to get some miles up on the bike before we ride to Yass.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

A quiet week

This week I travelled to Melbourne a couple of times. Instead of trying to squeeze all my activities in around my travel time, I decided that I'd make it a rest week. What a great idea! Instead of fretting over not running on Tuesday or having my PT session at the gym, I found myself thinking positively about rest and relaxation. I also managed to cut back on my eating to match my activity level - not as easy as it sounds.

Lately I haven't been blogging as much so I'm recording my exercise in a note book. I started just writing down facts like "Monday, cross-trainer, level 6, 15 mins + cooldown" but now I'm starting to keep notes of how I was feeling, what got in the way of exercise, etc. For example, I'd planned a 45 minute workout at the gym on Monday evening (weights + cardio) but had to change the program to 30 mins of cardio (15 mins cross-trainer, 10 mins treadmill + cooldown) because my landlord was finally replacing the carpet in my bedroom after the flood back at the beginning of December. My apartment's in the middle of being sold so I've had way too many requests for access at very short notice lately. Still, it's done now. I'd not use the carpet layers myself. They left a mess behind them and I wasn't at all impressed with the quality of the job but, hey, it's not my money and the landlord may have deliberately gone with the "Shoddy Jobs R Us" quote.

I travelled to Melbourne for two days of training that I had to have to be able to use a database that it would have taken me 15 mins tops to figure out how to use. The bonus was that the other work people couldn't attend so I was able to stay at home instead of doing the team bonding thing which involved way too much drinking and eating last time. I walked across town to get a lift home with my sister after work, and then walked back the next morning.

I noticed that my knee was a little sore on Tuesday. I had been going to run early on Wednesday morning but it was still sore when I woke up so I decided to officially call the week a rest week. I was on an earlier flight back to Canberra than expected but I decided to give the gym a miss. I called in for my Slim session on Thursday before heading off to play squash with Murali. I hate the Slim sessions with a passion, but it was measurement day. My clothes are definitely getting looser but I'd only lost a few cm since the challenge began. Still, every cm lost is a bonus. I put on 2.5 kg after the challenge started and it's finally come back off. I've managed to lose a grand total of 800g net in four weeks.

Poor Murali was in the wars on Thursday and so we only played for a little over half an hour. He hurt his calf muscle but he was doing that "I'm a guy, I play through pain and suffer later" thing. We were 1-1 when we had the "you should stop", "I'm not going to" discussion, so we compromised with a decider game, which I won. He may have been injured but that doesn't mean I have to show any mercy!

Given that I'd been counting on a good calorie burn from squash, I decided that I'd better cycle over to TNB's place after squash. It also meant that I'd be able to cycle to PT with Krissi in the morning, instead of dragging TNB out of bed to drive me to my 7 am session.

It was a great workout as ever. Even though I'd cycled over, Krissi had me do my regular 10 minutes on the stationary cycle. I find that a real drag but it is definitely getting easier to survive it. Krissi then stretched me, which I love. We followed that up with lunges with 4 kg weights. I had my back foot up on the step behind me. Krissi has been working on my technique and I am now dropping down better than I used to. I feel safer on my dodgy knee when my form is good, so I'm working hard to improve it. By the time we'd got to the second set of 15 reps on my stronger leg I was shaking, so I'm glad I started with my weaker leg first. I used to start with the good one first, but I've learned over time to do it the other way around.

We followed this up with hamstring curls on the fitball. I have been doing these for ages, with incremental improvements. Each time it starts getting easy Krissi works on my technique. Friday was another improvement day, which means my hamstrings were definitely feeling it by the end of the second set.

Krissi started me on 10kg with the chest press. It was difficult enough just to hold the weights, let alone lift them. Amazingly, with a featherlight touch on my elbows, Krissi got my arms moving enough to start. I managed to do eight presses altogether, with progressively more help towards the end. I then did a set with the 7.5 kg weights, which felt incredibly light. When we got to the 12th rep I was all set to stop but Krissi asked me for three more. I managed them, but it was hard hard work. My mind had stopped at the usual 12 and then had to restart again. Funnily enough, I've been a little sore in my strong arm since then. I would have expected it to be my left arm but it hasn't worked out that way. Weird, huh?

We followed that up with the lateral pull down. My technique has really improved on this one. I am getting the second set out pretty well, although the last few are still a bit hard. Triceps dips came next. I'm not at all keen on these, but at least I can do them now. I remember being really scared of them this time last year, so it's good to know that I can do them now. (I had this idea that I was going to fall and hurt my tailbone.)

After that Krissi dragged out a new instrument of torture, a half-ball with a resistance band attached. I did a normal plank on the ball for the usual one minute. I struggled my way through this as I was breathing more quickly than usual. Then Krissi upped the ante - a side plank, front plank, side plank for 10 seconds each. Now I have the worst side plank in the world. Trust me on this. I can see that I'll be working on the technique for this one for a while. We finished with 10 situps and then I was done.

After work I went to the gym to collect some WOW points (cross-trainer / treadmill combo). It's been a dreadful week for me with WOW points. I'm not all that interested in the challenge this year. I realised though that I'm in a team and I'll have to get my act into gear for them even if I'm not that concerned for myself. I figure that if I do the average then at least I'm not dragging them down. I just have to work out what the average is now.

I started a sore throat on Friday night and now I have a cold. I am not a good patient as I'm rarely sick. I am indulging in Lemsip in between bouts of coughing and spluttering. I am meeting Kathryn for a run tomorrow. I've left her a message to let her know that it might be a pretty sorry excuse for a run. I'm going anyway though, as I'm taking my nephew Andrew with me. He's a mad keen Carlton supporter and we're off to Princes Park. I figure that he can bring a footy and run around pretending to be Chris Judd.

Oh, hilarious sequel to my puncture story. I'm going to have to learn when to keep quiet about newly acquired skills. Sandra's boys haven't been riding their bikes as much as usual lately. She finally figured out why. Andrew has a flat tyre. He thinks that means he needs a new bike. Sandra thinks that Aunty Kathy might just be able to teach Andrew how to fix a puncture. Anyway, after the run we're off to the local bike shop (LBS) to buy a puncture kit and then we're going to fix his bike. I never imagined the day would come when I would be teaching my nephew how to mend a puncture.

I'm thinking of buying a bike down here in Melbourne so I can go riding with my brother-in-law. He's the only person in my family who's likely to go riding with me! He's quite keen. I suspect if we start cycling, my brother and sister-in-law might join us, which would be good fun. There is a great bike path from Werribee to Williamstown that I'd like to try out. Who knows, one of these days we might end up doing the Great Victorian Bike Ride.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

General Exercise update

I've been playing hockey once a week when I'm in Canberra. I played a really good game last Sunday and followed it up with another one today. It was the last of the social season. I've decided to play the winter comp and it looks like I'll be a regular in the grass team and fill in for the turf comp. The grass team don't train, but I've decided to go along to turf training as my skills are incredibly rusty.

I bit the bullet and bought myself a new stick today. I've been borrowing a stick but it's about time I had my own. These new composite sticks are so different to the old wooden stick I used to have and to the one my friend lent me. The guy in the shop told me I'd hit the ball much harder. I love his optimism! I checked out the shoes, but I decided I'd wait until the grass season started before I bought them. On my way home I realised that I'm playing a Vet's carnival in a couple of weeks and so I guess I'll be buying them sooner than I thought.

Personal Training
I'm still training with Julia on Tuesdays and Krissi on Fridays. I am absolutely loving it. I ended up buying myself a book to record what I'm doing because I'm not getting to update my blog enough. I love measuring my progress. For example, I did one and a half sets of 12 Chest Presses using 9 kg weights the other day with Julia. When I'm on my own I don't trust myself with that weight, so I tried 8 kg weights and managed to get three sets out comfortably. I was really pleased. I've been working hard on them. With Krissi, I do the chest presses with 7.5 kg weights, but we do them after she's already tired my arms out. It's great to see all the hard work paying off.

WOW program
This one is up and down. I'm not getting to the gym as often as I did with the Biggest Loser Challenge, as I'm doing the bike program (Tuesday evening and Saturday morning) and playing squash (Thursday evening) and playing hockey (various times on Sunday). I'm still managing to get there once a day on weekdays. The Group Slim session is on Tuesdays, so I miss out on that 50 points. I've been going to Trivia late to get to the Group PT session but I'm not enjoying that at all. I don't have much confidence in the instructor. She's a fairly new PT and just doesn't have the presence or experience to run a group session.

We had some drama there last week too, with one of the ladies having what appeared to be a mild fit. We ended up calling an ambulance (that's the first time I've spoken to 000) and she had recovered her senses by the time I left (half of us went back to the gym instead of all hanging around the poor woman). I haven't heard how she's doing as yet, which I am hoping is a case of 'no news is good news'.

This is my favourite activity of the week. Murali beat me in three the other week, so this week I was determined that wouldn't happen again. It was a real relief to win the first game. I ended up winning 3-1 and then we played two more games so I was ahead 4-2. We are both getting a much better workout as Murali is much fitter. He has been doing a lot of treadmill walking and it's really made a difference.

General Cycling
I'm trying to ride my bike more to toughen up my backside for Yass. I'm nearly ready to ride to work again. My knee is feeling much better and is handling all my various activities really well. I tried out the paniers the other day. They make the bike a lot heavier to handle, but it's great to be able to take so much stuff with me! No excuses like not having work clothes to change into now though.

Overall health and fitness
We have a new guy at work and he was telling me after a couple of days that I'm a really active person. I looked at him in surprise, because I think of all the things I don't do, like missing this morning's run. I also know that while I get to the gym I'm only there for a workout. I don't do these back to back classes or work myself into a lather of sweat like some of the women. Anyway, I thought about it and realised that from his perspective I was a really active person. So I agreed with him!

I've put on weight lately but I've obviously lost size. I was at a wedding yesterday, so I got to wear my black dress again. The first time I wore it the style consultant helped me to zip it up. There was no way I could have zipped it up on my own. I tried it on yesterday, feeling all sorts of trepidation. I knew I'd changed shape but I also knew I was a few kilos heavier than when I wore it before. Well, the zip just did itself up. The dress looked even better on me. I was so pleased.

I think that the WOW program is probably what makes the difference. Because I'm going to the gym so much more to collect my points, I'm doing more different types of cardio so I don't get bored. I'm also managing to do weights at least three times a week, which is great for toning. I just have to remember to keep it up.

Oh, and someone at hockey today remarked on how much faster I've become lately. That's a combination of getting out there and doing some real running and the cardio work I've been doing at the gym. I don't think I'll ever be a fan of the cross trainer, but I think I'll try to work it into my schedule on a regular basis from now on.

All I really need to do now is find some time to go swimming! (That was a joke!)

Another long bike ride - and puncture stories

I'm posting about last week's exercise backwards so please bear with me .. with luck you'll get a few posts tonight. One of the advantages of the cricket .. which I'm not watching.

On Saturday morning I went on a long bike ride with the Pedal Power group. The New Horizons course took us along, so that we'd know about this regular Saturday morning ride. I got there early (it wasn't where I thought it was going to be, which meant I didn't have to ride as far to get there) and had a chat with a few of the women before we started. I like that part, as I'm making new friends.

There ended up being about 55 people on the ride, 35 of us, about a dozen people who'd come along to help us, and some usual Saturday cyclists. The ride leader told us where she was taking us, which was around the lake clockwise, which would take us to our morning tea venue at Yarralumla Gallery. We'd collected money and booked ahead as hordes of riders descending on them without warning would be enough to send most baristas crazy.

It was an interesting experience. We didn't ride as fast as I expected, which is probably a good thing. I think that we were probably going at about 12 km/h for the first part and then 14 km/h for the second part. We were out there for about 2:15 hours, not counting morning tea. We were on the bike path almost the whole way and we rode in single file. When we came to hills or to something a little challenging like gravel, we pulled up, got given some advice, and then proceeded on our way.

I practised my gear changing, didn't run into anyone, made it up the big hills, didn't crash when the woman overtaking me up a steep hill fell off her bike and the one in front of me was unable to handle the hill and stopped at the same time. Instead I went around on the left and kept going, hoping that the helpers who were nearby would pick up the pieces. I felt a bit mean doing that, but I figured that it was probably better for me to stay out of the way than it was for me to add to the potential pileup.

We ended up covering a little over 30 km and I had a 2 km ride there and back, so it was a big day for me. I enjoyed myself and I'll do it again, but my backside is definitely voting for a gel seat cover! Someone said our ride to Yass in six weeks will be twice as long plus 10 km, so my seat bones need some padding under them.

Puncture update:
It took me a few days to fix the puncture in my front tyre. I meant to do it Wednesday night, but it was really late by the time I got to TNB's place (TNB = the new boyfriend, also known as the main reason I've been extra busy lately) so I skipped it. I arrived at TNB's place after squash on Thursday night, planning to fix the puncture before dinner.

He was really good and didn't give into the temptation of fixing it for me, but he did have the bike upside down ready for me. That really threw me at first, as we'd learned how to do them with the bike upright. I worked out how to disengage the brake upside down, popped the wheel out, took the tyre and tube off, found a hole and was about to patch it, when TNB put the tube in the sink. Yes, there were three holes. You may be very sure that I carefully examined the tyre for more thorns once I realised that there were several holes in my tube. I patched all three, put the bike back together and felt the back tyre, just to be sure of my good work on Tuesday. It was much softer than I would have expected. I realised that I probably hadn't found all the holes in that one the other night. Sigh.

Off came the back wheel. This is the hard one where your hands get dirty. TNB had dinner ready, but he patiently waited while I tried to find the new puncture. I wasn't having much luck so he encouraged me to put a lot more air in the tyre. It looked so odd, but we found the second puncture, and reopened the first one. I fixed these too. We ended up eating dinner about two hours after I arrived! Still, my tyres stayed up overnight and I was able to ride home in the cold for my PT session the following morning. I was wondering about the wisdom of fixing the tyre in time for a chilly Friday morning, but I really wanted my bike in one piece for my Saturday morning ride.

Pump stuff:
Sara, I love my pump. It's a Bontrager Turbo Charger, and has FIT on the foot piece. It's blue and silver, and the handle is curved slightly. The guy in the local bike shop told me it was specifically designed for women and I have to say it's easier to use than the ones they had at the bike course, which had straight handles. I think the curved handle makes allowances for my tummy. :-)

Andrew, yes it is one of those up and down pumps. I fell in love with those the first time I saw them. I actually brought it over to TNB's to fix the punctures, which I was very glad I'd done when I realised I had two tyres to pump up.

TNB stuff:
It's taken me a while to mention TNB on my blog. I've started doing regular cycling commutes and running commutes from his place to mine, so there'll be the occasional mention from time to time. Fortuitously, he lives 5 km from me along the bikepath, which is a really handy distance.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

I'm still a runner

I don't know if this happens to other people, but every once in a while I find myself wondering if I should be calling myself a runner. A couple of weeks ago I had a disaster run and then a week and a half went by before I went back out for a run. In fact, when I bought Runner's World the other day I was thinking that I really needed the motivation of reading it to get myself out of bed in the mornings.

Well, it worked. On Tuesday morning I got myself up for a 5 km running commute along the bikepath. I really enjoyed the run. There were bits that weren't easy, like actually going through the door and getting started. There were bits that were hard, like not stopping after 3 km even though my legs felt like lead. However, overall it was fantastic. I was really pleased to be out there. I made it to my destination without stopping. My form was good at the end of the run. I felt like a runner!

I've had this goal for a while of running a half marathon this year. I looked at joining a running group, but I couldn't see how I could make the training sessions work for me. I'm doing so many other activities that it's hard to commit to being there. I realised that if I was going to meet my goal I was going to have to make the commitment to do the training around my other stuff. I decided Tuesday and Thursday mornings were the go, with a long run on Sunday while the bike course is on. I made the Tuesday run and crash-landed with Thursday. I didn't have my running bra with me. I ended up catching the bus instead.

Well, I decided to see if Krissi would run with me for my PT session on Friday. She agreed and we headed out for 7 km. I had a really good time. Again there were tough bits but it makes a difference running with a partner. Now all I have to do is keep it up.

Later (Sunday evening):
I didn't make it out for my long run this morning. I was at a wedding yesterday and decided that staying in bed instead was a really good idea.